Tuesday, June 30, 2009

iPhone 3.0 and USASpec adapter

As I have written in my previous posts, I have been pretty happy with the iPhone 3.0 update.  I have been experiencing one annoying problem.

When I connect my iPhone 3.0 to my USASpec PA15-HON2 adapter that is installed in my car, the iPhone stops playing audio and the screen flashes for about a minute, before audio starts playing.  Here are the steps that I use where the problems occurs for me

  • Play a track/playlist

  • Connect the iPhone to the dock

  • => The Radio switches to the cd changer input (correct for my setup)

  • => The screen in the iPhone continues to flash the iPod graphic for about a minute

  • => After about a minute a different track starts playing

Once music is playing, the interface works perfectly.  It will continue to work, until I disconnect and reconnect the iPhone.

I think that the iPhone 3.0 software added some addition scanning that happens when connected to this adapter.

Other iPhone 3.0 features

I just noticed some other feature that I believe were added in the iPhone 3.0 software, that I don't remember seeing posted anywhere else

  • 30 second skip back.  When playing a podcast, there is now a button to skip back 30 seconds.

  • Adjustable playback speed - When playing a podcast, you can now change the playback speed to 1/2x or 2x, in addition to 1x.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Push notifications on the iPhone

I just received notification that the Remember The Milk iPhone application has a new update.  This update adds support for push notifications, where you will be notified if you a task scheduled for the day, without actually launching the application itself.

This had me thinking about some other applications that I think would be great to have push notifications added:

  • Facebook:  to notify you when someone commented on something that you do, or sent you a message.

  • Tweetie: to notify you when someone sends you a direct message

  • Skype: to notify you of new messages.

  • Games:  to notify you if someone "challenges" you, or if someone beats your high score.

I also think that there is an opportunity for another service.  Currently, if a developer wants to present notifications on the iPhone, they need to have a native iPhone application installed.  A lot of the "applications" that I use are web based.  I would love to receive notifications from these applications.

I think that it would be great if some developer wrote an iPhone application and a web service.  This application would talk to the web service to see if there are any notifications to be displayed.  Then other web services, using OAuth or Facebook Connect, would associate with this service.  This would allow notifications to be received from any web service.

I think that Facebook would be a good developer to do this, as they have the relationships with other developers, and they already support Facebook Connect.  But, I think that Apple will end up doing this in their MobileMe service.  This would be another reason to get users to pay for this service.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Windows Home Server Backup

Now that our MediaSmart Windows Home server supports backing up our Mac OS X computers with Time Machine, I freed up the 1.5 TB USB drive that had been connected to our Mac mini.

I am pretty happy with our current backup situation.  All of our computers are backed up to the Windows Home Server.  I use HP Online Backup, to backup some of this data to Amazon S3 for offsite storage.  But there is still a chance that I can loose data.  Since, I don't have all of our data stored offsite, if the computers and the server are damaged, then I will lose data.  I could have all of the content on the server sent to Amazon  S3, but this would take too much time and cost too much money.

I figured that I could use this now-available 1.5 TB drive to backup the backups from the other computers.  Then I could take this drive to a safe deposit box for safe keeping.

Windows Home Server supports using a drive as a backup for the server, instead of increasing storage space.  When you do this, you can specify which shares you want to back up.   You can't schedule unattended backups, but you can do manual backups (I assume this is because Microsoft assumed that these drives would be stored offsite, and would need to be physically connected to perform the backup.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two nice features of iPhone 3.0

I have been playing with the iPhone 3.0 software on my iPhone 3G for a few days now.  I have seen two features that I think are the best additions, that haven't really seen mentioned other places.

  1. Sending SMS messages now happen asynchronously.  With this change you don't have to wait for a message to be sent, before typing the next message.

  2. The ability to send a contact to someone via email.  This attaches the contact information to the email as a vcard.  This makes many of the third party contact sharing applications not necessary.

Monday, June 22, 2009

FriendFeed Comments plugin

The FriendFeed Comment plugin is a WordPress plugin that lets you display the comments that have been posted for an article on FriendFeed.  The comments that were written on FriendFeed, are shown along with the comments that were written on the blog itself.

In addition to letting you display the FriendFeed comments, you can also also have any comments written by the blog author on the blog itself, added to FriendFeed.

[via Zeigen]

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hulu on Windows Media Center

As I have mentioned before, one of the things that I have been working on is to get access to Hulu content on my Windows Media Center computer.  Now with Hulu Desktop being released, there are several potential solutions for getting this to work.

A few weeks ago, there was a special price for the PlayOn media server software.  I had tried this before and decided to jump on this special price.  I installed it and the vmcPlayIt Media Center plugin.  Once I installed the PlayOn software, I was able to play Hulu content on my Xbox perfectly.

