Time won't let me go

Before the App Store, way back in the spring of 2008, I jailbroke my refurbed first generation iPhone. I claimed it was for the cool native apps but also liked the customization that was possible (even now, animated backgrounds and control over device sounds is not allowed through official channels).

The innovation came at a price -- the phone became slower and more crash-prone.

When the App store was available, I quickly upgraded to the Apple-approved iPhone OS 2.0 and all my jailbreak hacks and apps disappeared.

Except, strangely, one hack.

Erica Sadun, who writes for TUAW and really makes use of Ping, wrote a bit of code that let me change the clock in my taskbar to text. The text I chose, on one fateful day 2.5 years ago, stayed with me through the upgrade back to an official Apple OS.

Stranger still, the clock-to-text hack stayed active when I upgraded to the iPhone 3GS, last year (when I restored my backed up data and apps, the text came with it).

Newer OSes were released, I never went back to jailbreaking, but still the hacked text remained. It followed me to the iPhone 4 this summer and iOS 4.1 this fall.

Yet surprisingly, upon upgrading to iOS 4.2, the clock returned, and my little bit of text was gone.

I'm sure there's a good explanation for this, rooted in code that's well beyond my understanding. And, truthfully, Apple was right: having the time displayed on my taskbar is a lot more useful than my little bit of personalization.

I'm just reporting this in the same spirit as my bizarre case reports: it's good to notice and share unanticipated findings in complex systems, so that others may learn and maybe use that information, going forward.