Sunday, September 21, 2008

Getting back to normal

I'm really enjoying my iPhone. I love having one thing to carry around--it's a phone, it's a personal organizer, it's a music player, it's an ebook reader. It's a dessert and a salad topping! It slices, dices, etc. I love being able to get my email while I'm out and about. I subscribe to my boss' calendar, so if I need to set up a meeting I can see when he's available. Google maps are pretty impressive on it, although it's mostly just a parlor trick and not terribly useful, as far as I've seen; I guess the directions are more useful than the actual maps, or would be for me.

One of our local television stations has a bunch of traffic cams online, and those are fun to watch. I've downloaded a few free videos -- a few television pilots and a couple of short films -- but have yet to actually buy a movie or television show, although I'm sure I will at some point. I'm slowing converting all my contact info over.

I've had a few syncing issues with calendar items and contacts being duplicated, so this week I stopped using Microsoft's Entourage for my email and went back to Mail. I'm hoping that by using all Apple products I'll have fewer problems. I guess we'll see.

I gave Bob my iPod, and he's been enjoying that, particularly since there's something wrong with the sound card in his computer (we think), and he can't listen to music on it.

There are screenshots of the rest of my iPhone screens on the Moblog page. (The iPhone screenshot functionality is undocumented: hold down the home button, the depress the power button briefly, then let go. You'll hear a "shutter" sound, and the screenshot will be saved to your Camera Roll.)

I paid for a few applications; mostly things that I had on my Palm that I couldn't do without. I did try to find free or cheaper alternatives, and frankly the ones I got aren't perfect, either, but at least I was familiar with them. I'm sure that subsequent releases will improve. I bought three Splash Data apps: Splash Shopper, Splash Money, and Splash ID. Splash Shopper is basically just a list app -- I can't believe that Apple didn't put a "to do" application on the iPhone! I tried several free ones, and I probably could have made do with one of them, but I like the interface, and since I was buying the other two, I thought I'd just go ahead and get the package.

Splash Money is a checkbook app; I also keep track of various investment accounts there. Splash ID holds all kinds of information, mostly login and password stuff, again mostly work-related. Both Splash Money and Splash ID are password protected.

I also bought Bejeweled, and Shanghai, a mahjongg game. Most of the other stuff I have on there were free downloads from the App Store.

Zenbe Lists is a list application that has a web-based counterpart. You can sync up the two, so you can enter and work with lists either on the website or on your phone, and the two will stay in sync. I use this mostly for work stuff--task lists, client lists, phone calls I need to make, etc.

Most of the social networking sites have an iPhone compoent: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter are the ones I have (the Twitter one is called Twitterific). There are also clients for PayPal and eBay.

Other fun stuff: If you download eReader for iPhone (it's free), you can access and download any ebooks you may have purchased through Fictionwise or eReader. There's also an ebook reader called Stanza, which comes with access to a HUGE library of free ebooks.

A lot of major websites have iPhone versions; sometimes if you go to a website it will recognize that you're on an iPhone and serve up the correct page. Amazon has a special iPhone page, so does Google (quick access to Google Docs, their newsreader, translations, etc. I haven't found a perfect newsreader, but Newstand isn't bad. It lets you flag articles that you want to go back and read later.

I've also been looking for a good app that lets you store documents, like Word docs and PDFs, for easy access and reading on the iPhone. Google docs does that, but you can't seem to view PDFs on it, which seems strange since you can view PDFs in Safari, or even through Google Mail. Dropbox lets you create a "drive" on your computer, drop files into it, then access them on the iPhone. It's incredibly fast, and you can view PDFs on it.

The only issue I have with the Splash apps is that the syncing is difficult. It's over the air rather than via cable, and it's finicky. I can't get a good wifi signal at home on Apple hardware; I was successful once syncing by setting up an "ad hoc" network, but that doesn't seem to work now. Some of the forums indicate that it stopped working after the most recent firmware update. I wouldn't be surprised. AirSharing is an app that lets you mount the iPhone as a drive over wifi, but again, I haven't been able to get that to work yet.

Anyway, it's all a lot of fun -- and also a distraction that I've needed -- and I'll talk more about good apps that I find.

It's weird not having Pyewacket around, but I guess we'll get used to it. Dinah has been extra-clingy; I think she's probably lonely during the day. I thought that maybe she was acting better lately, but Bob said this afternoon she was sitting on his lap and then suddenly turned around, looked up at him, and hissed, so maybe not. It's hard to know how she'd react to another cat; I'm kind of afraid to find out.

I've felt like we've been in kind of a holding pattern while we dealt with Pye's illness, and now things are slowly starting to get back to normal. I have an appointment on Tuesday with the hand surgeon to discuss options. I'm probably going to have to have surgery, which I'm definitely not looking forward to, but the cortisone injections didn't do anything at all, and I don't think there's anything else to try.

It's apparently not a terribly complicated surgery, and recovery is pretty quick. I guess I'll have more details Tuesday. I need to get back into making jewelry, and I need to get back into knitting; I haven't even really read anything for the past few weeks. I've been collecting ebooks on the iPhone, downloading all my old favorites, so I've got a nice, good backlog. Speaking of which, I'm glad I didn't get a Kindle--not that I would have, realistically--because eReader on the iPhone is so nice. The Kindle has a larger screen, but I don't know if it's enough larger to make a difference.

I got a nice letter from K-State last week saying that our vet had made a "generous donation" in honor of Pyewacket, and that our names and hers would be in a memorial book that they keep there. I thought that was awfully nice. I need to write them a thank you note.

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