Posted tagged ‘Apple’

Observation Log 7/20/09: ISS & STS-127

July 20, 2009

The International Space Station, currently docked with Space Shuttle Endeavour, just made a nice pass overhead. Although I have broken clouds at the moment, I managed to get a very nice view.

In the process, I tested a valuable new technique (for me, at least) for spotting ISS passes. I have an iPhone 3GS, which has a built-in clock and a built-in compass. So, I set up several alarms for the sighting (start, highest elevation, and end), noting from Heavens Above what the compass direction would be and putting that number in each alarm. When the alarms go off, I can quickly pull up the compass and know where to look.

This might seem a bit of overkill, except that my attempt to spot the ISS about a week ago failed! I’ve never completely missed it before. The pass was low in the sky and went through skyglow from the city to the north, but I think I should have been able to see it. Anyway, this little trick should help.

If I had unlimited energy and resources, I would love to write an iPhone application that would use the GPS, compass, the timers, and the inclinometers in the iPhone to allow a user to find any sky object (satellites especially) just by pointing the phone at the sky. Words or sounds could indicate which way to adjust the pointing angle (up, down, left, right) to find what you’re looking for. Real fanatics fans like myself could even hold a laser pointer with the phone, to make spotting even easier! Hopefully someone will do that some day soon!

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Apple’s iPhone: Where are the standard smartphone features?

February 26, 2008

I bought an iPhone the day after they were introduced. I like it a lot. I used to carry a Palm, a mobile phone and and iPod. Now I have the iPhone, and I bring my 60G iPod when I drive.

One thing has been troubling me for a while. When will the iPhone’s software be upgraded to include de rigeur smartphone features like recording movies or voice memos? Voice dial seems like a natural feature for an OS X-based phone, when OS X has voice recognition built in. The web experience is better than any other current phone, but it really isn’t “the whole web” without a Flash plugin.

What about the note pad? I’ve been syncing notes on my Palm for over a decade. Instead I have to use a draft email in an IMAP account as a note pad. Another feature I relied on in my Motorola V180 was “wait during dialing,” where the phone would dial up to a point and wait for me to hit a button to continue. That feature was good for making any call that included an extension number or PIN, and it was great when calling SmartRoutes (a free traffic reporting system with many prompts, and driving-challenged inputs like “*4951” to get information on the northern half of Route 495).

Steve Jobs said there’d be more features to come when he introduced the iPhone. Instead, the software updates have been largely focussed on bug fixes and securing the phone from unlocking. Where are the “new” features that are standard on lesser phones? We’re waiting.

NetNewsWire has made browsing fun again!

February 10, 2008

netnewswire-icon-128.pngIf you’re using two or more Macs that are synchronized with .Mac, and you use Safari to track RSS feeds, this is the tip for you! This thing rocks.

For months, I’ve been limping along with two Macs, Safari RSS, and .Mac, and it was a huge hassle. .Mac is supposed to synchronize the state of your RSS feeds between machines (since OS X 10.4.4, I believe), but it doesn’t. What it does do it corrupt your Syndication database periodically, requiring a Reset Safari to recover.

This is a huge inconvenience, because (until Safari 3.x/OS X 10.4.10) resetting Safari also deleted all saved forms, passwords, and cookies.
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