Parallel Desktops

My wife and her switch to Mac

I had anticipated that I would be writing a lot about my wife’s experiences using her “new” MacBook. After all, it’s been two weeks since I got her the machine, yet she has barely touched it by my standards. The reality is that computers are just not that important to her. She’s an experienced teacher with 8 years at the same school under her belt and for the last two weeks has had to do little more than e-mail and web based activities from home. She averages just under an hour a day on the machine right now.

She is also becoming mildly amused by my regular queries about how she likes her MacBook. Her standard response?

“It’s great. I love it.”

There have been moments where she has struggled with the machine however. She did offer up that she doesn’t like the Delete key. Why? Well, she’s used to using a Windows based delete key that deletes forward, not backwards. Backspace is what she expects that key to do. I assumed that she simply had a problem with the name of the key—it still performs the same action that it did under Windows and sits in the same position.

I then realized something I had overlooked for years; my wife likes to delete backwards (er, forwards). She always had a full size keyboard available to her and as a result would actually place the cursor—either with the mouse or even using the arrow keys—to the left of the word/character she wanted to delete and then strike the Delete key on Windows.

That little snag could be easily solved by planting a full size keyboard on the machine and letting her whack away at the Delete Forward button that full size Mac keyboards have, or teaching her to hit “fn” and then hit the Delete key. Instead, I’m going to spend a little time retraining her keyboard skills to adjust to using the Delete key properly.

She’s apparently been doing this since she learned to type on her father’s ancient IBM PC with the original keyboard. Old habits die hard.

Minor Mail Struggles

Allison is a Gmail user and for the last couple of years simply used the web interface to access her account. Since I’m also a Gmail user I decided to set her up the way I am; using Mail and the IMAP interface to manage my Gmail inbox.

I like that Mail uses the base Address Book, which she is very fond of since she has everything in that because of her iPhone.

The problem is that she uses Gmail a little differently than I do. I am a tag / folder nut and like to have a pretty empty inbox. As a result I tend to drag messages that I have finished working with or responded to into the appropriate folder in Mail. Since Mail takes the tag model that Gmail has and emulates it as folders that works great for me.

Allison however does not use tags or folders. She would simply select all the e-mails and hit the Archive button. I don’t know of a way to do that without having to load up the web version of Gmail.

If anyone has a suggestion on how best to adjust Mail to use Gmail and leverage the Archive feature please drop a note in the comments. I’d also be interested in hearing from anyone that uses Gmail on their Macs and what they are doing to make it work besides just loading up the web interface.

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Playing with iPhone pictures – Juxtaposer

One of the cooler aspects of writing this blog has been the people that have come around to not only give advice but tell me about some of the cool stuff they are working on. Hendrik Kueck has been commenting on this blog for a long time now. Hendrik is a software developer and when he told me about an iPhone application he was working on I became very interested in checking it out.

His product, Juxtaposer, is a fun little application for mashing two pictures together quickly and easily. Hendrik has done an outstanding job creating an easy to use interface, one that feels very natural for the task. You can take a picture directly with the camera and start mashing away or you can grab a photo from your library.

Basically you set a base image and a top image, then start hacking away at the top image. The tools included are very basic but are perfect for doing the task at hand. It literally takes a minutes or two to put together images. If for example you wanted to see what your brother would look like with his dog’s head you can whip it up quickly:

Right now Hendrik has Juxtaposer available on the App Store for only .99 cents. Hard to go wrong at that price and in return you get one of the cooler party toys for an iPhone.

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Living with the iPhone

I’ve now had my 3G iPhone for just over a month. It has become my constant companion, even though my use of it as a phone is relatively light. I’m one of those people that has to have a phone handy, a habit I picked up from a decade of being deeply involved in the operation of an online service that had to be running 24×7.

The Good
I’ve found that nearly every day I’m using more and more features on the phone. I use the Notes feature like crazy now, jotting down shopping lists and thoughts. The e-mail capability on the iPhone is wonderful. I’ve adapted to the keyboard pretty well, though I’m using only my right index finger to do all the work. I wouldn’t want to write a blog entry with it but quickly responding to e-mails and text messages are a piece of cake.

