12 Things I Hate about iPhone

snc10194In no particular order, these are the things I hate about iPhone after using for 6 months. I have an iPhone 3G with unlimited maxed out data plan via AT&T. 

  1. Keyboard – The lack of a physical keyboard is particularly hazardous for me. The predictive logic is fine for normal people, but as a physician, shooting a quick email becomes an exercise in Gotcha when medical terms and abbreviations morph into correctly spelled but wrong words. I know this can be turned off, but this causes just as many headaches as leaving it on. Apple wants you to go to an Apple laptop for any heavy keyboard work. 
  2. Battery Life -If you use it only as a phone, it gets through a workday. But if you use it as a smartphone, it barely gets through the day. Forget about an extended day, which is typical for me. This means carrying an external battery, cables, and adapters. I will gladly take some bulk for super long battery life. 
  3. Lack of Memory Expansion -flash memory is now dirt cheap. You can get 16GB SDHC cards for less than twenty bucks. This is mind bending when you look at the micro-SD form factor. There is no reason for the iPhone not to have this except for the fact that Apple does not like hatches and holes and excessive buttons, and it wants you to upgrade when you tire of the lack of memory. 
  4. No Copy/Paste -the lack of copy/paste is a philosophical decision on Apple’s part to avoid programs from contaminating each other via the clipboard. Every program runs by itself and tidily goes off when you turn it off. This fish bowl approach to tasking ensures that no program acts in a malignant fashion either intentionally or unintentionally. It’s Apple’s way of saying, “It’s a phone! Buy a Macbook for the heavy lifting.”
  5. AT&T -Not completely happy with it, but I guess it’s a compromise. If you had to marry someone, but you lived in a village in the mountains in the Balkans and there were only three available women, four if you didn’t mind the one with no teeth, a glass eye, and a goiter, you make the best of it. AT&T is the oldest one of the bunch with large bosoms and behind to match. Sure you fooled around with the youngest one (Sprint), but everybody else did too -her biggest fault was inconsistency and broken promises. The middle sister (Verizon), the prettiest one, was also the most controlling. The way she smacked her other sisters around and barked order about how she wanted things done her way was not appealing. So you settle with AT&T. I find strange things happening with the new 3G network out here in the hinterlands. I’ll get 5 bars and a 3G symbol one moment with clear reception, and I turn my head and I get 1 bar with an E (for the slower data connection), and the phone call goes kaplooey. It happens in my car, in my house, in my office, outside with no obstruction whatsoever -and it is the Great Plains with no significant geographic barriers. But the oldest sister doesn’t care so much of your demands, understands if you fool around with the other two, and when drunk, take a roll with the toothless, one-eyed one with the goiter (T-Mobile)-after all -she’s got you now for at least five years from iPhone launch. 
  6. No Bluetooth Anything -Polaroid recently asked TUAW (link) to post a generalized request to open up iPhone’s bluetooth for its portable photoprinter which works with just about every cheap-ass phone out there except for iPhone. This is a beef I have particularly when combined with complaint number 1 -no Bluetooth keyboards, no stereo bluetooth headphones with microphones, no Bluetooth printing, nada. Zip. Just the earpieces that go missing after a few days.
  7. No Easy Way to Organize Your Screens -Apple happily lets you have as many screens as needed for the Apps you download, but organizing them is a disaster if you have more than one screenful of apps (I have seven). If you do factory reset or something like it, all the apps are jumbled. It would be great if you could do it on iTunes and save these configurations. Or if the home screen gave you a link to your productivity apps, your games, your casual games, your deep strategic games, your games to show off the iphone with, and your games that you play for hours on end. Also your photo apps and music creation apps. 
  8. No Passthrough Internet -this is more AT&T’s fault than Apple’s, but I blame both since they got hitched up. You can with some phones, hook up your cell phone to your laptop and use its wireless internet connection to browse from your laptop. I did it a couple of times with my older Windows Mobile smartphones but it was a dodgy affair involving turning on and turning off various things and digging through control panels and hoping for a connection. It would be so wonderful to just attach the iphone and get it’s 3G connection as a connectivity option with no toggling or hoping. AT&T wants you to buy a separate data modem plan. 
  9. No Video Recording -I know you can jailbreak to get this feature, but I don’t want to jailbreak. I want it now, no excuses.
  10. Contacts choked -I have over 2000 contacts and also more via my Exchange connection to my office’s directory. This makes looking up contacts a frustrating affair as I wait often an interminable amount of time to look up a phone number. Absolutely unacceptable. Also, search is dumbfoundingly linear -you have to type the contact in the order that it was input. Sometimes, if I can’t remember a last name, I’m SOL. 
  11. No wordprocessing, no spreadsheet, no Filemaker database access -this is so basic, and so missing, but also related to all of the above -no keyboard, no multitasking, no copy/paste.
  12. No Flash, No WMV, no non-Apple media formats, No Java -this is cumbersome at best, and criminal at worst. I just don’t get it. Very few people use Quicktime anymore. I get the feeling that with Flash -Apple loses some control over the apps and games. 

