Review: Ballistic HC case for the iPhone 4

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I was excited when offered the chance to take a look at AGF’s Ballistic HC case for the iPhone 4. As the website suggests, the Ballistic HC is “Designed to Survive Life,” a great slogan considering I had dumped my phone onto a brick patio just a few nights prior to receiving the review unit. The Ballistic HC is a great case, and though it may not be for everyone, it’s perfect for people who can be rough on their phones.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Ballistic HC is big. It’s a pretty thick case by itself, and if you want it to get even bigger there’s a bouncy silicon wrap you can put around the case for extra protection. The size is a good thing, though. It allows for all of the padding and space necessary to keep your phone safe in the even that you would drop it or accidentally smash it against something. A rubber inner layer separates your phone from the hard outer, protecting the phone from the case and adding some shock absorption. The hard outer shell also has fixed rubber bumpers for an extra layer of protection. The aforementioned rubber sleeve really takes the phone to indestructible new heights.

The front of the Ballistic HC case has a screen protector that allows your touchscreen to still function perfectly. I was really impressed, because I’ve seen a lot of cases for which the screen protector ruins the browsing experience on the phone. With the Ballistic, you almost don’t notice that the protector is there (unless you drop your phone, of course, in which case you’ll just notice that the screen is in tact).

I only had one issue with the Ballistic case, a problem AGF is both aware of and working actively to fix. As you can see in the picture below, the screen protector can get suctioned onto the screen, creating an oil-spill pattern across the screen. It’s not very noticeable when the screen is lit up, but it kinda sucks when the screen is black.

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As I said, though, Ballistic is working on a fix. The company posted a YouTube video with a simple, temporary fix for the problem while they continue to work on a permanent solution. Really, though, if you need this case, you are probably more interested in the fact that it will keep your phone safe, and less interested in the way your phone will look while tucked safely away inside this beast of a case.

100 million Facebook pages leaked to torrent sites

Facebook Confidential.This isn’t quite as bad as it seems, but it does give you a sense of what’s possible with all of the data on Facebook. A hacker named Ron Bowes from Skull Security wrote a crawler to compile data from all the publicly available pages on Facebook. Publicly available – that’s important.

It’s also important, though, that such a crawler could be written to grab that kind of data. Though you could just as easily search for these people and get their info, I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that a bot could be written to compile the same. Facebook security remains a shifting target – for most people, there’s not a lot on Facebook they don’t want people to see. As Facebook continues to grow and expand its profitable operations, there could potentially be more and more truly personal data involved. In fact, that’s how Zuckerberg would prefer things. That’s why this is important.

I’ve been thinking about kicking Facebook for a while, and every time I get a story like this, even as unalarming and completely benign as this story is, it points to the ongoing lack of attention and concern it seems Facebook gives to user data.

Apple free cases start shipping

I’m on the road today, headed up to NYC to visit some friends, but I thought this was worth sharing. I got an email this morning confirming that my free Apple bumper case has shipped, despite the estimated 3-5 week ship time Apple initially doled out.

Even though I’m not among those cursed with a failing phone, it’s nice to see some quick turnaround on Apple’s part. Hopefully people can start to see a working phone some time early next week.

Why does the world want me to go to yard sales

Ansel AdamsI swear a story like this comes out every eight to twelve months just to trick unsuspecting (though I’m starting to suspect a few things) people like myself into spending money on garbage in the hopes that it will be worth millions of dollars someday.

Today’s tale: a man saw a box of glass negatives at a yard sale ten years ago and, though he wanted it, was unwilling to pay the $70. He haggled down to $45. It turns out those negatives were some of Ansel Adams’ early work, and the collection (what was once a box is now known as a collection) is worth around $200 million dollars.

So, how many people will be running out to yard sales this weekend?

Apple launches a trackpad for desktops

Magic TrackpadAmong Apple’s various hardware updates today, the company launched a trackpad for desktops, officially dubbed the Magic Trackpad. I’m not real sure where the magic is.

Now granted, I tend to prefer the trackpad to the mouse for general browsing, but this is something that seems aimed at power users, not the casual internet browser. Desktops come with a mouse, so people are comfortable using the mouse. Will they really want to drop $69 for a couple gestures, most of which are mimicked by the controls on your everyday mouse today?

My guess is no, but I’m not naive enough about Apple products to think this thing won’t sell. It would definitely be much cooler if it worked like a tablet (yes, there is some third-party software that can help a bit), but as a simple trackpad, I’m just not that impressed.

