iPhone glitch

I dropped my iPhone on a sidewalk in December, shattering the screen. Apple sold me a new one for $200. After I restored my backup to the new phone, within a couple weeks the iPhone started pressing the home button by itself. That is, it would jump out of whatever app I was in, then jump back and forth between the first page of the home screen and the search page. Sometimes it even woke up by itself. (sidenote: do iPhones dream of electric sheep? Probably not, that would be too google-ish!)

When one of these fits happened, the home button would activate about 5 times and then relax for an hour or two.

The phantom home button presses happened off and on for about two weeks, then faded to a much lower frequency, low enough that I would
forget and be surprised at each new occurrence.

Next, the camera turned flaky; saving pictures would take an inordinate amount of time. Then the camera app took to crashing!

Finally it happened. I tried to take a narcissus photo after getting my hair cut, there was a POP! the iPhone screen went black.

After pressing the wake button and trying to do a hard reset several times, all I could get was the apple logo in the middle of the screen. Never before had a silver apple been so agonizing!

Luckily, the closest apple store had a genius bar opening. They were able to reset the iPhone to factory defaults, and advised me to NOT restore the phone from the back-up. This was the third set of hardware using this back-up image. The theory held config cruft was causing software glitches, resulting in the behavior I’d seen.

The iPhone also stores a log of hardware errors; the reset had cleared that log, too, though.

I was suspicious. I figured if i was going to get them to replace the hardware, though, I’d have to jump through their hoops first.

Fast-forward through hours of recreating all the old settings, and days of routine use, and the phantom home button presses returned.

iPad

My experience with the iPad was surprising. Some of the things I expected to not care about turned out to be impressive, and some features I was excited about wound up as letdowns.

Enough generalities, let me get down to details.

First, I was prepared for heft after reading many comments castigating the mass of the iPad. I found the iPad to be just right! For its size, I think its weight speaks of solidity and perhaps even quality. I spent most of the hour holding it in my left hand and never once thought it was too heavy.

When it came to responsiveness, the iPad was just as fast as everyone says.

One of the huge things I was interested in trying was typing, so I immediately logged in to my gmail account in safari and started typing an email. No, I couldn’t touch-type on it, especially since it’s a qwerty layout and I can only touch-type dvorak, but, with one hand or two I could very easily utilize the first two fingers of each hand as well as my thumbs. I can type FAST on my iPhone, but I can type probably twice as fast on the iPad; still not as fast as when I’m touch-typing on a standard keyboard, of course.

An interesting observation I made was that typing in landscape mode felt natural, confident, and kind of fun, but typing in portrait mode felt weird and even a bit nervous. Thinking about it later, it may be related to an observation I’ve seen in other reviews: in landscape mode, I could see the keys my fingers were hitting and the resulting letter popping onto the screen at the same time. in portrait mode, I had to look at my fingers alone. I don’t know for sure if that was the issue, but the difference between the two modes was striking and unmistakeable.

Yes, the photo app is cool, and I’d love showing photos off to people in it, but in the end it’s basically iphoto without the editing, with a few neat gestures instead. Pinching open an album is cool, but not particularly a killer feature. I do like the whole idea of faces, places, and events, and I’m slowly trying to make use of them. From now on, every single time I import photos from my camera or iphone, I’m going to try to put that info in every single photo. and when I feel like it, I’ve been going back to older photos and adding them. I’ve wanted that kind of info in my photos for as long as I’ve had a digital camera, but never had a good platform for making use of it.

Numbers, the spreadsheet program from iWork, was not what I’d hoped. It feels cumbersome, even painful, to enter formulas. There’s a definite paradigm shear between using a spreadsheet with a mouse and using touch, and I’m the first to admit it will take some time to make the leap.

I suspect Numbers’ best use-case is to create a spreadsheet on the desktop, then look at it on, or present it from, the iPad, and being able to tweak a cell or two. coupled with the fact that iwork will pretty much export only to PDF, well, my beloved spreadsheets may not find their way into the roach motel known as Numbers after all. By roach motel, I don’t mean Numbers is infested with bugs; rather, that data can come in, but not go back out; cardinal sin!

The thing I was most excited about on the iPad was iBooks. wouldn’t it be great to do away with all the shelves and boxes full of books in my office? to move my whole library as easily as moving my iPad and my macbook pro?

For that reality to come to pass, the iPad has to be just as easy and nice as reading a book.

Well, it’s almost as nice. except for the fact that all text is right-justified, and there is no hyphenation. On top of that, absolutely gorgeous fonts are employed, but they might as well be monospaced. there is no kerning or ligature use at all. Think about it; each individual character looks absolutely gorgeous, but then they are laid out on the screen with no improvement over some crappy-ass computer word processor program from 1995. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, pick up a real book sometime. look at the spacing between words. you will see no annoying large gaps, no places where there are, say, about 5 words spaced all the way across the line with miles of white space in between. you will see the characters within the words spaced just right. so much so, that some letters will be touching! look at a lowercase “f” followed by a lowercase “L”, for example. You’ll see they actually overlap; this is called a ligature. you won’t see this on the iPad. unless, of course, I’m just a clueless newb, and there is some option somewhere labelled “make the text look like ass” which is on by default. But I highly doubt it, that’s not how Apple rolls. Which is why it’s so shocking they didn’t get all this right!

I’ve tried to read an ebook on a laptop before, an ebook which had all the fancy typography a book had, and it was not fun. the keyboard kept getting in the way of the screen. The best way I could find was to lay the laptop on its side, so it looked like an open book standing up. then it was hard to change pages. This is why I was so optimistic about iBooks on the iPad. Perfect form factor. It’s too bad the text looks so terrible.

