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  • dtoub 2:05 pm on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 2:05 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPhone   

    does the verizon iPhone have a push e-mail bug? 

    Like any good husband, I dutifully ordered my wife a new Verizon iPhone at 3 AM EST when it was available for preordering for US Verizon customers. Fortunately, I was in the UK on business where it was a more tolerable 8 AM, and it only took a few minutes to preorder her iPhone on my iPhone 3GS (unlike Verizon’s iPhone, mine works in the EU). She received it a week later and loves it, except for one glitch: it does not push her .mac e-mail. Not only does it not push e-mail, it seems not to fetch it every 15 minutes, either. I chatted with an Apple rep and we determined it is not an issue with MobileMe. Her iPad gets her e-mail via push just fine, but her iPhone, not so much. Based on a lively discussion forum on Apple Support, a lot of folks are having the same issue. However, someone on the forum met with an Apple Genius and similar issues happened with the original iPhone and got fixed by AT&T in a reasonable period of time. Apple is aware of the issue, apparently, and hopefully this will be resolved soon. But for now, push doesn’t seem to be working for many Verizon iPhones.

    UPDATE: I’m told that the issue appears to have been resolved for many users, presumably on Verizon’s end, but not yet for my wife’s iPhone.

  • dtoub 9:55 am on Saturday, August 14, 2010, 9:55 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPhone   

    my latest list of iPhone apps that suck 

    In no particular order:

    • WordPress: Yes, this is a WordPress blog, and I’m actually writing this in Safari using the ScribeFire extension, which is very nice. But WordPress on the iPhone has been crappy since day one, and it’s now worse, since if you draft something on your iPhone and hit Save, it’s trashed. That’s right-your blog post that you just wrote is gone, history. The only option, I suppose, is to publish it automatically or else copy the draft into the clipboard. I lost two blog posts this way. And one of them was after WordPress claimed to have fixed the issue. It’s a terrible app: no support for links and now this. Avoid.
    • Wolfenstein 3D: Bad controls, just slightly better than Duke Nukem.
    • NetNewsWire: I gave up. I’m now using RSS Flash g. It’s not perfect (it needs a better way to post on Facebook-if most other apps can do it, surely this can), but it is waayy better than NNW on the iPhone. 
    • LinkedIn: I’m not thrilled with the Web site, which used to be so much more functional. It’s even worse on the iPhone. Pretty much useless. 
    • TruPhone: They recently introduced bugs that made it nearly impossible to place a VoIP call, which is the whole point of the app. It’s better now, but once I’m done with my prepaid allotment, I’m probably switching to Skype. Why TruPhone includes a twitter component but can’t provide better phone calls (which is the entire point of the app, no?) beats me. For a long time they shunned 3G calls, then embraced it, but I’m not clear that it’s inexpensive compared with VoIP calls via WiFi. 
    • Duke Nukem 3D: I read the reviews that said the controls suck, but thought I’d give it a while. My conclusion: the controls suck. It’s pretty much unplayable on the iPhone. 
    • Raanan Bar-Cohen 12:13 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 12:13 pm Permalink

      hey dtoub — re: the WordPress for iPhone app. Sorry to hear it’s giving you so many problems. Any chance you are running the old 1.2 version ? That version has been discontinued, and there is a new version of the app that is being worked on quite a bit, currently version 2.5: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordpress/id335703880?mt=8

      And are you experiencing these issues on WordPress.com ? If so, just drop a note to support (which will reopen tomorrow) and we can take a closer look: http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact/

      And lastly, in the app to create a link, just type in “http:” and a link helper window will come up.

    • dtoub 12:19 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 12:19 pm Permalink

      Thanks for the input, which is appreciated. Yes, I’m using the current version-2.5. I’m not having issues with WordPress.com-that’s fine. I’m still not seeing any Twitter “tweet buttons” on my posts despite enabling them, but that’s minor. Glad to know that one can finally create a link in the iPhone app, although it’s strange I was not aware of this. Why not a button to do the same?

