I’m a Happier Person, Thanks to My Mac

mac-pcNo, seriously. I can honestly say that I’m a happier human being because of my MacBook Pro. My entire life I’ve been very into art, music, and especially the digital forms of those things. So I guess in some respects I’ve always been somewhat of a closet artist, but hadn’t really found my medium yet. With a knack for computers and technology those two things (computers and art) never converged for me. Why? Now I know. Because I was stuck in Microsoft land. And let’s face itĀ  – there’s nothing artistic or creative about being a Windows user. Being a Windows user does not inspire creativity. And lets face something elseĀ  – something that took me years to admit – doing visual arts or music on a Windows computer is extremely difficult.

Case and point: A good friend of mine, Aaron, is a brilliant musician. He’s not only multi-instrumental, but he’s a brilliant song writer. In the 1990s he and I used to dabble with MIDI instruments, synths and a variety of other music technologies, all at his house or in one of his studios. All the while he had a Windows computer. Yet he’d always complain about how difficult Windows made things for him. He’d frequently ponder getting a Mac, and for some ignorant reason I’d convince him not to bother with a Mac. I look back now and I regret being so stinking ignorant!

There’s so many other stories I could tell similar to that one. One about a friend Liz who was a talented graphic designer. She used a Mac and I used to pick on her for it. Why? Cuz I was an ignorant Windows guy.

For enterprise purposes, a Windows machine is a great machine, always has been. But once Apple stopped building their own processors and finally started using Intel processors, all that changed. That’s when I got myself a Mac, well, a little later.

I got my MacBook Pro after having a fit of rage (a silent one) on a train to/from NY in March of ’08 years ago (read this for the story). I’ve never looked back! I feel like some once-pious Christian missionary who’d preach all about the ways of Christianity, to only find himself miserable and converting to, I don’t know, Buddhism. What I mean by that is, I regret being so ignorant for so long. I’m sorry to all those Mac people who I dissed so many times! I’m sorry to any Windows people who I steared wrong.

Today, I find myself a healthier person – and I mean that. I’m healthier because I have those creative mediums at my fingertips like never before. I have a small home studio that I use to make music. I have a synth (thanks Aaron!), and some killer studio monitors, a crappy little electric guitar, and dual monitors – and I use a bunch of professional grade studio software apps for this. I’m learning, and I’m having a blast. I’m learning to use Final Cut Pro. Holy crap that’s a beast. But I’m lovin it! I’m also a semi-pro photographer using Lightroom and Photoshop and a bunch of plugins. For the first time in a long long time I’m once again a closet artist. I have a bunch of little projects I’m working on and I’ve never felt more inspired and creative. And I would not be doing any of these things if it weren’t for that fateful day on the Acella Express when I finally had enough of Windows and made the switch.

If you’re like I once was, an ignorant Windows jerk who for some stubborn reason would “never” switch to a Mac – well, good luck to you. You don’t have to be ignorant, or a jerk either. But if you are looking to really have fun with technology, fun with a computer, and create and inspired – get yourself a Mac.

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iPhone 3G: One Month Later

So now that I’m a proud, card-carrying Mac dude, although a little embarrassed that it took me this long to see the light, it was inevitable that I was going to get the iPhone 3G. Last year when the first generation iPhone came out I was using a Blackberry Pearl, which I absolutely loved after overcoming some strange geek fears. I was skeptical of the iPhone for a few reasons and even swore that I’d never buy an iPhone. Goes to show you – never say “never.” And if you’re wondering, yes, my foot is deep in my mouth, thanks.

Here was my list at that time in order of importance:

  1. No enterprise email support. At CitySquares, we use a hosted MS Exchange service by a Canadian company called Sherweb (who’s fantastic by the way). If I can’t seamlessly sync my mobile device with my Exchange inbox, contacts, and calendar, than I’ve already lost total interest in the device.
  2. Battery. Early reports of the iPhone, even before it was officially released, were that its battery-life stunk. At the time I could get about 2 full days out of my Pearl, which was pretty good for all the abuse it took. Also, the fact that the iPhone’s battery is fixed (i.e., cannot replace/swap it when necessary) was just a philosophical thing for me. That level of proprietary hardware really annoys me. Sony does the same kind of thing with their hardware and that’s kept me from buying Sony products for the past 15 years or so.
  3. Keyboard: When I first saw the keyboard demo’d last year, I thought the iPhone would be a bust for sure. I just figured that no matter how intuitive the keyboard was people would still prefer buttons, something tactile. For example, when I’d drive around with my Pearl, I could actually type on it with one hand, using just my thumb, without looking at it, well, mostly (not recommended). But over time the critics were mostly silenced by the computer’s ability to interpret and correct your typing as well as the spacing of the virtual buttons.
  4. AT&T: I just had a religious epiphony when I switched from Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile. Was I supposed to just jump ship again? Where are my loyalties? Also, AT&T long had a bad reputation. Cingular stunk in many ways, then AT&T bought them. To me that seemed like buying rotten meat, not young and healthy cattle. I just wasn’t willing to switch providers again, especially AT&T. Ew!
  5. Bulk: The size of the Blackberry Pearl was just superior, and still is, naturally. It’s just tiny, but it packs quite a punch. The iPhone just seemed like a step backwards for me.
  6. Wow factor: OK, the iPhone had a cool touch screen but aside from that it just didn’t excite me. I really enjoy playing stupid little games on my pearl, like Blackjack, poker, tetris. I also liked some of the apps I could run like the twitter app, the Facebook app. It didn’t seem that I could do those things with the iPhone, unless I unlocked it.

Well, here I am, well over a year later, with an iPhone 3G. What got me excited about this generation of the iPhone? All of this, in order of importance:

  1. Enterprise email support: DONE! Totally solved in the new firmware. So whether you had the first gen iPhone or the new iPhone 3G, you could sync with your Exchange mailbox. It still needs a little work, like I can’t sync tasks, and I can’t contract folders when in my folder view, but those are very minor things. In fact, I get emails on my iPhone 3G quicker than I get them on my Microsoft Entourage email client. It works, and it syncs, wirelessly and seamlessly. Setting it up was no more than a couple minutes.
  2. Browser: It’s just so sexy. When I first really used the browser, in conjunction with the keyboard, at Gaslight next door on a colleagues iPhone, I was hooked. It worked so intuitively and so intelligently.
  3. 3G: What’s the use of a slick, sexy, and intuitive web browser if the network is slow? AT&T’s 3G network is fantastic. It’s actually 3.5G and it’s only going to get better and broader.
  4. Location Based Services: With the baked-in hybrid LBS technologies, using GPS, WiFi, or cellular triangulation, the iPhone is really the first device to be able to provide truly mobile applications, like its built-in Google Maps app, or the various location-aware social networking apps, or the geotagging photo features, and even local search – CitySquares bread and butter.
  5. App Store: This was really just the icing on the cake, especially once I saw the Monkey Ball demo on the WWDC 2008 broadcast. That was wild! So far I’ve downloaded (and removed) several apps. This was a pretty big reason for buying the iPhone 3G, availability of software to maximize my use and enjoyment.

On Saturday, July 12th, the day after the iPhone came out, Ali and I went to the Cambridgeside Galleria Apple store, stood in line and waited for about an hour. We walked out about an hour later with two 8GB iPhone 3Gs. I knew that if Ali wanted an iPhone something big, something revolutionary was taking place. I mean that too. Ali doesn’t like complication in her technology. She’s the typical user – neither a neophyte nor a geek. Just uses technology as it’s mean to be used – as tools to getting things done better and more efficiently. If her previous cell phone could place and receive phone calls from just about anywhere, than that’s just good enough. Ironically, though, what really got her excited about the iPhone was Monkey Ball. It was a silly game. That opened her mind up to consider it. Then once she realized she could use her gmail account on it, work email, browse the web, feed her zombie on Facebook, she suddenly leapfrogged the smartphone learning curve that I had to go through and just became an iPhone fanatic and expert!

When we brought the iPhone home, I was excited but hesitant. I was hesitant about the remaining concerns: battery, AT&T, and the keyboard. I actually kept my Blackberry Pearl activated for a few days before making the switch just to be on the safe side. My first couple of days with the device weren’t as amazing as I’d expected. It took me a little time to figure things out, customize things – I like customization. I want my own sounds, I want my own pictures, I want to fine-tune my devices. And after a few hours, I was doing just that.

