Tom Insam

volume widgets

The iPhone / iPod music player volume widget behaves like this - you have to start your finger drag on the little round nubbin. You then drag it left or right. Dragging your finger up or down off the slider doesn’t adjust the volume, but doesn’t cancel the adjustment either, and I’ve found this to be a nice way of adjusting the volume a tiny amount - dragging diagonally increases the distance that you have to move your finger to effect the same change in volume, so it’s more precise.

If you put your finger anywhere else on the volume widget, nothing happens. If you drag your finger onto the nubbin from somewhere else you don’t start changing the volume.

The video player and YouTube volume widgets work the same way.

The iTunes Remote volume widget works like this - the volume will snap to wherever on the slider you put your finger down. Once you’ve done this, dragging the slider works as in the local music player. It looks identical to the slider in the music player app.

A slider control put into a blank view in Interface Builder works like the remote application - the slider position snaps to where you touch the slider. But it looks different from the volume control slider - the IB slider has a matte, concave look, wheras the volume control has a shiny nubbin.

The ‘Brightness’ control in the settings app is a slider that looks and behaves like the Interface Builder slider.

On the whole, I prefer the behaviour of the remote app, with the snap. And I prefer the appearance of the Brightness slider. But it’s odd that there are already three different slider widgets on the iPhone.

Update - I’ve resolved one of these issues. The calendar timezone / summer time problem is fixable by selecting (GMT+00:00 London) rather than (GMT+00:00 GMT) in the timezone list (you have to scroll down the full list of timezones rather than just looking in the short list at the top). Now I see everything in local time. Good. Will update here as I solve further problems.

On the down side, it’s been pointed out to me that the local machine doesn’t push changes into the cloud - it merely syncs every 15 minutes. Of all the bits of this that I’d expect to be smart enough to do push, the local machine seems like the strongest link. Of course, I’m sure it’s a temporary thing. And it does explain some weirdness - I was expecting my setup to behave like the thing that was demoed at the keynote, so when it didn’t I assumed something was broken. But if this is ‘correct’ behaviour, then I’m less worried.

I’m trying mobileme. I’m aware that it’s just launched and will be wobbly. But even knowing this, it’s really annoying me.

The mobileme calendar app doesn’t respect any of the local calendar settings. It’s not even smart enough to pull the initial timezone from my account settings, so I had to tell it I didn’t live in Cupertino.

It also doesn’t understand summertime. I’ve told it that my time zone is GMT, which is true. But it’s summer over here, so localtime is +01:00. So all my calendar items are an hour out. I don’t want to tell that I live in Europe just to have the times be right.

Setting up sync was a serious pain - nothing worked right. My address book didn’t make it from the computer to mobileme, though my calendars did. Neither of them made it all the way to the iPhone, which had helpfully deleted all my data in the expectation of getting more over the air (which is fair enough, I guess). Turning sync options on and off on the phone seemed to solve the calendar problem, but I had to do a full reset of SyncServices on the computer to get the Address Book to sync up. Which, naturally, duplicated contacts and calendar entries all over the place, like it always does.

Bookmarks sync worked perfectly. If I used Safari, I’d care.

Push isn’t working very well, but I’m willing to write that up to being loaded. Seems to take a few minutes to sync anything, which is a far cry from what the keynote visit promised me, but I can’t imagine that I’ll ever really care.

Back To My Mac looks promising. Except that I can’t turn it on on the mac that lives under my TV. It complains that my router doesn’t support UPNP. Which would be a reasonable complaint, except that (a) it does, and (b) I can turn this thing on on the laptop, and it works fine. And the laptop is on the same network, behind the same router.

You can’t seem to choose which calendars to sync to the iPhone. I have some local testing calendars that I leave turned off most of the time, but that are full of data. They clutter up the iPhone display and I can’t turn them off.

The biggest killer, though, is that mobileme doesn’t seem to support calendar subscriptions. I can’t add a subscribed calendar via the web interface. My local subscribed calendars don’t sync up to mobileme, and so don’t sync down to the iPhone. And most of my calendar items live in remove calendars, pulled from Dopplr, Upcoming, MighTyV, etc. So without this, I just can’t use it, and I’ve gone back to using iTunes. Pity.


Have you noticed how elegant yet obvious Skitch screenshots have become? For instance. I see them everywhere, and you can always tell it came from Skitch. Used to be that I’d have to open a blank web browser or something to serve as a backdrop for screenshots. Now I just need to make sure my wallpaper is suffficiently classy. Which is fine, I haven’t seen my desktop wallpaper in months, I always have windows open.

Skitch still needs a ‘blur’ tool for anonymizing stuff, though..

Polite Interfaces

Polite Interfaces.

The ‘your trial has expired’ dialog for Spanning Sync (which syncs your iCal and Google Calendar calendars, very nice) offers to uninstall the application as an alternative to paying for it. How wonderfully polite.

I like the improvements made to the 2.0 iPhone calendar app. Mostly that the calendars are now copied across as individual calendars with their own colours. But Shawn Blank says that they come across with the same colours as their desktop counterparts, and I’m not finding that to be the case - all my phone calendars are different colours. It’s really really confusing to have utterly different event colours on the phone.

Which is pathetic. Already, I’m now finding things that are utterly trivial to be annoying. On any other platform, I’d be astonished that the calendar application worked, let alone that it can keep track of 15 different calendars, sync them perfectly in 2 directions, etc (ok, so maybe I use too many linux handhelds). On the iPhone, I get annoyed that things are a different colour.

Update: From playing with over-the-air sync and mobileme, colours seem to be synched properly if you’re using mobileme but not if you’re using iTunes to do the sync. Weird.

Next/previous controls.

Only the web browser has these buttons, not ‘real’ apps. Jumping between form fields is sometimes tricky. I miss them.

A herejustnow iPhone app. I’m having to learn Objective-C to do this, which I can just about put up with. CoreLocation turns out to be quite easy to use, too. Now all I need is the ability to install the thing on a Real iPhone.