Vaguely remember this. Lisa and I had matching phones (aww) and I know there was some sort of text Internet thing where you could browse headlines and short news articles. Oh, and a little pixel worm game. Weirdly ancient.
[ On Wikipedia ]
This was a funny thing. It had speaker-phone-only, and you had to plug in an earpiece to listen to a call non-speaker. Browsing the internet of 2004 was what you would imagine. One night at a bar, I wowed friends with the ability to bring up porn. We had simple needs back then.
Got this around the time I was doing Windows CE development. Chicklet keys were the best for not-look-typing (i.e. texting and driving) as was the little toggle button.
Back to no keyboard! This had a never-before and never-since feature of a physical click when you clicked on the screen. I and a minority of people in the world liked it; most hated it. This was also my first and only experience with screencrack and the basic unfixability of it all. 2008 doesn't seem that far in the past, yet my memory of using this phone feels like it was a decade ago. And now, of course, BlackBerry is circling the drain.
[ On Wikipedia ]
Compared to the first few, phones are looking much less exotic. My first Android phone and the beginning of doing Android development. My dislike of Apple's walled garden made this choice obvious.
[ On Wikipedia ]
Continuing the Android thing and the HTC thing (with the HTC One likely my next). After almost two years it's getting that old-phone-lag. This also marked the point when Lisa joined the Android fun with the Razr Maxx.
My 2002 Beetle came with a cassette player. That must've been relatively standard eight/nine years ago, because I remember getting a free cassette when Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters opened for Dave Matthews at Chastain (?). The B side of the Headhunters cassette had John Scofield playing with Medeski, Martin, and Wood. There was much funky goodness that got lots of play in the beetle.
Around the same time, I would listen to Live365 and recorded several classical stations onto cassette for car-listenin' (laptop -> stereo + cassette deck). A few years back I started to listen to podcasts in the car (MP3 player -> cassette adapter + phone jack). A year or so ago I wrote some PHP pages to allow me to dynamically build streaming playlists at work and access my MP3s at home. I could browse by artist and album and select tracks from them to build the M3U. That worked beautifully for a while, but for some reason my upload speed at home has slowed enough to prevent streaming. I've had mysterious (aren't they always?) network issues possibly related to updates on my Ubuntu web server. Navigating those pages from the phone was tricky anyway. Starting with my Storm and continuing with my Android (HTC Incredible), I've used Pandora to listen in the car.
A couple of days ago, I found StreamFurious in the Android App Store. It allows you to stream from a list of PLS stations including SHOUTcast and public radio stations. Finally, WNYC in my car! I hope to get some combination of RadioWave with StreamFurious working eventually.
In Closing the Digital Frontier [ via On the Media: Information Wants to Be Expensive ], Michael Hirschorn argues that the death of advertising (see Bob Garfield's own The Chaos Scenario) has brought about the closed systems that are mobile phones. The iPhone being the worst offender and most adept exploiter.
The shift of the digital frontier from the Web to the smart phone signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995. Facebook and iPhone are two augurs of the end of a rich frontier.
The new TOS for the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 introduces additional restrictions on how developers can create applications for the device. Any application must be
Apple's choice, if we can divine intent, was a strategic move to lock developers in to the iPhone over other mobile platforms. Cross compiler companies' choice is to lock developers into their cross compiler over other, single platform compilers. Developers are offered a clear benefit by choosing the latter's lock in, not so with the former's.
I don't have a dog in this race, but I'm a developer and love the tech and social aspects of our mobile web present and future. Apple can do whatever it wants with the iPhone/Pad, just as Microsoft did whatever it wanted years ago to attempt to lock in developers with the Visual J++ mutation of Java. However, it's important to note the costs developers should consider when choosing the route of lock in. Short-term gains may have long-term drawbacks.
It's bad for competition, it's bad for developers, and it's bad for consumers.
