Finally Have My iPhone!

Well, after what seemed like a long wait (see my post a month and a bit ago), I’m holding an iPhone 3G in my hot little hands. Appropriately enough, this post is being written on the device itself!
Let me say right off, I love this thing, and a day after I got it, I can say it is everything I was expecting. That’s not to say it’s not without its annoyances, but so far nothing I didn’t already know about.

So a bit of background: I’ve had a palm pilot of one sort of another for almost a decade, but the technology in that space hasn’t really gone anywhere that I wanted to go. So first and foremost, I was looking to the iPhone to fill that slot. This is the primary reason I didn’t get the first version – the lack of apps. I’m happy to say that after downloading a bunch of free apps (and whittling them down), and making my first purchase, I’m 90% of the way to having everything I need – and the other 10% isn’t anything major.
The second major point for me was shedding some of the gadgetry I usually carry with me, which was the old phone (yup, I’m coming from a Blackberry), the afore-mentioned palm pilot, a compact digital camera, and an older iPod. The iPhone doesn’t have the same capacity as the iPhone my iPod, so it’s just going to be for podcasts and a few favorite albums, the phone’s camera won’t replace a real one. Despite that, going from four devices to two is still a big win.

After a couple days of use, I’m very happy with this, and look forward to the coming updates that will hopefully add a few things like cut-and-paste (I’m in agreement with a lot of folks on this one: I’ve already needed it a bunch of times), better home screen handling (including icon placement of an app after an update), and better IMAP folder organization would be great. I also hope some of the minor stability issues get addresses.

Finally, I want to address two of the biggest complaints: battery life and the keyboard. I haven’t found the battery to be too horrible, as it gets me through a day of pretty heavy use (my wifi, 3G, and Bluetooth are always on). Of course, I’m coming from a pile of old devices that needed to be recharged if you used them at all, so maybe I’m not the best judge. Secondly, the keyboard: I’m definitly getting better, but it does take some getting used to. I’ve stopped fighting the predictive text, and it helps quite a bit. My biggest problem is where my thumbs actually come in contact with the screen, resulting in off-by-one errors. These are mostly caught by the predictive text, but when you’re typing a ‘v’ or a ‘b’ for a space, your words run together, defeating the thing that’s trying to help you. Guess I just need to slow down 🙂

Belated Happy SysAdminDay

Hopefully I’ll get through this without it sounding like a diatribe, but I think it’s somewhat telling that System Aministrator Appreciation Day was 2 days ago, and I found out about it by reading a blog post while catching up on some feeds.  Feeds that I got behind on while at a conference (OSCON), which was, admittedly, primarily for developers, but there’s been a growing contingent of us sysadmins (this was my 5th year for this conference), such that we now see tutorials and sessions geared toward us.  So you think *someone* might have said something.  I would note that in past years, one or two graduate students (I work in academia) would sent a well-wishing or thank-you note to our trouble ticket system, which is nice.  But there was nothing at all this year.  There’s definitely truth to the idea that when we do our job, we’re not really noticed (of course, when things go wrong…), so I’ll take some consolation in the fact that we must be doing an ok job.


Thursday already…the pace is such that if you choose to be, you’re really busy, moving from one talk to the next, to the expo hall, chatting with people, and before you know it, the evening’s activites are on you.  That’s my way of excusing the fact that I’m behind in my blogging. 🙂

In addition to some really well-presented keynotes on some interesting topics, I attended some sessions that reinforces my faith in the ability of the organizers to attract (and keep attracting) great speakers with thought-provoking things to say, or vendors with some interesting products or business models (note that this isn’t universal – there’s always those few you listen to or talk to that makes you walk away, scratching your head, wondering how *that* works.).

I attended talks on “Open Source Microblogging”, “MindTouch Deki”, “CSS for High Performance JavaScript UI”, “Open Source as Liberal Art”, and “Machine Learning for Knowledge Extraction from Wikipedia & Other Semantically Weak Sources”.  Like the previous day, I’ll be back to flesh out some of the ideas and things I learned or plan on using – there was some great stuff here.

The day ended with the SourceForge Community Awards held at the Jupiter hotel.  The event was sponsered by ThinkGeek (among others), and we ended up getting a nice bag with some swag goodies.  Overall, pretty fun and decent food.

Midweek at OSCON: Start of the Conference Proper

Despite the usual flood of newcomers to the conference (a lot of people don’t come to the tutorials), the morning breakfast and keynotes didn’t feel any more crowded.  With the keynotes almost over, the break in the expo hall definitely shatters that illusion. The rest of the day was a hectic move through sessions, the expo hall (including the evening reception), and a couple of parties in the evening, thrown by various vendors (there were a bunch of them to choose from).

The hectic pace takes it’s toll: you have to prioritize where to spend your energy.  Unfortunately, in my case, this means getting behind in my blogging.  I went to sessions on Couchdb, OpenID and shell scripting, as well as a Google open source update and an interesting talk called “The Age of Literate Machines”. I keep notes on my daily activities in my personal wiki, so I still plan to come back and fill in some details about the sessions I went to.

The OSCON Kick-off Keynotes: Tuesday Evening

In an interesing change, there were opening keynotes Tuesday evening by some big speakers that are usually reserved for major conference timeslots.  It could be that O’Reilly knows from past experience how many people who don’t attend the tutorials arrive the Tuesday night, but it would seem to me that even if they do arrive that evening, they don’t tend to start their conference until Wednesday morning.  So to have a combination of Mark Shuttleworth, Robert “r0ml” Lefkowitz and Damian Conway (great to see him back at OSCON!) on the evening before the bulk of the attendees seem to arrive is, well, it brings me back to interesting.

Not that I, or anyone else there that night, was complaining.  The last two of these especially had the audience alternating between enthrawled and in stitches.  And it didn’t matter that Damian’s talk ended around 10, or the fact that he talked for almost an hour: the man’s brilliance with original ideas, photoshop and Perl, packaged neatly by his impressive and effortless presentation ability means he could talk for any length of time and still hold an audience spell-bound.

O’Reilly and the conference organizers are to be applauded for putting together a great evening, and a great start to the rest of the week.