Remember the Milk vs Todoist

The first time I tried Remember the Milk, I didn't get it. I was transitioning from a simple Outlook style to do list: a single list of tasks, a high-medium-low priority and a due date for each task. The Remember the Milk UI was too complex, and it wasn't obvious to this dolt how to do something as simple as setting a task's due date. I might not have had JavaScript enabled in my web browser, which certainly didn't help. Frustrated, I settled on the simpler Todist.

I like Todoist's simplicity. I organize my to do list in multiple categories, and each item has a due date. I don't bother with task priorities. I use indenting to group sub-items together.

Todoist's biggest problem is its mobile presentation. This is a Big Deal to me. Moving from Pocket PC to iPhone, I needed a mobile to do list. Todoist works on iPhone's web browser, but it is subpar. The task names are too small to read unless you zoom in, but when you zoom in, you have to do too much horizontal scrolling.

Remember the Milk announced a new native iPhone app, so I tried it again. This time I got it, and I like it, even without the native iPhone app. Oh, that makes sense now: each task has an info square on the right, and that's where you set the due date. You can annotate your tasks with notes, URLs, and other task information, an improvement over Todoist. It has Google Gears support so my to do list is available when my PC is disconnected. The mobile web adaptation is crude, but way better than Todoist: it is completely usable on both the web and on the mobile web.

I moved my to do list from Todoist to Remember the Milk, and so far I'm happy with it.


Take a cheap PC

Need a cheap PC? I have a few to spare:

If you want one, let me know. I will not ship these, so you'll probably live near Boston and make a pickup yourself.

(Thanks to the Blog Doctor for the tip on how to insert a Google Spreadsheet into a blog entry.)


Early stage mobile companies

Last night's MoMoBoston event was an introduction to ten early stage mobile companies. Here are some of the highlights.

David Reich presented AssuredLabor.com. AssuredLabor has a great idea: I need something done around my house, and you want the job. AssuredLabor introduces us via text message, and we're all happy.

Brad Rosen presented Drync. Drync is a mobile wine cellar and tasting diary. You can search for wines by name or photo, research wines, record your tasting notes, and buy wine, all while sitting at your table in a restaurant.

Keith Irskine presented Padpaw. Padpaw makes mobile group messaging easy.

Ponger presented their mobile price comparison shopping companion. One of the interesting technology pieces is image recognition: snap a photo of the product, and they will tell you all about the product. This is a great improvement on the usual UI experience, where you have to type the product's UPC or ISBN.

Jason Jacobs presented RunKeeper. RunKeeper is an iPhone app tracks your running and cycling training, including location tracking for your training routes. It's great to see Jason succeed.

Dan Grover presented Wonder Warp's Shovebox. Dave seems like a great guy with well built tools that solve the simple problems that need solving.

Guiseppe Taibi of SmartWorlds didn't present, but he and I caught up and chatted about some of his exciting new iPhone app's.


Find your lost iPhone

If you want to find your iPhone if it is lost or stolen, then iLocalis is for you. The iLocalis app runs in the background and periodically transmits your phone's location to the iLocalis server. If you lose your phone, you can find its location on a map, send a message to the person holding your phone, or make the phone call you so you can listen in on whomever has it.

Watch this video to learn how to install and register iLocalis. After installing it, change the Location services update rate setting to Every 60 minutes to decrease the drain on your battery. If you lose your phone, log in to the iLocalis web site and click Your iPhone. iLocalis shows you a map of your phone's current location, as well as links to its recent past locations.

Privacy concerns aside, it's fun to use the phone as a tracking device and trace your path throughought the day, and it's valuable to be able to locate your phone if you lose it.

This is an excellent tool. Don't forget to donate to Antonio to keep your iLocalis running after the initial free trial.


PDF Split and Merge

Typing a long Java command line to merge PDFs together is a drag. PDF Split and Merge is a cross-platform tool that makes it easy to do the same thing. Here is a screen shot of PDF Split and Merge in action:


iPhone App Store app's don't work

The problem: All of the App Store app's on iPhone stopped working. You tap any App Store app's icon on the home screen, the app's splash screen appears, and a few seconds later the home screen reappears. Bah! Life without iBowl! You are ruined!

Half a fix: Install, update, or remove any App Store app. The App Store asks you to log in again. After you type your password and the App Store manager takes care of its business, everything is back to normal.

The cause: If you haven't associated your PC's iTunes installation with your iTunes account, then whenever you sync your iPhone with iTunes, your iTunes deauthorizes your App Store app's. This can happen if you have never made the association, and it also seems to happen if you reinstall or upgrade iTunes on your PC.

