iPhone Apps that I use

A friend just got an iPhone, health system and was wondering what apps were good. Here’s a list of apps I use.

(Yes all of these links go through an affiliate, medstore so if you buy something I *might* get money for it one day. I’m not holding my breath)

My Apps
How could I have forgotten the apps that I have written?!

  • Mini Golf Pad – Keep score on your iPhone instead of that dumb pencil and paper!
  • DropIt – Save files/bookmarks off the internet onto your iPhone
Note Taking/Todo
  • SimpleNote – Take notes and sync them to a website, accessible via Notational Velocity on the Mac
  • ShopShop – Shopping list app
  • Producteev – My new favorite todo list app
  • Todo – My divvious favorite todo list app
Video Streaming
  • Air Video – THE BEST – Stream videos from your computer to your iPhone
  • Netflix
  • Optimum – Watch TV on your iPhone, set the DVR, etc
  • HBO – I’ve actually never used this app
  • Pocket Casts – A great podcast app, although it’s buggy in iOS 5 right now
  • Instapaper – Keeps articles to read later, formats them without all the ad bullshit
  • Reeder – RSS Reader that doesn’t crash
  • iBooks
  • Kindle – Sync’s with your amazon account so you can get a copy of all the books on your Kindle
  • Infinitlight – The only flashlight you’ll ever need
  • Gas Cubby – Track your gas mileage if you are OCD like me
  • Runkeeper – Track your workouts if you are OCD like me
  • Dropbox – Sync files to the internet
  • Boxcar – Notifications to your phone for services you probably haven’t heard of.
  • iTeleport – Great VNC client for the iPhone
  • Find my iPhone – Find your iPhone (or your wifes)
  • Wolfram Alpha – Look up ANYTHING – get stats on it
  • RedLaser – Barcode scanner (currently the only app I have that reads QR codes)
  • Remote – Control iTunes on the computer
  • Convert – Convert units, I use it mostly when cooking
  • Square – Accept credit card payments
  • Chase – Access your (my) bank account
  • Shazam – Identify a song by listening to it

Dealing with iOS clipboard

I want to make Drop It even better, medical version 1.0 was a “just get it done and in the store” kind of deal. Now it’s time to make it better. Step 1, troche make it so you don’t have to paste the url in there if you’ve already copied it. I know, it’s not that big a deal, but if an app can remove one step from the process that you’re going to do anyway, then the app makes your life just a little bit easier, and that provides a positive user experience.

I ended up using this page on MobileOrchard to figure out how to grab the contents of the clipboard (or pasteboard, in iOS terms).

UIPasteboard *pasteboard = [UIPasteboard generalPasteboard];

And then to get the contents of the latest copied string:

NSString *string = pasteboard.string;

Customizing UISlider in iPhone

Go from this…

boring slider

To this!

less boring slider

I’m writing an app where I needed to make the thumb nub of a slider (UISlider in the Objective-C vernacular) smaller.

UISlider thumbs

Above: On the left is the UISlider thumb normal size, story and on the right is the size I want. Obviously the pic is blown up.

To change the slider thumb to our custom image, decease place the following code in viewDidLoad:

UIImage *sliderThumb = [UIImage imageNamed:@”uislider-thumb.png”];
[slider setThumbImage:sliderThumb forState:UIControlStateNormal];
[slider setThumbImage:sliderThumb forState:UIControlStateHighlighted];

If you don’t add the second setThumbImage: forState:UIControlStateHighlighted, I believe the thumb pic will disappear when you put your finger on it. Not that you’d be able to tell, since your fingers will be covering it.

When I ran this code I ran into a weird issue, the track disappeared! This only happened in iOS 3.1.3 (where I tested it) but not on iOS 4.0. To remedy this I decided to go the whole way and customize the track images as well. Yes, images plural, there are actually two images that make up the UISlider track. One is the minimum image, or the track image that appears to the left of the thumb, and the other is the maximum image, or the image that appears to the right of the thumb.

