Beaten to the punch on one iPhone App idea

June 29, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

I've got three ideas for iPhone Apps that I'd like to try. Up until a few weeks ago, no one had done any of them. Then I discovered the "CardStar" App which is right in line with one of them. CardStar lets you punch in the numbers under the bar codes from various membership, V.I.P. and reward cards and then recreates the bar codes themselves on the screen. The idea being that you can store as many as you want in your iPhone/iPod Touch and leave the actual cards at home. With all the other stuff I carry around, anything that can keep me from having to take something else along is great. So, the idea of CardStar is awesome. I've only been using it for a little while and have run into a few issues. First off, some scanners have a hard time with reading the barcode on the screen and some simply can't do it. This isn't CardStar's fault. Just an issue between the way the two technologies work. CardStar's FAQ recommends having the merchant use their handheld scanners instead of the flatbed ones. I've seen this in action at my local Winn-Dixie. The flatbed didn't work at all, but the handheld was able to pick up the bar code. Sadly, some handhelds don't seem to be able to pick up the bar codes either. A second issue I've run into is that some places won't let you use anything other than the original card. I'm guessing most grocery, drug and retail stores don't care, but my local library does. Once again, not CardStar's fault. Just the way things work. There are some changes I'd make to the User Interface of CardStar to make it more intuitive, but all it all, it's a good little app. For the time being, it's also free. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, go pick it up and give it a try.


Hold music should be mutable

June 08, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

I ran into some issues installing the upgrade to Adobe Lightroom that required me to call their Customer Support. My standard operating procedure for this is to dial in and put it on speaker while I wait for a person to pick up. Like a lot of companies, Adobe has hold music to keep you company while you are waiting. This is nice in theory as it lets you know that you are still connected, but there really should be a way to mute it. Or, at least switch to a simple beep every few minutes. Not only do I have to wait for them to pick up, but I really can't do much else with the music blaring in the background. Event with the speaker all the way down, it's still pretty loud.

So, to all you phone service providers how about a little message in front of the hold music that says, "If you would like to turn off the hold music while you wait, press *7." Same thing goes for conference calls and any other place where hold music is presented on the phone.


iPhone Wish List

June 04, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Rumor is that the new iPhone is on its way next week. It's a little late for Apple to respond, but here's my wish list for a future version of the iPhone.

  • Adobe Flash support
  • AM/FM +HD radio
  • Ambient light/flash meter
  • Auto-focus lens
  • Authorized replacement for Gov. Issued ID
  • Background applications
  • Barcode reader
  • Breathalyzer
  • Built-in projector
  • Bulletproof exterior
  • Cable ready
  • Choice of wireless providers
  • Compass
  • Copy and Paste
  • Credit card reader
  • DNA Scanner
  • External microphone connection
  • Electro magnet
  • Faster network
  • Faster processor
  • Faster WiFi
  • Flash for camera
  • Finger print scanner
  • Geiger counter
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • HD video recording
  • HDMI connection
  • HDTV receiver
  • Higher resolution camera
  • Horizontal keyboard
  • Increased dynamic range in stills/video
  • Infrared transmitter/receiver
  • Image stabilization
  • Improved low light (high-iso) camera/video performance
  • Increased local storage space
  • Insulin meter
  • Java
  • Kinetic energy recharger
  • Laser pointer
  • Less expensive
  • Longer battery life
  • MMS messages
  • More RAM
  • Native hard drive functionality
  • OCR
  • Optical zoom lens
  • Radar
  • Range finder
  • R/C Transmitter
  • Removable battery
  • Removable card storage
  • Retinal scanner
  • RFID tag and reader
  • RSA SecurID
  • Satellite TV ready
  • Solar panel
  • Sonar
  • Spectrometer
  • Stereoscopic still/video capture
  • Stethoscope
  • Storage Encryption
  • Submergible up to 100 meters
  • Taser
  • Tethering for cellular modem capability
  • Thermometer
  • Voice recognition
  • Wireless trigger for external camera flashes
  • XM/Sirius ready

While it would be great to add a few things like a screw driver and a little knife blade, this would lead to conflicts with T.S.A. restrictions.


Subversion GUI for Mac

June 02, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

When I was running a windows machine, I installed TortoiseSVN to make Subversion a little easier to deal with. It worked well, but always freaked me out a little that it looked at everything in windows explorer to see if it was a working copy. Occasionally, this would really slow things down when navigating through network drives.

