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You can really tell that it's faster. The response time on tapping things like mail and photos has sped up quite a bit. The new camera makes images look great, though it doesn't seem like you can autofocus while you're recording a video - and the ambient sound recording during the video isn't half bad, I was worried I would need to get some kind of external mike in order to really catch sound.

The setup process was completely painless for me (I upgraded); I just synced all my info (all my photos and a bunch more of my audio) and went to AT&T's web site to confirm activation. It's all working very well so far... really the only differences I've noticed so far are response time and photos. The compass is a trinket by itself, but it also works well.

Not having MMS PISSES ME OFF. This is a huge feature, I want to be able to send locations and pictures and clips of things to other iPhones!! Not having tethering also pisses me off, but nowhere near as much as the lack of rich messaging. Screw you, AT&T.
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Looks like fingerprint smudging on iPhones was enough of a problem that Apple actually created a fingerprint resistant coating on the iPhone 3Gs. I wonder if they got requests from government and security people for that as well?
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It seems that the only way to get pictures off my DSi is via SD card. Bah! What's wireless communcations for if I can't just directly pull files off my DSi onto a computer?? Guess I have to pick one up down the street...

EDIT: Finally got the pictures off the DSi and into iPhoto - the DSi camera is clearly much lower resolution than the iPhone camera; yet somehow it gets its colors right, and does great in low lighting, when the iPhone camera gets weird colors all over the place and can't take pictures for shit in low light. They both get way too much noise in the photos.
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I bought a Nintendo DSi. I'm liking it; bigger screen, more features (including web browsing), SD card slot, download play with the DSi shop, and all the features of the old DS Lite except for the Game Boy slot - but that is really the big negative for me, I'm sad that I need to keep a DS Lite hanging around to play my Game Boy games... though if I'd kept all my compatible Nintendo hardware instead of selling most of it recently, I would have had to keep a Game Boy Advance around as well for eReader and such. But I suppose at some point down the road most games will be available as downloads and the need for the DS Lite will abate, which will be cool, but we seem to be quite far off from that.

The quality of the DSi camera seems to be way, way, way better than the iPhone camera - not to mention that it has both inner and outer cameras. It's better in lower lighting, captures real colors better, and it's faster and easier to use, but it may not have as high a resolution; I haven't yet pulled the photos from it. The DSi also records sound, but I haven't yet determined if the mic quality is better on the DSi or the iPhone. I'm a bit disappointed that some of the lectures I recorded yesterday have low gain.

I spent a good part of the Brooklyn Food Conference yesterday recording audio with my iPhone and taking pictures with my DSi. Fun!!

P.S. Raj Patel is my new hero.
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It seems like most people believe that video recording is just going to be another iPhone feature... I'm still wavering on this though. If it were me, it would make more sense to have a separate camera device. It's not like Apple has eliminated iPods, even though the iPhone has a software iPod inside it. Apple is in the hardware business, always has been, and they want to sell more devices. If I already own an iPhone, am I really more likely to buy another iPhone just to get video features? Wouldn't Apple rather sell me a second device?

The Flip is a dedicated HD video camera, and it has 8G of storage. If Apple wanted to compete with that, they'd need a device with equal video storage capacity, better lenses, battery life, and so forth. Putting more demands on the iPhone battery doesn't make a lot of sense; as it is, WiFi and 3G suck the life out of it pretty fast, I can't imagine what video recording on top of all of that would reduce battery life to.

What I would do: Introduce *limited* video recording capability on the next iPhone. A somewhat better, but not super high quality lens to take video with. Then, I would create the iVid, another device with a higher quality lens, autofocus, and the optimized-for-iPhone iMovie editing suite. It would come in 8GB and 16GB flavors, have still camera functionality, and of course be totally integrated with iPhoto and iMovie, with native H.264 processing. It would probably also have WiFi on it for transfer to your Apple TV or other computers. Just like iPod touches are dedicated for audio playback and storage, the iVid would be dedicated video recording, playback and storage. It'll also be cheaper than the iPhone, and won't have all the political/financial rigamarole of telecommunications companies associated with it - and it'll be yet another platform for the App Store. So I bet people could even download Skype onto it, and just use it as a VOIP phone without ever needing a phone company's permission!!
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I finally figured out what I was doing wrong with my database functions, and it was simpler than I realized. Of course that's always said with hindsight - now that I have a greater understanding of the foundation classes and how things work generally it seems more apparent. I was worried that I didn't really "get it" and that I'd have to start all over again and recode everything I'd done to date, but it turns out I was just making one mistake with the foundation classes, and missed making one particular step in my SQLite implementation.

As of now, I'm able to access the address book, access the database (select, insert, update, delete), add people to the database from the address book, and once I make the same fixes in my other classes, all the database adapters will work properly. Now I have to go back and make better interface nibs; I've been prototyping those in GIMP images by cutting and pasting screenshots taken from other iPhone apps. I'm definitely closing in on this... and once the first app is written, I should be able to write the second one much more quickly.


