Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Moving to another Blog

In case you are wondering why I haven't posted here for a while, it is because I have decided that there are already too many iPhone blogs out there so instead of working on my own, i am contributing to an existing one. Feel free to follow this one, I am trying to contribute at least once a day to this new blog and there are two other writers, so you will get a lot more out of it.

Thanks for following!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Web Apps for the Iphone

There are LOTS of apps in the app store at the apple site and a lot available to those who chose to JAILBREAK their phones. But besides all those apps you can download, alot of web sites are creating special formatted pages for the iphone/itouch.

Here is a link to some list pages that list these types of apps (http://www.apple.com/webapps/index_top.html). I've called a few that i thought worthwhile or just funny.

A special iphone page all about coffee. It also allows you to track your coffee consumption and coffee habits.

A pretty nice backgammon game web page formatted just for the iphone.

Adam Symptom Navigator
Bring out the hypochondriac in everyone. Lets you diagnose your own symptoms!

Space Invaders for the iphone

Mobile Poker
This one is for you David!

A cool web based book reader that looks really good on the iphone.

A strange web site claiming to turn your iphone into a replicator. With tongue in cheek, it lets you create the following items:
- A slice of pizza
- A remote control
- A paper napkin

Gives you the recipes to make your favorite cocktails.

Photo Finder
Allows you to photos of different locations throughout the world by browsing a map

Upcoming Movies
Lets you see a list (and links to them on yahoo movie page) of upcoming movies. Links let you see the trailers.

Lets you preview and download over 5200 wallpapers for their iphone/itouch.

Lets you browse through a list of library books and other contents at local libraries. This is pretty cool.

Kelly Blue Book
An Iphone formatted version of this old faithful.

Lets you figure out what really sucks.

Soap Opera Headline News
Lets you keep up with what is happening on your soap operas.

Weight Date
Lets you track and chart your weight loss and tracks it online so you have no databases to sync.

3D Cube
"A Web 2.0 hardware accelerated rotating & scaling 3D Cube w/ animated textures using HTML, JavaScript, and Apple’s new CSS Transition, Transformation & Animation properties designed for iPhone & iPod Touch 2.0 Mobile Safari Browsers." Just for fun, but kinda cool.

Linux News Ticker
See all the current events for the Linux World.

Hurricane Central
With all the hurricanes coming and going, here is a link to find out if they are coming your way.

Very cool site that helps you browse the night sky and learn all about the planets and stars.

Monday, September 8, 2008

programming your directv reciever from your iphone

I saw a tv guide app in the app store. I thought this was pretty cool, but alas, I have a directv DVR and my local stations are not usually aligned with the published online guides. I then remembered that the Directv web page now let you browse an online tv guide and let you pick shows to record on your recievers.

I thought how cool would it be to be able to use your iphone like a remote and program your dvr. Rather than use the klunky dvr interface (cursoring around on the keyboard to search for shows) I could simply bring up the directv web page on my iphone and use the online guide to set up recording. Kind of like a smart remote.

I didn't have the greatest success. The web page definitely doesn't have an "m" mode, that is it doesn't support mobile small screens very effectively.
Also it doesn't remember your password, so you have to login each time.

Once I got past the screen layout and password, i could see the schedule and pick a show, but the jsp was failing on before I was able to pick a reciever and set up a show to record. I could see the guide though, which was pretty cool, though it took a lot of scrolling to see it all).

This seemed to take longer all in all then to just program it using my normal remote. However, if someone were to create an iphone app to do this, (ie use the mobile space effectively, allow you to scroll using multitouch techniques, and allow you to set up your account so you don't have to log in each time, it could be really powerful.

Update: Nothing new under the sun. I just found a mobile directv site. It is www.directv.com/DTVAPP/mobile. The main site is not smart enough to recognize your mobile app, but this url seemed to work. Here is a link to the article i found on it. http://www.intomobile.com/2008/01/21/directvs-new-mobile-site-lets-you-control-your-directv-dvr-through-your-mobile-phone.html.

It has a very basic menu, but pretty much lets me do what i wanted. It has Search For Shows, and a Manual Record feature. No guide, but search is pretty useful and the build in dvr guide fills my requirement to just see what is on now.

The Search for Shows feature lets you enter a search string. It display a list of matching shows. Pick one, and it gives you a description and the option to Record Once, Record the Series, or see more showtimes. I have multiple recievers, so when i pick record, i get list of recievers. Once i pick the reciever, i can give it a recording priority. Since I can't see the list of what is already set up, i can say "record if possible" or "Definitely Record this".

The Manual Record feature lets you pick a channel, date, time, duration to record just like recording on your old faithful VCR. This is usually only useful when the guide data is not accurate, but neat to have.

Also, I had high hopes for the login part, because the sign in form has a remember me, but doesn't seem to work. Each time i go to the web page, i have to enter it from scratch.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Speeding up your iphone syncs

When I sync my iphone to itunes, it takes forever and most of that time it says "Backing up Iphone". I just found a great tip on line that says the reason the backup takes so long is not the backup itself but the time it takes for errors and bugs to be reported to Apple. On that first day when you sync the iphone it prompted you whether or not you wanted error messages sent to apple. You probably said Yes like i did, thinking it was new and if you had a bug, you would want Apple's help.

To remove this setting, all you have to do is right click on your iphone in Itunes under Devices and click Reset Warnings. Now disconnect and reconnect and you should be prompted to report errors or not. NOT! Now sync and see what happens.


Made the decision today to jailbreak my iphone. Since my phone has already been so tempermental the last few days, i figured what the hell.

So I downloaded the QuickPwn tool for my mac.

