I’m delighted to announce that the Apple App Store accepted my first iPhone app, Fine Tip – Tip Calculator, on my first try. You can use Fine Tip to quickly calculate your next restaurant bill’s tip and grand total. It’s fast and easy to use. Take a look at the demo/tutorial:
I tested out the Seesmic iPhone App today. Seesmic on the web is my current preferred method of viewing tweets on the desktop. While the iPhone app is a terrific start, given the deal breaker points discussed below (not remembering where the user leaves off in the timeline, no landscape viewing modes and no ability to adjust fonts), I’m sticking with the new official Twitter App (aka Tweetie 3) on my iPhone – bugs and all.
- ITS FREE
- NICE INTERFACE: It has a terrific and elegant interface.
- CLASSIC RT: It supports classic ‘RT’ retweeting.
- EVERNOTE INTEGRATION: You can now post a tweet to your Evernote database with the click of a button. I love this idea! I hope more twitter apps (iPhone or desktop) add this feature in the future.
- UNLIMITED LOAD OLDER TWEETS: It supports unlimited ‘Load older…” tweets at the end of the timeline (something that the Twitter App also supports in theory but is often buggy)
- WICKED FAST: It is surprisingly fast when loading those older tweets. It is faster than the Twitter app, Tweetdeck and Echofon.
- ADJUSTABLE ‘TWEETS LOADED’ SETTING: I like the ability to set how many tweets it downloads at a time. I always set these to the max – usually 100.
- DOESN’T REMEMBER WHERE YOU LEFT OFF ON START: I try to read every tweet from the limited number of people I follow. To do this I want my Twitter app to start up where I last left off. The Seesmic iPhone does NOT remember where I left off when I shut down the app and restart it – even if I shut it down for just for a minute and come back. THIS IS A CRITICAL FLAW AND DEAL BREAKER FOR ME!
- DOESN’T REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE WHEN RETURNING FROM LINK: If you are, say, 5 hours down your timeline, and then you click on a link in a tweet to read a linked story within Seesmic’s embedded browser, when you return, you are returned to the TOP of the timeline – not where you left off. You must scroll down and find where you left off in the timeline. If you left off beyond the 100 tweets loaded, you have to reload the older tweets. VERY ANNOYING & ANOTHER DEAL KILLER!
- NO LANDSCAPE MODE: It’s all portrait all the time. This is especially painful when viewing websites within its embedded browser. THIS WAS ALSO A DEAL KILLER FOR ME (Twitter App & Echofon do landscape – Tweetdeck doesn’t)
- NO USER SELECTABLE FONT SIZE: My aging eyes need this!! Another deal killer for me. I note Tweetdeck also cannot adjust fonts whereas the Twitter app and Echofon can
Since purchasing my iPhone back in August 2008, every time I connected my iPhone to my PC (originally Vista, now Windows 7 RC), iTunes would automatically start the Windows ‘Import Pictures and Videos’ wizard (“IPVW”), regardless of whether or not there were any new pictures on my iPhone to import.
Since I connect my iPhone to iTunes every day (to update my podcasts, backup data, install new apps etc.), I had to cancel out of the IPVW every time I connected. This was a daily frustration!
Along the line I had collected up some 30ish pictures in my iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ for the following reasons:
- Originally, I had not set the ‘delete from iPhone when importing’ option in the IPVW, so those pictures remained on the camera roll even after syncing; and
- For some good pictures, I just wanted to keep a copy on my iPhone for viewing.
Strangely, there is no way to move pictures from the iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ to an album in the iPhone’s native Photos app.
Most of the time I want pictures to be copied off my iPhone when I sync. As a result I had set the IPVW’s Import settings (see link in picture above) accordingly. To my mind, the iPhone should only automatically pop-up the IPVW when there are new pictures that a user might want copied over to the PC. That is not how it works.
With a few easy steps that take only minutes to complete, iPhone users the world round can get access to some (but not all) of the iPhone Apps that are only available in the U.S.. I’m surprised it took me so long to try this. I just used it to d0wnload the Lose It! which was previously not available to me in Canada.
Setup is a breeze. It took me about two minutes. You essentially set up a VPN connection to the U.S. through the HotSpot Shield servers. This, of course, would also be useful for safe surfing at coffee shops and other wifi locations.
Once you have set up your account, configured and activated the VPN (see instructions below), navigate to the App Store on your iPhone. Search for the app you want and (if its there) download it. It’s that simple.
Survives Desktop Sync
I was concerned that if I downloaded apps this way, they would be wiped out after I synced my iPhone with iTunes to my desktop. Not so. The sync went fine and the apps remained on the iPhone.