30 days later…

KeyboardGrade: A.: In those first few days I was careful not to become so enchanted with some of the iPhone’s bells and whistles that with the keyboard I just settled for less. It definitely took me a couple days to get used to it. I don’t want to be a one-finger smartphone typist – I want to type with my thumbs, and fast. Now, one month later, I’m nearly as fast with the iPhone keyboard as I ever was with the Pearl. Furthermore, the intelligence of the iPhone computer, and its ability to guess what I’m spelling and correct frequent typos is unparalleled in any device I’ve ever used. It’s far superior to the RIM’s proprietary SureType (which I grew more annoyed with over time). In some ways the keyboard is actually better than other kinds, just because its a software keyboard and the available keys are much more easily accessible and there are more of them.

BatteryGrade: B.: The battery isn’t great. And in those first few days I was actually really pissed off with the poor battery performance. One day I left the office at about 2pm for a string of meetings and networking events. When I left the office my battery was about 80%. When I got home that evening around 9:30 it was completely dead. I was really frustrated. How was I supposed to be truly mobile if I had to babysit this thing? Then I started researching how to optimize it. I figured out the following:

  1. Turn off WiFi scanning. I only use the iPhone’s WiFi at work and at home so why have it scan everywhere I am? Sometimes I’d be driving down the street and I’d look at my iPhone screen and it’d ask me if I want to connect to a network, and it’d list out a bunch of WiFi networks within range. What an annoyance but more importantly, what a drain on the battery! Turning that off boosted performance quite a bit.
  2. Lower the screen’s brightness. Out of the box the screen is quite bright, too bright IMHO, especially at night. So I took the brightness down quite a bit. Most devices like mobile phones and laptops can get a lot more juice from the battery if you just lower the brightness. It saves quite a bit of power. I believe the screen is the most battery intensive part of a device actually, but I could be wrong.
  3. Limit Email Pull/Push: I don’t need my gmail account checked every 15 minutes. In fact, I don’t need it checked unless I tell it to check. So turning that off helps too. Same with my MobileMe email, which I just don’t use.
  4. Turn off Location Services: You can turn it on from within an app, like Google Maps. Then turn it off later. If you don’t need it, turn it off. I don’t need it constantly, not at all, only on-demand.
  5. Turn off Bluetooth: If you don’t need it, turn it off. I use it in my car, but if I know I’m not going to be in my car for a couple days, then I just turn it off.

There are other things you can do to optimize the battery too, like turning off 3G if you don’t need it, among other things. But the above steps are the ones I took, and now I can get more than a full day out of the battery, which is all I need anyway. I just charge it overnight, like I did any phone prior to having the iPhone. I also have a car charger too, which helps when on the road for a while.

AT&TGrade: C. Verizon and T-Mobile are much better, no question about it, at least here in the northeast. At my house in Somerville where I’d typically have 4-5 bars on either of those providers, I only get 2-3 bars. If the weather is bad, like it was this weekend, I find myself with one bar, at times no bars, even on my porch. Then I experience dropped calls. Dropped calls has definitely been a theme with my new iPhone in the past month. In fact, one of my colleagues decided to opt out of her iPhone 3G and go back to her first gen iPhone because when she went home to the north shore she had no service at all! So I’m definitely disappointed. It’s not like that everywhere. I’ve driven quite a bit around New England in the past month and have largely been fine with the cellular service and mostly happy with the 3G service. When I’m not in 3G coverage, not terribly often, I’m on EDGE which is just fine for email and light browsing. So as it pertains AT&T’s cell network, I’m disappointed but I’m trying to be optimistic and I’m hopeful that it improves.

BulkGrade: B. I’m happy with the size of the iPhone 3G. I think the new curved backside helps too, as opposed to the more flat back in the first gen. I don’t find it a nuisance at all, like I did with all my prior smartphones, with the exception of the Pearl. I used to put my Pearl in the ashtray in my car when driving. It fit nicely in there and was easily accessible. My iPhone, however, does not. So I end up putting it in my cup holder, so it rattles around a bit more. Or I put it in a slot in the door handle, which I don’t like doing. I got myself a cigarette holder cradle for the iPhone but it’s far too tight and I can barely get it in/out of the cradle. Aside from those complaints, the size is not really an issue, especially because this device just packs such a punch. If it was just a regular, middle of the road smartphone, that’d be a different story.

