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Sunday, January 25, 2009
 
THE PHASES OF THE iPHONE, OR: THE FALLS AND DECLINE OF AFORMENTIONED iPHONE

This post doesn't necessarily require an introduction, but here I am writing one so it would just be a waste of time to delete it now:

Phase One: iCame, iSaw, iPhone
Buy iPhone on the first day of its release, after much anticipation, and it works great, especially once I figure out how to type accurately at a deliberate speed on the touch screen keyboard.

Phase Two: The Dead Zone
That's right, a dead zone develops on the upper seventh of eight imaginary regions north to south on iPhone's face, and they replace it no questions asked; store pops out my SIM card and gives me a loaner until the replacement arrives in two days' time.

Phase Three: The Curious Case of the Case
Apple kind of screws over us early adopters by slashing the price by $200 or a full third, though eventually gives original customers $100 credit at the Apple Store to make up for it, with which I buy a plastic case that I use on and off for awhile until finally pretty much off, pretty much just for taking up too much pocket room.

Phase Three: iPhone Falling Out of Place
Attend Radiohead concert at Nissan Pavillion, epic for being Radiohead of course but also for the many inches of rain dropped on the venue that afternoon and evening, reducing the amphitheater to a muddy hillside and flood zone, where late into the show amid taking ill-advised photos I drop the iPhone briefly into the mud, after which for awhile every time I plug in the phone it gives me an error message stating that this accessory is not designed for use with the iPhone and would I like to switch to Airplane Mode so something unspecified yet bad does not happen, to which I answer no, and while I still occasionally see this message it's not really a problem.

Phase Three: You Can't Go Home Again
Drop my phone this time I think on the hardwood floor of my room, causing the next mechanical error: when pressed, my Home button doesn't register anything at all, which seems to mean that if I start using an application I can't stop using it unless I turn the phone completely off, which seems to be a pretty serious might-have-to-take-it-in problem until it becomes more responsive in a few days, and then for a period of weeks it sometimes doesn't respond at all or other times registers a double-click, which brings up the iPod application, which I then have to click back out of and that does usually work because more and more the Home button is registering single clicks more and more, so that pretty much works itself out, no major issue.

Phase Four: Partially Shattered Glass
Drop the phone this time on the main platform tile in the Rosslyn Metro on my way to work one morning, which is a bit more violent than occasional typical falls, and instantly I notice that the face of the screen is cracked -- but only up in the mostly non-functional glass-but-not-screen black matte corner which I instantly know will not greatly affect my usage as long as the internals are all OK, and in fact it's still playing my music at this point so hey, looks like I dodged a bullet, and sure it looks like hell but what have I had it for now, almost 18 months and well after the introduction of the 3G or second version of the iPhone so really it seems I can keep this thing operational even under occasionally serious duress because this thing really is pretty well constructed, and who cares if it's cosmetically damaged, if anything that's a badge of honor at this point.

Phase Four: Touch and Go
On my way to work then a few months later, I'm not even noticing how my earphones' cord is getting caught on my Eddie Bauer bag until it pulls the device all the way out of my pocket and clattering down to the tile at McPherson Square, where I watch as it finally comes to a stop not three inches from the edge of the platform, and as visions of jumping down to retrieve it from the tracks with three minutes to the next train thankfully exit I pick up my iPhone to notice that now the power button now appears flush with the body of the phone, meaning stuck in fact apparently permanently so, which seems to be a very bad state for the phone's usability, and indeed it is because whenever it goes to sleep it immediately starts to shut down, but then once off I suppose it notices that the toggling power button is engaged so it turns on, after which it gets to a certain point in the process where it notices the toggling power button is engaged so it turns off, and it does this in approximately 45 second cycles endlessly, until I plug it back in, whereupon it asks to be shut down and I say no, and it then alerts me for the first time in some time that this accessory is not designed for use with the iPhone, etc., so I choose no again, and it works fine as long as it is plugged in or stays awake after being unplugged, so now I've realized the way to keep this thing functional until the third iteration of the iPhone comes out in a few months (I hope) is that when I need to put it away, I'll put an album on (presently Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self-titled) and set it to repeat then close out the iPod app (still running) to open the iLight app, which accepts no touch screen input and so harmlessly goes dark after a minute, but because it is still playing music it's not actually asleep, thus will not toggle itself off and on, and will come back to life easily by again touching the Home button, which this is better by far than just changing settings so the device never goes to sleep, as the battery is drained much faster displaying pixels on the lighted face than it is just playing music, so that will pretty much work if I just remember to do it, otherwise when I forget to do that I'll just have to wait until I can plug it in either at home or at work, both of which being places where I have docks that also recharge my two Bluetooth headsets, which why I have two don't even ask, though one once survived a trip through the washing machine and now also appears to have survived being momentarily dropped into a bucket of Pine-Sol last weekend, which by the way compares favorably with the $100 V-MODA headphones I bought a year ago and which have now failed on me four times, yet V-MODA refuses to give me a refund even though I've asked/demanded one vehemently starting the third failure but I've given up, and pair number five will arrive in the mail in another few days, but back to the iPhone itself basically I'm left wondering if maybe I'd save myself a lot of grief (though not money) and just got a 3G (the current phone, operating on the third generation of wireless networks) even though I expect the 3G (by which I mean third generation of the iPhone device itself) to come out by maybe July i.e. the two-year anniversary of my pre-replacement original but who knows what will happen when I drop it next, so really I could go either way at this point.

