Tax Cut Calculator

I looked for a McCain-based version to do an apples to apples comparison, but it doesn’t appear that they’ve put one out. If you know of a McCain branded calculator similar to this, let me know and I’ll slap it up here too.

King’s Mountain, Again

I’ve been up King’s Mountain before. This time though, I went with an old friend, Del, and Truman (and Frodo). We took it slow, but it was super fun, and Tru did great!

Truman wanted to carry my Camelbak for a while, so he carried it from just below the summit ridge up to the summit. Then he kept it on all the way down to the car. I think the weight made it a little tough for him on some of the descents, since he kept sliding, slipping and falling. But he had a really great attitude the whole time. It would’ve been easy to get grumpy, since we walked for a total of 4.5 hours, and experienced lots of weather from warm forest to chilly rain and fog at the summit. But he was a champ the whole time.

Pray As You Go

I haven’t been much of a consumer of podcasts. Usually I’ll load a series onto my iPod and listen for a bit, and never finish an entire episode. Most of my listening so far has amounted to business or productivity-oriented podcasts. Some are nicely produced, some not so much. Regardless, I haven’t really found a podcast that can hold my interest. Until now.

The Pray-As-You-Go podcast (iTunes) is a very nicely produced series made by British Jesuits that focuses on a daily discipline of contemplative prayer. Each episode is about 10 minutes long, and follows a fixed format. The podcast format combines music and the spoken word to guide you into a mental stance of prayerful reflection and contemplation.

If you sometimes have difficulty with prayer longer than 60 seconds, you might try this out. It’s a really wonderful podcast, and I highly recommend it.

Posting from the iPhone

Just a quick post, written from the keyboard of the iPhone. Nice app, but kinda limited. Best used with straight text, since there’s no copy/paste function.

Geocaching with the iPhone 3G

There’s an article up today on TUAW about using the new iPhone 3G for geocaching. It’s a decent read, but following the process they’ve outlined is pretty painful. After using the iPhone to hunt down a few caches myself, here are some tweaks that I’d recommend:

  1. At the very least, as you go into each cache page on the Web site, just click the link on the left sidebar for Google Maps. It’ll transport you into the iPhone’s native map application and drop a red pin where the cache is. At this point, you can either proceed to the cache, or save the red pin as a bookmark for easy retrieval later.
  2. As the TUAW article points out, you can use the standard search tools to find caches near you. As some commenters noted, you can make liberal use of the Bookmarks feature to keep lists of caches you want to find in a particular area. Just visit that bookmark’s page to avoid all the searching. Also you can make nice collections of caches by using the “pocket queries” function (premium members only, I think).

Personally, I’ve had good success using all three options. I create a pocket query for the area and type of cache I’m interested in seeking. Then I bookmark the ones I’m going for. Then I visit the bookmark with the iPhone while in the field. Using the “Google Maps” link on each cache page, I’m able to easily correlate my current position against that of the cache.

Even so, all of this is kind of a hassle. I’m eagerly anticipating some geocaching applications to show up in the app store. I am personally acquainted with one developer who has made a very nice little app, and just received notification that he’s been approved to add apps to the store. And after reading that TUAW post, it looks like there are at least two other developers also racing to get a geocaching app to the store. Can’t wait!

One final note: before using the iPhone 3G to locate geocaches, I was using a Garmin 60CSx. That $400 GPS is an excellent unit. Unfortunately, I left mine on the top of my car and drove away, never to see the unit again. But having used both the 60CSx and the iPhone 3G to find caches in exurban/suburban environments, I haven’t experienced any notable difference in their accuracy. The dedicated Garmin unit has the advantage of being able to store maps and be used outside of cell/wifi range (the iPhone depends on a data connection to deliver Google Maps to the device).

Combine the use of pocket query results with the bookmarks function and the Google