Plea to Audible Regarding iPhone App

I have been an Audible member since 2004 (prior to Amazon owning), I have listened to approximately 125 books.  I wish it was easy to pull that data (as well as the total time), but your library is listed by part, by book.  For example, Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordon & Brandon Sanderson is 5 parts.

 

I have been listening on my iPods since the iPod Mini in 2004.  Overtime the listening experience has improved from running software and connecting to iTunes, playing through music App, to the Audible App.

The Audible App allows you to download directly from your iPhone (wi-fi only), full access to your library, listening stats, badges, and most recently they have added Whispersync so you can listen and read on a Kindle the same book.

There are other features such as a “More Books” link in the toolbar that just takes you to a page that says you can buy books at Audible.com (really?) and a News link which I have found not to be useful.- WORTHLESS FEATURES.

The listening stats provides the number of titles in your library (mine says 170), total time listening in total, monthly, daily or today, a Badge collection (I have earned 7 of 15 badges), and your iPhone listening level from Newbie to Master (5 levels).  As good as all of this sounds, it is fundamentally flowed in how it is designed.  It stores this information on your phone, not the cloud.  Thus if you ever have an issue with the App (which you will as you will see later), one of the ways to correct is to uninstall and reinstall.  This process wipes all data (I am currently only at Novice listening level due to this).  Which means all the Stats are meaningless.  Especially to those that use it a lot since you are more likely to have an App bug/error that means reinstalling. – WORTHLESS FEATURE as is.

 

My first request to Audible is to sync the data to your profile online.  Provide the true ability to track your Library (problem in first paragraph) and listening.

As I noted earlier, books are broken up in parts to “make the download easier”  (Audible’s reasoning).  But what this does is makes the listening experience difficult.  Listening without issues should be Audible’s primary focus, not downloading easier (what does that even mean?).  How is it difficult?  When you come to the end of a part, it “sometimes” will automatically start the next.  That “has” been a feature, but one that seems to rarely work.  For a long time it was NOT a feature.  Now when I get to the end of a part it does not go on to the next, instead I get a screen that pops up that says …..


Of course I AM logged in.  I have even logged out and logged in and still the same message at the end of the next part.  It is SO FRUSTRATING.  If I was not logged in, I could not get another book and download.  And I have no problem with that.  From pas experience,  I am sure if I contact Audible regarding, I will get one of two responses:

  1. We are aware of the bug and are working on the fix as soon as possible.
  2. Please uninstall the application and reinstall.

As to number 1, I get this response to often.  My second request to Audible is to fix the bugs quickly, not quarterly as has been what I have seen.  But better testing = < bugs!

As to number 2, sure that sounds simple, except it breaks all of your STATs features!!!  Really?  Break another feature to fix a feature?  Really?

I have yet to use the most recent feature addition (whispersync between Audible book and Kindle book).  I typically do not spend the money to have a book both on Audible and Kindle (how many people actually do this?).  If the Kindle version came free with the Audible version, then maybe I would.  But to buy a book twice for this “convenience” seems useless. – WORTHLESS FEATURE

My third request is that Audible either fix these worthless features or pull them and focus on keeping a stable, user friendly experience.  It is about the Books, not the App.

I use this App because I WANT it to work!  The potential for me is great.  Much better than having to sync with iTunes and play with the Music app.  
Please Audible, your my only hope.

Run More than 1 Process on iPhone?

Unfortunately, the Apple iPhone does not allow multiple processes to run at the same time.  This has been a topic since it's origin.  Although this has not been an issue for me since 1.0, now that 3.0 is out and GPS turn by turn directions are becoming available, as well as other dashboard types of applications, this has now become a "possible" hinderence.


Gokivo GPS

I now have a windshield mount for my iPhone and like to run the Heads Up Display app aSmartHUD (this app is so cool, you must check out the website).

But can I run this App at the same time I am listening to a podcast or music?  Well I am happy to say you can!  Will this translate to the upcoming GPS applications (TomTom) or current app (Gokivo)?  I am praying it will.  Certainly let me know if you already know!



How I Use iPhone Slingplayer via 3G

Not only can I use Slingplayer via 3G, any other WiFi required iPhone application I now can use via 3G.

The key is not to use AT&T, but to use Verizon.  But how to use Verizon on the iPhone?  Well, you must have a Verizon data account, then you will need the Verizon MiFi.   The Verizon MiFi takes your 3G and turns it into WiFi.  You just then connect the iPhone to WiFi.


The MiFi is very small, about the size of a credit card.

I just received my Verizon MiFi 2200, plugged into my laptop and connected. Then unconnected the MiFi from laptop and pluged into AC power.  Once connected to the Verizon network, you can unplug the MiFi since it has a battery so you can then unplug and move around. The MiFi only needs to be connected to a computer to initially access the network.  It then runs as a secure WPA wifi network.

I ran the speedtest on my Macbook and am getting 1294 kbps down and 487 kbps.  I also ran the test on my iphone and got 762 (876 max) kbps down and 194 (211 max) kbps up.

