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 ( to check the exchange rates every now and then and iTrail ( 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 ( and so far i like it alot.

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