Weird problem with iCal reminders, can anybody help?

This one’s for any of my fellow Apple users out there who have a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 (the latest update of Lion), and an iPhone or iPad running iOS 5.

I’ve got an iCloud account set up to sync reminders between my devices and my computer. This is working beautifully between my iPhone and iPad, and the reminders are also showing up in iCal on my Mac. But the problem is, on the Mac, I cannot edit them. I can’t even click a reminder to mark it as done; I have to go over to one of the iThings and do it there.

Here’s a screenshot of what I see when I try to doubleclick on one of my iCloud reminders from my Mac!

This don't make no sense
This don't make no sense

userinfospazzkat, who also has his Mac laptop and his iThings updated to the same revisions that I do, has not experienced this problem. However, the main difference I’ve been able to note between his system and mine is that he has a full MobileMe account, including an email address, that he set up to talk to iCloud. I don’t have a MobileMe account; I’ve got iCloud using my Apple ID, which is my gmail address, to log in. I would like to HOPE that this shouldn’t be causing my reminders to be showing up read-only on my Macbook, but hey, I’m QA–I know how theoretical functionality doesn’t necessarily line up with what the code is doing, even after it ships.

So what say you, fellow Mac geeks? Any of you experiencing this problem? Any of you know how to solve it?

Tonight has really required music

You can’t be on the Internet tonight and not be aware that Steve Jobs has died. That hit me bleakly–less because I’m a user of Apple products (Macbook and iPhone and iPad, yo), and more just because I’m a cancer survivor. And even though I didn’t know Mr. Jobs as a human being, his work nonetheless has had a formative effect on my life the last several years. I cannot help but feel for the loss of someone who’s touched my life like that.
I played “Da Slockit Light” for him tonight–by reading the sheet music for it out of the TunePal app on my iPad, which has become a critical tool for my session practice.
And after I did that, I fired up Le Vent du Nord’s “Lanlaire” on my iPhone, and listened hard via the earbuds to try to pick out the first few measures of Olivier Demers’ fiddle solo. Because, again, music, and music delivered to me on a device that wouldn’t have existed–certainly not in its current known forms, anyway–without Steve Jobs.
And I’ve raised a glass to him tonight: Ardbeg, mixed with Blenheim spicy ginger ale.
RIP, Mr. Jobs. Thanks for all you did, sir.

Several awesome things make a post

I’ve been total Scattershot Girl when it comes to blogging for some time–like many, I’ve found most of my day to day online communication shunted over to Twitter and Facebook. But that said, I’ve had several recent lovely things happen that are worth sharing with you all in longer, blog-based form. So! In no particular order:

  • Finally saw The King’s Speech, since userinfospazzkat got it via Netflix. That was a very satisfying film, and I’m not at all surprised that it’s spawned so much fanfic across my various Friends lists and such. Everyone in that film did an amazing job, and I have much increased respect for Mr. Colin Firth now. Also, mad love for the scene where the speech therapist’s wife comes home and discovers the King and Queen in her dining room. :D

  • Also, as of today, finally saw Source Code with userinfosolarbird. Mad, mad props to userinfomamishka for recommending that! It’s a nice, tight little SF flick, and if you like alternate-reality type plots, try to catch this before it vanishes entirely. If you’re local to Seattle, it’s still playing at the Meridian 16 downtown, and it’s running at the Crest as well.

  • I have finally found a way I might actually read more comic books: the Dark Horse comics app for the iPad. I installed this on the grounds that a couple weekends back, Dark Horse had a sale of all its digital versions of Serenity and Firefly comics. Since I didn’t have Shepherd’s Tale yet, I thought what the hey, I’d buy ’em all. The iPad is definitely more suited to digital comics reading than the iPhone, that’s for sure, although the iPhone does actually talk to this app as well.

    Also on the iPad, I have a shiny new app called TunePal, recommended to me by Marilyn, one of the fiddle players who attends the weekly session userinfosolarbird and I have been going to. Those of you who know the Shazam app will find the way this works familiar; it basically identifies songs. But in this case, it identifies traditional Irish tunes! You can play them at the app on an actual instrument, or, it’ll identify ’em if you’re playing them in iTunes as well. Then it goes out and hits up a big ol’ database and yoinks back several guesses as to what it thinks you just played it. It’ll show you sheet music for its guesses, and it’ll play the sheet music for you as well. And, you can add tunes out of the database manually by searching for them as well. You can’t import your own tunes, which is my only complaint about the app, but it’s otherwise very, very cool. Any of my fellow music geeks out there who are interested in trad tunes, you should be checking this out.

