The Future has arrived

Ever since I moved out to California, one of the things that I’ve secretly wanted was to be able to listen to my favorite music while driving. The problem has always been that my favorite channel by far is the Vocal Trance channel off of Digitally Imported Radio. So this meant that I would need to be able to stream internet radio while driving in the car.

Well, today that day has finally arrived. I noticed yesterday that DI has an iPhone app that allows you to stream their premium channels over 3G. I was listening today for about an hour while out running some errands with Caitlin. I only lost the signal once for about 5 sec while driving in some hills, the app does a great job of buffering and keeping the music going. The quality is great and with ~1hr of streaming it only used 25Mb of data according to the built in meter (I’ll have to double check with ATT’s meter).

One of the greatest things about the app is that if it does cut out for any reason it can determine that it’s at the end of a stream and gracefully fades out so that there aren’t any jarring cuts in or out. Every streaming app should copy this.

Just ordered a new kindle

I just placed a pre-order for Amazon’s newest Kindle the other day. This one is to replace Jaimie’s Kindle since she was still using the very first generation model and there are quite a few updates in this newest version. Supposedly much better battery life, better contrast, and faster page turns, all great things for a power reader.

We also decided to go with the wifi only model, which is cheaper, but most of our book reading is at home where there is total coverage. If we’re out and about we read on the iPhone and then sync back to the kindle to continue reading at home.

Hopefully this latest version will arrive before the next round of books that we’ve been waiting for. I’m waiting for The Evolutionary Void and we’re very happy that MockingJay will also be released in a kindle version.

I was happy to hear that Bezos was focusing on creating the best book reader instead of chasing yet another tablet.

Mail issues on ios4

If you value your email, you’re going to want to hold off on upgrading your iPhone to ios4. There are several posts (here and here) detailing issues that users are having with the Mail app on ios4. For myself, email has become unusable.

  • Often the mail icon will show that I have new mail, but when I open the app there is nothing there, even after hitting the refresh button.
  • After I delete email they’ll show back up again as unread.
  • I’ll often get a list of blank emails that I can’t do anything with.

Closing the Email app has no effect. The only thing that has helped so far is to double click the button to get to the quick switch screen, hold down the mail icon until they vibrate and the minus icon appears (I believe that this kills the background process), click the minus’ to close all running background processes. Once I do this Mail will begin to sync again. This leads me to believe that there are issues with communication between the background process and when you bring the app to the foreground.

I’m checking every day to see if Apple has pushed an update, but this was a pretty big bug to let slip into ios4.

Kindle syncing

I’ve had a kindle since they first came out, I’ve loved it since day one and use it pretty much every night to read for hours on end. In the past I would leave the wireless off though. With the 1st Gen kindle you could get a lot longer battery life if you didn’t turn the wireless on. Once you were reading a book, you could read for several days without needing to connect to Amazon’s servers. Only once you had finished a book and needed to add more did you need to turn it on to sync.

A few months ago, I downloaded Amazon’s kindle app for the iPhone, more out of curiosity than anything else. Initially I just couldn’t see myself reading books on such a small screen, especially one that was backlit and would cause eye-strain. However, in the last couple weeks I’ve discovered how seamlessly Amazon has made syncing devices and reading locations. Since during the day, I pretty much always have the iPhone with me, I can just pull it out and start reading. The iPhone is perfect for the situation where you might only have a few minutes and might need to put it away very quickly. I was getting my van washed yesterday and was able to read for 5 min at the car wash. The magic happens though when you get back home, turn on your kindle and it knows to sync your reading location up to where you left off on the iPhone and vice-versa.

I’m now finding that I’m able to get even more reading done during the day. Filling in small breaks instead of waiting for a single block of reading before bed.

Things task management

Now that I’m spending a good percentage of my day chasing around a 1yr old, my brain has gone to mush. I’m finding that if there are things that I need to do and I don’t jot them down, then they don’t get done.

I was on the lookout for a really great notes/task management tool that would sync back and forth between my laptop and iPhone. I tried out several of the web based ones and Evernote(which has a desktop and iPhone app), but they never quite did exactly what I needed.

Then I found Things. It’s a bit expensive, but it got great reviews, so I thought I’d try it out. You have to purchase the desktop app and the iPhone app separately, but they work great together. Syncing whenever you have wifi turned on on the iPhone. You can quickly create notes, set them as scheduled, inbox, or whatever you want. Update them and move them around easily. The desktop app even integrates in with iCal’s todo list.

If you need a fast way to keep track of a mix of small and large things and the ability to sync back and forth from phone to laptop, I would highly recommend checking out Things.