Amazon's Kindle iPhone app is pretty good but needs a dictionary

July 23, 2009

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I've only used it a little, but Amazon's Kindle iPhone app is a much better reading experience than I thought it would be. I'll let you know if I have the same feeling after reading an entire book, but after a few sessions, I'm pleasantly surprised with how little I consciously think about the fact that there are only a few sentences on the screen at one time and how often I have to flip pages. One of the best User Interface elements of it is the little lock that pops up for a moment when you trun the device from vertical to horizontal or vice versa. Tapping the lock keeps tells the app to keep the display in that perspective. Without this it would be difficult to read lying down because the app would have a tendency to flip to a vertical display when turn to the side. One key improvent I'd like to see is a dictionary lookup. In the current version, you can't even copy a word to paste into another app. Makes a real pain when you come across a tricky word that you are unsure of. You'll need an Amazon account (and an iPhone or iPod Touch, of course) but the app is worth checking out. There are some titles that are offered for free. So, you can get a feel for the experince with something like Dracula without having to pay a dime.


iPhone 3GS Camera is Impressive

June 30, 2009

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I'm pretty impressed with the camera on the iPhone 3GS. Here's a snap. All I did to this was crop a little to straighten the image, resize down to 550 pixels wide and then apply "Smart sharpen" in Photoshop. iphone-test-photo.jpg Pretty damn good quality considering it's a tiny camera on a cell phone. (Also, the wind was blowing a little so the blooms were moving a decent amount. It was bright enough that the action was stopped pretty well.) Note: I know that the image is breaking the current design. Eventually, when I get time to drop in a real template it'll fit…..


Go subscribe to KEXP's Song of the Day

June 29, 2009

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kexp-sotd.jpgIf you want to discover some new music, check out KEXP's Song of the Day. I dig the general style of music they push. Combined with the fact that each "episode" is really an mp3 of a single song, it makes it one of the best podcasts I've found. As a bonus, they have all their old stuff up. If you subscribe in iTunes and then hit get all, you'll receive hundreds of individual songs. Awesome.


Beaten to the punch on one iPhone App idea

June 29, 2009

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.


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