My next test was how far away from the MiFi would my iPhone still be connected.  It was about 50ft from my office that I loose connection.  That is through 2 doors and into the lobby of my office.  Much further than expected.

So far I am completely impressed with the MiFi, it works as advertised, and would highly recommend.



How I work in a Multi-OS World

In my computing life, I am OS agnostic with a lean towards OS X. But I work on XP computers (desktop & laptop) at work, I have a Macbook running OS X 10.5, Windows Vista via Bootcamp, Windows XP, Windows 7 & Ubuntu via VMFusion. At home I have a Vista box, a iMac running Os X 10.4, MacMini runing OS X 10.5, and EEEBox running Ubuntu. And finally, I have an iPhone. 

So how does one keep organized in such an environment? I want to simplify my computing as much as possible, so I have been working on this for years. Luckily, I am not the only one with this problem, as solutions have become available to fill this need. Here is a list of what I use and how I use it. 

Passwords: Password syncing can be difficult. I have three different solutions I run at the same time for different purposes. The first solution is my main Password managment system and I use the Open Source software KeePass. KeePass is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux. And to keep all of the systems in sync, the encrypted database is stored via encrypted Dropbox folder so any change at one computer, will be changed for all since they all look at the Dropbox folder for the data. The second solution is syncing passwords in Firefox via Foxmarks (now Xmarks). The third solution is with 1Password for my Macs as I store the keychain in Dropbox similar to Keepass. Yes, I know I am being reduntant here as Keepass is really all that is needed for the computers, but I use 1Password to sync to my iPhone. Still waiting for iKeePass App to show in the iTunes store. 

Favorites/Bookmarks: I use Foxmarks (Xmarks). It is available for all Firefox (as Xmarks), IE and Safari, thus works in all 3 Operating Systems. This also stores them via a website, so if I am at my parents computer or anyone elses, I still have access. Working Documents & Shared folders: I have mentioned Dropbox already regarding password database centralization. This is an ideal solution for the day to day files and anything else that may need to be moved or shared between all platforms including access via iPhone

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Music and other Media: I use SugarSync for the backing up my digital media from all the platforms (including iPhone) except for Ubuntu. The ability to stream my music from SugarSync on the iPhone or purchase music from any computer and immediately have it available on all my computers is excellent. I did try JungleDisk and S3, but the syncing was slow and not reliable in OS X. It was my first solution for many of these issues, but could not keep up. Granted it was cheaper than SugarSync (only solution listed above that cost$ based upon how I am using it), but SugarSync and Dropbox are both blazing fast and reliable. I also tried MobileMe, but cancelled that mess. One word for MobileMe - CRAP. Related Posts by Me:
Cross Platform Syncing and

To Do Lists


My iPhone Calendar Challenge

My issue was, I wanted to get my work Outlook calendar on my iPhone without attaching my iPhone to the work computer. Nor do I have the option of using Exchange (yet). I also wanted to do it with no intervention on my part. Especially now that it can be done over the air in version 2 of the software using MobileMe. My first try was with free utilities and programs. None worked.

Therefore I decided to spend money. First is getting the Outlook calendar data into Google Calendar. I tried many programs (open source, free, paid), but none worked as well as SyncMyCal. $25

With my Outlook calendar now on Google Calendar, I needed to get it on my Macbook that I sync with the iPhone and Me.com. Unfortunately, subscribing to a Google Calendar does not sync up to Me.com. So once again, I tried many but settled on BusySync. $25

Then I used MobileMe to sync onto Me.com which pushes onto my iPhone.

It only took trying dozens of programs and $50 to get it done. For most people it may not be worth it, but it is for me. And it works by itself via syncing without me doing anything. Finally. Shouldn't this be easier?



iPhone Syncing between Mac and PC

Here is my situation. Most all I do and want sync'd to the iPhone is on my Macbook. This includes my personal contacts, music, video, podcasts, photos and bookmarks. What is on my work Windows XP computer is my schedule in Outlook.

I have tried multiple solutions. First, I connected to the work network via Entourage on my Macbook and sync'd the calendar via Entourage. Entourage had issues with any Outlook event that was and all day event. It put part of the event the day before and created duplicates. So that did not work.

Next, I tried the new Outlook to Google Calendar sync to get my schedule in Google Calendar and then subscribe to the calendar in iCal. However I could never get the Outlook to Google Calendar Sync to work. I may be due to the corporate firewall.

So I decided to try syncing just the Calendar on the Windows PC. I plugged in the iPhone, made sure no syncing at all would take place. Put a check mark only under syncing Calendar with Outlook and pressed sync. It gave me a notice that the iPhone was paired with another computer and did I want to merge or overwrite the data. I clicked on overwrite and prayed. It worked. I have my Outlook calendar on the iPhone and no other data was messed with.

I then connected the iPhone with my Macbook. I made sure everything was selected correctly EXCEPT the calendar. I also got the merge or overwrite question regarding the contacts and bookmarks. I believe this is due to the calendar, bookmarks and contacts all being on the same tab in iTunes.

Therefore, whenever I move from the Macbook to the Windows PC, it will ask to merge or overwrite. Not the most elegant solution, but it seems to work so far.