Archive for the Tech tag

Mike

Deleting emails from Gmail using iPhone Mail … finally!

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I’ve talked about this before. How Gmail is treated differently in just about every program (link) and I’ve been using the new Gmail iOS app to do any deleting of messages in Gmail (link).

First, I’m using Google Sync on my iPhone (and iPad). That enables me to have push Gmail and use multiple Google calendars. This has nothing to do with the Gmail iOS app. For Gmail, you setup your iPhone to what the iPhone things is an Exchange server to sync emails, contacts, and calendars. You use the regular Email app that comes with the iPhone to access your Gmail. The problem with this setup was when you attempted to delete an email, it only removed it from your inbox. It would still stick around in your ‘All Mail’ in Gmail. While I like having the ability to Archive things, I delete A LOT more.

I got home today and saw this tweet:
[tweet https://twitter.com/#!/gmail/status/157587598024511489]

After you follow that link, you are instructed to load up the Mobile Sync settings on your phone: m.google.com/sync. All you have to do it check a box for each device and then things actually get deleted. Also in this screen you can pick which calendars show up on your phone. There is a ‘send as’ option too, which I think lets you change your ‘from:’ field.

Is it sad that finding out about this was the best part of my day?

Mike

CS 101

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I think you should take a class. You won’t get any credit for it. It will probably take a little bit of time. There are quizzes and assignments, but any grade is meaningless. It’s free!

The class is Computer Science 101. It’s offered by Stanford. They have been offering some free CS classes, a lot of my fellow Google interns signed up for some of them this summer.

CS 101 starts in February and I think you should take it. You means everyone, not just tech-y types. In fact, those are the only ones who shouldn’t take it because you already know way more than an introduction to Computer Science would teach you.

Here is the quick overview:

CS101 teaches the essential ideas of Computer Science for a zero-prior-experience audience. Computers can appear very complicated, but in reality, computers work within just a few, simple patterns. CS101 demystifies and brings those patterns to life, which is useful for anyone using computers today.

In CS101, students play and experiment with short bits of “computer code” to bring to life to the power and limitations of computers. Everything works within the browser, so there is no extra software to download or install. CS101 also provides a general background on computers today: what is a computer, what is hardware, what is software, what is the internet. No previous experience is required other than the ability to use a web browser.

It doesn’t sound advanced at all, they really stress that you don’t need to know anything. Any code you write is in the browser, the biggest headache in getting started it getting used to the program you use to write the code and figuring out all its quirks.

Here are my reasons I think you should take it:
Computers aren’t scary, coding isn’t scary. Ok, if you go far enough, it will get very scary. Coding, that’s on the surface and easy to understand the basics.

You might get some idea of what is possible in software. When people tell me what they wish some things on their computer should do every once in a while it’s a brilliant idea that I hadn’t though of. That’s rare. Usually it’s something impossible or possible but so complicated to be implemented or understood by all users that it would never be done.

You might follow some problem solving processes that are a little different than you are used to, maybe more structured thinking will help you outside of this class.

Reason you shouldn’t:
It’s all a lie. I’m not that smart. If you take this you will realize that. You’ll all being writing your own code for a variety of things and they will all be better than anything I’ve ever done.

 

Head over to the page for the class. I signed up and if I have time I’ll check some of it out. I hope some of you give it a shot and tell me what they think of it.

Once you master CS 101 there are a few others listed. Most seem to start around the same time, but I’m hoping they’ll just leave the material up so anyone can take these at any time at their own pace.

Mike

Spotify Apps and Radio

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Reading the news about Spotify’s Apps launching had me intrigued. Including last.fm in the launch had me completely on board. The biggest feature lacking from Spotify is a way to discover new music.

I assume this was a first attempt, you’ll get better kid …
I downloaded the beta and added the last.fm app and … ugh. It offers a window into your account page. Gives you some album or track recommendations. A listing of your recent and loved tracks. When you are playing a song in Spotify, it will tell you some things similar to what you are currently listening to. Some of that is nice, but it isn’t at all what I was hoping.

The quick last.fm overview: it can track what you listen to. You can get an add-on to upload what you listen to in iTunes and on your iPod, and it is built in to Spotify (even with out the app). It then offers you some radio options. My favorite is the Recommendations Radio, which looks at what you like to listen to and plays songs it thinks you will like.

