Dec 31, 2010

Find My...Family

With iOS 4.2 for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, Apple made the Find My iPhone service free. The obvious benefit from this is that if you lose your iPhone, you can log into MobileMe (using your free, limited-to-this-one-feature MobileMe account) and your iPhone will be shown on a Google Map. From there you can have it display a message if someone finds it or, if it's nearby, have it continuously play a sound while you search for it. But this is all stuff you may already know. What really makes it more useful on a day-to-day basis is what else you can use it for.
Disclaimer: The following assumes you have a healthy relationship with your family, not one involving dishonesty and sneakiness. If that's not the case, seek counsel and read no further.

Dec 28, 2010

Google Sync: The Poor Man's Answer to MobileMe

One of the benefits that Blackberry owners have is push email. With push email, as soon as an email comes in to your inbox, it arrives on your device. Apple's answer to that is MobileMe, which automatically syncs your mail, contacts, and calendars, even when you are away from your computer. MobileMe, except for the Find My iPhone feature, is not free, however. For a single user, it will cost you $99 per year. For an entire family, it will cost you $149 per year. On top of that, if you want to take advantage of the push email, you have to use a new MobileMe email address. Although MobileMe gives you a few other nice features, these are the primary features.

If you already have Gmail, there is a free alternative that works really well. (If you don't have Gmail, I highly suggest switching to it. It's free, gives you a lot of space, and there is no better email service for eliminating spam and searching your email.) This free alternative is called Google Sync. With Google Sync:

Dec 26, 2010

Email Subscription Now Available

If you don't use an RSS reader, such as Google Reader, to keep up with blogs like this, you can now subscribe to this blog by email. Simply enter your email address on the right and new posts will be emailed to you.

Dec 22, 2010

Shared Shopping Lists for Married People

A natural thing to do when you get an iPhone is begin to use it to capture your grocery list.  Most people simply use the built-in Notes app to write a list just like they would on paper.  However, if you and your spouse have an iPhone, there is a far better option.

Before I tell you what this better option is, let me describe a scenario.  Imagine you are at work and your spouse is at Walmart (or any store, for that matter).  You are not sure if she added this new cereal you wanted to try to her list.  You can call her and text her and then ask her, but you aren't sure the exact name of it and there are several flavors.  What do you do?  Similar scenarios to this happen often.

My wife and I started using Grocery iQ recently to solve this kind of a problem.  Grocery iQ has a huge database of foods, toiletries, and other products.  Because it autocompletes items you add from its database, you can type only a few letters and then pick the exact product you want, eliminating the ambiguity usually associated with not wanting to type too many letters when creating your list.

Best of all, if you create an account on the Grocery iQ web site, you can share your list with your spouse so that anything you add or your spouse adds is immediately on the other one's list.  As a bonus, you can add items to your list on the web site even easier if you are already sitting at a computer.  I often will add to the grocery list on the web site if I realize something we need while I'm sitting at work.  I'm already in front of a computer, so it is very convenient.

Another benefit of the shared shopping list is that if we can easily switch up who does the shopping without having to transfer lists.  We simply always have the other one's list.

Dec 20, 2010

About: Why Practical iStuff?

The Blog

If you landed here on my site, you are probably interested in learning practical things you can do with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that you perhaps didn't know about.  This blog is about exactly that, what you can do and how to do it.

I read a lot of blogs about iOS devices and there are some really good ones out there.  Most of them, however, simply review apps or tell you about news in the Apple world.  These are good things but I discovered something missing.  No blog that I discovered speaks of real-world practical things that you could do to take advantage of these very powerful and very mobile devices.

I will write about apps, but not as much to review them, as to let you know what you can do with them to accomplish things...practical things.  This isn't a blog about iPhone gaming or entertainment, though not every post will be super serious.

I typically post twice per week.  The easiest way to keep up is to subscribe via RSS, subscribe via email, follow practicalistuff on Twitter, or "Like" my Practical iStuff Facebook page.

The Author

I am a software architect, software development director, and avid power-user of iOS devices.  As a power user, I'm constantly discovering new ways to take full advantage of what my iPhone 4 can do, especially leveraging many of the good apps out there.

In some ways, my iPhone is my second brain.  I use it constantly to stay organized, communicate, keep information, lose weight, take pictures, edit pictures, interact with social media, find my way to unknown places, keep up with my favorite football teams, check the weather, listen to podcasts,...I could keep going but that's what this blog is about.