Solution: Dock-able iPhone 3GS Case for my iHome iP9

As you may recall I recently purchased an iHome iP9 for the bedside. The sound and features are great, but my biggest complaint was the lack of universal dock adapter for my current iPhone 3GS case (Contour Design’s Hardskin).  Placing the skinned iPhone in the iHome dock without adequate protection had me worried for the life of the connectors on each device.

After my inquiry to Contour Design went unanswered, I began looking for an alternative, and I’m happy to say I may have found a solution. Unlike Contour Designs, there are case manufactures who actually consider dock-ability an important feature in a case/skin. Some manufactures create slide offs like Griffin Nu Form Case with EasyDock and others like SwitchEasy do exactly what I want, create universal dock inserts to fit their cases.

SwitchEasy Rebel BlackI have ordered the SwitchEasy Rebel Case for iPhone 3G. This case combines a soft polymer with a slick hard shell, offering the best of both, and the design is quite eye-popping. Included with the case are two anti-static screen guards, microfiber wipe, universal dock adapter, video dock stand, squeegee for your screen guard application and a dock connection cover.

Are you docking an iPhone with a case? What’s your solution? Drop a comment below:

Comcast iPhone App missing the technology

Comcast has created an iPhone App called Comcast TV Listings (iTunes Link). The application contains a searchable listing of TV programming not unlike i.TV (iTunes Link). While they uniquely offer up the OnDemand listings, I think Comcast is missing the boat here. They claim future updates to this application will bring photos, and actor information and the latest entertainment new (like we need to hear anymore about Michael Jackson).

I think Comcast could do their cusotmers and product offering a huge service by focusing on the technology and not the content. A Comcast application for my iPhone should allow me to schedule my DVR, while I’m away (like Tivo). It would allow me to manage parental controls so I can let the teen watch the semi-educational war movie while I’m still at the office. It would allow me to remote control my set top box. A Comcast app for my iPhone would let me stream media from my iPhone to my TV and from my TV to my iPhone.

Hey Comcast! Are you listening? You have the fattest pipe, internet in the home, and a set top box on every TV. You can do better than a TV guide. Just a thought.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Nike + iPod, iPhone 3GS, and MOTOROKR S9 – my first 3 days

nikeplusMy loving wife recently gave me a Nike + iPod kit for Father’s Day. I was super excited about the gift thinking that I had recently upgraded my iPhone 3G to the new 3.0 software. Seems somewhere in the back of my mind I thought OS 3.0 = Nike + iPod compatible. Well I, like many other 3G owners, quickly realized that wasn’t the case. It seems the Nike + iPod is only compatible with the iPod nano, 2nd gen iPod touch and  the brand new iPhone 3GS.

I was must say I was pretty bummed at the thought of using my 4 year old nano just to exercise at the local track, knowing my 3 month old iPhone 3G would  be in my pocket. That’s tough for a techie like me. And, my wife wasn’t too happy with my displeasure either. So I did what any carefree gadget junky would do, I used this as an excuse to buy an iPhone 3GS.

Michael waiting for an iPhone 3GS

So a 4 hour wait inline at the Lenox Apple store, turned wife shopping spree at the mall, produced the wholey grail of phones iPhones, the 3GS. I’m not going to review the new iPhone 3GS in this post, but I will say there’s huge difference from 3G to 3GS just in performance. I’m truly loving the purchase. I was also able to get the subsidized pricing by upgrading my teenager’s line, which in turn meant he was getting my old 3G (lucky kid).

nikeAfter leaving the Lenox Apple store, taking a left in the mall will put you right in front of the Nike store. How convenient, I needed to grab a pair of Nike + compatible shoes. BTW, the Apple/Nike relationship is obvious as the Nike store was loaded with iMacs, very hip. So I grabbed a pair of Nike Air Pegasus+ thinking I was just about ready to hit the track.

motoThe following day included a stop at my local Best Buy to find a wireless headphone solution. With the iPhone OS 3.0 even my now old 3G supported A2DP (bluetooth) wireless audio, and what better way to workout then to do it wirelessly, right? So I found the MOTOROKR S9 HD which also included a built-in microphone so it could answer calls too. Who wants to miss that important call while working out? A short 2 hour charge and simple pairing of the devices and the my ears were full of wireless HD goodness. Or, so I thought…

Day 1 on the track:

With my Nike + shoes on, my wireless headphones roaring and my iPhone 3GS  ready to hub my digital workout, I hit the track. I set up my workout on the Nike + software and hit start. Well, it wasn’t more than 100 feet and my headphones started dropping audio, which was surprising after they worked so well at home. After repositioning my iPhone (to my hand) I thought all was well. But then I noticed my Nike + was saying I was walking a 9 min mile pace, then a 30 min pace, something was wrong. I turned my attention to calibrating the Nike+ as I could deal with the occasional audio drops. This turned into my quest for the remainder of my walk, I spent at least 3 miles trying to get the Nike+ to register something close to what I was actually walking. At the end of my walk it dawned on me, that the Nike + is probably using some form of bluetooth technology and that could explain the problems with the MOTOROKR S9-HD (interference). So back to Best Buy went the MOTOs for a refund. They may work fine without the Nike + but I bought them specifically to use with it.