I was hoping for that last.fm Recommendations Radio feature but bolstered by the backing of the vast Spotify library. I’m not sure how many songs last.fm offers, but Spotify is much more in-depth. After getting that running inside Spotify, it would be easy to add the new tracks you find to your existing playlists.

It’s about time Spotify …
Today, Spotify finally added some recommended radio to the app, it has nothing to do with any of the app integration (or last.fm) that was apparently such a big deal. It works a lot like Pandora. Give it an artist or track and it will play similar songs. I like this. I tried it out for a while today and was pleased with the results.

I still have a request …
I only ask for one more step. Recommendations to add to Playlists. One problem with Spotify is the effort you have to put in when getting started to create the playlists that you want. Another problem is adding tracks to those playlists after you create them.

Problem: I have two main playlists. One of my favorite music that I hear about through various websites that I follow. I keep up with new stuff on my own. The other is a hits playlist that usually gets populated from new things I hear when listening to Sirius. With Spotify, I’m listening to less and less Sirius in the car and am thinking about ending my subscription. When that happens, how will I add new songs to my hits playlist?

Tips on how you discover new music would be appreciated.

A solution: Spotify figures out what is going on with your playlist and offers suggestions on what to add to the playlist, including new tracks. They have this recommendation radio now, it should be as simple as feeding all the tracks in a playlist into that and seeing what gets the most matches. A list is generated from there giving you a selection of similar songs to your playlist, and if you want it can give a little more weight to new songs.

Oh, and give me some recommended radio in the iPhone app.

Mike

What’s on my desk

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I don’t ever remember to write reviews of things I buy. When I buy something, I mean to, but it takes so long for me to use it enough to feel like I know enough to write about it. By that time, I’ve forgotten I ever wanted to write a review in the first place. So I’m going to try and just list random things, usually with a theme, and share my current thoughts. Today, I’ll look at the gadgets on my desk related to my computer use.

Laptop: MacBook Pro 13″ (base model, early 2011)
After getting back from South Africa in March, my first stop after getting back to the states was the mall to get this laptop. My old one had died during finals the week before I had left. It turned out it was a hard drive failure. I was able to fix it, but I had been waiting for Sandy Bridge MacBooks for a while.

I bought the base model, it was all I really needed. I upgraded the RAM to 8gb on my own. I need that much to run Windows smoothly in Parallels. I need Windows to run a few things for school, mostly Excel add-ins that I need to grade assignments for the class I TA.

I love the laptop, and I think there was just a spec bump a few weeks ago. If I were recommending, I’d make sure you weigh this against the MacBook Air. I want an Air next, when I don’t need so much RAM (Air tops out at 4gb).

Pros for Air: higher res screen, smaller, lighter, SSD.
Pros for MBP: bigger hard drive options (non-SSD), DVD drive, better battery.

I use my laptop connected to a monitor and other devices when I’m home. I’d really like a dock for it. I had a Henge Dock for my old MacBook but the ports on my new one are different. I decided not to get a new one. I have the idea that I’ll use the laptop as a second screen, it rarely happens, but I still expect that I will. I’d really like a Thunderbolt dock to limit the number of things I have to plug and unplug everyday when I take my laptop with me.

Monitor: Dell P2310H
I bought this a few years ago when I decided to jump to 1080p and it was really cheap. I’m not a huge fan. I considered sending it back because the colors just felt flat. I eventually adjusted. I’ve been thinking about replacing it, but my next move is likely to an iMac. I’d rather mark a few hundred toward that purchase.

Webcam: Logitech C910
Why do I have a webcam when I have a MacBook? On my desk, my laptop is almost always closed, so no webcam. I had been using Skype more and Google+ Hangouts seem cool so I bought this a few months ago. Its best feature is that it works on Macs. The few times I’ve used it, it has been great.

Speakers: Altec Lansing 221
I bought these in 2004. I remember because I was on co-op in Minnesota. They’ve served me well. I’ve seen no reason to upgrade. I do think it’s time that wireless speakers should be common, but I haven’t come across any (not that I’ve looked very hard). Same with replacing my monitor, if I get an iMac next year, the purchase of new speakers now would be a waste.

