17 April 2010


Pretty psychedelic, man

Thank you, Kimli, for finding PhotoTropedelic for the iPhone. It is just too much fun:

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

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13 November 2009


Step 1: put your pup in the box

It took a little over ten days, but we found ourselves a puppy! (I've posted a short movie.)

Step 1: put your pup in the box

We've called her Lucy. She was born around August 25, 2009, and is half shihtzu and half toy poodle, making her a shih-poo, or, as I prefer the term, shpoo. Housebreaking Lucy appears to be the first challenge, but she has adjusted to our house and family shockingly fast otherwise. She is also surprisingly quiet for a little dog, which is nice.

She even kept me company in the bathroom during one of my bouts of intestinal side effects from my cancer medicine today.

Oh yeah, I also finally got an iPhone yesterday. But it doesn't seem like a particularly big deal now.

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05 November 2009


Don't try to get an iPhone the first day

Today was the first day that my mobile carrier, Telus Mobility (once BC Tel, the former British Columbia telephone monopoly), offered Apple's iPhone for sale. I've been a Telus mobile customer since 1998, and have generally had a good experience with customer service, wireless coverage, and phone performance—quite in contrast with how I felt when I quit using Telus broadband Internet four years ago.

I've decided to get an iPhone. I've had a first-generation iPod Touch (kindly given to me by my employer Navarik) for two years now, and my wife has been using an iPhone 3GS on the rival Rogers network since earlier this year. The combination of my iPod Touch and LG Shine 8700 flip phone has worked just fine for me, but I've also seen what those two lack and the current iPhones offer—the camera, GPS, always-accessible email and web surfing, better speed, and so on.

However, today, the first day, was not the one for me to try upgrading. With a little over a year left on my current phone contract, the basic policy is that I'd have to spend several hundred dollars more than the fully-subsidized $200 price for a new iPhone 3GS, and I'm not interested in that. But because I've been with them so long, Telus has offered me deals in the past—if I talk to their phone reps first.

Yet while there seemed to be plenty of iPhones on hand, the Telus retail computer system for its storefront franchisees was up and down all day, the phone customer service was overwhelmed, and I was unable, despite a couple of long waits on hold and a dropped call, to find out whether I would be able to get buy one cheaply. By the time I tried phoning a second time after that dropped connection, Telus wasn't even accepting new calls (!).

I had to step back and stop fuming that this was yet another occasion when a wireless carrier turned an exciting prospect into a frustrating runaround—you know, "I want to give the company more money, but it doesn't seem to want to take it." Yes, Telus should probably have been better prepared to handle the obviously substantial demand for this crazy phone. But the people I talked to were all unfailingly friendly and as helpful as they could be. They were simply let down by a technical sales infrastructure that didn't work for any of us.

Patience is still worthwhile. I'll wait a few days and try again. Telus hasn't quite blown it for me this time. Not yet.

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19 October 2009


Links of interest (2009-10-19):

From my Twitter stream:

  • My dad had cataract surgery, and now that eye has perfect vision—he no longer needs a corrective lens for it for distance (which, as an amateur astronomer, he likes a lot).
  • Darren's Happy Jellyfish (bigger version) is my new desktop picture.
  • Ten minutes of mesmerizing super-slo-mo footage of bullets slamming into various substances, with groovy bongo-laden soundtrack.
  • SOLD! Sorry if you missed out. I have a couple of 4th-generation iPod nanos for sale, if you're interested.
  • Great backgrounder on the 2009 H1N1 flu virus—if you're at all confused about it, give this a read.
  • The new Nikon D3s professional digital SLR camera has a high-gain maximum light sensitivity of ISO—102,400. By contrast, when I started taking photos seriously in the 1980s, ISO—1000 film was considered high-speed. The D3s can get the same exposure with 100 times less light, while producing perfectly acceptable, if grainy, results.
  • Nice summary of how content-industry paranoia about technology has been wrong for 100 years.
  • The Obama Nobel Prize makes perfect sense now.
  • I like these funky fabric camera straps (via Ken Rockwell).
  • I briefly appear on CBC's "Spark" radio show again this week.
  • Here's a gorilla being examined in the same type of CT scan machine I use every couple of months. More amazing, though, is the mummified baby woolly mammoth. Wow.
  • As I discovered a few months ago, in Canada you can use iTunes gift cards to buy music, but not iPhone apps. Apple originally claimed that was comply with Canadian regulations, but it seems that's not so—it's just a weird and inexplicable Apple policy. (Gift cards work fine for app purchases in the U.S.A.)
  • We've released the 75th episode of Inside Home Recording.
  • These signs from The Simpsons are indeed clever, #1 in particular.
  • Since I so rarely post cute animal videos, you'd better believe that this one is a doozy (via Douglas Coupland, who I wouldn't expect to post it either).
  • If you're a link spammer, Danny Sullivan is quite right to say that you have no manners or morals, and you suck.
  • "Lock the Taskbar" reminds me of Joe Cocker, translated.
  • A nice long interview with Scott Buckwald, propmaster for Mad Men.

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06 October 2009


Telus and Bell go iPhone in Canada

Things have been all a-twitter about Canadian mobile carriers Bell and Telus (my cell phone provider) starting to sell Apple's iPhone, supposedly next month. My wife Air told me the scoop yesterday, and I was surprised, and skeptical.

But it sounds like it's really happening. This is a bigger deal than it seems if you don't follow the mobile phone industry, for two reasons:

  1. In most markets, Apple has an exclusive arrangement with a single carrier to sell the iPhone. Until now in Canada, that has been with Rogers Wireless and its subsidiary Fido, and in the U.S. it remains AT&T Wireless. Having competing carriers all with the iPhone is unusual.
  2. The iPhone uses the most common mobile phone radio standard in the world, known as GSM. However, until now both Bell and Telus have used a competing and incompatible standard, CDMA, also used by Verizon and Sprint in the U.S.A.

