iPhone for writers

A quick round-up of some useful and free iPhone applications for writers:

Quickpedia – Wikipedia is the first stop for quick overview reference data on just about anything. Quickpedia gives a nice, easy to use iPhone interface to the popular site.

Wikihow – On the heels of quickpedia, this useful little application gives you a direct portal to thousands of how-to articles on a range of subjects. Makes for interesting reading and you never know when you might find some obscure little tip that a character could use.

BabyNames, Baby Namer – I found these two free apps last night while browsing the appstore. I’ve been putting off renaming my characters in my current WIP primarily because I didn’t want to go digging around for my baby name book, these two apps provide tens of thousands of names in an easily searchable format. They stand to be incredibly useful.

All we need now is for a browse-able phonebook for last names and we can do away with the most bulky necessary reference material for any book.

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Google tackles the eBook Market

Slashdot Technology Story | Google Set To Tackle eBook Market

As a long-term ebook reader myself, I have been both excited by Amazon’s entry into the market raising the profile and the usage of ebooks, and disappointed in Amazon’s heavy-handed tactics and DRM, a side of the retail giant that is quickly becomming “business as usual”.

So I for one welcome our google overlord’s entry into the ebook market.  By pushing a free standard and open access, hopefully we will see some decent kindle competition – because nothing breaks down unnecessary and greedy restrictions like open competition (come on Android come on!).

In a related note, the best ebook reader programs I have found so far are uBook (micro-book) for the pocket-pc, an excellent little program that worked very well on my old iPaq, and Bookshelf for the iPhone, which is the application I currently use and makes the most of your own file formats and the beautifully clear resolution of the iPhone screen.  Reading on the iPhone is convenient and a pleasure and I generally carry half a library in my pocket at all times.

iPhone Applications

Let’s start with something good about the iPhone. Applications.

Many of the apps in the iTunes app store are trite and stupid – but that’s true of most development platforms with a fairly low barrier of entry and not overly surprising. Some apps however are excellent and are themselves possibly the best ( or only ) reason to recommend the platform.

First, WordPress. I feel I must mention this app as I’m currently using it to write this post and it’s clean, easy to use, and makes use of the iPhone’s native keyboard and predictive text which is quite pleasant for long posts like this one.

iPhone’s text abilities are also very useful in the application ‘Frotz’. There is a small but committed interactive fiction community still alive on the Internet and long time readers will remember I’ve mentioned them on many occasions in the past. Frotz for the iPhone allows you to play any z code game on your phone and provides the ability to download games direct from the ifdb site. The only thing missing is a bonjour server for pc to load up z code files you already possess.

I mention that because it is exactly what BookShelf offers to get your ebooks onto your phone to read. BookShelf itself justifies my iPhone purchase as it is a fantastic ebook reader that shows off well the iPhone’s excellent screen resolution. It’s not perfect as it’s chunking is annoying and it crashes occasionally but on the whole it is worth the 12$ au price tag. This is so far the only non-free app that holds any interest for me.

So there’s a couple of great things about the iPhone, but it’s not all roses and teddy bears. The platform is reasonably unstable and crashes are not unusual, my last post illustrates the worst of that, and I am still irritated by the fact I’ll need to buy a licence if I wish to give iPhone development a try.

Still, things aren’t too bad on the application front. If you’re an iPhone user yourself, let me know which of your favorite apps I’ve missed.

Now let’s see if this app will post well.

iPhone 3g Appstore apps constantly crashing

http://www.appleiphoneschool.com/2008/08/10/appstore-apps-crashing-restore/

And now for something completely different…

It’s been a while since my last post and I thought i’d get away from C# and Java goodness for a while, and talk about something new.  The iPhone.  I just signed up for one a few days ago and have been playing around with it all weekend.

As many people will, i’m sure, I immediately hit the app center and grabbed a bunch of free apps, toys and even bought an app (Bookshelf, an excellent, though slightly buggy in a few points, eReader program).
Well, about twenty minutes ago I discovered that one of my apps, Easy Task Manager, would no longer open, instead it crashed straight back to the home screen.  It didn’t take long to discover that suddenly -all- of my app-store apps were now doing exactly this.  I searched for some sanity and found the link above.
There are an awful lot of possible solutions presented in the above link, from full restoring to jailbreaking and resetting components, to sending your iPhone back to apple.  One that you might miss whilst looking through the comments however is the one that fixed the problem for me.  Simply go into iTunes, choose “Authorize Computer” from the Store menu, and enter your iTunes password.  That will go through some sort of authorisation process, and after that run the sync command.  (Do all this with the iPhone attached).

Don’t ask me why that worked, it really does stretch the imagination – but then, so do a lot of things about Apple and the iPhone.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice little toy, but there are a lot of irritating little things about it.  Expect to hear more in the coming days, it’s a nice new little subject to rant on before I try to get back into our previously regular scheduled programming 🙂

Thanks for tuning in once more, come again and good coding.