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iMessage and Magic SMS Bills

Marco Arment:

iMessage is truly transparent: less-observant iOS owners won’t even realize that they’re using it.

iMessage is cool. I like it. I don’t know how useful it will be, though as not all of my friend have iPhones. It’s not cross platform and only compatible with the two newest iphones (iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4)

Their SMS bills will just start to decline next month.


Last time I checked there are only a few text message plans on AT&T and Verizon. Either unlimited or you buy a certain amount for each month and if you go over you pay for each message. Lastly you can just pay through the nose for each individual message. Most people I know have unlimited texting. So, they won’t see a decline in their bill at all. It’d be much better if people knew about this so they could actually alter their SMS plans, because that’s the only way their bills with “just start to decline next month.” Ha!

360 Panorama of Hiroshima After the Bomb

Wow, just wow. Sort of hard to conceptualize how much damage the single explosion of an atomic bomb can toll out. This picture does portrays it better than any I’ve seen.

The 360-Degree Panorama of What Hiroshima Looked Like After the Atomic Bomb:

via Gizmodo


Lifehacker Pack for Windows: Our List of the Best Windows Downloads [Downloads]

Love me some Lifehacker packs. They do these for all of the major desktop and mobile platforms. They usually use free software, too which is nice. Ch-ch-check it out.

Lifehacker Pack for Windows: Our List of the Best Windows Downloads [Downloads]: “

(Via Lifehacker.)

Using Dropbox to sync notes across platforms

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Dropbox is great. It seems like I learn of a new use for this amazing service every week. Here’s a new one to add to the books. You can use Dropbox to sync text notes across platforms and access them via note-taking clients.

Every since I purchased my first iPhone about 2 years ago I’ve used many different apps to make to-do lists and to take quick notes. The problem was that I could never find one that was simple enough, fast enough, and synced between all of my platforms. Evernote will do this but it has way more features than I need. It’s too distracting for me and the iOS client is slower than just firing up the native notes app. Simplenote is a new service that works pretty well and will do exactly what I need it to do, but I found the ads in the iOS app to be too distracting and I’m not willing to pay $20 a year to get rid of the ads.

So, I’ve found a solution to this issue that I’d like to share. Using several free apps, you can store all of your notes and to-do lists in DropBox and then access them from apps on all of your devices. If you don’t have a Dropbox account, go sign up here and thank me later. Now if you have an iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device go download a fee app called PlainText. It allows you to create and edit text files in your DropBox. It will automatically create a folder in your DropBox called PlainText and it will sync and store text files in that folder. The default folder is at the root of your Dropbox but you can change that if you like. To set up DropBox syncing, just go to settings and then select DropBox and follow the directions. Here’s a screenshot of the DropBox settings in PlainText:

Now you just need a desktop client. I recommend Notational Velocity for Mac or ResophNotes for Windows. Each of those apps allow you to edit and sync text files to your DropBox in plain text format. Notational Velocity is a super simple, minimalist app that just does note-taking and that’s it.

Here’s how to set up Notational Velocity once you’ve enabled DropBox syncing in PlainText:

Notice that you have to change the storage setting to “Plain Text Files” in order for it to sync to dropbox and the other clients. Also make sure you change the source folder to the same folder PlainText is synced to in your DropBox.

Once you have it set up you can create notes on your iPhone using PlainText or on your Mac using Notational Velocity and they will sync to your DropBox and be available wherever you go.

the switch


I’m sort of used to reinstalling my OS. At least I’m used to reinstalling Windows, because as you probably know Windows gets slower and slower the more things you install and the longer you have a running install. So, I tend to just start over at least 2x a year. There are some ways to make this simpler. The first is having an external HDD. This just needs to be big enough to hold all of the documents and media files that you don’t want to lose in the switch. I don’t have a ton of stuff so mine is only 120GB. I could certainly use a bigger one, though. I think that 250GB should suffice but 500GB is probably safer. If you do video editing then you probably need more than that.