Wow FactorGrade: A. It’s simple really – I love my iPhone! I’m totally blown away by the stuff you can do with it. This device is not a phone, it’s not a smartphone either, it’s a mobile computer. OK OK, I can’t create and save MS Word or Excel documents, but I wouldn’t do that on a device like this anyway. In fact I don’t know anyone that edits or creates documents on their smartphone. For those that do, well, my hat’s off to you. I can still review a document on the iPhone, no problem. I can even make changes to it and send it back, I just can’t save it to a local file system.

Aside from that, I’ve fallen in love with the iPod and the storage capacity that I still haven’t used up with all my media. I’ve got about 4 GB of tunes, a handful of CitySquares and family movies, and a good portion of my Aperture photo library on this baby! That’s a lot of media and I’m still not using 8 GB. In fact, I don’t think I’m using half of it.

The user interface is stupid. No really, it’s stupid. It’s elementary. It’s so intuitive that if you can’t figure it out, than something is wrong with you. It’s that easy. It just makes sense. Flicking your finger across an app scrolls it left, right, up, down. Double tapping fits something to your screen, in most apps. Pinching your fingers together zooms in, and the opposite zooms out.

Customizing the iPhone 3G leaves little to be desired, although I still wish I could change some of the native sounds, like for new emails. I found a cool piece of software that allows me to create my own ringtones outside of iTunes, which is great. It’s called iToner (Mac only). I mean, screw you Apple if you think I’m going to pay a buck everytime I want to make a ringtone out of a song I purchased! Just, screw you!

AppstoreGrade A+. The Appstore is just terrific, especially if you’re not a dickhead who spends $1000 on an app that does nothing. I’ve spent less than $40 on apps and that alone is a good thing. I remember with my Handspring device, or any of the smartphones I’ve had in the past, I could easily spend $40 on a piece of software that helped me track my travel expenses. The Appstore has seemingly commoditized mobile software. Most apps are free, some you pay for. Here are the apps I’ve installed and my rating and review of them:

  • NetNewsWire – Free RSS reader that syncs with your subscription. What that means is this: I have the desktop version of NetNewsWire that syncs with my NNW account and hence my iPhone app. This way the two are always in sync, which is very nice. The UI is OK, could use some work, but it’s an iPhone app and I’m really not complaining – it’s better than any other mobile RSS reader I’ve seen on any other device, by a mile. Grade: A
  • NYTimes – Call me old fashioned but I still read the paper, specifically on Sunday mornings, the New York Times. I love it. I also love the NYT website. It’s my homepage. The app is OK, the UI could definitely use some work, and it doesn’t seem too stable. It crashes sometimes when I’m just scrolling through an article – the most basic function of the app. That’s really annoying. Also, I don’t understand why I don’t have an “Email this article” button or anything similar. There’s nothing – no calls to action. I hope this improves. Grade: D
  • Bloomberg – It does what it’s supposed to – shows me domestic and international stock exchange updates, and shows me my own portfolio updates, as well as finance news. It crashes once in a while, but it’s slick and I use it often. Grade: B
  • Twinkle – I just started using Twinkle after my friend Ryan Sarver at Skyhook Wireless showed it to me. I quickly moved from Twitterific, which I liked, to Twinkle. It’s just got a better UI and the location stuff might come in handy. Grade: A
  • WordPress – Pretty lame. I’m able to review posts on this blog as well as the CitySquares blog (both use WordPress.com), but it shows my content in HTML, which stinks. I can’t review drafts that are on the server either, so that also stinks. But I can create local drafts and publish them. It needs a lot of work and I’m optimistic cuz WordPress rocks. Grade: C
  • Mobile Fotos (previously Mobile Flickr) – It’s a good solid app that runs well. Yet to crash on me. I can upload/download to/from my Flickr account. It’s got some nice little bells and whistles and it keeps improving. I dig it but I’m hearing good buzz about Exposure and I may give that a try. Grade: A
  • Facebook – Frankly it’s pretty lame. It’s exactly like the Blackberry version – just allows me to see status updates, view messages, profiles, and that’s mostly it. I can’t see any of my Facebook apps or do much more than communicate with friends. I’m already growing tired of Facebook, and it’s becoming nothing more than a way for me to keep in touch with long distance friends. They need to release a better iPhone app soon, especially if they’re worth that $15 billion valuation. Grade: F
  • Pandora – This rocks. My friend Randy Parker tuned me into Pandora and I’m hooked! Great app! Listen to Internet radio from where ever you are. Create your own stations based on your favorite music and just listen. I love plugging my iPhone into my car stereo and driving around town listening to Internet radio – very cool! It does drain that battery though, but that’s what the car charger is for. Grade: B
  • Salesforce – I have a big problem with this app – I’m paying a monthly fee for this app and I can’t view the company dashboard! All I can see is my own account. I don’t have much of an active Salesforce account but I’m constantly checking in on the company dashboard. I should have access to that through the iPhone app. Grade: D
  • Google – It’s installed but I’ve yet to use it. I suppose I should just remove it. I just end up going to Google.com directly in Safari. Grade: N/A
  • BofA – Bank of America app. It’s OK. All it really lets me do is check balances, make transfers and find locations. Once you’re signed in to the BofA app all it really does is take you to its mobile banking website, which is pretty basic. I suppose that’s a very good thing though, for security, so I appreciate that. I will say that the ‘find locations’ came in really handy a couple weeks ago with a friend. He needed a BofA banking center and I was able to quickly find one with the BofA iPhone app and then map ourselves to it with the iPhone Google Maps app. That was a nice surprise! Just handy stuff that you don’t realize how useful it is until you actually need it and use it. Grade: A
  • Monkey Ball – I’ve played it like twice. I suck. I thought I’d like it better but when you suck you suck! I like to show it to people who’ve never seen it though. Grade: A
  • HoldEm – Just a great app if you like poker. I wish I could play other poker games, but HoldEm seems to be such a big deal this decade that ya can’t get around it. The graphics are absolutely stunning! If you like poker as much as me, you’ll love this iPhone app! Grade: A
  • BrainChallenge – I think this is my favorite iPhone app. It’s a nice little program that’s packs quite a punch. It’s got all sorts of brain tests you can take the help you stay sharp. I don’t know if it’s doing that for me, but it’s fun to take the daily brain tests in the morning and see how I progress in certain areas. I’m not very strong in logic and math, but I’m very strong in memory, vision and focus. So I can train in my weaker areas and hone my others. It’s actually a very intelligent little app and I use it daily. Grade: A
  • MLB At Bat – Handy, but not overly impressive. I can see realtime boxscores and so forth. It updates at any frequency I specify (1 minute) automatically. I can even see video replays. But that’s about it. I expected more for $10. Grade: C
  • Units – Helps me convert liters to pints, or miles to kilometers, dollars to yen, etc. But I don’t do that often. I look forward to needing it, cuz it looks promising. Grade: N/A
  • Morocco – I grew up playing this game in school and I loved it. I’m on the expert level and I’m close to beating the computer. It’s a fun game, great for killing time at a doctors office or just for relaxing. Grade: A
  • FiatLux – Silly, just a blank white screen (or whatever color you choose) in the event you need a light. This actually came in really handy a couple weeks ago in the dark while trying to unlock a bike. Grade: A?
  • PhoneSaber – Silly, fun, dorky, fun, nerdy, fun, dweeby, fun, pointless, fun. Grade: A
  • eBay – I don’t use eBay often, but when I do I’m all-in. I’ve yet to use the app. Grade: N/A
  • iBeer – Silly, fun, sad, fun, signs of a problem, fun, obnoxious, fun, pointless, fun. Grade: A
  • Bubblewrap – a screen of bubblewrap, pop them. Stupid. Removed it.
  • Loopt – I want to use it, I really do, but no one does and it’s buggy and cumbersome. Gave up, removed it.
  • More Cowbell – A cowbell you tap on. If it wasn’t for the guys voice I’d still have it installed. If it was Will Ferrel especially. Removed.

