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Spent half day of my day-off on this little DIY project!




I’ve been using the iPhone for nearly 3 years and iPad for nearly two years, and I’ve bought NUMEROUS apps. But, which apps do I actually use frequently or find them useful? I’ve finally decided to make a list:
Apps that I use on (almost) daily basis
Apps that got both an iPhone version and iPad version (universal or not):
Mail and Safari: Indispensable.
Calendar – I use a Mac. It syncs really well across my iMac, iPad and iPhone.
Reminders – I’ve got tons of to-do apps but eventually I’m using Reminders. Simple and syncs well and …Siri integration on iPhone.
BibleReader (universal)- A Bible app that I’ve been using since Palm era. The NIV Bundle that I bought almost 10 years ago is now working on my Mac, iPhone and iPad. Notes and highlights can be synced across platform. The best Bible app so far. In-app purchases work on all platforms as well. I’ve bought Bible dictionaries and various commentaries already. I like the split screen option that allows me to pull up both NIV and Expository Commentary at the same time. The way it shows up linked scripture is unobtrusive and intuitive. Really helps in studying the Bible. It actually makes me want to read the Bible more often.
MobileRSSI like the iPad version more but it’s easier to read on iPhone on a crowded train.
GoodReader – This app just gets better and better. I really regret having bought iAnnotate like two days before GoodReader enhanced their annotation UI and tabbed view (=_=!). The ability to add two different DropBox accounts and various FTPs is really helpful. It also allows you to edit TEXT files. It supports a WIDE range of file formats as well.
Facebook – Well, what else can you do with Facebook other than… Facebook-ing?
– Stay connected with friends on MSN, Facebook, ICQ, AIM…etc (And stay invisible when I want / need to)
Clock – I do use the clock to set alarms.
Phone and Messages – I do use Messages a lot more after iMessage is activated.
Camera – I use it mostly for video taking in lesson (taping my students’ playing – I teach piano and violin) or when I need quick snaps. For still photos, I use the next one below…
Camera+ Extremely useful camera app. Nice filters with good integration with Facebook and Twitter.
MoneyWell I use MoneyWell on Mac to keep track of my expenditure and income. They sync through DropBox.
Whatsapp – Stay connected! (And stay invisible when I want / need to)


ForScore – Indispensable app for musicians and music teachers. I’ve put MANY scores (in PDF) in this app (1.1GB now) but it rarely crashes. It has half-page turns which is really useful. It also allows you to annotate the score with musical signs and high-lighters. It also provides a way to mark DC, DS, repeats, and Coda so that you can jump to where you need to by one tap. US$4.99 well spent.
Noteshelf – Best note-taking app I’ve tried so far. I’ve bought TONS of note-taking apps (I’ve even written a detailed review on all these apps) but this is the app that I use most frequently. It takes hand-written notes and, with the latest update, typed notes as well. Images can be imported into the app for annotation. Notes can be exported as image or PDF. Export options include Email, Dropbox, and Evernote. BTW, the UI is really beautiful yet with no compromise whatsoever on functionality. US$4.99 well spent again.
Apps that I don’t use on daily basis but find really useful:
Apps that work on both iPhone and iPad
PlainTextA nice universal FREE app for simple note-taking. Integrated with DropBox. Clean UI made just right.
PagesI take meeting minutes with Pages on iPad. I have QuickOffice too but I rarely use it. Pages is way more elegant. I usually just send minutes right from my iPad to my PC-user colleagues and they never complained. So… I think compatibility is not an issue. (Well, I do avoid using tables but lists are just fine.)
iBooks – I guess it’s because I never really bought books from Amazon so iBooks is the app I turn to when I read ebooks. And I do buy ebooks from iBookStore. I don’t read PDF on iBooks, though. I use GoodReader instead.
AppShopper – INDISPENSABLE app for all iDevice users. (Well, there’re many apps for the same purpose out there. They’re all good… just grab one you like!)
Japanese – A well-built Japanese dictionary, phrase book, and study tool app.
Dictionaries – Oxford Music Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary…etc. I usually buy dictionaries when they are free (Oxford Music Dictionary is probably the only one that I actually paid for). Besides, now we have built-in dictionary on iPhone and iPad (select word > define). I have a couple French and German dictionaries as well.
Cardmon – a nice little app for making cards to email or post on Facebook. (I got it when it’s free.)
Flava – a nice little journal app that takes photos, map clips, text notes etc. Integrated with Facebook, Evernote, Twitter etc. (Again, I got it when it’s free.)
Genius Scan – Best scan app I’ve tried so far. Excellent B/W rendering. Creates clean and crisp PDF / JPEG images.
Skitch Great Free app for quick annotation on pictures / maps / web clips.
(I began writing this entry on WordPress web version on Safari but it was PAINFULLY SLOW. Adding hyperlink to text is such a cumbersome work. Eventually, I opened up the long-forgotten MacJournal app and phew… so much easier. I begin to like MacJournal…finally.)

Two days ago, my dad called me from China and said his iPad got stuck at the Apple logo screen; just two hours ago, my friend MSN me and said her iphone bricked. Months ago, my iPad kinda bricked as well. With more and more people using iPod/iPhone/iPad, the more frequent I have people asking me how to revive a bricked device. Two things:

1) If your iOS device (iPod/iPhone/iPad) got stuck with blank screen, long hold sleep + home button until you see the apple logo reappears (it may take up to 20 secs. Be patient!). Usually this will solve whatever problem you’re having. I’d personally suggest you to close all apps after your iPod/iPhone/iPad revives – double click home button, long press an icon in multitask menubar until the icons wriggle, close each icon with the red “minus" sign. Then reboot.

2) If the iPod/iPhone/iPad got stuck with the Apple logo like my dad’s iPad did, follow the steps here:

If neither of the above cures your iOS device, take it back to Apple.

