Saturday, June 26, 2010

Is there an App for that?

A few of my friends are recently new to the iPhone or will be getting one in the coming weeks so I figured I'd post up a list of apps that I have come to rely on over the past few years.

If you're on Twitter and follow a lot of people then you know how hard it can be sometimes to catch up and keep up. TweetDeck is the solution. TweetDeck allows you to sort your feed into multiple columns and then file the people you follow into the columns for easier sorting. TweetDeck can connect to Twitter, Facebook, Google Buz
z, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Myspace. No more needing to check sparate apps or webpages for all your friends updates. TweetDeck puts them all in one, easy to configure, dashboard on both your iPhone and they also have Desktop versions.

Need to write a quick note while you're out somewhere? Want to take a picture and remember where something was? Need to quickly dictate some notes to write up or remember later? Then Evernote is a solution for you. Evernote is a free service* that allows you to create those types of Notes and reminders that are then sync'd with their server and then sync'd with your home Mac or PC if you use their Desktop version. Its like having all your important notes, reminders, and lists in one location reachable from where ever you happen to be.
*Premium also available for more bandwidth and storage

If you Geocache then the Official Geocaching App ($9.99) is a must for you. Its a
full featured Geocaching application with the ability to pull up nearby caches, load pocket queries, view cache details, and see posted pictures. Once you've picked a cache to try it can use the iPhone's built in GPS and Compass (3GS and 4 only) to guide you right to the cache location. Then when you've found the cache you can log field notes and directly upload them as your log to the Geocaching site logging your find in your profile.

If you're a runner you might like MapMyRun+ ($4.99) [or the free MapMyRun] MapMyRun tracks your running by plotting your path on the map using the
iPhone's built in GPS. The app keeps up with your current and average min/mile, average speed, and your start and finish times. When finished with your run you can then choose to make the run Public or Private by uploading it to their server to share with your friends. It also has the ability to send updates to your Twitter or Facebook page. They have various levels of accounts on the MapMyRun site but I've been quite happy with the free account type. I did upgrade to the MapMyRun+ app instead of the free MayMyRun so I could get in-app music controls but that's not necessary if you don't listen to music when you run. They also have a MapMyRide application for bike riders that want to do the same tracking.
NOTE: Thanks Dave for the recommendation on this app. I use it every run and am loving it.

Ever been out at a store and see something you want and have this nagging feeling you've seen it cheaper somewhere else nearby? Redlaser can help. Redlaser uses the iPhone's camera to snap a picture of the items barcode then it deciphers the data and performs an online search for that exact same item. It then shows you the prices of the same item online as well as nearby locations that it can find a price for (based on your location). I mainly use it for remembering stuff that I know I want to order online rather than pay an overpriced fee in a store. Redlaser has saved me tons of money since it came out.
NOTE: Redlaser was recently purchased by e-bay so what is to become of it and what its features will mutate into are yet to be disclosed by e-bay.

If you're into Instant Messaging and want to still be able to IM your friends while you're on the go then its worth the $9.99 to get BeeJiveIM for the iPhone. BeeJiveIM was one of the first to take advantage of Apple's Push service and allow your application to be closed yet still receive notices when your friends IM you. BeeJiveIM is a full featured IM Client allowing you to set up all of your accounts into one IM Client instead of multiple clients. With just this one client you can IM with your AOL, YIM, MSN, etc... friends while on the go.

Of course your iPhone wouldn't be complete without the Official Facebook App.
Gain full access to your Facebook profile and friends. Upload pictures, update your status, send and receive messages, respond to friend request, and comment on friends pictures and post. All the features of Facebook are available on the website are available in the application. A must have for Facebook junkies :)

These are just a few of the slew of applications that I have on my iPhone4 today. Mashable has a huge list of over 700 app reviews that you might also find useful for categories I did not cover. Feel free to hit me up if there is a particular app type you are looking for and I'll be glad to recommend what I use for that need (if I have one) or I'll do some searching and find one to fit your needs and let you know what to try.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Now we know why they invented "Bumpers"

So the Geeks Are Sexy blog posted an article about the new iPhone4 and what appears to be a major flaw in its construction or design.

If you're right handed you typically talk on the iPhone with the phone in your left hand. Doing this puts the lower left metal border of the iPhone4 in contact with your thumb muscles of your palm. When this contact occurs you can watch your signal strength go from Full bars 3G down to nothing (Searching....) When you let go and move your skin away from the lower left of the phone metal border the signal returns.

I have personally tried this experiment and performed the test and can confirm that it is indeed true. I was able to observe the signal drop and loss just like in the video.

Conveniently though, use of the new Apple "Bumpers" on the iPhone negates this effect by putting a layer of plastic and rubber between your skin and the metal iPhone4 border parts. Thus this leads one to the assumption that this is why Apple suddenly decided to enter the "case" market with Bumpers.

Come on Apple! This is the type of shit we routinely get and expect from Microsoft, not you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Like" or "Dislike"

Geek Sugar recently posted a question to twitter asking Should Facebook have a "Dislike" button too?

