Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ATT to clamp down on data hogs? ugh?

Talk about being unprepared! AT&T beckoned for the iPhone, the greatest phone ever released and the most popular smart phone on the planet. Yet, they were unprepared for the onslaught of data. So now they are talking about pulling a "Verizon" and charging the heck out of consumers for data. They reckon that this is what is slowing down the traffic in the San Francisco area.

Guys/Gals, I've got news for you! Although they are showing that 3% of smartphone users are responsible for 40% of the bandwidth and by deductive reasoning, that's mainly iPhone users, AT&T should have been prepared for this. Even with the Cingular network attached, they are a poor second in 3G coverage.

To add insult to injury, the recent onslaught of commercials against AT&T's 3G service by Verizon - which by the way has ridiculous pricing options - is met by an Apples to Oranges comparison by AT&T, comparing their Voice network to the Verizon 3G network. I am surprised that no one else has picked up on this. The actor throwing cards all over the country is not talking about DATA coverage, he's talking only about VOICE coverage. The data coverage, as far as I know, has not been challenged effectively.

This is a nationwide problem, not just in San Francisco or Anaheim or New York. It is an AT&T problem and it's not a bandwidth problem. In some of the data areas, the 3G coverage is just POOR! Nothing to do with the "data hogs," of which I am not by the way.

AT&T's response as usual is to jack up the rates. And why not? When you've got the best phone on the planet - one that people are willing to put up with bad phone service for - you can do whatever you want. But I wouldn't do that for too long, because with Android coming out, things could get a little more competitive and Apple could decide to go elsewhere.

Dragon Dictation for the iPhone.

Sensational program. A must have for every iPhone owner. But a few caveats in v1.0, especially if you have patient information or government information in your address book. Here is a reprint of my letter, written in response to a question about this product:

Incredible program. It really is for letters and short notes though. It is not very practical for long documents. A few reasons why. Although it translates almost 95-99 percent of American Dialect speech, you would have to have it "personalized" to improve regional recognition, as is found in their more spendy desktop products. I use the Medical Dragon system myself on a PC desktop.

Second, the dictionary is very generic, as one would expect for a v1.0 product. Thus most of the vocabulary is suited for a short letter or text message or note. Again, I see a more personalized product with greater vocabulary coming.

I think that Nuance is being nice right now with the product being free, but the usual "free" then "price it" option may not work with this product if the pricing for the desktop issues are anything to compare. I for one would find it very difficult to go from free to say $99.00 or something worse.

On the plus side, the recognition is awesome. Somewhat better at times than my desktop product running with 2 gigs of ram. Additionally, the idea of using a server to do the translating is a stroke of genius. It is very fast. I am very surprised by this.

I believe that they will need to remove permanently two things if this is to succeed in the Apple World. One, I noticed that you don't have to register to keep anything on the server. This means that they are using your UUID or Unique Iphone identifier. Second the Address book issue needs to be put to rest permanently. They should just get rid of it! Most people can put in the names later. Besides, it does a poor job at Non-American names anyway. African, Indian and Asian names are a travesty. One could always add it later or use a Pseudonym and "change all occurrences of Pseudonym" in editing.

Perhaps more insidious is the attachment of the UUID to the Addressbook. Despite the rebuttal from Nuance that they do not identify you, they are effectively doing so with the UUID and Addressbook. Additionally, there are a few HIPAA issues that come into play. What if my address book has Patient data or names of people whom I need to call? That is private and should have an opt-out provision. Additionally, I can see that in future versions, the UUID will be what is used to personally identify whether I have used the server or not and to modify or personalize my Dragon settings file. These really should be optional for the user.

On the plus side, this is a great use of the technology and I wholeheartedly congratulate Nuance on getting something like this done. If you correct some of the short comings, which are really more social than technical issues, I think that you will have a number one product on your hands.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More on DropBox

...just a quick afterthought on Dropbox. I still believe that this is one of the solutions of the year for handheld devices. If you haven't had a chance to use this with your iPhone, you owe it to yourself to do so.

I am finding all sorts of uses for this product. From storing short clips to PDF files and other large data files, Dropbox seems to be fast, when hooked up wirelessly over lan and reasonable for downloading pdf files over 3G.