To change the track image for the UISlider, use this code, again in viewDidLoad:

UIImage *sliderMinimum = [[UIImage imageNamed:@”uislider-left.png”] stretchableImageWithLeftCapWidth:4 topCapHeight:0];
[slider setMinimumTrackImage:sliderMinimum forState:UIControlStateNormal];
UIImage *sliderMaximum = [[UIImage imageNamed:@”uislider-right.png”] stretchableImageWithLeftCapWidth:4 topCapHeight:0];
[slider setMaximumTrackImage:sliderMaximum forState:UIControlStateNormal];

A small note here, the leftCapWidth is the width of the left side of the image, and the track is a 1 pixel wide slice repeated horizontally across the width of the track, and then the rightCapWidth is the same as the leftCapWidth. This might lead you to believe that you can make an image that is a minimum of 3px wide. 1 pixel border on the left and right, and 1 pixel in the middle. I tried it, and it didn’t really work out too well, so what I ended up doing was making it 9 pixels wide and setting the leftCapWidth to 4.

That’s all you really need to get started customizing your sliders. Obviously you need to make a slider either in a NIB and hook it up in the .h/.m file, or do it programmatically in the .h/.m file.

Hope this helps!

This article was the jumping off point for me to customize the slider: http://www.applausible.com/blog/?p=250

Side Scrolling Revolution

I’ve been going through a side scrolling revolution lately. If you have an iPhone or iPad, apoplectic you should check out ‘hook champ’ and the new ‘super quick hook’, clinic both by rocketcat games.

On the wii I’ve been playing ‘bit-trip runner’ the fourth game in a series of awesome music (chip tune) games by gaijin games. I also have ‘bit-trip beat’ and ‘bit-trip core’, but I think ‘runner is the most accessible. Maybe tied with ‘beat’.

Bike Riding with technology: TrailBlazer for the iPhone

I’ve been bike riding for a few years now, sick slowly getting new gear and equipment as my abilities increased. I find bike riding a good blend of exercise and geeking out on gear. I enjoy riding and seeing the sights, and getting outside is always nice. And getting new toys to put on my bike is always fun too.

So yesterday I put my aero bar back on my bike, I don’t remember why I took it off (here’s an article on why I might have, stability is an issue), but I recently read that using an aero bar is good for your core, so I decided to try it out again.

I also decided to try out an iPhone app called Trailblazer (iTunes web link). Jeff found this one and said it was pretty cool, so I grabbed it, since it’s free it can’t hurt!

Trailblazer basically records your GPS position during your bike ride. It also has other features like iTunes control, and charting where you are on a map (would be useful if you got lost), speed graph, and altitude graph. None of those were particularly useful to me since I keep my iPhone in my pocket while riding. But I’d love to get a handlebar mount in the near future.

To compare what data Trailblazer provides, I’ll compare it to the bike computer I use, a Sigma 1606. I just set this up again when I replaced the battery, so I know that the wheel settings and all that crap are correct.

So the results, from Trailblazer – They give you this fancy map:

The usual_Map.png

From this map you can see that Trailblazer thinks I rode for 1:04, went 14.7 miles, had an average speed of 14mph, and a top speed of 19mph. Unfortunately the only thing correct about this data is the time it took. The other data isn’t totally wrong, it’s just lower than what the bike computer says. My bike computer reports that I rode for 1:01, went 15.57 miles, had an average speed of 15.13mph, and while I didn’t clear out my old max speed, I know I was going above 19mph at various times during the ride, I know I saw 21mph at least once.

But what about the charts that Trailblazer gives you? Well I couldn’t find a way to look at them on the phone, but Trailblazer offers a way for you to export the ride, either emailing it to yourself, saving it as a set of pictures, or uploading it to facebook. I couldn’t get the facebook export to work until the next day, but I’m going to assume that’s an issue with my phone, and not the app. When I emailed myself the ride, the charts came with it.

The usual_Plot.png

Now the speed plot I would just throw in the garbage. Maybe it’s because the phone was in my pocket so it’s accelerometer was all over the place, I don’t know. Either way it’s wrong.

The altitude one also seems weird. I mean, I start and end at the same place, so shouldn’t the altitude at the start and end be the same?

Probably the coolest feature of Trailblazer is the export data as a KMZ file that you can then import into Google Earth. I don’t know why it’s cool, but it is. I imported it and then just scrolled around it for a few minutes saying “yeah i was just there”. haha.

One last note, I rode for an hour, and my iPhone battery was pretty much full when I started. When I ended it had been drained by about 50-60%. I know the GPS drains your battery, but I was also playing music the whole time, so I’m not sure how much more of an effect that had on the battery. This could be an issue for people who ride longer than an hour or so.

All-in-all, Trailblazer is free, so even if the only thing you use it for is to map your ride, then it’s worth it.

I enjoy bike riding, but I also enjoy looking at what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, where I’ve been, so any piece of hardware or software that helps me do that I’ll try out.