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What follows is a full response to Yelp review left for me and my work on the Yelp site. I'm not a fan of Yelp because they make no effort to see that there is a transaction relationship between the parties. When I get an unfounded Yelp review, I always dox the "reviewer".

The Yelp review itself is below the red line of print which is below my response. Read it first, to put my remarks in context.

That is Jan Simone (415-612-0493 on FaceBook at She left a message on my answering machine, about an iPhone belonging to Felix Bannon (415-892-7848 and on FaceBook at

Without a doubt, the least fun thing I have to to do is listen to how people have lost their way in a technical problem and then be asked by them for advice or a method to solve the problem they got in. The reason they always find themselves in a jam is the result of them using a crazy or outdated method to solve a problem that is fairly easy to solve *if* you are allowed to use a recently developed approach.

That is the problem Jan found herself in. In short, her friend or boyfriend or employer Felix Bannon needed a cell phone and wanted to use it with a "Pre-Pay" or PayGo account on an iPhone 3GS. Felix doesn't use a phone enough to justify a full mobile monthly contract *and* they wanted something cheap, so they chose T-Mobile for a PayGo plan.

Jan (identified as "Janet" in the message left) called at 10:12 am on March 19th and left a message on my answering machine.

Let's listen to the message she left. The whole message is *here* if you want to download it or if you want to hear it streamed *click here*.

I played the message back, and realized I would solve this completely differently, in part because times had changed and so had methods. What she did, was now a federal crime. Plus AT&T was now permanently hardware unlocking phones through If I called her back I would find myself explaining why her method was outdated and now illegal. I don't *like* saying "no" to anyone. But I like even less tech supporting someone through a project that requires them to re-think from scratch the method they've used. People never want to re-think their methods *if* they think the method can somehow still be effective.

The message she left made me believe she was a 'caregiver' to someone legally blind and being looked after by her, *as employment*. After research, I think there is a romantic relationship between them though they maintain spearate identities. In California, if you can convince the state that you are permanently disabled, in some way seriously incapacitating, the state will pay someone to look after you. Typically the people hired to do this tend to be close family relatives or friends. It helps keep your friends employed (by the state) and you have someone that cares looking after you. That relationship, that paid for by the state of California relationship is what I thought I was hearing about when I played back the message.

She sheepishly described how she had taken it upon herself to 'upgrade' the operating system on his iPhone. This is one of those moments where she knew *just* enough to get into trouble... and she did. When you jailbreak and unlock a phone to use on another carrier a number of factors are put in place that can't be changed. Jailbreaking and Un-locking is referred to as a "software" unlock. It's not even close to the best way to do it and because the Cydia jailbreak app moves the bootloader into the system RAM memory there is about a 1 in 10 chance the phone will be permanently 'bricked' and un-useful ever again.

I never recommend a software unlock for two reasons,

1) it's temporary, at some point in the future the phone will have to be re-formatted if only because of memory parsing *or* some goofball will "try to help you" and upgrade the unlock away.

2) It violates a federal law to do so. I'm not in agreement with the law, but I understand its origins. Basically the law exists so someone else's work, their intellectual property can't be appropriated and used without proper fees and licenses. In the case of the iPhone, Apple wrote the operating system that the Cydia jailbreak exploits *and* the phone uses Apple's work as a sub-layer for Cydia to pass its instructions through. That use of Apple's work is the basis for un-locking being illegal in the DMCA.

In the message, she explained that Felix was blind. Blind and "legally blind' are different terms. Felix had been using an iPhone 3GS because it has "voice control" and it allows him to dictate to the phone instructions that it follows out. She also mentioned that his iPhone was an ATT model that he had been jailbroken and unlocked so he could use it on T-Mobile.

Un-locking a phone to use on another carrier is now a federal crime. I don't agree with the law. I probably know more about this than many *but* it's the law right now. Here is more on that:

Three plus years ago when Felix started this behavior, you couldn't directly use a PAYGO card in an iPhone. ATT had an exclusive with that phone in the US and dictated that you have have a Post-paid account to use it on thier network.

To get around this exclusive ATT relationship, Jay Freeman, aka Saurik developed Cydia as an alternative iPhone OS and developed software methods around the ATT network 'lock'. When you use Cydia as a software 'un-lock' you become dependent on a creaky set of circumstances and tools that always result in the lock failing. Ultimately (there are no axceptions to this), a software lock will fail rendereing the device useless, and *everything* you thought was safely on it goes away permanently... Photos, Contacts, text messages. This is what happened to Felix's phone in "Jan's" hand. It was avoidable by using a more modern method to solve Felix's problem. That problem is defined as "Felix Bannon needing a pre-paid mobile account and voice control on an iPhone".