      I’d like to use the iPhone app, but don’t trust it until the Save Draft issues are fixed. Thanks.

    • Raanan Bar-Cohen 12:26 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 12:26 pm Permalink

      hey — I’m seeing the twitter button on this post. The team is looking into the save draft issue, so any info you can provide is helpful, and the UI might be tweaked to add something more obvious for links – I agree with you it’s a bit hidden right now 😉

    • dtoub 6:05 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 6:05 pm Permalink

      Thanks. I’m not seeing it but if others are then that’s all that matters. The only info I can provide about the current iPhone app bug is what you probably already know; if you hit Save, it isn’t. Thanks again for the followup. Glad that at least one developer does check the Web for user reports 😉

  • dtoub 6:35 pm on Thursday, July 1, 2010, 6:35 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPhone   

    truphone on the iPhone: was working great, now it’s broken 

    I’ve been using TruPhone on my iPhone for VoIP calls to or from other countries for about two years now. They recently updated it to enable multitasking under iOS 4. Here’s my e-mail I sent just now to TruPhone’s tech support:


    After being a TruPhone user from nearly day one and suffering through the early bugs, I was glad that TruPhone was pretty stable and functional for VoIP. I never cared much for the additional twitter support, since if I’m on a WiFi network there’s no issue with using a twitter client. But things were working fine.

    Then I updated to 4.0.1.

    If I make a call, I have absolutely no indication that the call is even going through until the other person just happens to answer and speak up. I was ready to close TruPhone when nothing happened after tapping on a contact’s phone number when he fortunately just happened to answer. And I also had no way to hang up-the app does multitask, but unless I force-quit TruPhone, it won’t hang up. 

    All of this is unacceptable. Please address these bugs. I have a bit over $30 in my TruPhone account and will switch to Skype in a heartbeat if TruPhone is not able to provide the basic functionality many of us need for VoIP calls. No need to add features-please devote your resources to make sure core functionality is not broken. Was this update even tested before releasing it into the wild?

    There are a ton of great apps for the iPhone, many of which work great, are regularly updated and so on. Others either are never updated, or break with updating. TruPhone is broken. Judging from all the negative comments on the iTunes App Store right now, I’m not alone. Skype has its issues, certainly, but it’s looking better and better as TruPhone looks worse and worse. Hopefully they’ll get a clue and fix it before a lot of people just give up on them. Like I said, it had been working well, and it’s way cheaper for international calling than what AT&T charges under their $50/month international plan.
  • dtoub 11:12 pm on Wednesday, December 23, 2009, 11:12 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPhone, kindle, reading addiction   

    2009: what I read on my iPhone’s kindle reader 

    Last March, I downloaded the then-new Kindle reader for the iPhone. I still don’t have a Kindle, nor do I plan to purchase one. But I’ve become quite fond of reading books on my iPhone and have had to take great pains to control myself so that this doesn’t become an expensive habit compared to, say, checking the books out of our local library when available. It’s probably of no interest to anyone, but just for the hell of it, here’s what I’ve read so far on my iPhone’s Kindle Reader since March of this year:

    1. Outliers: The Story of Success
    2. The Bourne Sanction
    3. Thus Spoke Zarathustra (I lost the original paperback copy I had since med school)
    4. Descent into Chaos (a really great book about Central Asia)
    5. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (this should be required reading for every American)
    6. Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic
    7. Engaging the Muslim World
    8. Serial (perhaps the sickest short story ever written, but it was free…)
    9. Afraid
    10. Renegade: The Making of a President (had a lot of promise, but became a snooze fest after awhile)
    11. The Art of War (too damned many annotations-then again, it was free)
    12. Truck Stop – A Psycho Thriller
    13. Desert Places
    14. In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect (had a lot of promise, but got bogged down at times, and I suspect the author is quite conservative, since every Republican president, including W, comes across really well but every Democrat is vilified)
    15. Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (parts were really interesting, other parts not)
    16. The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It (I really liked this book-it was very well written and I couldn’t put it down after awhile)
    17. The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader
    18. Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (I liked this even better than #17 by the same author, which was also excellent)
    19. In the Graveyard of Empires (I’m in the middle of it now. It’s starting to get ponderous, but I remain hopeful)

    Not bad though-nearly 20 books, some of which were either free or well under $9.99 and the rest were usually $9.99. Now if only the airlines would let me read during takeoff and landing.

