This week I was looking up some long magazine articles and I thought this would really be better to read on my iPod than while sitting at the computer. There are choices on the iPod including Instapaper and Browse Later for saving web pages to the iPod, but reading articles in the browser is not one of the iPod’s strong suits. You wind up having to scroll left and right to read each line.
Instead I figured I could just get the text of the article and read a text document. But you don’t just put files on the iPod and open them like you do on a computer. I have a free eReader called Stanza on my iPod. It is pretty good, allowing you to customize the text size, color, background, etc. and it is easy to flip through pages with just a tap (as opposed to scrolling by brushing your finger on the screen).
It is pretty clumsy trying to type on the iPod screen since there are no buttons and the little virtual key are pretty tiny. You can get bigger buttons by turning the iPod sideways. I downloaded a typing speed app and found I could get about 15 words per minute using one finger and the little keyboard. Turning it sideways and using my thumbs to type, I got about 17 wpm, but I made a lot of mistakes.
After thinking about a new notes app some more and looking at a bunch of different notes apps, now I am thinking that syncing with Google Docs might not be so bad. In particular, NoteMaster is cheap (99 cents, but has a free version you can play around with that lets you sync 8 notes), and syncs only with one folder in Google Docs, so I can keep any other docs separate. With Google in the mix, I can import notes from text files and edit them online from pretty much anywhere.
When I first got my iPod Touch, I looked around for a program that could hold all of my notes from my Palm. Apple’s built-in Notes app wouldn’t do categories and only had magic marker font (they got rid of that in a recent iOS update, but categories are still out). So it had to be able to import the 400+ notes, categorize them (or put them in folders), and then sync with my computer so they could be backed up. I wound up paying $1.99 for MemoBook which did all of that and not much else, though actually one neat thing is it lets you assign multiple categories to a note. This was pretty helpful because I assigned a category “Most Used” to the handful of notes I use the most and they are easier to get to that way.
When I first ripped all of my CD’s to MP3 files, I found out that if the music continued all the way to the end of the song, it would stutter at the end of the MP3. I got rid of that computer and my new one didn’t have the stutter. But for some reason with some CD’s it would put skips in the music. At first I thought the CD’s must be damaged, but if I ripped the same CD on my newer laptop, I didn’t have the problem.
I saw two articles in today’s paper about iPhone apps. One was about a Smurfs game that is free to download but you can buy add-ons from within the game and parents are getting billed hundreds of dollars when their kids buy Smurfberries from within the game (they’re not even real Smurfberries, they only exist within the game).
The second was about Angry Birds, which I have written about before. It is an iOS phenomenon, loved by all. It turns out the article was actually written for the New York Times and can be found here. I had never heard of Angry Birds until I got my iPod. Michael and Fiona like to play it when I visit them. Apparently dressing up as an angry bird was a popular Halloween costume (certainly more popular than last year). One of the things mentioned in the article is an Angry Birds birthday cake requested by a kid whose mother then spent 80 hours constructing. But it is great: picture.
In a comment to my review of my iPod, I said the iOS 4.2.1 update only offered two incredibly minor improvements to the iPod software. However, another thing they introduced was “Find my iPhone” as a free service. If you lose your iPod, you can log onto an Apple website and it will show you on a map where your iPod is (though it looked like it was at the house on the corner across the street) and also have the iPod make noise and display a message. You can also lock the iPod or erase it completely if it has fallen into enemy hands. But if someone steals it, all they have to do is reset it to factory settings and they have a functioning iPod even though at least they can’t get your personal information. It seems like Apple could set it to completely disable the iPod if it was reported stolen. Though that would mean there would be some overhead in keeping up with when you sell it or if Apple replaces it.
Anyway, the feature doesn’t work as well with an iPod as an iPhone because the iPod isn’t always connected to the internet like an iPhone, but I did a test in my house yesterday and it worked fine, with the iPod making a fairly loud sonar pinging noise and displaying the message “I’m over here, under the sofa!” (which I had told it to display; it wasn’t actually under the sofa).
However it wasn’t easy setting it up. First I had to set up a Mobile Me account and my existing iTunes account password wasn’t good enough for Mobile Me and showed my e-mail address as unverified, but wouldn’t send a verification message. But I changed the password under iTunes and got it working. You also have to set up a screen lock where every time you turn on the iPod you have to enter a 4-digit pin number. One option was to have it ask for the pin after 1 minute which I figured would be better since it would let me at least skip a song without having to log in. That lasted a few times before I decided I didn’t want to have to enter a pin every time and I have disabled that. I don’t know if that disables the Find My iPhone feature as well.
I’ve had my new iPod for about a month. The iPod is an amazing piece of hardware. The 64GB version that I bought is overpriced compared to the 32GB version that is $100 less, but I waited a long time to get something that had 64GB, so I saved money by not getting a previous model.
The screen resolution is really amazing. It doesn’t make much difference for pictures or video, but it really makes text look sharp. On most handhelds, the standard font is Helvetica or something without serifs, but this resolution is so sharp that a serif font looks fantastic. You don’t see books printed in sans serif fonts, so it is nice to have that quality on a screen, even if it is a pretty small one. Even italics looks great.
The wi-fi is much faster than on my Palm TX since the Palm only supported the slower 802.11b standard instead of 802.11g. I can synchronize about a dozen documents on my computer in a couple of seconds rather than almost a minute.
Today I was reading my Wikipedia Offline about the Japanese bullet trains. I was doing this because I had read an article that asked if the US would ever get high-speed rail. And it seems like Japan has had it for an awfully long time, so it’s not like it’s all that high tech anymore. Anyway, it quickly became obvious that I wasn’t getting the whole article. Here is what I read:
The , also known as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railways Group
companies. Starting with the Tōkaidō Shinkansen in 1964, the now long network has expanded to link most major cities on the islands of Honshū and Kyūshū at speeds up to . Test runs have reached for conventional rail in 1996, and up to a world record for maglev trainsets in 2003.
Here is the original article, which has a lot more facts in it, including the name of the train, the speed of the train, and the length of the rail lines:
The Shinkansen (新幹線?, new main line), also known as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railways Group companies. Starting with the 210 km/h (130 mph) Tōkaidō Shinkansen in 1964, the now 2,459 km (1,528 mi) long network has expanded to link most major cities on the islands of Honshū and Kyūshū at speeds up to 300 km/h (186 mph). Test runs have reached 443 km/h (275 mph) for conventional rail in 1996, and up to a world record 581 km/h (361 mph) for maglev trainsets in 2003.
One of the things I liked having on my Palm was an offline copy of my blog and all of my movie reviews. At first I used AvantGo to do this, but that company went out of business and the software only worked through their web servers. Then I found Sunrise XP and Plucker, two pieces of software that would get the pages and then let you see them offline. That was a great combo and, even though the companies no longer supported their product, they worked just fine. And whereas AvantGo limited the size of your cache, Sunrise didn’t care. So I got all of my blog and all of my movie reviews. I also use it to get Roger Ebert’s latest reviews, and sections of the New York Times.