Archive for the ‘iPhone apps’ Category

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iOS7 thoughts

September 22, 2013

I updated both my iPhone 4s and my third-gen iPad to iOS7, and everything worked fine. I think the default typeface is pretty light, making it a bit more difficult for those of us with older eyes, but it is a kind of a refreshing change…although it tends to look more “Windows-8-like” than I expected from Apple. But the apps seem to work fine. I’ve encountered no problems or speed hits.

But, I have one issue not really related to the update: I am going to move up to a new iMac soon from my aging Mac Pro. I’ve done the research on how to back up the iPhone first, and all of that, but the process still seems very tedious and fraught with potential disaster. Does anybody have a good, simple way to do this?

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Sayin’ something nice…about the Jawbone ICON + Nerd

February 19, 2013

jawbone

 

This little tiny thing is the Jawbone ICON HD + The NERD.

I’ve not had good luck with hands-free audio for driving. I have a Plantronics Voyager Pro that works passably with my iPhone 4S until I put the phone in my pocket and start walking. Then it cuts in and out, every time. It doesn’t fit in my ear very comfortably and the sound is so-so.

I have a set of Motorola S305 stereo headphones that provide reasonable sound for headphones of their size, but I can’t wear them in the car. (They also have pretty good range away from the phone.)

I’m doing a lot of long-distance driving, five hours or so at a clip, and I needed something better. I broke down and spent over a hundred bucks at Amazon on the Jawbone. And dammit, it was money well spent!

The thing has “HD” sound – I don’t know what that means for a monophonic, one-ear headphone, but it so far is way better than any other phone headset I’ve ever used. My wife says call quality on the other end is good, too, although I haven’t tested it on the road in my noisy Chevy Equinox.I wouldn’t want to listen to music with it all day, but I could listen to audiobooks with it for a couple of hours at a time, I think.

The NERD is the little USB dongle, obviously. While it is a Bluetooth dongle, it is a dedicated one – once you pair the Jawbone to it you can use it on any computer and it will still know to stay linked. And it can stream audio from the computer while you are waiting for a call on the iPhone, then it will switch to the iPhone when needed. That is way cool! The dongle does use up a USB port, but that’s OK with me because I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I want to connect it to the laptop.

So far, I recommend it. We’ll see after I have it a while. I don’t know about battery life. The button layout seems smart and I can switch it from one ear to the other without too much trouble and without changing anything. I think it will make those long drives a bit easier.

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Stupid iCal tricks

May 29, 2012

I use the Reminders app on my iPhone and iPad a lot. I wish all the functions that are available in iCal were available on the phone, but I still use it without them. I actually use it more now that Siri adds them for me.

I created a new list because I had a bunch of things to do today, and I didn’t want to hunt through the long list. Then I moved the reminders from the default “Reminders” list to the new list. (I did all this on the iPad.)

When I opened Reminders on the iPhone, the new list was there, but the regular “Reminders” list had no entries! They showed up in iCal, and on the iPad, but not on the phone.

Searches through the intertubes didn’t help much, but finally, though, I found an old Apple forum post that said…you guessed it…turn the phone off and then on again. I figured it wouldn’t work since it described behavior from a previous iOS version.

Yeah. That’s all it took. Hold the Sleep button down until the red slider appears, then turn it off, then hold the button again until it starts up.

All my Reminders were there.

One the one hand, duh; on the other, why would you have to do that? I thought all this stuff was in iCloud and synced automatically? I had all the settings correct!

Anyway, they are in there, and that makes me happier. Not delirious, but happier.

Now I’d better get to work…

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How I solved my iPhone 4 problem; the new iPad; and problems with iTunes.

March 17, 2012

First, a word to the wise: there are many people having problems with iTunes 10.6. I didn’t, but my daughter has, and so I did a bit of research and found that there were numerous reports of crashes in both Snow Leopard and Lion.

