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...

Friday, July 6, 2007

WAR walking, Bar driving, and bunny running

Among other things the WiFone is a pretty good WiFi network detector.

There is a time-honored hacker pastime called "WAR driving". WAR is an acronym for "Wireless Access (point) Recognition" -- at least I think that's what it stands for -- like a lot of hacker jargon, the term is so often used without explanation that it takes on meaning without needing decoding. [If I'm wrong, or even if I'm right, post a comment. I'm too lazy to look it up in Wikipedia or Google right now.] "WAR driving", as you might guess by now, is driving around town with a notebook computer, or special-purpose WiFi detector, and noting the location, name, and accessibility of WiFi access points: a source of free (leechable) Internet bandwidth.

As we take out dog for a walk every evening, I've been doing some WAR walking around the neighborhood. It's interesting to see the names of my neighbors' networks pop up one after another as we stroll down the block.

Also today, I had to take the car in for an oil change, so on the way home, and again when out to fill up with gas, I engaged in what I dubbed "Bar driving" -- noting the number of bars on the iPhone's AT&T cell network indicator at different locations in Okemos, the MSU campus, and East Lansing. Signal strength is generally between 2 and 4 most places. It was a full 5 at the car dealership, but one of the sales staff told me that there is nearby cell tower and all the networks have good coverage. It is pretty near to the major Okemos I-96 freeway exit, so that makes sense.

Pretty much the only area that didn't have good service was when I got within a mile or so of home :(:(:( Then the "No Service" message popped up or at most 0 or 1 bar. Depressing!

And "bunny running"? That's what our dog wants to do during the evening walks as the little critters are out and about in several placea along our usual routes.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Take me out to the ball game ...

Thursday summer nights in Lansing means "Thirsty Thursday" ($2 draft beer) at Oldsmobile Park in the heart of downtown, when the Lugnuts are in town to take on an opponent in the Class A- Midwest League of minor league baseball. Since we have a ticket package, I got to try out the iPhone in a new environment. It also meant 3+ hours actually on the AT&T EDGE network with 4 or 5 bars!

I also brought along my bluetooth headset (Jabra BT350) and, of course, my Treo 700p. I fiddled around with the headset and got it paired easily with the iPhone. I also forwarded my Treo number to the iPhone as well, so I could see how any calls I got sounded. Unfortunately, I didn't get that done before a call came in. And it was too noisy at the park without headset to really talk, so I had to ask the caller to catch me tomorrow. My wife did a couple test calls (from the seat next to me -- awkward -- not much to say) after I had things set up and sound quality was good on both ends.

I did receive a few e-mails easily, and made quite a bit of use of the Safari browser. I always keep a scorecard at a baseball game (old school!), and as it happened, they didn't have any preprinted rosters this night. So when a pitching change took place, and the announcement was drowned out by between-inning entertainment, I despaired until I remembered I had the Web in my pocket. The speed was not quite up to Treo standards, but the full page rendering and easy zooming of the South Bend Silverhawks roster page, made it worth a slight wait. And I easily called up the player profile page, so I not only got the name, but full stats (last 10 outings), picture, etc.

Of course the Palm platform supports ScorePad, a complete full-color, wonderfully detailed baseball scoring software package on the Treo (and other Palm devices). I've had a copy for several years and use it on and off. Lately though I've gone back to pencil and printed scorecard, since it doesn't require as much commitment -- I can always just annotate a batter as "IWW" (I Wasn't Watching) and move on, where the software demands to know what really happened: "K"? "1B"? "W","6-3"?

One downside to the touchscreen though: it's not easy to answer a call when in the midst of eating an order of "Super Nachos" unless you want sour cream and salsa on the screen!

All and all, a pleasant evening at the ball park. And the Luggies won 5-3, too, with the winning runs coming from a grand slam homer!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Two Bars!! ... I made and received my first phone call at home

My daughter, among others, was over for a 4th of July cookout. After we'd had lunch and she was getting ready to go to work at her part-time job, I glanced at the iPhone and beheld the AT&T legend and TWO BARS. Quickly I dialed her mobile number, and it rang in her pocket. "Who's calling me? Oh, it's Daddy on his iPhone!"

