Thursday, 30 September 2010

iPhone 4 free case: last chance TODAY to get one!

TODAY 30 Sept 2010 is your last chance to order a free iPhone case from Apple - see the Apple iPhone 4 Case Program - if you got yourself an iPhone 4, which I recently did.

The point of course is that the iPhone 4 suffered from signal problems if you held it in the way that most people hold their phones when talking, so in an attempt to firefight the resulting PR disaster Apple started offering free cases which solve the antenna issue.

These blogs have reviews and pics of some of the cases available.

To get your free case, on your iPhone 4 go to the App Store and search for "iPhone 4 case", you may have to scroll a bit in the results to find it. You order the case through the iPhone 4 Case Program app.

Personally, I went for the black Speck PixelSkin HD case (see photos) and I'm very happy with it. Smart, unobtrusive, and it seems pretty tough and hard-wearing.

Only downside is there is no screen protector (but most of the cases don't seem to offer any), and if like me you have feeble fingers, turning the iPhone on and off takes a bit more doing as you have to press it very firmly through the case for it to register.

I wasn't sure from the pic whether dirt might get trapped in the grid lines but luckily the design is such that the grooves are too wide and shallow for that to happen.

Monday, 20 September 2010

iPhone 4 & iTunes: minimising iTunes; & iPhone experience part 1

(iPhone 4 photo by Yutaka Tsutano)

I just got an iPhone 4. No I didn't go for the cheapest possible or even cheap iPhone deal, I went with Three. Partly because from their involving me in their various consumer trials, I've been impressed with them (I ain't never going back to T-Mobile again, not unless they pay me. Lots).

I'm not an Apple fan due to their closedness, but I finally thought I'd see what all the fuss was about, on both the shininess and usability fronts.

However, I'm going to try to use the iPhone with as little Apple stuff as possible.

I wasn't best pleased about having to:

- before I could even use the iPhone as a basic phone that you can just make or receive phone calls on!

So it's timely that Broadstuff recently (in iTunes Bloatware - and its antidote) pointed to a post on how to install iTunes with minimal components.

I know with Android phones you have to have a Google account and enter that, but at least you don't have to get to a computer and install stuff you don't want before you can use the phone as a simple phone.

There's probably a way to activate the iPhone 4 without iTunes, but I didn't have time to try looking for it.

I'll be blogging about my Apple newbie experiences from time to time. (I did once have the use of a MacBook for a while, but I hardly turned it on as I couldn't get used to the lack of the keyboard shortcuts I'm so accustomed to in Windows. On Linux I've even change the hotkeys to Windows ones).

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Track updates to existing blog posts

This post gives tips on how to monitor and track updates or edits to existing blog posts on blogs which use Blogger /, with Google's official blogs as an example. 

Many of us subscribe to various Google blogs via feed readers / RSS readers in order to keep up with what's going on at Google. (For beginners: see RSS / feeds primer).

Unfortunately, Google sometimes just edits an old post to provide updates on certain issues, instead of publishing a brand new blog post. And they don't often publish a new post with a pointer to the updated post, either. So, unless you happened to be keeping an eye on the old post, you won't notice the update.

This has happened with Google blog posts about eg encrypted Google search, and also the Street View wifi data collection kerfuffle.

Fortunately, there's a workaround. Instead of subscribing to the standard feed, subscribe to the "updated" feed instead. See how to subscribe to updated Blogger feeds and more for full details (note the examples in the second half of that blog post).

The trick is this: just subscribe using a slightly enhanced URL which catches updates to posts. 

So, if the blog's URL is, the feed URL you should use in your newfeed reader is:

- ie add the bit in bold italics.

"orderby=updated" is what gets you blog posts that have been most recently updated/published, and not just newly published posts only.

"&max-results=1000000" or something similar is needed because if you don't add it in (and just use, it'll only give you the last X blog posts, not all of them (X is currently 25). 10000000 is probably overkill because Google limits the maximum number of blog posts it'll give you from Blogger / Blogspot blogs - the current limit seems to be 500, so you could probably use "&max-results=500" instead.

A twist to note is that if you subscribe using Google Reader, when you search it'll often search a greater number of blog posts than that if anyone has subscribed using the same URL previously, as it'll have indexed the posts they received. If you want to be able to search over older posts from that blog, then you could subscribe to the basic standard feed URL as well, eg

Here's another example. To get a feed of new and updated posts on Google's public policy blog, use:

(or just make it 500 instead of 1000000). You get the drift.

This tip only works for Blogger / blogs, not blogs using other blogging platforms like WordPress etc.