Apr. 19th, 2009 07:48 pm
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Not much posted here recently - Facebook gets most of my attention these days. But there is a lot going on, I'm doing a lot more living than blogging about living.

Over the last couple of months I've been making a lot of friends in my neighborhood. Being able to hang out in cafes in the afternoons is extremely conducive to meeting people. I've always been a cafe person, and I love that I have four or five different places right on my street that I can just "be" in that aren't bars. So I've befriended nearly everyone who works behind the counter at all these places, and am now a regular everywhere, and get introductions or get involved in interesting conversations everywhere I go and even connect people with other cool people or talk about neat ideas. I love it.

I decided to try and get some of my new friends together for an underground dinner hosted at my place and catered by my friend Sara and her Lightbulb Oven. Sadly, most of them could not make it, but I will be seating 15 folks here for a five course dinner - including a reporter from some magazine, and a photographer. This inspired me to clean out and redecorate my apartment. My office is now located in the back of my apartment, and I've reorganized the kitchen a little bit; my landlord even got me a brand new stove! Ultimately I'd like to take down the afterthought of a closet and storage area here in the new office to make the room bigger, and then paint the walls blue to inspire creativity. I might get around to doing that by late Summer or so, maybe.

I am now "officially" dating someone long distance; those of you following on Facebook have no doubt seen pictures and references to Nari ([livejournal.com profile] narnarthinks). We went out for about a month before she moved back to Austin, Texas to live with her family and return to her company's HQ out there - a few weeks later she flew back to visit for a long weekend. She's coming back to visit me again from 5/10 to 5/17, and to say that I'm looking forward to that would be the understatement of the century. Long distance, as one would expect, is a good and bad thing; but, in this case, since we weren't able to spend much time together when we were short distance, I'd have to say it's much more bad than good.

I'm actually putting a lot of time into iPhone development now, and am learning the ins and outs of Xcode and associated tools. There's a roadblock I've been attempting to overcome, and debugging with the tools is helping me better understand what I'm doing wrong. I feel like I'm making progress though; at this point, since I'm going to WWDC 09 the first week of June, I really need to have some kind of application finished before I get there; I'm hoping to have two ready, but we'll see.
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I'm really looking forward to improvements in Maps in iPhoneOS 3.0. Opening up access to Maps via API means that Apple and/or Google can create better native iPhone implementations of things like saved Google maps. I really enjoy making maps with saved locations at maps.google.com, but I think I would enjoy it much more if I could also do this on my iPhone (natively, not through iPhone Safari, that's unusable). I should be able to do much, much more interesting things with Maps on the iPhone; I should be able to track my path with GPS and Core Location, associate photos with locations... and if the alleged magnetometer hardware improvement comes with the next iPhone release, I should have real-time street view that animates and turns with me to show me my heading, and turn-by-turn animated path directions and alerts when I go the wrong way.

I want nothing less than for Maps on iPhone to become an augmented reality app - one that I could even improve by adding my own photos of current locations to street view! It should be a viewscreen that I hold up to the street that matches with the buildings and roads and indicates what direction I need to head to.
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I'm looking at some sample code for the iPhone, an application that demonstrates a bunch of principles in app coding all at once, including animation and so forth. It's a relatively trivial app, just sample code, and it uses the Periodic Table of Elements as its data set. As information goes, the PT is a pretty useful set of data. But then I recently came across This t-shirt while reading Dinosaur Comics.

The information packed into this t-shirt space is REALLY USEFUL. It's probably the most concise and powerful set of scientific information I've seen, taking all the best discoveries of the last couple centuries and distilling it into a simple to use set of engineering instructions that people at nearly any technical level could understand (and experiment with) given a bit of time and energy.

When I was thinking about the Periodic Table and all the elements represented on it, it occurred to me that the names of the elements aren't really all that useful or descriptive, and the symbols themselves are actually confusing if one doesn't understand their origins (Pb for lead? Well, that's because it's "plumbum" from the Latin, because those clever Romans went and made all their pipes out of lead - lucky for them their water was mineral rich and mostly coated the pipes on the inside). I started wondering if it would be better to come up with a new kind of taxonomy for elements; and I guess when I say "better" I am discounting the whole "retrain generations of scientists in various disciplines to use another system" thing and wondering if there's a way to teach people a new system, or whether more people would learn more effectively if there were a better naming scheme and/or organization to the table.

I didn't give it too much thought because I didn't want to start going down a Dvorak or Esperanto type rathole. It's bad enough that people in this country are too dead set in their ways to use the freaking SI like the rest of the world does. But then I looked at the t-shirt text and started thinking about organic chemistry and how CHON is key for so many different applications - yet the PT doesn't really reflect that at all. Neither does it highlight all the various elements that are so key in electronics applications (and yes, I realize that engineering and pure science rarely mesh well, but I'm talking about practicality in everyday life and spreading useful knowledge to the maximum number of people, not about keeping information "pure").

