Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aye to Bozo filter

FOR someone who has an iPhone, I am conservative when it comes to installing new apps.

After about a month, the only new apps I have on my phone are Facebook and Star Wars Lightsaber. Both are available as free downloads from Apple's App Store.

In due time, I see my list extending to just a few more: a dictionary, Wiki, games such as Tetris, Bejeweled and some sort of typing or word game.

It's because I am not wild about apps. With the App Store now hosting more than 25,000 apps, competition is fierce. I prefer to let the dust settle a bit. Once that happens, the quality titles will emerge and I will then not hesitate to pay for them.

Besides, there are apps already on my iPhone that I haven't used, like this Mail app which I haven't got around to setting up, in part because email is not terribly urgent to me and also because I dread the thought of having to sift through junk mail on a small screen.

So what would be nice to have is something called Bozo Filter to go with my Mail app. Bozo Filter is a term I got from Dilbert creator Scott Adams, who in turn got it from former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki.

Essentially, Bozo Filter works like a spam filter, in that it eliminates worthless emails. They always have tell-tale signs like multiple recipients and phrases like "I thought you might be interested in this" or "please forward this to everyone who is a someone to you".

But more than just getting rid of worthless emails, Bozo Filter would go after the sender of these emails.

Say, for example, someone forwards me a chain mail about Bill Gates wanting to share his Microsoft fortunes via chain letters. I want that email deleted and an electric shock sent back through the Internet and cellular network to whoever thought I needed to see that.

So, yes to Bozo Filter.

And no to alerts. I do not want to be told of incoming messages, especially when they give me a scare for no good reason in the middle of the night.

Speaking of getting scared in the middle of the night, I recently changed my ringtone from the default Marimba to Sci-Fi, all because my children like it. And then I forgot to revert back to Marimba.

Big mistake. In normal circumstances, Sci-Fi has a fun, 1950s science fiction ring to it but when it goes off in the quiet of the night, you get a different effect altogether. It sounds scary.

Recently, someone gave me a wakeup call at 6am. Boy, did I wake up: with my heart pounding fast. Not good for the heart. I have since changed the tone back to Marimba.

On the other hand, if you enjoy horror flicks, this can be a great idea for an iPhone horror app. Let's call it - in the spirit of Apple-like simplicity - iScare. iScare should do the following:

1. Display an apparition at random at the corners of your screen. Ideally, the spectre should resemble a former girlfriend/boyfriend. iScare can rummage through your Trash Bin for their deleted pictures because you probably never secure-empty the Bin.

2. Let out sudden ghastly shrieks and images - in their full screen glory - when you least expect them, such as when you're painstakingly trying to correct a typo on an SMS.

3. Include an "extra person" when you try to snap pictures with the camera.

It's morbid and I don't exactly like horror but I like to entertain the idea.

At the moment, what we have at the App Store is something called Horrorscope from a company called 38i. Normal horoscopes tell you what you want to hear; this one tells you want you don't want to hear. "What's your sign? It's definitely a bad one." LOL!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nazi lemak, please

IT was a particularly happy day recently when I took delivery of my first iPhone.

It was a long time coming. I had been waiting for two years to get it.

When Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone at Macworld San Francisco in January 2007, I, like millions other people who saw it in real life or on YouTube, was itching to get one because it really looked like the best phone ever made.

Later that year when the iPhone started selling, people made a beeline for Apple stores all across America to get theirs and the gadget was snapped up in a few hours.

Before long, the iPhone started springing up everywhere, including in Kuala Lumpur where it wasn't even supposed to be available.

Some of my friends had one. Another friend flirted with a girl because he wanted to get to her iPhone.

Me? I held off my purchase because I don't believe in becoming an early adopter.

Much as I adore products coming out of the Cupertino-based company, I believe when it comes to new, untested products, you need someone to get rid of the bugs. That would be other people, not me.

Besides, my Nokia N70 was still serving me well. Although its screen was too small for Internet surfing and the keypad required me to use my fingernail to type, I was happy to just make calls, send SMS and watch the occasional funny/naughty 3gpp video clips.

But there was never a shadow of a doubt that my next phone would be an iPhone. Hence the purchase.

One thing that I like immediately about the iPhone is the SMS feature.

The SMS exchanges that you have with your contacts are arranged like conversations, complete with their own word bubbles. This way, it is a cinch to keep track of what was it you said to whom even after days.

You flick through a conversation with your finger and it scrolls up and down like a Rolodex. So if it's a particularly long scroll, it's probably an exchange with that sweet engineer girl who scuba dives and speaks Mandarin.

I also like the predictive text input.

For the uninitiated, predictive text input works by guessing your words before you finish typing them. So when you type ipho, for example, a tiny dialogue spring forth suggesting iPhone and you just press the space bar to accept it.

The system takes some getting used to, however. I wanted to invite a friend over for nasi lemak the other day and it came out as Nazi lemak.

Once, I wanted to go jalan and it came out as I wanted to go Japan.

Try insulting someone with a particularly unparliamentary word, and it came out as "baby" instead.

Thankfully, it is a system that learns. What I find with the predictive text is that the more I use it, the better it gets at anticipating my words.

So now, my iPhone has recognised "u tgh wat pe skrg tido ker" as perfectly acceptable spelling.