Photo of broken-but-working iPhones courtesy respres and thecameo on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons. Thankfully my iPhone's glass face is not so badly damaged as on either pictured, but it's what you can't see that's truly screwed up. To see my iPhone in earlier, happier and unboxinger times, see here.

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Friday, July 20, 2007
 
FREE IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR...

In an article today, Amy Schatz and Kevin Delaney at the Wall Street Journal quote my friend and former colleague Peter Greenberger:
Google's newly hired team leader for political sales, Peter Greenberger, explained how attendees could use online ads and other services from Google to help their candidates win. One Google product could provide details about people who visited a campaign's Web site, such as the approximate area where they lived, Mr. Greenberger explained. "Tremendously valuable info," he said, adding, "It's free. Did I mention it's free? It's free."
That's vintage Greenberger, I tells ya.

P.S. But what is "free" just another word for? I dunno. I guess I was thinking something like "all you need is a Google account." But if you have a better idea, you know where the comment section is.

P.P.S. This whole thing is pretty interesting, but this analysis from CNET makes no senses:
Once the company announces the wireless broadband to the nation, it will immediately announce that Google Phone everyone has been talking about. The Google Phone will work specifically with the Google system (kind of like Skype) and will be free of charge. The only fee to the consumer is the cost of buying the phone, which can be done over the Google checkout system from online retailers or at fine brick-and-mortar retailers nationwide.

As soon as the phone is released, people will be tossing their iPhones, Razrs and every other cell phone into the nearest river. Why pay all that money for a phone when you can have the same kind of service for free?
Sure, you can buy the Google Phone -- I'm sure it will be a good ones. But if the whole point is to offer access for any device, and that deal only lasts 5 years, why would I be chucking my fourth or fifth gen iPhone?

And this:
I'm sure you will see advertising when you start up the phone, but most of the benefits from this system will be earned on the Internet, where people will be lauding the company for all it has done to move the industry forward. In a matter of months, Google would practically control Internet advertising. And by giving people free Internet access on the phones, guess where the default home page will be pointing?
Yeah, I don't see ads on my iPhone. And despite Google's sometimes-moronic attempts to out-Microsoft Redmond, I'll bet you can change the home page.

P.P.P.S. Now that I use WordPress more than blogger, I keep forgetting that Save reverts the post to Draft mode, and only Publish republishes. Post now restored. That said, Blogger certainly has gotten better since I came to prefer WP -- and it only just occurred to me that this whole post has been composed using Google-owned software.

At least it was free!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007
 
iPHONE, THEREFORE iAM

You won't believe me now, but last weekend I had a thousand word-plus blog post ready to go, detailing my three-and-a-half hour wait outside the AT&T store in Dupont Circle to be among the first to purchase an iPhone. Alas, it's now lost to the ages, on account of a worn out iBook cord that failed to keep my computer on overnight, which is not so bad considering the plastic is now singed and I suppose it could have set my apartment ablaze. (Killed by a Mac? That would be something.)

But history does preserve the pictures I took that day uploaded to Flickr. Here's a thumbnail version of the photoset:


And I have a couple videos uploaded to my YouTube account. Here's one where I play chicken with a foreign news camera:




As for the iPhone itself? I'll point you toward Engadget's 16,000-word review and just say that I'm quite happy to be in on the ground level. It certainly isn't perfect, but it's a solid A.

It's also my first smartphone -- ask me about my sordid history with cell phones sometime (though I swear, I have a great track record with iPods) -- so maybe after fighting one dumbphone after another, this feels like a bigger step up than it is.

But... I don't think so. Yeah, GPS would be neat, but the Maps do it for me. The EDGE network is slow, but I've never been on 3G (though I am hoping Cringely is right on this prediction).

Most of my problems with the device are software-based -- it's bad enough you can't copy or paste in Safari, but lately it's been crashing on me -- and since Apple is known for its free, automatic software updates, I imagine these issues will be addressed in due time.

And the things that I don't even know to complain about will? They'll probably blow me away when I'm ready to go back for another one by the third generation.

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