Thursday (7/31/08) 5:00pm - ... wherein Peter buys an iPhone.
Okay, I bought an iPhone.
What finally forced the issue was that my cordless phone started giving out. It would bleat out a continuous buzz all the time, making it very difficult to hear what anybody was saying.
So, I could either shop around for a good replacement cordless phone (they didn't make my current model any more), or I could just bite the bullet and get a decent cell phone.
I was annoyed that I'd have to carry a cell phone around all the time, but I changed my mind when I realized that if I got a halfway-decent one, I wouldn't have to carry around a writing notebook all the time. So: 'stuff carried around' remains constant.
I was reluctant to go for the iPhone mainly because of cost: I would pay about $20 more per month for the iPhone than I was for both a landline *and* a cell phone at the time.
I asked folks what features they used on their iPhones, and most of the replies seemed to be for things I had other ways of doing (e. g., 'looking up phone numbers', 'GPS directions') or for problems I didn't have (e. g., 'dealing with my busy calendar') or for features that all the other phones have (SMS, web, camera).
So I figured I would just take a couple of weeks and pay attention to times when an iPhone would have come in handy.
I did find myself stuck in lines surprisingly often.
I didn't often find myself *needing* the Internet, but when I did, it was usually a doozie. At ABP, I had to call a bunch of people to get somebody (thanks, thefairyrebel) to check on the new GoDance location for me.
When I was at the hospital for the follow-up visit for my foot-non-surgery, I wound up wandering the parking lot for fifteen minutes looking for my car. In the midday sun and with injured feet, that was powerfully not fun. It occurred to me that a cell phone with GPS could solve that problem.
(And in fact, I expect to find more practical use for this app than any of the others.)
There was still some question of whether I'd go with the iPhone, or some other web- and GPS-enabled device that, y'know, *didn't* have a $1,000/year TCO (and a reputation for sucking w/r/t camera, keyboard, and voice quality). Two things cinched it for the iPhone:
Having a big screen for youtube videos. You see, I really want to keep up with webseries -- the medium interests me -- but I can't watch videos at work, and at home I far prefer to watch video on my TV. But if I could catch up on webseries while (say) stuck in line at the DMV, then I could start watching youtube episodes.
Having a bunch of friends who also have iPhones. Not particularly a 'peer pressure' thing (although I'm sure that's a factor, however ornery & contrarian I may claim to be), but knowing a bunch of people who make good use of the phones (and one guy who trains Apple employees on them) would mean that I'd get the most out of it.
I decided to spring for the 16GB model, just because I always wind up using more storage space than I thought I'd need. (I've already dumped 10GB of music on it.) I wanted the black one, for no rational reason. Unfortunately, those were the exact phones that were out of stock at the Domain. So I just waited around until they got a shipment in, which was Wednesday.
I got to the Apple store at the Domain at 8am on Wednesday -- when they were scheduled to open. (They had instituted early opening times due to the iPhone demand.) There were already a hundred or so people in front of me.
I figured things wouldn't be that bad, because I'd heard that the Apple employees had a strategy: they'd go down the line, check that people were ready to buy the phone, and provide each person with a voucher for their phone. Then all of us 'line people' could go home, and come back whenever we wanted to later in the day to pick up our phones.
The flaw in their plan: they only ever gave vouchers to the ten or so people at the front of the line at any given time. This meant that you'd wait a long, long, long time and get a voucher when you had maybe twenty minutes left to wait.
The problems with this were twofold: (1) getting a voucher didn't really save you enough time to make leaving worthwhile, and (2) no vouchered people ever left the line, which meant that everybody behind them had to wait for longer.
I was in line for three hours. I had had the foresight to bring my radio-serial script, but I had in fact written all my edits for it the night before (when I was suffering from awful awful insomnia yet again). So I was stuck staring into space and occasionally having brief exchanges with the people immediate in front of and behind me.
Okay, and ogling the attractive blonde a few people back. I'm not made of stone. She left after a couple of hours, which made the remaining wait even more disappointing.