Browsing the web on an iPhone is fantastic, especially with a Wi-Fi connection. It will render virtually any Flash-less site and do it accurately. Some of the more complex sites can take a little while to render, especially if it’s a site that has a lot of deeply nested tables, graphics and dynamic HTML. The zooming and panning within the browser are outstanding.

Text messaging with the iPhone works great, adopting the iChat bubble model from the Mac. I now am much more inclined to carry on a text message conversation with my friends and especially my kids. I’ve never been a big fan of text messaging, mainly because I can carry on a conversation much more quickly and get what I need done. That said, I find myself texting a lot more often now.

The phone call quality for me has been very good, especially when I’m using the ear buds that come with the iPhone. I was able to sync the iPhone up to my car’s bluetooth system very easily and the call quality is very good there.

Speaking of syncing things up, the Address Book and iCal integration are also great and something I’m looking forward to my wife taking advantage of when I switch her over to a MacBook later this month.

The photo catalog on the iPhone is excellent and compliments my iPhoto collection nicely. Since I have the 16GB white iPhone I have plenty of space and put quite a few of the photos from my regular cameras into the iPhone. It’s nice to sit down with people and share the photos I’ve taken recently.

The Bad
I’ve had a couple of times now that my iPhone becomes very slow, almost unresponsive at times. This was especially true when I would jump into Contacts to look someone up. Fortunately the last update from Apple cleared up most of that, though at times I’ve found it can still be a bit sluggish in Contacts or Safari. Since I never really shut the phone down I’ve found that if I do that every once in a while it does help.

My 3G connection has been excellent in my home area of Northern VA, 4-5 bars most of the time, though even with a solid connection 3G can be pretty slow at times and for data is occasionally unresponsive. Just last week we have a pretty decent outage on the data side. Most of these problems appear to be an issue with AT&T, not the iPhone. I’m not letting Apple off the hook though since AT&T is the only carrier Apple is supporting. Given the high cost of the account to have an iPhone both of these companies need to get their act together.

The battery life on my iPhone seemed great at first, though it has dropped a bit since I started keeping Bluetooth on all the time. Whereas before I could go two days between charges with fairly heavy use I now pretty much have to recharge the phone every day even with light usage. Since I don’t travel all that much anymore this isn’t really an issue so I haven’t had to look into a battery extender like the Mophie yet.

The Add-ons
Though in the past I always had a holster/belt clip for my phone, I find myself simply stashing the iPhone in my pocket. I did purchase a protective case for my phone, a black Incipio dermaSHOT, which provides a nice layer of protection against nicks and accidental drops. The Incipio case is perfect for me; thin enough that it doesn’t impact my ability to keep it in my pants pocket while walking around. On the bright side it’s just tacky enough to allow me to place the iPhone on the flat, wooden surface of my car’s center console and not have slide off as soon as I make a turn. On the downside that tacky surface is a great lint collector so sometimes I pull my iPhone out of my pocket and it’s looks like a little grey rectangular teddy bear.

I have only picked up one game for the iPhone: HoldEm, a Texas Holdem poker game. This little $4.99 game from Apple is simply fantastic. The game does a nice job of simulating players, with some being aggressive at times and occasionally trying to bluff their way out of a bad hand. If you are at all into poker and have an iPhone this is an excellent buy for $5.

I also downloaded the free version of Twitterific, which gives me quick access to my Twitter account. I’m still experimenting with Twitter but am warming up to it pretty quickly. You can see my Twitter account here. I love that I can pump in a quick post from pretty much anywhere, like this morning while at a rest stop during my morning bike ride.

Based on the feedback of several people here I did grab the iPhone version of the NetNewsWire reader and it is pretty good. It will keep my news reader in sync though the NewsGator account I have, making it nice for keeping up on the latest stories while I’m out and about.

I’ve found several other application for the iPhone though none that really jumped out as worth writing about. One of the readers of this blog is working on an iPhone application that he let me take an early look at and I’m really looking forward to seeing that released. The early version I saw was excellent and I’m looking forward to talking about it when it’s available.