Day 2 on the track:

GPSLiteWith my handy Apple earbuds in place, I set out for a fresh start to remedy my miserable first impression of the Nike +. I was certain my problems were with the MOTO. After walking my first half mile, I checked in with my Nike + only to be shocked, it said I had walked an entire mile. This can’t be. So I decided to once again attempt to calibrate the system. One half mile, no luck. Another half mile, with no luck. I was beginning to doubt myself thinking the new track I was walking on was mysteriously supersized. So I switched over to a great iPhone app called MotionX GPS Lite (iTunes Link). This app uses the GPS in the phone to do many things, including measuring the distance you are traveling. So after another half mile, I started thinking the plus in Nike + name is meant for mystery distance they add to your workout for you. Now I’m getting frustrated.

Day 3 on the track:

nikeplus2So I’m beginning to think I just needed to calibrate my Nike + in the workout mode. The system will let you calibrate your device after you have worked out. So I figured I would start with a full mile, maybe the longer distance would help. As I completed one mile, naturally my Nike + tells me it was 2.08 miles I scroll the calibration to the lowest amount it would allow, 1.37 miles. I’m not sure why they limit it, but apparently Apple/Nike must think their device can’t be that far off. Ha! So with a new calibration set, I set off for another mile in workout mode, certainly this will be closer to the actual distance, wrong. nikeplus3Once again the Nike + is completely nuts, even Lance Armstrong chimed in on my headphones and congratulated me on new “best mile” 9’05″. Anyone who knows me and my size knows I can’t run a 9 min mile, never mind the fact that I’m walking.

At this point I’m about to give up on the Nike + iPod. I have another sensor that I’m going to try next time. Maybe that will be the winner. As for now, I have spent 3 days trying to log over 9 miles of walking with nothing to show for it. Well I’m sure my waste line will show improvement but my Nikeplus.com account sits dormant waiting for me to log some real data. I did however link my Nikeplus.com account my Twitter and Facebook, so when/if I get this working, my social network isbound to know.

UPDATE: Day 4 –  I reached Nike + nirvana, seems my new sensor works great. I put up a nice 2 mile walk this morning. Now if only there were some compatible wireless headphones. Here’s my chart:

Ideas, solutions, questions? Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Wanted: Universal Dock Adapter for iPhone 3GS + Contour Hardskin for iHome iP9

hardskinI have the  Contour Designs Hardskin case for my iPhone 3GS, actually it was on my prior 3G. I love the case so much, I convinced my wife to buy one for her 3GS. The case is sturdy, and offers a nice texture that doesn’t slip in your hand.

ihomeWe recently purchased the iHome iP9BR Clock Radio for iPhone. Unlike our prior iHome (for the iPod) the iP9 is universal dock compatible. This is handy if you should need to buy a dock adapter from apple to fit your device. The iP9, came with 3 adapters, one of which is designed for the iPhone 3G(S), but this doesn’t work with a cover or skin on your iPhone. Now honestly, I’m not complaining and expected that. I was happy to see that removing the iPhone 3GS dock adapter allowed ample room for my iPhone + Hardskin.

I do understand that using the iHome’s dock this way isn’t recommended since the iPhone is left with no back support. So, why aren’t case manufacturers like Contour Designs creating matching dock adapters for their products? I for one would fork out $10 for one (probably only cost a few dollars to produce).

In the mean time I’m left to create my own solution. Suggestion? Drop a line in the comments. If I come up with something easy, and attractive I’ll post it here. I also left a message for Contour Designs not sure if I will hear back from them…

URL Encoding and Decoding from the command line

I needed a simple way to URL encode a bunch of data, and in the past I’ve also needed to generate this on the fly in my shell scripts. Not finding a simple solution I wrote my own utility using PHP. If you aren’t aware of running PHP from the CLI it can be handy, and in my case PHP includes the functions urlencode and urldecode.

This was tested and used on Mac running Leopard. I’m certain it will work fine on most flavors of unix, provided you adjust the path to PHP and it’s running to support the CLI.

