Box Center Episode 2010-01 – Eric Sabach Interview

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My iPhone Experiment – RSS Player

You may recall that one of my stipulations for this little experiment was that I would not sync my iPhone with my computer – Only apps and media which could be added wirelessly to the phone would count. This led to a problem early on when I needed something to listen to. My first resolution to this issue was to install the TWiT app and listen to the live audio stream from the This Week in Tech podcast network. What happens, though, when the live stream gives me nothing but silence?

Enter the RSS Player app. This app, which runs for $2.99 in the App Store, will do what the iPhone’s media player will not – wirelessly download and play podcast files, both audio and video. The wireless downloads can occur over wi-fi or 3G mobile broadband, which means I can download the latest TWiT ( or any other) podcast episodes while listening to an episode in my car, at the office, or at home.

Here’s how the app works: When you first start the app, you have nothing to listen to or watch. All you need to do, though, is head over to the Search section. You can then search for your favorite podcast by name. If it doesn’t come up in the search results, you also have the option to subscribe by inputing the RSS fees of the podcast. For example, I went to the Drum Corps International website on my iPhone’s browser, found the link to the DCI Field Pass podcast’s RSS feed, copied it to the iPhone’s clipboard, and pasted it in RSS Player. I am mow subscribed to the podcast and can either stream each episode online or download it to my iPhone to listen to whenever I wish. I can also set RSS Player to download new episodes automatically when they are made available or manually when I choose.

The media player in RSS Player works similarly to iTunes, with the podcast’s album art displayed on the screen. You can select which episode to play or use one of the built-in playlists to order your podcast playing. The only downside for me is that you can’t leave the app while listening to podcasts, but that is due to Apple’s refusal to allow mutitasking on the iPhone.

Personally, this is one of the best apps I’ve purchased. I’m a big podcast listener and want to have my podcast’s available to me whenever I want. Sure, I could plug into my computer every night after work and sync up, but I want to avoid getting tied down by cords as much as possible. At some point, I’ll probably sync my iPhone to get some of my music library on here, but I have an iPod Classic for that, and it holds everything in my library at this point. For me, RSS Player is the way to go.

My iPhone Experiment – Toodledo

While I have been extremely happy with my move to the iPhone, there are a few missing functions which I enjoyed while on Windows Mobile. One of those functions was task management. I am a heavy task tracker ever since I discovered the Tasks area of Microsoft Outlook and loved that Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology would sync my tasks with my PDA or smartphone. Unfortunately, there is no built-in task synchronization with the iPhone. Of course, with the iPhone, there is always a solution. It’s just a matter of finding the right one.

When I made the move to the iPhone, I also began to look for web versions of the various Outlook functions I employed. Google Calendar syncs with the iPhone and Outlook, so I easily moved my events and appointments to the cloud. Gmail handles contacts, so Google saved my bacon twice. Tasks, however, required me to look elsewhere. I quickly came upon a web service known as Toodledo.

Toodledo is a free website with extra functionality available under paid subscription. For me, though, the free functionality was perfect. I could organize my tasks by folders (categories), enter start and due dates, prioritize tasks, and create recurring tasks for things which occurred on a regular basis. Toodledo also featured an iPhone friendly version of their website, but I wanted something I could use offline, in case AT&T’s service failed me.

Toodledo again came to the rescue with their own iPhone app. All of the functionality of the Toodledo website is available in the app. I can create, edit, remove, and complete tasks with ease. I can do all of this in portrait or landscape mode. I can access my various task folders with just a few taps. I don’t even need a Toodledo account – the app will function as a standalone service.

The Toodledo app normally costs $3.99, although sales do occur. The price of the app, though, is well worth the rewards. If you are a productivity nut like me, you definitely want this app on your iPhone.

My iPhone Experiment – Grocery Gadget

Each weekend, I head out to the local grocery store (and sometimes Target) to restock the fridge and pantry for the upcoming week. You might not expect the iPhone to come in handy here…Wait, of course you do. It’s the iPhone, after all, and, yes, there is an app for that.

Grocery Gadget is a $4.99 app which you can use to put together multiple shopping lists. The app syncs with the app’s website, allowing you to create your shopping lists on the site or on one iPhone, then access it on another iPhone. My wife, for example, just created this week’s shopping list on her laptop. My iPhone is linked to our Grocery Gadget group, so, once I start the app, I pull down that list to my phone. I can then add, edit, or remove items on the list, like the cat litter I need to add since it’s time to clean out the cat boxes.

Once I’m at the store, I have the option to view the shopping list by alphabetical order, categorical order, or a “smart” order which will sort the list based on the order I usually check items off the list when I shop. Yes, Grocery Gadget learns how you shop and sorts your grocery list accordingly. You can also include notes and photos of the items on the list for people like me who can’t tell the difference between parsley and cilantro. Future releases will feature bar code scanning, meaning you can add pickles to the list by scaning the code on the old jar right before throwing it out.

One unexpected bonus to the app are the tutorial videos. Watch the most unlikeliest couple as they snark their way through using the Grocery Gadget app. The laughs as you learn are a free undocumented feature and something you need to watch.