  • dtoub 2:30 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 2:30 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPhone   

    best and worst free iPhone apps for 2008 

    I’d been meaning to write this for a few days now, so here goes. All of these apps are, or were, free when I downloaded them. I have yet to pay for a single application on my iPhone—I’m cheap, and not every app I’ve downloaded has been free of major bugs, so at least if a buggy app is free, there’s no loss in deleting it from my iPhone.

    In no particular order (although I’d probably give Twitterfon #1 since it’s just so well-done):


    • Twitterfon This is, simply put, the finest Twitter app on the iPhone, period. I’ve tried everything else, from Twitterific (too much fluff) to Twittellator (hard to read). Twitterfon is simple, yet does everything 99.9% of folks need to with regard to Twitter. The developer is responsive, keeps everyone informed via Twitter, and does everything possible to make this a great iPhone app. And it’s free. Amazing.
    • NetNewsWire This is my RSS reader for both my iPhone and MacBook Pro, and it keeps getting better and better on the iPhone. If it just implemented a way to mark selected posts unread, it would be perfect.
    • AirSharing I also use this quite a bit to dump files from my laptop onto my iPhone. If I’m traveling, which happens pretty often these days, it’s nice to have all my itineraries on my iPhone. Same with business documents and journal articles. It reads almost all common document formats, so PDFs, .xls, .doc, etc. are all fine.
    • BlocksClassic A very nice implementation of the classic Breakout game, and it’s frequently updated with new levels
    • Easy WiFi for AT&T This does one thing, and does it well. When I’m in an airport or coffee shop that uses AT&T Wireless, instead of having to go through the whole mess of entering my iPhone number into a Web page and waiting for a text message giving me access, Easy WiFi provides access with one press of a button. Very convenient.
    • Facebook While I’d love to be able to view a friend’s contact list from my iPhone (hopefully this will be part of the forthcoming update I keep reading about), and it crashes on occasion, this is very useful if you use FB. I really like the fact that it syncs with the online database, so you only get notifications once.
    • Google Mobile App The voice recognition is cool. And I think this has a lot of promise. I’d like it better, however, if it contained its own browser functionality. It’s a pain to click on a search result, go to Safari, then have to switch back to GMA to look at another result.
    • LinkedIn Not as full-featured as it could, or should be, but it’s helpful enough if you use LinkedIn as much as I do
    • Truphone Best attributes: it lets me make calls internationally for pennies over a WiFi network, plus they give you $4.00 free credit when you start. Worst: If you’ve used your iPhone for any length of time without a restart, it won’t work without restarting due to a memory leak issue. Truphone now supposedly senses if you make an international call from the iPhone and automatically routes it to the Truphone app, but I have yet to see that happen. Given how few people I know would be using this when I am, I’m skeptical of the value in free Truphone-to-Truphone calls, but it’s nice that it is theoretically possible.
    • Wikiamo A nice Wikipedia application
    • WordPress Kinda less useful without the ability to embed links (isn’t that a major point of blogging?), but for a quick post on the road, it’s better than nothing.