Everyone fears The Ignorant Boss, several updates to the post also worth reading
Geeks insist the iPad is for "their moms" to use as they stand in line to purchase one (or more) for themselves. This self-deceit is used to justify the purchase of what would otherwise be considered a grossly limited netbook. When developers choose to develop on the iPhone for the chance to get rich (many do), they also choose to navigate the capricious business dictates of Apple. Developers generally don't seek out arbitrary corporate limitations when choosing projects either fun or profitable, but with "do what works" as a common mantra, neither are they an overly principled bunch. We'll see if Android benefits from this.
Quinn Norton recently examined iPad ownership based on the needs of the poor and middle-class poor. In contrast to a coworker who, when I told them of the $500 price tag, said stunned: "wow, that's cheap," QN elaborates on the truly affordable tech that ends up in the hands of the poor. When you can get a $250 netbook (sub $200 used) that does everything the iPad does and more, the decision is easy. Comments on her blog dig in w/r/t the definition of "poor" and the need to own an internet device at all. Could you job hunt without a phone? How easily? Could your kids keep up in school without the internet? On an equal footing as their classmates?
Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.
The urge to purchase the first game console of my adult life included a non-specific yearning that some hole of my life I hadn't yet recognized would be fulfilled. (Sadly, I've had commitments most nights since I received my PS2, and haven't had a chance to dive in seriously.) This is a manifestation of the standard consumer/religion gene that we all carry and from which we chase after nebulous desires. I was reading a review of a Smiths concert video from many years ago where the reviewer noted specifically of a fan who broke from the front rows and ran onto the stage. Prior to security grabbing him, he rushed up to Morrisey, paused in the realization of his desire, and broke down crying. How could it possibly have gone any other way?
My choice to try out this crazy world of video games was paired with an undefined want: the unknown has unlimited potential for epiphany. Is this what drives everyone's gadget lust? Reddit recently posted a link to a watch from Amazon.com costing $88,000 (still not the most expensive one) and we all had a good laugh at how the wealthy will waste their money.
[ updated the next day ]
Forgot about a conversation I had with a hardcore conservative recently who, not mincing words, likened Katrina to the
flushing of the toilet bowel. He elaborated that all of the poor who lived in houses they couldn't repair were finally forced out of town. We were talking jazz piano technique (both of us as pianists) so I didn't dig further to clarify whether his idea of "couldn't repair" really meant "were too lazy to repair," so do your own between the line readings. His was a perfect expression of the contempt some have for the poor (and one I have never seen firsthand).
Tim Bray's left Sunoracle for Google; working on the Android. In his announcement of the switch he denounced the
walled garden that is the iPhone. He re-visits the thoughts I had concerning the iPhone, more sharply:
It's a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord's pleasure and fear his anger. ... I hate it. Non-Android-bashing is his job now, so take that for what it's worth. RWW reported that the Droid (unlike the Nexus One) basically matched the iPhone's sales when you compare the first 2-1/2 months of each. An unlike comparison, but all we have to judge is imperfect metaphors at this point.
In the Slashdot discussion of the Tim Bray story, several people take this opportunity to take up what is becoming an old chestnut of internet flame wars. One, criticising disingenuous arguments defending the iPad's limitations:
That the iPad is crippled because it's simplified for grandmothers (it's not, it's designed for internet addicts who already have at least one computer); that the walled garden is for security (it's for profit and lock-in)...[ 1 ]
And another pointing out the feeling of missed opportunity:
The iPad is a nice device. But there are a lot of things inherently wrong with it. And I find it worrying that Apple, otherwise often a pioneer in technology is capable of ruining an otherwise good device and wants to severely restrict what I do with it. I think there's something very wrong with that.[ 2 ]
This second, and certain thread replies, gets to an interesting point. Many who have been criticizing the iPad (ahem) have been treated as idealists or fanatics. Apple holds a special position among geeks, and so criticizing them can hold special weight. Like asserting that Beethoven was a hack or Einstein dull-witted, criticism of Apple can appear to be merely attention-grabbing. I had mentioned before that my old iRiver MP3 player restricted copying from it to a computer. This is an archaic idea that would not be tolerated in today's marketplace. If a company decided to create such a consumer-limiting device, any geek would immediately rail against it on principle. If it were made by Apple, those geeks would be mocked.
