Apple iPhone Calendar Fail x 2

My wife an I are busy people.  I work all day.  She chases twins all day.  On occasion, we find it useful to know where the other person is, or what our plans are for next Tuesday.  So, we’d like the ability to see each other’s calendars.  It’d also be nice to be able to exchange appointments from time to time.

FAIL #1:  Unfortunately, the iPhone mail app cannot open .ICS calendar files.  So, if I send Jill a copy of an early morning meeting request (so she knows to kick me out of bed), she has to wait until she can open the email on her Mac before she can add the appointment to her calendar.  Seems to me like this is a fairly standard requirement for email/calendaring systems.  I wonder why Apple left it out.

FAIL #2:  Also rather unfortunately, Apple’s MobileMe product has a rather gaping hole in it between two related features, called sync and publish.  Sync is the feature that allows a MobileMe user to access all their calendar, contacts, bookmarks and more across all their OS X and iOS devices.  Publish is the feature that allows a MobileMe user to share their calendar (or contacts) with anyone on the web.  You can read more about these features here.

iCal supports both of these features.  But, the iPhone only supports sync.  Therein lies the hole.  Here’s how an event travels from my iPhone to hers:

  1. I create a new event on my iPhone.
  2. The MobileMe client on my phone syncs the event to the cloud.
  3. The MobileMe client on my computer syncs the event to my computer.
  4. iCal on my computer then publishes the event to my shared calendar.  (I’m not sure whether this happens automatically with “auto-publish” turned on, or whether I still have to manually refresh.)
  5. The event now is visible to Jill’s iPhone – if she’s chosen to subscribe to my shared calendar directly from her phone.  But, if she subscribed to my calendar via iCal and she’s using MobileMe sync to get that calendar onto her phone, then the entire process above has to happen in reverse, including a manual refresh that forces iCal to go download my shared calendar again.

The practical result of this missing use case is that Jill and I cannot see appointments that we add on our iPhones until both of us have had a chance to refresh in iCal – which can take days.  (Did I mention that Jill chases twins all day?)

Granted, Jill and I are still using our ancient iPhone 3G phones.  (We’re holding out for Verizon.)  So, perhaps the new iPhone and the new MobileMe calendar (which is only compatible with iOS 4) solve the problem.  If you can confirm (or deny) this, let me know.  In the meantime, I’m going to try syncing our calendars via Google, rather than MobileMe.

What we did this summer…

We had quite a busy summer, though you wouldn't know it from our picture gallery. That is, you wouldn't know it until now. I just posted four new albums to the gallery. And, there's much more to come - as soon as I get the time. (I stayed up past 2:00 AM to get these images uploaded.)

In case you don't have time to view all of the images now, here are a few samples:

We learned how to peel oranges…

Peeling oranges Yummy oranges Silly oranges

We threw rocks at Alki Beach…

Puget Sound & Olympic Mountains Removing rocks

Family on the beach Throwing rocks

We checked out the tide pools at Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach…

Haystack Rock Bunny!

Tide pools   Feeling the flowers   Getting to the beach

And, we spent the day with Thomas the Tank Engine…

Thomas the Tank Engine Excited to ride on Thomas

Happy to ride on Thomas Family in front of Emily

And, there’s lots more to come!

20/20 Lifestyles

In January, 2006, I weighed 293 pounds. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes and severe obstructive sleep apnea. Six months later, I weighed 218 pounds, I was off all my medications, and I was sleeping fine without CPAP. How did I do this? 20/20 Lifestyles.

This morning, I weighed 294 pounds. I'm back on CPAP and all the medications. In fact, I'm now taking even more medicines and my metabolic numbers are worse than four years ago. How did I do this? In a word, stress. Over the last three years, my mother passed away from liver disease at 62, my wife gave birth to twins, I left Microsoft and I spent six+ months helping with the newborn twins.

Any one of those events could have tripped me up. The combination was overwhelming. I reverted back to my previous sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet. Now that life has settled down again, and now that I've been re-diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, I've decided to take another run at 20/20.

Jill and I are both going to repeat the full program. We'll likely start around the beginning of November. This time, my focus will be on identifying ways to manage stress through sustaining an active lifestyle. Sure, I'll be following the 20/20 diet and exercise plans. And, the weight will come off. But, the most important thing I need to learn is how to be active every day.

I'll be posting progress updates as we go. Stay tuned.

Is this thing on?

After fiddling with multiple web hosts and multiple publishing platforms, I finally run across Posterous. Can blogging really be as easy as sending an email? I guess we'll see...

