FretBoard for iPhone

In 1997 I wrote a small app for the old 3com Palm Pilot (remember those?) and I released it on my own special licence – DWTFYWWI v1.0. This is somewhat along the lines of GPL, but with even fewer restrictions. It stands for “Do What The F— You Want With It”.

Here’s a screenshot;

I thought this app had disappeared without trace when, lo and behold, I find it still survives as an iPhone app! What great news. It has made my day.

Head over to http://fretboard.mennigmann.com/ for more info. As you can see, the app is MUCH prettier and MUCH improved, but it is great to see my original idea still alive.

Ouch! A podcast about disability that doesn’t patronise?

I mentioned some of my favourite podcasts in a previous post, but, since most of these are published between Friday and Monday, I find that by Wednesday or Thursday I’m running out of stuff to listen to. Last week I went searching for something else and was lucky enough to stumble on the “Ouch!” podcast from the BBC.

It is billed as a podcast about disability, but it is so much more than that. It is funny, informative, irreverent, entertaining and definitely worth a few minutes of your time to check it out. My favourite feature I think was “Vegetable, vegetable or vegetable?” where the presenters call up a listener and, twenty questions style, try to guess their disability/condition in 90 secs. It was a proper “squirt coffee out of the nose” moment. Genius!

You can visit their web pages at http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/podcast/ or subscribe using iTunes.

Great Podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts and have found it to be a great way of usefully using my commuting time. In general there are two types of podcast I listen to; funny and informative. The best ones are both.

With the exception of BBC podcasts and Six String Bliss, all of these are liberally peppered with profanity and adult themes. If you’re easily offended, give them a miss.

  • Peacock and Gamble – Two British stand-up comedians both with an off-kilter view of the world. Strange combination of innocence and moral corruption. This is the podcast I have to be most careful about listening to. It has made me squirt latte out of my nose and, on one particularly memorable morning, start to cry on a commuter train (tears of mirth thankfully) – I did get a seat to myself for a change.
  • The Bugle – Bit of an odd one this because Andy Zaltzman’s endless puns irritate me beyond belief, and yet it is worth putting up with these for the truly magnificent John Oliver (of Daily Show fame). And to be fair to AZ, when he’s not punning, is a genuinely funny and knowledgeable man – I’d hate to be stuck in a lift with him though.
  • Collings and Herrin – Two friends sitting in an attic talking about anything they fancy. Ostensibly supposed to be news-based, where they discuss the headlines of the day, but very rarely do. And when they do talk about the news it quickly spins off into something else. I always liked Richard Herring and considered him to be the funny one of the “Lee and Herring” partnership. As much as I like Stewart Lee, I’m surprised that he is the one to have gone on to be more successful. Andrew Collins is definitely the straight man of the pair but still worth listening to (apart from his views about homeopathy and natural cures). Mind you his (slight) Northampton accent frequently brings back my unpleasant memories of my exile there in the mid-80s.
  • SModcast – Director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Zack and Miri, etc) and his sidekick/producer Scott Mosier talking about a vast range of subjects, from industry gossip, to running comic book stores, to ice hockey, to size-ism, to bizarre sexual practices – and everything in between. Includes a great cast of additional characters that occasionally stand in for Scott when he’s not about. My personal favourites were the podcasts Kevin did with his mum. Funny and touching. Like the very best “two-hander” UK TV dramas from the golden days.
  • Phil and Phill’s Perfect 10 – 10 Questions, posted in by listeners, pulled out of a hat and discussed at length. Always funny. Often filthy. Occasionally informative.
  • BBC Radio 2’s Fighting Talk – A humourous sports quiz show hosted by Colin Murray with a regular cast of characters. Mainly based around English football, but occasionally strays into darts, curling, ice hockey, baseball and beyond. Always entertaining and Colin Murray is a superb host.
  • BBC Radio 4 Choice – The best radio broadcaster in the world by a massive margin in my opinion. This podcast, which features an interesting programme from the previous week sums up Radio 4 for me. I continually find myself engrossed in subjects which I never knew were of interest to me.
  • Six String Bliss – Last, and most definitely not least, is Six String Bliss, a weekly podcast about all things guitar. Hosted by Pipes and PT, there are regular topics about a Guitarist of the Week, recent guitar news, tracks submitted by listeners, interviews, reviews. If you play, or are interested in playing, then this is definitely worth a listen. There is, perhaps, a rock/indie focus to the music but not to the exclusion of other types of music – everything from Wes Montgomery to Slipknot will find a home at Six String Bliss.

Favourite iPhone apps

Right, I’ve had my iPhone a couple of weeks now and so far the apps that are really making a difference for me are (in order of usefulness);

  • RememberTheMilk – An iPhone interface to my favourite to-do list manager. The app itself is free but you need to register for a RTM pro account (25USD per year). Then again, I regard it as such a useful and beautifully designed service that I’m quite happy to give a little support.
  • Tweetie – Twitter client used by Stephen Fry. Nuff said? No of course not – I’ve got my own opinion too. It does everything I want in a twitter client, and nothing I don’t.
  • DarkRoom – Reduces camera shake by monitoring the accelerometer and taking a picture when your iPhone stops moving.
  • QypeRadar – find shops restaurants and other facilites, based on where you are, with links to reviews.
  • SnapTell – take a picture of a book, CD or DVD and it’ll find links to sites selling it, wikipedia, reviews, etc.
  • Stanza – Ebook downloader and reader.
  • Shazam -This one is borderline magical. Listens to a piece of music and identifies it.
  • iFooty – keep up to date with all the English football league action, including live match updates.
  • PocketDyno – Using a combination of the accelerometer and GPS provides fairly accurate performance stats for your car. Very innovative use of the phone’s capabilities.

All of the above are free, with exception of Tweetie, which is yours for measly £1.79.