Mouse: Logitech Performance MX
Finding a mouse is such a pain. I need a certain number of buttons and comfort, it would also be nice if it were Bluetooh. This one covers everything but the Bluetooth, I have a little plug in my USB hub for it. It’s getting a little old so pieces have fallen off and sometimes that leads to glue getting on my fingers. It also doesn’t do a good job alerting me that the battery is dying, and I don’t have an outlet in the right spot to easily charge it while still being able to use it.

I’ve debated the Apple Touchpad, but I’m not sure I’d like that on my desktop setup. I feel like the touchpad works better on a small screen. At this point, Lion supports enough gestures that a touchpad is a viable option.

Keyboard: Apple Keyboard
Having a wireless keyboard isn’t as a big a deal as a mouse. It would be if it were the only device I had to plug in. I have the wired version because the Apple Wireless Keyboard doesn’t have a number pad. That still makes no sense to me. The smaller version looks nice, but isn’t functional for me. I like the looks of the Logitech K750 for Mac. It isn’t Bluetooth, but uses the same Unifying Receiver that my mouse does. I haven’t seen the need to spend $60 to get one just yet.

I’ll try and update this after I make major changes. I’ll try and do more of these for what I have hooked up to my tv, apps on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and if I think of any other random things.

Mike

Gmail for iOS

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Working at Google this summer I wasn’t too ashamed with my iPhone. I wasn’t there for Christmas, so I didn’t get a free one. Plus, Google makes all their apps for the iPhone too. Now we have Gmail, for real, not the messed up version they released on the first try.

It’s useful to have because it’s an easy way to archive or label messages, things you can’t do easily in the Mail app. Also, push would be awesome. I could stop using the confusing Gmail on Mail since I have to choose between push and being able to delete.

One problem, push is awful. It just does sounds and badges for notifications. Meaning your phone will beep or buzz and there will be no noticeable alert. At least until you look around and notice the Gmail app badge has increased by 1.

Ok start and I’ll use it for Gmail specific actions, but no dice on it being my main way of using Gmail on the iPhone

Mike

AIM is back?

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I like your style.

I’m one of the few who still hang around on AIM. My Buddy List has become a barren wasteland. I’m down to one friend from undergrad and a handful of grad school friends who are old enough to still think AIM is the way to go.

AIM’s new preview seems to answer a lot of the problems I’ve been talking about when it comes to messaging (I was excited for iMessage).

I’ve been using Meebo for the last few weeks and while it did a better job than everything else I’d tried, I was growing tired of its shortcomings. Here’s what I like about the AIM Preview from using it on my iPhone and Mac today …

Desktop and Web App
Web Apps seem to be the simple solution that everyone follows. AIM has one and it seems pretty solid. This is worth mentioning to me since I only remember the old days of AIM Express, which was a terrible web app, although at the time it was probably pushing what was possible inside the browser.

Even better, a desktop app! It looks good but it’s a single window solution. I’m not a tabbed IM person. I like to have all my individual windows. I could get used to it but with it’s a wide view, meaning the buddy list is next to IM window. It doesn’t fit well on my screen since I like to have my buddy list visible next to my browser window.

Messages Stored on Server
I’ve wanted this forever. No matter which platform, your history is there. Meebo has this feature but it was hit or miss in my usage. Trying AIM out so far, it has worked perfectly. History pops right up on the phone.

Notifications
They are almost as much as I could have hoped. When you get a new message all sessions are alerted (web app, desktop, mobile). Makes sense. When you read the message, the alert then goes away on all devices. So if you read a message on your desktop, the badge the iPhone letting you know you have a new IM goes away, and it happens really quickly. The one issue on the iPhone is that while the badge updates, the notification doesn’t go away. So if I’m chatting on the computer I will come back to a lot of AIM notifications on the Lock Screen. This works with emails on the iPhone, so I assume it can be done for this.

Group Chat
Worth mentioning because it works on mobile too.

Favorite Contacts
I talked about this for iMessage, AIM has it on all the apps. Favorites are saved on the server so they follow you no matter how you connect.

GChat too
At first thought I was worried because not many people are still on AIM, but a lot have moved to GChat since they use GMail. AIM supports both Google and Facebook. I hooked it up to Google and it seems to work just like an AIM account. I don’t like Facebook chat all that much, but it’s also an option.

Now for the few things AIM really needs, besides the ones I’ve mentioned …

iPad App
No iPad app yet, but there is still the old AIM app. Since the system is backwards compatible with old apps, it will save your messages on the server. You just won’t see them on the iPad. Since there was already an app, I’m hopeful for this to be updated soon. (Vote on the AIM Feedback page!)

