iPhone Upgrade

I picked up a 2G iPhone when I was in the US earlier in the year.

I’ve been meaning to write a review here for a while.  

Here is the short version: I love it!

Upgrading to a new 3G model doesn’t really interest me for now. I’ve added 200MB of mobile data to my existing cheap plan, and have never come close to using all of that.  So, I don’t need to upgrade to get on a better plan … in fact, it would cost me more and I’d be locked in, so I don’t really see the incentive there.  

And it doesn’t really seem to me that there are any really compelling functional, or even aesthetic, reasons to switch.  

Am I missing something?  

Until yesterday, I haven’t even felt the need to upgrade my software.  

Then Cultured Code announced an iPhone version of Things which syncs with the desktop.  That will do it for me.

So, I’m looking for somebody who can help me upgrade.  

According to iTunes I’m currently running v1.1.3.  I’d be interested to talk to anybody who has done this successfully.  I’m hoping it’s as easy as the initial unlock and jailbreak.

Also, while I’m at it …

Prior to the iPhone I used a Windows Mobile phone, and used Missing Sync to sync with my address book and calendar.  When I say sync I’m talking mostly theoretically.  It never really worked properly, randomly changing contact details around and dropping appointments into the ether.  

Very frustrating, and not really recommended at all!

What’s more, even though the software is now removed, it’s left some muddy footprints in my network settings:

There are literally hundreds of those dead connections listed.  I can only guess that it created a new entry each time I connected the phone to sync, and never cleaned up after itself.  It’s a pain because it means that this settings page takes forever to load, and I’ve also noticed that my Mac takes a long time to switch onto a different network connection (e.g. when I move between wi-fi points, or disconnect an ethernet connection).  Perhaps it’s somehow working through this list to check which connections are available?

Does anybody know a quick way to remove these?  

Any help with this would be much appreciated. :-)

Monolingual

Here’s a useful little utility for OS X:

Monolingual

Monolingual screenshot

It allows you to remove languages, input methods and architectures that you don’t require (think: all of the translated help files that you will never use).

It took about 10 minutes to free up about 1.2 GB on my system. Your results may vary.

PS look closely at the list of languages in the screen shot above and see if any of them are familiar. Klingon, anybody? :-)

Playing with colours

I’ve been doing a bit of design work over the last week or so, which has been fun. I’m not a great graphic designer, but I can do enough to be dangerous. I enjoy having the freedom to experiment with different ideas without having to bother somebody else to do the heavy lifting.

This is the first time I’ve really got stuck into this sort of work since I switched to my Mac, so I’ve had to get used to a bunch of new tools.

Coda LogoFor HTML and CSS I’ve been using Coda, which I chose basically on the strength of its logo (see right), but which has turned out to be a nice tool. I especially like the built-in reference books, which are great for somebody like me who doesn’t spend all of their time coding and needs regular help.

http://www.panic.com/coda/

For image editing I’m using Pixelmator to replace my old favourite on Windows, Paint.net. It’s taking me a while to get used to this, and I’m not sure I’ll continue with it beyond the free demo period. I am feeling quite slow using it, and it’s missing a few of the things I use a lot – for example, it doesn’t support vectors at all so there is no rectangle tool, instead you need to select the required area and then fill in the selection which seems cumbersome when you’re doing it a lot. I’m also pretty slow with it generally, but I have a feeling that will improve once I get on top of the keyboard shortcuts etc. It’s very pretty, but I’m not sure this is the right tool for the job I have in mind.
http://www.pixelmator.com/

I’ve had a quick play with Inkscape, but it uses X11 and doesn’t really feel like an OS X application.

What other alternatives can you Mac users recommend?

(In looking around I did find a really cute tool called Scribbles. If you’re into graphic design I definitely recommend having a play with this, just to check out the smart interface, including a whole new approach to layers which seems really intuitive. It’s designed for kids, but I suspect that kids of all ages could have a lot of fun with it.)

I’ve also found a couple of other useful tool-lets which I thought I’d share (for my own future reference if for no other better reason):

At Webstock Dan Cederholm talked about basing a colour palette on a photograph from nature. This tool from De Graeve makes it easy – simply upload your image and it will pick out a range of complementary colours from the image. It even gives you the hex codes:

http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/

They also have a simple fav icon editor:

http://www.degraeve.com/favicon/

HexPicker Preview

Robin Wood has a really useful introduction to the OS X Colour Picker, which is actually much more powerful than it first appears.

The magnifying glass and swatch drawer were both new to me.

And, what’s more the picker can be extended with third-party add-ons.

I found this from Waffle Software, which adds a simple hex picker tab (see screenshot right):

phttp://wafflesoftware.net/hexpicker/

Fun, fun!

