Reader-like feature on Mobile Safari


I love the Reader feature on desktop Safari 5.0. It strips a webpage of annoying ads and flashy sidebars, and formats it into a nice, clean page, with only the text we want to read. It’s perfect for pages with lots of words. Mobile Safari doesn’t yet offer this feature, which is unfortunate, because it’s even more difficult to read a long piece on the iPhone. Luckily, there’s the next best thing: The Textmode app (website) turns any webpage in Mobile Safari into a text-only page, very much like Reader on the desktop. 

You need to first link Mobile Safari to Textmode by adding a JavaScript into Safari’s bookmark. Then when you land on a page you want to read, click on the Textmode bookmark and the app will display the text of the page you’re looking at. With recent added support for multitasking on iOS 4, you can go back and forth between Textmode and Mobile Safari instantly without losing the spot you were reading on either apps. The seamless integration makes Textmode a must-have for users who don’t like reading on Mobile Safari.

Google Analytics implemented


Just got around to implementing Google Analytics to this site. I’m now testing it. Hope it works.

Update 1: The instruction said to paste the tracking code on every page I want tracked. That’s too much work. So I look inside my templates and pasted the code in the Main Index page. Failed

Update 2: Searched the web for specific help on implementing GA in Movable Type. Several MT users wrote to paste the tracking code in the Footer template in MT. Nice. I looked in my templates and found no Footer. Perhaps MT 5 omitted it? Failed.

Update 3: The other tip I found was to create a Widget for the GA code, then add the widget to the Footer template, OR, any template that’s integrated into all blog pages. Ah, so that’s the key. I looked over my site and found one element in common–The “POWERED BY MOVABLE TYPE” logo at the bottom of every page. I found the “Powered By” widget template and pasted the tracking code inside. Alas, the pasted code didn’t stick. Failed.

For now, I am going to do as Google instructed, just paste the code under each page, until I find a better way.

Microsoft Messenger 8 for Mac beta


The official beta release of Messenger 8 for Mac is out. Why should we care? Because this is the first version to support video conferencing. Yes, it’s 2010 and Microsoft is finally catching up to other Mac chat clients. Now when we talk to our PC friends about Messenger, we can stop avoiding the embarrassing no video on Macs issue.

Google could plummet?


It’s not often I hear bad things said of Google, and then I see this title, Google Could Plummet as Apple War Takes Toll. TheStreet commentary talks about how Google is losing its leaders, profitable innovations, mobile search, brand trust and the China market. They’re bold statements and the writer goes as far as predicting Google’s stock price to go back to $300 within 24 months. Ouch to Google and its shareholders. I am a fan of Google, but I do question its move to pull out of the China market in the long run, and by looking at its recent drop in stock price, others might fear the same.

Perhaps the only other left cheering besides the writer is Baidu, the dominant search engine in China, as its stock price just topped $600.

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Amazon Kindle for Mac


The Amazon Kindle for the Mac is out, finally. I’ve been waiting a long time for this one. I got my first Kindle book for my iPhone recently, but I can’t get used to reading book-length work on such a small screen. Instead of putting it off, now I can finish my last chapter of The 4-Hour Workweek on my MacBook Air, without having to wait for the iPad to come out.

Kindle for the Mac is barebones, but that’s okay, because reading e-books should be clean and simple, and not be a distraction by the tool that holds the content. When I opened the application, it asked for my Amazon login, then pulled my Kindle book from the cloud and downloaded it to my Mac. The beauty of it is that when the book opened, it displayed the page that I last read on my iPhone; it also remembered the dozen or so bookmarks I made on it. That’s one seamless experience I can appreciate.

If Amazon decides to make a Kindle app for the iPad, then it will be a matter of who offers the cheaper book, Amazon or Apple. Because right now I have no problem buying Kindle books, as I’ve been buying physicals books from Amazon for 10 years without incident. It’s good to have competition in the e-book space.

Why Mac users hate Windows


Okay, I decided to buy a copy of Windows 7 after testing the evaluation copy for six months and was impressed with it; the speed is acceptable running on my iMac, which was never the case with previous versions and older Macs. Also, the interface is actually, ah-hem, pleasant to use, which I never thought I would get to say about Windows. Even though I mostly use it for one particular Chinese program unavailable on the Mac, I decided to buy a license of Windows 7 Professional at a discount through my niece.

Then I installed it on my iMac with ease; it was actually as easy to install as the Mac OS. The timing couldn’t be better, too, as my evaluation copy was ending, and the nagging prompts won’t let me forget it, not to mention it reboots on auto. 

Yet, to my horror, when I opened the Chinese program on my new OS, the text was scrambled, completely incomprehensible. I tried all settings but nothing worked. After much troubleshooting, I found out Windows 7 Pro doesn’t support other languages. The evaluation copy I’ve been using is Ultimate, I later learned, which is the only one that supports multiple languages. I am not happy. To those Windows users who say I should have found that out BEFORE buying the Pro version, I say, no, I shouldn’t have needed to find out, because Mac OS X comes in one version and contains all languages under the sun, so it never crossed my mind that the Professional version was still not good enough. It’s just not fair to consumers that each version of Windows 7 has something crippled to differentiate and justify the premium pricing.

I am now left with either hacking my Professional to support Chinese–the process looks scary as hell–or buying even the more expensive version, Ultimate. There is no way on earth I am going to buy one more copy of Windows 7, so I guess that leaves me but to go to hell.

Dictation on the iPhone


I am writing this blog post not by typing but by talking. I am using Dragon’s Dictation software on my iPhone. The accuracy is phenomenal, nearly 100% if I speak clearly and slowly, oh, and a quiet background should help, too. The actual transcribing is done not on the iPhone but transferred over the air, yet you hardly notice it, because the speed is almost instantaneous. So a 3G or a wi-fi connection is required for the app to work. While dictation software costs hundreds of dollars on the PC or Mac, this iPhone app is actually free, supposedly for a limited time. It still has work to do in terms of usability, but for its core function, turning an iPhone into a portable dictation device, it has done an admirable feat. After transcribing, I only needed to do minor manual editing before copying this text over to iBlogger to post to my blog right from the iPhone. Now that’s something I wasn’t expecting to be able to do in 2010.

Movable Type 5 and themes


Upgrading to Movable Type 5 was no trouble, as usual, but afterwards, I tried to switch to a new theme, and now I’m running into all kinds of trouble: inconsistencies, previous leftovers, missing elements, just general weirdness. It’s probably caused by the previous theme I used. Yikes! If I can’t figure out how to fix it, I might have to pay someone to do it for me.

[Update, 11 January 2010] Choosing the community style theme Tristan Blue (MT 5.0) seems to have solved the incompatibility issues. I’m guessing the upgrade from MT4 to MT5 is major enough that new themes will have to be created to support the added features and changes. I will be searching for other new MT5 themes.

Note: I normally like to use 2-column layouts, but if you want this theme to be readable on the iPhone, choose 3-column instead. The 2-column text is too small even when rotated to landscape in Mobile Safari.

[Update 2, 11 January 2010] Rebuilding the site seems to bring back legacy elements from the previous theme, so I guess the the Tristan Blue (MT 5.0) didn’t solve the problem. Now I tried the Community Blog 1.0 theme, and so far it’s working. It’s a 2-column layout but readable.