Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Adventures of Andy and the iPhone (with photos!)

I did it! I did It, I got the iPhone!!!

In your face Sprint!

Now for those of you who missed earlier episodes I have abandoned the Sprint Corporation over a matter of twenty dollars. So because Sprint would not discount the purchase of a phone I have switched carriers just so I could have the latest gadget and be the envy of all my nerdy friends.

So the adventure begins Friday when I left work at 4 PM to get in line at the AT&T store. Fortunately the store is just across the street so I went home picked up my camera, stopped off at the ATM. That’s when I hit my first obstacle.

The sidewalk was freshly cemented so I had to do just a bit of jay walking to get across Sawmill Road. Okay htat was a pretty lame obstacle, but what’s a story without conflict? I ended up in line at about 4:20.

As you can see I was not first in line.

I did end up making friends with my fellow gadget geeks. There was a security guard on site but the crowd was very well behaved. We all knew what we were there for, and for $500 - $600 a purchase (before optional accessories and activation fee) you’re there to drop some coin, not start a fight.

Speaking of which I had a dream earlier in the week that I had gotten in line and someone cut in front of me and got the last iPhone. In my dream I just about started a fight.

The AT&T staff was very nice. They even brought out cold drinks for people in line.

The security guy made sure we weren’t spilling over into the parking lot and made a count of people. I was about #28 and probably the first person attempting to get the 4 GB model. This just proves that I’m very secure about the size of my hard drive. They eventually gave everyone a fact sheet to fill out about why we were at the AT&T store today (duh!) what service you were going to buy etc… About 6:30 I had made it to the front of the line and was very excited.

They had a list of names and as one person left they would let another iPhon iPhanatic in the store. Inside they let you play with a demo unit. Here’s a picture of the cute girl in charge of letting you play with the display models.

She took a picture of me finally getting my hands on one!

And I took a picture of myself on the demo phone.

It really is very cool, and all the features from the commercial work just like that in real life. From the demo they let you pick out accessories. The only one I liked was a rubber sleeve for the phone, but usually that stuff is cheaper at Wal Mart than at the actually phone store so I passed.

About 7:30 I had my I Phone and was ready to plug it in. Unlike traditional phones there is already software on your computer to run it. I unpackaged everything and was impressed with what the iPhone comes with. First there’s the charger, but I was happy to see a cradle come with it. That’s such a nice feature. There’s also a set of earphones with a microphone so you don’t have to unplug to answer the phone.

The box itself is beautiful. It’s a glossy black finish with a nice organizational holder for each of the included items. There’s even a nice piece of cloth to wipe off all finger prints you can see ended up on there immediately.

The phone is small and about the size of a Motorola Q, or a late model Compaq iPaq. It’s bigger than the standard flip phone. Oh and I’m not abusive to my phones that’s just 2 years of jingling around in my pocket with keys, coins and anything else that might end up in there.

Setup was pretty simple. But I needed to do it on my desktop rather than my laptop because I don’t have XP service pack 2 on my laptop. (long unrelated story) All you do is plug in the iPhone into your PC, turn on iTunes (make sure you have the latest version) and it recognizes the new device. Then it prompts you put in your phone number, your account number and a few other items like billing information and voila… your phone is still locked!


Well since I was transferring my number from Sprint they emailed me saying:

AT&T is now processing your activation.You will receive an email confirmation once your activation is complete.

I got that email about 1:07 today and boy was I excited! I quickly ran upstairs, plugged back in and iTunes started the registration process. When it was done the phone was unlocked. I made the maiden call to my mom who said I sounded like I was in a tin can, but eventually sounded better.

Next it was off to YouTube to view a friend’s mini movie. Unfortunately I don’t think that all YouTube videos are available on the iPhone so I looked up Van Halen. It took a while because the typing program thought “Halen” was a typo for “Galen” But eventually I got there and here’s a photo of me watching the video for “Jump”. The only disappointing thing is that when watching videos the speakers are on only one side giving you only a mono sound. This is easily resolved by plugging in headphones.

Next I used the wireless web to look at my blog, looked up directions to my house (even though I’m already there) on Google Maps and read my email online!

There’s still plenty to figure out and I don’t think I’ll be getting any incoming calls until around 9:13 tonight but still it’s a really cool device. Everything they say it can do it does and I’m sure a lot more. My next step is to put some music and videos on there.

The guys at work were telling me that I’d come in Monday as a total Mac convert. I said probably not but don’t be surprised if I show up in a mock turtleneck and jeans like everybody’s favorite iCeo Steve Jobs.

Come to think of it, I do look good in black!

Friday, June 29, 2007

"But it's an iPhone!"