I still haven't been able to get the vmcPlayIt plugin to work.  I am able to see the categories, but I am not able to see the thumbnails or play videos from any of the providers.

Xbox 360 video games on demand

This post talks about the Video Games downloads that Microsoft announced at this past E3.  With what they are planning, any one who has an Xbox 360 connected to the network, can download full games directly to the console's hard drive.

I think that this is great, especially if you can save money over buying a game on disc.


Clearing Amazon S3 storage

This post had a good tip about using SpaceBlock to browse your Amazon S3 account.  I have been using JungleDisk to back up several of my computers to Amazon S3 for several years now.  When I browsed my storage, I realized that I had backups in my S3 bucket for computers that I migrated all of my data off of.  Since Amazon charges a monthly charge for the amount of data that you have stored, I decided to clean up my storage.

I ended up not using SpackBlock to delete these files.  I just used JungleDisk to delete these files.  I was able to use either the web based browser that JungleDisk provides as well as actually mounting the storage, an just deleting the files.

It tool several hours to delete the files, but I hoping that I will save a few dollars a month.

Google Chrome for Mac / Linux

The Chromium project has released an official developer version of Google Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux.  I previously had the Chromium version installed, but I figure that it would be better to install a more official version.

[via @mattcutts]

Twitter vs Facebook usage

Currently I use both Facebook and Twitter.  Some of my friends, that only use Facebook, don't see the utility of Twitter. I decided to write a description of how I use Twitter and how it compares to Facebook

I see Twitter and Facebook as tools that do better job at different tasks. Facebook is great for communicating with people that you already have relationships with. While, I use Twitter is an information gathering tool.
On Twitter, a user explicitly "follows" other twitter accounts. This explicitly indicates that the user is interested in the information provided by those followed accounts.

For example, I have "followed" the Starbucks twitter account, so I have indicated that I am interested in receiving the Starbucks "marketing message". This "following" doesn't indicate any personal relationship, and following is not a two way relationship. Starbucks may never see what I say about them.

Personally, I use Twitter for "receiving information that I am interested in". There are several world wide news organizations that I "follow" that often have information about current event significantly faster than the traditional news media. Also, I "follow" several local radio stations. These stations use twitter to send information about traffic conditions for local roads.

Also, the value of any one particular "tweet" is pretty low to me. If I miss a whole day of information, I will not spend the time to catch up on them.

I don't often manually post "tweets" to twitter. I do use some tools to automatically post to twitter. For example, when I want to share an article that I am reading, I will share it in Google Reader or delicious.com, and then this will automatically be posted to twitter. When I write a blog post, this link is automatically posted to twitter

If someone is interested in the things that I am sharing, then they can follow my twitter feed, if not they will not follow my feed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gmail search operators

I never remember all of the things that you can do with searching inside GmailThis post describes some useful filters, and mentions Search Autocomplete.

Maybe now, I will remember these.  (At least I will remember where to go to find them.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Project Natal

I think that the Project Natal demonstrations show some pretty cool technology.  I think that, if this actually ships, this will easily give the Xbox 360 an easy way into the casual gaming market, and could be a serious competitor to the Nintendo Wii.

Project Natal, use a camera/microphone device to allow you to interact with the Xbox interface.  Facial and voice recognition allows a deeper interaction than the Nintendo Wii implements.

Below, I have embedded several videos of Project Natal.  I hope that when it actually ships it does just half as much as is shown in these videos.

Monday, June 1, 2009

HP Online Backup

When HP made the Mac OS X's Time Machine support available for owners of the MediaSmart ex47x servers, they also make online backup available.  HP's Online Backup is a backup solution that is based upon Amazon's S3.

With HP Online Backup, you select which of the shares on the server should be backed up, and you can also setup a schedule for when backup occurs.  This is pretty much the same functionality that the Jungle Disk Windows Home Server add-in has.

Time Machine backup on HP MediaSmart

HP just released the support for allowing Mac OS X computers to back up to the older models of HP MediaSmart Windows Home Servers.  I installed this, so I can back up our Mac mini to our server.  I have been using an external USB drive, but this would enable me to stop using that drive as a backup for the Mac mini, but instead, I can use that drive as a removable backup drive for the server itself.

The setup on the server was very straight forward.  All I had to do was create a share named "Mac", and I didn't have to give any user write permissions to it.

Then on the Mac, I installed the HP MediaSmart software.  After a reboot, when I launched the software, it asked for the server name and adminstrator passowrd.  Once those were configured, I clicked on the Backup tab.  This is where I had some problems.