What other tools are people out there using for this sort of thing? I’d be interested to get your suggestions.

:-)

Mac-curious

I’ve been Mac-curious for a while, I guess.

All of the cool kids have one.

At Kiwi Foo Camp earlier this year there were so many Apples it was like an orchard!

What was I missing out on?

I’ve been using Windows ever since I bought my first PC in 19961994. I didn’t (and don’t) consider Windows to be broken. On top of that I was obviously at the back of the queue when they handed out the Apple kool-aid … I still don’t even own an iPod.

But, they say a change is as good as a holiday, so I took the opportunity when I moved to Xero to try switching.

A month in and I’m hooked.

I have found that most of my assumptions were wrong.

For starters, I was surprised to find that it didn’t cost much more. I priced up a Dell and sent the details to a couple of Apple fanboys. The challenge for them was to convince me to buy an Apple instead. Actually it was pretty easy for them. I’d always assumed that Macs were more expensive. While it’s true that you can buy a much cheaper PC, when you compare like with like (Apples with not-Apples?) there is not a great difference.

OS X has been a surprise too.

I didn’t expect to rave about an operating system.

And I know that there are lots of people who don’t like it. Phil for one has taken the time to document the specific things that frustrated him.

But, I love it. It took me a few weeks to get through the valley of despair – or more accurately the valley of unfamiliar keyboard shortcuts. But, now I’m there I find I’m spending much less time fighting with software and more time getting on with things. It feels like the operating system has melted into the background compared to what I’m used to.

And I haven’t had any trouble finding software to use. Like Nic I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover a healthy industry of small application developers creating great software for OS X. My favourites so far are Yojimbo (which has replaced my hitherto dependence on OneNote), VLC, and Quicksilver. And of course Firefox (I’ve also tried Camino, but in the end went back to Firefox for the add-ons). If you’re into Getting Things Done then Actiontastic is also worth keeping an eye on (although it’s not quite there yet for me). I’m also keeping an eye out for VMWare and Pixelmator.

The switch has also highlighted to me how much of my software now resides on the net and so is independent of the operating system – Gmail, Google Reader, WordPress, Xero, etc etc.

I’ve heard a number of people say that OS X isn’t suitable for business use. Now I can understand why.

Microsoft Office for the Mac is a pale imitation of the Windows equivalent. Entourage is especially painful. I’ve failed to get our Exchange server working with OS X Mail, so for now I’m stuck with it.

I’ve started to learn Omni Graffle and Keynote, but I’m still a bit of a novice with both, so I’m not as productive.

So, until the new Mac version of Microsoft Office comes out I’m resorting to running Vista on Parallels for some of this stuff. It’s a bit of a security blanket, but I’m cool with that. It’s a feature. As Marc Andreessen points out, with a Mac you effectively get three operating systems in one (OS X, Unix under the covers, and Windows in Parallels/BootCamp). Or, for a slightly more fanboy spin on the same point: “… all computers can run Windows, but some, the special ones from Apple, also run Mac OS X.” (from John Gruber).

I haven’t tried to do any development yet – although I know plenty of great developers who are Mac users, so I don’t expect any problems and again, with Parallels and/or BootCamp the development languages and environments I am more familiar with are only a mouse click away.

Of course, the hardware itself is super sexy. As Amnon said about the Dell when I sent him the comparison: “How will you live with yourself with that monstrosity in the house?” The only downside is I have had to upgrade my laptop bag to match!

As a long time ThinkPad user I wondered how I’d go with the track pad (I always thought I was more of a nipple man!) but I haven’t had any problems adjusting. I’m now addicted to the two-finger scroll.

Downsides?

Choosing the right time to buy seems to be a secret art. I was all ready to go until a friend pointed out that there would be a new version out shortly. I realise that Apple manage to generate a lot of buzz via their rumour mill. But, I have to wonder if they don’t create a fair bit of bad-will (is that a word?) when they make sudden leaps forward in their product lines. Take, as an example, this comment from the MacRumours.com forums following the announcement of the new MacBookPro range:

“NOOOOOOOOO! I’ve just bought my new Macbook Pro! Loving it alot. But now……. a little less.”

To get around this I got a temporary machine from Rentamac for a couple of months until the new model was released. This would also be a good option if you’re not totally sure that you’ll want to stick with a Mac.

Would I recommend it?

Definitely give it a try.

I can also recommend a Mac to anybody who is looking to opt out of providing tech support to their extended family. I got an iMac to replace Mum & Dad’s old PC, and I can now honestly say I don’t know how to fix any problems they have when they call. Although, so far to be fair there haven’t been any to fix!

Now, about that iPod … :-)

Cartoon from: Hugh McLeod

[Blogged from SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa!]