Category Archives: iOS

iPad, iPod, iPhone…

Podcast Update

It’s been so long! First how I’m listening, then what.

The built in iOS podcast app is junk. I currently use Pocket Casts from Shifty Jelly. Before that I used Overcast. I’d recommend either one, though Overcast is currently free (wasn’t when I got it), and Pocket Casts is like $4. They both have a feature that skips past silence (lulls in speech) without you even noticing. This feature alone has saved me over 2 days of listening time. That’s crazy.

And now for what I’m listening to, in the order they appear in my app – which is to say in no particular order.

  • Security Now – Computer Security. Nerd!
  • StarTalk Radio – Splitting off into different shows… I only listen when NdT is on now. It’s an interesting format but the rotating comedian guest hosts are often guilty of celebration of ignorance, and that gets really old.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show – Long format, check the guest. Pretty informative generally.
  • Adam Ruins Everything – The podcast version of the TV show. Goes deeper.
  • The Journal by Kevin Rose – Founder interviews. Very Good.
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – Redefines long-form. Seriously. Very educational.
  • The Tobolowsky Files – Ned Ryerson! Show is back from a long hiatus.
  • Planet Money – Economics. More interesting than you might think. If this doesn’t matter to you, it should.
  • the memory palace – Storytelling. No, I mean that in a good way.
  • Radio Diaries – “Extraordinary stories of ordinary life”. So more storytelling.
  • Love + Radio – This completes the storytelling trio. These 3 are hard to explain. Just listen.
  • Science Vs – Tackling the hard topics is hard.
  • No Agenda – Straddling the alternate universes. In the morning.
  • Freakonomics Radio – “The Hidden side of everything”
  • Geologic Podcast – Rantings of a musician and skeptic named George.
  • The Alton Browncast – Pops up on occasion, I guess when Alton is bored.
  • Waking Up with Sam Harris – Sam chats with a guest for a long time. Very guest-dependent.
  • DH Unplugged – Investing.
  • 99% Invisible – The way things are designed matters.
  • Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin – Alec goes deep with the assistant sound designer of your favorite play.
  • Triangulation – Tech interviews.
  • How I Built This – Founder interviews.
  • This American Life – Quintessential podcast.
  • Penn’s Sunday School – Now on Wednesdays, too!
  • Radiolab – See This American Life
  • Surprisingly Awesome – surprisingly interesting.
  • The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe – Mike Rowe does a Paul Harvey kinda thing. Short and interesting. Binge.
  • Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwell.
  • Embedded – Tough stories to hear, but they should be heard.
  • Dirty White Belt Radio – Broadcasting from the center of the known universe.
  • The Sporkful – It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters.
  • 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy – Short, educational. Binge.
  • Slate’s The Gist – I don’t watch the Daily Show any more, I listen to this.
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz – It’s about sound. Binge listen.
  • Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly – Just started listening, we’ll see.
  • S-Town – New show, just out today. First episode was interesting.

These last two are long shows that come out too frequently to listen to every episode. I subscribe to but don’t auto download so I can see the guest name. If I’m interested I dl. I might hear one show a month from each.

  • The Adam Carolla Show
  • The Joe Rogan Experience

 

Not a Hater

I’m often accused of being an Apple hater, which I find odd. I’ve owned a Mac, and although I don’t currently own one I do covet the 15″ MacBook Pro. I use my iPad 2 every day and I love it. Of course I have some issues with iOS, but there are problems with every OS. But I think the most notable argument against me being an Apple hater is my ipod usage. I was just roughing out some numbers and I estimate that between the 3 iPods I’ve owned I have clocked over 10,000 hours of listening.

Dan Bricklin / Note Taker HD

Dan Bricklin of Visicalc fame was on Triangluation this week. I was pretty excited to see he was coming on, especially given how interesting the Bob Frankston episode was. I ended up being very disappointed with his unwillingness to discuss computer history, despite the format of the show and his extremely important role in it. All he wanted to talk about was his new iPad app, Note Taker HD.

