Category Archives: Phones

Waiting for iPhone v2

It’s the morning before the big Steve Jobs keynote at WWDC, and I’m looking forward to it. Oh, not really in the Apple fan-boy kind of way (ok, maybe a little), but after paying close attention to the rumour mill for the last few weeks, I’m looking forward to seeing the feature list of the new iPhone. Because I’m going to buy one. And yes, you could point out that being an “early adopter” doesn’t pay, but here’s the thing: I look at it as those in the last year who bought the first version of the iPhone were the early adopters. And don’t get me wrong: I would have loved to have been one of them, but the first version of the iPhone wouldn’t have suited me. And now, a year later, if half of the rumours that are currently frenetically whipping around the ‘net are true, then this version will.

I carry on me every day 4 devices: my aging, and almost dead, Blackberry (cell phone, email and rudimentary internet access), my aging Palm (a Sony Clie clamshell, my PDA), my aging 60G iPod (which carries my entire music and audio collection), and my getting-older-but still-ok Canon digital camera. Of these, I need a replacement for the following functions: web access (I’ve always needed this – GPRS just doesn’t cut it for data, and the Blackberry’s web browser is barely worthy of the classification), and PDA functions including calendar, ebook reader, note-taking, and various odds-and-ends utilities. The phone works ok for me, thanks to bluetooth, where I usually don’t have to touch the actual phone, and while my iPod could go at any time, it does exactly what I need it to do.

However, the rumours of the new iPhone suggests that I might be able to replace 2, if not all 4 of these devices. Not to say I believe the rumours – I have a dedicated shaker set aside just for these things (and I do love to use it)! The more credible of these (coupled with stuff Apple has said officially) suggests that as a mobile computing platform (which is what my requirements basically boil down to), this is going to fit the bill nicely: the phone is a given – the first iPhone did this well enough for me already, as it did for email. The new firmware and the announcement of the App Store means that it looks like it will suit for those odds-and-ends utilities (without, hopefully, the need to jailbreak it. BTW, one of the apps I’m most interested in is the Palm emulator – there are a few apps on the Palm I don’t see replacements for yet.). The almost-certain 3G capability, coupled with WiFi, will provide the network access I require. As for music and audio, even if the rumoured increase in storage capacity to 32G is true, it’s still going to be half of what I need (and I’d need that just for music – forget about adding apps!), so I’m either going to still have to carry around the old iPod, or change my expectations. I’m guessing that I’ll figure out a happy medium, carrying around what I need (a rotating selection of favorites and podcasts), and the rest of the storage will be file space for other things. Finally the camera: I don’t see my giving up all of the functionality of a real camera for a cell-phone camera, no matter how much they’ve souped it up, but even so, that makes only two devices to carry (and the camera is one of the smaller ones that was available when I bought it), and that will be nice. Still, the prospect of having an adequate (some rumours say the chip used is capable of up to 5MP) sensor, with (rumoured) automatic, GPS-based geolocation tagging, and (almost obvious) automatic uploading to services like Flickr nudges it toward useful.

There was a certain amount of disdain for the “fan-boys” who stood in line for days to be among the first to own an iPhone. I won’t be standing in any lines, but I will order one this week if they are made available. The difference is, as far as I’m concerned, that I’ve already been waiting a year. Now I just have to wait a few hours more.

Me and Internet Messaging

Or, A Geek Discovers that it Can Be Fun to Communicate After All

Well, as usual, it’s been a while since my last blog post. Hopefully you’ve been checking out the tumblelog (hint: it’s got an rss feed too!). But it’s no substitute for actually writing…

If you had told me a year or two ago that I would be as immersed in Internet communication as I seem to find my self now, I would have laughed and just shook my head. Email excepted (oh, and a bit of unix-based talk/ytalk in the early 90s), I didn’t see much point.

Then came a colleague at work setting up a Jabber server in order to have a chat room for the group here, and I was dragged kicking and screaming (ok, not much of that, but I might have stubbed a toe) into IM. It wasn’t long after that, and Google introduced GTalk, and integrating that into GMail meant that now a few other people I knew (most notably family) were able to easily chat.

The next nail in the coffin was my annual attendance of the O’Reilly Open Source Conference. Thanks to a colleague (there are those colleagues again!) who went with me, I became aware of the back-channel conference: in IRC. Admittedly, this was not only an amusing aside (some brilliant comments and observations are posted here, not to mention the sharp wit), but an interesting insight into some bits of info that wouldn’t normally be available (the conference chairs were active participants on the relevant channels). This year when I went, in addition to the new-found public server, I set up a simple IRC server on my home network for the benefit of myself and two friends: a private chat room where we could chat.

That slippery slope had me careening into the sett-up of a full-blown server, complete with bot (and I’m even writing TCL code, a language I never did learn, to extend it!), for a group of mostly-sysadmins that I’m in, which meets every Friday for breakfast.

The clincher happened in the last week. One of my sisters transferred to the University of Calgary, and in her “I’ve arrived” email, she listed her Skype address. That was the second time in as many weeks that I’d been given a Skype address. I’d looked in to Skype when it was announced, of course, but wasn’t interested (we already have VoIP for our main phone, which gives us cheap calling). So I signed up for a Skype account, and in the short week that I’ve had it, I’ve had an audio and a video call (my sister in Calgary has a Mac, too!), and 3 chat sessions. I’m in.

Add to that my Grand Central account, and I’m pretty communicative, which I have to say, as someone who has always hated the phone, feels pretty weird. But it’s also cool, this new-fangled internet thingy that let’s me chat with and talk (and see) people all over the world.

So all of you who haven’t talked to me in a bit, there’s really no excuse now – I’m connected.

(I’ve even added a couple of icons on the sidebar to get you started!)


I’m not a big phone fan – I don’t like to call people, and not a lot of people call me (email and IM mostly serve that function). Still, the phone is a necessity in today’s world, so there’s no escaping it. And like it or not, most of us have a home phone, a work phone and a cell phone, and all of these have voicemail to manage. With all that, and the few calls I get and make, I still get annoyed by some of the limitations I’m faced with in managing these. Enter GrandCentral.

One thing to note, first, however: I got my invitation to the closed beta yesterday, so I’ve had my account less than a day. And while I’ve spent a good deal of time poking around the interface, recording greetings, uploading my contact list, etc, not too many people have the new number yet, so I won’t be claiming it changed my life just yet. The potential is definitely there, though. Read about my initial impressions after the jump.
Continue reading GrandCentral