You can download the zip version of this file here urlcoder.zip
From the help:
Usage: urlcoder.php [-option]
This program takes input from STDIN or a file and encodes or decodes the data for use in URLs
Options:
-f  filename to de/encode if no file name is given input will be taken from STDIN.
-e  Encode the input.
-d  Decode the input.
-v  Show the version.
-h  Show this help.
Usage Note: running the command without a file or piping input will leave the application running, and entering data with a carriage return at the prompt will process based on your en/decode option.
This program uses the PHP urldecode and urlencode functions. From the PHP Manual:
urlencode – Returns a string in which all non-alphanumeric characters except -_. have been replaced with a percent (%) sign followed by two hex digits and spaces encoded as plus (+) signs. It is encoded the same way that the posted data from a WWW form is encoded, that is the same way as in application/x-www-form-urlencoded media type. This differs from the » RFC 1738 encoding (see rawurlencode()) in that for historical reasons, spaces are encoded as plus (+) signs.

Examples:

urlcoder -e -f filename.txt
grep -o search datasource | urlcoder -e
echo "mike strutton" | urlcoder -e
urlcoder -e
(input strings manually followed by enter)

If you don’t frequent the Terminal (or unix shell), you will need to extract the zip file, saving it somewhere in your path, and modify the file to  it to be executable (chmod +x urlcoder). If you don’t understand this, then I highly doubt you have any use for a urlcoder anyway.

Questions, comments, variations? Drop a comment.

…and I feel fine.

Sorry I haven’t taken the time to blog. There’s lots going on and my personal todo list is growing out of control. This post will let you know that I’m still here, and test my ability to blog in less than 5 min.

As for a topic I have none. As for this post here’s a couple of interesting thoughts and links for today:

  1. New iPods are out. Check out the Apple store for more details. The new shake to shuffle seems novel and I like the new Touches.
  2. iPhone 2.1 is almost here. Check back on this topic around friday.
  3. The above comes from a very skinny Steve-note announced today. Coverage available at TUAW.
  4. I heard someone say that Steve’s weight and the prices of AAPL’s stock go hand in hand. (if you coined this please sound off in the comments). 
  5. Is it the end of the world as we know it. (Financial Times article).  Thinking of the REM song…
  6. I’m coding an app for work. More on that in future post. 

OK, that’s it for now, back to the daily grind. BTW, total editing time 6 min. Fail. Sound off in the comments below. Tell me whatcha thinking.

Apple iPhone 2.0.1 update available on iTunes

Apple just posted the iPhone 2.0.1 update. As usual they have a non-desrcript “bug fixes” listed for the notes. To get the latest, fire up iTunes with your iPhone connected and hit Check for Updates! 

Let me know if this fixes the slow sync and neverending backup problems with iPhone 2.0. I’m also curious about Bluetooth compatibility in Visual Voicemail. My Plantronics headset quit working with VVM. 

As always I’ll post my own experience and notes here. Share yours with a comment below.

(thanks to Jon Lee for alerting me of this news just moments ago)

Update: The download is 242.3 MB

Update (again): the install took <10 min. I The iPhone seems a little more responsive especially in the contacts and keyboard. I updated WordPress, and played with a handful of app, before attempting a sync. The backup seemed to take <5 min, although I had already completed a 2+hour backup earlier today. I think the verdict is still out on this. As for my bluetooth, it’s a no go. My Plantronics 520 reamins unavailable in Visual Voicemail.

Update (again, again): I have since synced my iPhone 3 times, once after updating/installing 5 applications over the air (not through iTunes). Each sync has completed a backup in just a few minutes. For now, I’m thinking the iPhone 2.0.1 update has greatly improved the slow backup on sync issue.

Vitrue Launches Redesigned Site

Vitrue (www.vitrue.com), the company I work for, launched a redesigned site last Friday. It’s been in the works for sometime now, since just after I started with the company in March. By no means does it take that long to build a site, but when you are busy with new customers and a recent acquisition it’s easy to get distracted. The new site is clean and easy to navigate, and highlights some of the work we have done with our clients. 

Anyway, I was part of the project and as you can tell, I’m really thrilled with the outcome. My role included launching a CMS, creating/packaging the video content and a handful of HTML. I’m also a participant in the company blog. Feel free to drop by and participate in our social media marketing conversations. And, congratulations to the rest of the team who had their hands in this project. Great Job!

Palringo brings Jabber, AIM, iChat and more to the iPhone

Palringo IM Account ListPalringo just might be the Adium of the iPhone. Just released Saturday July 26th, it has just earned a spot in my personal top 5 most useful iPhone apps. Now I can finally put to rest the buggy AOL client and integrate my company Jabber account.

Palringo Message with Photo

Palringo for the iPhone supports AOL’s AIM, iChat, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, Gadu Gadu, ICQ, Jabber and Windows Live Messenger. Setup requires registration and I’m guessing that is in order to support photo messaging. Oh, I didn’t mention that yet? You can send photos from our albums or directly from the camera. Palringo saves the photo on their servers and send a link to your recipient. 

Palringo is FREE and available via this iTunes Link.

Palringo Contact List