Tag Archives: iPod Touch

PubMed, on the iPhone

Libraries looking for ways that the iPhone (or iPod Touch) might change user’s interactions with academic databases need look no further than the PubMed On Tap application ($2.99 from References on Tap, though there is a “lite” version available for free which limits you to 5 hits per search).

This application searches PubMed, retrieves abstracts and lets you email them to yourself as formatted text or as an RIS tagged record (so you can put it in EndNote), remembers your searches, and even supports EZ Proxy.

It will retrieve full text (if you have proper access to do that, via EZ Proxy or IP authentication) but I’d be surprised if a lot of people are going to hang out with their iPod touch and read medical journals. More likely they will email the links to themselves for retrieval later.

Regardless, it’s a pretty cool application and a massive improvement over the Mobile Libraries platforms listed in this wiki. This new database  means that now you can be on the bus to Seattle, search PubMed, and when you get to work you can retrieve the full text articles and read your research on the big screen or print it out, like a sane person.


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The iPod Touch just got much, much better

Just a quick update on the library iPod Touch before I give a class on Google apps to the library staff.

I upgraded the Library iPod Touch (out of pocket for a whopping $10, someone owes me a Scotch) and it was the best $10 I have ever spent because it allows us to install applications from the app store. So what?

So… I have now installed a handful of neat free applications (mostly games) but I can see some things on the horizon that are going to be much cooler than Advent (the text based adventure game also known as Colossal Cave).

Such as Star Wars: the Force Unleashed. I’m not a big gamer geek or anything but that is a really, really cool application of the touch screen and the iPod Touch.  You MUST watch the video.

There has to be someone working on a pay Word document type application and once that happens?  All bets are off: this will be one of the most important and groundbreaking devices to hit the market in the last 5 years.

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iPhone SDK

I have downloaded the iPhone SDK and am going to start writing programs like “hello world” any day now.


There’s also a learning caves meeting this afternoon that I have to prepare for.


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Lots going on today

I have a strategic planning team meeting here in a few minutes so I’ll be as brief as possible.  There are a lot of very interesting stories that hit last night and I want to get to them all.

First, there’s a very detailed instructional on how to turn the iPod Touch into an “iPhone” using a touchmod microphone and SIP-VoIP.  Right now, you have to use one of the other VoIP services since Skype’s not using SIP.  But really?  Come on.  That’s not that big of a dealbreaker is it?

So, first you just jailbreak the iTouch, then you install this software, set up an account with a VoIP service, and plug in the microphone and you’re off.

Reportedly, sound quality isn’t where it could be but, I have faith that it will get there eventually.

And if you want to fee old?  Here’s a video of a fetus who’s turned his iTouch into an iPhone.  If he can do it…

Speaking of kids…

People are getting sick and tired of Facebook’s viral apps.  You know, the ones that force you to invite all your friends before you can waste time using them?  It’s funny, people seem to clamor for extensibility, until the reality of it hits them.

Over in the art department, there’s a VERY cool set of 16 Aviary tutorials which teach you how to do all kinds of cool tricks with photo manipulation.  And before you ask, yes, this is applicable to Photoshop with just a little know how.

Old man take a look at my life

The above trick has to be my favorite.

Before you go clicking on there, beware, there may be some content that is not suitable for children or work.

Finally, on the Western Front of net neutrality, researchers at our very own University of Washington have developed a software tool that proves that ISPs are dicking around with web traffic. As it turns out, a few ISPs are already injecting advertising into your datastream.  Lets hope the big boys don’t get wind of this, or they’ll all be doing it.

OK, well, that’s it, see you tomorrow!

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Movies on your cellphone

AT&T has announced today that they are going to offer a new service to some of their cell phone subscribers: movies on their cell phones.

This is obviously a pilot project, designed to get the early adopters to test out the feasibility and demand for this new service, but it intrigues me none-the-less.  Before you run out and try to get on board, this program will only be available to a handful of people who have AT&T contracts, who have either a Vu phone or Samsung Access phone, and who are willing to pay extra for the service.

