iPhone leaving POP3 lock on mail server until powered off

Yesterday, I had a new iPhone user complain that they were getting a message about a POP3 lock when attempting to get new messages from the mail server after checking email on their iPhone.  I have been doing this for sometime and never noticed this issue, but decided to investigate further when I had time.

This morning, I ran a number of tests and was able to easily reproduce the lock message when attempting to check email after the iPhone had checked the POP3 server for email.  This is typical behavior that I have experienced when using multiple computers and one POP3 account.  The lock file is used to ensure that only one computer is updating the mailbox at one time (since typical POP3 behavior is to download messages AND remove them from the server). 

What I was surprised to find was that after I exited the Mail application on the iPhone and left it at the Home screen… the lock persisted on the mail server.  I waited a minute, and was still getting the message about the lock existing on my POP3 mail server.

I found through trial and error that it appears the iPhone continues to maintain the lock on the POP3 server until the phone is powered off.  In our case, 15secs after the iPhone is powered off, the lock is removed from the mail server (or at least allows the desktop mail client to download mails from that POP3 account).

After finding this, I realized that my common behavior would have never caused this to appear (for me).  My typical use case is that I check emails while out-and-about, or in a meeting.  When I have checked messages, I power off the phone.   I return to my computer and press Send/Receive (or Get Messages) and the new emails come down without an issue.  I guess I have never checked my email on my iPhone and while the phone is still on try to check them from my computer.

How I listen to podcasts (and keep up)

I have had a number of discussions recently about podcasts and how I listen to them, or find the time to invest in listening to them. After these impromptu discussions, I realized that I may have not provided the complete answer to the question.

To completely answer the question, I am providing this list of ways that I consume podcasts. One note, I am talking only about the audio podcasts since I use my TiVo to watch the few video podcasts that I subscribe to (TekZilla, Cranky Geeks, Diggnation, etc).

1) In the car, during drive time (most commonly, to/from work). I have a 20min commute, each way, to work and find that this is the easiest way for me to keep up with my podcasts. I use the Griffin Technologies iTrip AutoPilot which provides both power and an FM transmitter compatible with my iPhone 3G. The added benefit is that it provides on the cigarette lighter portion, it provides a Play/Pause, Previous and Next Track buttons. This allows me to easily stop the podcast, so I don’t miss anything :-), if I am in a drive thru, or need to focus more on the road/traffic. http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/itripautopilot I purchased mine at Amazon, but you may find it cheaper elsewhere. I highly recommend this device, for those that don’t have a line-in jack on their car stereo. There is a trick (http://store.apple.com/us/reviews/TQ045LL/A?fnode=MTY1NDA2MQ&rs=mostUseful) to allow it to use channels below 88.1 in the US, and that provided me with a single channel that is clear throughout the Cleveland metro area. I use 87.7, for those interested.

2) Outside, while walking/exercising (most commonly lunchtime walks, or evening walks by myself). At work they have been promoting this “know your numbers” health related consciousness and touting that walking 10K steps a day is a good way to stay healthy. In an effort to maintain my health and be a good example, I have been making an effort to get up and walk more around the office as well as taking a daily walk at lunchtime. This is a perfect opportunity to get some podcast listening done, since I am walking along a dead-end street in the industrial complex that our office is located… so traffic is light, outside noise is rare, and there are few people out walking at the same time. I also have been trying to add a walk at night around our housing development. The typical “joke” at this point is that my wife enjoys walking with me while I listen to my podcast and ignore her….. Well, to be honest I take these walks by myself. My wife is on her feet all day keeping up with our two boy’s events, school, and housework. So she doesn’t want to take another walk at night, and with winter coming quickly to the Cleveland area right now, she has no interest in going for a walk with it is just 20-30degrees out.

3) Inside, when doing repetitive or “basic” tasks (resizing images, website updates, or just un-boxing equipment/etc). I love my Motorola S9 bluetooth headset for this type of listening. These headphones allow me to wirelessly listen to my podcasts from my computer (via bluetooth) while I roam around the immediate office area of my desk. It won’t work for everyone, but there are times when it is nice to have some background “news” going on while I am un-boxing an order of 8x 8port switches, 10x power strips, or sorting through all the cables/equipment that comes back from a demo or tradeshow. I am not tied to my computer, and I even have enough range to reach the kitchen while still listening to my podcast. I will say this is probably the “least” useful time to listen, and the hardest to make work for most people… but if you have a job that lends itself to it, and can multi-task in this way it definitely works.

