iPhone 3.0 – First Impressions

Well, I’ve been running the new iPhone 3.0 software update for a whole 3 hours now. What have I learned thus far?

Firstly, it is that Apple can’t handle everyone updating their phones at once. The update is of course delivered via iTunes, and it’s pretty much acting as if it was a self-inflicted DOS attack on the iTunes store. It’s timing out constantly, letting you in occasionally. Which is a bit frustrating if you’re trying to use the store in general. It’s very worrying if your phone appears to be blank because it hasn’t yet been authorised by iTunes (it has already, but for some reason it needs it again for this update). Oh well. I guess Apple will learn their lesson from this one, as it has to shaft their sales on iTunes for the day quite nastily.

Okay, so having passed through that hurdle, I got it up and running, and tried sending my first iPhone MMS. I’ve been waiting for this feature for a while, seeing as I had it on every one previously for the past few years. The interface for doing this is really nice, just click the camera button, and if you’re happy with your shot, it will put it as a thumbnail into the flow of the conversation. However it then turned out you have to wait for O2 here in the UK to turn it on. It failed a couple of times, then a little while later I got a couple of texts from them to say “it won’t work until we turn it on for you”,”okay, we’ve turned it on” (Got a tip from @jturnbull that this would happen when I was moaning about it on Twitter, which was most appreciated). Sent it again after this, and it worked fine.

That’s the moaning part of the post over now. What else? Well, it’s a few little things thus far. I’m a big podcast listener, so I was impressed to find a new little feature they’ve added, which is for podcasts only (not ordinary music tracks). You can now play them at half or double speed. The double speed could be useful for talk podcasts, as it seems to still be a sensible understandable pace, so you could speed-listen if you want. As someone who occasionally gets massive backlogs of listening, this could be rather handy for me.

Spotlight, a search feature from Mac OS that has been added to the iPhone, works beautifully. Just scroll left from your home page, and start typing. It’s searching and finding words in my email very quickly, and it is something I see me using a lot. Cut and Paste works fine. And the new voice recording application is nice, saves files to the phone, lets you email them to people, and they also show up in your phone folders on iTunes. It is a bit quiet though, be prepared to talk fairly loudly. It just isn’t as powerful a mic as say the N95 has (which if you’re so inclined, and I’m not, is a boon for concert bootlegging).

Finally for now, you can sync Notes to iTunes. However what you don’t seem to be able to then do is to find them on your computer. Which is kind of the point of syncing them (okay I lied a little about the moaning ending). I seem to recall that they may add something proper to handle this in Mac OSX Snow Leopard, but they maybe could even have just added something in iTunes for now.

So it’s not a bad start, couple of frustrations, some nice little twizzly bits to keep me occupied. However I’m not really expecting too much to begin with, as the real meat of the 3.0 update is in what it offers developers. Lots of potential in that, and that potential will start to be realised over the following weeks and months as developers start to both update their existing applications and write new ones that take advantage of the expanded feature set on offer.

Windows 7 Beta works with Virtualbox on Mac OSX

A little experiment tonight, decided to see if I could get the Windows 7 Beta running on my iMac using Sun’s Virtualbox software. I’ve been meaning to try out Virtualbox for a while, and this seemed like a good method of seeing just how versatile it is.

Basic result of the experiment is that it works, although it took an age to install (not from having to fix things, just the sheer time to run the install). Have run a couple of things in Windows 7 and had a look about, and thus far it all looks okay.

So, if you want to have a go yourself, here’s how:

1) Download and register for the Windows 7 Beta. You have until January 24th 2009 to do this. I downloaded the 32-bit version of the .iso file, so can’t comment on the 64 bit version. Make sure you note down the Registration Key you’re given before you download the file, as you’re really going to need this.

2) Download and install VirtualBox for Mac OSX.

3) Run VirtualBox, opt to install a new Windows system, and choose Windows(other) as the type you wish to install. Use a new blank hard disk image, and save it.

4) Go to Settings for your install, click on storage then the CD/DVD-Rom tab. Check the box for mount CD/DVD drive, select ISO image File, and point this at the .iso file you downloaded from the Windows 7 site, and click on OK.

5) Click on the green arrow for Start to start the install. Set aside a good hour or so, particularly if you’re not blessed with memory. Make sure you’ve got your registration key to hand from step 1 before you start, otherwise you won’t get very far.

And that is pretty much it, the install will chug along, and then you’ll be started on Windows 7. I’d suggest this might work also on a reasonably powered Linux box (Virtualbox is available for Mac, Linux and Windows).

How I Twitter

I’ve been finding over the past few months I’ve been using Twitter more and more. I have used it for quite a while, but recently I’ve found both more friends and colleagues using Twitter, and have found more people I wanted to follow. There has definitely been a surge in interest over the last six months, and it’s being seen in more surprising places, such as a Twitter joke on the election night Colbert/Stewart show, or on one of the many mobile phones of Stephen Fry.

So I thought I’d write about how I use it, seeing as I’ve been doing so for a while, and found myself a nice set of tools to help me.

First thing in the morning

I like to update both Twitter and Facebook first thing, so to kill two birds with one stone (actually a few other social networks too) I use Ping.fm . This allows me to subscribe to multiple social networks, and post my status to all of them from one place. They did also have a Facebook application I used for a while, however this has been broken since about the time the new version of Facebook launched, and they haven’t updated it to work yet.

On the move

Until recently I used a Nokia N95, and so I tended to use the mobile version of ping.fm from a browser. Now I’m on an iPhone, I’m using that for posting, and the Twitterrific application (link to UK iTunes store) for reading other people’s tweets.

On the desktop

I’ve used twhirl for a little while now, as it is an Adobe Air application, it runs nicely on all platforms including Linux. In an ideal world I’d like something that combined Twitter nicely with IM and other social networks, and although several applications have come close, nothing is quite there on the Mac yet. My only real gripe with twhirl is that I’d like to size the window a bit smaller, other than that, it has a lot of functionality, and displays incoming tweets rather nicely. I’ll post on twitter mostly from there in the day and evening.

Sharing links on Twitter

This may not be the most obvious route, but to post a link on Twitter I use the Mahalo Share Firefox extension. You’ll need an account on Mahalo, which if you haven’t come across it, is trying to be a human version of Google, with user-submitted links reviewed by their staff. Once a member, you can set up the extension properly, and have a single button in Firefox you can click whilst on a page to submit the link to Mahalo, and to many other sites in one go. I mainly use it as a quick way of saving links at Delicious, but I have it set up with several accounts, so I can also post the link on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere too. A series of checkboxes allows you to choose which service(s) each link is posted to.

Adding tweets to my blog

I had been doing this by a more tiresome method until recently, however I’ve just discovered the Twitter WordPress Sidebar Widget. Don’t be put off by the fact it hasn’t been updated for a long time, it’s nice and simple, and works fine with my WordPress 2.6 installation.

Sites I read about Twitter

There are a couple of Twitter new sites that have started recently, Twitip and Twitterrati. I’m subscribed to the feeds for both, and have found them both useful. In fact this post was inspired by a recent article at Twitip. I’ve also used Twitterlocal and Twitter Grader to see who else is twittering near me, and how I compare to other Twitter users.

So there you have it: a little insight into the various ways I interact with Twitter. How about you?