And what’s the service?  Uhh, only a handful of movies that have been run on TV and that are run on a schedule and that have commercials.

What is this 1986?

So, I can pay probably $20 a month to see Ghostbusters with commercial breaks?  Have they not heard of iTunes?  I can go right now to the iTunes store, RENT a movie for $2.99 and watch it on my iPod touch or my iPhone.  In the time it took to write this blog, I downloaded Drugstore Cowboy and it’s in pretty decent quality.  Good enough to watch on my regular TV, without commercials, whenever I want.  And there’s hundreds more movies like that.

Obviously, they just want to test this out.

Sorry, I’m not buying.

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More iPhone Flap

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas.  If Santa Claus was an evil dude who promised to bring you your favorite toys and instead when you woke up on Christmas morning you found all the toys were hermetically sealed and required your parent’s credit card to open.  And to top it off only some of the toys were fully functional.

That’s right, kids, Apple has done it again!  First, announce the new SDK (software developer’s kit) and then?  Lock the SDK with a combination of odious user agreements and the fact that any application Apple doesn’t like they don’t have to deliver over their iTunes store.  This means that voip (Voice Over IP — skype, etc.), Java, Ruby, Python, Perl, Quake, and pretty much any actually extensible system is blocked from being delivered.

Way to take a great device and completely screw it up by emulating Microsoft’s business model.  Think Different, indeed.

This puts me solidly in the camp of “people who want a third party device that delivers on the promises of the iPhone.”  I still see the promise of these devices but they need to be open, I’m sorry but people are just used to it now.

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One way, or another

Good day. Well, it’s been a while since I blogged here.  What’s it been… yuck, the 27th?  Wow, more than a week.

I did start to write a blog but then stopped as stuff got out of control with my Phase 3 committee responsibilities.  Looks like things are starting to calm back down on that front so I have had time to peruse the tech news for interesting stories and have come up with two.

The first is about everyone’s favorite Web 2.0 application platform: Facebook.  It seems that some enterprising kids started doing a virtual study hall using a Facebook account’s wall as the place where students could post questions and answers to each other.  This ran afoul of the student code of conduct and now the ringleader is facing expulsion.  I can sort of see the kid’s point: this is just an electronic version of what they were already doing in one of their study groups.  But the problem is that the students were told that this was an individual assignment.  They weren’t supposed to be answering those questions as a group REGARDLESS of what technology is used to facilitate that group work.  That’s what violated the student code, not that they used Facebook to do it (as the poorly written article suggests).

This case, though, is interesting to me because it is an intersection of two ideas that are currently floating around inside my head like and unflushed turd: non-foundational views of knowledge and the modern student’s irrational openness with personal information on these Web 2.0 platforms.

On the one hand this is a clash between foundational and non-foundational learning.  In the foundational model, teachers have the knowing of a great many things, which they then impart of the tabula rasa of the student.  This is how I was taught and I hated it.  Teachers and libraries were places filled with intimidating professionals who supposedly knew more than you.  Your job as student was to shut up, never question them and let them fill your mind with “facts.”  God forbid if you solved a math problem differently or questioned the hegemony of any answer.  As I’ve gotten older, I can see some benefit to this type of teaching, it has its place.  But even if a teacher is taking a more foundational approach, they will allow for some non-foundational questioning of their “authority.”

The completely non-foundational approach states that there is a social construction of knowledge.  This approach encourages group learning and at its extremes (see, Bruffee 1995) sees all knowledge creation as fundamentally social.  The modern student has to do a LOT of non-foundational learning (or as I would argue, foundational learning cloaked as non-foundational learning).  When I was at the iSchool it was over half our grade for most classes.  Thus, from the student’s perspective they were just participating in what they always participate in: collaborative learning.  This is such an important buzzword right now that the author of the article doesn’t even question whether the collaboration is allowed but instead passes the collaboration off as a function of Facebook.  Thus, Facebook is seen as the problem; if only the students had been studying in a room in the library the faculty would have never known (or, the implication is, cared).