As a bonus, I thought I would also provide the list of podcasts that I am currently listening to at this time. All of these are available through iTunes and all of these are free. Most are between 30mins and 1hr of total time per episode and only a couple of them are daily (noted below).

  1. Blog – Stack Overflow
    Jeff Atwood (of codinghorror.com) and Joel Spolsky (of joelonsoftware.com) discuss the development of their new programming community, StackOverflow.com.
  2. Buzz Out Load (daily)
    Molly Wood, Tom Merritt and producer Jason Howell give you their daily take on what’s happening in tech news throughout the week.
  3. CNET News Daily Podcast (daily)
    The CNET News team brings you this snappy podcast every weekday, covering everything from privacy to processors, iPods to Intel. Charlie Cooper, Leslie Katz, Erica Ogg, and Jennifer Guevin cover the top technology news of the day, and encourage listeners to be a part of the discussion in the forums.
  4. Engadget
    The Engadget Podcast, a one stop shop for all your weekly gadget needs. Hear editors from the leading technology blog discuss and dissect the latest news in cell phones, laptops, and more.
  5. Gadgettes
    Girl gurus Kelly Morrison, Molly Wood and producer Jason Howell give you the latest on hot gadgets, pop-culture tech, and shopping advice.
  6. gdgt weekly
    You may know Peter Rojas and Ryan Block as the guys behind Engadget and Gizmodo, but they’re back with gdgt – the ultimate online destination for all things gadgety and electronic.
  7. The InsideRIA Weekly Roundup
    Created for web developers and designers, the InsideRIA Weekly Roundup is a news recap on the ever-changing world of Rich Internet Application development, covering all of the major players and technologies, from Adobe to Microsoft, from Ajax to Google Gears and JavaFX, and lots more.
  8. MacBreak Weekly
    Get the latest Mac news and views from the top journalists covering Apple today.
  9. net@night
    What’s happening on the ‘net right now? Amber MacArthur spends every waking moment combing the net for cool sites, viral videos, and funny and moving moments online. Only a fraction of the stuff she finds makes it to her TV shows on Citytv – the rest she shares right here with us.
  10. The Onion Radio News (daily)
    The Onion Radio News is a daily podcast featuring a short news clip from The Onion’s award-winning 24-hour radio news network.
  11. Open Web Podcast
    Dion Almaer, John Resig, and Alex Russell discuss news and events coming in from the Open Web community.
  12. this WEEK in TECH
    Your first podcast of the week is the last word in tech. Join Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and other tech luminaries in a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in high tech.
  13. Windows Weekly
    Windows expert, Paul Thurrott, of the SuperSite for Windows, talks about Windows Vista and more each week on this netcast – part of the TWiT Netcast Network

I highly recommend subscribing to a few podcasts that are of interest to you, and try them out with some of the suggested listening times above. You will be surprised with the nuggets of information you will hear/find and your ability to keep up with what is happening in the news that interests you without combing every news site. Enjoy!

iPhone Stats (first 8-weeks)

Ok, this is the last post on the topic… but I thought I would share my usage, and see what interesting conclusions may be drawn from the numbers.

Songs: 524
Videos: 0
Photos: 18
Capacity: 14.6 GB
Available: 11.7 GB

Call Time
Call Time: 5hrs and 58mins

Cellular Network Data
Sent: 7.8 MB
Received: 123 MB

Based on these numbers, here are some basic averages (based on 58 days):
phone conversation a day: 6.1 up slightly from the first 4-week average of 5.2 mins
data sent per day: 0.134 up slightly from 0.114 MB
data received per day: 2.120MB up modestly from 1.828 MB

Couple of observations… I have “settled” into a routine with the device. I purchased the Griffin Technologies iTrip AutoPilot and have been listening to podcasts (tWiT, BOL, the404, StackOverflow, gdgt weekly, OpenWebPodcast) during commute. This unit (model 4046-TRPAUTOC) supports charging the phone + FM transmitter, with the extra benefit of Prev/Next/Play&Pause all on the lighter-plug (very useful!).

Apps installed:

  • Pandora Radio
  • ShifD
  • AIM (just in case)
  • Twittelator
  • BreakLite
  • LumenLite
  • Apple iTunes Remote

iPhone Stats (first 4-weeks)

After 4 weeks with my iPhone 3G, I thought I would share some of the statistics that the phone has been keeping on my usage:

Songs: 520
Videos: 0
Photos: 18
Capacity: 14.6 GB
Available: 11.8 GB

Call Time
Call Time: 2hrs and 25mins

Cellular Network Data
Sent: 3.2 MB
Received: 51.2 MB

Based on these numbers, here are some basic averages (based on 28 days):
5.2 mins of phone conversation a day
0.114 MB data sent a day
1.828 MB data received a day

I have found, that I am using it primarily for reading email and rss feeds (google-reader), and was keeping up with the Olympics news on it as well. I also use the music a fair amount, and I am hoping to find a couple of good podcasts that I can listen to on the commute time (to learn something while I drive :-).

