Friday, June 29, 2007

Got an iPhone

5:15 PM or thereabouts at the AT&T store on Loop 281. There are roughly 25 people in line here not counting the overachievers with nothing better to do and no job to work who snagged spots on the porch in front of the store. It's a festive atmosphere, kind of like a Star Wars opening. Thankfully no one is wearing a costume, though the next person to get in line behind me is a girl with an Apple logo T-shirt on. Could be worse, could be one of those latex Bajoran nose-prostheses. Major Star Trek convention vibe. I start to feel superior then I realize I am also here. Ah, humility. At least I didn't admit that I had nothing better to do all day and bring a chair.

5:50 PM -- The AT&T Wireless people emerge from the store and pass out these fliers. No, they won't tell us how many iPhones they have, but they will give us a piece of paper that most of us already know. This is a snooty cell-phone crowd, there has been market research here. The words 'Nintendo Wii' and 'PS3' are batted around. Everyone who has showed up is surprised that everyone else showed up. Looks like a good launch. Note to self: buy more Apple stock.

5:55 PM. Have read and reread flier from AT&T Wireless people and am considering taking a crack at the Spanish side. This is a view of the people who arrived after me. More showed up after this, even.

6:00 PM. Woot. The line is moving. Here are the backs of the heads of the people in line ahead of me.

6:09 PM. They're letting us in 6 at a time since there are only six employees to serve us. The first guy emerges with his phone, gets into his car and drives away. What, no T-shirt? No black turtleneck, even?

6:45 PM. Got my phone. Off to a family dinner, then back home. Note: there is a 10% restocking fee if you crack the plastic and then chicken out and try to return it. That's $59.99 for buyer's regret. I don't have any. They seal your bag in the store, I don't know why. Maybe security, the phone is pretty fungible at least from the standpoint that it's not tied to you when you leave the store. Have to get it home to sign up, but on the plus side it's a breeze in the store, just pay for the phone and scoot. It uses all the standard iPod charging stuff, so if you have an iPod you're set. I do, and I am. I pass on the belt holder for now, I don't know what's going to work the best, I need to see how big the thing is. There are a couple on display in the store, but I still don't know if I want vertical or horizontal carry. I went with the 8GB model. Hey, go big or go home, right?

Apparently, they also do take-out.

The iPhone box with the $60 shrink-wrap. Even if you don't like it that plastic is three Jacksons, baby.

I was just cleaning my knife when it went off and split the plastic, honest Officer. The box lid reveals an iPhone on an upper tray, and...

...the earbuds you won't use, the charging stand and the wall-charger. Heck, the wall-charger is $30 all by its lonesome retail, not bad. Yet another white iPod charging cable, too.

Thing is SMALL, man. My Nokia E62 is a little bulky, but the iPhone is thinner side to side and...

...a LOT thinner front to back. Length is about the same.

There is also a raft of papers, but they're fairly self-explanatory, like the one that says not to dry it in a microwave if it gets wet, and not to get it wet in the first place. Apparently, common sense isn't if you're a lawyer. I think they're being overly cautious on that one. I mean, the microwave didn't hurt the cat overmuch, so...nevermind. The other black thing is apparently a lens cloth to wipe off your fingerprints.

It takes 13 minutes and 55 seconds to download iTunes+Quick Time 7.3, and at 18:40 into the process the computer is rebooted with iTunes 7.3 and the iPhone begins to sync with the computer. Being as I already had an iTunes Store account and was an AT&T customer I didn't have to do much, though I don't remember getting to choose between the three plans. The unlimited data rate is only $20 a month for the iPhone, which saves me $30 a month over the rate for the E62. Over the 2-year service committment that means I'll basically pay for the iPhone in data plan savings.

Counting the time from starting iTunes and updating to iTunes 7.3, it takes 25 minutes and 19 seconds to activate my phone. Slick.

Still have trouble with Outlook contact synchronization, I dumped from the E62 back into Outlook (hadn't done that before) and then tried to go from Outlook to the iPhone -- no dice. Most likely my mistake. Instead I synched to my Yahoo Address book and went from the email addresses there to the phone numbers I read off of Outlook. The typing on the iPhone is fine, and I have pretty big fingers.

