Category: Apple

iPhone Review II

Apple iPhone 1.1Three months ago I posted my Apple iPhone Review and detailed my initial thoughts of Apple’s entry into the cell phone market; now with a few months of usage I thought it would be a good time to write down some afterthoughts on what the iPhone experience is all about. First let me state that I have only personally used only three cellphones in my entire life: a Blackberry, a Samsung Blackjack, and an old style cell phone, none of which I personally owned. The irony of course is that back in college I worked at a major electronics chain store and sold cell phones as part of my job. Back then I use to sign up people for Motorola phones all the time. Somehow though I never really thought I would ever need a cell phone until now!

Most Used Features

Without a doubt, the feature that I use the most is Safari. I love being able to read my favorite tech news sites and blogs anywhere I go. Everyone is talking about how some day eBooks will become popular, but in reality the real medium is the news site and blogs that get updated daily and which are read more often than most newspaper columns. The iPhone allows you to do what you have always wanted to do, which is catch up on your favorite sites when you are away from your computer. In many ways it reduces the need for people to use their work computer for idle web browsing and lets people be informed anywhere they go.

I personally hate talking to people on the phone, so I prefer SMS texting to actually calling anyone. Sometimes SMS seems more fun than actually talking. I much more prefer to send coworkers a quick message than to actually bother them during a meeting or worse at home in their private time. The iPhone’s keyboard takes a little getting use to, but it soon becomes second nature and you find yourself quickly adopting to its limitations.

As a manager, you often need to catch up on email or learn more management skills, but lets face it there is never enough time in the day to do this. One trick that I use is to email myself anything I don’t have time to read to my GMail account and then later when I get stuck waiting somewhere with nothing to do, I pull out my iPhone and check my email. This way I catch up on everything I wanted to read eventually without interfering with my regular work routine.

Probably the feature I use the most that is not work related happens to be the camera. Like most people I have a digital camera and it is stuck in a drawer somewhere. The iPhone camera is nothing to rave about, but it allows you the freedom to take a few pictures of the family, especially when they least expect it. For the first time I actually I am using iPhoto weekly.

The Annoyances

The biggest annoyance is the battery life, until you discover to live within the limitations of the iPhone battery. If you find your battery draining like mine, try the following tips:

  • Turn Wi-Fi off when you know there are no access points
  • Lower your screen Brightness
  • Turn Bluetooth off if not needed
  • Do not setup Mail to Auto-Check
  • iPod: Turn off Sound Check
  • iPod: Turn off EQ
  • iPod: Turn off Volume Limit
  • If you do not need to take any calls, enable Airplane Mode

The other problem that I use to run into is with Safari. At times Safari would just quit without warning trying to load a webpage. I think this is more of a problem with Safari 3 then the actual iPhone. Safari 3 in Mac OS X is still a work in progress and you will find that while Safari 3 improves on the previous version’s speed, it seems to be a lot more prone to long freezes and random quits. A good cure for this on the iPhone is to clear your cache and shutdown your iPhone completely. Once your power it back up, Safari seems to work just fine for a couple a days at least. The problem only gets worse if you switch constantly from Wi-Fi and AT&T.

Don’t Use It

Other than my kids who seem to think it is hilarious to watch SouthPark cartoons with Pokemon character voices, I really don’t use the YouTube feature much. The iPod part of the iPhone plays better video and unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, YouTube does not work very well at all through AT&T.

Filed under: Apple

Eudora on Mac OS X 10.5

Eudora OS X IconI spent last week upgrading to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. I chose to do a clean install, and so the installation went as smoothly as can be hoped for. Once I manually copied back some of my old settings and reinstalled some of my third party apps, I ended up having a few minor problems. The worst of it was with Eudora 6.2.4, which is the email client I have been using for over ten years. It is has hard for me to say goodbye to Eudora. After all this time the email client just feels comfortable to me and though I have tried Thunderbird, I found it lacking. I thought several times of switching to Apple Mail or PowerMail, but Eudora’s multiple personalities and inboxes were hard to let go. Apparently I am not alone in my Eudora issues with OS X 10.5, there are a few discussions on Apple’s Support Forums about multiple the dreaded beach ball problem and Eudora freezing for no apparent reason. The initial fix is to click on the Window Menu and choose Settings – Getting Attention and change your Sounds from the Eudora defaults to a standard system alert sound. This helps but did not quite fix the problem. Here is a list of other workarounds that seem to have fixed all of my Eudora crashes:

  • Settings – Getting Attention: Uncheck Play a sound.
  • Settings – Spell Checking: Check Spelling – Only when requested and select Never make suggestions.
  • Settings – Mood Watch: uncheck Enable Mood Watch
  • Settings – Hosts: Check DNS load balancing.