My iPhone 3G

This post a long overdue… only if you were following my tweets, would you have known. I placed the order for my iPhone (16GB Black model) on the Monday after the crazy Friday they went on sale. I obviously, had to do the direct fulfillment at the ATT store in Strongsville (near work) since they were sold out by Monday.

The phone arrived to the ATT store on July 25th, but I was on a plane to Texas when it was delivered. So I had to wait until Tuesday the 29th in the evening to pick it up. First impressions (like so many others)…. WOW, Apple does a great job with first impressions of the device (from opening the box to the installed apps/etc, web access, emails, etc).

I have been using the iPhone 3G now for about two weeks, and it (and it’s data plan) have changed the way I use my cell phone. I definitely appreciate having internet and gps just about anywhere… especially when I have that 15-30mins of downtime while the boys are at an activity or wrapping up something. I enjoy being able to tweet, read blogs with Google Reader, and get a quick update of my emails while out and about. I imagine (tho haven’t needed yet) the GPS could be handy especially with google maps to find where I am in a different city (and locations for food/products).

List of apps that I have installed so far:

  • Pandora (streaming music)
  • SHIFD (shifting notes/links/locations between devices)
  • AIM (instant messaging client, haven’t really used/needed)
  • Twittelator (twitter client)
  • JawBreaker (game)

I also have a link on the apps page(s) to take me to the Yahoo! Olympics pages to the Medal count and latest news from the 2008 Beijing Games. So that I can keep up with the Olympics.


  • Installed Apps are stopped when you switch to “home” or other app (Makes Pandora use a little less than ideal…. the iPod app, allows you to keep the music going)
  • Safari can only really have 8 windows open at once (this is probably a good thing, and forces me to bookmark or email off pages that I am reading and want to keep open longer). Just not an obvious limitation until you run into it… and you can’t open any more links because you hit the max “window” count of Safari.
  • Camera app, button location for taking the picture is centered right above the “home” button…. and I invariably hit “home” instead of take a picture. So then I have to wait for the camera app to start up again before I can take the picture I wanted (this time being careful to press the button on the screen and not the “home” button). This is probably just a “getting used” to the device quirk, I hope.
  • switching between landscape and portrait mode isn’t flawless…. either it doesn’t switch or it takes longer than I think it should to realize I wanted it to switch to landscape mode.
  • Can’t get ipod/pandora music out via bluetooth to my Motorola S9 headset. Apple seems to have decided that the only time you need bluetooth audio is while on a phone call. So there is no A2DP or AVRCP functionality in the bluetooth stack on the iPhone 3G.
  • The vibrate feature doesn’t seem to be “enough” to realize there is an incoming call. I am not sure if it is me, or something with the phone, but I have missed more calls with this phone in two weeks than I ever did with my HTC 8125. And I have always left my phone in vibrate… so I thought I was “trained” to respond to the vibration. Possibility is the issue isn’t the phone but more likely the case. Another possibility is that it is actually the reception with 3G and this phone…. and I am not getting the call through… but later getting the notification I missed the call (and new voicemail). I am going to be watching this one more closely, and may need to turn on the ringer for a while to see if I can pinpoint the cause.

So all in all, it is a great device and offers me a number of features/functionality that make me more productive in those “in-between” moments and also a little more connected. The reception/missed calls issue is really the only significant issue and I am hopeful that it can be resolved with placement of the case, or very low ringer. I am hopeful that Apple will consider implementing more bluetooth functionality, as well as the ability to have *some* apps at least run in the background so that you can multitask more on the device. Otherwise, I am very happy with my new iPhone.

First computer mouse and Usability Dilemma

First Mouse

Engelbart’s Usability Dilemma: Efficiency vs Ease-of-Use
— The mouse was the original idea of Doug Engelbart who was the head of the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at Stanford Research Institute. Engelbart’s philosophy is best embodied, in my opinion, in the design of another device that he invented, the five-finger keyboard – with keys like a piano, used by one hand. The problem was, Engelbart’s five-finger keyboard and mouse combination was very difficult to learn.