    • NYTimes The worst. Absolutely the worst. Why? Because it is impossible to read a single NYT article without it crashing. This is something a lot of folks have been reporting since it first came out, and every time I redownload it and hope for the best, my hopes are dashed. This isn’t some lame app being developed by a 9-year-old in his basement; it’s from the New York Times. It could be great if only it weren’t so buggy. The Grey Lady needs to buy itself a decent debugging module. Shameful, even if it is free.
    • iSushi Aims to provide the nearest sushi restaurants based on your current location. It doesn’t.
    • Free Hangman This would have remained on my iPhone if only it gave a hint for the word you’re trying to solve. Otherwise, you’re just picking common vowels and letters and hoping for the best, which isn’t engaging after a few minutes.
    • My Gas Wars This was supposed to provide local gas prices. It never found anything—totally useless.
    • LabCal Crashed and crashed and crashed. Not the way to provide lab calculations.
    • Blanks Nice idea: an app to quiz you and teach you new verbiage. But seeing the same words over and over again, and easy words at that, didn’t increase my vocabulary.  
    • christopher 3:12 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 3:12 pm Permalink

      Be careful on Easy WiFi for AT&T – their privacy policy allows them to sell your information to support their business.


      “We may communicate directly with you on behalf of third parties for their direct marketing purposes. You can opt-out of this marketing-purposed sharing when you register with Devicescape and at any time thereafter by modifying your profile. In the future, it may be necessary for us to charge a fee if you choose to opt-out of marketing-purposed sharing or if you choose to obtain premium Devicescape Services. If we choose to charge such a fee, you will be given the option to discontinue the Devicescape Service.”

    • dtoub 3:37 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 3:37 pm Permalink

      good point, but easy enough to opt out for now. Thanks

    • J.C. Combs 3:45 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 3:45 pm Permalink

      agree with the FB. a friend of mine demonstrated it to me and it looked as it FB was actually made for the Iphone. The only downside was that he couldn’t locate me on FB from the phone. Less people listed or something.

    • E 5:11 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 5:11 pm Permalink

      The latest update to NYTimes FINALLY does not crash. I complained to them so many times….
      Damn it sucked. Its better now. Not as good as can be, but better…

    • David Wintheiser 6:42 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 6:42 pm Permalink

      Minor nit-pick: Easy Wireless for AT&T costs 99 cents when I checked this afternoon.

      Nice list, though, and I’ll have to give some of these apps a try.

    • dtoub 9:53 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 9:53 pm Permalink

      Minor nit-pick: Easy Wireless for AT&T costs 99 cents when I checked this afternoon.

      Like I said, they are, or were, free when I downloaded them. I have a Tetris app as well that was soon thereafter pulled from the App Store due to the Tetris folks exercising their intellectual property rights. So that’s no longer available, period, but I think it’s pretty good. Some other apps I have also probably cost something now, so there’s a definite benefit to grabbing these things while they’re either free or still available. I follow a RSS feed for free iPhone apps, which is helpful.

      I almost included Simplify to the list of best apps, because it allows you to stream your iTunes music collection over wifi, EDGE, 3G, etc. It was free when I downloaded it, and it works pretty well, but I don’t use it that much because I have to remember to leave it open on my macbook pro, and it doesn’t always stream as well as it could. I was kinda on the fence on that one.

      You should definitely give some of the apps listed a try, though. Thanks.

  • dtoub 9:45 am on Thursday, September 18, 2008, 9:45 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , iPhone   

    earthscape: google earth-like app for the iPhone 

    I have an RSS feed I follow for new and updated iPhone apps, and I just noticed a new app called Earthscape that is free for a limited time and does much of the same stuff that Google Earth does. Obviously it doesn’t have the wealth of features that Google Earth does, but for a quick satellite view that can also be angled very easily, it works great (at least on a WiFi connection; on EDGE YMMV). Above is a screenshot. That’s our home in Wyncote, PA in the middle, just across from the nursing home and the Presbyterian Church. One interesting Wyncote tidbit: the poet Ezra Pound used to live on the street in the upper right.