Active Device Awareness
Still not sure what to call this, but Meebo had this right. When you are engaged in a conversation, not every session needs to be alerted to new IMs. I really think this is the biggest issue for complete adoption. When I’m chatting on the computer, I don’t want my phone buzzing every time I get a response. It should be easy to figure out that I’m actively using the desktop client and then not send messages to the phone. Meebo does this in the web app by making it active when in use but after a few minutes it goes inactive and alerts being going to the phone again. (Vote on the AIM Feedback page!)

Publish Current Device
Another one I’m not sure what to call. Somehow the person you are chatting with should know if you are on a computer or phone. That will help when chatting to know if they may take a while to respond or may only be able to have short responses. (Vote on the AIM Feedback page!)

It also looks like it can attach to social networks to collect status updates and you can read news too. I haven’t tried these features yet, they are just extras to me.

Overall, I’m really impressed with what they’ve released and excited for what they hopefully have in store. I thought I might have to wait for ChatOn to get released on all devices. AIM is really close to what I’ve been begging for. It’s the first time AIM has gotten any love in forever. I hope they are serious. I think people will return. I think most people have fond memories of AIM and just need their friends to go back first. I’ll be there for a while. Also, this might be the best option for using Google Chat.

I just need to find a new Buddy Icon.

Mike

I was going to use iCloud email

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I’m getting sick of Gmail, and it’s only for one reason: it doesn’t like to delete things. Whenever I come across an application for email, I have to test of Gmail actually deletes when the app tells it to delete. Sometimes, when Gmail gets a request to delete a message, it just archives it. I like the idea of archiving, it’s so much easier than having to put everything in to folders. I just have this weird thing, when I hit delete, I mean delete, not archive.

Here is a quick look at how each client I use behaves when I click Delete.
Outlook – Delete
Apple Mail – Archive
Gmail on iPhone Mail – Delete (there is a setting asking you if you want to use archiving, I leave it as deleting)
Gmail (as Exchange) on iPhone Mail – Archive

That last one is important, because that is the only way to get push mail to work for Gmail on the iPhone. I’d also like Apple Mail to work. For the next few months I still need to use Outlook for school, so I’ll have it open a lot. Once that is gone, I’ll hopefully be rid of Outlook.

I looked around for which services offer push mail on the iPhone. All I could really find was Yahoo! and iCloud. I’m not going to use Yahoo! Mail. iCloud is free and I was curious to give it a shot. Yes I’d be going even further into the Apple ecosystem, but it seemed fairly harmless. It’s IMAP afterall.

Why I gave up on iCloud Mail after after a few hours …

  • Rules don’t have Make As Read as an option. This was the no question dealbreaker. I have tons of rules in Gmail for all the mailing lists I’m on. I don’t want to unsubscribe from them, but I also don’t need my phone alerting me to those emails coming in as new, I’ll get to them later.
  • No Send As option. I have my domain which I forward my email to whichever service I’m actually using. I’d prefer everyone use that email in case I find a new service I want to switch to. In that case, which could have been now, I won’t have as much pain telling people to start using a new email address. They likely won’t even know.

iCloud Mail works as simple email. The web app looks nice, it works well on the phone and email apps. Most importantly, delete actually deletes. I’d recommend you try it out if you are in the market for just email. If you are looking for something a little more than basic, then maybe stick to Gmail.

I’m open to something new. As usual, I’m going to keep my eye open for new email servies. They don’t seem to pop up that often anymore.

Mike

I was excited for iMessage

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iMessage was one of the features that I was most excited about with iOS 5. Messaging has always been imperfect both on the computer with IM and on the phone. What I want is something that is seamless no matter which type of device I’m using. I had hopes that iMessage would be a step in the right direction. Allowing me to also message on my iPad, and if all went well, on the Mac too. But so far, no such luck.

iMessage already has the huge hurdle to get over since it only works for people on iOS. I have enough of those to at least utilize some of the benefits, unlike most other messaging options, which none of my friends use. Given this hurdle, I figured they would have gone out of their way to make iMessage as easy as possible. No such luck.