Overall I’m really pleased that I got the iPhone for both me and my wife. It’s an imperfect device to be sure, though considering all of the things it does really well the good far outweighs the bad. I ask my wife pretty regularly if she likes her iPhone and her response is still the same:

"I love it"

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Using 1Password on a Mac and an iPhone

As I get older I find myself forgetting things that I really should remember and remembering details that I wish would simply clear from my brain’s cache to make room for more useful data. I can still recall the phone number from my childhood home, yet remembering the unique PIN number my cable provider wants me to give them before I talk to a human working there is well beyond my grasp, even a day after I make one up. Life is complicated enough without someone else badgering me for yet another new security PIN or password, each with it’s own unique set of requirements. 6 characters? How about 8-14? Must have a non-alpha character, must not. Can’t be longer than 8 characters. Case sensitive. Must be mixed case. Enough already! I manage an increasingly large portion of my life online or on the phone so this is a big deal. What’s a person to do?

There are a couple of no-cost solutions. Some people use the same password for everything. You come up with some nice, safe password like "ih82f0rg3tp@ssw0rd$" and use it all over. Sure, it’s safe from dictionary attacks but what happens when your password is stored in plain text on some server you access and their database gets hacked? Bye-bye digital identity.

You can also try to remember passwords using something like a post-it note. Simply write down your passwords on a large yellow post-it note and attach it to your monitor for easy access. This very popular method is employed by many non-technical people and works great until someone with extraordinary hacking skills breaks down your security. Hacking requirement: someone with the ability to read post-it notes. My Mac Solution When I switched to Mac one of the applications I got several recommendations for was 1Password.

It quickly became one of my must have utilities, installing seamlessly into my browsers and making the process of remembering usernames and passwords a no-brainer. What I love is that since I tend to bounce between Safari and Firefox it will maintain my password information on both machines. It will also fill out forms for me, including things like credit card details. For the US $35 price it’s one of the better purchases I’ve made for my Macs. Highly recommended.

My iPhone Solution

When I finally got my iPhone one of the applications I couldn’t wait to see on it was 1Password. Though my Safari bookmarks were able to sync up with my iPhone, none of my login information did. Suddenly I found myself without my key usernames and passwords and was struggling to remember the information 1Password made it so easy for me to forget. With this frustration in mind I downloaded 1Password from the App Store and set it up. Price: Free!

One of the first things you do on the iPhone version of 1Password is set up a 4 digit code (Argh! Another number to remember!) and also a master password. I’m not sure why I need two different passwords but I couldn’t find a way to disable the master password once set. Starting up 1Password results in this: Then trying to access any critical information (like seeing your actual passwords in plain text) results in this:

On the bright side the master password is only asked once per session. Syncing up a 1Password installation on a Mac and an iPhone is really simple, though it does require a wireless network connection (not 3G or Edge) on the same network as your Mac. At least it doesn’t require a .Mac MobileMe account. First off, make sure you have the latest version of 1Password installed on your Mac. Launch 1Password and select Sync to iPhone… from the Sync menu: From the iPhone you click on the Sync button at the bottom and you will be presented with a code that must be entered into your Mac so that they can be matched up. Once that’s done you can select your Mac from 1Password on the iPhone: Click the big blue Sync button and off you go. Now your iPhone will have the same data as your Mac’s copy of 1Password: Daily iPhone Use – Not Quite There Though I like 1Password for the iPhone and love that it now has all my passwords safely stored away, the integration is not nearly as smooth as it is for the Mac version. I cannot access my password information from Safari. Instead I need to go to 1Password, enter my digital code, select the site I want to visit, enter my master password and then I can access the site. Rather than push me to Safari, 1Password uses it’s own browser, which can help enter login information. Note the small keyhole icon at the bottom. Clicking that will allow you to push in your login credentials for the site. In practice it’s a mini version of Safari, though from within it you do not have access to your bookmarks or Safari history. While it does allow you to use the zoom features, the browser does not automatically go into Landscape mode when the iPhone is oriented sideways.