Picture storage is also excellent. What is nice is the ability to obtain these files from either a computer or my handheld device.

Highly recommend!

iphone 3.1

Lessons Learned

So I've waited upon upgrading to Snow Leopard. And now I have also waited before upgrading to OS 3.1 on the iPhone. Judging by the Apple Forum, waiting is the thing to do. First of all, updating to 3.1 apparently destroys your Enterprise Exchange settings that push email in the workplace. Additionally, there is a large question about battery life that has become prominent. Not to mention frequent crashes.

Boy, does this sound like memory leaks or what? mmmgh, Lifedrive 2.0? I think that the problem with the frequent crashes has to do with the now implememented push notification service. Apple has allowed some of the software developers to go out of the sandbox and get a little taste of the OS core. Something that has long separated Mac programming from either Windows or Palm/Handheld programming. Palm had the same issues with crashes with almost every update for the same reason. This worsened when they decided to use a disk drive in their Lifedrive device. NVFS (Nonvolatile file system) was a bust! It seems that Apple may be having the same problem with so many different programs -- 75,000 at last count, vying for attention, many of these programs may be trying to access memory slots that are actually empty. Additionally, with Push Notifications, you are introducing background task management, further causing issues with memory leaks.

The only thing that I would want OS 3.1 for right now is MMS. I have been dying to have MMS for the longest time, but I will not download OS 3.1 until they have all of the wrinkles ironed out. Additionally, I will stay with 3.01 until I can be certain that I will not lose my work email as well.

Word to the wise: Do not do an upgrade until you see 80% No-Negative comments on the Apple forum.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Some delays.....

So I have been loading up my iPhone, with 3 gigs to spare on a 16 gig 3G (not S).
Now things have become somewhat slower. Making phone calls at times has become lagged. Someone has stated that it could be the cache file that is getting too big. It turns out that every time that you enter something into Google or Search for something then this gets saved in a cache file. This is apparently how Predictive text works for you when you go to enter the first 3 letters of a word....Interesting.

So anyone know how to clear the cache entirely?


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Drop Box

I really have to admit, every week it seems there is some new application that is made, mainly for the Mac or iPhone that just amazes me. DropBox is one of them.

There has been a lot of talk about cloud computing lately. What is it? How good is it? And why do I need it? Well, once you've used DropBox you'll wonder why and how you ever lived without it.

First off, I receive no monetary, advertising or any advice from the company. Infact, they have no clue who I am. I have never written to them, never told them of this review or posting.

With the disclaimer done, let me talk a little bit about why I like this program. There is a special download from . Once installed, the program will automatically, if you choose, link with the Dropbox server when you turn your computer on. It will automatically update any changes made to the Dropbox folder on your computer with those of the server (in the ether, at Dropbox). This back and forth reconciliation goes on without you ever having to bother with it. Of course, since security is an issue, you can create the directory that will do this service. I chose a folder, not in my Admin Account. Dropbox reads and writes only to that folder. The program does ask for permission to bind to the OS, but I refuse this. That's just me!

You can have the Dropbox program start on Start up of the computer or whenever you please.

So why is this program so brilliant? Well, forget the whole set up thing on the computer for a moment. Although it is great, it may not be for you? Especially if you're very security conscious. There is a web enabled version of this program which does basically the same thing. That leads us to the special case -- the iPhone. The App for DropBox is a WebApp. Just type in the url and it will automatically load the iphone version of the web page. You cannot upload anything from the iPhone, but you can download documents of almost any type (something that beats the Google Office Suite).

More fascinating though is the way that this program handles videos. I will on another day, talk about a program called AirShare, which is a must have for anyone owning an iPhone. This program allows you to download files of almost any type and store it on your iphone and play most of them back. But the playback of video must correspond to Quicktime playability. The only downside to this is the sheer size of the videos, averaging 300-500k on a 16 or 8 gig iPhone/iPod Touch this can become daunting. Enter the DropBox solution: STREAMING.

Dropbox doesn't actually load your movies onto your phone, it streams them. The downside is that a 300 k quick time video or 300 k gp (phone quality video) takes about 2 minutes to start before playing on the 3G network. But once it starts playing (I presume some of the delay is buffering), it is quite good. Pausing has been an issue sometimes, but for the most part, the program streams very well. It has thwarted my need to get a SlingBox, although it does not stream live broadcasts, it is still quite nice.

