Monkey Magic

The Olympics are only a few days away. I love the Olympics – so many different sports, so many heroes and increasingly more villains. The TV coverage by the BBC is usually excellent and this will be the first to be broadcast in HD. I’m already impressed with the marketing and titles that the beeb are to use:

They were produced by Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn and are so different from the norm. That’s a good different by the way as there are lot’s of moan’s from traditionalists about the titles. Good to see the normally staid BBC doing something different. Let’s hope the GB team can be as successful. More importantly, let’s hope China do a good job of hosting the games.

Already there is doubts being cast on the full internet access that journalists were promised. Will they all stick to sport reporting or try and use this opportunity to report on what China really is like?

From the iphone

So I’m writing this from the iPhone. The WordPress app for the iPhone came out this morning which I installed over 3G onto the phone. I can now write up posts on the move, adding tags and categories too.

Seems to be working well so far although will only truly work if it posts to the blog successfully. The over the air app install was a bit hairy though. Two resets required before it finally installed. That’s what I get for adopting early.

iPhone One Week On

One week done and it’s time to share some thoughts. In no particular order:

  • The iPhone 3G uses a lot of battery. For the first few days I had to recharge daily. However with some careful management that seems to be stretching to two days now. The biggest difference for me was made by managing 3G and wi-fi networks. At home I use wi-fi, elsewhere I use 3G/Edge. So at home i switch off 3G, outside home I switch off wi-fi and only switch on 3G when I actually want to use faster access. Management of these settings has made the biggest difference to the battery life.
  • The on screen keyboard is really good. Much faster than I imagined and great for texts, e-mails, tweets although I’m sure a long blog post/document creation would be pretty painful.
  • iPod is great. Coverflow really works well on a screen this size. Music sounds much better than my old iPod.
  • Some of the AppStore app’s have been pretty buggy. I guess that’s to be expected but it’s still annoying when you launch an app and it either repeatedly crashes or, worse, requires an iPhone reset.
  • Call quality is excellent and taking phone calls while listening to iPod works well.
  • Twinkle appeared on the app store yesterday and is a great Twitter client. Looks good and has a nice location based feature where people in 10, 25 mile radius to you can see your tweets and easily respond. For me it’s work so much better than Twitterrific which is buggy and allow in comparison.
  • App’s launch quickly and it’s easy to move between sending a text, getting mail, browsing and then back to some video’s or music.
  • When I’ve been typing I occasionally notice some lag. It’s like the key’s are taking a half second or so to register and then appear. Nothing to bad but there are reports on the net than some people are seeing scary 20 second delays in typing. Hopefully these issues are firmware fixable.
  • Love the text’s layout. Just makes so much sense when you see then laid out as an iChat sesion.

Great phone and despite it’s shortcomings it’s the best I’ve owned. It’s easy to do and does so much more than other phone’s despite it having inferior hardware.

Thank You SuperDuper!

Since I bought my Mac I have backed it up using SuperDuper! which was one of the recommended Mac backup applications. I’ve tested the backup to make sure I could boot from it but I’d never needed to use it in anger. Until today.

I had to reboot the iMac. It came up fine displaying the Apple logo and the spinner. Then the hard disk switched off and I was left looking at the logo and the spinner. That’s not right. Switched off and on and it was the same again. Feck. Another couple of goes and it was still the same. Time to reset PRAM. No difference. NVRAM? Still buggered. I booted from the Leopard DVD and ran a disk check. No issues. I ran a disk repair – no difference. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I did some surfing from the laptop and couldn’t really find any other step’s that would help. So it was time to finally use the SuperDuper! backup. It was time to restore!

I erased the disk and restored from the firewire drive. A couple of hours later I rebooted and I was back in business. Kind off. The backup was taken before the iPhone, iTunes and MobileMe updates and one they were on I synced with the iPhone…which wiped all the app’s from it. I had to download them, then install and set them up again. Annoying but nothing compared to the hassle and data loss had I not had that backup.

So thank you SuperDuper! for saving me tonight and hopefully this is a small lesson for anyone reading who doesn’t take regular backups. It also show’s that you should never assume a Mac is full proof. I just hope it was a one off glitch I experienced and it’s not a sign of impending hardware problems.

Some more app's anyone?

More iPhone chat unfortunately. I threw on three more app’s tonight and all of them are working really well. The first is Vicinity. Using the location services on the iPhone it works out where you are and provides easy access to a list of local services.