Perhaps the most frustrating part is that if I leave 1Password to grab some other information and then return to it, I am not brought back to the page I left. Instead, I need to go through those steps again. The happy medium I’ve found is that I use 1Password to help me remember the passwords and then simply access the sites through the Safari browser. This is where a copy and paste feature would be incredibly handy. In effect I use 1Password on my iPhone as a digital, password protected post-it note. Still, the price cannot be beat and at least I can look up those passwords and user names without having to remember them.

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After a week with the iPhone, what’s great, what’s not

I’ve had my iPhone for a little over a week now and figure it’s a good time to settle in and talk about what I like and dislike about it. I have not really changed my calling habits too much as a result of having the iPhone; the way I use the phone in general is about the same as I’ve done in the past. Where it has changed my daily activities is in the additional stuff I can use it for outside of being a simple phone. No longer do I get stressed out about having to waste time standing in line or sitting in an airport terminal waiting for a family member’s flight to arrive. I simply whip out the iPhone and check my e-mail or hit the Newsgator mobile site to see if there are any new developments on my Washington Redskins.

I haven’t tried the full iPhone version because I’ve been so pleased with the web based model. I love the Safari web browser built into the iPhone. Other than Flash sites everything I’ve pulled up renders great and is readable easily by zooming in. If the font is reasonably sized I can sometimes pick it up without even having to zoom in. Scrolling is also a wonderful experience. The best part? Coming across a site that’s been optimized for the iPhone. This is going to be a requirement for any web products I build in the future. The 3G access in my area of Northern Virginia is excellent with 5 bars in many places, 4 in others. If I can’t tap into a good wireless spot the 3G provides a reasonable alternative. When I’m in Southern Delaware I don’t get 3G but I do get excellent Edge signal. It’s significantly slower than 3G though serviceable. Sending and receiving SMS messages with the iPhone is great.

I love the iChat style presentation since it makes carrying on a conversation much more natural. The fact that I have a real keyboard means that my text messaging conversations tend to be more human readable too. The Mail application is fantastic and works very well with my Gmail account. I love that it works with my online folders via IMAP, can quickly pull my recipients out of my Contacts and can deal with attachments so easily. Someone has a phone number in their e-mail sig and a simple tap allows me to call them. The Calendar application is a nice implementation of iCal, though I don’t like that fact that once I create an appointment I can’t seem to change it from Work to Home calendar. Since I sync my calendar through iTunes with iCal on my Mac if I make a mistake and place something on the wrong calendar I can change it there. The Contacts list is also a strong point, syncing seamlessly with my Mac Address Book.

I have found myself dropping in pictures for all of my contacts because it is so easy and I like seeing the face of the person calling me. The battery life on the iPhone has been decent for me, considering how I am using the device. I can generally get a full day out of a charge with reasonably heavy use. This is not a "I can go for 5 days before I have to charge my phone" kind of device; I plug it in at night while on the road or sync it up with iTunes on a daily basis when operating from my home office. Not quite perfect On the downside I’ve had to restart the iPhone a couple of times now after it locked up on me. There are also times that the iPhone can respond very slowly, especially in the Contacts application. If I activate it and then try to pull up a contact record or click on the alphabetical list on the right it can sometimes take about 5 seconds before I get a response. Once it starts being responsive everything is fine; it’s just that initial delay that’s an issue.

This is not a regular occurrence but it is often enough to be noticeable. If I could pick one feature that could be added to the iPhone that would be very helpful it would be a modest clipboard function for Copy/Cut/Paste. Finally the camera in the iPhone is pretty weak. If the lighting is perfect—basically outdoors on a bright day, sun at your back—it can take an excellent picture. Indoors with decent available light it can take reasonably good pictures. The lack of a flash and white balance controls makes it pretty unusable if there is any back-lighting. Want to take a picture of a person that has a window behind them? Forget about it. These little complaints aside I really am happy with the iPhone. When I consider all the things that the iPhone does brilliantly it makes the list of complaints I have seem pretty weak.