The fix: Run iTunes on your PC. Click Store / Authorize Computer. Sync your iPhone with iTunes, and everything is good again.

Thanks to Ken Loh for the clue.


iPhone top

Know what's running on your iPhone by installing top and watching processes consume CPU and memory. To install top, run Cydia. Search for the top package, select it, and install it. To run top, run MobileTerminal or ssh into your iPhone and type top at the shell prompt:
richard@richard ~
$ ssh mobile@
mobile@'s password:
jealkb:~ mobile$ top
You'll see output like this:
Processes: 27 total, 1 running, 26 sleeping... 97 threads 09:53:41
Load Avg: 0.37, 0.40, 0.33 CPU usage: 5.45% user, 3.64% sys, 90.91% idle
SharedLibs: num = 0, resident = 0 code, 0 data, 0 linkedit.
MemRegions: num = 3304, resident = 42M + 0 private, 21M shared.
PhysMem: 24M wired, 13M active, 5196K inactive, 42M used, 12M free.
VM: 710M + 0 39425(0) pageins, 49(0) pageouts

291 top 9.9% 0:00.72 1 17 52 436K 856K 1208K 12M
288 bash 0.0% 0:00.17 1 13 55 412K 1632K 1600K 13M
287 sshd 0.0% 0:01.06 1 14 37 376K 1664K 1456K 13M
243 bash 0.0% 0:00.19 1 13 55 380K 1632K 712K 13M
234 sshd 0.0% 0:00.80 1 14 37 376K 1664K 416K 13M
210 bash 0.0% 0:00.18 1 13 56 352K 1632K 696K 13M
209 bash 0.0% 0:00.19 1 13 56 352K 1632K 696K 13M
208 bash 0.0% 0:00.19 1 13 56 352K 1632K 696K 13M
207 bash 0.0% 0:00.28 1 13 56 372K 1632K 700K 13M
206 Terminal 0.0% 0:08.91 7 166 267 6340K 8244K 8212K 69M
179 MobilePhon 0.0% 0:16.94 2 99 249 6420K 6824K 7272K 66M
72 MobileMusi 0.0% 0:21.79 6 111 265 5948K 6768K 6152K 69M
64 SCHelper 0.0% 0:02.48 3 41 76 592K 1336K 672K 14M
30 BTServer 0.0% 0:02.31 2 81 95 964K 1644K 1056K 27M
29 CommCenter 0.0% 0:23.48 9 105 122 1304K 1508K 2612K 20M
26 SpringBoar 0.0% 6:29.04 15 306 715 9188K 8336K 12M 85M
25 fairplayd 0.0% 0:00.96 1 31 66 560K 1336K 576K 15M
24 iapd 0.0% 0:10.16 7 109 163 1432K 3312K 1500K 29M
22 mediaserve 0.0% 12:48.68 11 208 243 2104K 1820K 2600K 40M
21 lockdownd 0.0% 0:07.93 3 64 100 1012K 1652K 1116K 26M
20 update 0.0% 0:04.52 1 13 42 220K 624K 240K 11M
18 iLocalisd 0.0% 0:19.39 5 85 154 1596K 6572K 1744K 60M
15 configd 0.0% 1:22.70 5 160 125 1004K 1548K 1272K 16M
14 syslogd 0.0% 0:13.23 4 37 35 212K 248K 320K 13M
13 notifyd 0.0% 0:06.78 2 315 27 240K 248K 276K 12M
12 mDNSRespon 0.0% 0:08.84 2 46 65 584K 1324K 812K 14M
1 launchd 0.0% 0:09.40 3 80 35 276K 248K 392K 12M
For more information, type top -- at the shell prompt, or type ? within top.


Upgrade unlocked iPhone to 2.1

So, you want to upgrade your unlocked iPhone firmware from 1.1.4 to 2.1, but you're afraid you won't be able to use it on T-Mobile afterward? You've been putting it off because you didn't want to lose your contacts, calendar, and important settings? You feel left out because Cydia tells you your firmware is too old, and you can't install app's from the App Store? Me too, until this weekend. Here's how I upgraded.

