Friday, August 31, 2007

The one about the iPhone

One of the things I've been meaning to blog about is the iPhone. I know, I'm so timely and cutting edge. Shut it.

So anyway, I got my iPhone back in July, about a week after it came out. Brian had literally been waiting years for this thing to come out. We had the same crappy cell phones for about 4 years (well, I got mine replaced 2 years ago after I lost it at my bachelorette party, but I got it replaced with a crappier phone, so it shouldn't count as a new phone), so we were due for an upgrade anyway. Plus it was Brian's birthday, and it was all he wanted, and I can't say no to my sweet lover. So we got ourselves iPhones.

Overall, I'm happy that I got one. It's super-handy to have the internet available whereever you are, plus email, yellow pages, maps, YouTube and weather. And it's a damn sexy device. It's slim and well-designed. And the visual presentation of everything is really cool. It's just an artfully executed piece of technology. When it's working well, it's really cool.

Now here's a list (which, ironically, I keep on my iPhone notepad) called "Things I Hate About the iPhone." I don't actually hate it, it's just got some room for improvement. So if you're thinking about getting one, here are a couple of things you should consider:

1. The setup - I refuse to believe that most people had my experience, so this may never come into play for you, but it did take us a total time investment of about 13 hours over the course of two days to get our phones activated. The AT&T store didn't give us some code they were supposed to have given us, and when they finally gave it to us over the phone, we couldn't activate the phones anyway because the people at the store had typed in our address wrong. AT&T and Apple customer service did not work well together at all, so we kept getting passed around. It was a total nightmare. The only thing I can say is maybe it's better now that it's been a few months.

2. Fingerprints, make-up, and ear sweat - Probably the most impressive part of the iPhone is it's touch screen that somehow manages to stay scratch-free. It does not, however, stay grease-free. It gets really gross all the time. Although it comes with a screen cloth, that gets mucked up pretty quickly too. I know there's not much that can be done about that, it's just an inherent problem for a touch screen, so I guess you just have to buy cleaning cloths from the Apple store and just clean it after each use.

3. Very limited texting abilities - Ironically, I could do more with texting on my last crappy phone than I can with this one. You can't mass text everyone in your phonebook with the iPhone. In fact, you can't even send the same text to more than one person. You have to type and send each text separately. Also, you can't receive or send picturemail text messages.

The only solution I can think of to these two problems is scrapping texting all-together and just using email. If you can get your friends to email you their text messages, it should be no problem. And if you can get their cell phone email addresses, you can mass mail them using the email function. Otherwise, the text function is just a one-on-one text only instant messenger. On the plus side, the back and forth conversation is displayed in dialogue bubbles, so like with instant messenger, you can see the entire conversation in one screen.

4. Battery Life - You can get about 4 hours of constant use out of it or one full day of intermittent use. But you must charge it every night or it will be totally dead the next day. I've adapted though, and just keep it on its charging dock at work during the day.

5. There are no games for the iPhone - And the games I bought recently for my video iPod do not work on the iPhone. Not even Solitaire. Not even Tetris. Not even Minesweeper. No games for you. That just feels like a step backward to me. Oh well, I amuse myself with the internet when I'm waiting in line now.

6. The keypad - It takes some getting used to. At first, it's extremely frustrating that your fingers are way too big for the little keyboard that pops up when the phone is being held vertically and that it has no texture, so you have less control over which button you push. It's especially frustrating if you try to use your thumbs like you would on a Sidekick.

I will say though that the auto-correct feature is very effective and that I can type the fastest when I'm not concentrating on punching the right key. You just have to trust the phone is going to correct you as you go along and then proof-read once at the very end for mistakes. And use your index finger at all times!!

Another solution is to make the screen horizontal whenever possible. This magnifies the size of the keyboard and results in greater typing precision. Unfortunately, you can only bring up a horizontal keyboard in the internet window, and not in the texting, calendaring, maps, weather, and email windows. I've heard that they are doing a software upgrade though so that soon all of the functions will be able to be viewed horizontally. That will be very cool. It pisses me off that I can't read email horizontally.

7. No ringtones - As far as I know, you get the ringtones that it comes with and that's it. I haven't looked into it, but I'm hopeful they'll start making better ringtones pretty quickly here. What would be super cool is if you could edit your own ringtones from your song library. I know that's never going to happen though. They gotta get their separate ringtone revenue.

8. You can't actually play all YouTube videos - At first, it seemed like there were only like 10 videos total available for the iPhone, but now they've stepped it up a lot. Mostly, they still only have the most popular, but it's a lot better than it was.

9. You can't use regular headphones with it - Or a regular line-out jack for that matter. This just seems messed up to me. Like they're trying to make it incompatible with all the iPod accessories I've already bought just to make more money. The headphone jack on the iPhone is deeper, so you can jimmy your old headphones by carving off some of the rubber to make it fit, but it's hard to get a good fit, so you end up with static. On the plus side, the thing has little speakers built in, so I mostly just listen to it that way at work.

10. No GPS - It'll tell you how to get there, but don't expect any help if you make a wrong turn unless you can pull over and type in where you are.

11. Cannot highlight, cut, copy, or paste text. - Yeah, this gets annoying. They really need to fix this. Luckily, most features remember the last thing you typed. Not the notepad though. And you're screwed if you want to copy and paste anything from the internet.