The nice thing about DropBox is that you can view your files anywhere, enclosed in an AES-256 bit encrypted browsing solution. That is very secure. As long as you have a connection of some type, the program works well.

Lower bandwidths, including some 3G areas should probably not use DropBox for video since the streaming issue can be really quite horrible for video. To be honest, Yahoo's briefcase - which I understand is not available anymore and Google's Office are quite good and good enough for non-video items.

Additionally, DropBox has a recover feature that works similar to Time Machine. If you lose your document, it will refer you back to a version of the document that you made and deleted previously. Of course that brings into account how long does DropBox keep your information/files on its servers. But if you're not too paranoid, DropBox is a must have, especially if you have an iPhone.

For a more "on my machine only" solution I would recommend Airshare.


Upgrading to Snow Leopard

I have learned from the exploits of Windows and Palm that jumping on board with an update is paramount to pure folly. No, I will not jump to Snow Leopard just yet. There are a few issues that are still being worked out, ie 1Password not being fully compatible with the 64-bit portion of the system.

After listening to The MacGeek Podcast a few days ago, which was broadcast before Snowleopard was released, I can see a few issues coming forward. For one, the podcast points to the whole 64 bit controversy. It seems that Snow Leopard is actually booting into 32 bit mode with a 64 bit layer, namely certain programs (core programs) running on top. This, probably to protect the kernel, which is undoubtedly still 32 bit.

Sounds confusing? You bet! It it's not a simple solution then a lot of software is bound to be butchered. Therefore, I'm holding out for now. I'll see what happens in a few weeks when all of the dust settles.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Does your iTunes stop recognizing your iPhone after 3.0 update:

If, like me, you treacherously updated your iPhone to 3.0, in order to get the latest and greatest software or just to experience Copy and Paste in all its glory, then you spent the time going through the backup process, which seemed like an eternity and the reboot process.

The next morning you awoke and forgot to download that all important app or you found out it wasn't in your homepage. Or you just remembered that you had to recreate the scene from Office Space where you pretend to be a rapper, even though you're really a suit and tie guy/gal. You try to hook up with iTunes and suddenly your iPhone is no longer recognized.

What do you do? Well first of all, like a good geek, I went to the Apple forums, where you can get an answer to almost any question in regards to your software/hardware problems within minutes. It's sponsored by Apple, but mainly answered by die-hard fanatics and it is a diamond in the rough when it comes to information. Today, that failed me dismally. The information that I got did not work.

Then I called my closest Apple store. They suggested redownloading iTunes and/or reinstalling iPhone 3.0. The latter by the way paved the way to another question, which was answered badly: Can I downgrade to iPhone 2.2? NO! Was the answer, you can't. Now you know.

I didn't do any of the above. After 2 hours of tinkering, including turning on the computer, turning it off; turning on the iPhone, rebooting the iPhone, Soft reboot, Hard reboot, I finally tried something that I had learned in the Windows World 3 years ago, just before I did "an office space massacre" with my shoes (remember the scene with the copy machine?). That event led to my first iMac.

Anyway, without further procrastination, here is what I did and it worked flawlessly:

1. Turn off the iPhone and disconnect it from the USB connector.
2. Hard reset the iPhone.
3. Turn off the Computer.

6. Leave everything off for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
7. Plug the computer back in and restart.
8. Boot up iTunes (and iPhoto if you've got it set up that way).
9. Plug in the USB connector. iTunes should recognize the iPhone now.

Let me know if this works for you. It worked well for me and increased productivity too. I was able to get back to work (it was a day off) on important things and enjoy that fruity iPhone goodness.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Welcome to my new blog. The Iphonedoc is a blog about, well whatever I feel like writing about on the day. Most of it will be Mac related.

A little about me. I am a physician and I work a very long day. In my spare time however, I love to play music, write and enjoy some of the tech toys that I purchase every once in a while. Most of my "toys" are utilitarian, meaning they were purchased not so much for fun, but for work. Hence, my Mac has enhanced my life in so many ways that my original Windows XP machine could not. I never upgraded to Vista on account of not only negative publicity, but because a lot of my software would not run on it. It would however run flawlessly in Parallels on my Mac.

