It’s Apple Tuesday

Yet another distraction – today is one of those Tuesday’s when Apple makes some major product announcement. The word on the street is new iMacs and new iLife and iWork software. I’m looking forward to all three, but particularly the software. iMovie needs to be updated to support the new AVCHD HD camcorder format and iWork could emerge into a legitimate Microsoft Office alternative. Office, which is still lagging behind with its 2004 Mac version, has not been optimized for the Intel processors that Macs now use. It’s showing its age and its replacement, Office 2008, is not due out until, well, 2008. I’d just as soon avoid it completely if Apple can offer a viable alternative. Apple’s Keynote is already superior to PowerPoint, but the word processor Pages has a ways to go. We’ll see if it catches up later today.

MrPostman – Outlook e-mail for the iPhone

I’ve had the iPhone since it’s release, and I have been extremely satisfied. One of the barriers to use for many people is their work’s corporate email system. Many places use Microsoft’s Exchange server, which interfaces with Outlook. The iPhone can support these servers if they have the IMAP feature turned on, but many companies lock their email behind a firewall, only allowing a few select ways to get access to your email from outside the companies. One of these ways is typically to use Blackberry’s service, which the iPhone doesn’t support. Another is to use Outlook Web Access, which does work on the iPhone, but the experience is suboptimal and not integrated with the standard e-mail software.

Recently, someone at work discovered a Java based program called MrPostman. This program runs on any computer connected to the internet (including your home computer). It serves as a bridge to link Outlook Web Access (as well as many other web-based email systems) to POP, an standard email access protocol. You configure your iPhone to connect to your home computer, and MrPostman takes care of getting your corporate mail via Outlook Web Access. It’s not perfect: the scripts and settings may require a bit of fine-tuning to work with your company’s email. It’s not IMAP, so it doesn’t really sync with your Outlook account (if you delete messages in Outlook after they have been downloaded to your iPhone, they won’t automatically get deleted from your iPhone), but it works fairly well.

Another option is Synchronica,  a paid service that basically does the same thing, but uses IMAP (to keep your iPhone and Outlook account in sync) and does the job of hosting the mail server so you don’t have to run anything on your home computer. No word yet on pricing, but there’s a free trial. I tried it out, but Synchronica is getting hammered by users and doesn’t really seem ready for the load. It was too slow to be usable. That said, it may be worth a second look in a few weeks.

I’m getting too old for this

So the iPhone will go on sale one week from today at 6 PM. And I won’t be getting one.

Oh, I’m getting an iPhone, but not at 6 PM on Friday. From what I’m seeing around the net, it’s going to be a madhouse at Apple/AT&T stores. And I’m just too old to be standing in lines for hours on end. I’ve got three mouths to feed.

Unless I can find a way to feed them while waiting in line. Hmm…

Hardly working

When you work in a computer lab, an event like Apple’s WWDC can cause a serious impact on productivity. Here’s a chat from Monday.

Me: So, are you watching the WWDC?

Coworker: Um…nope. I’m…er….working…

Me: Yeah, same here. So which website are you not watching it on?

Coworker: I’m not watching it on macosrumorslive.com. I’m also not watching it on Engadget.

Me: Ditto. I don’t have them loaded into tabs that I’m switching back and forth between.

Coworker: Good, same with me.

Pathetic, no?

It’s June, and that means…

The iPhone is coming! I just watched the Apple keynote from January again. This phone is going to be amazing. As someone who rarely has the same phone for more than 6 months, my Treo 700p and Samsung SGH-D900 are starting to look dated. What’s so great about the iPhone? I try to fill all the empty moments of my day (walking down the street, waiting in line, etc.) with some sort of entertainment or education. The iPod is great for this, but it’s a pain to carry an additional device. The iPhone has the potential to replace my iPod, Treo, and regular cell phone in a slim, sleek, touch-screen powered phone. This is going to be nice. The only questions still lingering: a) is Cingular the new AT&T going to gouge me on service b) is this thing going to be sold out everywhere? Time will tell. The end of June is fast approaching.

Yet another website

As if I didn’t have enough side projects to maintain, I have decided to enter the world of medical calculator websites.

Many medical calculations are tiresome to perform by hand, and thus prone to errors. In the past, I have used Palm-based medical calculators, but it can be cumbersome to enter values into a handheld device. Web-based calculators have the promise to be more convenient, but most web-based calculator sites I’ve come aross have been poorly designed and slow to use. Nearly all require use of a “calculate” or “submit” button, which seems redundant given the power of modern computers, most of which can perform these calculations instantaneously.

In that setting, I set out to create a new site (largely for myself at first) that would allow for instantaneous calculations and keyboard navigation. This required the use of dynamic HTML which sacrifices some compatibility (ironically with the Palm OS web browser), but I think ultimately it is worth the sacrifice.

The new site is now up at http://www.calculomatic.com. Right now, I only have a few renal calclulators available, but I hope to expand this with time.