VicinityThe first list is to Wikipedia providing snippets to articles from around your locale with links to the full Wikipedia articles. You can also see a list of nearby places. This is a mish mash of all the different important buildings and services that are close to you. You can then see different services in more detail – banks, hotels, restaurants. The list generated was pretty accurate for me and selecting a restaurant allowed you to easily call it and then get a map with directions from your current location. This will be really handy for me as I’m working away from home quite a bit more. Couple of issues though. The list of services is often missing results and those returned can be out of date. Secondly, reading the reviews on the Appstore shows that it’s results are very hit and miss. While it’s only £1.79 to buy, it would be nice to have a demo for some of these app’s.

Next up is Tuner from Nullriver (the people behind the excellent Connect360 and Medialink). Tuner has one role in life – let you browse and listen to internet music streams. The range of streams is massive. In fact it’s pretty bewildering just how many there are but you can bookmark favourites you find over time. Streaming worked really well over wifi and was pretty good on 3G too. What’s really nice is that for £2.99 I have easy access to almost any music I want.

lastfmFinally, some humble pie. I posted at the weekend that I was tired of last.fm and didn’t really mind not being able to scroble from the iPhone. The last bit is true but the free last.fm app for the iPhone is superb. Amazing. My favourite iPhone app so far. You login in to your last.fm profile and via the app you can listen to a radio station based on your previous listens. You can also see what your friends have been listening too and listen to stations based on their tastes. What I really liked was browsing to charts, seeing artists and listening to music from them or similar to them. It worked really fast on wifi with small buffer pauses only. On 3G it worked but was less effective. Buffering was longer and moving to the next track started the buffering process again. But the app is free, the music is free so hard to be too picky. No scrobling either but I’m sure that’s down to the background process nonsense from Apple. Music can be bought from the iTunes store with ease if you like what you hear. Did I mention this was free?

Do you need Last.fm and Tuner? Probably not but each does generate different results and Tuner wasn’t to expensive. Lot’s of travel tomorrow so be interesting to see how the iPhone performs away from home with more usage and a different, less populated, location.

Weight Update

Back in December I posted the last update on my weight loss. I’d lost over two stones and decided it was time to at least post an update, set a target and give me something to aim for. Well, it’s just over 10 months since I started trying to lose some weight and I’ve hit another milestone.

Weight Loss

In total I’ve lost 25.5kg, 56.2 pounds or 4 stones 2 pounds. The fourth stone was a lot more difficult than the others but in truth the biking has calmed down recently so I kind of know why. There’s also been some blips along the way (Christmas, some illnesses etc) but overall there’s a nice shape to the graph above.

So my total weight is now 98.6kg or just over 15 1/2 stones. Another 1.5kg will see me reach my true target, a BMI under 30 which would mean (according to the BMI scale) that I’m no longer obese but overweight. To some reading this that will sound crazy but for me it’s a massive difference to what I was less than a year ago.

What brings it home are things like clothes – some of them are hanging of me now and look really baggy. My waist size has dropped a few sizes and the belts are to big now. The neighbours had their two kids in yesterday and their combined weight is 4.5 stones, just over what I’ve lost. When you see the physical space that they take up and that has disappeared of me over the last 10 months. Well, it made me smile. Reactions from friends and colleagues have also been good, especially those I don’t see often.

I also feel a lot fitter. Two hours of non stop badminton holds no fears, something I couldn’t say last September. On the bike I can now push for a solid hour cycling for just under 19 miles. Some might laugh but it works for me and I’m pretty pleased the way my weight loss and fitness is progressing.

So what next? Well I expect to lose that kilo and a half over the next 3-4 weeks. I thought I would really struggle to hit this target but it’s not been too bad. So I’ll crack on and try to lose another stone by year end. And then? Maintain it!

iPhone 3G - First Impressions

So after Friday’s fiasco yesterday went a lot smoother and I picked up my iPhone without a hitch. Apple called, I went in to the store, was taken by the queue’s and processed within 10 minutes. Sweet but a shame that couldn’t have happened on Friday. So how is the iPhone? Beyond expectations so far.