Here’s the link to iTunes v.10.5.3. If all else fails, just go back to the older version until Apple gets it all straightened out.

Now for the big deal…some weeks back my iPhone 4 microphone started to go dead in the middle of calls. It worked for all other uses, like audio recording software. It just didn’t work as a phone. I tried the Reset Network Settings trick (Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings). It worked for a while, then the problem would occur again. I even called AT&T and asked them to reprovision the phone, which they did; that didn’t seem to help at all.

The last couple of weeks the problem sort of went away. Now, I hadn’t been using the phone as much, knowing that it was unreliable. I was traveling back and forth from Illinois to northwestern Ohio every week for the last few, and it made me very nervous knowing the phone was, well, wonky.

So…how did I fix the problem?

I didn’t. My contract was up on March 9, and my wife, bless her heart, ordered me a new iPhone 4S. It arrived last Tuesday. It’s damned skippy.

I wish I had a better solution. I think part of the problem was a hardware issue after all. I did drop it on the concrete driveway last November and completely trashed the screen. I had it replaced at a local electronics repair shop in Naperville. I don’t think the replacement was original Apple issue. It worked fine but the screen always seemed a little bit less sharp and it picked up fingerprints more than the original.

Some of the reports I’ve read about problems like mine ended up to be a hardware problem located up near the headphone jack. I can’t tell you how many times I had headphones on and the phone dropped out of my pocket, leaving it dangling while the ‘phones stayed in my ears. (Ouch!) I could have screwed it up there, somehow. Still, there was no evidence of a mic problem in November. It didn’t show up until late January.

Oh, well. I have the new one in a Griffin Survivor case most of the time. I don’t know about the headphone thing. I use the phone a lot when I’m outside doing yard work. I’ve been using some Motorola bluetooth headphones lately. They didn’t work worth a nickel with the iPhone 4, but they work better with the 4S for some reason. Maybe the antenna redesign helped.

On the other hand, my Jabra Cruiser handsfree speaker won’t link with the new phone. It worked fine with the old one. More research required, I guess…

Oh, and my new iPad came yesterday. Apple is just calling it “the new iPad.” No number. That will be confusing. We had “the original iPad,” then the iPad 2. Now…what?

It’s beautiful, though. It has 1 GB of RAM, which is great, considering my old one had 256 MB of RAM and I ran into a lot of crashes because of running out of memory with some apps. I don’t expect that to be a problem – at least for a while!

The new display is gorgeous. The form factor is appreciated. The original iPad wasn’t heavy, but I always feared I would drop it, even when it was in a case. This one seems to be just more comfortable to handle. I don’t know about battery life yet.

More when I’ve played with it a little.

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Help! My iPhone mic doesn’t work!

January 25, 2012

First of all, yep, the short version of microphone is “mic,” pronounced like the man’s name, “Mike.” There, now you can sound hip.

My iPhone 4 microphone suddenly stopped working last week. The thing is, it worked for audio recording but not on the phone. I plugged in a headset and the mic didn’t work there, either, so it wasn’t a hardware issue. I found this solution on Daniel Silva’s blog. I tried that. No luck. Crap…time to go see the Genius guys at the Apple Store.

Which I did on Saturday. Intrepid Apple Genius guy (and one of my former students) Jeff Y. found the problem in a minute. Go to Settings > General > Reset and choose “Reset network settings” and the phone will find AT&T again and fix it. I don’t know if Verizon phones have the same problem. Jeff seemed to indicate this is a fairly common problem, so I figured I would post it here for others who have the same problem.

It makes me happy. The feeling that my phone was not working was scarier than I expected.

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Halloween Angry Birds and more

October 26, 2011

I’m not a games guy, but I’ve found I can waste a lot of time very enjoyably playing Angry Birds – all three versions – on the iPad. Not on the iPhone, mind you – anybody who can do that has tiny fingers and great eyes. But I’ve caught the dang AB bug like millions of others. This image is from a pumpkin carving contest sponsored by TMZ. It doesn’t look like much carving was done to create it, but it’s cool anyway.

