When you have to freeze your phone, technology is too complex

My iPhone seemed to work better on ice, so I spent the last two hours alternating between chilling it in the freezer and pressing buttons. The WiFi kept cutting out, and I read somewhere that one of the failure modes for the iPhone radio was thermal. Amazingly enough, it worked, and the WiFi would run for maybe three minutes after ten minutes of chilling. I desperately needed it to work, because my 3G service was down until I could install Ultrasn0w, the iPhone unlocking software. Which can only be installed by a program called Cydia, which only downloads new software over a WiFi network. I have to use unlocking software in the first place because US model iPhones are keyed to work only with AT&T, which doesn’t exist in Hong Kong. I successfully unlocked my phone months ago, and everything was working fine until I upgraded the firmware, which I did in the hopes of fixing the WiFi which failed last week.

If you didn’t follow that, consider yourself fortunate. You’ve never needed to wonder about such things.

It gets better. When I reset my phone it lost the WiFi password to my home network. I couldn’t find it written down. I couldn’t remember the password to log into my router to look it up. The internet told me how to reset the router at the hardware level, but to reconfigure the wireless I’d need to connect my laptop to it with a cable. Which I didn’t have. Luckily, I eventually remembered the router password.

I started drinking.

Password problem solved, every ten minutes I’d open the freezer door, reset the WiFi on my phone, wait for Cydia to download its package list, then tell it to download the mere 50kb of Ultrasn0w and hope to hell the radio didn’t blink out in the middle of the tiny transfer. Now I know exactly how many bars I get in the back of the freezer.

After eight or nine tries, I opened the freezer door to find my phone on the 3G network. Success!

Actually, it was way more involved than this. I left out a bunch of steps, all the things I tried that didn’t work. And of course the firmware upgrade did not fix the WiFi, so this experiment put me right back were I started and wasted six hours of my life and two tumblers of rather nice whiskey. At least I didn’t have to go out of my way to retrieve the ice.

iPhone Augmented Reality Arrives — But When Will We Make Art With It?

Last year I imagined an iPhone app that superimposed virtual objects over video from the phone’s camera. With the advent of the iPhone 3GS and its built-in compass, it’s now happening.

This video shows NearestWiki, which tags nearby landmarks/objects and guides you to them. I am aware of a few other AR apps, as this post on Mashable and this AP story discuss. Many of these apps do building/object recognition, and one even recognizes faces and displays a sort of business card. We’re already seeing annotation with data from Wikipedia, Twitter and Yelp, and I suspect that we’re going to see these tools get very deep in the very near future, with Wikipedia-style tagging of  the entire history and context of any object.

Just a moment while I get over the fact that the future is already here.

Ok, I’m properly jaded again. Yeah, it’s an app platform, and that’s cool — but imagine the possibilities for art. Bets on who’s going to make the first “alternate reality spyglass” piece? Bets on how much Matthew Barney will sell it for in the app store?