In North America, many mobile phones (such as BlackBerry devices) come in both CDMA and GSM versions for different carriers, but the iPhone has been GSM-only since its introduction in 2007. It turns out that Bell and Telus have been installing some GSM technology on their cellular towers for at least a year, and planning to have it ready for many customers in 2010.

But now it looks like they'll be early, and the iPhone may be their first big rollout of 3G (third-generation) GSM wireless. And although it will be awhile, my old CDMA phone is likely on the way to becoming obsolete. Qualcomm, which owns the CDMA patents and licenses them to carriers and device makers, had better be looking for some new way to make money.

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11 July 2008


iPod Touch + iTunes Store = FailPod

iPod Touch 2.0 firmware + iTunes Store = FailPhone... uh, FailPod?

Looks like it's been a fun day in iPhone/iPod Touch land. And no, I don't plan to get an iPhone, and didn't get in line, but I did try to update my iPod Touch, without success.

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10 July 2008


Interesting stuff from the App Store debut for iPhone and iPod Touch

Apple has opened the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and here are some of the programs that initially caught my eye—although since the required firmware isn't available for download yet, I can't install or try any of them out. My interest comes purely from the store descriptions and screenshots. You'll need the new iTunes 7.7 to view them:

Some are free, some cost a little bit of money. You'll also need the iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0 firmware to install and run them—but as of right now, you can't get it yet. So you could buy these applications, yet not be able to use them until tomorrow or so.

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29 April 2008


iPhone coming to Canada, says Rogers

Well, here we go.

No details on pricing or plans, of course.

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22 November 2007


The sad family of iPod Touch fonts

Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch ship with a rather limited range of web fonts, and as John Gruber wrote back in the summer:

It's a shame this wonderful display is being held back by such a poor selection of installed fonts.

I wanted to see what this meant in real-world usage, so I hopped over to Code Style's Top 40 Fonts list of most popular available type options on the Web, updated by surveys earlier this month. Here was the result when I compared the font list displayed on my MacBook (left) to the same list on the iPhone (right)—click for a full-size PNG-format version:

Top 40 Fonts

Notice how few fonts actually display as themselves. Of the top ten, only three (Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana) show up correctly. Courier is actually the flimsier Courier New, and everything else defaults to one variant or other of the built-in Helvetica or Arial sans-serif typefaces. Here's a close-up:

Top 40 Fonts Crop

Further down the list, some of the choices (Marker Felt, Zapfino) are just bizarre to include, while others (Gill Sans, Futura, the Lucida family, my old fave Palatino) are sadly absent. I'm happy to see Georgia in there, and equally pleased that Comic Sans isn't.

Text looks great on the high-density iPod screen—it's a pity there aren't more interesting fonts to try on it. On the plus side, it's quite possible that Apple or others might be able to install some better ones through future firmware updates or software installations.

Here's hoping.

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15 October 2007


How's that chemotherapy?

It's not all that likely that any of the long-term side effects of chemotherapy (fatigue, hair loss, numbness, etc.) will show up on the first day, so it's no big surprise that I feel fine tonight after a few hours of medication at the Cancer Agency, and now a slow-infusing "baby bottle" hookup for the next two days. Here's the bottle:

5-FU in a bottle

Here's me wearing it:

5-FU hooked up

I did have a bit of reaction at the Agency, but rather than the worst-case diarrhea, I merely developed a slightly runny nose and clammy, sweaty skin, which Lisa the nurse quickly handled with some atropine injections. Oddly, my blood pressure was also quite low (105 over 50 at one point). The systolic value isn't strange for me, but my diastolic is usually more like 70 or 75.

I'm also not sure whether I felt nausea. I was a little bleah a couple of hours after dinner, so I took an extra anti-nauseant just in case, but so far I feel much as I did yesterday. We'll keep an eye on that stuff.

For today's wacky links, we have:

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03 July 2007


Better headphone adapter for the iPhone

This adapter from the Sport Case for the original iPod Shuffle would probably work great for the iPhone at Flickr.comOne of the complaints that many people have made about the Apple iPhone is that the headphone jack, while a standard size, is so deeply recessed into the case that nothing but the extra-thin Apple headphone cable will actually fit.

That was also true of the weather-resistant Sport Case for the original, stick-of-gum iPod Shuffle, but that case came with a nice little adapter cable, of which we have a couple kicking around the house. I use them for the extra-chunky end of my big Sennheiser HD280 Pro headphones.

So, rather than shelling out a lot of money for third-party headphone adapters, I'd recommend that you hunt around for a discounted Sport Case, whose adapter looks more elegant and might end up being quite a bit cheaper.

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21 May 2007


Rotary vs. iPhone: 11 ways my grandmother's old black dial phone was superior to Apple's upcoming iPhone

Telephone by Alastair Bird at Flickr.com
  • 11. Zero charge time, infinite talk and standby time.
  • 10. Impossible to lose or misplace.
  •   9. Built bicep strength with prolonged use.
  •   8. Always perfect reception within its coverage area (the kitchen).
  •   7. You could dial it while holding the receiver to your ear.
  •   6. Distinctive ringtone audible everywhere in the apartment.
  •   5. Simple, easy-to-understand rate plan with full carrier subsidy.
  •   4. Pleasant and firm tactile feedback for every digit dialed.
  •   3. Elegant, timeless design that never went out of style.
  •   2. Much more effective for hammering nails and bludgeoning robbers.
  •   1. Worked reliably for 27 years without replacement—or even, as far as I know, a single repair.

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