  • Speaking of the iPhone, my coworker Joe pointed me at my new favorite iPhone game: Tiny Wings. You play a birdie with, of course, tiny tiny wings, and the object of the game is to get the birdie to fly as far as possible by tapping. It’s super-cute and only 99 cents, so check it out.

  • FOLKLIFE! Well, that deserves a whole separate post, but I’m noting it here anyway.

  • And while I am still technically on book buying hiatus, I’ve picked up a few freebies. And I will unrepentantly, UNREPENTANTLY I TELL YOU, break hiatus wide open to buy userinfoseanan_mcguire/Mira Grant’s Deadline this week. Because GIMME. Seriously.

  • My friend userinforavyngyngvar is sending me a Blu-Ray of a-ha’s last concert in Oslo! Thank you, Yngvar!

  • I am sorely behind on Doctor Who posts, and will shortly be doing a catchup post. It’s an indicator of how much I’ve not been paying attention to the net lately that I totally missed that BBC America did NOT air the second half of the two-parter on Saturday, to wit, bah. I did not however give enough of a damn about this to actually try to find and download the episode; it’ll air next week as far as I know, and I can wait that long. Especially given that we’re about to have the mid-season hiatus anyway. Just nobody spoil me, mmkay, those of you who’ve already caved and downloaded the ep anyway?

  • And because it’s always worth saying, mmmmm blackberries of my marketboys mmmmmm.

Attention, my fellow i-Device-owning peeps

As a Big Fish Games employee, it is my duty to inform you all that we’re having a massive sale of all our iPhone and iPad games this weekend–every last one of ’em is .99 a pop. Go! Buy a few! You’ll be paying my paycheck, and hey, I’m FOR that. :D

I am personally very fond of Hidden Expedition: Amazon on the iPad (excellent soundtrack, fun plot, monkeys, and a dorky professor you have to find using clues left in his scattered journal pages), and Atlantis: Sky Patrol has some fun marble-shooty action going on, with a bit of retro, art deco sort of look to it. Drawn: The Painted Tower is gorgeous. And Azada is a nice family-friendly game that those of you with i-Devices AND kids might enjoy playing along with a youngster, since it’s all about various and sundry classic stories.

Search for Big Fish Games on the App Store, or, if you want a super-quick way to get to all of our i-games at once, you can find ’em on our site right over here.

Need RSS app that reads authenticated feeds AND syncs

Help me, fellow Apple geeks!

I have a whole helluva lot of RSS feeds I want to keep track of. Ideally, I would like to be able to sync reading these feeds between my computer, my phone, and my iPad, so that if I read an article on any of these objects, it updates the others as soon as I sync.

The problem is that quite a few of the feeds I want to keep an eye on are friends-locked accounts on either LJ or Dreamwidth. And the vast majority of iPhone/iPad apps I’ve found for RSS reading work by way of syncing with Google Reader–which is lovely and all except for the part where Google Reader doesn’t talk to authenticated feeds. :/

I do NOT want to use a third-party service (such as FreeMyFeed) to unlock those feeds and plug them into Google Reader, on the grounds of that would violate the privacy of those feeds. What I’d like to do instead is either a) let my Mac do the actual grabbing of authenticated feeds, and just sync that content down to the mobile devices, or b) find an iPad app that can talk to authenticated feeds locally, and just read RSS exclusively on that device.

So, do any of y’all have suggestions for how I can solve this problem? Let me know in the comments!

IPad thoughts so far

So I’ve had the Shiny for a day or so now and am beginning to have thoughts about it.

Things I don’t like:

  • The mail app has a preview pane I can’t turn off.
  • My laptops USB ports are apparently not powerful enough to let the iPad charge when I have it plugged in for syncing.

Things I do like:

  • The on-screen keyboard is a little weird, but I can work with it. Between that and a reasonable amount of screen space, I am fairly sure that I will be able to write on this thing, although polishing of format will likely still have to be done on the laptop.
  • The smart cover is pretty nifty, and I think I chose well when I chose the brown leather one. It’ll look nicely natural as it gets more use.
  • It is amazing how cold the back of the device feels compared to my laptop, especially if I am carrying them both from room to room. And it’s pretty cool having the thing in my lap right now as I write this post, and to not have heat radiating off of it.
  • About half the apps I had put onto my phone are universal binaries that also work on the iPad, and of those, several of them look way nicer. The WordPress app, which I’m using right now, is a nice example.

