Make an iPhone ringtone!

I’ve been away from XCode and iOS for some time, doing my bid in Android land. (I’ve also seriously neglected my blog, apologies to both of my loyal readers, I know there’s only two of you!) The interesting thing is how much you realize you knew when you go back. Even more interesting is how much you forgot and has much changes in a brief matter of months. I overheard some of my former iOS coworkers talking about lsd errors and thought they were taking drugs. At any rate, today’s topic is a simple tip that I keep forgetting.

Ringtones for iPhones!
This is a two step process involving conversion and consumption. Ringtones must be in the m4a file format but use a “.m4r” extension. The easiest way make them is to use “afconvert” to convert any existing audio file to “m4a” format using this syntax:

afconvert -v -f m4af ./MyInputFile.wav ./MyOutputFile.m4r

The -v flag allows verbose output which let’s you see what the command is doing. The -f is a way of specifying the output format. Consumption of these ringtones is as simple as dragging and dropping the “.m4r” file into iTunes under the ringtone section so that the next time you synch your device it will include the new ring tone. You may also need to select your device in iTunes, click on the “Tones” tab and enable ringtone sync in iTunes for this to work.

What’s missing from Siri

I love Siri. I use her on my daily bike ride to work, asking her what time it is. I use her while driving to text my wife and read incoming messages. I’ve asked her where the closest bike shop was, and use her to find all sorts of interesting info. But there’s a piece missing from the experience. Maybe it’s me just being an engineer. Hi, I’m Cliff. You’re here because you’ve noticed something missing from Siri but you can’t quite put a finger on it. I’m here to explain what that piece is.

Yesterday I asked Siri to set an alarm to remind me when to pull the lasagna out of the oven. I believed I had the alarm set properly but when it went off the lasagna was far from cooked. It needed 1 hour and 55 minutes and I started to wonder if Siri only caught the 55 minutes part of my earlier request. I wanted to go back and see when I had asked for the alarm to be set and that’s when it hit me. Of all the conversations I’ve had with Siri, (some loony and ridiculous) I’ve never bee able to go back and recall or check the times that they were held. Conversations between me and Siri seem to roll off into the abyss. I believe that much like the web browser there is a case for history in Siri. I Binged and Googled for an answer and I even went as far as Yahoo but I couldn’t find a way to lookup old conversations between myself and Siri. Maybe after this year’s WWDC?

Using Siri Effectively

I was watching this argument between a man and his wife happen with Siri trapped in the middle when it dawned on me. I still didn’t know how to get Siri to “tell my wife” about things happening throughout the day. Hi, I’m Cliff. You’re here because Siri doesn’t know about your spouse or significant other. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult to teach her about the individual members of your family. I had much more trouble trying to get her to understand how I pronounce my wife’s name since it is not spelled the way it sounds. I cover all of this in today’s article.

To start, I went into edit mode on my Wife’s contact card and started fiddling. Eventually I noticed the “add field” button. Tapping this brought up a host of different things I could associate with a contact, most notably the “Related People” button. Tapping on “Related people” adds a custom relationship to a contact. I assigned a spouse relationship to her contact and linked it to my contact info. That got me thinking. How does Siri know who I am? After all, my contact info is just another card in my address book. There is no “me” card. I backed out of the address book and went into settings under general and found the Siri settings.

Under Settings -> General -> Siri I found the “My Info” button. Tapping this allowed me to link the contact card with my name to Siri which, in short, teaches her who I am. After that I went back into the contact card for my wife and found some more custom fields. The “Phonetic First Name” was particularly interesting since we (Siri and I) seemed to struggle a bit here. After I spelled things phonetically we started to get along much better. This should put an end to the disagreements we have on Hwy 101 when I say, “Tell Altaress I’m stuck in traffic and it’ll be while before I can get you.” Where Siri responds,

“Clifton, I don’t understand who ‘Ouch Therese’ is. I need a name, number or contact to send your message…”

Siri, what are you gonna be for Halloween?

So I got my iPhone 4S this morning, unlocked and shipped from London. I couldn’t wait to talk to Siri. I was stuck for a question. I waited all this time and I had nothing to say! Hi, I’m Cliff. You’re hear because, like me, you enjoy talking to inanimate objects and waiting for witty responses. Well today’s question was an un inspiring, “Siri, what are you gonna be for Halloween?” To which I received a reply:

“Ok, here’s your meeting.”

Siri found the calendar entry for our Halloween party and presented it to me. So I guess Siri is going to be a calendar for Halloween this year. I promptly launched the calendar app and plan to run it for the remainder of the day.