So she was honored to be the receipient of the my first successful call from inside my house. Just as quickly, I said, "Call me back!". In a few seconds, she was greeted by the ringtone "Quack, Quack. Quack" ... I had assigned her the "Duck" ringtone ;) We hung up, chuckling.

The signal faded. She still had three bars on her Verizon phone, as did I on my Sprint Treo. So, at least once per five days, the iPhone can actually be used to make and receive phone calls.

So, d'ya like the iPhone or not?

This is the ultimate question I'm trying to answer for myself (and my wife, the intended final user of the phone). We won't make a final decision until close to the end of the 14 day trial period.

But here's a quick interim report on what I like (and dislike) about the new WiFone:

  • "WiFone"? Yup, that means, so far, I have successfully made or received ZERO phone calls from anywhere inside or near my home. So mostly I've used the WiFi to connect to the Web for browsing and email. I have to get out of this AT&T "dead zone" here in the heart of residential East Lansing to use this slab as a real cell phone. Big minus for the "NoPhone"!
  • It is nearly everything the ads and hype have led me to believe (I don't know about your beliefs unless you comment). I don't feel duped or scammed by Apple -- and remember, this is the first Apple device I've bought. I haven't been this awed by a computer since I first tried out the Lisa in 1983 (I was pretty thrilled back in 1967 when I saw a teletypewriter communicating with a Burroughs 5000 all the way across the room, too! And again in 1973, when I made a telnet connection from my CRT in Lansing to an IBM computer in Ann Arbor at U of M and then back to a CDC 6500 at MSU and sent a file around the triangle and back again via the "Merritt Network"). The new multi-touch user interface puts real "smarts" in the smartphone.
  • It can't do many, many of the things my Sprint Palm Treo 700p already does -- things I do every day -- like, Pocket Quicken, Splash Shopper, ToDo List (!?!), take short videos, get to my favorite Web site in just 3 button presses (no bookmarks on the home screen), conveniently track notes in my diary, track my diet, back up to the Web over the cell network (automatically, every night), and probably several other things I do without thinking.
  • Wonderful as the iPhone interface is, the Palm interface is incredibly intuitive and smart, too, and has been evolving for years. I've already found myself wondering why things work (or don't work!) a certain way on the iPhone, while the Palm usually already "knows" just what you meant or anticipated what you wanted to do.
  • The WiFone camera is very, very good
  • The WiFone videos are stunning. (I plan an extended post just on the YouTube app.)
  • The Safari browser is a tour de force. It it fast, smart, and generally a pleasure to use. It makes browsing the Web on a phone-size device practical for non-geeks.
  • I don't listen to music much except whatever's on the radio (old school! classic jazz!), but the iPod functions may convert me into doing more. I ripped two CDs from my collection into the WiFone very easily and the sound is more than good enough for me.
  • The WiFone works pretty well as a tablet computer at my dining table (and, **ahem**, on the "throne" in the "euphemism"), or on the sofa or easy chair in the living room. I've read several Web pages, watched short video podcasts, read quite a bit of e-mail, and watched way too many YouTube videos.
  • Having fast internet in your pocket whever you go is very, very handy! While talking with old college buddies on Monday, I could quickly look up something and hand the answer across the picnic table in just seconds.
  • Not having a keyboard is somewhat of a problem, but I'm still adjusting. I remember the loud noises and controversy when Palm ADDED a keyboard going from the Palm Vx to the Treo. No judgments until trying it for longer.
So, there's a quick run down. [Old time radio announcer voice:] And stay tuned -- for more in the continuing saga of iPhone Lansing ...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

iPhone vs Treo

Why buy an iPhone when you already have a Treo? This is an excellent question, but like a lot of things, it repeats history in some interesting ways. As time marches on, gadgets keep changing, and sometimes, improving (not necessarily both!). I've lived through many of these "revolutions" and many of the busts.

