Posting from the WordPress app for iPhone

I am posting this from the WordPress for iPhone app! Version 2.1 is great with everything one could want, except one thing.

For some reason, the wordpress app lacks a widescreen mode, which to me is astounding, given that the app is designed for, well… writing.

The blog has been very quiet for some time now as you can see. I have been crazy busy with work, and fixing stuff for my new apartment. More on the whole apartment deal later on though.

Getting push replies for Twitter for free

I wanted to get notified on Twitter replies and mentions instantly, both on my Mac and on my iPhone. Since Google released Push for the iPhone a couple of weeks ago, an email based solution would be perfect.

Get Twitter Mentions is a bash script well suited for this task. It is easily customizable and you can run is as often as you like. Just add a crontab like the following on a Linux server of your choice:

*/2 * * * * /home/joch/bin/send-mentions-as-email.sh

This will execute the script every two minutes and email you if there are any new updates. Just make sure that you keep the requests well within the API limits (currently 150 requests per hour), or your API access may be revoked for a while. The emails are very well designed, having the tweets in the subjects for easy viewing and a full profile and other types of information right there in the email.

The following pictures are taken from the author’s site, but shows in a very clear way how things look.

Getting push email on the iPhone

The iPhone does some really remarkable things and has some amazing features. One feature I really wanted to get working was push email. Not only for the increased battery performance, but for the reason the Blackberry was given the more descriptive name of Crackberry.

I heard that Yahoo provides push mail for the iPhone, so I decided to try it out. Setting it up was very easy, and push actually seems to work – that is if you aren’t forwarding your email. Yahoo Mail doesn’t push mail where the To address doesn’t match, even though the envelope address is correct. The basically means that push works fine if you are only using your Yahoo email address directly, but not if you are forwarding email from somewhere else, like Gmail.

Not being satisfied with the Yahoo solution, I started looking elsewhere. MobileMe started looking better and better, so I finally caved in and signed up for a trial. Email push works excellent so far, but I expect nothing else from Apple. It seems to push email being forwarded from other accounts too!

The one area where MobileMe lacks, and this is a big one, is the support for custom email domains. If you have your fancy personal domain, you of course want to use it for email, but there is no good way of doing thing with MobileMe! Google Apps is currently lightyears ahead of Apple in this department.

The scenario looks like this: I use Google Apps for email, but a filter in Gmail forwards the email to MobileMe and marks it as read in Gmail. MobileMe then pushes this to my iPhone, and when I reply, I just choose the Google account as the sender. This requires that you enable both email accounts in your iPhone. That is why I mark the email as read in the filter – otherwise it would eventually be seen by the Mail app in the iPhone as an unread email.

This is a bit awkward, I know, but the only real alternative is setting up your own Exchange server. (or waiting for Google to get their act together and supporting push for the iPhone)

A first look at Facebook 3.0 for iPhone

The highly anticipated 3.0 release of the Facebook application for the iPhone has just arrived in the AppStore. Here is a quick look at the new features. And if your phone can’t find the update, delete the old version and install it from scratch until the Apple servers have updated their cache.

iPhone App: Birdfeed

birdfeedA new Twitter client called Birdfeed was just released in the App Store. There are lots of Twitter clients for the iPhone so I was skeptical on what Birdfeed could do to stand out from the crowd. But being priced at 38 SEK ($4.99), it was bound to have some unique features and a well thought out interface. (or a very good marketing department)

When you first start the application you are directly taken to the timeline, which displays the tweets in beautiful looking talk bubbles. There is a button on the top labled “Load Newer” which updates the timeline and adds a separator with the updated time so you can distinguish new tweets from older ones if you are looking further down the timeline when an automatic update occurs.

When you hit the bottom of the timeline, which is set to 20 tweets by default  and can be increased up to 100 in the settings, it will load the next 20 tweets in order. This behaviour is called infinite scrolling and is very intuitive and fast.

The new tweet button is located on the top right of all screens and looks like a small talk bubble. It looks like a standard form for entering a tweet, but has a nifty character counter. Photos can be attached using Twitpic or Yfrog (configurable in the settings), and links can be shortened using the integrated tr.im service (see settings for account information). If your phone happens to ring when you are entering a tweet, or accidentally tap the close button, the draft is always saved (again, configurable), and the next time you tap to create a new tweet, the draft will pop up. If there is a draft available, there will be a dot in the middle of the talk bubble.

If you click on a tweet, you are presented with a new screen and a lot of options. Links and hashtags are clickable, and you have the option to reply, mark as favorite, forward by retweet, email or just post the link. If you are viewing a web URL, there is also integration with Instapaper which lets you save pages for later reading.

If you tap back from the timeline, you will enter the main menu which has the following items:

  • Timeline
  • Mentions
  • Direct Messages
  • Favorites
  • My Profile
  • My Tweets
  • Search
  • View User

The Mentions view looks and behaves like the timeline, but only shows tweets directed to you as always. The Favorites is very similar, but has stars to indicate that the tweets are favorites.

