iPod Games

Even the original iPod came with games, but the iPod Touch has none. I don’t care too much about games, but Solitaire is okay when you’re bored (the original Solitaire for the iPod using the click wheel was HORRIBLE). And Euchre is kind of fun. But the biggest selling game app on iTunes is Angry Birds, which I had never even heard of. I downloaded the free intro version and it is pretty funny. You use a slingshot to hurl different kinds of birds at structures that house green pigs until the green pigs are all gone. It’s kind of like Lemmings in that different birds do different things, and maybe reminds me a little of Fantastic Contraptions except it is less about building and more about destroying. The graphics and sounds are really cute. I played it all weekend and got 3 stars (the best score) on all but one of the 10 games. What is great about this game is that it is the most downloaded, highest grossing, and it only costs 99 cents. So I figured I should pay for the full version.

I also downloaded Euchre Lite which is free because it has ads. I thought the computer was doing a decent job, but my computer partner and I won 10 games of the first 11. The free version makes everyone play screw the dealer whereas the one on my Palm I would force myself to pick a suit on my deal, but I didn’t set it up so the computer had to (it was on the honor system). But the Palm really did some dumb things, so that just helped level the playing field. There are some pay versions of Euchre at the app store that are supposed to be hard to beat, but part of that seems to be because they cheat and give the human a weak partner and miserable cards. I had a Backgammon game like that on the Palm where if you ever left a piece by itself exposed, the computer would always roll whatever it took to send that one back to the bar. That takes a lot of fun out of the game.

Memos on iPod

One of the great features of the Palm from the very beginning was keeping memos. Anything you need to remember you can just write down and then look up them alphabetized by the first line. Not only that, but you can categorize the memos so I would have personal memos, memos for stuff to remember about computers, stuff to remember about work, etc. People sometimes refer to the Palm as my “brain” but most of what I am remembering in my brain is just these little snippets of text I had stored in there.

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Apps

Today I looked for apps to replace my favorite applications on the Palm. I found a free HP48 calculator emulator that should work pretty well called m48 (it actually uses the same operating system ROM which HP released to the public several years ago, so it is even programmable though I don’t think there is any way to load programs I have already written except by keying them in a character at a time).

Also I had already bought Dataviz Documents To Go that I have used for years on my Palm when they released an iPod version last year. I updated it to the latest version yesterday and they soon announced an even newer version that isn’t available yet. Hopefully that will be free too, but it may be the last version since the people that make the Blackberry just bought Dataviz and may not want to write iOS software.

I’m still looking for a good database program similar to SmartList which Dataviz doesn’t even list on its website anymore. Apple just released a version of Filemaker for iOS, but it is $30. They also have a $5 database program called Bento, but I don’t think it will do what I want. So I’m looking at another former Palm app called HanDBase, though it is supposedly buggy and won’t let you export or import entries unless you get the Deluxe version for another $25 (the app itself is $10). TapForms is only $7 and will at least let me import the data from my SmartList databases.

I also would like an offline browser. I have been using SunriseXP and Plucker on the Palm to store my blog, movie reviews, New York Times, and other web pages on my Palm so I can read them even if I don’t have wifi (which is most of the time). I’d really like something like that that can download a page and everything that page links to, preferably automatically. RSS newsreaders seem to only get a summary of an article, not the whole thing. Instapaper gets all of the text of a web page, but doesn’t follow the links. Offline Pages does the same thing, except it also gets images, and has a “Pro” version that will get pages automatically as well as pages they link to (actually not sure about that). Unfortunately, it is only for the iPad. (Note: Later on, they made a version for iPhone/iPod, but I wound up using Browse Later which works fine)

Another neat thing I heard about was that you could download all of Wikipedia to an iPod. That would be fantastic. There seem to be three apps that do that: Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Offline, and AllOfWiki Offline. But each seems to use a processed version of the free Wikipedia dump and you have to pay each time you want an updated version of Wikipedia from them. The download is at least 2-5 GB and includes only the text of the articles, no pictures, references, discussion, or user profiles. Search is supposed to be pretty bad and requires you to enter the exact name of the article (no forwarding and no guesses; Ultra seems to have better search). Ultra is $6 (now $8) and the other two are $10 each.

And of course I need a dictionary, but I think I found one of those too called WordWeb which is free, but they have a pay version that has audio pronunciations.

Time for a New iPod

On September 1 Apple announced their new lineup of iPods. After waiting for many years, I figured this would be the year for me to get an iPod Touch to replace my Palm TX and iPod Nano. Unfortunately, on the day of the announcement I was driving around southern Utah and couldn’t get internet reception and the hotel in Bryce Canyon National Park didn’t even have television. So that night I texted Jeb “No wifi or tv need new ipod info” realizing it was pretty late in Atlanta. But I got a text back right away: “What? Did you get my email?” Knowing he was awake, I just called him and told him I had no internet. He asked “Didn’t you go to work?” He had forgotten I was in the desert, even though he had just lent me his hat for the trip a few days earlier. He said the Touch was basically an iPhone 4 without the phone, which is what I was hoping for. So it had front and back cameras and the high resolution screen. Then after we stopped talking he kept sending me more details: prices, battery life, facetime video calls, and iTunes 10’s new Ping service.

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Bats

Today I went to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City. They had one building where they had different “villain” creatures from movies and listed which movies they had starred in. So they had piranha, tarantulas (actually a bird-eating spider, which does not typically eat birds despite its name), and bats. But the bats weren’t in a cage, they were hanging from a tree inside the building. These bats were pretty big, but they were fruit bats, so they don’t suck blood or anything. The ones on the outside of the clump stay awake and watch for trouble while the ones in the middle snooze. In this picture it looks like they are all asleep, but they were actually moving around and opening their mouths some while we watched.

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Zion National Park

I just got back from Zion National Park. We drove there Thursday from Bryce Canyon and came through the East entrance, a winding road with a mile-long tunnel (though it also has 4 “galleries” which are like windows into the canyon, but we weren’t allowed to stop). That road is under construction so they have it down to one lane traffic in several places, including the tunnel. Therefore we were escorted through. It is impressive, but since a lot of the road was torn up, it was also pretty rough.

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Bryce Canyon

The day after I got to Salt Lake City we drove about 4 hours down to Bryce Canyon National Park. This park is famous for its “hoodoos” which are spires of eroded rock sitting in rows, most famously in the “amphitheater” area. We stayed near the old lodge in the park (inside the park they have the lodge, cabins (single or duplex), and two “motels,” so the motel was all they had left by the time I made reservations and we were probably lucky to get that because the town outside the park is pretty junky) which was just a short walk from the amphitheater.

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