When You Find a Manatee in Your Bathtub…

Dad & Lynn gave the kids a fantastic DVD for their birthday. It’s video of marine life doing what marine life does to the music of Brent Holmes. The music is so catchy that it’s got Jill and I singing right along. And, now, I can’t get one of the songs out of my head. But, I only know some of the lyrics, so it’s rather annoying. In an attempt to get the lyrics out of my head, or to at least teach me the rest of the song, here are the lyrics:

When You Find a Manatee in Your Bathtub by Brent Holmes

  • When you find a manatee in your bathtub, playing with your toys,
  • making lots of noise and causing trouble;
  • And, he’s washing his big flippers; and using all your soap;
  • and filling up your tub with giant bubbles; Say...
  • Please, Mr. Manatee, don’t tickle me,
  • ‘cause I’m as ticklish as a kid can be.
  • I won’t tickle you, if you don’t tickle.
  • And, we can play together.
  • Please, Mr. Manatee, while you're in my tub,
  • we should sing a song that goes rub-a-dub-dub.
  • Rub-a-dub-dub, a manatee is in my tub.
  • And, life couldn’t be much better.
  • Repeat with sea lion instead of manatee
  • Reapeat with walrus instead of manatee

There, now.  I feel so much better. If you’re interested, the album is called “Sea Tunes for Kids.” You can find both the DVD and the CD at  I’ve also seen the CD at iTunes.

The songs I sing to Hunter and Grace

It's my job to put the kids down at night. Generally, I sit in the big, cozy rocking chair with Grace on my left leg and Hunter on my right. I read a few books, then I turn out the light and sing songs. Unfortunately, my repertoire is rather thin:

  • Twinkle, Twinkle
  • A, B, C (same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle)
  • Bah, Bah, Black Sheep (same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle)
  • Rock-a-bye, Baby
  • Hush, Little Baby
  • Hey, Diddle Diddle
  • Are You Sleeping (modified for night time)

And, sometimes I'll sing these songs:

  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat (including alligators!)

Rather than learning new tunes, Jill and I have both made up some new songs based on tunes we already know, especially the eternally flexible Twinkle, Twinkle. Here's one Jill wrote:

Little Babies, Go To Sleep Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

  • Little babies, go to sleep. Close your eyes and slumber deep.
  • In the morning, you will wake; Then fond memories we will make.
  • Little babies, go to sleep. Close your eyes and slumber deep.

And, here's one I made up: I Love You Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

  • Hunter O'Neil, I love you. Sarah Grace, I love you, too.
  • Mommy loves you, yes she does. Daddy loves you, just as much.
  • Hunter O'Neil, I love you. Sarah Grace, I love you, too.

That one is probably my favorite song to sing the kids. I usually sing it last, really softly, just before putting the kids in their cribs. The kids seem to like it, too. They both know the song, and often sing it with me. Grace even made up her own version, it goes like this:

I Love You Sung to the beat of Gracie's own drum

  • Haha, I laa loo. Mama, I laa loo. Dada, I laa loo.
  • Mama, Dada, Haha, Gigi, I laa loo.

But, that's apparently not the only thing the song has taught the kids. Tonight, when I asked each of them to tell me their name, they both gave me versions of their full names: Hunter said, "Haha O'Neil;" and Gracie said, "Sarah Gracie." I'm so proud!

Gaygee and Haha

It's been a while since I posted an update on the kids. Here's something fun that's been going on lately:

Hunter began referring to Gracie as "Gay-gee" months ago. It's still cute, today, especially when he is looking out for her interests. Tonight for example, when I gave him a cup of milk, he wouldn't take a sip until "Gay-gee" got her cup, too. Once she had her cup, all was well. But, up until Mom handed it to her, Hunter pointed at it with a look of concern and repeated "Gaygee! Gaygee!"

It's taken Grace a long time to come up with a name for Hunter. I guess the H sound is more difficult that the G sound. But, the other day, while Hunter was finishing a nap, Grace blurted out, "Mama, Dada, Gaygee, Haha," then beamed as if she'd just won the Nobel Prize for "Best Spoken Toddler." It was hilariously cute! So, Gracie is officially Gaygee. Both she and Hunter are referring to her that way. And, Grace is now calling Hunter, "Haha." (Though, Hunter has yet to refer to himself that way.)

In the days since Grace's revelation, she's repeated the quartet of names several times. One of these days, I'll have a video or audio recorder handy and capture it. It's absolutely priceless.

Should have more pictures up soon. Been organizing our collection lately. Lots of stuff that hasn't been posted!

Seattle 103, Tuscon 101

Seattle played a road game today and beat Tuscon with an all-time best temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 C).  Regional temperatures soared, with official readings topping out around 108 in Bellevue, and unofficial reports as high as 120 degrees!  Now, if only the Mariners and Seahawks could beat the Diamondbacks and Cardinals! The extraordinary news of the "win" made both local and national news.  Here's a round-up of some of the coverage: Local Coverage National Coverage Oh, and, apparently, the entire state is on fire!