Tuesday, October 02, 2007

iPhone Thoughts

Well, I finally broke down and bought an iPhone. In extreme frustration over a system failure while I was out running work errands a couple weeks ago, I headed straight for the AT&T Wireless store. Of course, I had a couple of false starts because I tried the nearby AT&T stores only to find out that only "corporate" stores carry the iPhone? Huh? Why do you have the stupid AT&T banners hanging over the signs then? Anyway, the purchase was mind-numbingly simple as was the activation process on my Mac.

With all of the posts I've read, there's been little other than glowing praise of the uber-device du jour. And you know what, they're right on most counts. All in all, this is a great little computer. Nevertheless, here's some of what I haven't heard elsewhere:

  • The mail program forces you to delete messages one at a time. There's no "delete all" mechanism which is important given how I want to use the phone.

  • The keyboard is a pain in the ass. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't. Aside from hitting the wrong key frequently because my fingers are too big, I'm also constantly jumping back to symbols/numbers to type periods when I'm doing system administration. Why can't we have a choice of which keyboard to use? I'd always pick the URL version of the keyboard for normal work. I type ".com" often enough to need it.

  • Dialing without looking at the phone is impossible, but you already knew that.

  • The display or cpu seems to get behind when you're scrolling Safari, and I haven't found a way to jump to the top or bottom of a page without scrolling.

  • When I just want to see information on a missed or recent call, I often end up dialing the number.

  • The speakers used for speaker-phone, iPod playback, and ring-tones are pathetic. If you have much background noise at all, you won't hear them.

  • Wifi reception is spotty, at best, even though the transparency of the Wifi support is beautifully done.

After my purchase, I decided not to install a terminal and SSH client on my iPhone. My original intent was to have a device with an SSH shell, but I've had devices like the Zaurus where 3rd party code had caused me nothing but headaches. Instead, I turned to WebShell and Webmin to help me with my system administration tasks. Don't get me wrong, WebShell is slow and aggravating, but it works in a pinch. I've had better luck with setting up custom commands on Webmin to do some of my normal administration duties. Eventually, I hope to have Nagios running and doing some of the recovery work automatically, but that's for another day.

It turns out not installing 3rd party apps was a good decision as it seems Apple decided to declare war on the 3rd party app installers and SIM unlockers. Bricking phones because someone wants to do system administration? Not my idea of a consumer-oriented company, but then again, I've never been a true Apple fanboy. The only reason I'm on Mac is because it gives me a half-way decent, stable Unix. The only reason I have an iPhone is it gives me a small, mobile computer from which I can do system administration in an emergency. While I love their attention to detail on their hardware, I've always been leery of their attitude toward consumers and developers.

Anyone who thinks an Apple monopoly would be better than a Microsoft monopoly must have checked their critical thinking skills at the door. Let's hope they don't bankrupt themselves learning how to behave as a responsible corporate citizen.


Post a Comment

<< Home