THE DIMINUTIVE Belkin Media Reader-Writer, reviewed earlier today, came in the usual enormous tough-plastic display packaging. This colossus measures 29 x 16 x 7cm. The bulky bit containing the card, manual and lots of cardboard, has an internal volume of 1,000 cubic centimeters (same as the cylinders of a small car or a superbike). The card itself has a volume of approximately 10 cc. So the packaging is 100 times larger than it ought to be. This monstrous confection was difficult to carry home and took up far too much space in my bag. And, of course, it is ridiculously wasteful and difficult to recycle. We are being charged for supermarket bags, so why do we get such packaging foisted on us for free?
By Michael Evans
RESTORING my 3G to factory settings the other day, I was again struck by the lack of backup for the popular Bloomberg app. This is an excellent news and information application for the investor and it effectively tracks an investment portfolio with lots of available data. However, when disaster strikes and you have to restore (or buy a new phone) there is no way of recovering all the painstakingly entered portfolio details. Re-entering means searching for company names, entering quantity of holding and purchase price. Having learned by previous mistakes, I now keep all this information in a Numbers spreadsheet so I can enter it again with relative ease.
"We also agree with both of your points and the solution to both problems are planned and are somewhat related. The first issue regarding the portfolio total returns is somewhat complicated because our applicaiton supports equity securities from all of the world's major exchanges, denominated in a wide range of securities. As a result, a straight sum of the values is not sufficient to provide an accurate result. To perform return calculations, it is necessary to know the user's base currency and the dates on which the securities were purchased and the exchange rates in effect on those dates. It is vastly simpler if all of the securities are denominated in the same currency. This may be the most common case and we may show the total if it is true, we just have not done that yet.
One solution that we have planned that would solve the problem above as well as the storage issue, is to link the list of securities on the MyStocks, to the securities in the Portfolio Tracker on our Bloomberg website. The portfolio tracker is a free widget which performs many of the calculations described above and it could serve as a central repository for the securities which would then be stored so that they would be backed up in the event that your device fails and is initialized.
Hope this helps."
LISTENING to Leo Laporte's Tech Guy netcast today, I was reminded of a long-standing gripe when applications save data to places other than the Documents folder. Leo was talking about Windows at the time and he mentioned that there were still some badly behaved programs which save data to the Program folder. In Macspeak this would be the Applications folder and I have not come across any apps which insist on doing this.
New to the MacOldie household is Virgin's 50 megabit cable broadband. Up to now I've had their 20 mbps offering so I was keen to take advantage of the new high-speed service available in many parts of the country, including my area of west London. Installation meant a new modem (the previous model was at least 10 years old, so about time). Speed tests during the day show that I am getting near enough to 50 mpbs but this slows down to around 25 mbps at peak times, presumably when neighbours are home from work and using bandwidth. So far so good. A big advantage for me (see my post on Carbonite) is the 1.6 mbps upload speed. This is really useful when a typical hard-drive backup to a cloud can take many days. With the new connection I'm achieving 10GB a day, which is pretty fast.
It is just so easy to download iPhone applications that most owners have page after page of apps, many of them seeking to do the same job. I see there are now over 10,000 applications to choose from. Many are free (which surprises me, given the amount of work that has been done) but the majority are cheap (under £5).
- Omni Focus, a superb task manager and GTD (Getting Thing Done) application that synchronises seamlessly with OF Desktop on any number of Macs. This is by far the best GTD system for iPhone and Mac users.
- Evernote: This is without a doubt the best note-taking system which can be synchronised (via the web) with Macs and PCs or can be accessed on Evernote's web site.
- iBlueSky: Simply the best mind-mapping app for the iPhone. Maps can be exported into PC or Mac systems such as MindJet Mind Manager.
- Bloomberg: An essential free app if you want to keep up with financial information or check your portfolio during the day.
- NetNewsWire brings together all your RSS feeds and is a quick way of browsing all news sources.
- Splash Money: I have been a long-time user of the Splash Wallet suite on Palm and Windows Mobile devices, so it's good to find Splash Money, Splash ID and Splash Shopper available for the iPhone. All synchronise with desktop applications. I use Splash Money daily to enter cash transactions. At the end of every month I transfer the totals for each category of expense to my main accounts system on the Mac (MoneyDance).
- Mental Case: A quirky one here. Mental Case is a fantiastic flashcard application for studying anything. I'm currently using it for improving my Greek and have downloaded a large number of flashcards from the Flashcard Exchange.
- Typing Genius: No doubt, this is the best typing tutor for the iPhone keyboard. I've increased my two-thumb typing speeds and accuracy dramatically in the last two weeks.