You can also get a stencil at that site so you can carve your jack-o-lantern this year to look like a portrait of Ice-T. Who doesn’t need that?

Ice-T is very unhappy!

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Little stuff

October 12, 2011

I read this in a Tweet from Frank J. Fleming: it’s nice that Blackberry decided to have 3 days of silence in honor of Steve Job’s passing.

Speaking of Steve and Apple, today is the day the iCloud is open for business and iOS 5 is available. I started to download it for my iPad and iTunes said it would take 12 hours. The servers must be “a little busy.”

I’ve not updated either Mac to OSX Lion yet. I don’t know how involved the updates for applications will be and I don’t really need the upgrade to the OS as much as I need the apps. The iOS is different. It seems most everything I need should work with it. At least, I hope it will.

I looked at upgrading to the iPhone 4S. I only bought my iPhone 4 last fall, so I would have to pay the higher price for a new one from AT&T – a minimum of $ 450! Not going to happen. Not just for voice control and the few other big things, sorry. If it had been the rumored iPhone 5, with a bigger screen, it would have been different. Sorry, guys. I pass on this one. My wife is getting one, but she’s been using my old hand-me-down 3GS.

I guess the pretty weather is about gone. Too bad. It’s been really nice. I’m going to really miss it – I’ve gotten awfully used to near-perfect weather!

 

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Steven Paul Jobs, 1955-2011

October 5, 2011

The “insanely great” Steve Jobs finally lost his battle with cancer. I figure what went on today was something like this:

St. Peter: Hello, Steve.

Steve: Hi! It sure is great to get out of that bag!*

St. Peter (checking Steve’s name off on his iPad): Go on in, man. We’ve been waiting for you. We’re glad you’re here!

*If you don’t get the reference, check just after 3:00 on this:

We’re sure glad you were with us, Steve, and that you brought us so much with your unique talents. I’m writing this on my three-month-old MacBook Pro. My life would not have been anything close to what it is without the vision and passion of Steve Jobs. There are millions of people like me out there now. We should all strive to bring even a little of that kind of vision and passion to bear in our own lives.

I’m sorry to see you go, Steve, but I know that you were in great pain. Now that pain is gone. May God be with you, and may He comfort your family in this time of their loss.

 

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Book Review” “Outies,” by Dr. Jennifer Pournelle

January 21, 2011

Dr. Jennifer Pournelle

Dr. Jennifer Pournelle is an Assistant Professor in the School of the Environment at the University of South Carolina. She is a former US Army Intelligence officer and extensive experience and training in archaeology, especially in the Middle East. In addition to a bundle of scholarly articles, she has now written a science fiction novel. It’s set in the universe created by her father, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, and Larry Niven, in the landmark First Contact novel “The Mote In God’s Eye.”

A Motie Engineer

“Outies” is the term used for those humans who live on planets not yet formally admitted to the Second Empire of Man.The planet of New Utah is one such place, colonized by two Mormon splinter groups from another Empire world, and then also populated by religious groups from a variety of other places. Still, there’s a lot of open space on a planet, and the humans who have been on New Utah for only a few generations don’t all know what’s going on everywhere

The book is pretty well written, especially if it is a first novel. There are a few nagging misspellings and other editing errors that another careful reading would have cleaned out, but nothing that detracts from the story. The main characters are pretty well drawn, even though there are quite a few and at first it’s difficult to keep them straight.

I’d hate to give the story line away too much. I will tell you this – the story not only connects with “The Gripping Hand,” the sequel to “Mote,” (it takes place shortly after the events in that book), but to the events in “Mote” as well. It adds depth to the universe created by Niven and Pournelle the Elder and opens the possibility for more books to come, without this one being a cliff-hanger.

