Hints grab bag #1

Completely non-intuitive way to set up MobileMe syncing

For a function as basic as syncing your contacts and calendars via MobileMe, its shocking that doing this is so non-intuitive.  You have add your MobileMe account to Settings -> “Mail, Contacts, and Calendars” even if you do not want to sync your MobileMe/.Mac mail account itself. That is where the Contacts, Calendars, and Bookmarks on/off settings are along with the mail on/off settings.

Set your default calendar

This may be obvious, but if you have multiple calendars in iCal, you’ll want to set a default calendar in Settings -> Mail, etc (under Calendars).  Because currently, when you create an event on your iPhone, unless you change the calendar when you create it, you won’t be able to change it on the phone itself.

Using a non-Apple bluetooth headset

This is entirely possible to do, though I won’t go into it here other than to say it works as you would expect. You pair your headset and your iPhone with bluetooth by going to Settings -> General -> Bluetooth to put your iPhone into discovery mode.  You will have to know how to put your headset into pairing mode, and know its pairing code.  For many phones, it will just be 0000 or 1234.  After pairing, you’ll want to turn off bluetooth to conserve batter life unless you are using the headset.  Later, when you want to use your headset, turn bluetooth on in the same place.

Conserving battery life

There are numerous things that drain your battery power, some more obvious than others.  Things to be aware of: pushing is more draining than fetching; turn off wi-fi and bluetooth if you’re not using them. Turn off SSH if you’ve installed it on a jailbroken phone when not using it.  Set your brightness lower. Turn on Airplane mode if you don’t need an internet connection at all and aren’t using the phone (such as when reading or playing games etc).  This CNET video lays it all out.

Connecting Apple’s Remote application to iTunes

Refer to this knowledgebase article if you’re having problems getting iTunes to recognize your iPhone for use with Apple’s iPhone Remote application. 

Note especially the ports that have to be opened on your firewall.

To establish the pair, iTunes requires that your iPhone have both a Wi-Fi connection and also be plugged in with USB and mounted in iTunes.

You should see a little remote icon right under your iPhone in the iTunes device list.  Make sure to close the disclosure triangle so it isn’t off the screen.

Sharing must also be enabled in iTunes preferences.

Dealing with firewalls and ports

This is not specific to iTunes, but many 3rd party apps need to communicate with your Mac, and firewalls will get in the way.  If you have a firewall active, you must make sure that Leopard’s application firewall allows incoming connections for whatever OS X server application some software uses.  Then, if your router has a firewall active, you must make sure to properly route the traffic to your computer.  Doing that is beyond the scope here.  But be aware that many developers don’t make it very clear which ports they use to communicate between your Mac and the iPhone.  You might have to research this or ask them directly.

Making reward wallpapers

In my opinion it is a good idea for the wallpaper you use for your iPhone lock screen to show a message that offers a reward for its return. Surely your iPhone is worth what you paid for it, to save you the trouble of having to recreate all your hard work if you are forced to buy a new one.  

There is a free application on the App Store called “If Found” to do this, but it just creates a white text on a black background image.  But what if you want something prettier and also show this message?

So make a 320×480 jpeg image in photoshop, add some reward text to it with your email address and a reward price, then save as a jpeg.  Add the saved image to iPhoto and then sync an iPhone Wallpapers album or similar to your iPhone through iTunes.

Needless to say, you set your lock screen wallpaper in Settings -> General -> Wallpaper

Making free custom ringtones

In this disgusting display of excess, Apple has voided iPhone warranties just for making custom ringtones!  However, if you have iLife, you can do it for free and presumably with Apple’s seal of approval in Garage Band.  Just save any song portion less than 40 seconds as a ringtone.  There is also a method to basically just rename .m4a files to .m4r files that accomplishes the same thing without Garage Band.


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