Btw, these advices are for non-jailbroken devices. Jailbroken devices may need some other procedures and you should look further elsewhere.

My personal guess on why our devices bricked themselves is that our devices simply run out of memory. In  most cases I’ve seen, the bricked devices got 20+ apps sitting in the menubar. I know Steve Jobs said users don’t have to care about how the device manage memory and apps and such, but the fact is the devices, even iOS devices, do suffer from having too many apps opened at the same time. For most apps that crash often, the main reason and the most common reason is memory shortage. It’s almost always the case.

So, to help ourselves, make it a habit to kill apps in multitask menubar every now and then. Reboot the device every now and then. This should help to keep our beloved iPod/iPhone/iPad in good shape.


iOS 4.3 beta has expired. Both my iPhone and iPad showed “plug to iTunes" screen this morning. But don’t worry! Just follow these steps:

  1. Download iOS 4.3 from Apple (iPhone 4, iPad) – save it somewhere convenient e.g. desktop
  2. After downloading iOS 4.3, plug your phone to iTunes
  3. Hold Option on Mac (or Shift on PC) and click “Check for update", open the iOS you’ve just downloaded. (remember to choose the right one for the right device if you have both iPhone & iPad)
  4. Just let it run…


When I got my 3G iPad, I subscribed to Smartone Vodafone’s tag-on data plan (i.e. sharing the same data limit with iPhone) at an extra HK$100/30 days. At one point, I thought about jailbreaking my iPhone so that I may use the iPhone as a personal hotspot but at the end I was too lazy to do so.

But behold, iOS 4.3 enables the iPhone as a personal hotspot!

You may think, “hey, it’s still in beta!"

Well, it turns out that it’s easier to install this beta than jailbreaking the iPhone. All you need to do is:

1) go to and download iOS 4.3 beta 2 for iPhone (according to the model you have), save the file to a convenient place e.g. Desktop (it’s a 600+mb file, i.e. it may take LONG to download the whole file);

2) connect your iPhone to iTunes and back up;

3) hold “Option" (“Shift" on PC)  and click “Check for update" in iTunes (with your iPhone connected);

4) choose the file you downloaded in step 1 and press “open" (or “OK" or… I don’t remember. You know… just don’t press cancel);

5) go get a cup of coffee, read newspaper, take a shower… whatsoever… for like 20 minutes or so;

6) It’s done.

It actually runs like a normal update. After the update, you’ll able to turn your iPhone into a personal hotspot by going to Settings > Personal Hotspot. You can set your own network password there.

I’m going to SMV to cancel my iPad data plan. I may pass my 3G iPad to my dad – he has been saying that he wanted to switch his wifi iPad to a 3G one. He’s also been saying that he plans to buy an iPhone. Dad, just be patient, please…! iPhone 5 is coming… and I may pass you my iPhone 4.

Sooner or later, my dad may want a Mac. Who knows.

P.S. Those who want multitasking multi-touch gesture on iPad (e.g. swipe 5 fingers upwards to bring up multi-task menubar, pinch in with 5 fingers to go to Home Screen… etc) should NOT install beta 2 but should install beta 1 instead. However, installing beta 1 is a lot more cumbersome. Watch tutorial on youtube. Well, those gestures are still there in beta 2 but they’re hidden. You’ll need a developer account number to get into Xcode and modify some codes to bring them back. That’s why my student, who’s an app developer, will bring her MBA to lesson and activate it for me. 😛

So I’ve bought Snow Leopard. It took dayssss to arrive at my door but that’s fine.

I was lazy and so I just popped in that DVD and installed right on top of Leopard in my iMac. The installation completed successfully – so it seemed. Everything was in its own place and nothing’s lost. But then… as I began to use the new OS, things turned bad. The beach ball appeared VERY frequently. When I say VERY  frequently, it means it appeared almost right after any two clicks on whatever buttons on the screen. It appeared whenever I opened an app. It just appeared ALL THE TIME!

And then I did time machine backup right after upgrading to Snow Leopard. As time machine was working, I went take a shower. When I came back, the screen was asleep (which is normal). The abnormal was … when I moved the mouse, then punched the keys, then moved the mouse again… the screen just wouldn’t wake up! It took at least 3 minutes to wake up at last.

Then I was sure something’s really wrong. The Snow Leopard is supposed to be running faster!

So… I backup again just to find out that my external hard disk dropped dead for no reason (ok, it’s been giving some weird noise but I  ignored it. It finally gave up at the moment I needed it most >_<!). I had to get another HD (luckily there’s another one at home) and did a live partitioning and used the new part as my time machine.

After backup, I zeroed out my own iMac before making a clean install of Snow Leopard. Backup + zero out + install + migrate took me a total of 3.5 hours. (But with the initial installation plus backup plus partitioning… that costed me an extra 2 hours or so…)

Then last night came iTunes 9. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about the upgrade. I remember the upgrade last time to iTunes 8 did give me some trouble. But anyway, I upgraded to 9 because the new features are too attractive. With iTunes 9 came also the new iphone firmware 3.1. I  was also a bit skeptical about this. To be frank, there are always risks in doing upgrades. But I did it as well… it’s needed for the new features in iTunes 9. The upgrade went pretty smoothly… at first. Then when I synced my iphone, everything went through but it gave me an error message at the end of sync saying:

“the iphone… cannot be synced. An unknown error occurred (13019)"

What the heck is that? I googled it and turned out to be a common error. It’s easy to fix: just uncheck the “sync music" box and sync to remove all the songs in iphone. Then sync one more time to put all the music back in iphone. Then it’s fixed.

So I did three upgrades during the past week. Nothing went too wrong. Everything’s running fine now!

一月 2021