All posts filed under “Geeking out

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Racing across the US and Canada


Back at University I spent virtually all my time working on and leading the University of Michigan Solar Car Team. It was a fascinating experience, and I raced our cars across the US in Sunrayce 97 and Sunrayce 99, as well as across Australia in the World Solar Challenge 99. I wrote a bit about this before here.

My old team is currently racing in the North American Solar Challenge, from Austin, Texas to Calgary, Canada. That’s 2400 miles! Wired has a half-decent article here on the race, with a GREAT photo of the University of Michigan car (in the wind tunnel).

Good luck to the team! (A few days late.) So far, they’re already in Canada and leading. Of the eight races in the US that have been run since 1990, the team has won four of them so a win here would put them in the majority. GO BLUE!

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First day+ with the iPhone

So I’ve had my new iPhone for about a day now. Upgrading to this from a Motorola RAZR is like skipping two generations of evolution… wow. The display alone is so crisp, sharp and readable that it makes it a treat to use.3Giphone.jpg

The problems I’ve had so far definitely relate to battery life. Partly because it was my first day I’ve been using it a lot and the battery got low really quickly. But part of it was being in a mix of 2G, 3G and WiFi connections. At home I’ve got a solid 2G and WiFi connection (at least when the wireless router isn’t playing up), at work I’ve got a solid 3G and average WiFi connection. Walking around London I’ve got a great 3G connection and no WiFi, and on the Tube there’s crap for anything.

What I really NEED RIGHT NOW is someone to write an application that will allow me to quickly switch between power use settings. As I leave in the morning I’ll use 3G to download NYTimes stories, switch everything off to get on the Tube, and switch certain bits on at the office. If this could be combined with push e-mail settings (which are great when I’m not in the office, but are unnecessary in the office) it would be IDEAL.

Luckily, because of the Application Store, this is quite likely to be developed in the near term! Anyone volunteering?

Overall, it’s a fantastic phone. I really look forward to getting more adept to it in the coming days/weeks.

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Obligatory 3G iPhone post

So, like every other blogger out in the world today, I must post about my experiences with the 3G iPhone.

Specifically: FAIL.

I wasn’t one of those total nutters that queued up hours/days beforehand. I just stopped by the Apple Store after work. (As I’m a new O2 customer here in the UK I could get my phone from an Apple store; if you’re upgrading you have to go to an O2 store.)

As the bus went by I thought it looked a little disorganized inside. I was looking for the queue to buy a phone, and it really wasn’t obvious what the hell was going on. Then I saw that the stairs to the 1st floor (2nd floor to Americans) was blocked off and a ton of employees were standing there. I asked them what I needed to do and was told that essentially the system hadn’t worked all day. Another security guy said that some of the first people in line didn’t leave with a working phone until lunch-time!

The Apple Store employees blamed it on O2’s systems, though I’ve also heard that iTunes was having problems with all the new registrations. I honestly don’t care, but was pretty irritated. Combine this to the problems I’ve been having as a .Mac (and now MobileMe) customer and I’m none too happy with Apple.

In the last couple of days there were simply too many points of failure trying to do EVERYTHING at the same time. (Update iTunes, update .Mac/MobileMe, register massive numbers of new iPhones with a bunch of un-prepared phone carriers, etc.) In the past Apple’s had their shit together… not so much in the past 24 hours.

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iPhone 3G … I Want

While I’ve lusted a bit over the original iPhone, I wasn’t really interested. 2.5G speeds just aren’t that good compared to 3G. How would I know? Well, I’ve had a 3G network dongle for my laptop for the past year + and it is a dramatic difference when I have a 3G signal. London is flooded with 3G, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of it.

The real killer app for me is the MobileMe service. I’ve used .Mac since before Apple started charging for it. It’s been a bit of a rip-off lately, but so many accounts are set up with that address I would have a serious pain in the ass to change it. But now that there is e-mail, calendar and addressbook Sync through the MobileMe “cloud” I am absolutely hooked! (And it’s finally getting to be worth the cost.)

I’ll have to spend some time experimenting with how it can or might integrate with Plaxo. Plaxo to me is great for doing all that syncing, but not that many people in my addressbook use it, so the automatic update of my addressbook when they change their information isn’t that useful. It looks like I’ll need to do some experimentation as to how to hook Plaxo up with the MobileMe addressbook so that I can try to capture those changes.

So as of July 11th Apple is releasing the iPhone 3G world-wide, and I certainly plan on being in line to get one. (Maybe not the first day, but probably within the first weekend!) I’ve had my Motorola RAZR for over two and a half years now… it’s time for new technology.