Preparing an iPhone to be sold

With my wife and I both upgrading to the new iPhone 4, we decided to sell both of our old iPhone 3G’s to No hassle and nothing to worry about with scammers.

This made me to wonder, what is the safe way to securely wipe an iPhone? I do not want any of my personal data on the old phone to get in the wrong hands. has a great article on how to do this. It essentially boils down to doing a restore of the iPhone and then using the “Erase All Content and Settings” setting on the newly restored iPhone to securely erase all of the data on it.

Updates to the blog

A few updates to my blog:

  • I am now using WordPress 3.0 on this blog.
  • I have switched to using the new default theme in WordPress 3.0.
  • Given the lack of discussion on almost all of my posts and the amount of comment spam on old posts I see despite several comment spam plugins, I have decided to experiment with turning off all comments on posts older than 30 days. I am interested in seeing how this turns out.

How fragile life is

On May 7th, which was just over a month ago, my wife and I were riding on a commuter rail heading to North Station in Boston. We were attending Game 3 of the Celtics/Cavs series and this was my surprise birthday present. We were very pumped, looking forward to the Celtics game. In truth, it was a bad night. The Celtics laid a complete egg that game, with a humiliating loss. Yet that wasn’t the worst thing that happened. Before the game started, we found out my wife’s aunt had a very deadly form of lung cancer.

We would hear reports occassionally on how she was doing. Just a week ago, we heard she was starting chemotherapy and she seemed very upbeat about the whole thing. We hoped that it was a positive sign and maybe she could beat this thing.

Today, just 44 days after that horrible news, we were traveling back from Portsmouth when my wife got a phone call. She started crying almost immediately. I knew it was bad. Her aunt passed away.

In just 44 days her aunt went from living a relatively normal life (she had health problems to begin with) to succumbing to cancer. Heartbreaking to say the least. Yet she lived a full life and had a wonderful family. As her son said today in a Facebook post, “we lost a saint today.”

Next time you talk with someone you care about, realize that in as little as 44 days, they could be gone.

New AT&T data plans

Last week there was certainly lots of talk about AT&T’s new data plans across the Internet. The reaction seemed to fall into two camps from what I could see: 1) heavy data users that absolutely hated the plans or 2) people who would save money and appreciated the plans.¬†After doing some comparisons, I think I fall under #2. Here is my thought process behind it.

A quick look at my data usage shows that my wife and I could easily live with the 200MB data plan. Below is my data usage:

The next is my wife’s data usage:

The closest I ever got to the max that a 200MB plan would allow is 170MB. Closest my wife got was 143MB in one month and usually averages below 100MB.

We now have three options here:

  1. My wife and I could both drop down to the 200MB plan. Our phone bill drops about $30, which results in a $360 savings over the course of a year.
  2. My wife drops down to the 200MB plan, I use the new 2GB plan with the tethering option selected (for work and traveling reasons, it would be very nice to have). Her drop to the 200MB plan saves $15 a month, plus my drop to the 2GB plan saves $5 a month for a total of $20 savings. Then with tethering for me costing $20, we break about even with what we pay now.
  3. Keep our current “unlimited” data plans.

I am leaning towards option #2 here. I am not losing anything, since I never went near the “unlimited” data plan’s max of 5GB a month. I am gaining tethering and end up paying about the same monthly bill.

The backup strategy

For the past few years, I have been using an Apple Time Capsule to have an complete backup updated hourly of my Macbook. It has worked very well and has saved me several times when I deleted files by accident. Luckily I have not had to call upon it in the worst case scenarios such as hard drive death, fire, lost, stolen, etc. I needed a solution to have my backups offsite as well.

I initially thought I could do the old keep a hard drive off-site at all times with a whole backup. That however would require me to remember to do it, which I have proven time and time again I could not. After all, for years I had a hard drive on my desk, but never manually ran the backup.

I decided finally that I should give the online backup companies that have sprung up the past few years a chance. I haven’t heard any downright horror stories involving them. In fact, most reviews I have heard were very positive. Their prices are quite reasonable: $50-60 a year for unlimited backup per computer.

Right now I am trying out Backblaze, which seems to have gotten great reviews from what I can see, has great Mac support, and has a wonderful option of paying to have a hard drive shipped to you with your data. Mozy does not have this option outside of DVD’s (great a stack of 100 DVD’s should be fun to restore) and Carbonite doesn’t seem to have any option outside of download restores.

I am currently finishing up day two of the initial backup to Backblaze. So far so good, I have about 25GB of 99GB backed up, which works out to just about 12-13GB a day. At this pace, I should be backed up completely in about six more days. After that, from what I understand the service continuously backs up any file changes and only the parts of the files that actually change, so future backups should almost be instantaneous.

I will report my experiences with this service as time goes on and I get to use it. Hopefully I will never have to test how good the restore process is.