Excerpt from an IM conversation with Kelly

andy: I'm getting an iPhone
Kelly: you should see the look of shock on my face
andy: Save it, and I'll take a picture with the iPhone's camera LOL
Kelly: and that's different from my FREE Verizon camera phone HOW?
andy: it's an iPhone!
andy: :D
Kelly: its hundreds of dollars
andy: but it's an iPhone

Need I say more?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The pot calling the kettle black

I heard a review on the radio about a new book depicting the Reagan presidency. The radio personality gave it a great review and said it was the best book he’s ever read.

Having my interest grabbed I did about thirty seconds of Googling (the maximum allowed given my internet-age attention span) I found what I was looking for on a list of New York Times Best Sellers.

The book was #2 on the nonfiction list and the synopsis reads as follows:
2. The Reagan Diaries, by Ronald Reagan. Edited by Douglas Brinkley.
(HarperCollins, $35.) Selections from the 40th president's daily White House
What shocked me was not that my beloved Ronny was #2 but what exactly was #1, and not so much that it was #1 but the title of the book.
1. The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore. (Penguin Press, $25.95.) How the Bush
administration has degraded the political environment through secrecy, fear, and
rejection of fact-based reasoning.

Now if you told me that Al Gore had a book called “The Assault on Reason” I would have assumed it was a how-to tome detailing techniques for dodging scientific analysis of global warming propaganda.

Of course Gore refuses to debate anyone on global warming which is sad because he is a good debater. He’s taken on impassioned opponents like Ross Perot on NAFTA and had strong showings in the 2000 presidential debates. Yet when someone of intellect like Michael Chriton challenges Gore’s beliefs the former Vice President is nowhere to be found.

Mr. Gore, Reason is not a buffet line. You can’t pick and choose where you apply it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

How to make an otherwise reasonable individual want a $500 cell phone.

My current Cellular carrier is Sprint. They’ve never done me wrong, in fact through my former employer I got a little discount on my bill so I’m getting more service than I need for what I’m paying.

However my contract is up and, honestly, I was just waiting for a new phone to come along that I liked. Currently I’ve got an LG something-or-other that is without a doubt the best phone I’ve ever owned. I even have a custom AC/DC ring tone. In the office everyone knows I’m getting a call because Back in Black starts playing.

So last weekend I got a flier in the mail for the new LG Fusic for $29.99. It’s like my phone but is also an MP3 Player, has a camera and does all the multimedia crap that has somehow become associated with telephones in the 21st century. I have yet to explore the option of still getting the company discount by taking the flier into the store, but more on that later.

I decided to do my research and looked up the Fusic online. On Sprint’s website it’s selling for $9.99. When I first became a Sprint customer I found the phone I currently have online, printed out the online deal and took it to the store and got a new phone for the low, low price of $1.99 (plus tax). Trying to leverage the same buying power again I do the same thing.

My first mistake may have been going at noon when everyone on their lunch break was at the Sprint Store buying cell phones. I was a little put off by the attitude of the customer service people. Now I’m not one who likes to be hounded by sales people the moment I walk into a store, but this day I was virtually ignored.

I walked around the store a couple times, stood by the demo of the Fusic, with a smile as if to say “I’m here to give you money!” Then I realized that instead of helping people who were willing to pay for such help there was a rather uninspired kid standing at a podium taking names and putting them up on a big TV screen so you know who is next to be helped.

Finally a tall woman called my name and I told her about the $9.99 deal and how I wanted that phone and to renew my contract. Overwhelmed by the possibility of a new phone for $9.99 (after rebate of course) I forgot to try and leverage my former employer’s name.

But that was a moot point as the girl told me that as of June first they were no longer honoring website deals in the store.

Why not? It’s the same [expletive] company!

Still, twenty bucks is twenty bucks so I try to buy the phone online. Fortunately for me (the sarcasm becomes apparent at the end of this paragraph) there are two options for purchasing the phone online. The first one I tried was for current customers to replace or add a phone. I go through the process, choose my plan and am ready to check out when I notice that this will cost me a total of $60.

I'd like to point out that at this point the only thing keeping me on my quest is the fact that NFL network is an exclusive feature to Sprint.

So next I try to purchase a new phone. Again, I choose my plan, and attempt to check out when they ask my area code so they can assign me a new number.


At this point I ask myself, if I’m an AT&T shareholder why am I using Sprint’s product? So I start browsing the AT&T website, remember they used to be Cingular. And find a very similar phone, a similar plan and at a similar price (actually the phone would be free). Then I realize that if I only wait until June 29 the Apple iPhone would be available.

This, to me at least, would be the ultimate act of defiance to the Sprint Corporation because of their lousy customer care. Yes, over a matter of $20 I’m considering leaving their service to purchase a $500 product that in a year will be half price with more features.

Somehow this experience has made me long for the days when everybody had AT&T phone service. You rented your phone from the phone company and it weighed about fifty pounds and if you missed a call you had to wait for the person to call back. Sure there was only one choice but you didn’t have to go through the hassle of comparing every phone plan out there and using the word [Expletive] out loud in otherwise polite company.