"Outies" cover illustration

The book is only available electronically. Right now it’s only available for B&N Nook and for Kindle, but you can use the Kindle version on a variety of platforms, so that shouldn’t be that much of a problem.I don’t doubt it will be available on print-on-demand eventually through Amazon as well. I’ve purchased several POD books through Amazon over the last year or so and the quality is very good. Any problems I’ve noted came from the original source document, not from the printing process.

By the way, I like the iPhone version of the Kindle app a lot better than the Nook app right now, and on the iPad I think it’s every bit as good as Apple’s iBook app, and searching for content is far easier.

If you’ve never read the other two books, I recommend you read them first, in the original order. “Mote” is not a short book, but as I said, it is considered one of the definitive First Contact novels, if not THE definitive one – even Robert A. Heinlein said so! There is an essay Niven and Pournelle wrote called “Building ‘The Mote in God’s Eye'” that can be found in Larry Niven’s short story collection “N-Space.” In it they explain how they created the Moties, and how the Motie biology dictated much of the plot of the story. They even talk about how a model kit of a fictional spaceship, the Leif Ericsson, was used as a starting point for the INS MacArthur in the book.

Chris Doll's magnificent "MacArthur" scratchbuilt model

As I said, it’s a deep and rich universe. The Second Empire of Man is a part of Jerry Niven’s future history series, which includes many of his novels describing the time leading up to the First Empire of Man. It’s all worth reading, but you don’t need to read all those to get the storyline of these books. “Mote,” “Hand,” and “Outies” work together very well to give you a very satisfying picture of a spacefaring civilization by the best hard-science fiction writing team (and now, daughter) in the business. The book, like the two before it, is very much recommended.

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iPad vs. other book readers, etc.

December 30, 2010

I’ve had the iPad for a few days now, and here’s my take on it as a book reader:

The display is beautiful, very, very readable, and too heavy and cumbersome. I know, I’m picky. I like reading on it better than on my second-generation Kindle. However, I’ve noticed that there are several companies that sell handgrips that fasten somehow to the back of the iPad to make it easier to hold. That shows that there is a little bit of an uncomfortability factor here.

Kindle version 2

Now, let me be clear: it’s an absolutely beautiful piece of technology and one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, let alone used. As I mentioned in a previous post, I think it’s the future of computers/information appliances/communications devices for most people. I also think it is to the really usable form factor what the original iPod was to the current models.

Am I unhappy I have it? Hell, no! It’s frackin’ gorgeous, and I love it! I think I’m going to love the iPad 5 even more in 2015, though!

My wife just got a Barnes and Nobel Nook for Christmas. It has a really decent screen, is about the same size and weight as my Kindle, but backlit. For many folks it will be the perfect compromise. It has a web browser and will have other apps coming out soon. We’ve not tested much of this yet, though. It cost about half as much as my iPad, and it probably has about half the functionality. For a lot of folks that’s enough.

My old Kindle is best used for reading in bed with an LED booklight. It has great battery life because it’s not backlit, and it’s fine for reading books. (However, I’m starting to see “ghosting” on the screen. I don’t know how long the screen will last on these devices.)

The iPad user has several book reader apps to choose from. You may want to use more than one. I have the Kindle app, because I have about 70 items in my Kindle library, and buying books from Amazon is easy. I’m trying the Apple iBooks app, and it’s pretty, but it seems kind of slow. I’ve not tried the Nook app on the iPad yet. I have used it on the iPhone 4, and it works, but it’s just OK. I’ve not tried them all, certainly!

Right now I’m leaning toward the Kindle app. It’s readable, easy to use, and pretty fast at rendering pages. The best part is the way Amazon is set up to sell books. I can share my Kindle purchases with all my devices – iPhone, computers (Intel Mac and PC), iPad, and even the Kindle! My wife also uses my Kindle account so we share books. The iBooks store is new and will get better with time, of course. I’m just more comfortable with Amazon and it’s the one to beat right now. ZD Net did a review of ereader apps for the iPad back in June 2010. You can find it here.