I like my Treo a lot. I lusted for the 600, which I codenamed the "360" as soon as I heard Jeff Hawkins describe the earliest Treos 90, 180, and 270. As a v2.2 guy, I figured the next version would be called the 360 (a tip of the hat to the iconic IBM mainframe computer of "the '60s", which lasted well into the '70s). As soon as I was out of contract with my clunky Verizon handset, I got a Treo 600 a set aside my Palm Vx (in fact I had TWO for awhile, as I compared the Verizon and Sprint data services). One gadget to replace both a phone and a PDA -- Nirvana! And, as soon as the Treo 700p was available, and my 2 yr contract had expired, and I could get the appropriate discount, I satisfied my desires and upgraded.

But the Treo requires a commitment to function over form, and there are some limitations. Maybe the design geniuses at Apple could do it better, and it would be truly a new device -- with the multi-touch screen, and a different style of interface -- geeky, but cool, and easy to use as well. I've been unsuccessful in convincing my wife to use any kind of PDA. Maybe the iPhone would work for her (or both of us?).

So, I had to try it. And I was willing to invest $50 or so to try it out, even if I took it back. And the hype and the line-waiting, etc, might be fun. I've heard it all compared to Woodstock. And, Cali, [assuming political put-down voice] I was AT Woodstock (well, actually "Goose Lake", a Michigan knock-off festival in '70), and having stood in line and tried out the iPhone, it ain't nearly as "far out" as that was ... but it is "way cool"!

Wow! Emotions are running high ...

Chris Pirillo went on an extended rant of "20 Reasons why I'm NOT buying an iPhone now" on his podcast, The Chris Pirillo Show. Cali Lewis at Geek Brief TV couldn't stop gushing. I'm really interested to listen to Leo Laporte and the gang on This Week in Tech as they react to their initial experiences. And Alex and Kevin were shouting at each other last week on Diggnation, before either of them had even seen an iPhone (I couldn't even finish watching all of that...).

[assume Walter Cronkite voice] But, here on iPhone Lansing, we intend to take a more measured, sober approach: bringing you honest reaction and reporting on actual experiences devoid of hyperbole.

[assume Jim Cramer persona] And, BOO-YAH, we'll also SHOUT OUT the pure JOY of the iPhone -- it's thrills, chills, excitements, and its woes, failures, and despairs -- it's BETTER THAN SEX, and it's a worthless piece of crap!

If you like rollercoaster rides, stay tuned ...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Q: "So... Who ARE you?" A: a V2.2 Guy

Robert Scoble starts all his interviews with the question: "So... Who ARE you?". Although, the question (& he) are kind of geeky, it's really a brilliant question. (If you don't know Scoble, just google "Robert")

It's a brilliant question because all of us can talk about ourselves for hours [nay, days!] so, as I answer the question, I'll try to be brief. If anyone wants to know more [not bloody likely], post a comment, and I'll respond there...

So, a "Version 2.2 Guy"? What the heck is that [still channeling Scoble here]?

I have literally grown up with technology (I'm 56.7 yrs old), and have tried many new things in my life and career in computers. I also tend to be cautious about being too far onto the "bleeding edge". I've created a lot of software, designed a lot of systems, and built a bit of hardware, too. So, I am VERY aware of the many things that can go wrong with a version 1.0 product. Thus, I tend to wait for the 2.0. And then I procrastinate a bit, and end up with version 2.2. Now any product that gets to 2.2, usually works pretty well, so it will be pretty solid, satisfying, if a bit stodgy. That's what I usually buy.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to work with an IBM 1440 and a Burroughs 5000, while still in high school in 1967, programmed in over a dozen languages, tried out early online systems in 1969, used an early version of the Internet in 1972, CDC 6500 and IBM 360s in the '70s, built an IMSAI kit personal computer in 1978, tried out a Lisa (the proto-Macintosh) in 1983, owned (and loved) an Amiga 500 in 1988, and used (and sometimes cursed) a series of Windows computers (some home-built), from 1993 to the present. I also traveled along a path of Casio wristwatches and Digital Diaries, through the wonderful Palm Vx, that led to the Treo 600 and 700p smartphones.