Sure, I’ve had some issues with the iPhone too, but they’re small, nothing that’s ever caused me to curse loudly or feel my blood pressure rise. Mainly that includes the occasional app crash. I’ll be in Bloomberg looking at my stock prices, or in Facebook looking at status updates, or in MLB looking at scores, and bang – it just crashes. But starting up the app again and going through the same process doesn’t result in a crash, so it’s sporadic. I tolerate it because, well, it’s tolerable.

I’m impressed with the push services built into the iPhone too. I can see when I get Facebook messages even though I’m not in the App. I can get emails and SMS when I’m on the phone. But I can’t swap from one app to another without killing one to get there. That’s a little annoying, but it helps a lot with the performance of the device. On a typical Windows Mobile smartphone you could have 10 programs open, and when you do that the device just slows to a halt. The iPhone doesn’t allow you to get there. Still, though, I wish I had some flexibility with being able to run more than one app at the same time.

Well, this was a very long post but I needed to get all that up here! I feel much better now!

Do you know of any other iPhone apps I should look at? Am I missing anything?

Do you have an iPhone? What do you think?

What about AT&T?

Mobile Evolution & Revolution

When the first iPhone came out last year I stayed away mostly because of price, and because I was warned by numerous people, websites and blogs that a) any first generation device from Apple is for die-hards and early-adopters and b) it wouldn’t be enterprise friendly (e.g., no push email, no syncing, no Exchange support, etc. etc.) and c) AT&T stinks. These first two points seem to coincide with Steve Jobs’ analysis of iPhone barriers to entry at yesterday’s WWDC keynote. Aside from those technical details, I didn’t see the iPhone as something that was going to revolutionize the mobile landscape, not yet anyway. In fact, I was quite the skeptic about user adoption, beyond my own, and I think I was right. I was also in love with my Blackberry Pearl, which totally seemed like a mini-revolution all on its own. I am, today, in love with my MacBook Pro, after being an extremely loyal Windows guy since MS-DOS (OK, MS-DOS isn’t Windows, but you get my point) and here and now I find myself ready to make another jump across the street and sell my Pearl (with it’s SureType), then stand in line on July 11th to get my paws on the new 3G iPhone.

Lots of people have asked us (CitySquares) to build a mobile app. One of our board members asked Bob and I this last week actually, at the TieCon East conference, after a panel on mobile. He turned to us and said, “So, when is CitySquares going to build a mobile app?” Bob and I looked at each other, and almost in sync we answered, “when we can free up some resources and when the mobile interface problem is solved.” Here and now I find myself ready to find an iPhone app developer to build one for CitySquares.

It’s my opinion that what we’re finally seeing is a real convergence, for real now. I remember back in the 90’s the buzz and hype (and the underlying cause of the bubble) was the convergence and voice and data. Everyone and their grandmother seemed to be dropping cable in the Earth’s crust, or talking about running voice over the same line you run data over, like a T-1. Wow! Imagine that. Data and voice, on the same pipe? Do you remember that? People were talking about digital voice lines, VoIP, video over ISDN. The Internet, on every computer! Some places were doing it, and they were nuts for it too, cuz it cost so much money. I remember very well!. Anyway, we’d been talking about it for so long that it seemed over-hyped. Then, the bubble burst, the shakeout occurred, and here we are today with Comcast (or insert cable co) digital voice, bundled with HDTV services, bundled with DVRs. Analog? What’s that?! I digress, as usual.

We’re totally there again, here and now. OK, maybe not to that degree, but this is just as exciting to me! We find our ideas of media being challenged every day. Be it YouTube, Last.fm, or the iPhone, it’s converging man! Mobile has clearly already converged with data, that’s nothing new, but now that resulting product is converging with the Internet. This is nothing new to those who’ve thought about it, but if you haven’t – think about it. And I don’t mean that Treo running PalmOS, or Windows Mobile with some WAP browser. I mean, the iPhone + Internet + 3G + social media + local and the revolution that combination is about to ignite. iPhone 1.0 was cool, but it was barely the tip of iceberg. In fact, it was just a glimpse. With the iPhone SDK, the new firmware, the new hardware, 3G capability, that sweet interface, the Internet, plus social media, plus local, we are at the dawn of a new era.