Basically, I got nothin' to complain about. Like most Apple stuff, you pull it out of the box and you pretty much start using it. The Safari browser seems to work well and the WiFi found my access point and works very well.

This picture is about as recursive as I can get without posting this and then photographing it. Between the lack of flash and motion artifact the text of the last post here looks blurry, but IRL it doesn't.

The phone feels quick, it's not sluggish. It's charging now, we'll see how long it takes to crap out. Media reports say 14 hours of continuous use, with six of those some combination of voice and data. We'll see.

I think Mr. Jobs hit a home run with this one. It's a better browser than my Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, the screen is a little smaller and less resolution but it doesn't feel that way, and it's smaller, easier and lighter than my Nokia E62.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We got Wii'd

First Daughter, looking appropriately abashed (after some coaching) and taking responsibility

It had to happen at some point. We're not the first.

A pleasant April night. A spirited session of Wii Bowling between 9 year-old First Son and 7 year-old First Daughter. The boy is up by 9 pins, in the 8th frame. First Daughter is trying mightily to beat him. Wii games can be played from your chair, with nothing more than your wrist -- but where's the fun in that? Maybe the accelerometer can tell how much you want to win if you swing it very hard...

She was wearing the wrist strap, we're pretty serious about that. The Wife and I had heard the stories, we always made them wear the strap. But we didn't always check that the cinch was tight. Oops.

A mighty throw I witnessed. A throw of authority, recklessness, enthusiasm and maybe a tinge of desperation. And then, it happened.

Psychologists who investigate trauma describe the ability to minutely observe dramatic events as tachypsychia, an abnormal perception of time. From my perch on the couch I saw the follow through, and the unfortunate release of the controller. "No problem", I thought in the briefest sliver of assessment, "she's wearing the wrist strap."

And then I saw the strap seem to dilate, slowly expanding to slip the bound of her wrist, and finally slide past the fingers, the controller and the strap now assuming a ballistic path. The unhindered controller flew arrow-straight, the wrist strap whirling gleefully like a thin, grey flag of freedom behind it.

In the time it took to travel the six feet or so from its launch point to its final impact, I had time to realize the error in not tightening the cinch, become briefly angry that this event I was witnessing was occurring at all, calculate its trajectory, realize with a dawning horror that the TV was about to be hit, think for a moment, "Naah. That's too silly to be true," recheck the projected impact point to see if it was going to hit the cabinet, and finally realize that this was happening, the impact was going to happen, and there was nothing I could do about it. I actually became briefly interested to see what was going to happen, and only flinched when I remembered that televisions can sometimes explode.

The Kubler-Ross stages of grief and tragedy, all flickering by in a third of a second.

Then, time resumed its normal course, and with a comic book CRACK! the Wiimote struck the screen of our Sony WEGA 43" rear-projection television, at the time a little over 7 years old.

Surprisingly, at the time, little to nothing happened. After a brief assessment, the First Daughter fled the scene for the darkest recesses of her bedroom closet accompanied by a dopplering fury of wails of decreasing pitch and tears, sure that I would be furious. I was, briefly. But the TV kept going. Closer inspection revealed a stellate series of cracks in the lower right corner. But this is a projection television, the screen is reflective and there is no high-vacuum tube to explode, as a standard TV would. The surface glass was cracked but with minimal distortion of the image. It took much less time to realize our TV had, um, acquired personality but would continue to serve than it did to coax the girl out of the closet.

It's impressive how perspective changes things. I'd been wanting to upgrade our standard-defintion TV downstairs, but previously had no reason to do so. I got a good story without much in the way of real damage. And First Daughter was so distraught that other than a moderately stern warning about using the cinch on the Wiimote wrist strap, I couldn't bring myself to punish her. Accidents happen, this one won't happen again.

The TV still works, I don't know how or if we'll fix it. A simple replacement of the glass should work, but we haven't called anyone about it yet. The new part probably costs more than the value of the unit, and it doesn't really interfere with the function of the thing. Having the crack in the middle of the family room also is a silent reminder to the kids that unplanned events can and will occur, and a modicum of preparation and consideration in your life is probably wise. Reminds me of that, too.

A minimal price to pay.

The crack