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My wife and her iPhone

I’ve mentioned before that my lovely wife of 22 years is both brilliant and technically challenged. Whenever there is the slightest problem with technology—whether it’s switching the inputs on our TV or dealing with the smallest of issues on her Windows XP machine—I hear the "David…!" yell. This has led me to consider getting my wife a Mac to replace the HP laptop she has used for a couple of years now.

I would love to get her on the same platform that I’m on and get her to enjoy the Mac experience I have had so much fun with. I’m also a realist and came to the conclusion months ago that she will simply not enjoy the switch to a Mac unless it was something she really wanted. It’s not that she’s anti-Apple; she has been an iPod user for years and loves them. It’s just that unlike me her computer is purely a utility, something that is used to accomplish her goals. Given that, a Mac would likely be a challenge for her because it is just different enough that she would struggle with it. In light of all this I have let things run the way they have for many years.

I simply have to play technical support for her Windows issues and grudgingly patch the machine up as best I can.

Her new iPhone

When our Sprint service died and I picked up an iPhone I also bought one for my wife. At first she was a bit reluctant but after seeing a good friend use hers my wife warmed up to the idea. I was shocked by how quickly she took to it. I did of course have to provide some initial technical support but she mastered the basics much faster than I expected. This from a person that has never sent a text message in her life. The biggest issue she had was typing in the letter P. The Incipio dermaSHOT cover I placed on her iPhone has a slight lip that was blocking her from easily hitting it.The only other issue is eyesight related. We’re at the age where reading glasses are required and I noticed that she was often stretching the iPhone away from her in order to see details.

Solving the Gmail Contacts problem She’s a Gmail user so I set up her account for her and the iPhone quickly pulled down her e-mail. The only thing she had left to do was get her contacts into the iPhone. Since she runs iTunes on her Windows XP laptop I fired that up and specified that it should pull the contacts from Gmail. Well, that sucked down several hundred people that she did not know since Gmail still adds every person that is on any e-mail you send to your contacts. Every person from my son’s lacrosse team or our community activities list was automatically included, making her phone list far too large.

I pulled up a web browser and went into her Gmail Contacts List and noticed that there was now a Suggested Contacts list. I figured I’d live life on the edge and try something so I selected them all and deleted them. Sure enough the people that were left in the Contact List were the people she actually wanted in there (about 50). When we synced up to iTunes the next time she had her 50 contacts and everything was great. I had her update her contact information through Gmail since it was a little easier than typing everything in on her iPhone, then she re-synced and all was good.

A Mac is in her future She has been so happy with the iPhone experience that she’s actually reconsidering her position on switching to a Mac. Her Windows XP laptop is painfully slow right now, has trouble shutting down and the anti-virus software on it needs to be renewed. I am just tired of dealing with it all. Instead, she has a birthday coming up next month and I’m thinking a nice MacBook would be the perfect gift for her. If this goes according to plan I’ll set up an account for myself on her machine and the next time I hear "David…!" coming from her I’ll just SSH into her machine and use Alex to say "What?!?"

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iPhone 3G Second Look

There are a couple of things I’ve noticed about the iPhone 3G that I didn’t mention in my original post that I would like to cover. First off, the iPhone comes with what look at first glance like standard earbuds. I simply ignored them since they looked like the little white earbuds that I received with every other iPod I own.

These earbuds are different though. They include a little microphone 5 inches below the right earbud, harking back to the wired headsets that were popular before Bluetooth headsets became all the rage. You can use the them to listen to your music and it produces very serviceable sound. The best part though is when you use it for a phone call; the sound is loud, crystal clear and comes into both ears, something I rarely experience with a phone since I tend to use single ear headsets or just press the handset up to my ear.

The other cool feature is that the little microphone is also a switch that can be used while playing music. A single click pauses the current song and a double click advances to the next song on the playlist. If a call comes in while you are listening to music you can also click the microphone to answer the call.

