Tag Archives: ipod

OS 3, CalDav: update

In addition to Shep’s helpful comment, right after I posted my last entry I discovered that the settings at m.google.com/sync apply to the Exchange sync. Apparently the Exchange sync worked in OS 2.2, so there was no reason to upgrade at all, if I had just known that.

Of course, there are some nice additional features that I got, and it was only $10, but it’s rather irritating to me that I have to set up 10 different accounts to sync my 10 different Google calendars. That seems odd, to say the least.

Anyways, perhaps this is an enhancement that will come along shortly. Meanwhile, I’ll probably just keep using the Exchange connector.

OS 3.0 and CalDAV

I had one single motivation for upgrading my iPod Touch to OS 3.0 – CalDAV. According to very vague reports I had read before, it would “support CalDAV”, although the actual explanations of what that meant varied somewhat.

But iCal on the Mac started supporting CalDAV – actually allowing editing of CalDAV calendars – a while back, so I figured maybe the iPod/iPhone would too. And, hey, it’s only $10.

I found several conflicting instructions on how to configure CalDAV for Google Calendars. The best ones were here and here, suggesting that you set it up either as an Exchange account or a CalDAV account. While CalDAV seems more probable, the one that says to do it as Exchange is at Google. Weird.

Also, if you go to m.google.com/sync on your iPhone, you get a thing that lets you select which of your calendars you wish to connect to.

So far, sounds pretty good.

Yes, I said “which of your calendars.” I have a dozen calendars on my Google calendar account, because I share calendars with several people. It’s the only way to fly. But the iPhone seems to assume that I’ve only got one. As far as I can tell, it is syncing quite happily with one, but the other ones are being entirely ignored, despite what I configured on m.google.com.

Is this expected? I vaguely remember reading somewhere that I’d have to create a “new account” for each calendar, but that’s so completely ludicrous that I must have misunderstood, right? In that case, why would there be this tool at Google for saying what calendars I want to sync?

I *think* I have it set up right now, but now m.google.com says that my iPod hasn’t sync’ed since yesterday at 15:46, so … apparently something is still not set up right.

So. Frustrating.

Converting mp3 to ipod-ready audio books

DISCLAIMER: The below technique works about half of the time: For no readily discernible reason, some of the files come out in chipmunk mode. It appears, from what I’ve been able to determine so far, that mpg123 is playing the original mp3 file at the wrong speed.


As a fan of Librivox, it’s frustrating to me that the iPod doesn’t recognize audio books in mp3 format as audio books. It wants them in aac format. Converting them is a hassle, mostly because I always forget how. So, here’s a little Perl script I whipped up for the purpose.

The same thing is necessary if you rip an audiobook from CD.

Share and enjoy:


opendir F,".";
my @files = readdir(F);
closedir F;

foreach my $chapter (@files) {
    next unless $chapter =~ m/.mp3$/i;

    my $filename = $chapter;
    $filename =~ s/.mp3$//;
    $filename = $filename . '.m4b';

    `mpg123 -s "$chapter" | faac -b 80 -P -X -w -o "$filename" -`;

Note that while this retains the track name, it seems to lose the album name and author, so you may need to add that back. Presumably faac has command-line arguments for this, too, but I haven’t found them yet. Haven’t looked, either.

iBrick: The Return Of The iPod

As I chronicled, I have been sans iPod for the last few days. I really hadn’t realized how dependent I had become on it. Although I suppose I was just as dependent on my Palm before that.

It has returned, more than a week sooner than promised, and I am once again attatched to it.

I discovered, in its absense, that I’m no longer able to go back to using the Palm. The touch interface is so intuitive that going back to a stylus, and trying to write with pseudo-letters, is simple too hard to go back to. Score another for technology making us stupid. It’s a wonder I can still write at all.

I received either a new one, or a refurb one. I don’t know how one would tell the difference. It seems new to me. And it is working perfectly. The return slip confirmed that there was a hardware malfunction, and the other device wasn’t fixable. I don’t know how common that is, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying the extended warrantly when I get closer to the one year mark from purchase. And I rather wish now I’d spent the extra $35 to get the Best Buy in-store replacement program.

But, overall, I’m *VERY* impressed with how quickly efficiently Apple handled it. Thanks, Apple.

iBrick, chapter three

I spent my lunch break at Best Buy, while the Geek Squad guy attempted to do a restore of the iPod Touch. Twice.

Nice guy, but I always feel very miffed when I’m in a tech support situation and it is assumed that I don’t know what I’m doing, and haven’t already done the things that they’re going to try. Several times. But, of course, this is the only reasonable assumption for them to make.

I then spent nearly two hours on the phone with Apple Tech Support, and, while on the phone, attempted the restore twice more. Once again, the tech support guy was very friendly, and genuinely seemed to know what he was doing, but we did what I’d already done, more than a dozen times already.

Finally, he arranged to have a box sent to me so that I can send it to them to repair or replace.

