Monday, July 28, 2008

Online Photo sites

I have a lot of digital pictures (17,297 as of today). I like to share a lot of them with family but there's no clear winner in free photo sharing sites. I was a huge fan of Tabblo but after it got bought by HP i'm not sure how things will work out long term and it seems most development has stopped over there (and Safari crashes at times now during their file upload piece). Flickr has serious limits on the free version. They claim no space limits but since they limit photostreams to the most recent 200 pictures they may as well have a very low storage limit on the free version. Picasa Web albums gives you up to 1GB of storage but has a lot less functionality. Kodak Gallery has some nice features and no limits but has a very dated interface and dog slow Ofoto Express software to upload pictures. Apple's Web Galleries are not as diverse in sharing, have a decent space limit of 20GB that comes with all the other semi-functional MobileMe stuff, but the lack of sharing options/permissions makes them near useless.

Like I said, no clear choice.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Finally got around to putting my Cayman pictures online from earlier this year

Tabblo: Best of Cayman 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

TripIt info into iPhone 2.0

My solution for this problem was to subscribe to the feed in the Mac's iCal app, then export it as a .ics file, then import it as a new calendar. That converts the dynamic feed into a static calendar. You'll have to do that every time you update your TripIt trips but at least you now have your trips on the road with you and have all the nice 2.0 push stuff going on.

iPhone 3G woes

Some issues that bothered me recently with my new iPhone 3G:

1) Doesnt fit in the old iPhone dock. I have a couple, one that I had before the bluetooth earbud and one I got for the earbud. Some time with a knife shaving some plastic after some online inspiration solved that problem. I'm now using my old docks with no additional cost. I'm no handy man but a sharp knife and some repetitive motion and you're in business. Be careful!

2) My iPhone 3G will not charge on my Acura Music Link. This is yet another blow to a poor solution. It never let me really choose what was playing or see any status on my huge NAV screen, but if I selected a book tape and paused it then plugged it in it would play and charge and do nice things like pause when I shut off the car or got a call etc. Now I lost one more feature, charging. Seems that others on the net have experienced the same. After some reading it appears many of these connections used in the car used the Firewire charging pins in the doc connector and that was dropped in iPhone 3G thus breaking many accessories. Seems like there are some possible solutions for the charging issue that allow doc connector pass through to the radio while adding charging capabilities. If the car people would just add aux inputs on the dash or in the console this wouldnt be so big a problem.

In researching #2 above I found I could actually get screen control back on the iPhone by adding a female dock connector to 3.5mm plug adapter. That fixed some of the brokenness of music link. I'm still looking for a good charging solution

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lost & Recovered iPhone notes

Somewhere along the way I lost the Notes on my iPhone when I moved from my old iPhone to my new one. After some research I found iTunes saves your iPhone backups at:

/Users/<user>/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup 

In that location I had 3 backups, I found one before I got the new iPhone 3G and made a copy of the directory to work on.

Then I found a tool on the net that converts these binary plist files into the normal file format. The tool crashed on me and the fix was just commenting out the "sys.exit(2)" around line 33. After that was complete I had a series of normal .plist files and some .sqlite files. 

Running the tool created a new directory, "MobileSyncExport"

Under there you will see Library/Notes/notes.db

Using a sqllite browser you can browse that database file. Go to the "note_bodies" table and there are all your full notes from the iPhone backed up.

I then copied these into Notes in Apple mail which sync to MobileMe and appear in the MobileMe Notes IMAP folder. Not exactly the same place they were on the other iPhone but at least they're restored and back in my pocket.

Apple, when will you be sync'ing iPhone notes? Allowing me to create a note from an email body? Doing anything useful with them?

As a side note, if you want to make an app that saves call history, sms history or other things you could easily watch/extract all that from these databases. Combine that with TimeMachine and you have a not-so-secret paper trail of SMS messages, call logs etc... 