Afterall, social is dynamic, it’s transient, not static. Local is relative and it’s medium is mobile (it’s just not there yet). These concepts are often discussed at the conferences I attend, but the 3G iPhone makes this reality. With the price drop, and with Apple introducing this into 70 countries, I don’t think it will be an explosion however, but a slow and steady trickle that carves a wide canyon. I know, I know, mobile in other parts of the world is way more advanced than it is here in the US, I get it, but I think the convergence that we’re about to see hasn’t even begun, the revolution is just beginning, and it will be global. That’s for another blog entry.

I will be getting a new iPhone on July 11th. I will be switching to AT&T. I will be browsing web pages on my mobile device like never before. I will be watching video on it, and interacting socially through apps I install, among other apps, and geotagging my location and sending geotagged pics to the web. My wife will be joining me too. She’s finally upgrading from her ancient LG VX8100. She’ll be playing MonkeyBall on it, and she’ll be using Facebook to chomp zombies and update her friends, and she’ll be taking pictures and emailing them to her family. Afterall, if my wife wants an iPhone, it’s gotta be cool.

Check out what Walt Mossberg says about the 3G iPhone, already.

Check out what Engadget has to say, they got their hands on it.

I’m Converting to Mac… I Think

(Not long after posting the below post, I wrote this one after converting to Mac. Check it out when you’re done reading this.)

So, I think I can say I’m ready to convert to a Mac. I’m not 100% convinced because frankly I’m just frightened about it. But I think I’m going to talk myself into it in this blog entry. Here we go…

I’ve been using computers since the days of, well, since before there was a Windows, thanks to my Dad and his entry into the computer industry in the early 80’s. First I was using VMS on a DEC Rainbow and PDP 11. I was using MS-DOS, then I was using Windows 3.51, then Windows 95, then Windows 98. I was an MSCE in Windows NT Workstation, Windows NT Server, then Windows 2000 and Active Directory. I upgraded to Windows XP, and now, I have Windows Vista.

I currently run Vista on a ThinkPad T60p. Vista is slightly sexier than XP – which isn’t saying much at all! All along the way over the past few years, especially the past 2 years, I’ve been growing more and more impatient with Windows and more and more intrigued and impressed by Mac OS and its flexibility to work with Windows, even in parallel. Most especially over the past couple years as Apple has clearly been doing some very new and impressive stuff, slowly encroaching on Microsoft’s enterprise market share – albeit totally puny. And I’ve always stuck to the same message of “but I need Windows for business – I just couldn’t convert.” Today, however, I had such a terrible and ironic meltdown that I think the Gods, as well as the stranger next to me on this train ride, are telling me it’s time to convert. Check this out…

Being that I run Vista on a ThinkPad T60p, I naturally have to reboot often. And it’s only been getting worse. But, being the Windows guy that I am, I tolerate it. I tolerate it like I tolerate back pain – I just accept it. It comes with the territory! So at 7:30 this morning I’m at Penn Station waiting for my train back to Boston, trying to get online. No go, and Outlook is freezing for some unknown reason, along with other apps like Winamp, for no apparent reason. So, whatever, I close the lid and stuff it into my bag and go back to my BlackBerry where I can actually be more productive. Imagine that – I’m more productive on my BlackBerry than I am on a $2000 laptop running Windows Vista. When I boarded the train and sat down at a table diagonal to another gentleman, I saw him reach into a manilla envelope and pull out his Mac Air. (OK, he didn’t really pull it out of an envelope). So I break out my massive, stealth black ThinkPad (powerful as she is) and plunk her down on the table. I crack it open and notice that Windows has decided to start fresh. OH – OK. Chalk it up to not putting it to sleep properly – because apparently closing the lid is just too much for Vista to handle properly. So I wait about 6 minutes for it to start this service, that service, that app, this app, yada yada. I kill the usual processes that otherwise would require me to reboot in short time, and then I’m on my way. Hah! Take that Mac guy with your shiny white glowing apple – staring at me with it’s, it’s stem.