In its current state, the PT is minimally useful and requires a significant amount of training to understand even the basics of it. So I have to ask: how would Edward Tufte recreate it? What visual cues would improve its information density and readability? What would a three-dimensional periodic table look like? Is there a way to name the various elements to better represent their properties - maybe even to make chemistry easier to understand (just as prefixes and suffixes in chemical names make it easier to envision what kinds of chemical or molecular properties a compound has)?

What if we could take the Periodic Table, or, even better, take that t-shirt that's chock full of scientific principle and turn it into something along the lines of a Voyager record style set of graphemes? Wouldn't it be great to create children's toys that incorporate these hypothetical icons of scientific principle into their designs? Reading about how some of my friends want to recreate the Rutherford experiment for their children inspired me to consider this as well. We could be creating familiarity with fundamental principles very early in education, in the same way as the various "iconographies" in Anathem do, where the avout are trained for saecular world interactions based on archetypes portrayed in stained glass windows...
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Flip video cameras.

These little guys are the "new iPod". They're small, they're cheap, they do their job - the form factor isn't as sexy as an iPod/iPhone, but people want them. They want them, they want to get nice resolution video in a small package, and this market need has been filled by a small company. Except now they're a big company, because Cisco bought them up big time.

Cisco gets video, they want to corner the market on portable video devices and push those bits over networks. So now we're wondering: where the hell is Apple? Apple's got this great iChat video conferencing thing going. They've got iPhones with still cameras, and those cameras can clearly be used as video cameras as proven by jailbreakers. Yet iPhoneOS 3.0 has no provision for this! Very, very strange.

Well, I suspect that they are working on a video camera of their own. Ars Technica reported recently on some new product IDs found in the iPhoneOS - the mysterious "iProd" may very well be an iCam of the Flip variety. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a touch device with a sweet camera built into it, with a zoom feature, and integration with iMovie and all that? Maybe you could even get a little case that puts them together like a clamshell, and have the two devices communicate together over Bonjour or Bluetooth, and THEN you could do video chat with the iCam pointed at your face, and your friend appearing in the iPhone while you talk to it?? Or have one device be a full screen keyboard, and the other just be a full display?

That's what I want to see. Apple, are you listening?
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Someday people will learn that greed is not sustainable. The serpent can only eat so much of its own tail before it chokes.

I predict that the DJIA will settle down when it hits about 3500. I suspect it will take nearly another year to get to that point, when the markets all finally bottom out. Some time after Google's stock tanks, I think.

Why 3500? Because that's where it was 15 years ago, after more than a decade of steady growth through the 80s. That's where it was at just as the Internet first came into play - before people started going apeshit with everything, and began to believe that castles could be built on clouds. How could we possibly have created 300% more wealth out of thin air? The DJIA had barely broken 1000 for two decades prior to the 80s, and then we saw real growth with the rise of computing and software and general advancement of technology up to the early 90s. But somehow people went batty along the way and started ignoring things like "profits" and "business models" and suddenly CEOs started making exorbitant salaries, and more and more snake oil salesmen popped up to part fools and their money with made up shit they called "financial instruments", usually aided and abetted by our own government with tailor-made legislation paid for by the finest of lobbyists. And what was the result of all that?

Well we've now witnessed the implosion of finance, real estate, and car companies. Really these events are still ongoing, these prideful bastards haven't fallen all the way yet - all the bailout money in the world won't cushion their impacts either. But the real killer will be when high tech hits the skids again.

Internet bubble 2.0 is on the way. Internet advertising is going to pop it, again. Advertising revenue is just not sustainable on the Internet, because there's no way to make money from it unless you completely control the medium. It worked great for newspapers when they had regional monopolies. It worked great for TV with the network and cable monopolies. And of course the Internet killed both of those monopolies! So the Internet must be the future monopoly, right? Wrong.

Google's doing pretty well with ad revenue because they've got a search monopoly - but how long will that really last? Hint: it's already eroding, because iPhones and user generated content from social networks make Google obsolete. So wait, social networking is the new monopoly? Well, Facebook certainly won't have a monopoly on social networking for any long period of time... remember when MySpace was the monopoly? Ask yourself: is Facebook really worth billions? Was MySpace? No. That's utterly ridiculous, because people always move on to the next site, and the Internet is too big to really control.

Did Google ever advertise itself? Wikipedia? MySpace and Facebook? YouTube? Never. Because viral social networks spread word faster and more effectively than any advertising ever could. And when you actually have a piece of hardware that enables that viral action (iPhone: Google Killer) you're going to see just how ineffective ads actually are in comparison. Someone can write an iPhone app that will change a playing field overnight and render whole industries worth of web sites obsolete. You just can't beat the power of a network of millions and millions of people continuously sending the freshest live audio, video, GPS, and pure data streams. All the dead data in Google's web page index is worthless in comparison.

Maybe people will try to speculate a biotech bubble into existence, but I doubt that will succeed. People are too freaked out by biohacking, and legislation and regulation will continually muddle its development, too much so for it to really boom like the other deregulated industries all did.
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Why shouldn't I be able to vertically scroll through an image gallery on my iPhone? I can flick left-right to move through them in one dimension, but why not flick up-down to move through the pictures another way?


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