I didn't call her back deliberately so I didn't have to get into an explanation of the new law and the choice of Felix's method of unlock and the cell phone he used. It was less about telling "We don't do that type of repair" and more about "No one does that anymore for good reasons. It's not effective as a long term solution. Why not join the rest of us and do it correctly and legally?" I don't like having to teach people continually about bad solutions they use. At 12:20 she called again and this time I did pick up the phone.

On the phone, I told her, this problem she had is going to happen again. The method of software unlocking a phone institutes failure of the un-lock at an undetermined future date. Many times when the un-lock fails, it's when you need your phone most, (think car accident or roadside assistance). It is an un-reliable method for someone who is blind because the method is unstable. The phone can revert at anytime back to an ATT locked phone.

I tried to explain the instablility of her method and encourage her to get a proper phone so it absolutely would work when needed. They are clearly not tech-saavy, don't know how to re-un-lock their own phone, and don't what moves the phone back into locked again. The iPhone 4 and the 4S and the iPhone 5 all have 'voice control'. We call it "Siri" these days. If you or I had a problem with our phone becoming suddenly un-useful, we could lift our head, look around and find a solution. For someone blind like Felix Bannon, that won't be the case. That is what I was trying to explain to her... which she percieved as a rant because it was out her realm of comprehension.

Within this same conversation, I explained that ATT now allows you to use an ATT PayGo SIM card in an iPhone provided the original contract was paid off. On the T-Mobile network with a "Pay Go" card, your voice traffic gets moved through an older edge network. A slower network. If they got an ATT Pay Go card for the 3GS, it doesn't cost anymore... they both charge just exactly the same by the minute and the ATT version lands yoo on a 3G GSM network.

The problem with all of this is..... Janet and Felix developed a "method" for managing a cell phone activated by voice based on a 4 1/2 year old piece of hardware engineered to be a low cost solution "at the time of the method's being developed". Those circumstances aren't the same now, and there a more reliable methods that I tried to teach her. Siri is ideal for somone like Felix.

When someone develops an opinion on a topic, or a method toward a problem's solution and never goes back to re-evaluate it relative changed circumstances, we call them a "conservative". To be conservative is to never have to go back and re-think things relative to new science. When a conservative is asked, "Is stem cell research valuable to society?" They frame the question relative to their already made up frame of reference, and look to the bible and its teachings to come up with an answer. Progressives understand that new science has to be continually evaluated and consider things newly on their own merit.

Although her Yelp identity is "Jan" she actually calls herself Janet which you will hear in voice message left. She uses Janet as her name when it suits her. For instance, two of her email addresses are and of course there is

You may wonder "Is this the Felix Bannon I know?" It is if your Felix is about 59 and lives at

1610 Hill Rd Apt 18
Novato, California 94947

or lived previously at

1318 Leafwood Drive Apt 6
Novato, CA 94947-4657

which is near enough to his mother Ruth, who at a presumed 89 still lives in Larkspur.

Do I think Felix Bannon is a criminal for inappropiately using Apple's operating system for a purpose that it wasn't intended without the permission of the owner and author and not compensating them for that use? I have to say, it's against the law for good reason. In fact it's the same law that makes it a crime to download a song from the internet without permission of the composer/performer and not pay 'air play' or mechanical royalties to the artist.

I really can't expect Janet Simone and Felix Bannon to understand the feeling of spending a chunk of your life writing something and have anyone who wants to, then steal a copy of your work without permission or compensation. I think they come from a different era. The rest of us behave better and recognize these things as wrong.

The Yelp review left

Initially, I got no return call either. I wish I'd left it at that! Because when I did call back and speak to Frank ... instead of just telling me 'I'm sorry, I can't help you' or 'We don't do that type of repair' ... I got this whole angry rant of a lecture that was very rude, telling me I needed to 'suck it up' and buy a new phone.

I did go find a repair shop who did the repair for very inexpensive by the way. And I HIGHLY recommend everyone go to "Gadget Pro" in San Rafael. Very nice folks. Inexpensive. Quick turnaround time. Professional.


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I'm in Sonoma County... Northern California wine country.

If you live nearby, are traveling through or live in the San Francisco Bay Area bring your iPod to me and I can do the work while you wait or go wine tasting for a while. Send me an email just to make sure I have on hand whatever parts your repair will require.

Call or email me with questions or to set up a repair. You can also call, I am here most days from 8am to 8pm
Toll Free 1-877-IPOD-PRO (1 - 877 - 476-3776)

Send the device to:
    Frank Walburg
    2145 Service Court
    Santa Rosa, Ca 95403-3139
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