All in all, I have a bit more perspective on new technology than many, many of the current generation of technology writers and commentators. But I also like a shiny, new thing. To get my hands on it and see how it works. Most of all, I like to learn new things.

What?!? No Rocketboom?

Rocketboom, the iconic early daily video podcast, was announced to the world with the video iPod, and many of us have made it a habit ever since. So imagine my shock when I synced the iPhone with my iTunes account and got the message:

"... was not copied ... because it cannot be played on this iPhone."

I wonder what I can do to get it to work? Why doesn't it work? Is it the fault of Drew Barron? Steve Jobs? Stay tuned ...

It's the Network, stupid!

As I contemplated my iPhone experiment (buy one, test it, take it back if it doesn't work out), one of my biggest concerns was "the new AT&T" Wireless network, and the "EDGE" data service.

I've had a cellphone since 1992 on Verizon (actually Cellular One --> Airtouch Cellular --> Verizon Wireless: same carrier, three names in 15 years), with an account that my wife and mother-in-law still share. VZW and I parted ways a while back -- when I did a paralell test for two weeks of the Treo 600 on their data network vs Sprint PCS. I've been on Sprint ("now together with Nextel") since 2004 with my Treo. I upgraded to the 700p last year.

In the Lansing market, we can also choose "the new AT&T" (Ameritech Wireless --> SBC Wireless + AT&T Wireless + Cingular --> AT&T) or Alltel (20th Century Wireless --> CenturyTel --> Alltel). T-Mobile has not really been much of a presence here, so mostly it's the big two: VZW or Sprint, with AT&T a contending third.

One of the obvious concerns was the EDGE data network of AT&T vs the EVDO on Sprint or VZW. Right from the iPhone announcement, this was the clear weakness. Reviews last week by the tech gurus (Walt Mossburg for WSJ and David Pogue for NYT) both cited this as a potential liability. But is it a deal breaker?

In my experience so far, there is a far more serious concern. Can I even make or receive calls? "iPhone"? -- "noPhone" is more like it. The AT&T regular cell voice network, let alone the EDGE data, is mostly "No Service" or sometimes 0 or 1 bars, at our house in the heart of residential East Lansing. Hardly the "more bars in more places" that was promised! After I activated the iPhone at about 2 in the morning Friday night, I was a bit concerned that the AT&T indicator only flickered on occasionally, but, then I was tired and maybe the network was overloaded or maybe the phone needed a full charge. I'd try again after some sleep.

In the cold, gray dawn of Saturday morning, a beautiful Michigan summer day was shaping up, but my iPhone couldn't even contact the voicemail service to set it up!! I looked up their coverage map, and, sure enough, a vast area of the residential neighborhoods of East Lansing have only "moderate" voice service! Overall, the coverage in Michigan is pretty much along the major highways only, outside of the Detroit mega-opolis. (The newer, true high-speed data network is only available in parts of Detroit and Ann Arbor.) But this is 2007 folks, and Lansing (I think) is not Podunk. VZW & Sprint seem to agree.

So, I took the iPhone outside, and got all the way up to 1 bar, but still no "E" to indicate data service. The coverage map showed that things were better to the south and west of me. It turns out that I'd left behind my lawn chair at the AT&T store, so I went back to retrieve it, and, indeed, I finally started to see more bars! And the "E" appeared! When I stopped in to the store, they all wanted to know what I thought so far. The answer was easy -- an amazing device on a crappy network. I don't even know how fast it is, because I can't even get enough service coverage to set up my voicemail, let alone browse the InterWeb! I earnestly requested that they put in a new tower within a mile of my house right away, or I'd probably have to (sadly) return the iPhone. They were stunned, but no one offered to strap on the tool belt and follow me home.