I’ve been doing a bit of reorganization of my apps in iTunes, trying to determine which ones need to stay on the phone and which ones will move primary operation to the iPad. So far the book reading apps and the HD games are the big things I am moving over. And I am a sucker for those damn birds (SO ANGRY!) and zombies (brains), so I bought the HD versions of both of those games. I’m downloading a lot of Big Fish’s shiny HD releases too–as a proud Big Fish employee, I feel that is my beholden duty. :D I’ve played a bit already with Hidden Expedition: Amazon, which I’d previously played on the computer. But it looks REALLY good on the pad, and it also has a multiplayer mode in this version, where you can have two people on the same device searching for hidden objects at once, either competitively or cooperatively. I want to try that!

(switching back to the laptop)

It looks like the WordPress app has got some problems (it can’t handle HTML tags well right now and it seems to be stripping out all my damn quotes, which is not helpful), so I’m having to finalize this post via the actual web UI on my laptop. But that’s the fault of the app and not the fault of the iPad; I had the same problem using the WordPress app on my phone.

Anyway, still getting everything the way I want it on the device, but so far so good so shiny!

On the awesomeness of technology

Something that has really come to light for me in the last couple of years is that I’m really, really, really tired of the “my choice of technology is better than your choice of technology” attitude so many of my geek brethren espouse. Whether it be “Linux is better than Windows” or “Macs are better than PCs” or “Open Source is better than paid software” or “my smartphone is better than your smartphone”, I have yet to see that this is anything more than the simple human tendency to divide up into camps and loudly proclaim how one’s camp is superior to everyone else’s.

And you know what, folks? When it comes to geek technology, this is really kind of silly.

When you get right down to it, no matter what operating system it runs, a computer is pretty goddamn awesome. So are smartphones–I mean, c’mon, you guys, we are all carrying around tiny computers in our pockets. And when I think about this, especially when I think about how computers used to be gigantic boxy things that would take up entire rooms, it’s even more amazing to me.

I’ve been thinking about this this week because I’ve gotten the expected amount of shit for the fact that I’m getting an iPad. But really, I’ve been thinking about it ever since a coworker of mine showed up at work preemptively expecting that the team was going to give him shit for having a Windows phone. That struck me. If you’re going around automatically expecting your fellow geeks to hassle you about the device you’ve chosen to purchase, that really takes a lot of fun out of having it. And it shouldn’t, because again, computers are awesome. And smartphones are just tiny computers.

So I would now like to take this opportunity to celebrate all technology, no matter who makes it. I invite folks to join me in the comments to express love of whatever technology you have and why you love it. I’ll start!

I love my MacBook because it’s clever enough to dual-boot between OS X and Windows 7.

I love Windows 7 because it’s a version of Windows that is not only not sucky, it’s elegant, doesn’t get in your face with the UAC dialogs, and able to play nicely with Bootcamp.

I love Linux because I’ve found it to be an excellent platform to write Python code on. Also, excellent for running our home servers at the Murk, and for playing Nethack on, and hosting my web pages and blogs!

I love Open Source because of healthy respect for the ethic of creating programs just because you love to code.

I love paying for programs I need or games I want because I myself work in the computer industry, and I love supporting my fellow geeks for their work.

I love Firefox because c’mon, FOXES, how can I not?

I love Safari because it’s fast.

I love Internet Explorer 9 because whoa, hey, a version of Internet Explorer that’s actually fast and compliant to recent web standards? Awesome! Well done!

I love my iPhone because it’s a tiny, tiny thing and yet it lets me do so much.

I love my nook because it lets me carry around an amazing number of books with me, and in one small sleek package.

I don’t own one but I love seeing other people’s netbooks because small, cute technology that can go toe to toe with bigger laptops is awesome.

I don’t own one but I love hearing from friends who own Android phones or Windows phones just because a friend saying “I have a toy and it does this really, really cool thing” is awesome, too!

I love flatscreen monitors because yay for occupying less desk space, not to mention no longer throwing radiation at my poor neck.