Direct Messages on the other hand, look an awful lot like the Messages app in the iPhone itself. Each correspondent has their own thread which makes it very easy to backtrack a conversation, and it is abundantly clear that you are in fact sending a private message. This means no private messages being sent into the open stream again!

Search works like you would expect, and has support for showing only nearby tweets, as well as the current trends on Twitter.

So the verdict? It is so sweet it has replaced Tweetie as my standard Twitter app on the iPhone! It’s not cheap, but if you are using Twitter a lot or just like well designed software, you will not be disappointed. There are some bugs though, like with all other 1.0 software, but nothing you will experience a lot, or perhaps not even notice.

Addition: It currently does not have support for the landscape keyboard.

Check out Birdfeed in the App Store.

Flight Control – revisited

I recently tried out Flight Control, a game for the iPhone which puts you in charge as an air traffic controller. It is your job to route the different planes to their respective runway. With iPhone OS 3.0 came a feature for Bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network), which means that the iPhone is now capable of creating ad-hoc networks with nearby phones on the fly. The new Flight Control update takes advantage of this new feature to bring multiplayer!

In multiplayer mode, two iPhones share the same air space, but are in charge of landing strips for different kind of aircraft. You then have to work together to route the planes to the correct landing strip without crashing the planes into each other. This brings a whole new dimension to this already highly addictive game, so if you haven’t downloaded it already, buy it from the App Store.

iPhone App: Flight Control

I recently bought Flight Control from the App Store, hoping to find an easy, yet challenging game. I found it.

Flight Control puts you in the air traffic controller spot, and it is your duty to route the various planes and helicopters on a safe landing route. You have to watch out for crossing trajectories, different speed air planes, and other traps which could lead to your demise.

See additional screenshots and videos on the Flight Control website.

Things vs The Hit List vs Omnifocus

I have been using Things for a long time, both on my Mac and iPhone. While being very good at what it does and being visually beautiful, I have lately been having lots of trouble finding a good solution for a “Waiting For” focus, planner, setting a starting date, subtasks and other minor things. Their support forum is full of these requests and many other too.

Both The Hit List and Omnifocus do not suffer from these shortcomings, and have other benefits too. THL has a very nice planner where you can see items due today, the next days, next week, month etc. It makes it very easy to get an overview on what and when things have to be done.

The one thing missing in THL at the moment is iPhone sync, which is where Omnifocus shines! It has a very competent syncing framework and a native iPhone client (a bit pricey though). Omnifocus follows the principles of Getting Things Done almost to the letter, which may be too rigid at times, and it does not have support for tags at the moment.

What to do? I have invested in Things for the Mac and for the iPhone, but I have considered the idea of moving to Omnifocus for the moment, and maybe returning to Things when it has matured somewhat. I like THL quite a lot, but without syncing with an iPhone application, it’s useless for me.

iPhone OS 3.0 firmware announced

picture-1Apple recently announced the features in the next iPhone firmware release, dubbed 3.0. There is great anticipation as always when Apple announces new things, and this time Apple actually seem to have listened to the feedback of users.

Some new features include

  • Push notifications
  • Cut and Paste
  • MMS
  • A2DP (Bluetooth stereo sound)
  • Notes sync
  • Audio / video memos
  • System-wide search
  • Support for CalDAV
  • In-game commerce

This will be released “sometime this summer”, and will be a highly anticipated update. It probably has something to do with the Palm Pre and the G1 coming out too.

You can see the pictures from the event at Engadget.

Twestival Stockholm — The Pictures

There is only one way of describing the Stockholm Twestival which took place last Thursday — a thundering success!

Everything from the organization of the event to the music and speakers were just fantastic. I haven’t heard the official sum of all donations yet though, but I’m sure that it was not bad at all, considering the amount of people who actually showed up.

It was a great opportunity to see some Twitter users here in Stockholm as well. Even though Sweden is a small country, there are lots of highly talented people working in all areas from marketing, IT and other fields. It just shows that Twitter and similar tools have such a huge impact on how people have chosen to effortlessly communicate and share. It is so easy to reach lots of people, not only from particular group, but anyone who wants to listen.

Seeing how Twestival just started as a simple idea on Twitter, it was amazing to see it literally explode into such a huge global event. It really comes to show how people can get events like these things done on a global scale bringing a great number of volunteers together with just a simple social web tool like Twitter.

The only sad thing is that I forgot to bring my camera for some odd reason. I couldn’t let a thing like forgetting the camera keep me away from taking pictures though, so I had to rely on my trusty ol’ iPhone to work its magic. Sure, there are phones with exceptional cameras with lots of “megapixels”, flash and image quality. The iPhone just isn’t one of them. The images are, well, not that great to be frank. The image quality is so bad that I didn’t even bother trying to get everything lined up and think about framing, since most images will still be blurry and grainy. Anyway, here you go.

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