Tag Archives: iPhone

Intonation

Over at the Peabody Double Bass blog I just noticed this excellent post on a technique to practice good intonation. This is like the double bassist’s version of Twister, and I bet would make an entertaining drinking game! πŸ˜€ Seriously though, it looks very helpful and I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

I often use reference pitches when practicing as well. I usually don’t have the luxury of being able to work out on such things with others, so I came up with a couple of items on my own:

One is to practice a couple of Petracchi-like shifting and position exercises that I use with a reference pitch soundtrack that I made that ascends chromatically. I added this to my iPhone which is itself turning into a handy practice tool. I added the metronome track right in and modded the tempos so I can practice these exercises at a couple of different rates. I’ll try to post some of these at a later date if anyone thinks these would be useful.

Another thing I do when practicing repertoire is to test my pitch against an open string with a left hand pizzicato using whatever free finger is available – the trick with that one is knowing which open string fits best harmonically with the note or passage I’m playing, which makes it an added bit of fun.

Finally, sometimes I go for the brute force method and play long tones against a three octave scale with the electronic tuner. Interesting where my finger tries to go in the middle of the upper registers, but the tuner keeps me honest.

Good intonation can seem challenging on double bass, but I think some good practice tips like the one from the Peabody folks and such can help develop a good ear and good pitch strategies. Above all, start with an instrument that is in tune!

An iPhone Story

Last Sunday I purchased an iPhone. This was not my plan, but a couple of things came up to prompt this move. This thing is incredible for the most part, but with only one complaint:

The Purchase

First of all, my expectation was that I’d wait until a second generation release came about. I was quite content with my old Sony Ericsson semaphoring to the bimmer’s Bluetooth interface connection, and the old 3G iPod was the hurdy gurdy churning away at the iPod interface in the glove compartment. And these were good times. It all worked just fine – contacts loaded to the dash, control both from the steering wheel, phone call comes in and the iPod pauses until my conversation completes.

Until last week, when the phone died.

It had been dying a slow but natural death. To be honest, the only thing that was wrong with it was that the battery was able to hold less and less of a charge. The thing on my last business trip would last for maybe one phone conversation after a charge, and certainly wouldn’t make it through a couple of hours away from its power leash. But finally it ceased to work while connected to the charger. It couldn’t even hold enough juice to muster up a single phone call connected to power. Clearly it was time for a change.

And then the urgency occurred when a loved one wound up in the hospital, and my phone wasn’t working to receive the calls for assistance. What timing. Friday night in a hospital I had become all too familiar with recently, to the point where you know half the staff by name. Ugh. I need to do something about this quick.

I had two choices: Get a replacement battery for my Sony Ericsson for around $20 to hold me over until a 2G iPhone appeared, or jump on the technology bandwagon early and get an iPhone for upwards of $700 including tax and AppleCare. Naturally I went for the irrational choice and got the iPhone.

I owned the 1st gen Treo 180 when that first came out, and I loved it despite all its flaws. It was a PDA and a phone, and it was highly functional. But somehow the Treo line got confused and didn’t go quite where I was hoping it would, Palm support for Mac was off and on, and the rumors of an Apple phone began. My next phone would be a cheap-ass one with Bluetooth just to hold me over a cycle until something decent appeared. So with the iPhone finally coming out and the glowing reviews, I was placing myself in line for one of these babies.

The Initial Experience

If I may gush…

The purchase took minutes, the unboxing and activation was effortless, and I didn’t find the keyboard too difficult to operate even with my fat, round thumbs and long guitar-player fingernails. The initial sync was a bit lengthy over the USB connection for about 6 GB of data I had ready to go, and I had to rerun it a couple of times to get my contacts list right and to get the software updated on the unit. But once running, it just worked like a hot knife through warm butter.

Every application on this thing works extremely well, and well together. Syncing with my Mac, browsing through contacts, dialing numbers, watching vids from iPod or YouTube, email, calendar, and the rest of it – all very nice. The browser picks up phone numbers and converts them to hyperlinks to dial. Nice. I am sure that this is the finest mobile device created to date – very elegant.

The Browser

I’m going to get this out of the way. At the risk of being unpopular, I really am not a huge fan of the Safari web browser on the iPhone. Here’s why: I can’t resize fonts beyond tilting the screen – unless the page itself has font resizing baked in to the controls – a rarity. Zooming in on the content is inadequate, because I wind up scrolling horizontally as well as veritcally. The default page width for the iPhone is too wide and makes font scales too small as a result.

Now that I’ve had the iPhone for a couple of days, I want the handheld media type even more. This is an effing handheld device – support the handheld media type and prod developers to use it for your world domination goals instead of having to get people to fork their code. Web page layouts are too big by default for this size screen, and the web developer is confronted with the choice of either writing a version of their website just for the iPhone, or they have to install some greasemonkey-style hack. And I’m seeing plenty of websites offering iPhone-optimized versions of their sites so don’t tell me you’re doing this to offer the big giant World Wide Web in all its splendor. Boo. This would be so much better with an option to load the handheld css as an option somewhere. So much. Heck, even on a per-site basis as a preference in the bookmark or something.