12. Slow internet - The iPhone currently uses the Edge network. It's pretty slow. It's actually quite a deterrent to using the internet. And although the phone can automatically find wireless hotspots that could presumably speed things up, most wireless networks are password protected. So unless you're at Starbucks, Panera, the airport, or some other place with free wireless internet, you're pretty much at the mercy of the Edge network. I've heard that the next iPhone model will likely run on the 3G network, which is enough to make me buy a new one when it comes out. The YouTube videos still play at decent speeds, and its not quite as slow as dial-up, but it is slower than what you're probably used to.

13. Sometimes it seems to get confused - This manifests itself in many forms. Sometimes, if the battery isn't fully charged, the touch-screen won't register that I'm trying to use it. This results in missed phone calls and a very frustrated user. Sometimes, if the internet is still loading and I try to type something else in, it will crash. Sometimes, pictures on emails will not load properly, or it will take a full day or two before they can be viewed. Sometimes it'll tell you you have an email, but it won't load its contents for a few hours or a day. Sometimes voicemails will be received but you won't be able to listen to them right then.

14. You can put birthdays in your contacts, but it does not automatically sync them with your calendar - Maybe I'm just being picky now, but you would think that if I was typing it into the addressbook, I wouldn't have to go back and type it again into the calendar. For $600, I don't think I should have to type it twice. Or at least they could let me copy and paste. Bastards.

15. Very limited photo options - Once you've snapped a photo with the pretty high quality phone camera, it gives you a couple of options: Assign the photo to a contact; email someone the photo; or use it as wallpaper. But what if I want to upload it to my myspace profile while I'm on the go or post the photo on my blog? Not going to happen. You only get three options. It does not keep your photos in an accessible drive like on your home computer. Don't get me wrong, you can still take it home, hook it up to the computer, download it and then do whatever you want with it from there, it's just that when it's on your phone, it's not as versatile as it is on your home computer.

The work-around I found was to email yourself the photo at Flickr or somewhere like that that uploads photos via email. Then access that site in the phone's browser and link it to your blog. So far I haven't gotten the Blogger moblogger feature to work with the iPhone. I've used Flickr's email blogging function, but it's not consistent. I don't know why those programs don't like the iPhone. And it pisses me off that if I could just send a picture text, I wouldn't have to be messing with all of this, since most moblogging programs use sms texting.

Oh well. So that's my iPhone experience. Like I said, overall, I'm happy with it. It's got a nice camera and I like being able to watch YouTube videos in line at the post office. it's just definitely got room for improvement.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh, by the way betch...

So I went to see the comedian who does the Shoes video, Liam Sullivan, last Friday night at the House of Blues. The show was good - definitely worth the price of admission.

The opening act was this hilariously crass chick named Amy Claire. Then came Liam (aka Kelly). He showed a couple of his sketch comedy videos and then came out as Kelly to perform Text Message Break-Up and Shoes live.

We also got to see the brand new, unreleased Let Me Borrow That Top video. It was pretty frickin' funny. As funny as Shoes, I'd say. It's got all the same actors as the Shoes video, plus a few cameos by Margaret Cho, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls (WOO!), and Dave Navarro. Oh, and here's a little bit of trivia: Kid Rock's sister, Jill Ritchie, who you may recognize from Arrested Development, plays the bitchy beauty queen next door in the video, from whom Kelly wishes to borrow that top. It's really so good. I can't wait for it to come out on YouTube.
After the show, Liam Sullivan greeted some of his fans. He was whisked away shortly after he met with us, so it was cool that we got to meet him. We talked about the Dresden Dolls and how he's in their new video for Shores of California. He said he didn't even know who they were until after he shot the video, but now he loves them. How funny is that? Alright, so here are some pics from the show. How cool is he??

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Children of Marfan

July was a really good month for us. So good, I didn't have time to blog apparently. The big things were: two trips, one stay-at-home-mini-vacation, Brian's birthday, getting iPhones, and a job change.

Our first trip was to Palo Alto for the National Marfan Convention. We had a really good time. I got to re-connect with my heart doctor and heart surgeon from Stanford and we got to meet a lot of other people with Marfan Syndrome. We got some good information too.

Here's Brian just after we arrived:

One of the biggest surprises was that my heart surgeon, who was a speaker at the event, actually used echocardiogram video of my heart in his presentation - only he forgot to take my name off of it or ask my permission! Probably not such a good idea to use the marfanoid lawyer's medical records to violate HIPPA laws. Oh well. Good thing he's in my Top 5 Favorite Human Beings list or else he'd really be in trouble. Here's me and the guys that probably saved my life:

Like I said, I also met other marfanoids while we were there. (During our stay, we determined that the following were also acceptable terms for persons with Marfan Syndrome: children of Marfan, Marfanite, Marfanaut, Marfanid, one who has been marfed, and one who has been given the gift of Marfan.) Not all marfanoids are as tall as me, but there were some who were. Even taller actually. Here's me again with my surgeon and two other women he's operated on; one is 6'6" and the other is 6'8", I believe.

Oops, it's time for bed now! Gotta finish this blogpost later. Damn, I'm a slacker.