Anyone who's had a mac for a while will probably have received a "winmail.dat" attachment in their email. While there are free tools like TNEF's enough its a bit painful to use. There are commerical plug ins for Apple mail but they cost money. Another interesting point is neither of these apps worked under Leopard for me. Since all my mail goes through google, I went to the gmail interface and found a mail item with a winmail.dat attachment and sure enough gmail handles these the correct way and shows me the attachments. If Google's gmail can do it why can't Apple fix this in mail?

Anyway the free and easy fix if you pipe your mail through gmail and get a winmail.dat attachment is go to the gmail interface and get the attachments that way.

iPhone 2.0/Calendar update

A friend at work showed me that you can indeed have both both Exchange and MobileMe enabled for push at the same time and the phone will do the right thing. The thing you can't do is have push Exchange calendar but do a manual sync of your other calendars. Its all push or nothing for each type. That helped with me avoiding double entries for the Exchange calendar, but since you can't push subscriptions i've lost my TripIt calendar feed :(

Anyone with any bright ideas how to fix that one?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Probably one of the best examples of how not to roll out a new service.

Other than the horrible stability/connection issues, there are some big gaps in usage. To me the largest which is well documented on the net is that you can't do the push updates of subscribed calendars. I have a few subscribed calendars, some I can live without like US Holidays but the one I can't live without is my TripIt calendar feed that tells me where I am and when. I love TripIt to manage my travel and they've cut me off.

The fix? For now go back to normal wired sync of calendars.

Oh, and another atrocity? I can't sync Exchange (Work) calendars at the same time as Personal ones.

I hope someone is listening.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Old Phone

There were some temporary heartaches in updating the old iPhones to the newer firmware. It seems that after it loaded/verified the new flash it needed to re-activate before restoring all your settings. The servers were overloaded so several people like me spent an hour or two without a phone. Not that big a deal, I kept trying and it eventually took and did the right thing.

Oh, and apple, it would be nice if you came out with the accessories when you came out with the device. Lack of a dock at launch just isn't cool (especially when my investment in my old one is now wasted). 

iPhone 3G

Yup, I had to get one. There were 3 motivating factors for me, if any one of the 3 was missing i'd have probably waited:

1) Memory - I know before the 3G there was a 16GB model but not when I bought mine. The extra memory was needed especially with the new apps
2) 3G - I do a lot on the road, the extra speed (when i'm in a reasonable location) helps a lot. 
3) GPS - i'm hoping at some point the GPS is useful. Right now I still need my Garmin Nuvi 250. I'm hoping the rumors that TomTom is making a real GPS app are true.

Did I wait forever in line? No, I went out at lunch time and the line was 4 hours so I ate lunch and went back to work. Then after dinner I went back and the line was still at least 2 hours at 9:30pm so I went to a movie. After the movie at 11:15pm I was the last customer to walk in and there was no wait. They rang me up and I was on the road.

The only slight hitch was my AT&T plan had the corporate discount (of $0 !) applied and they had to have it removed. Fortunately some nice person in CA was still working at AT&T and did the quick work. Apple and AT&T really should have warned people about the $0 discount virus that could be on their account (or have had plans to ignore it).

As to the software update and apps. Wonderful. The best thing for me though is Active Sync. Don't believe the garbage about having to pay for the enterprise pricing, it works fine on the normal plan.

One UGLY issue that i've seen is that you can't have your work contacts/calendar pushed to the phone at the same time as your home ones:
"Our biggest gripe with Exchange isn't small, though: the system is unable to let enterprise contacts and calendars coexist on the same device with personal contacts and calendars. (Personal and corp email get along just fine, though.) When you turn on Exchange-synced contacts and calendars, you're notified that it's a one or the other kind of a situation, and your personal data will be removed from the phone. Though that data isn't purged from your host machine, of course, you do immediately lose the ability to change contact or calendar sync settings. This effectively means that your device can only serve as an enterprise device OR a personal device, but not both at once."

Seems like my calendar pain will continue.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Feeds of interest

Added a link off on the right of my blog page tracking things I find interesting in my intermittent polling of various RSS feeds I subscribe to. If you want to see what catches my eye or use me as a RSS filter subscribe to or look at the feed.