Friday, November 14, 2008

Bayesian Solutions to Everyday Problems

Ok. This is a new theme i have been considering writing about. It should be fun but what i need are evveryday problems for which information is uncertain and a decision must be made. Here is a very simple and oft discussed example. Suppose that you are on the show Let's Make a Deal. The scenario is as follows. You are shown three curtains and told behind the curtains are three prizes. One of the prizes is valuable the other two are generally not valuable. You are asked to pick a curtain. At this point you have a 1/3 chance of having selected the curtain with the prize behind it. You are then shown that behind one of the curtains that you did not choose is one of the crummy prizes. You are then asked whether you would like to stick with the curtain you initially chose or switch and choose the other remaining curtain.

If you stick with your original choice you still have a 1/3 chance of winning. On teh other hand, the prize had a 2/3 chance of being in one of teh other two curtains. This remains true even after you have been shown that a crummy prize was behind one of those two. As a result, the remaining curtain of the two still has a 2/3 chance of having the prize. Thus switching doubles your chances of winning. Neato!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

iPod Touch/iPhone Update

By popular request, here is another post on the configuration of my iPod Touch and how i make use of it to enhance by my personal and professional lives. This post will be organized into two parts. The first will deal list my official appstore apps and webbased tools which i use. The second will just give a very quick overview of how to jailbreak the latest OS (and unlock for 2G phones) and the list which unofficial apps I find useful. FYI, its an increasingly small number these days.

Ok. My apples store apps:

(1) Google Calendar (and/or Contacts and/or Mail) syncing with Microsoft Exchange. I used to use the jailbreak app NemusSync for this purpose but the free NuevaSync services works even better. Directions for its use can be found here, but the essence of the procedure is that you create a free account with give it permission to read and update your google calendar (by ticking an option). Then on your iPhone, goto Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendar. Then add an account select Microsoft exchange and enter you newly made info. Anyway, detailed instructions can be found at

(2) Mocha VNC: This is a versatile, free, VNC client for your iPhone. I run the (also free) TightVNC server along with no-ip on my PC and this combination allows me use the iPod touch to login to my windows desktop. Its primary function is to check on numerical jobs I am running and possibly start new ones. For the free version, you lack the use of the right mouse button in windows, but the keyboard works just fine. Instructions to install tight VNC for your PC are to be found here. MAC users have a VNC server already their machines which just need to be setup. If the PC (or MAC) that intend to use has a dynamic ip address. I recommend signing up for a free account at which effectively gives you a fixed ip address for your computer (after you install a bit of software). Just sign up here and follow the instructions.

(3) Itunes Remote. Use you iPhone as a remote control for iTunes one a machine on a local network. Just start it up and follow the instructions. Works perfectly, is great for parties.

(3) Fring. Turns your iPhone into a internet phone allowing you to make calls (or send instant messages) using Skype or a SIP account. For SIP service i use Gizmo. But its the same cost as skype out (~2cents a minute for international calls) so if you Prefer skype it is unnecessary to sign up for it.

(4) AirSharing. Basically, if you want to read papers while you fly, or carry around maps of the subway on you iphone for those occasions when you have neither cell service or wifi access, then this is the program for you. Once installed and properly configured it makes your iphone or touch show up as a networked hard drive on your local area network. Using your laptop you can then drag and drop files to your iPhone/iPod Touch for later viewing. Supports PDF's, Word Docs, Excel, and PPT so you can even upload a presentation and give the smallest talk ever. Install the app through the app store and then follow the instructions which appear when you start up the app for the first time.

(5) Simplify Mobile Media. This app lets you stream the music in you iTunes library to your device over the internet or edge. Useful for when you want to hear a particular song that you didn't happen to squeeze onto your 8Gig device. Instructions for setup are here, but the procedure is fairly simple. You sign up for a free account, install some software onto the PC from which you would like to stream your iTunes library, download the Simplify Media app from the app store, start it up, and login with your newly created username and password.

(6) Orb the easiest way to stream video (of just about any format) from your pc to your iPhone or iPod Touch. It works just like Simplify, but it uses the safari browser instead of have an apple store app interface. So it also requires that you set up a free orb account, found here. After signing up it will ask you to install some software on your PC and point it do the directories when your videos/music/documents that you want access to over wifi or edge. To access the videos you then point your iPhone's browser to and then enter your username and password. Note, OrbLive is a $6 app at the app store which provides a nicer interface than the web interface, but I dont think is worth the money.

(7) Google Reader. I like google reader and the mobile interface is pretty good, so I use it. Just navigate to select reader at the top and login. Easy.

(8) GraphCalc. A graphing calculator. Useful when you need it. I've used it once to plot a few functions as a sanity check.

(9) NowPlaying. Useful for finding movies and movie times.

(10) Games: Sodoku, Tap Tap Revolution, Trace, MazeFinger, Word Wrap. Aurora Feint, Sol Free

(11) TouchType: Lets you use a landscape (big) keyboard for writing long emails. Review is here.


Directions can be found here. But i will give a short overview.

Note: you can only unlock 2G phones for use with any sim chip.

Regardless of whether you've a MAC or PC the procedure for jailbreaking and unlocking your iPhone is relatively simple and involves downloading a copy of the latest operating system provided by apple. Found here for iPhone or here for the iPod Touch

Assuming that you have used iTunes to upgrade to the latest version of the device's operating system the one you want is the one at the end of the list.

You then download and running a program called QuickPwn or WinPwn depending upon whether you have a MAC or PC. Files found here for MAC and here for PC.

Basically you just install the software run it and follow the instructions. The hardest step is putting your device into DFU mode. Which involves holding down the Home button (that's the big round one at the bottom) and then the power button (the little one on the top) for certain amounts of time and in a certain order and sometimes together. But its all in the directions you will receive. To unlock your 2G phone you may be asked to download two additional files, which can be found here: Bootloader version 3.9 and Bootloader version 4.6

Once you've successfully jailbroken you device you have a few new icons Cydia and Installer. I only use Cydia so thats what i will talk about. The first thing you want to do Click on Cydia and install any upgrades that are recommended. After that i recommend going selecting Home at the bottom of the screen and then selecting "Featured apps". I have installed MobileTerminal and SSH as well as BossPrefs. You need the last one if you have SSH as it allows you to turn the SSH server on and off. I haven't tried Netatalk + MobileFinder may also be useful for those you don't want to pay for AirShare. I haven't used it but supposedly PdaNet is also a nice way to convert your phone into a wireless router. You can then point your laptop to your iPhone and get internet access on the laptop through your iPhone Edge network.

Have fun.