I don’t care about the avoiding Text Message part when it comes to fees. At this point you either have unlimited or nothing. I’m a long way from not needing any Text Messages, so I could care less about that benefit.

iPad
I expected that as soon as I was connected to someone with iMessage then all of our messages would start popping up on my iPad. Not the case. From what I’m reading, but haven’t tried out because it’s not worth the inconvenience of anyone who has iMessage, is that for it to show up on both my iPhone and iPad, the sender would have to send an iMessage to an email address I have registered on both. If the message is sent to my phone number like a normal Text Message, then it will only appear on my iPhone.

Text Message threads are already in place using phone numbers. Meaning a new message thread needs to be started using email addresses. What email address to use? For my school friends, I only have their .edu email, but I bet most of them don’t attach that to their iMessage, so I’ll have to go through the trouble of asking which email to use. Sure, it only has to be done once, and I’ll try it with a few people, but this could have been done without any effort on my part.

Here are the two situations and how they could easily work:
1) iMessage sent to phone number. iMessage system figures out all the connected devices, sends to all of those.
2) Text Message from non-iPhone. iPhone sends message up to iCloud. iPad receives message as well. Reply allows iMessage system to route message back. They can go back through the phone if they have to.

Desktop
I don’t get Apple’s strategy. The have iChat, which for the most part you use to log in to third-party services. Then FaceTime, so you can do video chats between devices and computer. Now iMessage. Is there a reason there are three different platforms? I had always assumed iChat would have been on the iPhone early on, but it’s never happened.

Talking between someone on a phone and a desktop has potential to be less than ideal. The phone user won’t respond as quickly as you are used to on IM. Still, it would be useful. The software would obviously tell you the person was currently on a phone or whatever sort of device, so you’d know it might be slow. I’d rather be able to send or respond to a message on my computer, if I’m using it, than have to get my phone and type in a message.

Favorites
Have you tried to navigate iMessage? I imagine I have a lot fewer conversations than the average user, and I have trouble scrolling around looking for the conversation I want. Why no favorites tab like the Phone App has?

Nice things to say …
Most of my complaints are comparing iMessage to what I think it should be. Comparing to the old Text Message only version, there are a few nice new features.

Quicker – For those that I am connected via iMessage, it is faster send over Wi-Fi than having to use a text.
Group Messaging – I used to send a message to a group of friends and then get messages back from them in separate threads and they wouldn’t see each others’ responses. I assumed this was some sort of technical limitation until last year when my sister got a Blackberry and I realized I was receiving replies when our mom was sending a message to both of us. Now I can reply to everyone on the original thread at once.
Text Tones – Some of this may have already been in. I think you could change the default sound, but I didn’t like any of the alternatives. Now I can assign a custom tone to anyone. I did realize that it isn’t as easy to find sound clips online as I remember. Simpsons, Seinfeld, whatever you wanted used to be easy to find. I asked a friend what sound he would want when he texted me and he picked a popular line from Friday Night Lights, Coach Taylor’s ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ After much searching, no luck. I assume instead of posting sound clips, people just do YouTube clips now. I still couldn’t find it on there. I’m not sure I care enough to try and record it off a DVD.

Alternatives
WhatsApp is free now, or at least was yesterday when I downloaded it. I like that it works on a few different platforms. It is tied to a phone number so no luck on the iPad and certainly nothing on the desktop. It doesn’t seem worth trying to migrate people as it isn’t much better than what I can do with Text Messages. This seems the same as the other Apps I’ve downloaded: Ping, Kik, GroupMe, Beluga, Disco.

Is there something I’m missing? It’s possible Facebook might be the best alternative. However, most of my friends don’t sign in to Facebook chat, so that would take some effort. Right now, email is still the best way to go for my needs, I just want instant email. At least until ChatON gets rolling. ChatON is Samsung’s service that just launched on Android. It is attempting to be cross-platform along with a web app. I’d settle for a web app. Hopefully their iOS App comes out soon.

That’s where I’m at on iMessage. There are a lot of things I like about iOS 5, and I’ll try to get to them. There are also a few head scratchers. iWork Docs only sync between devices, not with the Mac!?!

Mike

Do I want the iPhone 4s?

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The only iPhone I haven’t owned is the original. I bought the iPhone 4 right before heading back to school as my last major purchase. So now I’m in school and actually have to think if the new phone is worth buying. Assuming of course current iPhone users can buy a little early (my AT&T discount is scheduled for early Dec.).