From the original news story, I noted what I called the backlash backlash: criticism of the iPad was the first order backlash, and criticism of that criticism was the second order. I've always been befuddled by criticism of criticism in the arts. There, it represents a gall that another person might have an objective assessment of what some believe to be subjective: aesthetic quality. Other, more general possibilities explaining hostility towards criticism are (1) that you can't criticize unless you are an artist, or (2) that critics are simply arrogant and negative--tearing down that which is better than them. A complement to this belief is that praise of a work of art is both true and valid.
To paraphrase (myself): Gizmodo | Mashable ] , has a long rant about the closed nature of the iPad in the article Why The iPad Is Crap Futurism. Newitz points out
[t]he iPad has all the problems of television, with none of the benefits of computers. However, Newitz is not of the boycott ilk and instead suggests people... do something else?
I know a lot of otherwise-savvy consumers and hackers who are already drooling over the iPad and putting in their orders. They hate the idea of a restricted device, but they love the shiny-shiny. I'm not saying that they should deprive themselves of this pretty new toy. What I am saying is that this toy represents a crappy, pathetic future. It is no more revolutionary than those expensive, hot boots I bought at Fluevog, and only slightly more useful.
Mashable was more explicit:
You won't be able to drag and drop or share files with other computers like you can with your laptop on your home network. You won't be able to download a program or music file from the web and play it on the spot. You won't be able to use any application that doesn't meet Apple's strict approval guidelines.
And really, if consumers want a deficient-yet-wish-fulfilling device, tech pundits aren't going to stop them. Still, when someone asks you (oh, tech pundit) what specs they should look for in a new home computer or printer, what do you say? First of all, you steer them away from throwing their money away on inkjets. They may not listen and may only think of the $$$s they'll save buying a sleek looking HP DeskJet, but you would at least pass the knowledge along. As before, this necessary-yet-unheeded advice will be the same with the iPad, if a bit more philosophical. User control on the iPad, when included at all, is almost an afterthought. An appendix ready to be excised for it's absence of utility. Home computers gave us power through their mutability; Apple's new devices tell us we aren't responsible enough to install any applications we want. This may be the future of internet appliances, but it should not replace home computers.
With netbooks now nearly as powerful as full-sized laptops and costing < $300 (cf. a $500 iPad), it may be time to replace my humble 2-year-old first generation Asus Eee.
[ updated 1 Feb 2010 ]
The backlash backlash has begun with Gizmodo's article iPad Snivelers: Put Up or Shut Up. A poorly written rant against those who criticize the iPad saying, basically, that using other flawed hardware or software--along with failure to create your own hardware (no, I am not making this up)--bars you from complaining about the iPad's flaws. If this is the state of the art of Apple defenders, we critics should feel vindicated. The iPad is a platform that, if it dominated households, would have prevented the creation of the Firefox browser. How railing against such an environment can be called
noxious ... childish ... defeatist is beyond me.
[ updated 2 Feb 2010 ]
Two more interesting takes (with further backlash backlash showing up in the comments). The iPad's Closed System: Sometimes I Hate Being Right at Popular Science questions the choice of iPhone OS over OSX, reemphasizing the gripes that Mashable had:
[With OSX,] you can download and install any program you want. You can watch TV shows and movies from a variety or sources. You can purchase and listen to music however you prefer. Heck, you can poke around a file system. But you can't do any of this on the iPad. Google's Tablet versus Apple's iPad: Open versus Closed? at RWW goes further afield and examines how each is closed in different ways, offering a choice between
the one that watches your activities everywhere on the web [Google] and the one that wants to control what the web even is [Apple]. However since Google's offering is not even an offering yet, much speculation is contained.
Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.A round-up of his interviews after the fact. Commenting on how rare it is for a terrorist act hurt anyone (highway fatalities being a more serious threat), he says:
A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy our country's way of life; it's only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage.