So, the conclusion is that the board inside the iPod is somehow shot. Or perhaps it’s angry at me for my latent belief that Linux is, in fact, a better OS. I don’t know. but one way or the other, I’m getting a new iPod, and nobody knows how to fix the one I’ve got.


iBrick, day two

I’ve now devoted several hours to attempting to regain the use of my iPod Touch, deceased since about this time yesterday. I have tried every method that I could find documented anywhere in the intarwebs. I have followed the advice of amazingly helpful people on #iphone on Freenode. But, alas, everything that I’ve tried results in the same “failed to restore” error message. So I guess I’ll be taking this back to Best Buy today and hoping that they’ll be willing to do a warranty exchange or something.

Many thanks to all the people who offered me advice and a shoulder to cry on. I’ll let you know if, miraculously, something works before I take it back to the store.

Trying the DFU restore for the 48th time …


iPod Touch and PDAs

I recently (about a month ago) acquired an iPod Touch as my primary PDA to replace my Palm TX

The thing that kept me loyal to Palm for so many years were the apps. Thousands of apps, free or reasonably priced, that work on all Palm devices. Some of them, I used for years. Some I swapped out as something better became available. But there was always an app that did what I wanted it to do.

I got the iPod Touch for two reasons. One, it was shiny. Two, the Palm desktop on Macs is terrible, and the replacement (Missing Sync) is better, but still falls way short of what I expect.)

What surprised me the most about the iPod Touch (and, of course, the iPhone too, since they are essentially the same device for this purpose) is the lack of availability of apps. No, I didn’t stumble on this blind – I knew it before I bought. But the more I think about it, the more it astonishes me. Why would Apple do this? They ship a device without even the minimum of usable apps, and then make it so that nobody can write apps for the device but them. Surely they realize that once folks get over the shiny, they’ll be pissed off by this?

In order to run apps on this device, you have to “jailbreak” it. Now, if you’re a geek like me, that’s fine. But most ordinary people are going to take one look at the various jailbreak websites and run screaming. Yeah, it’s fairly easy, but it’s a little intimidating to do something to a $500 device that looks and sounds illegal. Is it illegal? I don’t think anybody knows. And how many people on the planet know what the “BSD Subsystem” is? Come on, Apple, you can do better than this for your customers.

What I expect on a PDA, at a bare minimum is the following:

A ToDo app. (Missing completely)

A calendar that I can sync with my desktop. (Present, but I can’t edit events on the device. I have to edit them on the computer, unless I create them on the device. So, only about half-present.)

An address book. (Present, and mostly fine, except that I can’t delete contacts from the device. Have to do that on the computer.)

Notebook. (Present, but I can’t sync the notes to anything on the desktop, so of very limited usefulness.)

Email. (Present and very nice.)

Web browser. (Present and exceptionally nice.)

So, Apple, step up a little here. Provide an API so that folks can develop apps without having to feel like criminals. Provide a way to install those apps easily.

Yes, I know, you can use web-based applications, but this is utterly worthless for a PDA. I use my PDA when I don’t have access to my computer. That tends to coincide with when I don’t have a wireless network available. See the problem?

Look at the success of Palm. It’s 98% due to their decision from the very beginning to enable third-party application developers. This helped Palm, and it helped thousands of small app dev shops, as well as hobbyists. It’s obvious that your customers want this – that’s why there’s the jailbreak sites. And it will make the device more popular, and thus sell more, so it will help you.

New Toys

I picked up a couple new toys this weekend. One, in particular, I’m very fond of. I got an iPod Touch, for use as my primary PDA, calendaring, note-taking, mobile computing thingy. Overall, I’m *way* impressed with it. It’s quite a feat of engineering.

What I found frustrating about it from the very beginning – even before I had one – was the lack of availability of third-party applications for it. Granted, it’s a very young device. I had a Palm device more than 10 years ago, and even then there were hundreds of third-party apps for Palm. Now there are thousands. And for the iPod, I can’t find any.

Now, I know there are some, and that you can install them if you install hackish jailbreak software on the iPod. And, I’ll probably do this. But I find it perplexing that a company as savvy as Apple would choose to release a device that didn’t from day one, make it easy for third-party companies and hobbyists to provide apps for it. Nothing inspires device loyalty like an app that fills just exactly the need that you have. And, frankly, the default apps on the iPod are unimaginative. And … duh … no games. Who thought that made sense? At least put solitaire on here. Sheesh.

Having said that, the ease of use of the device, and the obviousness of use, impress me. There’s never a doubt of what you’re supposed to do to accomplish what you want.

One other complaint, I guess. The networking hides just a little too much detail from me. I needed to know my MAC address this afternoon, so that I could add the device to the permit list on my parent’s 802.11 AP, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. It’s one of the Linksys devices, and I had to pick my device out of a list of other devices that had tried to access the AP, presumably neighbors, and I just couldn’t do it in the time I had available.

Oh, well, mostly thumbs up, and I imagine I’ll like it more, the more I rely on it.