Tag Archives: Technology

Experimenting with new WordPress template

After a rocking the Yaletown wordpress theme for a few years, I’ve decided to try out something different.  I wanted something a little simpler looking, and since I’m blogging mostly about photos these days, I wanted it to be based on a white background.

After digging around for awhile, I stumbled upon the Celeny theme which jumped out at me because it was 2 columns, ad-sense ready and supported widgets.

After installing it and mucking around with customizing it for my liking, I’ve got it in a state I’m reasonably happy with. The theme author didn’t do that great of a job allowing you to customize it through the WordPress UI. Instead, I had to dive into the PHP code and make changes directly which I always hate doing since future upgrades of the theme will cause me to lose all my customizations.

There are some layout problems on the sidebar currently that I still need to fix, but I figure before I invest time in doing that, I’ll rock the theme for a few weeks to see how my loyal blog readers like it, and also how adsense performs with the theme.  I’ve reduced the overall ads on the site to a single 250×250 adblock in the sidebar, so it will be interesting to see if fewer ads that are less intrusive will outperform my previous attempt.

Let me know what you think!

Problems with the iPhone 3G

I’m still in the process of authoring a blog post on what it was like to move to an iPhone 3G after nearly 6 years of using Windows Mobile devices.  My most recent phone was a Motorola Q9H which was running Windows Mobile 6.0.

However, in the meantime, I’m getting super frustrated over the crazy bugs and problems I’ve been having with the iPhone so I wanted to spend a bit of time venting.  While Windows Mobile is not perfect by any means, the iPhone is definitely getting a lot of undue accolades in my opinion.  There are features and scnearios that work fantastically such as GPS integration into Google Maps, Yelp, etc, and not to mention the obviously superior web browsing experience.  However, the things that don’t work well, are absolutely horrible.

This writeup is in no way trying to compare Windows Mobile to the iPhone.  Instead, this is isolated feedback on the iPhone 3G.

In no particular order, here are my gripes:

  • The UI and Application performance is horrible. There is unacceptable lag in so many scenarios, but the most glaring one is with the Contacts application.  Even after updating to the new 2.0.1 firmware, it can take up to 4 seconds for the Contacts application to load.
  • Why does it have to “backup” my iPhone everytime I dock and sync with iTunes?  Even better, why isn’t this configurable?  This is made worse because these “backups” can take as long as an hour for me.
  • When the first generation iPhone launched last year, Steve Jobs stated:

“…iPhone’s battery life is longer than any other ‘Smartphone’ and even longer than most MP3 players… We’ve also upgraded iPhone’s entire top surface from plastic to optical-quality glass for superior scratch resistance and clarity. There has never been a phone like iPhone, and we can’t wait to get this truly magical product into the hands of customers starting just 11 days from today.”

When the iPhone 3G launched this year, he said:

“If we compare this to WiFi, we’ll see 3G approaches WiFi speeds. We’re also really proud that we’re doing this with great battery life — standby time is 300 hours.  2G talk time is up from 8 hours to 10 hours. 3G talk time… other phones have 3 – 3.5 hours, we’ve managed 5 hours of 3G talk time, which is an industry-leading amount of time.”

I have no idea how the Apple Engineers have their phones configured, but there is not way I’m getting this type of battery life.  With 3G, push email, bluetooth and Wifi turned on, I can barely get through half the work day with a single charge.  I’ve had to resort to either 15 min email sync’ing on the “fetch” setting, bluetooth off and wifi selectively turned on.  I can now last a full day now, but as a contingency plan, I bought an iPhone 3G dock for my office.  Goodbye $40.