Just reiterated to me that while you may come up with the most efficient design it still may have too high of a learning curve for the average user to every approach and use your web app. Definitely something to keep in mind as you design your web apps, it needs to be the balance between the efficient design and the easy-to-use product that people want to use. And for web applications that first visit impression is huge and can be the difference in whether the user even makes a return trip to your app.

I started using Picnik recently and everything about the site draws me back. The efficiency with which they are solving a particular user problem (the ability to quickly edit a photo on Flickr, or for blog posts) and the ease-of-use of the design (nice clean white buttons, that are enjoyable to use, with advanced features that are easy to play with, and yet not overpowering on first use). Picnik strikes the perfect balance between having lots of features but only showing you what you need to cover the 90% use case, and the other 10% can go under Advanced and see a menu full of additional features/functionality.

Bluetooth AV Controls under Windows with iTunes

In this post, I wanted to document the steps that I had to follow to enable the A/V controls (play, pause, next song, previous song) buttons of my Motorola-S9 headset with my windows computer using iTunes.

Setup used:

  • Motorola S9 headset
  • Dell Latitude D830
  • Dell internal Bluetooth adapter (2.0 adapter with A2DP and AVRCP profiles)
  • Standard Drivers from Dell’s site (Toshiba drivers)
  • iTunes (v7.6.1.9)

I successfully paired the Motorola S9 headset with the Dell Laptop and it appeared as a Headset (Device Class: Audio/Video Wearable Headset Device, and Service Claass: Audio Sink). Once complete, I could listen to the music from my laptop but could not control the playback.

I confirmed that the Dell Bluetooth adapter in the Latitude D830 has the A2DP and AVRCP profiles so that it should allow the audio playback controls, however it wasn’t working. After digging online at both the iTunes site and the Dell site I had determined there must be an incompatibility with the setup that I was using. However, when I was unable to make Windows Media Player work as well… I figured there had to be a configuration issue.

I opened up the Bluetooth Settings window (double-click on the bluetooth icon in the systray, near the clock) and started looking everywhere for a setting to enable this. I found it under Bluetooth->options and on the General tab at the bottom is “AV Remote Control Service” but it wasn’t checked. So I checked the box and then tried the headset Play button and lo and behold Windows Media player popped up. So now it was talking using the AVRCP controls but how do I make it talk to iTunes instead.

So I checked the other tabs under Bluetooth->options and found on the “Other” tab the section for AV Player Selection with a button “AV Player…”. Clicking on the button you are presented with a window that allows you to pick the program for each of the following:

  • Play music file
  • Play CD Audio
  • Play DVD

And below that is a setting for where it displays the “command” that it was requested to do. I selected iTunes for the Music File and CD Audio and set the Display position to Bottom-Right where all my other alerts appear and clicked OK.

Success! The Motorola S9 now correctly controls iTunes for Play, Pause, Next Track, Previous Track.

I hope this helps someone else, as I was surprised that I could get the S9 to work just fine with my iMac but couldn’t get it working with iTunes under Windows. Apple probably has all the services enabled by default, where it seems that Dell doesn’t enable the PAN Networking service, nor the all important AV Remote Control Service.

The new laptop has arrived!

My new Dell Latitude D830 was just delivered to my desk. I already
have it booting up and will probably spend the next few hours
configuring it and getting use to all the differences from my Dell
Inspiron 4150.

First impressions:

  • It seems a little thicker than the D820
  • Wide screen is nice, and definitely “brighter” than what I have been using
  • Dell is still loading some amount of gunk that will need to be removed

More to follow, once I have more than 2 minutes with it.

New Laptop Ordered


Today I placed an order for equipment that includes a new laptop for
me!! I am pretty excited but at the same time slightly disappointed.

I am glad to finally see an end for my existing Dell Inspiron 4150.
Just sad that I could not come up with a compelling enough
reason/justification for me to move to an Intel-based Apple MacBook.

With still 50% of my responsibilities in the IT functions, and a need
to have quick access to Windows tools and routinely troubleshooting
Windows issues with users…. I just could not justify the switching

Virtual machine software (Parallels, or other) is great for many
things…. But the speed is still an issue, and BaseCamp is a great
product but means waiting for a reboot each time I need to switch.

So I have decided to resign myself to the Latitude D830…. And will
continue to use a leftover G4 laptop for Mac OSX (Safari/etc)

Software licensing/costs was the other big issue…. Everything I use
today is available on both PC/Mac… But I already have purchased
copies on the PC (and of course the licenses are for only the PC
version of the software)…. So that added to the switching costs.