Unlocking and jailbreaking your phone is now legal

Cydia.It may surprise you to learn that unlocking and jailbreaking your cell phone has to this point been against the law. It’s especially surprising considering some of the first news when a new iOS build is released is who can jailbreak it the fastest.

The legality, at least, will no longer be in question. Feds ruled to make it a legal practice to remove the barriers between you and the awesome powers of your phone. In reality, this doesn’t do much. It’s not like jailbreaking was being enforced in any serious way in the past. This also won’t change things for the current jailbreakers. They’ll keep going, hacking as they have in the past, and the people using alternative app stores will likely continue to do the same. The only people this really affects are the few entrepreneurs out there who will try to make a legitimate buck by opening yet another app store for interested parties.

If you are such a party, start looking for your new apps soon. Otherwise, as you were, folks. Nothing to see here.

I knew Twitter didn’t matter

A twitter logo is seen on a cell phone screen in Tehran, Iran on June 23, 2009. (UPI Photo) Photo via Newscom

Ever since the Twitter launch, people have been trying to convince me that the service is important – some go so far as to say it’s a vital part of the internet community. While I agree that it is somewhat of a phenomenon, I’ve never come around to see the real point of Twitter. The only thing that’s good about Twitter is that it’s free, and it seems even the Twitter-using population agrees.

The story comes courtesy of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s 2010 Digital Future Study, which found that a mammoth zero percent of Twitter users would pay for the service. Zero. Now, part of that is certainly that it’s tough to transition users from a free service to a paid model. In the same vein, though, users that truly care about a service will pay to keep it alive. Ninja Video, a video site that was recently raided by the feds, had sizable donations from its members, even though it wasn’t required for use of the site. The fact that Twitter is ZERO percent – not 0.8, not 0.6, not 0.005 – says a lot to me.

No, this post is not invitation for your views on Twitter. I realize some people think it’s valuable. Some people Know it’s the greatest thing in the world. If it was that important, though, you’d probably be willing to pay for it.

FCC updates broadband definitions

390895 02: Insulated fiber-optic cable from the Fiberoptic Supply Company is on display June 20, 2001 in Denver, CO. (Photo by Michael Smith/Getty Images)

The term “broadband” doesn’t seem like it needs too much definition – anything over dial-up, right? Not exactly. The FCC’s definition of broadband is a shifting target, mostly because what was once enough to handle all of an average user’s needs can no longer keep up.

All of this is to say that the FCC has updated its definition of “broadband” to mean 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Know what it used to be? Try 200 Kbps down. Old numbers show that nearly ten percent of the population does not have access to broadband. I would not be surprised to see those numbers skyrocket with the new definitions.

In fact, I’d guess a lot of consumers don’t meet both requirements. I’m fairly certain most Time Warner Cable packages stay in the Kbps range with regard to upload speeds, even at the premium levels. I would love to see that change.

Apply for your free iPhone 4 bumper today

bumper caseApple has officially started to reimburse iPhone 4 owners who purchased a bumper case on their own, and it looks like the rest of us can send away for a free bumper now, too.

Apple is managing the promotion through an app, available now in the App Store. Instructions are pretty simple. You download the app, sign in using your Apple ID, and select your bumper or case. As it stands you can only get one color (black) and you’re looking at a three to five week delivery window. As for time limitations, here’s the official word:

For iPhone 4 purchases made before July 23, 2010, you must apply no later than August 22, 2010; otherwise, you must apply within 30 days of your iPhone 4 purchase. To qualify for this program, you must purchase your iPhone 4 by September 30, 2010.

Remember, you don’t have to get a bumper. You can get any of the approved cases for free as well.

iPhone 4 joke stickers turn into real business

Antenn-aid.After all the noise surrounding the iPhone 4′s antenna/reception issues, a couple designers from Brooklyn decided to make a sticker for the phone that looked like a band-aid. It was all supposed to be a joke. And then they started to get an order every minute.

The sticker, which the designers have cleverly called the “Antenn-aid,” is just a colorful band-aid for the seam between the antennas on the iPhone. It’s a great satire, and the two designers have hammed it up to poke a little extra fun at Apple.

You can buy the Antenn-aid in packs of six for $4.99 plus shipping. Does it work? The official website says it “Works like magical.” Well done, fellas.