Amusing SMS from minimalrobot: "you know, you could pass time in line if you had an iPhone."
(While in line, I discovered that my Nokia brick phone, on text messages, maps the "1" key directly to a period punctuation-mark. This is much more convenient than going through the menu to "Insert Symbol" and then picking out the full stop. Of course, I figure this out mere minutes before I am done with the phone.)
Once I was in the store, I started browsing the web on whatever iPhone I was adjacent to. I only left one of them set to icanhascheezburger.
Once I made it through the line, the Apple employee was low-key about upselling. I want the cheapest plan. No extended warranty. I'll buy a case later, when I don't desperately want to escape the store. (Note: didn't actually phrase it like that.)
There were only a couple of hitches in the process.
First, I had to transfer my wireless service from T-mobile to AT&T. This required getting my account number. I asked the Apple people about how I'd do this. Apparently 611 is the number for calling your service provider. (The other line people were aghast that I didn't just know this.) I ended up having to go outside the store to make that phone call because the PA's endless stream of middlebrow worldbeat-influenced soft-rock was loud enough to send T-mobile's voice-activated menus into conniptions.
Other hitch: the employee kept entering my address into his handheld device, and the device kept forgetting my apartment number. "Look, if it's not working I can just call AT&T about it later -- you know, out of consideration for..." I gestured at all the people in line behind me. "Huh --" he replied, "you're the first person I've talked to who's said anything like that."
So I paid my $300 + $36 activation fee and, after a brief appearance at the office, took the new phone home. I turned it on. It blinked an error message. Damn.
After pondering the blinky error message for a while, I tried switching out the SIM card, and putting in my old T-mobile SIM card.
This made it a bit happier -- no more error message, and it found my WiFi network.
Still, any attempt to dial a phone number or use the 3G or Edge networks failed.
This meant that I essentially had a very very expensive iPod Touch.
Then I headed off to the KOOP interview. As the day went on, I realized that I'd done well to buy the iPhone instead of the iPod Touch, because no matter where I went, I never found free WiFi.
I finally worked out the problem when I got home at the end of the night: AT&T had just taken its time switching me over. I switched back to the AT&T SIM card, and suddenly everything worked.*shrug*
Then I spent an hour or two tweaking all the settings. I installed a couple dozen apps -- all free stuff except for the 99-cent "where the hell did I park?" app. I moved all my phone numbers from my old cell phone (and the small phone-booklet next to my landline phone) into Google Contacts, and synced those over to the phone. I got its connections to Twitter, facebook, AIM, LJ, and email sorted out. I got Shazam to recognize one (1) song, and promptly forgot all about it. I played one round of Tap Tap Revenge, and tried out PhoneSaber for about ten seconds.
So I've pretty much got the phone set up now. Still have to call up AT&T and cancel my landline.
Side note: oh yeah -- use my cell-phone number, not my land-line number.
I imagine I'll cart all my land-line phones and connectors and cords to the Goodwill this weekend.
On my previous Goodwill trip, I wound up getting rid of other stuff that I only kept around in case my DSL connection went down. Now that I have a redundant Internet connection, I figure I'm set for anything except a days-long power outage.
And now I guess we'll see how much use I get out of it. At the moment I'm guessing it will mostly sit around and look pretty, occasionally save my ass on my rare forays out of the house, and find constant use when I go off on trips. (I might even spring for a BT keyboard, and obviate the need to tote around my laptop.)
Still have to pick up a case. I'm currently leaning towards this one -- I'm only partial to Marware because I love the Sidewinder iPod case I bought a couple years back.
 And you'd think that just wiring a computer up to my TV might solve the problem, but it's a bit more complicated. When I watch stuff at home on TV, I watch it a little bit at a time -- usually while I'm eating or folding laundry. So I need the ability to start a show instantly and always pick up exactly where I left off. There may be a way to do that with youtube and a TV set-top box, but I haven't found it.