Saturday, March 01, 2008

When you need a slushie yesterday...

How is this for a cool concept. A faux store with a time travel theme! It appears that money raised form the sale of things like "Barbarian Repellent" and "Robot Cow Milk" goes to support a non-profit tutoring and writing center.

This is the kind of thing that I could SO get behind. We need more coolness like this in the world.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Here is a trailer for a film I had heard NOTHING about called The Fall. It looks good. DAMN good. Take a peek:

This is by the director of The Cell, which was beautiful to look at but not a great story. Then again, I love eye candy. And thanks to the internets, I learned that the music in the trailer is from Beethoven's 7th symphony. My man Ludwig was one hell of a composer.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What have I done?

I have spoken before about how I am not to be left unsupervised for any reason. This is double so any time I am near shiny objects. So I feel completely comfortable blaming my lovely wife for this entire fiasco. Oh sure , she had nothing to do with it in any direct way. But if I blame myself I'll just stress out and we all know that stress is bad for you, right?

And it's not like I could have resisted the siren-like call even if I HAD any kind of self control (which I do not). Can I be blamed for letting my eyes rest upon the shapely, sexy form that was before me? Could any man have remained faithful. NO I say. There are carnal urges, and they must be sated.

So... I bought and iphone.

It was not something I needed to do. I have a phone and it mostly works. At one time I thought it was powerful and even a little sexy (in a Bill Gates kind of way). The Treo 650 had email, could surf the internet, had a color screen, ran the Palm OS and could sync with my PC. It seemed like the right thing to get. It was pricey. But I told myself that it would allow me to stay in contact while on the road. Indeed, the treo was very handy, mostly as an email device. It saved me and my clients several times when things went wrong with their websites. There were times when using only my phone I corrected settings on a clients website while sitting in a tent in the middle of nowhere during a rainstorm. But lately the spark had gone out of the relationship. It crashed on occasion. I expect this from my PC, but my phone? Yes it ran the Palm OS, but we all know that that like investing in a dodo farm.

The browser was functional but finicky. The notes feature just stopped working. The sync often created duplicate entries in outlook. It was a qwerty keyboard but my fingers are not the nimble digits of a piano player but the meaty paws of a wookie.

I thought it was time my phone and I started seeing other people.

The experience of getting the phone at an AT&T store was more pleasant than I had imagined or read about. It wasn't a paradise with 72 virgins and streams of wine, but it wasn't a red hot poker up the ass either. The young man (I think his name was Bark, or Brad or something) answered my questions. He had an iphone, as did 2 of the other 3 sales people. Two had jailbroken them (hacked them to run unofficial applications).

Then I learned that switching to the iphone with a data plan would actually be $20 a month cheaper than my current plan. Well, hell. In a year it would half-way pay for itself. (This is what passes for rational though in a tech fevered mind).

I bought it and took it home.

Setting up the Treo had been fun in the same way that having someone poke you in the eye is fun. The basic setup was simple enough, but setting up the email failed. I went online and finally tracked down an obscure tech document with clues on how to get email working. It turns out this information had actually be printed up by the helpful sales guy and stuffed in the bag with the phone when I bought the Treo, but AT&T had given me something like 50 pieces of paper with the phone. Manuals, promotions, recipie books, addendum's firmware update info.

When I took the iphone out, I plugged in the dock and stuck the phone in it.

I went through a setup form. It synced my contacts and itunes playlists. I went outside to get signal and in a minute it was activated. My sole interaction was to enter a password for my email and that was it. It just worked. I played with it. Tweaked it. Added a few widgets, moved some icons around on its desktop. All of it intuitively. I never looked at the skinny users guide.

As a former usability person all I can say is that this is simply the best designed device around. Although there is a volume rocker switch on the side and a sleep button on top, they aren't needed. It essentially has ONE button. That's it.

Jacob Neilson masturbates to his iphone.
(and if anyone else other than Ed get that joke, I'm impressed)

Since I try not to use cell phones while driving there have been times that I've needed Rossana to call someone or try to check directions or whatever. This was never a pleasant experience. First you had to push the center button, then tap the screen to unlock it. The either push the phone button or the menu button. You could then use the rocker button to select 'contacts' or push the on screen icon for the virtual keypad. And this was just the phone! It's easy enough if you are comfortable with tech but Rossana eyes tech the way I eye shellfish, as an evil entity that is lying in wait to attack me.

I handed Rossana the phone and had her push its single button. From there, everything else was pretty much self explanatory. Typing on the virtual keyboard takes some getting used to. But it's no slower than the pinheads that the treo had. She smiled.

I snapped a pic of the box and emailed it to my brother. He and I have discussed the iphone back and forth for a while. It's strange that he, who used a Mac for many years is now very attached to a Windows mobile phone. I played with it at his wedding and it is a great phone. It has a slide out keyboard and GPS. It's very nice and I was tempted by it.

But in the end I went for the iphone. After the clunky, asymmetrical block of the Treo I could not resist the sexy black buttonless slab. This is not to say that it is perfect. It has flaws. The most obvious is the fact that standard headphone jacks don't work without an adapter ($5). Flash isn't natively supported. It doesn't have GPS (although it can get a rough fix on your position) and it's not 3G which means it's not as fast when surfing the wb (although it can use wifi, which is sweet). My brother told me I would feel the fool once Apple releases a 3G version this summer. Perhaps. Or I may just sell it on ebay for a profit. This thing is in high demand around the world. Even the sales kid at the store told me that I would be better off ebaying it if I didn't like it than returning it for a 10% restocking fee.

Of course, now that I have it. I have to pay for it. This means I need to clear out my closet. The first two things that have to go are the Treo and my 40 gig ipod. Both have served me well. I used the Treo to Blog about volunteering in New Orleans and travelling through Egypt. The ipod has kept us awake during long drives to shows with audio books from the library. Both work great. The treo's memo function is wonky, but I'm sure resetting it to factory setting will take care of that. I replaced the ipod battery with a new one only five months ago. It's better than the original. If anyone is interested in either drop me a line or leave a comment. I'll give it a week before they go on ebay along with some other stuff.