I guess it makes sense. Note Taker HD pays his bills. His role in personal computing history may be a bit of a sore subject. His genius paved the path to the personal computing revolution (creating dozens and dozens of billionaires) and it kind of left him behind in the same way it left Woz back.

But Bricklin is still a brilliant programmer, and the iPad ecosystem is lucky to have him. I bought Note Taker HD ($4.99) after the interview and I’ve been playing with it ever since. It’s a great note taking app, and easily the most feature-packed I’ve seen. The UI is great. If all you want to do is scribble on the screen it stays out of the way and let’s you go. If you want to incorporate images, graphs, and shapes that’s all there, too. The only additional thing I wish it could do is OCR.

Wired on iPad

Wired made the May issue of the magazine free on the iPad app so I thought I’d give it a try. I downloaded the app, then the 300+ meg issue and headed for the back deck for some reading.

I popped on my Oakleys, sat in the rocking chair, and hit the power button. Nothing. I hit the power button again. Nothing. Weird. Tried the Home button. Nothing.

And that was the first thing I learned from the iPad edition of Wired – you can’t see a damned thing on the iPad screen with polarized lenses. Off the the shaded front porch to continue this experiment.

The issue opened with short video which I suppose was meant to be funny, then dropped me off at the cover. Okay, that was really annoying. I swiped past the cover and landed on an interactive Lexus ad. This was neat for a few seconds, but then I was ready to move on. I couldn’t swipe off the page because swiping had been hijacked by a feature of the interactive ad. That’s when I discovered the pop-up slider on the bottom of the screen which will take you directly to any page.

Next another ad, followed by the Table of Contents. This is where I started to learn how the flow would work. You get a page with content (an article) and you see a certain amount on the screen at one time. If there’s more to it there will generally be some design element of the page to indicate it’s continued by scrolling down. Swiping to the right won’t take you to the next page of the article, it will take you to the next article. Occasionally it’s a little hard to tell if you should keep scrolling down or if you have reached the bottom. Once I realized how this worked I was pretty happy because it meant I finally wouldn’t have to deal with my single biggest problem with magazines – “This article is continued on page 215”.

Then another interactive ad for Qwest. This one was pretty good. You could spend way more time on that ad than anyone could possibly want to spend. If you navigate away from this ad and come back it sends you all the way back to the beginning. Shame.

It was pretty front-loaded with ads (as magazines tend to be) including another interactive ad for Dasani that took me a few minutes to realize was an ad. I thought I was learning something. Then I saw the tiny text at the top that said “ADVERTISEMENT” and I felt dirty.

“Why TV Ads Drive You Mad” was the first article with interactive elements. It had two audio clips with a visualization so you could compare them. From there many of the articles had some interactive piece, ranging from simple animations of common submissions in MMA to a video of vasectomy. I wish there was a feature that allowed me to unwatch that one.

The app crashed on me 3 times. Twice on relaunch it took me back to where I was. One it took me about 5 pages back. Occasionally I found it difficult or impossible to swipe to the next page, even on pages without any interactive bits. I realize now that if you put your finger on the page and pause for just a second before swiping it almost always works (except in the Lexus ad). There were a couple of other times where a video just started playing randomly, and once it scared the crap out of me. These little videos really contributed nothing at all to the magazine.

One thing I should note is that I almost never read Wired cover-to-cover in one sitting, but I did this time, and maybe in record time. I guess it was just that engaging.

When I first started hearing about magazines coming to the Kindle I remember saying to a friend that I would buy Kindle editions of magazines, but not Wired. I’ve always enjoyed the whole Wired experience (even the ads) and I didn’t want to miss out on that. Since then I’ve only subscribed to one magazine on Kindle – 2600 – and it’s one I really only get for the text. Nobody gets 2600 for the design elements. So I was happily surprised to see that on the iPad and with this app Wired may be even better than it is in print.

But no, I won’t be reading next month’s issue on the iPad. Not because of any problem with the app or the experience, it’s a simple financial decision. I already have a subscription to Wired and I pay $1/issue. If I want to switch to the iPad edition I’ll have to pay $3.99 a month in addition to my print subscription. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I’ll reevaluate when my print subscription runs out, but I can’t see paying 4X more for the same magazine.