I went ahead and set up the voicemail sitting in the parking lot, and drove on to further experiments. In a later post, I'll report on some timings I've done of Web page retrievals, comparing my Sprint Treo 700p to the iPhone, both on the AT&T network (outside my house) and on WiFi (inside and out).

But, for now, the iPhone is just a JulyPhone, and not a DecemberPhone -- at least in Michigan -- if you have to take it outside to receive or make a phone call...

Message to Apple and AT&T: "It's the NETWORK, stupid!"

Sunday, July 1, 2007

So, what will I learn ... (topics) ?

Here's a list, mostly for my own benefit, of tentative topics, in no particular order, I plan to write about in the next few days:
  • Standing on line (details) -- maybe multiple posts.
  • So, d'ya like the iPhone or not?
  • What's that smell?
  • "Designed by Apple in California"
  • The "killer app" of the iPhone that nearly brought me to tears.
  • I hate wires!
  • What time zone IS this?!?
  • What's smart about a smartphone?
  • Phone Econ 101 -- a financial analysis of gadgetology.
I'm sure I'll think of more ideas as I go along. I hope I have time to fit it all in. I am enjoying the writing so far. But, then, I am a serial dilletante...

So far, I've covered these topics:
  1. iPhone Lansing background
  2. Standing on line (brief)
  3. (Retro) First impressions
  4. It's the network, stupid!
  5. Version 2.2 Guy?
  6. Why buy an iPhone when you already have a Treo?
[edited at 3:30 PM; reposted at 8:45 PM; revised and reposted 7/3 at 1:00 AM and 1:45 PM]

(Retro) First Impressions

I'm an old-school guy, so these "retro" first impressions will try to recapture the excitement of Friday, June 29, 2007 at 7:30 PM (40 or so hours ago). After buying my iPhone, I walked back to "Harvey", the wonder micro-van, and set about the "unboxing experience".

First of all, the bag was sealed. And I mean, really sealed. Those special orange top white with blue print AT&T Apple iPhone bags had a really strong adhesive all across the top just below the carry handle. After tugging at it a bit and distorting the plastic, I got out my Swiss army knife and cut open the top. Inside was a small, shrink-wrapped black box that had a bit of heft to it.

The box has a lifesize picture of the iPhone, with the home page -- not the 15-icon version, but the actual 16-icon screen. So even though the presence of the YouTube icon was only announced a few days ago, they had it planned for some time. The phone is wrapped in clear plastic (not shrink wrap, more like cellophane) and held in a solid plastic support tray. I lifted out the phone and left it in it's wrap. Pushed the power button at the top and beheld ... the World!

"Activate via iTunes" was all it said. You could slide the magic slider and the dial keypad appeared. But there was no service yet, and so although I "phoned home", the call didn't complete. Underneath the tray in the box was the documentation in a black cardboard folio with the legend "Designed by Apple in California". Now that's my kind of statement -- simple, clear, arrogant, and elegant.

The documentation folio continued the initial, powerful experience: a single lift tab was accessible through a quarter-sized hole in the plastic tray, two flaps opened on the back of the folio revealing the "Finger Tips", the sole printed instruction, a 20-panel illustrated guide to turn to when pressing buttons stops working. (I didn't even read any of it until the next day, which did lead to some of my problems, but a recent theory of mine is that homo sapiens has evolved into homo video rather than homo biblio, so I'm just typical.)

Underneath the document folio were the all white accessories: dock, power plug, and earbuds, each also "sealed" in the cellophane-like wrappers. I slipped the phone into my pocket, put everything else back in the box and the bag, and headed out.

I had not planned well enough, so had no food since a snack at 4. (I had resisted the entrepreneurial gals from the nearby ice cream store that provided sidewalk service to the crazy folks in their mini-mall.) Time to get home to the wife and supper (pizza on Fridays!), and play with the shiny new $500 toy.