What Safari on iPhone does, it does well – zoom in, hyperlinked phone numbers, and highly usable for a PDA web browser. Give me font resizing and the option to load the handheld stylesheet associated with the given web page and I’ll be happy. Bonus points if you can squeeze in a Flash plugin.

The Money Shot

OK this part I’m about to tell you was entirely unexpected. I went in to the Apple Store with no expectation that this thing would want to have anything to do with my BMW’s iPod and/or Bluetooth interfaces. It was created in 1995. This is emerging 1st generation technology two years later – snowball’s chance in hell of working with my car I thought.

I thought wrong.

This thing is sick. I tried plugging it in to the iPod interface and it just worked. OK cool – I can listen to tunes on this thing in my car if I need to. But surely this won’t pair up with my bimmer, right? No – it works effing perfectly. I pair it up, it connects just fine, it syncs my contacts, and I can place and receive calls in my car. iPhone gets charged up in the meantime – bonus points.

This thing just rocks. I am very impressed with the elegance of this innovative and highly usable design. Well done! Just fix Safari for me and we’ll be good.

iPhone ignores the handheld media type

In the ADC article entitled “Optimizing Web Applications and Content for iPhone“, Apple states:

You can tailor the style of your webpages by providing a style sheet that adapts to iPhone. The CSS 3 media query allows you to do just that. There are several types of queries including print, handheld, and screen. iPhone ignores the print and handheld media queries because these types do not supply high-end content. So the screen query is what you need to use.

This is the wrong way to go. The device is a handheld one with limited screen real estate. You have built an entire developer site around designing specifically for the iPhone. This is not in any sort of alignment with the intent of the W3C CSS specification. 99% of websites have no handheld media type declaration anyhoo, so what’s the loss?

At least give the user the option in a selectable preference or something.

I say if you want to capitalize on this, given the fact that you are telling people how to build web sites for the iPhone, then do a land grab on the handheld media type. Who cares what the other handheld browsers do. They are likely going to screw it up anyway. Designing a flexible layout using the handheld media type that works between the range of screen sizes between an iPhone and one of those tiny jobs that you get for free when you sign away for another 2 year contract renewal sounds a lot more palatable than trying to get all my web layouts to look good using the screen media type and have that go back to working on an iPhone vs. someone’s 1920 x 1200 Cinema Display that they keep their web browser maxed out on.

If Apple wants to do the right thing, they should embrace web standards, rather than trying to defeat them.

The Inevitable iPhone Post

I will admit that seeing the demonstrated functionality of the new iPhone from Apple has me very excited. Not just because this cool new rumor has finally come to fruition or because Apple has yet again dictated where consumer electronics fashion is going, but because I see us embarking on the threshold of a revolution in user interface design and mobile computing. I see this product and the demonstrated features within it as being possibly the greatest move forward in user interface design for devices in general. That being that this is all screen, no buttons. Buttons, as in mechanical ones that have springs and contacts, are now obsolete, wasted space. Only show the buttons you need at any given time, make them legible, and design them for maximum usability. A completely dynamic manual interface.

this article caught my eye this evening, and there were some quotes that I found interesting.

Apple drops a bombshell with iPhone – CNN.com

“Cingular executives I’ve spoken with say they anticipate people will change (mobile phone) carriers so they can buy an iPhone — I doubt that,” says Sascha Segan, chief mobile phone analyst for PC Computing Magazine. “People choose call carriers on (cell-phone) coverage, call quality and price — not device.”

Well yeah, that’s what they do now. But I suspect that will change. If given the choice between average coverage/sexy bit of iPhone kit and awesome coverage/yesterday’s tired old news, I think a significant number of vanity-focused and geek-struck individuals (that’s two categories, not one combined) will choose the former. I don’t think the idea here is to sell all phones to all people – certainly not at an over-$400 price point. The idea is to get this trend started and out the box. I am pretty sure that once they get out of the initial pilot consumer phase, that all the other carriers will jump on.

Also Segan wonders if North American users will give up phone keypads for touch screens. “Americans like the tactile feel of making a phone call, although touch screens are more popular and accepted in Asia,” he says.

If the interface is as fluid and intuitive as it seems on the demos, then I’m sure they will adopt it with ease. Again – this is about user interface revolution. Only show the buttons/options that the user needs to see at any given time. This is way more efficient than the wasted hard real estate of a numeric keypad or thumb keyboard. Americans may be more sophisticated than Segan gives them credit for and this UI is more intuitive and efficient than the last-millenium hardware interface paradigm.

“In a way, what’s not important is if Apple sells a lot of phones … what’s important is how the rest of the market will react to it,” he says. “For years, it’s been a huge problem of how to create a multimedia phone that is popular with users … with (iPhone’s) radical new interface that may be the solution to the problem. If so, you’re going to see every other manufacturer try to copy it.”

And then some. This is the key factor – creating a catalyst for change. I think that the iPhone is this catalyst.