During this time, my faithful companion was my Lifedrive by Palm. I have been in the Palm fold for almost 9 years, but the day that I received the Lifedrive as a gift, I wanted to go somewhere else! The device was a nightmare! None of my software would run on it without crashing. Despite letters to the chairman - yes, I didn't stop with just customer service - nothing was ever done to correct the problem. Nevertheless, I learned how to use the Lifedrive and kept the crashing to a minimum. This included:

1. Never attaching the Lifedrive to the Computer for backups.
2. Learning how to back up individual files without hotsynching.
3. Hotsynching = Strychnine. After every hotsync, my Lifedrive was more unstable.
4. Limiting file transfers to the SD card. The actual 4 gigabytes of onboard memory were so volatile that anything interrupting it would cause a soft reset, lasting 4-7 minutes at a time, in which you held your breath and hoped that your data was still there.

There's a lot more, but you can peruse for those horror stories and solutions.

After alot of soul searching, beginning in 2006, I looked for alternatives to my Lifedrive. I was going to purchase the TX, but found that it had the same flawed operating system as the Lifedrive and the only thing that separated the two was that the reset time was only 1-2 minutes instead of 7. I then saw the iPhone. I fell in love with it immediately, but wondered how useful would it be if I can't put programs on the device. Thus I waited for the App store to come out. Then I thought, what a lot of hype. Lots of preliminary programs, but no true medical ones. Then Handbase came out and a few calculators and I began to see the light. Palm was dying! And it didn't matter what you looked at, the obvious choice among Physicians and others in the health care field was the iPhone. It would only be a matter of time before the other companies started falling like flies. In the medical profession Palm ruled, but that was going to erode and I could see it coming, whether Palm issued the greatest device known to all mankind or not. Windows CE or whatever it's called these days would not stop it either. Despite its long entry into the medical field, multitasking (done wrong) and supposed interoperability with Microsoft Office, I found it lacking.
Wifi setup was a pain. Exchange was was a pain (that coming from IT itself), rendering of spreadsheets and other data poor - a surprise given the fact that Microsoft created it. No, I would wait.

The change however came in October of last year when the 3G model came out. I bought a few medical apps, which were rudimentary and could not replace my Lifedrive, until Handbase and SplashIDcame out. Once those arrived, I knew that it was time for me to move on. It was one of the most difficult transitions ever. You see, I am not afraid to say the following: I LOVE PALM COMPUTERS. Literally, I actually turned around, after being 20 miles out, to go home and pick up my Palm VX once - in snow! But, the promises that came from Palm, from 2006 onwards were too much to bear. The constant delays, purchases, sales, purchases of the OS were just too much. With Palm announcing that they were ditching the PalmOS altogether and moving to WebOS, I knew that I had made the right choice. WebOS is really akin to Apples iPhone incursion into this field. It didn't work as well as it was first perceived. Delays in application runtime and the inherent design of Java (can you say long load times) make this not the best in show. Although I believe Palm will be working on internal applications, I cannot afford to wait any longer for software, updates etc.

As for Microsoft? The technology is old! Apple is leading the way now for the handheld market. More and more developers are turning to them. I am learning OSX myself to attempt to write a few rudimentary apps. The SDK is right there in the computer to learn. No downloading etc.

Yes, I am an iPhone guy now and I don't see myself turning back to Palm or any other handheld system any time soon. Having said that, I really do wish Mr. Rubinstein and Palm all the best and I really want them to succeed with the Palm Pre. Not only for all of the people who love Palm as I do, but competition will make the iPhone better.

So what of this blog? Well, I am going to write about a lot of Medical Apps that I have purchased. And just as in my previous blog about the Lifedrive, I will neither receive nor accept any software, kickbacks or anything of the sort. I will give my honest opinion (and I state that early, because there are a few negative ones coming up). Most of my commentary will be made in the hope that the programmer/developer/company improves the product. I am not an island unto myself, thus I am always open to criticism and suggestions. I will write about the iMac, not just the iPhone, although the latter will predominate. I will also write about a lot of software not germane to Medicine. You will be able to pick out things on the side that you're interested in. I do read my mail. So feel free to drop me a line.

/The iPhone Doc.