After implementing all of these, Eudora launches and displays email without any beach ball cursors or crashes.

Related Links:

In the ‘Sounds’ section, for both ‘New mail sound’ and ‘Attention sound’, select a sound OTHER than one that has ‘Eudora’ in its name (ie. NOT ‘Eudora Attention’, ‘Eudora New Mail’ nor ‘Eudora Short Warning’)

Filed under: Mac OS XTagged with: , , , , , , , ,

iPhone Review

iPhone 1.1After years of denying myself a cell phone, I finally could no longer forestall the inevitable and decided to give more of my money to Steve Jobs. The end result is my new Apple iPhone which I have come to nickname Athena. In the past 12 months I have had to be on-call for my day job and so I have had to carry some sort of company cell phone. The first was a Microsoft Windows Mobile which I must admit was easy to use, if you have had any experience with Windows at all. The second was a 7100 Blackberry which I found user-unfriendly and annoying to use if you were trying to do anything with it that was not phone related. For example, trying to use BlackBerry Browser or even Opera Mini on it was an exercise in futility. It took forever to type in urls, and when it did display a web page it was hard to look at. Some sites were better than others, but overall I really could not do much with the Internet on the Blackberry.

iPhone 1.1

Since the iPhone 1.1 Update came out the day after I got the phone, I never had a chance to really experience the iPhone at 1.0. That much said, after spending $400 for the phone itself, another $25 on a case, then there is the $36 activation plan, and then the $80 plan, the money quickly adds up and in the end you have what many consider an over-priced phone, (that is until you start looking at other smartphones and find out that the iPhone is not even the most expensive phone out there).

My daily experience is that I leave my iPhone charging overnight (connected to my Powerbook). I use iTunes to eject the iPhone and then physically unplug it from its cable. The iPhone comes with a dock, but if you use a case, it is much easier to just use the connection cable without the dock. I have setup the phone to use an unlock code, so after pressing the home button which is located towards the bottom, you then slide your finger on the bottom of the screen and enter your pass code. The iPhone comes up to your last screen, or the Home screen.

The Home screen has all your applications: Text for text messaging all your friends, Calendar for keeping track of your dates, Photos which holds your saved images (on a Mac, this syncs up with iPhoto), Camera for taking quick pictures, YouTube for watching videos, Stocks for seeing how rich Apple is getting everyday, Maps is straight from Google, Weather, Clock which has a world clock, stop watch, and alarms, Calculator, Notes which lets you jot down quick notes, Settings for all things you need to change or know about your iPhone, and iTunes which is the iTunes Store and not your iPod.

At the bottom of the Home screen there is a dock which has four buttons, which are really the four main uses of the iPhone: Phone for making calls, Mail for email, Safari for web browsing, and iPod for listening and viewing your iTunes collection.

Wow, It’s an iPhone!

While I asked everyone what they thought of the iPhone as a phone, the most I heard was that it was adequate as a phone. There is really nothing spectacular about the iPhones phone features. Where the iPhone really impresses is with Web browsing and the touch interface which allows you to be more productive then other phones. Originally I had settled on three choices for a phone, the Blackberry Pearl, a Samsung Blackjack, or an iPhone. Since I really wanted was a good internet browsing experience, it came down to the Blackjack or iPhone, however in the end I can never resist Apple technology, so I am sure it really was not that hard of a choice after all.

Some of the best things I like doing on the iPhone are adding contacts, connecting to WiFi networks, surfing the Web, and checking my email accounts. The contacts are actually under the Phone section and they sync up with the Address Book in Mac OS X. The iPhone automatically can connect to most open WiFi networks, though I have had problems with networks that require a sign-up page in a browser. For my own secure WPA network, it took a while to get it connected due to my long pre-shared key, but now that it is setup, I enjoy very speedy browsing at home. You can even use your iPhone to scan for wireless networks. For email, I was able to setup GMail very easily and personal domain email takes a bit longer to setup, but works equally well.

Overall with the iPhone, you can stay connected all day long to the Internet, to phone calls, to email. It is almost frighteningly to think about if you believe in conspiracy theories.

Limitations

Given everything that is great about the iPhone, there are some limitations. Namely you are tied to AT&T for two years. You can change your plan at any time without a fee, but plan changes reset your contract, so be aware of this before changing plans! Text Messaging is limited for the cheaper plans, so you might want to upgrade to unlimited messaging. There is no IM client builtin, so you will have to use a web service for instant messaging. Hardware wise, the biggest complaint is the battery, which is not user replaceable. And of course Apple and AT&T have locked the iPhone pretty well from anything that can hurt their business model. If you can live with all these limitations, then the iPhone experience is a pretty amazing one.

More iPhone Opinons

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