About the only downside to the headphones are how to carry them. You can wrap them around the body of the iPhone but that renders the display unreadable. There are cases out there—like the Jam Jacket from DLO that I bought for my iPod Touch—that provide a nice little clip to wrap the headphone cord around. The downside to that is the iPhone can’t be slipped easily into a pocket with it attached; far too bulky. “Is that an iPhone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

The alternative is to just pick up a Bluetooth headset of course, though I have yet to have found one that offers decent sound beyond the ability to listen to phone calls. If you have a good solution to this problem please let me know. As Ross Perot would said, I’m all ears. Assuming I’m not listening to my music that is.

Portable Pictures
One of the nicer features of the iPhone is the ability to sync it up to my iPhoto collection. From within iTunes I simply point it at iPhoto and tell it to grab my 20 most recent events (there are several options for controlling what comes over). iTunes optimizes the photos before shipping them off to the iPhone so they don’t take up the same amount of space they do on your hard drive. Once there you can scroll through them or generate a slide show.

The camera that comes in the iPhone is 2MP and takes very, very basic photos. This is not a replacement for even a basic digital camera since there are no controls to handle things like white balance and there is no flash. If your subject is properly lit you can take a decent photo; outdoors in daylight the quality is fine but if there is any backlighting at all everything washes out. That means forget trying to take a picture of someone with a window at their back. A flash would help but again, this isn’t a “leave the digital camera at home” kind of device.

It’s more like a “I don’t have my camera with me but this will do in a pinch” kind of device.

A Black Rubber Cover
I really don’t like the idea of having a device as expensive as the iPhone subject to the abuse I would likely visit on it without at least a little protection. I picked up an Incipio dermaSHOT silicon case, which provides some insulation against scratches and inadvertant drops but adds little to the bulk of the iPhone. The case also comes with a clear surface protector that helps keep the main glass free of scratches. The dermaSHOT does attract a little bit of lint when placed inside of a pocket, making the iPhone look a little on the furry side, though it is easily brushed off.

I have one of those scratch protective coatings on my iPod Touch (Came with the DLO Jam Jacket) and it helps considerably. Not only does it protect against scratches it cuts down on the finger print factor too. I haven’t seen any change in the sensitivity of the touch screen since applying it either.

If you are going to install one of those protective covers to the face of your iPhone make sure you wipe it down really, really well first and apply it in as dust-free environment as you can. Otherwise you’ll get small bubbles under it.

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Goodbye Sprint, hello iPhone

Last week the proverbial last straw was placed on my back by Sprint. Though they have tried like crazy to retain my business over the years and I still had 4 phones under contract I had had enough. At our home on the Eastern Shore of Delaware our signal had been deteriorating for many months, to the point where you could only maintain a phone call for 15-20 seconds. People would call, you’d look at the phone and see two bars, start to talk and POOF! The call would fail mid-sentence. Fan-flippin-tastic. Five different phones, all got the same result.

I called Sprint to complain. The first person I spoke to told me that he would be happy to give me additional minutes on my account to compensate for the problem. Though a nice gesture, I declined because the phones were basically useless unless you liked to carry on Twitter like conversations with everyone. He suggested I speak to someone in the technical support group and transferred me over there.

After a lengthy hold a nice guy from the Texas support office got on the line and looked up my physical location. He said my area was in a “good” zone and that I should not have any problems. Well, clearly I was having problems. He explained at length how the cell towers were directional and that I may be in a dead zone. He suggested that I call the Sales department and talk to them about purchasing a signal booster for my home. He of course couldn’t transfer me but assured me that I would have no problem speaking to someone that could help.

It was pretty clear at this point that no one really wanted to do anything about my problem. Trying to be optimistic I decided to call back and speak to someone in the Sales department. When I finally got through to a human being I explained that I needed a signal booster based on what their support person told me. The person I spoke to had no idea what I was talking about.

Wonderful. I told the Sprint rep that I had had enough and was going to switch providers if they didn’t do something about it. She immediately went into crisis management mode and put me on hold. Apparently it’s standard operating procedure at Sprint to put people on hold when they sense there is a serious problem, hoping you hangup in frustration, forget why you called or simply expire from old age. When the Sprint rep discovered that I had indeed decided to stay on hold she told me that she was going to open a ticket to get technicians to our address to see if they could resolve the problem.