I’ll hit the new features that have caught my eye …

Faster download speeds – I haven’t had much issue with my connection being too slow but I’m not going to argue against a doubling in download speed.

Dual-core – Again, not a big issue on my phone with speed. On occasion it seems to get bogged down, but nothing that is driving me crazy. Nothing will be as bad as that awful iPhone 3G.

RAM – All the rumors had this being updated. It certainly needs to go to 1gb, it would be awful to constrict this processor with limited RAM.

Camera – I’m not going crazy over a new camera. I guess the few times I use my iPhone camera, I’d like the best quality I can get. Although at some point perhaps it will mean I leave my point-and-shoot at home more often. Although its the zooming that keeps me using a real camera. I’ll throw video in 1080p here too. I’ve never taken video with my phone. I should, but I haven’t.

Airplay Mirroring – Sounds promising, but not sure how often I’d use it. Most cases I see using it, such as sharing pictures on the TV, wouldn’t be at home making the presence of an AppleTV less likely and I’d have to have remembered my HDMI cable.

Siri – Well, Hello there Siri. I watched the videos and the computer-y voice makes it sound a little less cool than I imagined. Still, it’s pretty impressive, tech-wise. But would I use it? It looks to be very useful in the car to operate it. But I’m not in my car enough for that to be helpful. However, if it reads text messages, and the audio comes over Bluetooth Audio (I’ve been using that a lot in the car), I’d like that very much. The one example I did think I’d use a lot is setting the alarm via voice. I’ll be curious to see what other Apps can do with it over the next few releases.

Auto-Switching Antenna – Interesting. I don’t have a ton of coverage issues, but there are times when my connection stumbles.

Battery – The comparisons show an increase in battery life for 3G calls, with everything else being the same. Still, a little less drain when on the phone is handy. It won’t be a dramatic, noticeably improvement, but it will be there.

Things I do want:
32gb – I have 10gb of apps on my phone. Add in podcasts and music (Spotify at the moment) and I barely have any room for pictures. If the 32gb version would have been lowered to $199, I’d be buying without all these other considerations.
White – I would have bought the white iPhone 4 had it been out.

What I wanted:
Bigger Screen – Not crazy bigger, but a little more.
LTE – I wasn’t expecting it, but this will be needed, likely before the next iPhone comes out.

iOS 5
This might really be all I want. New notifications! iMessage! (Although, it should be on the Mac too.) Wi-Fi Syncing! Reminders. (No !, but has potential with the Siri examples.) It will be like a new phone.

iCloud
Get back to me. As I’ve said before, I should already have these features but iOS is too locked down.

Do I buy it? I’ll let you know, I’m glad I have until Friday to decide.

Mike

I’ve had Lion for a while, now it’s time to complain

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I installed Lion the day it came out, and I hated it. I tried not to rant about it too much and decided to give it a try for a while before judging. Maybe Apple is smarter than me.

For the most part, I like the idea of the new features, such as Mission Control and Full Screen Apps. Actually, I really like them. What I don’t like is that some built in functionality was removed (gesture to switch applications) and there are so many bugs, that using Mission Control in any logical manner just doesn’t work.

The #1 thing I want out of Lion: A developer that uses Lion with Mission Control and multiple desktops.

Some specifics on my problems …
Open Mission Control, which shows my Dock (I started hiding it in Lion). Click on an app in my Dock that is open and it doesn’t matter if I’m on the same desktop or not (happens in both cases). What happens? A different app gains focus. Not the one I just clicked. Seems like a major bug to me.

Use an app in full screen mode. Move mouse to bottom of the screen to bring up hidden Dock. Dock opens … sometimes. Sometimes right away, sometimes after waiting a bit, sometimes right after moving away, a lot of times not at all. I’d like the option to bring up the Dock in this way, but even if that wasn’t an option when in a full screen app, then follow that. This randomness is a huge pain.

Some other things I want …
Four finger swipe (left and right) for switching applications – They just pulled this one out of the options and now I have nothing assigned to this gesture. The application switcher was what I used the majority of the time when changing between apps. I tried BetterTouchTool at first but it was a little buggy. I also decided to give Lion a chance and maybe there was a better way to do things. I’ve adjusted to switching apps with Mission Control but I’m going to try BetterTouchTool again to hopefully get my app switching gesture back.

