Friday, July 20, 2007

I hate wires!

The iPhone, like most iPods, I guess, comes with the iconic white earbuds -- on a wire (uggh). They perform well enough and the squeeze bulge on the iPhone right ear wire to pause or skip a track or answer a call is kinda nice. But the wires! They get tangled in my beard. They get caught on my buttons. They are just in the way.

I want wireless listening. Not just a mono bluetooth headset for phone calls. Full stereo wirelessly to both ears. Of course, the iPhone 1.0 doesn't do bluetooth stereo. And nobody makes bluetooth stereo without wires or collars or something to connect the two ears. The closest I've seen are the Motorola S9 or the Etymotic ety8, but they both have to link the ears behind the head.

NO WIRES! I want two small earbuds that deliver wireless stereo in partnership with each other and the smartphone (preferably my Treo!). I hate wires ...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Non-techie reaction: "enhh"

It didn't take me very long to decide that the iPhone would not be replacing my Sprint Treo 700p anytime soon (even setting aside the financial details of contracts and monthly fees). There is too much I would have to give up. But, part of my original idea was that maybe the "reinvented cellphone" would be something that my wife (hardly a technophobe, but not a "gadget gal") might find useful to replace her aging Nokia 6015i on Verizon.

So, she had the use of the iPhone for two days at work, to find out about it's performance and usefulness, mainly AS A PHONE. That would be mostly as a part-time phone: she averages only about 25 minutes monthly! Her most frequent call is to me at home to say "I'm late" or "I'm coming now", so that I can finish cooking supper, and get it on the table on time.

Although it was snazzy in appearance, and easy to use, there were several reception problems in various places at her work. The home "noPhone" became an office "sometimePhone". The AT&T network is no match for Verizon or Sprint here in East Lansing, Michigan.

Once I have more time to talk with her at length, I'll also report more about the actual operation of the phone. She did give me a few notes. I need to ask more about her experience. However, she was underwhelmed.

Bottom line evaluation: "enhh..."

Black, bleak Friday

Today was Friday the 13th. It was also the end of the 14-day iPhone trial period.

Unable to resolve the problem of "No Service" at home and spotty service elsewhere, I returned the iPhone to the AT&T store for a refund. At first, the new cashier tired to tell me that it was 15 days! But the manager allowed the return on the more realistic basis that two Friday after purchase is indeed 14 days. Unfortunately, they imposed a 10% restocking fee. This had not been disclosed to me in spite of asking lots of questions in advance. They claimed to have included a form disclosing the fee in the bag (which they hadn't). The fee was also NOT mentioned in the brochure that I received and read while in the store waiting to be served.

I will dispute the extra $50+ charge to my credit card. It's bad enough that I will be on the hook for the $36 activation fee and 1/2 month service (about $30), at least $66+taxes.

There are certainly some limitations and flaws to the iPhone, but the AT&T network is the real problem. What good is a phone that can't make or receive calls?

Now comes the bleak, black depression of "NoPhone"...

(But I will still write and write to describe my experiences, so don't go away. I promise at least a post per day for the rest of July.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Going to Chicago ...

On Saturday morning, we (me & my wife) drove from East Lansing to Chicago to visit my son for the weekend. Another opportunity for "bar driving" and testing some of the iPhone features.

Once we had driven the 6 blocks or so from our house to the freeway (US127), the reception was up to 3 bars and it stayed that way (3 to 5 bars -- 4 bars typical) pretty much all the way to (& from) Chicago (I496/I69/I94/I294) and certainly while in the "big city", even on the El.

While she was driving, I was able to read e-mail and surf the net with ease. I browsed to the MLS Web site and downloaded a 32-page PDF of game notes for the Chicago Fire v Toronto FC soccer match that we were planning to watch that night. Even the PDF was able to be zoomed with the "double tap" and "pinch" gestures to make it very easy to read. Wow! This will put the program vendors out of business.

Of course, I was also able to call my son and let him know we were underway and when our expected arrival would be.

The iPhone is a pretty awesome "HiwayPhone" ...

What's that smell?

When I first opened the iPhone box (almost 2 weeks ago), one thing I noticed was a distinct, though faint odor in the box. A perfume! The Apple California design geniuses had left nothing to chance -- your first (and lasting impression) would be influenced positively in every way.

A brief Google search (iPhone + smell; odor; aroma; perfume) doesn't reveal any other comment on this, but I'm positive that it's there. It is something more than the "new car" smell of plastic or technology. To me it was a distinct vanilla; my wife detected citrus; my son, leather. Everyone I've shown the box agrees that there is some sort of perfume inside -- not much, not strong, but there nonetheless. Even yet today.

It is well known that stores use perfume to influence shoppers. So why not the iPhone box?

Monday, July 9, 2007

I better get busy ...

I'm not meeting my goal of writing at least one post per day! We made a weekend trip to Chicago to visit my son. But that's not a very good excuse...

Wherever I go, I've been letting people know about this journal, so if I write it, they will come (at least that's the theory -- please, comment, so I know you're there). And if I don't write it, they'll stay away (:

Here's [sic -- here are] some of the topics coming soon:

  • the rest of So, what will I learn?
  • Going to Chicago ...
  • Big City, Five Bars! (except in apartments)
  • Transit, Chicago (RTA=CTA+METRA+Path=easy & cheap)
  • Chicago is Tasty
  • MLS is on Fire -- not so much ...
  • the Garden of Hilton (no, not Paris!)
  • a Lula of a breakfast
  • rolling home thru the Is / service on the Is
  • In search of signal strength
  • Accessorize
  • [my] best iPod ever!
So, while watching Kevin & Alex (Diggnation) on the small screen, I'll try to type fast on the big one...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Is 07-07-07 my lucky day?

I hope so, because yesterday was just depressing.

After my "Bar driving" experience, I decided to call the AT&T store and see what, if anything, they could suggest to "improve your experience" -- like being able to make a freakin' phone call from home! or receive one!

While "Bruce" was polite and appologetic, he didn't really offer any solution to my issue with the AT&T network. No known tower problems, no knowledge of when or if they would address the East Lansing "dead zone". I pried out of him that a repeater anntenna might help, but they don't know of anything. "We just refer people to" or Wireless Giant (a local accessory store). He concluded (actually several times during the call), noting that there is a 14-day return policy on the iPhone. Sad, just sad.

My wife suggested I call Apple. (well, duh! good idea!).

I was on hold for about 2 minutes to the support number that was included in my activation e-mail (AT&T's local store answered as soon as I got through the menus). "Steve" in Cupertino (or where ever), heard out my problem, but had no suggestions either, short of and discussion forums. He opined that describing the return policy was not the best response to a problem with "No Service" on the cell network. He was also puzzled (or at least silent) about the "baseband log" files that have appeared on my Windows computer ("I don't know much about that"), even when I described the contents as looking like records of failed phone calls that may be being sent back to the Apple mother ship. (Is Apple watching us? Are they gathering data on the "quality" of the AT&T network to bludgeon them with? I hope so!)

Today, we are going to visit my son in Chicago (also an MSU Computer Science grad), enjoy some of the food at "Taste of Chicago", watch a Chicago Fire MLS soccer match at Toyota park, and (suprise!) show off the iPhone. Coverage ought to be wonderful.

It's 07-07-07! It ought to be my lucky day...