Sunday, 6 April 2008

iPhone Problems #1 : Texts (minor concerns)

Following on from my major gripe about individual deletion, here's a few other aspects of texting that bug me every so often.

2. 'Conversation' is a misnomer.
The first message after an undesignated period of inactivity (it's less than 25 minutes but more than 6) gets time and date stamped. Which is fine, but clearly what Apple means by 'conversation' is 'a number of texts sent reasonably close together', regardless of whether they are replies to previous messages or entirely new trains of thought. This has the result of not only clumping together groups of texts in a slightly jolting way, but also leaving most messages without a time stamp. If you happen to text rapidly but over a reasonably long period - when arranging to meet someone, for example - you can easily end up with the final text in a string being hours newer than the first, with no way of differentiating it. I for one would like to know exactly what time a text saying 'just got on the bus' was sent, so I can judge how late I'm going to be in meeting said bus. It's the slightly random nature of this which bugs me - either time stamp each text, or don't bother at all.

3. Lack of delivery reports.
This is probably an O2 problem - to get a delivery report from a text, one is required to type *0# (note: that's a zero, not an O) before the message. Which is extraordinarily fiddly, and just too incredibly frustrating to do before every message. Why there's no option on the iPhone itself to turn delivery reports on or off, as there is on almost all other handsets sold in the UK, I've no idea.

4. Call/contact info scroll time
A very minor point, this one, but another example of Apple having wonderful intentions which fall a little short in practice. At the top of every text conversation are two highly useful buttons: 'Call' and 'Contact Info' (if it's an unknown number, the latter becomes 'Add to Contacts'). These have clearly been designed for no other purpose than to be helpful when one is in a rush and doesn't want to go back to the home screen, get into the contacts list, etc. This sort of unobtrusive handy-help is the reason I love my iBook, and Apple in general, so much. However, the text folders of those people I am most likely to want to call at the drop of a hat are, not surprisingly, rather full. So scrolling up from the latest text to the 'Call' button is painfully slow. The option to tap the screen once to have all of this displayed (as with Quicktime or Safari) would be much appreciated.

iPhone Problems #1 : Texts

Being a big fan of gmail, I like the 'conversation' style of the texts, and I like how my side of the speech-bubble debate is green. But an odd lack of research seems to have been carried out on how people actually use texts. Perhaps this is partly because of the gap between the UK and the US on texting - it took much longer for it to catch on in the US, and still isn't embraced with quite the same fervour. This might be because we've never managed to master the American-style quick-fire phone call, which is in essence a verbal text message. SMS allows the British to arrange appointments without the ten minutes of asking how the other person is at the beginning and a lengthy polite goodbye sequence at the end. So, maybe Apple should have a talk with us before the June update and sort out some of the following:

1. There's no way to delete individual texts.
This issue has been commented on by many, and there are a few hacks around already to help out, although they're all a little clunky - a common problem seems to be their tendency to only show numbers, not names. I like having a different section for each contact, even when such sections are empty of any actual messages; I like that my replies aren't hidden in some 'sent' folder; I like that a line of the most recent text is displayed on the first page. But a big problem stems from my having, essentially, two different sorts of text messages - those containing humorous observances or Happy Birthday greetings, which I save as long as I have the phones, and those saying thinks like 'yes, 5 mins', which are usually deleted instantly. The choice is therefore to keep everything, no matter how long it takes to scroll through them and how difficult it is to find the interesting/useful/funny ones; or, to mercilessly delete them all. Not only can I not delete the ones I don't want, I also can't save the ones I do. Given that in the last ten days I've had over 70 texts from Michele alone (and I live with him), the former isn't really an option - I dread to think what people with real jobs are going through trying to find the date of a crucial meeting hidden among hundreds of 3-word exchanges about coffee and photocopiers (or whatever it is the employed discuss with their collegues).

So, for the moment, I'm following a strict regime of entering important dates in my calendar as soon as they arrive, and typing up into a word document any sentiments from friends I know I'll want to look back on. This way, I've covered all bases when I accidentally delete everything in one go. But I feel it somewhat defeats the purpose of the wonderful-looking, easy to use text app I have at my disposal. What I should be doing is signing up to O2's Bluebook, where Sean Bean nicely saves a copy of everything as it comes in, but I've found O2 almost as disappointing as Virgin Media during my short ten day spell as their customer, so I've been putting it off as long as possible.

Further minor problems to follow.

iPhone Problems - Introduction

My iPhone is wondrous and I love it dearly, from its shiny back to its smudged and slightly sticky front. But while the features it has are (for the most part) extraordinarily well designed in terms of both usability and aesthetics, Apple seem to have clean forgotten to include some of the standards I was expecting. I'm by no means the first to point these out but, being someone who enjoys making lists, I'm going to detail them again.

cakePHP database config

Ok this is cool.

For CakePHP, database configurations are saved in the app/config/database.php file. But notice each config is given a variable name. Any number of configs can be added in this file so that when you're working on a controller you can set the $useDbConfig variable equal to a string of the same name as your config array. Simple.

here's more info

CakePHP conventions

This page outlines CakePHP conventions.

An interesting and useful paragraph is the following:

The first function you write for a controller might be the index() function. When a request specifies a controller but not an action, the default CakePHP behavior is to render the index() function of that controller. For example, a request to maps to a call on the index() function of the ApplesController, where as maps to a call on the view() function of the ApplesController.

Notice visibility is also mentioned on the page but starting a function name with an underscore

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Automatic Documentation in PHP

Something to do with phpDocumentor.

But basically, make a code block but use a double asterisk. The make elements with an @ symbol:

* This function builds a simple XML file for the client to parse.
* @author Michele Memoli
* @since Version 0.5.3-23
* @return string Returns an XML string.
* @see ui::get_xml( )