About the four-finger swipe … I went in to settings and found that swiping between desktops could be assigned to this gesture. I had this one disabled because I was using the gesture so much expecting the application switcher to show up that it was screwing me up. I still don’t have any desire for this functionality. I want to know where my swipe is taking me. This seems like I’d be going on an adventure to find the desktop I want. Mission Control will take me right where I want to go without a potential adventure.

Full screen Coda – Not an Apple issue, but with Parallels 7 supporting Lion (although $50 to get full support for a new OS is kind of ridiculous) it looks like Coda is the only app that I would use as full screen.

Dedicated desktops that disappear when not in use – Ok, I’ll make the last one an Apple problem. The reason I want Coda (and wanted Parallels) to be full screen apps are because they are two Apps that had their own desktop assigned to them. However, they aren’t open all the time, so there were empty desktops hanging around my Mission Control. iTunes was the 4th Space I had (that’s the two I mentioned along with my main desktop) in Snow Leopard, but that was full screen ready at launch for Lion.

Lion is just frustrating. Snow Leopard was solid, I loved it right away. Lion just seems lazy. I’m not surprised Apple shipped something with so many bugs, they have glaring bugs that they take forever to fix all the time on the iPhone. But usually, when it’s related to a major new feature, they polish it to make sure it’s adopted.

The next big launch for Lion will be iCloud. Which I sadly have to be excited for since iOS has things too locked down to make Dropbox useable for anything other than viewing on devices.

I’ll just be here, hanging my hopes on iOS 5 being wonderful.ikoni

Mike

To the Cloud: Podcasts

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All this talk about the cloud but there isn’t much that seems to work correctly at this point. It’s sad that I’m going to have to use iCloud so I can have something that will let me cleanly edit documents across my Apple products when Dropbox has served me well but is limited by what Apple lets it do.

It seems that music in the cloud is the popular topic recently, especially with Spotify finally launching in the US. I don’t see what the big deal is as it is not much different than a bunch of services that are already out there. I’ll have more on the topic soon as I spent a month with a Slacker trial and currently trying a rdio trial. No Spotify trial means rdio has a good shot at winning out. Again, more on that later.

All these music services have struggled to deal with the labels before than can do any innovating. Hmm, if there was only some sort of audio product where there wasn’t much worry about licenses. How about podcasts?

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who still listens to multiple podcasts across a couple of devices at the same time. I’m tied to iTunes to sort of keep things organized and sync’d. Evey that is tricky. iTunes podcast syncing was broken for months earlier this year and they didn’t seem to really care as it went a few updates without a fix. What I mean by broken: I’d listen to part of a podcast on my computer, then sync my iPhone and it would reset to the beginning of that podcast the next time I played it, instead of starting where I left off. For a while I had to be very careful of when I could sync and started listening to certain podcasts on certain devices. I looked for an alternative, but no luck.

The closest a product has come to being useful in a podcast management system was Odeo. It kept track of everything and would stream the podcast. I don’t think it remembered where you were in a podcast if you stopped listening in the middle and there was no downloading, so it wasn’t good for mobile. If you haven’t heard of Odeo, you might want to read up on your internet history as Twitter was dreamed up by the team while working at Odeo.

So what do I want and how does this so-called cloud work?

  • Podcasts streamed or downloaded to devices
  • Podcast management – subscriptions, new episodes, what has been listened to, etc. all kept track of
  • Syncing – Which podcats need to be downloaded and where you left off listening to each episode.

That’s it. And the podcast hosts handle almost all the bandwidth because they freely distribute. All this cloud has to handle is all the status information. Podcasts don’t even need to be tied to music, so something could easily be developed outside of iTunes. Really all that’s needed are mobile apps because the desktop could be just a web site with streaming at the start. This even solves a problem I had considered too much to hope for: syncing between desktops. I have my own computer but then another computer at work. When I’m at work, I will just listen to podcats on my iPhone because who knows when something will pop up and leave me in the middle of a podcast.

Audiobooks and paid podcasts could easily follow a similar model. Audiobooks are even more crucial when it comes to remembering the position in the book. I can only assume Audible has not come out with their own app because they make too much off of iTunes.

This really doesn’t seem that hard. If I was solid on iOS development and had a few free days, I feel like this could be quickly dealt with.

Oh, and as for making money. You have a podcast directory like iTunes. Again, the hosts do most of the work setting up their accounts. Then you just have podcasters looking for attention to advertise on the site.

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