It is pretty straight forward to do. You plug it in, it recognizes the iphone and then it prompts you to reboot and then hold the HOME key down while it is booting it again. It then installs some files on you iphone. It tells you that it will install some stuff on your iphone and then reboot. The only confusing parts were that 1) it took a long time to reboot (5 minutes) so I thought at first it didn't work. 2) the tool automatically starts to install it a second time. At first I thought it was trying to do a verify but then I realized it was actually trying to do it all over again and I cancelled out.

When it finally rebooted, I had a pineapple instead of an apple logo!

Added to my screen icons were two new ones. Installer and Cydia. I ran Cydia and it told me some components were out of date (already?) so i let it update itself. After it did that and automatically restarted itself. It took me to its Home screen. There I picked an option to see Featured packages.

There are quite a lot. I downloaded BossPrefs first because it was one of the main reasons (that and VOIP) that i wanted to jailbreak it. It lets you with a one icon select come to a screen that lets you turn wifi, bluetooth, and 3g on and off. It also lets you customize a lot of other stuff like hide and show icons, disable the apple app killswitch, show free disk space and create you own icon doc.

Installed great. Really nice app.

Secondly I installed Snapture. This is really cool camera replacement app that lets you digitally zoom in (using gestures) and MY favorite part, lets you take a picture by pressing anywhere on the screen. Very very cool.

Things I haven't tried yet include an app called Syncstep, which says it tracks how fast you are walking and plays songs from your music library to match your pace.

Also cool looking is a NES Emulator

I need to go play with what i have already installed so i'll get another blog post out later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back from Vacation in Canada and Some interesting apps

I just got back from a two week vacation in Nova Scotia. Although I loved it, It was hard not having the data connection on my iphone. I know that sounds really geeky but i have become really dependent on the internet. Walking around, looking at the cool geology, looking for a place to eat, trying to find how to get to a tourist spot and wondering if it is any good, i kept wanting my iphone. Sure there are public wifi spots all around nova scotia (this is really cool i think), but it becomes clear quickly how few apps work really well disconnected. For example, the GPS can identify your exact coordinates, but without the google data to add context (and Points of Interest), the gps is that useful. It would be nice to have the ability to load maps onto your iphone before hand for cases like these.

I did use the Currency app (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284220417&mt=8) to check the exchange rates every now and then and iTrail (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=286695233&mt=8) was great when we were hiking in Cape Breton National Park.

For those of you who haven't traveled to other countries with a smart phone, data roaming charges will kill you financially so it is important to turn off Data roaming before leaving the USA. I figured out that the data connection charges would be about $20 dollars a MB. So i turned it off and settled for just occasionally wifi connections to check my mail and quickly lookup anything i needed. (My family got a bit tired waiting around for me at wifi spots after the 3rd day)

When I came home, i had a nice text message from Apple waiting for me, telling me to install 2.0.2 firmware. Having been disconnected, i hadn't heard about it in Canada or heard about what it fixed. A bit disappointing in that I can't actually tell the difference for all the time it takes to patch the firmware.
But I made it through installing the 2.0.2 patch without much trouble. Had a strange problem with after the patch, my pc wouldn't recognize the iphone usb device driver. After uninstalling, reinstalling itunes and trying alot of other voodoo, I found the strangest advice online. Shutdown your computer, unplug it and wait a good minute or two. Plug it back in and restart it and amazingly it worked.

Some new apps
I just downloaded a few apps that I thought were worth mentioning.

My new favorite is Wifinder.

This app not only displays the current wifi connections available to you, it also attempts to get a small web page from each of them, so it can tell you if there is any type of limiting logon page. This is so great when you are trying to look for an available wifi site in a public area. In Nova Scotia, sometimes I would have to try 3 or 4 of the ones that advertised no security, but forced me to go to the web and login or give a credit card number before it would let you use it.

Connecticut Traffic CAm

This cool app lets you see all the traffic cams in Connecticut on your ipod.

Central Park, New York

This map gives you an overview and map of the park. Great for tourists like me that only get there once or twice a year. My friends Jeff C and Jacque R are going to NYC this weekend, maybe they'll try it out and let me know if it works. (You can also check out DC City Guide and DC traffic Cams while you are at it. Both free)

This app lets you identify birds, but also allows you to use your gps and web connection to register sightings. If I was into bird watching i would love this even more, but i thought it was a creative use of the iphone.

TV Guide
Although it currently only has Australian tv info, I have been waiting for this app. Good idea!

Yatzee Games
I have always loved playing Yatzee as a kid and was hoping for a good Yatzee like game for the iphone. I first downloaded Dicee and i really didn't like it. It was really hard to pick the scoring method you want to use for the current roll. I just downloaded Dice (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284911691&mt=8) and so far i like it alot.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

up and running again and using Files

After resetting the ipod and clearing all the data and settings, I restored my iphone using the last backup. It worked! All my apps are running. Strangely enough, it didn't restore my email settings and some data from some of my apps was missing.

Wouldn't it have been brilliant if Apple had made the iphone so as soon as it was connected on to a wifi network, it gave you the option of joining a neighborhood or showed up as a webdav connection on your mac. Then all you would have to do is drag files onto the iphone on your desktop to move data and apps around.

Well it isn't integrated, but the Files iphone app is pretty cool. Last night, I installed it on my iphone. It turns the iphone into a webdav server so you can connect to it in the network neighborhood or in your mac shared connections. Drag and drop files onto the connection on your mac or pc and the files transfer to your iphone.

On your iphone
You can create a folder structure on your iphone and then that structure is exposed as shared and shows up beneath the network connection. You can pretty much open and view all the files types that you can as mail attachments on your iphone.

At this point, since the iphone doesn't really have a shared file structure, other apps can't see the files but that should be the next step.

Two nice things: You can turn the webdav server on and off at a touch of a button and you can see the ip address that the iphone is using to make it easy to map network drives to it.