And I’ll save telling you about why I love my iPad after I’ve actually had some time to break it in. :D

Your turn, people! What technology do you love, and why? (And remember, this is not about ‘I love technology X because it’s not technology Y’–please, let’s not snark. Let’s make this a celebration of all things that are awesome. Thanks!)

Fellow writers who own iPads, represent!

Those of you who follow my personal blog know that my partner and I are getting shiny, shiny iPad 2’s!

One of the things I’m thinking of doing with mine is seeing if I can write effectively on it. So if you’re a writer and an iPad owner (first OR second generation model), I’m very interested in hearing about whether you find them effective writing devices! If so, what apps do you use? I’ve kind of liked Documents To Go on my iPhone and I plan to see how well I can use it on the iPad, but I’m open to other suggestions as well!

The iPads have shipped!

I got the news this morning: my and userinfosolarbird‘s iPad 2’s have shipped! ETA: this Friday! We haven’t decided on names yet, though, and this will clearly accelerate the naming schedule. Not to mention I’ll have to make a point of swinging by the Apple Store this week so that I can buy my iPad its own cover.

Meanwhile though I thought I’d expound a bit on what exactly I plan to do with mine, since Dara and I have been asked a time or two what we’ll do with them.

First and foremost, I plan to put Big Fish Games releases on it! I’ve been an avid player of our Mystery Case Files and Hidden Expedition games, and the iPad form factor is very well suited to the Hidden Object genre of casual games. In fact, I’m thinking I’ll probably enjoy them more on the iPad than I will on my laptop, since I just have to tap the screen to select the object rather than doing a mouse click. So that’ll be easier on my hands.

And I’ll play other games on it too of course–Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies are obvious choices, but I also have a couple other games I’ve been playing on my iPad (a Mah Jongg game and a Kakuro game) that I’ve been enjoying, and I expect to enjoy them on the iPad as well.

Secondly, I want to see if it’s possible for me to write effectively on it. I already know I can thumb-type fairly well on my iPhone, but the tiny screen has proven to me to be less than ideal for how I work on a novel. I’m hoping greater screen real estate on the iPad will counteract that problem. Again, this will be a question of being easier on my hands. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to NOT have suffered carpal tunnel yet like so many other folks my age who’ve worked in the computer industry, and I figure any preventive measures I can take to keep avoiding that problem will be wise.

I also figure that it’ll be a better writing device than the laptop for when I go to conventions or something, such as the forthcoming Norwescon. It’ll be more portable, and last a lot longer on battery life, and shouldn’t heat up like my laptop does.

Third, I fully expect to use it as a reading device, despite the fact that I’ve also got the nook. I do have a small number of books I’ve purchased from Amazon as well as a whole lot of PDFs, neither of which are easily readable on the nook without going through a bunch of hoops that I don’t wish to go through. And, if for whatever reason my nook breaks or something, I can read my B&N books on it as well with the nook app.

Fourth, if I find it’s not a good writing device, I will probably shift to using it to monitor Facebook and Twitter and my RSS feeds and such, while segregating the laptop to be writing ONLY. The idea here would be to encourage myself to have a mental space of “if I’m on the laptop I’m writing, DAMMIT, so no looking at the Internet”.

Fifth, I fully expect to use it to watch videos, perhaps on airplanes or trains or something. I do have some Torchwood I need to get caught up on, and now that I’ve been clued in to the wonders of Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo buys for movies, I expect I’ll have a few more interesting digital copies of movies showing up in my library. (Russell Crowe leads the way, AS HE DAMN WELL SHOULD, with The Next Three Days. XD )

A lot of this is, I grant you, perpetuating the whole idea that “bah, iPad users are just consumers of content!” (An attitude which annoys me, as I’ve already ranted about on this blog; after all, us creative types need people to consume and appreciate our content, so it is not at all nice to snark at people who do so.) On the other hand, a lot of this is also stuff I already do on both the iPhone and the laptop, including my own creative output. The overall idea here is going to be finding out whether the iPad will serve me as a better device than the laptop does, or what. And all in all, I expect to enjoy the hell out of it!

And I’ll see if any other amusing things to do on the iPad present themselves. For example, userinfospazzkat has been overjoyed with the Garage Band app on his iPad (he’s got the original model), and has had great fun creating little musical compositions with it. (Take that, ‘iPad users are only consumers of content’ people. ;P :) )

iPad users who may be reading this, tell me about anything awesome you’ve done with your devices! Especially if you’ve found ways to be creative with them, and what apps you’ve found that let you do that!