Direct Links to Apple’s iTunes App Store Categories

If you ever wanted to post a direct link that opens to an App Store category on iTunes, you’ve probably ran into a bit of trouble. If you right click and copy the link from an app’s category, you’d probably end up somewhere like:

No problem when you try opening it from a iOS device, but if you open that link on a computer browser, you’ll most definitely be disappointed.

You can change https:// to itmss:// and if the protocol is registered, it’ll open up on iTunes. But Facebook and Twitter don’t really treat itmss links correctly. Facebook redirects to http:// and Twitter doesn’t even linkify it.

I have gone on a quest to find the regular http links that’ll open App Store categories and I have found the following. Basically what you’ll need is the MZStore.woa API which calls viewGrouping and figure out what the group id is.

Unfortunately I didn’t look far enough to figure out some of the newer categories: Books, Catalogs, Food & Drink, Medical, Newsstands

So if you know the direct links to the newer categories, feel free to post it in the comments below and I’ll update my post.

Unlocking the iPhone

So my dad’s been looking to get a smart phone so that he can purchase stocks over the web while he’s at work. Unfortunately the company he works at doesn’t provide internet access to employee’s computers.

Anyway, initially I was looking for mobile broadband solutions, where he could stick an USB or PC Card device into his laptop and just go online like he normally does. Unfortunately, all mobile broadband services at all the service providers I looked at (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon) all charged $60/mo for about 5GB of bandwidth. Verizon did have a cheaper plan at $40/mo, but only came with 250MB.

I then started looking at tethering options. With tethering, the data plans for T-Mobile is only $20 extra per month. Only certain smart phones allow tethering and if you search online, you should be able to easily find a compilation like this: How To: Tether Your T-Mobile Smartphone as a Modem (2008 Edition)

I asked Derek for his advice in this regard and he mentioned that tethering to the phone is a bit cumbersome and definitely a disadvantage for my dad. He’s not technologically-impaired, but the fewer the components, the better for him. Derek suggested that I consider the iPhone. It unfortunately doesn’t support tethering (yet), but its screen is pretty big and simple to use. I decided to do some research.

I started looking at prices on eBay and then remember that Xyon might actually still have his old phone since he upgraded to the iPhone 3GS recently. I pinged him asking if he still had it and was willing to sell it or not. We reached an agreed upon price and I just needed to confirm with my dad if he was okay with the iPhone. He visited a cell phone store and gave the iPhone a whirl.

He liked it, but wished it had a stylus since he has big fingers. I looked into stylus for the iPhone. I recall the regular stylus don’t work since the iPhone uses human capacitance to detect fingers, it would have to be some special pen. A quick search resulted in the Pogo Stylus, which cost about $10. I went to DealExtreme and found they had several variations of iPhone stylus and I suggested my dad pick up one of these for $3.45 since it had the best reviews/ratings.

Anyway, I got the iPhone today and spent most of tonight trying to unlock it. The same sets of instructions for unlocking the 3.1 firmware were plaster across the web: Unlock iPhone 2G/3G with Firmware 3.1 on Windows. Unfortunately, I hit into the issue where it would be stuck in the “Preparing iPhone for restore” phase and eventually return a 1604 or 1600 error code. Researching this further, it looked like a common issue many people where hitting: How to Jailbreak Unlock iPhone 2G 3G OS 3.1 Custom Firmware.

I tried the suggested solution of getting iH8sn0w’s iREB which would apply some patch to ignore these errors, but never was able to get my screen to flash white/red. It would just remain off.

I gave up after several attempts. I also had issues flashing to an earlier version as iTunes 9.0 didn’t like iPhone firmwares before 3.1.

Before calling it a night, I decided to give it one more try. I installed iTunes 8.2.1 on my laptop (since I didn’t want to touch my existing iTunes installation on my main desktop) and decided to try to flash back to 3.0: Unlock/Jailbreak 3.0.x (iPhone 2G) Using RedSn0w – Windows. It actually worked without a hitch. I inserted my T-Mobile SIM card for testing and was able to make a call to my VoIP line.

Looks like it’s a success!

By the way, the iPhone should come with a paper clip. It took me forever to find something that I could actually stick into that tiny hole to pop out the SIM card holder. Needles and tacks didn’t quite work that well.

How to cancel a download in iTunes

I’m shocked at how difficult Apple makes it for the user to cancel downloads from iTunes. Being a freebie junkie, I am sometimes addicted to downloading iTunes freebies. That’s when I discovered just how hard it is to cancel a download in iTunes. I had queued up several large video clips to download which I’m no longer interested in:

iTunes Downloads

That adds up to about 4.8GB, bandwidth I don’t really feel like wasting given how hard ISPs are cracking down on high bandwidth users. So I tried to pause and delete the downloads. It appears to work, until I restart iTunes, which then immediately resumes downloading when I log back into the iTunes Music Store. I search online for solutions and found the following 2 threads:

Sorry, but you can’t yourself remove an item from your download queue. Contact the iTunes Store customer support department through the form linked from the bottom of their Download FAQ web page (I recommend that you use the form, not the link in your Purchase History as they advise; that’s not proven to be very reliable) and explain the problem to them. They may be able to clear the download queue for you.

Good luck.

So I just got off the phone with Apple tech support and the representative seemed very interested in this problem… He said there wasn’t any solution that he (or his associates) knew of, but that he’d bring it to attention at a meeting this afternoon. I referenced a number of forums to stress that many users have this problem.
So I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it becomes an update in a future version of iTunes.

Anyways, at this point I’m just going to let them download completely and then delete them. Sucks.

Apparently there is no way for me to do it myself and I have to contact customer support (either on the phone or through the webform). You can go to the contact form directly.

I can understand why they make it difficult, given the fact that iTunes doesn’t allow you to re-download and they want to make sure you actually did complete your download of any items you purchased (or in my case – obtained for free). However there should still be able way for me to stop/cancel any of my downloads, even if I have to go deep into my account and find that delete button. This is very unlike Apple, which typically tends to make great UI/UX. Then again, iTunes is a disaster waiting to happen. The only reason I even have it installed is because of my iPod Nano.

Another very annoying thing is that when you purchase an HD video, they FORCE you to download both SD and HD. Once again, either they need to allow me to suspend downloads (until I want to download it), or allow me to cancel the SD version from being downloaded at all. It’s just wasted bandwidth.

Here’s the email I sent to Apple:

I have 3 items in my download queue which apparently I can’t remove and have to submit this form according to:

The 3 items are large (several gigs in total) and I’d prefer to not have to download them, but am annoyed by the fact that it keeps wanting to resume downloading whenever I start iTunes. I’m surprised there’s no way for me to delete it from the queue.

The 3 items are:
Order #***** – Truth In 24
Order #***** – Whap – Harper’s Island (SD)
Order #***** – Whap – Harper’s Island (HD)

I’d appreciate if you would remove these from my download queue.

I’ll post back to let you know if this actually works.

Update: Got a reply from iTunes Store Customer Support:

Dear *****,

Thanks for contacting iTunes Store Customer Support. My name is Blaine and I understand you would like some large files removed your download queue. I will be happy to help with this.

*****, please accept my sincere apologies for the frustration this download has caused. I took the liberty of removing the file(s) causing the issue from your download queue.

Thanks for being an iTunes Store Customer, *****!


iTunes Store Customer Support

w00t! Apple’s customer support is still top notch. 🙂