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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sync Dystopia for Mac Users: Lotus Notes + CardScan + iPhone

A while ago, I moved from windows to mac, as I documented here. In general, when I wrote that article, there was a good amount of euphoria about the entire process, sprinkled with bravado and love for all things apple, as you might sense from the article. Fast forward a year and a half and I'm still very happy with the move, but have come to realize that you can't do without Windows, primarily because Mac Office (2011, 2012, whatever) mostly sucks. It may have been a big improvement from previous versions, but it still sucks. Its slow, not 100% compatible with Windows users in layout terms and kludgy. Eventually, after trying many many options, many virtual machines, trying hard to stick to Mac Office etc., I finally settled with Parallels Desktop 7 with MS Office and setting all office documents to open with the Windows office version running inside Parallels. Its great, fast and just what I need.

Anyway, this article is not about office. Its about the H*LL that you need to face for a simple task: How do you keep your business cards, email and your iPhone synced always. In other words, this basic requirement is a complete dystopia for Mac. Why do we need to sync all three? Let me explain from a business user perspective:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanks Steve

Image tribute designed by Jonathan Mark

Even if you never met the man, if his visionary products helped your child to read and write at an early age, let grandparents see their grandchildren across thousands of miles without having to crowd around a computer, led the transformation of the mobile and music industry that pays your salary today, made product companies rethink their priorities towards customers, and most importantly made many of us want to make even a fraction of a dent he has made to this industry and shape our careers accordingly, its not surprising that on his passing you'd think you knew him very well and to ask yourself 'What do you want to do before you go'?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adding a VPN server to ReadyNAS

Image (c) NetGear

I recently purchased a 4 disk-bay Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ box. This was a few days after I lost 60% of my media collection because my HD just decided to stop working. And yes, I've been meaning to back up the archive, but never got around to actually doing it, till it died. Hindsight is 20-20, isn't it?

Anyhow, the ReadyNAS NV+ is a great box. The nicest thing about it is that via plugins, you can convert it into a full fledged development box running linux. One of the things lacking was how to make this box a VPN server as well. I currently have OpenVPN running in an 'always on' home laptop, but it was better if I moved the VPN server to the ReadyNAS box as it is the one that is supposed to be 'always on' anyway.

I searched around. There are several sites that give only partial instructions of how to get things working. No one site has 'everything you need'. So I thought I'd post *exactly* how to do everything you need to get this working.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tutorial: RouteWeather Using Google weather and Driving Directions APIsin your iOS apps

First off, let me say this: Google's terms of service do not allow you to use their APIs for any commercial apps. So it is likely that if you use these APIs, they may never see the light of day in the app store, unless you negotiate a commercial deal with Google.

Here is what we will be developing: Let's assume you are planning a trip from Bethesda, MD to 90210, CA and you plan to drive (Yeah a road warrior!).  You can get the driving directions from many places, including Google. What you also want is, what "what is the weather along the route". Not only that, you want it for the day you plan to drive (so maybe tomorrow, the day after, or the day after the day after...)

I often need this information. I don't drive cross country, but I do drive and knowing the weather along the route and for the day I want to drive is very useful to me. I wish we had an app for that. Well, let's not wish, let's write one.

In the process, you will learn how to:

a) Use TBXML for XML parsing

b) Use Google Weather and Driving directions XML data

c) Use segmented controls

d) Use TableViews and custom cells

e) Write an app that brings all of this together

*** Credits: The fine folks at icodeblog started me off with this article. ***

First the customary screen shots:

First Screen: You enter your from and to and select which day you want the forecast for:

Monday, April 4, 2011

iPhone Programming: Who Just Called Me?

The best way to learn programming is to solve tasks that irk you. Well, here is something that irked the heck out of me. I often receive calls from outside of the US (India, Korea, Japan etc.). Very often, the incoming caller id leaves out the prefix. Example, instead of "+91 981234 5678"  I get just "9812345678", or, instead of "+82 111 11111" I just get "82 111 11111". The irritating part is that the iPhone cannot map it to my address book. Fine. But there is the additional irritant - If I search the iPhone address book, I can't search by phone number :-(

Damn. So now I am left guessing who just called me. It happened so often, I finally decided to do something about it. Or, I decided to solve the damn problem.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Total Finder: Total Satisfaction

Every once in a while, I come across a tool that makes a big difference to you doing just small things. When I say 'small', I don't necessary mean 'simple'. I mean, it is so integrated into another tool that you may already use, that its differences are never in your face, but you feel it all the time.

Before I confuse you any more, I am talking about TotalFinder by Antonin Hildebrand an extension to Snow Leopard's Finder.The Finder is to Snow Leopard what the File Explorer is to Windows. You use it for everything - copying, deleting, finding, mapping drives and what-not. While the OSX finder is in many ways better than File Explorer, I also think it had limitations. Instead of telling you what they are, let me just describe TotalFinder and why I loved it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

(Book Review) Cocos2D – Its raining books, Hallelujah!

Till just a few weeks ago, there were no real books one could read on Cocos2D game programming. While there are an almost infinite number of web tutorials, a book has a different charm - it is usually more structured and hopefully better researched. A few weeks ago, the first book on Cocos2D surfaced, "Learn iPhone and iPad cocos2D game development" by Steffen Itterheim. I bought it on day 1 of its release, and posted my review here. In short, it was well written and, well, the very first book for cocos2D, so it had that first mover advantage.

The other book I am eagerly waiting for is Rod Strougo and Ray Wenderlich's book "Learning Cocos2D". The book is yet to be released, but I get the feeling it will be more 'advanced' than the other available books.

In the mean time, I was contacted by another company, Packt Publishing who sent me an email to review a new book from them: Cocos 2D for iPhone 0.99 - Beginners Guide by Pablo Ruiz.