Front ScreenSetup was straightforward and unlike Friday Apple weren’t activating in store. I popped in the sim, plugged the iPhone into the dock and registered the iPhone via iTunes. O2 then sent three texts with O2 logins, passwords and welcomes. The phone came half charged so you could use it right away. That all took 5 mins. Using the touchscreen for the first time is a joy. The phone feels great in the hand. It’s not too sllppy but it does grease up very quickly. The screen is easily cleaned but the back isn’t. It collects fingerprints and dust/dirt which is hard to remove. Anyone who has a PS3 will know what I mean. I’ll be picking up or ordering a case protector – probably won’t bother with a screen protector though. It looks really durable and if it’s like the last iPhone will be good at resisting scratches. What’s also notable is how loud the speakers are and how clear the reception is. I was impressed and according to Shakeel it’s a step up form the original iPhone. So what did I do first? Hit the Appstore.

I guess I went a little bit crazy and picked up a fair few app’s. I did this via iTunes and they sync’d quickly…but then again they are all pretty small. Since that first splurge I’ve downloaded via the Appstore application on the iPhone. Works really well even over 3G. The nice thing is the Appstore will tell you when updates for your purchases are available. Previous phones have depended on me to update the software which I never did. So, some quick thoughts on the apps.
Continue reading “iPhone 3G – First Impressions”

iFail

What should have been a post saying ‘woo – iPhone rulez’ has turned into a sorry saga. No iPhone for me today and at the moment, no date from Apple on when I’m likely to get one either.

I didn’t fancy queueing much this morning and driving by the local O2 store I was surprised to see around 40 people in the queue. That sealed the deal and I headed into town. The Apple store queue was quite light and they were obviously expecting more as they had lots of crash barriers out…and one security guy for every four customers! Looking down to O2 the queue was also big so I stuck with the Apple store. Some folk were already inside when I joined and within 15 mins we were all inside…but no phones had been sold. Roll on to 09:00 and one hour after opening still no orders had been processed.

The 02 site that Apple had to use was constantly crashing. They had no idea when it would be back up but annoyingly we couldn’t leave our names and come back later. If you want a phone you have to stay in the queue. Some folk left as they had to get to work. Free drinks from Starbucks were provided but even at 10:00 there were still no orders processed. This wasn’t looking good. By this time I knew that a couple of friends had failed at O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores due to limited stock so there didn’t seem much option. Again people asked to leave there names before leaving the queue and they were knocked back by Apple.

Finally at 10:20 a loud cheer – first phone sold.

Then a shriek at 10:21 as the system crashed…again.

Common sense kicked in at 10:30 and those that wanted to go could leave their details and Apple would keep the phone for you, phoning you back when things started to work so you weren’t hanging around anymore. I left and as far as I know my iPhone is still at the store with lot’s of others as I don’t think they sold any/many at the Glasgow store today. Shame others that walked out earlier didn’t get that option. On the way back to the car park I passed a couple of O2’s and Carphones – lot’s of 8GB, no 16’s. So Apple have lot’s of stock they can’t sell…stores within a couple of hundred yards can sell them but don’t have any. Where’s the logic in that?

They’ve now pinged out an e-mail asking for patience and they hope to get things sorted quickly. I do hope quickly means tomorrow but I have zero expectation now and don’t expect to grease up an iPhone until well into next week. I hope someone at O2 and Apple is getting roasted for this mess. While some of the people in the queue feel it’s solely O2 to blame I disagree. Stock management could have been so much better and both companies have had weeks to prepare for this. I guess for both of them the hype and news stories from this launch is priceless no matter if it’s good or bad.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big issue. It’s only a phone and I’ll get one soon enough. Feel better for that little rant though.

Almost Here

Three days from now I hope to have me greasy paws on an iPhone. I decided against v1.0 due to lack of 3G but as time went on I think the bigger reason, and certainly the most exciting thing about Friday, is the applications that will launch in the Appstore alongside the new phone and the v2.0 software. The iPhone is a new platform and from that point of view I can’t wait to see what app’s are available.

What I’m not looking forward to is re-joining O2. When I was previously with them I was never entirely happy with contract or upgrades. The deal looks good though and I think they’ve been pretty fair with existing iPhone owners so clean slate time.

Biggest issue on Friday will be limiting the spending on the Appstore. And finding an iPhone if O2 is to be believed. Happy days. Exposure, Twitterrific Touch and Super Monkey Ball will be 1st day purchases hopefully.

identi.ca

So is identi.ca the new twiiter? Hope they have a whale ready. Feels a bit slow but then it’s new and getting hit heavy. Will people move though? If the community of Twitter is split between different services it’s a loss for everyone…and we’ll be using tools to update multiple services. IM all over again!

More importantly, will identi.ca have a status blog that’s as good to read as Twitter?