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How to wirelessly sync your iPhone with Google Calendar: Hello, Saisuke.

After writing about how I’ve managed to sync my Outlook, Google Calendar, and iPhone harmoniously together, I soon became obsessed with how to achieve this feat wirelessly or OTA (Over The Air), if you will. After a good hour (maybe more) of searching, I realized that my options were limited. In the free corner (where I like to spend most of my time), there was a workaround that featured a program called NemusSync. This required a jailbroken phone, and I have yet to explore this area. Another popular free option was Nuevasync. It turned out that this option was not going to work for me since I have a Microsoft Exchange account at work, and it was not going to play nicely with this program. Plus, I wanted something simpler, an option that didn’t involve me playing around with various settings and options. After all, simplicity is one of the areas where the iPhone excels. Why should I settle for less now?

month view

Pay for what you get.

It turned out I was going to have to go the paid route (I’ve only purchased one app before – Koi Pond, just to see what everyone was raving about – more on that to come). One program that intrigued me was Pocket Informant, by WebIS. I used this program back in my Windows Mobile days, and was blown away by the amount of detail and customization that this program offered. Unfortunately, this app is not out yet, and I just couldn’t wait. Another application that kept coming up in searches and was available now was Saisuke, and the more I read, the more I liked. With Saisuke, you get an upgraded calendar and the ability to wirelessly sync with Google Calendar. Now, I must admit, I liked the native calendar that came with the iPhone. And after discovering how to sync multiple calendars in the colors that I used on Google, I was not able to give up that feature. Fortunately, Saisuke allows me to do everything aforementioned and does it wirelessly. I didn’t realize it until later, but I feel a lot more free now that I don’t have to connect my iPhone to my home computer (I invested in a car adapter, so that’s where my iPhone gets replenished) except for backups.

week

A week’s worth of work

As mentioned above, Saisuke features a calendar upgrade. Most of the reviews that I’ve read rave about the inclusion of a Week view for you calendar. I’ve never been a huge fan of week views, but I do like this one. I prefer the List view, and again, while the native calendar app did a fine job, Saisuke preserves this view nicely and adds the OTA ability. One additional feature is the ability to swipe horizontally. This is a nice option for the day and week views, though in all honesty, it was a bit sluggish/unresponsive at times, so I don’t use it as much. One additional note is that Saisuke is a stand-alone calendar application, meaning it will not sync your native iPhone calendar app. Thus, I moved Saisuke to my front page apps, and moved the now useless native calendar to the back (if only I could keep that icon…)

OTA

The one feature that I was desperately searching for proves to be a major strength for Saisuke. With the touch of a button, I am able to wireless sync my iPhone calendar to my multiple Google calendars. The sync is very fast (under 5-10 seconds depending on number of records needed to sync) though I had to toggle some options to achieve this feat. First, Saisuke offered me the option to sync my tasks since I have Remember the Milk in my Google calendar. This was a major slowdown for the application, so I’m not recommending this setting. Besides, if you’re a RTM pro user, you’ll want the native RTM app instead. Second, there is an option to auto-login to Google Calendar. I found that this delayed startup (naturally), and since I wanted my calendar to start up as quickly as possible (sometimes, I just want to look at my events and not edit them), I disabled this setting. With auto-login off, my calendar loads quickly, just about 1-2 seconds longer than the native calendar app. One setting that I did leave on was the “sync at single edit” option. Whenever I change an item on the Saisuke calendar, the program automatically syncs this event with my Google Calendar. It does this rather quickly, so I’m inclined to leave the setting on, just in case I forget to sync my whole calendar again.

So, is it worth $9.99?

Perhaps, it was because I became obsessed with finding a solution to the OTA sync with GCal that I am extremely pleased with Saisuke. The shortcomings (can’t create repeating events, can’t edit repeating events, occasionally sluggishness) in my opinion are minor, but may be dealbreakers for users who need these particular functions. For me, the important feature was the ability to wirelessly sync and in this, Saisuke exceeds my expectations. As I mentioned above, I am now less tied to my home computer, and more in tune with my calendar. And while Mobile Me may provide a lot more functionality, I’m determined to achieve the most desired functions (OTA sync being one of them) at a much lower price.

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Filed under: iPhone, iPhone Apps, Reviews, , , , , , ,

iPhone App review: Tap Defense

tap cover

I’ve quickly found that my favorite games on the iPhone and in general are those that involve some strategy.  I was immediately drawn to Lux (a Risk clone), but after playing it for 2-3 days, I became bored with the limited number of options.  There’s a new paid Lux version (Lux DLX) that I may check out, but for $7.99, I’ll wait for a sale.