  • I get continued errors about applications not being able to install or update, and when that happens I get obscenely useless errors messages. Here’s the latest gem I get from iTunes:

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  • iTunes still has horrible performance after all these years.  It doesn’t like the fact my music was on a network share, so much so, that there would be a noticeable lag between keystrokes in the search box.  Did I mention I have a gigabit ethernet network at home?
  • I get random crashing from applications.  At first I thought this was the fault of the 3rd party application developers, but the biggest offender is Safari.  If Apple can’t even get it right, then how can 3rd party developers?  Something is amiss either in Apple’s hiring competency for developers or the iPhone OS is pure crap.  Either way, the end-user loses.
  • Apple gets continually praised for making things “easy to use”, but the iPhone is an counter-example, and a big one at that.  There are weird UI inconsistency exist all over the place, one example is between SMS and Email.  For SMS, why is there no way to delete a message when you’re viewing it like there is with email?  You can only “clear” the message thread, but this leaves an entry in the SMS inbox.  To delete it you have to do it from the inbox.

This is all I can think of off the top of my head.  Stay tuned for a later post on specifically commenting on an enterprise user like myself going from a Windows Mobile device to an iPhone.  That’s where it will get interesting.

Watch the 2008 Olympics with Windows Media Center

If you have Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate and are a US Resident, you can watch the 2008 Olympics in a really slick way through streaming/downloaded video.  This is particularly useful if you can’t follow Olympics coverage live, or if you’re like me and don’t have cable at home.

The best part is that this scenario enabled for FREE.  When I first heard about this integration and support for Windows Media Center, I was skeptical that it would be better than just watching it streaming through the silverlight player on the NBC Olympics site.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  After trying it out last night, I can say that this is freakin’ amazing.

The easiest way to get going, is just just go through the Windows Media Center menu to the new NBC Olympics option in Online Media:

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Once you select it, you’ll be given a prompt to install components to get going where you’re given 2 choices – easy or advanced installation.

Continue reading “Watch the 2008 Olympics with Windows Media Center” »

iPhone 3G Compatible accessories

Many First-gen iPhone owners are dimageiscovering that after they upgrade to an iPhone 3G that their existing accessories will not  work.  This includes accessories car chargers , alarm clocks, and in-car chargers like in my friend’s new infinity G37.

Apple decided to change the way the iPhone 3G charges and disabled the 12V Firewire (pins 19 and 20 on the connector) in favor of USB (ping 16 ground and pin 23 5V).  This has royally hosed the entire accessory market with an endless supply of forum messages of people wondering (and outraged) at why their iPhones aren’t charging properly.

I figure it’s only a matter of time before someone create an adapter to “fix” first-gen iPhone accessories.  Until then, here is a list of accessories I know for certain work with the iPhone 3G:

Car chargers and connectors:

Docks and Hubs:

Speaker systems:

Battery Packs:

These do not work:

  • Alpine 9856
  • Alpine KCE-422i Connection Cable
  • Apple iPod HiFi
  • Belkin Auto Kit for iPod with Dock Connector.
  • BlueTouch
  • BOSE SoundDock
  • Dension ICE
  • DLO auto charger
  • Homedics SoundSpa
  • Kenwood KCA-IP 500 iPod Interface
  • Monster car charger
  • Monster FM tuner
  • Infinity G37 iPod interface
  • Pioneer D3
  • Pioneer Elite AV receiver VSX-84TXSi
  • Scion TC iPod connection
  • SIRIUS Soloist Universal Sound System
  • Sony XA-110IP iPod Interface Adapter
  • Subaru Forester ‘09 iPod connection kit
  • USB Fever iPod Direct Cigarette Plug FM Transmitter and charger
  • VW OEM iPod adapter

If you have any accessories you know for sure do or do not work, let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Create free iPhone ringtones from an MP3

Instead of giving Apple money for ringtones on your iPhone for music you already own, here’s a simple set of steps for getting free iPhone ringtones from your MP3s:

  1. Select your favorite MP3 from your music collection.
  2. Open it in Audacity and trim it down to at most 30 seconds.
  3. Import the edited song into iTunes and choose to convert it to M4A format. The file will then be something like yourRingtone.M4A in file explorer.
  4. Copy the file and rename the extension to M4R in file explorer (e.g. yourRingtone.M4R).
  5. Drag and drop the newly renamed file back into iTunes.
  6. Delete the old M4A song to avoid the duplicate.

It’s surely not as simple as a one-click purchase through iTunes, but hey, save yourself a few bucks 🙂