Another way to keep things safe and make a transition easier is using cloud storage. One service I cannot recommend enough is Dropbox. I have used this service for about a year and I love it. It’s free for 2GB of storage and they have other options if you are willing to pay monthly. Dropbox is a program that lets you pick one folder on your computer that you would like to keep synced to the cloud. Dropbox runs in the background and keeps track of any changes you makes to files in that folder and its subfolders. 2GB is plenty for all of my documents. I keep all of my school and work documents in my dropbox. What’s really nice about dropbox is that you can install it on multiple computers and it keeps everything in sync on all of the computers. You can also access your documents from a web interface and they have mobile applications like this one for iPhone. I’m telling you; it’s great.

If you aren’t using some sort of service to keep all of your email, contacts and calendar stuff in the cloud, then you really should. I recommend Google sync since it does a great job and works with everything. Google has tutorials on how to set up their services on a variety of platforms here. Mobileme is another service that keeps everything in the cloud, but it costs $99 a year. Why do that when you can get all of those services for free from Google? I don’t know either.

Pictures are pretty easy to take from a PC to a Mac. Just put your photo folder onto an external harddrive and then import them into iPhoto on your Mac. Simple enough; be prepared for iPhoto to completely rearrange your photo folders, though. This doesn’t really bother me. I gave up on keeping my photos neatly organized years ago, so iPhoto actually helps. If you have a meticulous method for organizing your picture folders then you should probably stay away from iPhoto until you change some settings in there.

Music is another animal for me. I spend hours keeping the metadata for my music in order and I hate to see it all go to crap when I transition to another OS. If you are already using iTunes, then thankfully it is pretty easy to switch to a Mac and not lose all of that stuff. If you don’t then my advice would be to install iTunes on your PC before moving to the Mac. There are some tutorials for doing this. I found this one incredibly helpful. Since iTunes 9 came out you don’t have to use a hex editor on your itunes.xml file anymore. It is extremely easy to move an itunes library from Windows to Mac these days. Be thankful, it wasn’t so easy even a year ago.

Next blog will be about my transition to actually using my MacBook for daily tasks at work and at home.

back at it

Since I last posted on this blog I:

  • got married
  • started a new full-time job
  • got a puppy
  • went to Europe on a honeymoon
  • upgraded to a Black Macbook
  • started using OSX as my main OS

Whew! So, yeah I wish I had kept blogging through everything, but I didn’t.

Instead I’m going to tackle each one of those things in a separate blog entry in the coming weeks.

Coming up first because it is most prescient (did I use that word correctly), my transition from PC to Mac.

Photo on 2010-08-25 at 20.20.jpg

is it over yet?

So I’m past the halfway point of the semester and I am feeling very much burnt out already. I still have a full month of assignments, field, and forms (to apply for graduation and get my independent study for the spring approved) to complete before a wonderful December off. Well, mostly off; I’ll still have to go to field some, because I can’t just leave my caseload hanging for a month, and I’m hoping to get a parttime job well before my savings run completely dry. Man I get tired just thinking about all the stuff I need to do and all the what’s and if’s that accompany the next several months leading up to graduation and marriage. So, yes…is it over yet?

On a much lighter note, wordpress 2.0 for iPhone has been out for a while and I had no idea until recently. I like it a lot. I’m happily jailbroken again. It’s the little things that make me love being jailbroken. There’s a utility called ipodpop in Cydia that makes it so that even when no music is playing you can doubleclick the home button and the iPod controls come up allowing you go start music and use controls; then you can close the widget and be right back where you were. Crucial! SBSettings is always lovely, especially when you open an app and realize location settings are turned off. A quick toggle in SBSettings and you’re still right where you were, but with location on. Winterboard is nice but also pretty pointless. I got my tethering back and that makes me very happy, especially at work. Oh yeah there’s another utility that allows you to put the current temperature next to the battery in the status bar. It can also replace the weather icon with one that has the actual temperature, not pertually 73.