Health insurers admit using 50,000 employees to lobby Congress to defend their outrageous profits - This is a tough one: on the one hand, a corporation is strong-arming it's employees to act in the political interest of the company; on the other, those employees have every right to say no. It
Johann Hari: Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason - How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality? - Every paragraph is a gem. I'll pick two to quote:
This tendency to simply deny inconvenient facts and invent a fantasy world isn't new; it's only becoming more heightened. It ran through the Bush years like a dash of bourbon in water. When it became clear that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, the US right simply claimed they had been shipped to Syria. When the scientific evidence for man-made global warming became unanswerable, they claimed - as one Republican congressman put it - that it was "the greatest hoax in human history", and that all the world's climatologists were "liars". The American media then presents itself as an umpire between "the rival sides", as if they both had evidence behind them.
It's a shame, because there are some areas in which a conservative philosophy - reminding us of the limits of grand human schemes, and advising caution - could be a useful corrective. But that's not what these so-called "conservatives" are providing: instead, they are pumping up a hysterical fantasy that serves as a thin skin covering some raw economic interests and base prejudices.
That second one bears repeating. There are many good arguments to be had on healthcare reform. We're not having them and instead allowing the crazies to define the discussion.
The Truth: What's Really Going On With Apple, Google, AT&T And The FCC - Just one story of many where developers are getting fed up with the Apple ecosystem. The best assessment I've heard was from On the Media (I thought it was from the Aug 14th show, but can't find the reference). They were talking about how closed systems promote censorship. If the internet restricted who could create web pages, and what web content they could create, the on-line landscape would be of much less value. Similarly, when Apple arbitrarily block some applications from its phone while allowing other, they diminish the overall value of the iPhone environment. With the horror stories I've been hearing from developer blogs, I'm quickly becoming an Apple-hater. Bring on the Android!
[ updated 2 Sept 2009 ]
On The Media: The Net's Mid-Life Crisis, August 14, 2009 with Jonathan Zittrain, explaining the chilling effect of centrally controlled technology:
The downside [with the iPhone] is it sets up a new gatekeeper that's going to have its own motives and incentives that are not always the same as the consumers it's supposed to serve.
Somebody submitted an iPhone application to Apple called "Freedom Time." Basically it was a countdown clock for the Bush Administration, and it had the tagline, "Till the end of an error." The author couldn't understand why it was rejected.
Steve Jobs wrote him back when he complained, and said, this is an application that will offend roughly half of our users. What's the point?
Also of note from the same show, if off topic, The Net Effect with Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project:
One of the surprising things we found in that survey was that those who are the most technologically adept and those who are the most engaged with information actually are not in the echo chamber pattern; they are actually seeking out and finding out more arguments opposed to their views than those who are less technologically adept and less interested in political information.
Tweet count is much smaller than it should be - My Twitter count went from ~3000 to 0 after their DDoS. Still not fixed. :-(
Got mine the Friday after Thanksgiving and have been slowly assimilating it. Transition from my nearly 3-year-old Treo 700w. Requirements were: good camera, sync, and fast internet. Competitors were iPhone, G1, and a handful of Verizon smart phones. Not wanting to switch carriers, I went with the Storm.
Overall, I like it and wouldn't chose another. Looks great, both hardware and software, I can use Opera (my browser-of-choice for years), great 3.2 megapixel camera, I can access my Mindspring email, GPS and navigation, and Bluetooth earpiece. Several of these features are de rigeur for cell phones, but coming from the Treo I get to enjoy them for the first time with the Storm. I love the clicking keypresses! Press your finger over a button and it glows-but-doesn't-click; this gives you some feedback before clicking. And the screen scrolling is iPhone-ish. Any quirks are acceptable for a v.1 (what the Treo was when I got it). To quote a Digg comment in response to a (biased) Wired blog entry: iPhone got a lot a hate when it came out too. Storm's getting a backlash it doesn't deserve.