Take inventory
First, take inventory of the app's you have installed through Cydia. There are at least three good ways to do this. The first way is to ssh into your iPhone and run dpkg:
kasper@fred ~
$ ssh root@ dpkg -l > iphone-dpkg-l.txt
root@'s password:
kasper@fred ~$ head iphone-dpkg-l.txt
| Status=Not/Installed/Config-files/Unpacked/Failed-config/Half-installed
|/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name Version Description
ii adv-cmds 118-7 finger, fingerd, last, lsvfs, md, ps
ii apt advanced packaging tool from Debian
ii base 1-9 underlying system directory structure
ii bash 3.2-14 the best shell ever, written by Brian Fox
ii be.kam.mybattery 1.1 Detailed info on the iPhone Battery and Blue
kasper@fred ~$
Another way is to take inventory is make a list of app icons on the SpringBoard. Here's my list:
A third way is to run Cydia and Installer and make a list of the app's that they say they are managing.

Next, I made a backup of my contacts. It's easy to configure iTunes to sync contacts with Google Contacts. In iTunes, on your device's Info tab, in the Contacts section, check Sync contacts with and select Google Contacts. A window appears, asking you to agree to Apple's terms. Then iTunes asks for your GMail username and password. Type your full GMail email address, and click through. Your iPhone begins syncing. One or two more windows appears, asking whether you're sure you want to do this; tell iTunes it's OK. Wait a few minutes. When it's done syncing, check your Google Contacts. My Google Contacts contained all my iPhone contacts, including many duplicates. This might be an iPhone/iTunes/Google Contacts sync bug, or it might be an artifact from my initial sync from GooSync through Funambol. Delete duplicates in Google Calendar, and you're all set.

Backing up your notes is easier: send each one to yourself via email.

Upgrade firmware
In iTunes, on your device's Summary tab, in the Version section, click Update. I previously let iTunes download firmware 2.1, but I didn't install it. iTunes attempts to make its own backup of your contacts, calendar, and so on, but then complains that it can't--this is a consequence of your having previously jailbreaked the iPhone. Wait a few minutes while iTunes installs firmware 2.1. iTunes reports that it's done, and the phone reboots. iTunes notices the iPhone and reports that an incompatible SIM is installed.

Jailbreak and unlock
Download QuickPwn 2.1-1 and the two bootloader files from iPhone Hacks. Install and run QuickPwn. If QuickPwn complains that it doesn't notice a connected iPhone, press the phone's Home button to wake it up. The iTunes window disappears. In QuickPwn, on the Browse for firmware screen, find your firmware and click the arrow to continue. On the Select settings screen, select everything and click the arrow to continue. On the Bootloaders required screen, fill in the blanks and click the arrow to continue. On the Preparing to Pwn screen, make sure your iPhone is connected by USB and click the arrow to continue.

On the Ready to Pwn screen, pay attention! Follow QuickPwn's instructions carefully. On my first pass through the instructions, I was careless, and QuickPwn made me try again. On my second try, I didn't get the timing quite right, but it worked anyway. The Downloading Jailbreak Data... screen appears on your iPhone, and the phone eventually reboots with Pwnapple logo. Follow the final bootloader instructions on iPhone screen--basically, don't touch the iPhone until it's done. The phone eventually reboots again with Pwnapple logo. The mobile carrier's name on my phone is T-Mobile. Looks like it worked.

Clean, configure, restore
One annoyance of running the iPhone on T-Mobile is that every time you boot the phone, the voicemail red dot indicator is on. Call your voicemail box, and the the red dot disappears.

Next, enable your data connections. Connect to your WiFi network the usual way, by selecting your access point's name and entering the password. Connect to T-Mobile's EDGE network by specifying wap.voicestream.com as your APN, and leave Username and Password empty.

Run iTunes. Tell iTunes that it's a new iPhone. Tell iTunes to sinc your contacts with Google Contacts again, to sync your calendars with none, and to sync your bookmarks with Safari. Agree to use Google Contacts again, and sync begins. When it's done, notice that all your contacts have been reinstalled on your phone. Also notice that none of your old Safari bookmarks are there. That's annoying, but you'll live.

Back in iTunes, change whatever other sync settings you want, like music, photos, and podcasts. Wait while it syncs, and be happy with the result.

Run Cydia. Cydia asks me what kind of person you are; I say Hacker. Tell Cydia it's OK to upgrade essentials. Cydia upgrades and restarts itself. Then Cydia tells you there's something else to upgrade; let him do it. On the Cydia home page, tap User Guides, read the OpenSSH Access How-To, scroll down, and follow the instructions to change your passwords for the root and mobile users.

Restore ringtones the usual way.

Install new app's from Cydia, Installer, and App Store. Here are some of my current favorites:

From Cydia:
From the App Store:
  • MLB.com
  • Translator
  • FS5 Hockey
  • Shazam
  • Spore LE
I'll miss my old free favorites, Tap Tap Revenge and Fring, which used to be free through Cydia and Installer, but now cost money through the App Store.


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