No Need to Keep VPN Turned On
[June 25, 2009 Update: I was able to download Lose It! using Hotspot Shield on the iPhone. See my post: “How to Use Hotspot Shield to Get U.S.-only iPhone Apps” for details.]
As a Canadian long suffering the woes of countless U.S. web-based and other consumer applications, products and services not being available here, I had been extraordinarily happy with the understanding that iPhone apps would not be blocked by national borders.
After hearing so many comments on how terrific the ‘Lose It!’ iPhone App was, I decided to try it out today. When I tried to access it I got this error message:
Sad, very sad!
Since joining Twitter a few months back, I have wanted to understand how it overlapped/interacted with the web-content aggregator friendfeed. I looked at friendfeed at least two or three times and never quite ‘got it’ – until today.
Robert Scoble was a guest on the recent episode 81 of net@night. This guy is quite the friendfeed evangelist (Arrington suggests he’s addicted to it). So much so that the net@nite discussion made me want to take another look. Leo mentioned that Scoble had done a ‘how to’ type video on friendfeed. A quick Google search lead me to this very informative 26 minute video: ‘Robert Scoble: 20 Things About Friendfeed”:
Sometimes I have difficulties falling asleep – I can’t seem to shut the mind off. For years I’ve considered purchasing rather high-priced sleep assist devices such as this white noise machine. The idea is to help you fall asleep by distracting the mind with pleasing, relaxing sounds. But they always seemed too expensive and I was concerned they wouldn’t work.
I was delighted to see the 99¢ “White Noise” app on the iPhone’s App Store “Top 25 Paid” list. I thought for 99¢ I couldn’t go wrong. Turns out White Noise wasn’t so useful. So I went on to check out its competitors, Ambiance and aSleep, each of which are also 99¢.
They all provide essentially the same functionality – selectable looping sounds that can be set to turn off after a preset amount of time. But they all suffer from the same two problems:
I took advantage of the Apple Store’s 14 day return policy and traded up to a 20" iMac ($1,299 Cdn). I returned the Mac Mini that I purchased two weeks ago.
I’m using the Mac as an iPhone App development platform. The Mac Mini just wasn’t quite enough for my needs.
The Mac Mini was gorgeous on, and took full advantage of, the 1920 x 1200 screen resolution of one of my 24" Dell monitors.
But, you cannot extend the Leopard desktop to a a second monitor with a Mac Mini.
[Update March 3, 2009: The new Mac Mini that came out in the beginning of March 2009 supports dual monitor setups with a Mini DVI port and Mini DisplayPort on the back. With this change it now makes the Mac Mini more suitable for iPhone development. Here are the full new Mac Mini specs.]
I am used to having my Vista desktop extended across four monitors. Having just one monitor on the Mac Mini (even a 24" monitor) was just too small for comfortable application development.
You can extend the iMac desktop to a second monitor and that’s exactly what I’m doing. The iMac has a mini-DVI port on the back for this purpose. I purchased a mini-DVI to VGA dongle and extended the iMac desktop to my second Dell 24" monitor (I switch that monitor back and forth between my iMac and my Dell XPS PC as needed – its my furthest right Dell monitor and to the left of my iMac). For now my XPS Vista machine is plugged into that 24" Dell monitor’s DVI input.
Hell has officially frozen over. After 28 years of PC ownership, I purchased my first Apple computer yesterday – a mac mini.
I’d like to try my hand at developing iPhone Apps for the App Store. The SDK only works on the Apple platform (no SDK for you, PC developers). The big challenge for me won’t be the iPhone SDK so much as figuring out how to use a Mac. I’ve never spent more than a few frustrating minutes with the platform.
The Mac Mini Decision
Originally I was going to purchase an iMac hoping that I could use it in my growing array of PC monitors (ie: use its screen to switch back and forth between the iMac and just another screen in my array of PC screens). But, there’s no VGA, DVI or any other video input on the thing.
After an hour or so on the iPhone Developer site on my own and then another half hour with an Apple Store rep, we determined that the Mac Mini must be able to run the iPhone App SDK. Hence, as the cheapest way to go I decided that the Mac Mini was the best bet. After all, I have no intention to use the thing for anything other than Apple App development. And if it doesn’t meet my needs I have 14 days to return it.
I was a bit surprised that the Mac Mini doesn’t even come with a keyboard or a mouse. The Mac Mini was $649. The two extra peripherals were $49 each. And it cost me $99 fee to join the iPhone Developer Program. For $846 plus tax, I’m off.