The kindle app is available for iPad, too, but the demo unit I was playing with didn’t have it installed. From looking at pictures on the web, kindle uses the same standard text display engine.

There is a free reader, for iPhone, called “Stanza”, which has hyphenation, and even a bit of ligature and kerning use. I’m interested to know how they did it; it makes me wonder if they did their own custom font rendering. Stanza’s rendering is not perfect; sometimes annoyingly large whitespaces show up, but it’s much better than iBooks’.

I suspect to get the kind of text display I’m wanting, apple would either have to turn all the book pages into photographs (hard to scale) or create a brand new typography rendering engine. It would rock if they could leverage TeX! Sidebar, for those of you who don’t know: TeX is a free computer typesetting system invented thirty years ago by Donald Knuth, one of the giants of computer science, because he was dissatisfied with the way his math books looked from the publisher. I don’t know if the license is compatible, but it would be a joy if Apple was able to use TeX, or created their own rendering engine that worked well.

Instead, though, Apple is using their standard computer screen text renderer for books. yuck. I suppose it will be fine for reading stuff from Project Gutenberg, but I don’t see myself converting my current and future library over, like I was hoping.

While I was disappointed in iBooks, other apps written for ipad were just stunning. all those extra pixels make a huge difference. I found many instances where data was displayed wonderfully and was easy to interact with.

In the end, I think I’ll want to buy an ipad because of all those other apps besides iBooks. iPad delivers on the promise of the iPhone; having the internet and dozens of custom apps important to you (out of many tens of thousands available) readily available, in an even more convenient and useable way than on the iPhone.

Wrecked

wrecked the bike today. Taking the ramp from 202W to 101N, I wasn’t paying attention. I saw slow traffic in front of me, then realized it was stopped, not slow, grabbed the front brake while still turning, and highsided. good thing I was wearing full gear. I still scraped my knee. my right hand is swollen, bruised, and sore. my left shoulder is very sore, along with both knees. Bike is totalled.

fink & other stuff in snow leopard

oh, I almost forgot something fairly important… my mercurial I installed in my home directory still works, and X11 apps I installed via fink (like gnucash and gnumeric) still work in Snow Leopard without having to recompile them. I suspect as long as the binaries you have were compiled with an x86 target at all, it will probably still run without recompiling, just in 32-bit mode.

The Snow Leopard!

I updated my macbook to Snow Leopard tonight. I went to run my little C-type sizeof program, and found out that I hadn’t recompiled it since I was running on a PPC. rosetta doesn’t install by default in Snow Leopard. so I went to re-compile it only to find out gcc had gone missing. all I had to do was install the new XCode on the Snow Leopard DVD, and then download the iphone SDK 3.0 for Snow Leopard from apple.com/developer (all 404MB of it!). Do I like the new OS X? sure. I didn’t see a lot of difference at first, really. Maybe it seems a little faster, maybe it’s placebo. hard to tell. After a few hours I thought to try the new Finder; that is noticeably faster than the one in Leopard. Oh, one bad thing about Snow Leopard: it messed up my customized date and time display in the menu bar clock; I had gone into some plist file years ago to customize it, now I’ll have to look that up again. also, the location feature is neat; you don’t have to tell it what time zone you’re in any more. also, safari has access to your location too. I’ve told it to detect my location for this post. here is the output of sizeof on some standard C types in Mac OS X 10.6.0 (Snow Leopard); woot, 64-bit pointers!

                  bool:  1 byte ;   8 bits
                  char:  1 byte ;   8 bits
         unsigned char:  1 byte ;   8 bits
                 short:  2 bytes;  16 bits
        unsigned short:  2 bytes;  16 bits
                   int:  4 bytes;  32 bits
          unsigned int:  4 bytes;  32 bits
                  long:  8 bytes;  64 bits
         unsigned long:  8 bytes;  64 bits
             long long:  8 bytes;  64 bits
    unsigned long long:  8 bytes;  64 bits
                  int*:  8 bytes;  64 bits
                 float:  4 bytes;  32 bits
                double:  8 bytes;  64 bits
           long double: 16 bytes; 128 bits
             byte enum:  4 bytes;  32 bits
            short enum:  4 bytes;  32 bits
              int enum:  4 bytes;  32 bits
  

Shakedown

Got the bike out again, put gas in it, and took a little shakedown ride. Got to watch lightning all over the valley, in front of me all the way from the south to the north as I headed west from home. Fortunately all the rain was well to the west of me. Went and got cash, fish tacos, and a vanilla coke. I could tell I hadn’t ridden in a while! Out of shape. On the way home I did hit full throttle and redline down the onramp, that was fun.

Only rode about 27 miles tonight, about half on local streets with stop lights, half highway. 8052 miles total now.

how to look up you local machine’s external IP address (not 127.0.0.1)

I needed to write some code to find out my local machine’s IP address. I wanted to tell another machine my IP address so that other machine could open a socket connection back to my machine. A little googling turned up some sample code which works on both Linux and Mac OS X. Also I fiddled around with that code and condensed it down a bit.

New tires, replacement wheel

Bought a wheel on ebay to replace the wheel I hit with a curb. I also ordered
some new Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 tires yesterday. The current wheel looks bad
but is still functional, so I intend to keep it, with the tire on it, as a
spare. hopefully I can get a large wheel bag to put it in and keep it in the
utility room, out of the heat, so it won’t get dry-rotted.

Hopefully the wheel will arrive before the tires!