Standing on line

Standing on line in Lansing to get an iPhone was similar, I'd guess from reports I've seen or read, to the experience everywhere else, but on a much smaller scale. One guy (LSJ), who you might call "LonelyGuy40", actually camped out at the store I was planning to visit. This blew my plan for the short line in the West vs the long wait in the East, by revealing the location of the AT&T store.

But, I went ahead anyway, arriving at about 4:30 PM, to take up position 25 (or so, no one really counted, and with hangers-on, it was hard to tell the actual size of the line). Two other guys arrived just as I did, so I loaned them my lawn chair and magazines and walked over to nearby Circuit City for awhile. When I got back around 5:00, about five more people had arrived! The hype was building ... NOT!

For the next hour, we chatted, and talked to the TV lady, and the mostly clueless Cingular (oop, I mean "new" AT&T) staff, and generally whiled away a pleasant TGIF. One well-equipped guy even had a sling chair, a beer, and an umbrella to protect him from the sun of the western exposure of the alley next to the building, where the line had formed.

They opened the door right at 6:00 PM, let in 10 people, and then as each one came out, let in another. We each were given a hastily hand-numbered brouchure to be our service order ("take a number, please"!) at the two checkouts. They had two demo phones on display. I got in the store at about 7:05 PM, had my number (#13 -- so maybe I was 23rd in line) called at 7:19, and 3 minutes later walked out the door with my shiny new 4GB iPhone sealed up in a plastic bag with Cingular Orange handles and top, and AT&T blue print on white background below. Hardly the elegant, black bags I saw later on Geek Brief TV from the Apple store in Dallas (? -- whereever Cali Lewis was).

Overall, the experience was kind of fun. I'll report later in some extended posts about some of the aspects of the line. But there is lots more interesting to discuss on the phone itself.

iPhone Lansing background

Lansing, Michigan, is a kind of small town in a big city. It is the capital of Michigan, located in "the middle of the mitten", with a population of about 130,000. Right next door is East Lansing ("home of Michigan State University"), where I live. The metropolitan Capital Area is about half a million. Lansing is a car town (where it all began in 1896 with Oldsmobile: now making Cadillacs, Saturns, and Pontiacs for GM). So the pillars of the economy are state government (in a new town carved out of the swamp in 1847), the auto industry, Big Ten education (MSU was the first land grant college in 1855), and the remnants of the agricultural past.

So, after following the hype surrounding the iPhone over the past several months, I decided it might be fun (and interesting) to get one and try it out. The Lansing area is too small for an Apple store (nearest ones in the larger Grand Rapids to the west and the tonier suburbs of Detroit to the east), but we do have two "the new AT&T (formerly Cingular)" stores, one in each of our malls.

Being the clever fellow that I am, I opted to go the the west-side Lansing Mall area store (the car-worker side of town), reasoning that demand would be lower than at the Meridian Mall in our tony suburb, Okemos, where many students from MSU, and professionals from that part of town might be in line.

It turns out, it didn't really matter. Apparently from local news reports, (Lansing State Journal, WILX TV10) there were no more than about 50 folks at each store on Friday. I'm not sure, but I think everyone that wanted an iPhone the first day, actually got one.

"Small town in a big city."

So what will I learn in this "iPhone Lansing" thingy?

I'm a Version 2.2 kind of guy, but in this Web 2.0 world, I've given in to the hype and joined the iPhone 1.0 mania.

Fair warning: this is a kind of mid-life crisis. But I decided to combine several interests together and this journal will be part of the experiment. A place where I can share my thoughts as I try out the new Apple iPhone, and make my
first foray into "Blogging" (I told you -- 2.2!).

Along the way (as I talk out my troubles), this should be a sort of extended review, and perhaps will be useful to you if you are considering an iPhone, or even if you are not.

So, in my humble opinion, you should learn a lot.

"Hello, World ..."

So begins a personal journal on my relationship with the Apple iPhone. A remote bit of reporting on yet another electronic device that will "change everything".

This is my first foray into the world of amateur journalism, via this Web Log, aka Blog (terms I generally detest, and will endeavor to avoid hereafter!). We will see how it goes ...