    Some other nice iPhone apps ‘ve found recently, in addition to the large number I’ve already accumulated (all free so far—I have yet to buy anything):

    • Medical Calculator
    • Air Sharing (sets up your iPhone as a shared volume over WiFi, so you can transfer documents to the iPhone, including Office and iWork formats; no editing, though)
    • WhiteNoise (I use this on the red eye back from the West Coast, since it’s nice to drown out the airplane noise with sounds from the beach)
    • Constitution and Declaration (I keep the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence on my iPhone so that I’ll know the instant the right wing further erodes my civil liberties)
    • Space Invaders
    • Cube Runner
    • Hangman
    • Tris
    • Cross Light
  • dtoub 9:05 pm on Monday, August 18, 2008, 9:05 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPhone,   

    living without a computer 

    I’m spending the week on vacation with the family down at Bethany Beach, DE. We’ve been coming here for years, and I always have a laptop with me. Until now. I decided to go without my MacBook Pro and get by with an iPhone alone. That’s how I’m typing this blog post.

    To be sure, it is much faster and more accurate to type on a computer than on an iPhone. Going without a computer takes some adjusting. While our apt has wifi, it’s very patchy and speed is variable. AT&T’s coverage is terrible down here. Surfing the Web takes patience, and not all sites work as well with Safari on the iPhone as they do on a “real” computer. The iPhone also lacks a keychain, so having to remember and type in a lot of passwords is a pain. Some things will simply have to wait until I’m home.

    I’m using the WordPress app to write this. The Web tool doesn’t work except in HTML view, so this is definitely nice. But limited. There’s no way to embed links with the app itself (for that, I have to tweak the code using WordPress on the Web). Image placement is also more limited.

    Still, with some patience and creative approaches, one can have almost decent functionality this way. But I can’t wait to be back to normal.

  • dtoub 9:42 am on Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 9:42 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , iPhone, software/hardware bugs   

    quote of the day 

    How true—given how many times my iPhone crashes daily after the 2.0 and now 2.0.1 iPhone OS update:

    ”Jailbreak apps potentially undermine the security, reliability, and battery life of the iPhone, although Apple’s own iPhone 2.0.0 software has done a bang up job of violating all of those things itself as well.“

    AppleInsider, 8/6/08 

  • dtoub 3:24 pm on Saturday, July 19, 2008, 3:24 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: applications, iPhone   

    what’s on my iPhone (so far) 

    I updated my iPhone the day before iPhone 2.0 was officially released, and am glad I did it early, since Apple’s servers had all sorts of issues the next day. In any case, I was glad to see one VOIP application (TruPhone), that allowed me to make cheap calls over WiFi from Toronto last week (since they give you $4 to start, I have yet to spend a dime on my calls overseas). I also immediately nabbed the NetNewsWire application, which is a bit better than their mobile Web version, as well as Twittelator, which I think is a pretty good Twitter app. I initially downloaded Twitterrific, which I’ve used on my computer and thought it was pretty good, but the

    iPhone version is horrible. Either you love it or you don’t, and I didn’t, so I use Twittelator now. 

    Of course, there’s froo froo as well. iPint is nice at parties, as is the PhoneSaber. But there are useful things as well, like Yelp and BoxOffice. And also, doesn’t everyone need the complete works of Shakespeare on their iPhone for downtime?

  • dtoub 10:55 pm on Thursday, July 10, 2008, 10:55 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPhone, nerdom, tips   

    where no geek has gone before 

    OK, that’s a bit much, but it does kind of describe my feeling right now as I’m updating my iPhone to version 2.0 in advance of the official release tomorrow. The link for the direct download (which requires iTunes 7.7) along with instructions is already well detailed. But suffice it to say that one always wonders if something will go wrong when using software that isn’t officially released yet by Apple. 

    So far, the update has gone very well. Some things that one should know:


    • The software will prepare the iPhone in a process that takes a few minutes. Be patient.
    • At one point, the iPhone screen displayed a restore screen. That’s to be expected. Be patient.
    • Before updating, whether using the unofficial way mentioned above or using an iTunes-based download and install process beginning tomorrow, back up the iPhone and also take off as many audio files and other things occupying a lot of space. You can add it back later, but it will make the restore process much faster.
    • The installer download is 255 MB. Did I mention, “be patient?”

    But when you’re done, after about a half-hour or so (depending on how long it takes to download the updater and how much of a backup and restore needs to be done after updating), you’ll have this:

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