My response is WHY? WHY do people insist on having a "Dislike" button?

Last year I got into a discussion on Facebook with a guy I knew in High School about this same subject. He had posted the same copy/paste that I had seen going around at the time. It was something like "Post this in your status if you want a Dislike button, we need 1,000,000 people to make this happen" so I responded asking why. Why did he feel the need to express his dislike of something someone posted when he could simply ignore it and move on. Ignoring something by NOT clicking "Like" or commenting on it is effectively a "Dislike" since you were so indifferent to it you chose to not "Like" it. He argued that ignoring it wasn't the same because he wanted to be able to express his dislike of what some people post. Eventually he quit answering me after I kept pointing out flaws in his logic and shooting holes in his hate veiled as an excuse. Put simply, he wanted a method to express his anger, hatred, or contempt for stuff that people post but he didn't want to go to the effort to actually comment or talk to the person. Pretty pathetic huh?

Now, as Geek Sugar points out, the point of her post is not for a general "Dislike" but more of a situation where you don't want to "Like" your friends post about their cat dying but you want a simple one click solution to show your dislike of the situation showing your sympathy for them. This idea is a noble one and one that would normally be ok but lets face it, 99.99999% of people that would use the "Dislike" button are not so noble. They want a "Dislike" button so they can express their opinion and disapproval of your post. Like the guy from high school, these same people lack the courage to post a comment and enter into a discussion on whatever the subject is that they "Dislike" or they'd already be doing that. They want a simple, anonymous, button to click to push their opinion on you in an effort to belittle your post or establish their self-perceived superiority over your post/opinion.

A "Dislike" button would lead to nothing but abuse by those without the strength to own up to their own opinions. If someone keeps posting shit you don't like, unfriend them or hide their updates. Stop asking for a tool to try and oppress peoples updates and opinions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And so it begins...

Today began my training for the Disney Inaugural Wine and Dine Half Marathon scheduled for October 2nd later this year. This was the first time in I don't remember how long that I've actually run and something wasn't chasing me. I went 1.78mi and took 27:38 to do it averaging 15;32/mi and 3.9mph. To me that just plain sucks but others are telling me its not too bad for a first day. My hope is that once I shed some of this extra weight I'll actually enjoy running more than I do now. My shins and lower legs are the part of me that can't seem to take the running for long stretches. I'm only stopping to walk when my legs need a breather. I feel good that I didn't give up and even though I walked every 1/4-1/3 mile I pushed through and did the complete loop at Lenora Park plus a little bit.
If you like to check in on my pain and progress you can peek at my MapMyRun Profile from time to time and see how I'm doing or poke me if I'm not doing enough.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

HeroesCon 2010


I took a road trip this weekend with my buddy Joe Peacock to Heroes Con in Charlotte NC. Joe invited me along since I'd never been and we're both comic book geeks of various eras. Joe was going because he was giving a talk on his Art of Akira exhibit discussing the importance of Akira in animation history, its attention to detail, and its sparking the Anime boom in the United States. I learned quite a lot from his talk. Akira was truly a phenomenal piece of work that has never been surpassed in the same medium. It was a great talk and presentation that will be on youtube as soon as he gets the video we took cut down and edited.

After Joe's talk we hit the floor to experience Heroes Con. I've been out of the comic book collecting world for at least 20 years so it was very interesting to see so little has changed. The main difference now is that I actually know people that draw some of the mainstream published comics. (DC/Marvel stuff) Being able to see them and meet friends of friends and chat with them was incredibly cool and a lot of fun.
Outside of the people I already knew, I was thrilled to be able to finally meet Danielle Corsetto of Girls With Slingshots. I've been reading her comic for years and its one of my daily reads that I never miss. I got a signed book one from her and hung out for a few minutes chatting. She was every bit as cool and friendly as I pictured she'd be and I was really glad to meet her. Next to her was Erika Moen of I hadn't had the pleasure of discovering Erika's work online or meeting her before but I'm glad I made her acquaintance. I had a great time chatting with her and am looking forward to catching up on her comic and work. We exchanged stories on our tattoos and their meanings and just had a few minutes of general chit chat. She was really cool. I could see hanging out with both ladies and friends having beers and shooting the shit one day. That's how cool and friendly both Danielle and Erika were. I am glad to have met them in person.

After HeroesCon wound to a close for the day we hooked up with some twitter friends of Joe and went to The Penguin Drive In. It was a nice small place not far from downtown with good beer and decent grub. The atmosphere and hanging out with new friends is what made it a really great night out. We had beers, met new people, and shared various stories (carjacking anyone?). If Joe and I hadn't planned for just a day trip we would have definitely stayed around longer and hit a few more night spots to continue the fun. Sadly though we had to bail before the next stop and begin our trek home.

Overall it was a really great road trip. Joe and I had many excellent and random topic conversations on the road jumping from topic to topic as happens when you get geeks together. Same thing happened at dinner at The Penguin.

I'll definitely be going and get a room for HeroesCon next year.