I proceed to plug my Verizon Wireless PC card in, run VZAccess manager and attempt to get online, which works for about 10 minutes. Outlook is trying to connect, and I proceed to Firefox where I can catch up on some reading about some of the stuff I picked up at this week’s conference. I put my headphones on, start Winamp, and crank a little Soundgarden. I’m rockin now!

Then it all came to an end. Every app froze. I couldn’t click anything. But the mouse moved so that was a good sign! I know this pattern, I just have to wait. So I go to the snack car and get a cinnamon bun. Upon my return Windows was still frozen and all my apps were pale white. But the mouse still moved, hooray! But I can’t click the start menu. OK, fuck it – hard shutdown (an activity that always frightens me because it’s just SO not good for a hard disk). BIOS posts, Windows comes up, and I login. Suddently I see Windows Vista has decided to install IE again, along with many other programs. I can’t see anything but this install process – not even my tropical golf course wallpaper. Then Vista only confirmed what I feared was happening – it was rebuilding my Windows profile. All my personal settings were gone – just, gone! My startup items, gone, my wallpaper, gone, and then I clicked to my Documents folder – empty! My Music, empty! My Pictures, empty! Holy crap! (Thankfully I use Mozy Pro and I can get it all back if it’s really really gone)

I just had to stop for a minute and laugh. I just, laughed! Here’s this Mac guy with his sexy Air working away and looking so calm and collected, even smug, but – productive. And here’s me – not able to do a single thing – no work cuz Windows doesn’t want to play nice. I take off my headphones and I engage the enemy in a discussion, a diplomatic discussion. I want to know more about his culture, the state of his nation – Mac nation.

Turns out he’s a senior business consultant, and a technical one at that. He told me he was a diehard PC guy for many years – let me say that again – he was a diehard PC guy. Now, he’s using a Mac! I gave him some more airtime and let him sell me. And he just about closed the deal. We spoke for a good 15 minutes and he almost totally convinced me. He answered all sorts of my questions about dual booting, about the Intel processor, about the speed, the efficiency, the graphics, the this the that. What we concluded that there is nothing stopping me but fear. I feel like a kid who’s afraid to dive off a rock into a lake, while all my friends are there swimming and having fun, but I’m too much of a sally to jump in with them.

Then, I picked up my BlackBerry I notice my friend and advisor to CitySquares, Randy Parker (founder of Constant Contact), was on Google Talk. We get to talking about the same topics. And he too convinces me – puts all my concerns to rest, aside from just the emotional barriers. He emails me some articles about Leopard, about how fast Vista is on a Mac – how’s PC World actually says that the fastest machine they’ve ever run Windows on is a Mac!!!

After these conversations and collecting some of the data I need, on top of data points I’ve picked up on over the past couple years, I needed to just think about it all. Meanwhile I decided to reboot the laptop nice and proper like. When I did, my original profile came back, thank heavens! But some of my settings are gone and I can’t use my Aircard now. I don’t care. I’ve given up.

So here I am now, on the train, typing this entry into Windows Notepad because I’m afraid to use anything the else. And when my train pulls into South Station I think I’m doing it – I’m going to run to an Apple store and get some advice on converting from Windows, and running Windows in VMware or whatever, Parallels or something, that might even be built into Leopard (cuz you can do that on a Mac!). And if that doesn’t work – again, according to PC World Vista runs faster on a Mac!

So that’s it, I’m doing it. I’m making the plunge. And ya know, I’m excited. I’m ready to leave PC land and go to Mac land. The irony here, aside from my experience this morning with this friendly passenger and his Mac Air, is that until about a year or so ago I was a long time, loyal, passionate Windows Mobile guy (starting with my first HP iPaq). After growing frustrated with windows Mobile day after day, month after month, year after year, I converted to BlackBerry. I’ve never looked back. I love my BlackBerry Pearl!

I’ve always said, I’ll never get a Mac, yet here I am, about to get one. Ya know what’s most exciting about this folks? The most exciting thing about this is that now, I can get some work done. Apparently when you put a Mac to sleep, it goes to sleep. When you wake it up, it wakes up. When you boot it, it boots, fast. When you tell it to do something, it does it. Viruses on a Mac? Are you kidding? I am genuinely excited about getting back to work, and OK, on a very sexy Mac with it’s shiny glowing little apple.

To be continued…

Continued here.