What’s keeping me occupied on the free end of the spectrum has been Tap Defense, a strategic game that pits you as the defender of the heavens fighting against creatures from hell.  Ok, once you get over that hokey storyline, you realize that the game boils down to some strategic placement of towers that have a variety of powers (arrows, bombs, ice, magic, etc.) and resource management since everything costs money.

The game features 42 levels, though I will admit that I haven’t been good enough to get that far.  It also has three difficulty settings, but I’m still stuck on easy.  Tap Defense is a great time waster, and you can save your game in between levels.  At first I thought you had to click on an ad to save the game, but that was just me misreading a banner message.  The game definitely saves your place in between levels.

tap defense screen

Lastly, here are some tips to get you started:

1)  You can get away with arrows early on – they’re cheap and effective.  Replace them when the monsters develop immunity.

2)  Definitely place your towers at opportunistic places like corners.  You’ll often get more than one opportunity to blast those devilish creatures.

3)  Try to save for the 2 halos and research the interest rate increase to make your money work for you (Suze Orman would surely agree).

Want more?  Try this site for a level by level guide.

Filed under: iPhone, iPhone Apps, Reviews, , , , , ,

Review: DLO Videoshell case for iPhone 3G

As predicted in my review of the Contour Hardskin, it was only a matter of time when I would want to try on a different look for my iPhone. As much as I loved the Contour (solid protection, lightweight, excellent customer service), there is something about seeing the iPhone for all its beauty, and the Contour prevented one from viewing the chrome side and the smooth glossy back.

Enter the clear case collection. There are several out there, from Contour’s own “iSee” and its new “Showcase”, to Agent18’s Shield, as well as other similar cases from Belkin and Speck to name a few. All of these were simple enough and ranged from $19.99 to $34.99. The goal was to find something that went above and beyond. My usual stop for reviews (iLounge) offered a possible option. Its review of the DLO Videoshell for the iPhone 3G offered a dual grade (A-/C-) to account for the problem of not being able to open easily. The Videoshell is very competitively priced (I got mine for $18 at SF Planet), comes with a screen protector, and has a viewing sliding stand that allows you to prop up your iPhone. Although this was quoted in an Wired article as a useless feature, it’s what ultimately sold me on giving the product a try since I found it to be rather innovative and potentially useful.

First, what I liked. Certainly, the price and the total package are very attractive. For $18 (maybe less if you shop around), you get a case and a screen protector. The case is of solid construction (sure, it’s cheap plastic, but it has been durable nonetheless), and the phone fits in snugly (almost too much). The sliding stand (once you figure out how to open it – HINT: use your index finger to prop it out of those grooves) is cool, and allows you to prop up your iPhone both vertically and horizontally. Plus, what they don’t advertise as much is that it resides flush with the case, not protruding like a belt clip. I was unsure of this until I received it. Definitely a big plus in my book. I did not use the included screen protector, since I have been very pleased with the one I purchased and applied already (Power Support Anti-Glare).

What’s not to like? Well, since it’s a clear case, it’s going to pick up some minor scratches, which over the course of time may diminish the case’s intention of showing off the iPhone. I still like the way it looks and feels, so I can overlook this for now. The plastic is a bit rough at the openings (volume and backlight), and dust seems to find its way in through those wide openings. The challenge of opening the case is a con, but I will offer a workaround for this here. The plastic adds a bit of bulk, slightly heavier than the Contour Hardskin that I had before, but overall, the feel is still smooth and still not as bulky as my Samsung i730 or a Blackberry. Finally, the sliding stand is a bit thin, so be gentle, or else you might not have it on much longer.

How do you get the phone out? So, the ilounge reviewers were correct in that it is a bit challenging to remove the iPhone from the Videoshell. However, after a bit of trial and error, and some minor nicking to my case, I have found a pretty solid method that you may find of use (DLO – you may want to advertise this method, and send me a replacement case for my efforts and minor nicking). Basically, it involves opening the case with a small coin (I use a penny), and this was advertised on DLO’s website. However, I still had a hard time getting the rest of the case to open. I nearly broke my finger, though I’m surprised the case did not give in as well. I also nicked up the sides of the case before I decided to bring in another piece of “plastic” to help out. Just as you would see in the movies, I used a credit card to get myself into a “locked” place. After opening the case with a coin, I slid a credit card through the sides and this easily forced open the case. It has worked every time flawlessly since, and I can now get in and out of the case as needed (mostly to blow out the dust and clean away smudges).

Overall, I am happy with the case. I got it for a fair price, it shows off the iPhone well, adds a coolness factor with the sliding stand, and I can work around its shortcomings with ease. Let me know what you think – I thought about making a quick YouTube video to show the credit card trick, so if there’s a demand, I will oblige.

Filed under: iPhone, Reviews, , , , , , , , ,

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