It really does highlight how collaborative this generation has become.  The student in that article knows that she was supposed to complete the work alone “While Neale admits the professor stipulated the online homework questions were to be done independently, she said it has long been a tradition for students to brainstorm homework in groups, particularly in heavy programs such as law, engineering and medicine.”  And yet, she set up the Facebook account anyway… I guess there’s just no reasoning with common sense.

And while on that one hand there’s the common sense notion that doing work individually really means collaboratively there’s also this disconnect between what they are doing and that the program is public.  The two things are inextricable.  I know that the kids nowadays don’t like us “Grups” getting Facebook accounts and befriending them or even looking at what they are doing with their lives.  But I have a newsflash for you… IT’S PUBLIC.  In fact, the fact that it’s group work should have been your first clue.  If your best friend can’t keep a secret what makes you think people who don’t like you can keep a secret?  And again, this isn’t a Facebook phenomena: it wouldn’t matter what social networking site you used the “Grups” will find out and you will get in trouble.  It’s called “privacy” look into it sometime, kid.

The other story that caught my attention is that Apple has finally peeked their heads out of the clouds and deigned to open the iPhone and iPod touch to developers.   OH GLORIOUS DAY!!!  You mean that I can now pay for the privilege to pay for third party developers to install programs on the iPod touch???  When will Apple’s largess ever end?  This kind of stuff really pisses me of.  You can already hack the iPod touch and install a ton of apps.  So, sure, open it up that makes sense.  After all, the more useful this device is, the more likely people are to adopt it.  BUT NOW YOU WANT ME TO PAY???  ARGGGGGH.

I predict I will be buying tons of apps for the iPod touch.

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iPodTouch update

I’ve been playing with this thing now for almost long enough; if the strategic planning stuff wasn’t taking up all my time I would have done a “bento box” on it by now.   But alas buildings take precedence over toys.

That said, I wanted to give you all a briefing on what I’ve done so far.

1. Jailbreak.  The iPod Touch is an OS X based system.  This means that we should be able to install 3rd party software but Apple prevented that through software blocks.  Further, the system itself actually shipped with loads of cool stuff (a mail application, a Google Maps application, a Yahoo weather application and a few other cool gizmos) that Apple wanted you to pay $19.95 to unlock.  So, I searched on the internet and found the jailbreak which exploited a .TIFF software flaw in version 1.11 of the OS to install a rootkit.  I downgraded the version and broke the jail — or something.  It’s a bit scary I suppose because I’m letting some nerd install a rootkit on the device but I knew I could erase the program by simply upgrading back to version 1.1.3 (maybe, maybe the device is still compromised).   Well, maybe not erase the rootkit but make it functionally inoperable.  I have to say, the jailbreak was pretty darned cool.  It put an “installer” on the desktop which let me install a whole host of programs; from games to Japanese language learning flashcards to whole books — mostly the bible, which I guess isn’t copyrighted.  It was a very useful device now.  But it lacked the gmail function and the maps function.  Sigh…

2. OS Unlock.  So we paid to unlock the email and maps and other functions.  This meant undoing the jailbreak but it’s worth it because now I can check my email anywhere there’s an open wireless.  And since I forward my UW email to my gmail account, I only needed to configure one IMAP account on the device.  Another great function is the maps program.   See, unlike the jailbreak version (which is what I took with me to London) the maps program downloads the map to the device.  That means when you lose network coverage you still have a map.  Which would have been nice on my ill fated jaunt through the seedier parts of North London.  The OS unlock also has a really boss weather thing which allows me to store multiple locations and get weather reports for the whole week.  Tomorrow, Arsenal will be playing Birmingham under overcast skies and a projected high of 53F.  There’s a notes function and a stock tracker as well.  It’s a darn fine “upgrade” but I can’t help but feel cheated by the business practice that ships a disabled device.  Who does Apple think they are?  Microsoft??!?

3. Presentation cable and protective cover and etc etc.  I really want to get the device to do presentations and so I’m still working on a way to port the video from the device to, say, our classroom projector…  Maybe if I get that working I’ll give a class on the device.  Then you’ll all want one!

That’s it for today.  Later.


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