After switching over to using a Mac, I reverted back to doing everything for Subversion with the command line. Like lots of things, with a little practice, it's easy once you get the hang of it and probably faster to boot. Even with that being the case, I wanted to see what GUIs were available and found svnX. It's a stand alone piece of Free Open Source Software that provides a way do browse and work with repositories and working copies.

After a quick run through, it looks like a nice little application. It's a little slow when looking at the repository across a network, but for someone who doesn't want to have to mess with the command line, it's should make dealing with Subversion approachable.


Holy Cow! Juliette Lewis Rocks!

May 24, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

I don't remember how I got there, probably one of those trips down the Wikipedia Rabbit Hole, but I just recently stumbled on the fact that Juliette Lewis is a signer. Unlike a lot of other actresses that start "singing careers" to have another produce to sell, Juliette looks like she's in it for the music and can damn well carry a tune.

I figured all this out when I found a reference somewhere to Juliette and the Licks. Looks like I'm a little late to see them live. According to that Wikipedia page, the band recently broke up and Juliette has moved to a new group called "The New Romantiques". It looks like this band is going to be much more about Juliette since the top result in Google's search for the band points to www.myspace.com/juliettelewis while the second result www.myspace.com/julietteandthenewromantiques is just a redirect to the /juliettelewis page. When you get there, the branding is all about her and I don't see a mention of the Romantiques anywhere.

There are also a few tracks on the MySpace page. They are alright, but don't do a whole lot for me. I like the stuff I've heard from when she was with the Licks a lot more. They were much more in that good ol' rock and roll genre. For example, here's a produced video:

But the real proof is in the Live pudding:

Girl can put on a show.

I've always thought that chicks who sing automatically get way sexier. Juliette is further confirmation. I never thought she was that attractive. At least, not until I saw her sing. Then she jumped right into the "hot" category.

One final note, I can't help but think an old college buddy told me about the her singing career a long time ago and I didn't take him seriously. I hope my memory is playing tricks on me. If not, I owe him a drink.


The song Powerhouse is one of those things I just never looked up

May 21, 2009

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Skimming through my RSS news reader, I came across this video of "The Philharmonicas" playing a song called Powerhouse.

It sounded familiar at first and then at about 1:10, I figured out why. It's the tune that is used during assembly line scenes in Looney Tunes shorts. Before the www, I used to wonder what the name was but never really had a way to look it up. Even though I've thought of it since then, I never looked it up. Perhaps that song was stuck in an old mindset.


Command Line XML Validation Against Schema XSD

May 21, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Even though I do a ton of work with XML files, I don't use actual XML Schema documents very often. It seems like this is the case with most people who work with XML files. After spending some time working with schemas, it's not hard to see why. They are tedious and it is very easy to get by without having to use them. In day-to-day operation, they offer very little value. Especially considering the language is dense to start with and bulky to work with.

One plays where Schemas are very valuable is in testing software while it's still in development or when a change is being put in place. The language has a lot of potential for catching little errors that would otherwise be missed in high level test suites.

The impression I get is that a lot of other folks are running XML without really worrying about created Schemas. One of the main reasons is that I had to search for a couple hours to find a good command line tool that validates an XML document against a schema. The one I found and have so far been pleased with is Sun's "Multi-Schema XML Validator" known as "msv". The most recent version can be downloaded here. Note, if you are using a Mac with it's standard Java install, the latest version won't work out of the gate. Instead you can use the older version which is available here as msv.zip.

The core of msv is stored in a .jar file that is included with the zip. To run msv, the command would be something like:

java -jar /path/to/msv.jar /path/to/schema.xsd /path/to/doc.xml

If the XML doc is valid, you'll see a message like:

start parsing a grammar.

validating /path/to/doc.xml

the document is valid.

If there is an error, msv will report it and let you know what's wrong. Sometimes these can be a little cryptic, but when they are, they have enough info to get you started in the right direction.


Recovering Deleted Photos

May 04, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

If you have ever formatted a compact flash card that had photos on it you still needed, the first thing to do is make sure you don't mess with the card at all. Then,  check out PhotoRec. An open source tool that tries to recover photos that have been deleted. It's a bit cryptic to use, but there is a step-by-step procedure in the documentation that'll walk you thru it. I've used it once with success to help get photos off a friends card.

If things get corrupted, there is also TestDisk, which is bundled with PhotoRec. I haven't used it, but it's worth a shot if you run into real issues with a card.

Other than being Free Open Source Software, these apps have the added bonus of being available on multiple operating systems including Mac and Windows.


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