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27 June, 2008

How the iPhone brings families together, AT&T tears them apart and a Jersey Man uncovers a Bunker in his Garden

Apple Apple Apple. You have got to love that company. With products like iTunes, iPhone, iMac, Final Cut, iPhoto, AppleTV.. oh and now the App Store (click on that pic above!) ; there is beaucoup à l'amour (that's "much to love" for you French challenged).

About a month ago (early June 08), the annual Apple Developer Conference took place at Moscone Center in San Francisco. This is an annual bash for Apple Developers to hear about the latest tools, software, libraries and products from Apple. This is also an event at which Apple (a.k.a. the Mighty Steve) announces a few products.

Unless you were living in Petts Bottom (a lovely place by the way), then you know by now that Steve Jobs announced the next version of the iPhone. The iPhone 3G. Now, I have not seen this little beast live and in person. I haven't had the honor of holding it. I didn't go to the Developer Conference even though I hold a ADC Membership Card that entitles me to all sorts of goodies like... um I can't tell you because I am under non-disclosure rules and if I said something of value (assuming I know something of value), horrible things will happen. [I've heard of one ADC member that disclosed some secret only to find that his Mac was replaced with a Viao! (or is it Viao?>]). Ahhh!!!!!!

I have an iPhone.
The 1st Generation iphone (which I guess is the iPhone 2G though that makes me wonder how I missed the iPhone 1G and whether there was an H before that). I like my iPhone. I use my iPhone daily. My iPhone is my friend and here is why.

It is the interface. I've had other phones before. Nokia, Motorola, Audiovox, Blackberry ... They were all ..,. phones and/or email devices. They all worked as a phone (or emailer). And they all claimed to be able to hold my addressbook and calendar.

Sadly, none of them really held either the calendar or address book. At least it wasn't the same calendar or address book that was on my (gasp...) PC let alone my Mac. Why? Didn't sync work?

In most cases sync sometimes almost worked but more often then not, the process I had to go through to make it work was about as fun as swallowing marbles to get that full feeling without leaving you with hamburger breath. The biggest problem was the phone's interface. It was as user friendly as a do it your self brain surgery kit. I'm sure the software developers that designed the interface were able to sync their contacts and calendars. I'm not convinced the phones their significant others used were able to sync their data without a programmer standing around. (If anyone reading this is a phone interface developer, I'd love to chat with your spouse!)

Apple changed all of that. Suddenly I didn't have to think about syncing my address book, calendar, bookmarks, music or pictures. The iPhone made it easy and a pleasure. I started doing things with the phone that I would never have even considered before. I now check traffic to see which route has the most traffic whenever I leave the house. Knowing the traffic and where I am going (that's a feat), I can then decide whether I want to be late or early and have a pretty good chance of being late exactly when it makes sense.

People have a tendency to remember life changing events. You know, like the day you brought home your first hard drive or the time the Swedish Nursing Association called and asked if you were willing to house some Swedish Nursing students for the summer. Well, a few days after bringing home my iPhone I had one of those moments. (O.K., it wasn't as quite as memorable as the Swedish Nursing Association phone call).

I called my wife to find out what we were doing for the evening (choices typically include .. watching Doctor Who, Top Gear or some other Britcom). While we were chatting away, my daughter called. Now in the pre-iPhone days, I would have simply ignored the incoming call. Mainly because I didn't remember how to put one call on hold and answer the other.

But this was an iPhone. This wasn't just any old Motorola phone. So, I glanced at the screen and what did I see? A picture of my daughter and an option to have her join the call. The Phone was giving me choices. Let me say that again. The Phone was giving me choices; Answer the Call, Conference In, Order Pizza ... or something like that!!!

As amazing as the choices were, they were all a simple touch of the screen away. On my old phone I would have had to press a "Menu" button then an "Up" button and then the "OK" button and then pay Verizon 2 dollars because I had just accidently bought an Abba Ringtone.

I was amazed! I was sold. I had a new friend and it was an Apple iPhone.
Now comes 3G. A faster web experience, a real GPS, better sound, games and more. Will I get one?

Well, my 2G iPhone still works. Sure, the web is as slow as the modem on my Commodore 64. But there is a software upgrade coming tomorrow. And with that, comes a host of new applications. Applications that will be as easy to install as anything else on the iPhone. So, while I want a 3G. I almost need a 3G. I will probably eventually get a 3G.... I won't be getting one tomorrow (11 July 2008).

Three letters and a pesky ampersand.

If only AT&T wasn't in the picture I'd be in line tomorrow.
Why? Don't I like AT&T? {Uverse... ack!} When all is said and done, AT&T the company with visions of monopoly, is raising prices.

Look, I understand that for me to upgrade to the new phone I have to sign up for 2 more years. I've even reconciled my brain with that. The iPhone is just so good that I doubt anything is going to come along over the next 2 years that will be as useful. Nope, not even Google's brilliant Android. Not within the next 2 years at least.

What I am not happy and frankly a bit confused about, is the increase in price. It is moderate but unfair. Data is $10 more per month. Then there is text messaging. That is another $5 to $20 per month depending upon how much you need. Finally, I can't for the life of me figure out the Family plan. I want to move my family off of Verizon and onto the iPhone this summer. I want the 3G and want to gift the 2G iPhone to my daughter but I'm sure AT&T will charge for that since I don't want to change my phone number. Plus, will I have to pay $399 for my new iPhone since I've only had this one for under a year? And will my Wife's iPhone really be $199 or does AT&T have some other funky calculation? I will have to look hard at the total cost, weigh that against the benefits and finally consider the consequences if I don't get the family their own iPhones.

If I decide not to go with the iPhone, there is a small but real possibility that my family will not get another phone for .. well forever. If I get them another Verizon phone they will be locked into a phone designed by a phone company (O.K., so Motorola and the ike aren't exactly phone companies) for another 2 years. That will very likely cause my wife to leave, my daughter to get a Dell, while I wallow in Uverse with my iPhone for all eternity.

So what am I to do?....

I know... I'll skip the decision for now and send you to CY88 and his adventures about a "German Bunker in my Garden"

Read the day by day portrayal of one man finding a WWII German Bunker hidden in his garden.
See what happens to him when he accidently forgets to tell his wife that:

He is taking the day off from work
He is digging up the garden to look for a WWII German Bunker
He is going to play with diggers all day
and you know that lovely shrubbery in the corner? It's a gonner!

Feel his struggle as he has to decide the fate of Bob the Boulder!
Hear his cries fall upon death ears as he yells into the intertube asking (politely) for a helicopter.
See Dave the Inventor put a light bulb on a stick (sadly not the florescent kind).
Shake with horror as he cuts himself on the garage roof.

All this and more at

e tutto per oggi!

Bet you he gets a new iPhone!

-- Engadget just posted a link to iPhone 2.0 firmware. I downloaded it but couldn't get the disk image to mount which makes me think this may not be the official release. Thus, I have decided not to link to their site. If you want to try it then you'll have to find it your self. Their screen shots are cool though.

-- You can however take a look at the App Store now!!! Download the latest version of iTunes 7.7 (43) for the Mac and go to the iTunes Store. There you will see the App Store in all its glory!!!

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