My iPhone Experiment – Setting Up Exchange Sync

Yesterday, I showed you the steps to set up IMAP access to your Gmail account. If you’re like me, though, and you need to have access to your work email, calendar, and contacts, then you also need to set up Microsoft Exchange sync on your phone. Note that Exchange sync is also available for your Google accounts, but you are limited to one Exchange account on the iPhone. As a result, I had to choose my work account for Exchange sync and use IMAP for Gmail.

One more note before we get started – If your place of employment does not support Outlook Web Access, you won’t be able to use Exchange sync on your iPhone. Since many people now own smartphone and PDAs which do Exchange sync, this probably won’t be an issue.

To set up Exchange sync on your iPhone:

1. Tap Setttings on your Home screen

2. Tap Mail

3. Tap Add Account

4. Tap Microsoft Exchange

5. Enter in your information. It should be the same as what you use to log into your computer at work

6. Tap Save. If an “Unable to verify certificate” message pops up, tap Accept

7. Enter your Outlook Web Access address. Tap Save. I didn’t put that screenshot in as I don’t want to broadcast my company’s Exchange information all over the web

8. Select what you would like to sync (Mail, Calendar, Contacts). All three are turned on by default

And there you have it! You now have Exchange access on your iPhone. Not only do you have access to your mail, calendar, and contacts (including contact photos if you have them), you also get email via push notification. Basically, that means the mail shows up when you get it, not just on a regular checking schedule, ensuring you are in touch and up to date with the office. Enjoy!

My iPhone Experiment – TWiT Radio

Another app need came up this evening as I needed to drive to the store and to the Chinese restaraunt to pick up dinner. I make a point to never listen to terrestrial radio when driving, preferring to listen to my own music, audiobooks, or podcasts. Unfortunately, one of my stipulations for this experiment is that I won’t sync my iPhone with a computer, meaning that I have nothing to listen to on my phone.

I’m not going to start ordering music for a fifteen minute drive. I could select podcasts to listen to, but they take time to download and, if they’re over 10MB, AT&T won’t allow the download to take place. My options are limited, but I do have a solution from my favorite podcast network.

The TWiT Radio app, a free download, plays the live audio stream from the This Week in Tech podcast network, hosted by tech guru Leo Laporte. The app is very dependable, streaming without interruption under wi-fi, 3G, and EDGE data connections. The app also shows the broadcast schedule from Google Calendar, although the connection to Gcal was broken when I downloaded. If that isn’t enough, there is also access to the TWiT chat room and the ability to listen to previously released shows. You may also notice the phone button on the main screen. This button will call the number for Leo Laporte’s weekly radio show, The Tech Guy, so you can ask Leo a tech question during the show.

My iPhone Experiment – Setting up Gmail IMAP Access

I’ve been a busy body today, but there’s a lot to set up on my iPhone before I can use it full time. This time, I am setting up IMAP access to my Gmail accounts.

I love Gmail because it’s free, easy to use, and offers access to my email on my phone via multiple options: web, POP, IMAP, and Exchange. I can’t use Exchange as I’ll be using that for my work email. POP downloads the mail to my phone, whereas IMAP keeps everything on the server. Using IMAP ensures that I have one copy of all my mail which I can see from my phone, my computer’s email client, or the Gmail website.

Before I can access Gmail via IMAP, I need to enable it on my account. Full instructions to do so are here.

Once you have IMAP enabled, use the following steps to set up Gmail on your iPhone:

1. On your Home screen, tap Settings

2. Tap Mail

3. Tap Add Account…

4. Tap Other

5. Tap Add Mail Account

6. Enter your account info. Use your FULL email address for your username

7. Tap Save

8. For the incoming mail server, enter imap.gmail.com. For the username, enter your email address

9. For the outgoing email server, enter smtp.gmail.com. For the username…I think you know by now

10. Tap Save

There you go! Gmail on your iPhone! Repeat these steps for each Gmail account. I have three, so I set them all up before writing this entry. It’s quick and easy!

He’s So Heavy

Just weighed myself to see what the damage was after all the holiday face stuffing.

The result – 198 pounds.

While this is the most I have ever weighed, I thought I’d be over 200 by now. Nevertheless, I think I need to be a little more healthy in my eating habits!

My iPhone Experiment – WordPress 2 app

Told you I’d be doing multiple posts to start…

The first app I’ve installed is the WordPress app. This is version 2.1 of the app and is very powerful. Not only can I post and edit blog entries on my site, I can also add and edit pages, like the about page I haven’t touched since installing WordPress on my site.

Here’s how you set up the app:

1. Download it from the app store

2. Enter your blog information (site address, username, and password).

3. Start editing!

Note from the pictures above that you can also edit comments left on your site. You cannot, however, do anything with spam comments if you have a spam plugin installed on your site. You also cannot edit photos when writing a post. While you can attach photos to the end of your post, you can’t move or resize them. You do see the HTML code for the photos, though, and can move that code to the appropriate location in your post (assuming you know the file name of each photo). This will involve a lot of saving the post, checking the preview to make sure the right photo’s in the right place, then moving the code for the next picture. Rinse, repeat.

While the WordPress iPhone app isn’t perfect, it does give you a lot of control over your blog and website. Heck, it’s free, so why wouldn’t you use it?