That being said, here are the issues I've found along with their solution (I think in order of me encountering them):
[ updated 5 Jan 2009 ]
Alternately, try Options > Memory > Enable "Auto Enable Mass Storage Media When Connected".
[ updated 14 Dec 2009 ]
A recent update must have borked this again so that the Media Card gets a drive mapping but Device Memory does not. The resolution is to either configure the BlackBerry to show hidden files, or install a patch from blackberry.com [ patch found at "The BlackBerry smartphone is not detected as a USB Mass Storage Device when connected to a computer" (blackberry.com) via the discussion thread "Flash but no device memory Mass Storage Mode - 126.96.36.1998" (crackberry.com) ]. I did both, and so am not sure which fixed the issue (but I suspect it was the former).
To show hidden files: on the Storm go to Applications > Files > File Folders. Click the BlackBerry button and select Show Hidden in the menu. Now when you connect you should be able to see folders in Device Memory.
[ updated 9 Jan 2009 ]
Started getting the
SIM Card Rejected error. here's an explanation and solution.
Here are some quirks or issues I haven't yet resolved:
[ updated 13 Jan 2009 ]
The portrait alphanumeric keyboard usually works like the predictive, SureType keyboard: click each key once for a matching letter and the Blackberry will find the possible combinations of letters that make a word. E.g. DEF+TUV+MNO=fun,duo. Unfortunately and for no apparent reason, this feature disappears and I'm stuck with the multi-click alphanumeric keyboard. E.g. DEF,DEF,DEF+TUV,TUV+MNO,MNO=fun. Not.
Luckily, Filmgirl, my god now, has found the solution. Go to Options > Language > Input Options > Predictive Input (check box) and uncheck, save, and recheck. Voila.
Syncing is an interesting issue; here's the situation: I have contacts in Outlook on my desktop, but I link the Storm to my laptop. Here was the solution:
Gotta use MAPI just to get contacts out of Outlook (fu), then Thunderbird can get it into a more standard LDAP format, and Outlook Express can import that (along with a few oddball MS formats, but oddly can't import Outlook's pst files?!?). I'd say 95% of the data got converted correctly. I'm trying to look forward to how my contact data will exist in a non-Windows world, and LDIF may be the key. Sadly Outlook Express doesn't export LDIF and the BlackBerry won't connect to Thunderbird, so this is a TBD. There're a host of BlackBerry users and web pages bemoaning this, so I don't expect it to be fixed anytime.
My complaints are more detailed than my praises, but that's how it goes (successful features are all alike; every unsuccessful feature is unsuccessful in its own way...). A week+ of use and I stand by my 4/5. We'll see in a month...
Overall, I'm very happy with the Treo. Except for a few rare instances, you can navigate everywhere one-handed without having to use the stylus. (For example, you can't navigate in and out of the IE address box without actually reloading the address, and you lose focus completely when you shut down applications on the task manager screen--Option+OK. Very minor.) I'm moving from a Windows PDA with a larger screen, but I haven't noticed the difference and getting a smaller phone is worth it. I've hit the memory limits a few times--thus the need to shut down applications--which doesn't bode well for more extensive future use, but we'll see.
EVDO is transparently fast, but companies need to start producing better and more accessible PDA content. I'm using MapQuest's PDA maps, but I had to guess the URL because their main page actually sent me to the wrong location for mobile maps. I'm also using Agilemobile's Agile Messenger IM client for MSN, AOL, Yahoo!, and ICQ. There were a few hiccups on the software upgrade and it has some UI inconsistencies, but is otherwise good for a free IM client. And I'm still amazed at how good Georgia Navigator is for a state-run Web site.
The camera takes decent pictures in good light. It's about what you'd expect with a phone/camera and useful for that. I'll probably be taking a lot of pictures of wine labels when we go out so I can write them down later. Wine geek.
Overall, there's nice integration of PDA and phone features in a unit that feels comfortable. I'll be using this for a while. (If I don't lose it at a bar somewhere--at which point I'll kill myself.)