Impressed that Sprint would actually send someone out I asked when this would happen so that I could talk to them directly. She started to become very evasive at this point and told me her supervisor would call me back shortly to explain what was going to happen. She assured me that I would receive a call later that day. Comically she asked if I was interested in upgrading my plan at the end of the call to include some feature I didn’t have. Uh, no, thank you.

I was near my phone the remainder of the day and no one called. A couple of days later we wrote a nice little good bye letter to Sprint and talked through where to go next.

I’ve been wanting an iPhone for months now and with the 3G release my desire for one increased dramatically. With Sprint failing to deliver I had removed my last obstacle and went into full sales mode with my wife, telling her about all the great things she could do with an iPhone. I figured if I could convince her that she wanted an iPhone then I would get one by default. A friend of ours had just visited us and brought her iPhone and my wife was pretty impressed. We knew the iPhone got a great signal in our house so that wouldn’t be an issue. Though it took a couple of conversations I finally got her excited about getting one for herself.

Hurry up and wait
Since I was shuttling family members around I was back in Virginia and stopped by the Tyson’s Corner Apple Store at 11am on Monday, July 28. There was a line with about 30 people in front of me but the Apple folks assured me that I could get an iPhone if I waited, as long as I wanted a 16GB white iPhone. The black 8GB and 16GB versions were sold out.

After a two and a half hour wait it was finally my turn. It went very smoothly; the Apple clerk needed my Sprint account number so that I could have my phone number ported over. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish to port over our phone numbers from Sprint to the two iPhones.

Immediately after I left Apple I ran over to my local AT&T store to get the remaining phones on our account ported over. Fortunately that was a relatively painless exercise and we were able to set up the full family plan with shared minutes, unlimited text messaging ($30 / month for the 5 phones) and get my kids the phones they wanted. We even found that we were qualified for a discounted rate (15% off) on our primary lines. All in we will be paying about $40 more per month than we were with Sprint, though obviously with significantly more features.

iPhone First Impressions
Though I was thinking I wanted the black 16GB iPhone I didn’t really care that much which one I got. While I think the black one looks a touch cooler I was going to slap a rubber sleeve on it anyway to give it a little shock absorbing capability, negating the color. The white iPhone actually looks pretty cool though in person. The white surface doesn’t show any smudges and to a degree reminds me of a white MacBook.

The iPhone hooks up to iTunes much like any other iPod and I quickly went about identifying new content since I had significantly more capacity than with my 8GB iPod Touch. I love the Discovery Channel and especially Dirty Jobs; it turns out they are free as video podcasts on iTunes. It’s hard to beat watching Mike Rowe show you how sausages are made while you belly up to the breakfast platter at the local diner.

iTunes reports that my iPhone has 14.64GB of capacity. I can only assume that this is a combination of the formatting of the memory “drive” and base 2.0 software.

I really like the fact that the iPhone has an internal speaker (I know, Duh, it’s a phone too). There are times with my Touch that I simply need to hear a brief sound clip and don’t want to unwind the headphones and plug them into my ears – now I don’t have to do that.

I’ve had an iPod Touch for a little while now and was quite used to the interface. The screen itself is brilliant and displays high resolution images with ease. Browsing the web on the iPhone’s built in Safari browser is a complete pleasure. Having suffered through years of crappy little web interfaces on mobile devices the ability to get really useful web pages in that form factor is truly revolutionary.

About the only challenge I’ve had with the iPhone so far is the placement of the speaker for the handset. At first I thought that the volume was very poor on the iPhone but it was really a matter of where I was positioning my ear against the surface. Other than that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first day with the iPhone.

Best of all, every place I’ve been my little 3G indicator is displayed and I get a very strong signal. So far, so good.

Oh yes, my nephew Dan—the one that tried to get his iPhone the day after they were released—gets his today. He ended up having to go through the AT&T store in California where his parents set up the original account, they had to order the phone for him and set it up, then ship it out to him.