This still doesn’t drive me away from iPhone because it really is the best smartphone experience. But I am not married to it, and will runoff with the next gadget that does fulfill my needs. And I got needs.

Scenes from the Mall

snc10189Scenes from the Mall

 

It will be an icon of the Bush years -the call to shopping after the terrible days of 9/11. I went to have some lenses changed on my glasses. My prescription had changed and I decided I couldn’t wait the several weeks that Costco or the neighborhood optician would ask. So I went to Lenscrafters at the local mall. 

 

Being a workday, it was eerily empty. I dropped off my prescriptions and went for a walk. I dropped in on the Apple Store to meet with the Geniuses. My Apple related questions ranged far and wide, but I was angling for a replacement on my iPhone. It had been acting up, dropping calls in the middle of important phone calls and not during trivial ones. I asked if upgrading my hard drive myself would void the warranty (yes). I asked if Airport would recognize my USB hubbed hard drives as network drives (yes, but go to the support section). My iPhone was rebooted and reset to factory settings. He also pulled a wad of lint out of my headphone jack. I was to return for an exchange if the phone kept dropping call -nice man, a true genius. I bought a 500gB hard drive for his troubles. 

 

I wandered over to the J Crew store -I always feel like it is a fossil of the 80′s, the last time it was ever close to being edgy and new. I have a fondness for what they call critter ties -silk ties with little emblematic animals or symbols embroidered on them. They are an expensive attachment, going for about 60 bucks a pop. My favorites: the classic Whale which is a ripoff of the J Press original, and the Shark. I was in a bidding war for a vintage J Press whale tie on eBay, but the bastard at his trading desk outbid me to the tune of 185 dollars -I was just curious to see how high he’d go, and glad that he won the damn thing. I’m happy with my knockoff. Abercrombie and Fitch blares its techno at me, its doors framing the unblinking face of a glammed up boy selling his body for food. 

 

I stop by the FYE (For Your Entertainment) which sells CD’s and game cartridges -this mode of distribution is obsolete for me through iTunes, Hulu, Pandora, and a plethora of other entities, but for most of America who can’t afford broadband, this is it. No cable modem has a bandwidth advantage over reality, but the visceral pleasure of looking at an album cover cannot be matched by eyeing a CD jewel box. It’s a shriveled era, and the store is empty. “May I help you” sounds more like, “Move on.” I do look suspicious with my parka of many pockets and laptop bag with more pockets. 

 

I go up past the fountains -would it be wrong for me to scoop out a few bucks to get a latte? I drop by the Orange Julius, and grab a small one, which would have passed for a large one back in the day. Two o’clock arrives and I meander to the Lenscrafters. The gal has only some of my glasses ready, but her round face comes in loud and clear -she’d be drop dead gorgeous if she ran on the treadmill thirty minutes a day. But the same goes for me. We’re going to missing these extra calories in a few years…

 

I should feel relieved after spending this time after lunch, but I leave anxious for an America so depleted of credit and cred.

 

addendum:

Soon after I posted this, this article (link) in the NY Times was published about the troubles in US malls. It’s a basic reorganization going on, where people will have to live more hand to mouth within their means.

The Inscrutable

bonobo

They're Wrestling

New York Times Science articles rarely compete with Maureen Dowd editorials about Martians and Venusians, but when Science articles talk about what women want (link) the email links pop. The basic premise is this: you have panels of men and women, gay and straight, and subject them to images of man on woman, man on man, woman on woman, man masturbating, woman masturbating, nude man walking, nude woman exercising, and bonobos (above) fornicating. Yup, you got that last one. The men and women were surveyed for subjective response, and instrumented in the privates for objective response.

This is where it gets interesting. Men, gay or straight, responded in mirror image stereotypical manner to the presence of erotic male or female images, and had no response to the bonobos. Their physiologic response mirrored their survey responses. The women, across the board, rated the images lower than the men across the board, but, VERY INTERESTING, had a physiologic response to every image.

This astonished me for a while, but then I realized, that if this wasn’t the case, the species would have no chance of surviving. Women have to put up with men of all shapes and sizes, and may even settle with a five foot two billionaire with bad breath and worse taste. Men are, despite their reputation, fairly visual and choosy. Women -you never know for sure.

The Freebie -Be Free!

neooffice-dockiconVery few things in free are life, but for people who purchase new computers, regardless of flavors, a free office suite is available for download onto your Mac, your Windows XP netbook, or your Linux loaded computer. Vista flavors are also available. Just search for OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org) for Windows or Linux, or NeoOffice (for the Mac). 

neooffice-newThe images shown are for NeoOffice, which is a direct native port of OpenOffice into OS X. It offers a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program, a line drawing program, and a database. In OS X, you can publish directly to PDF format or export to Microsoft Office formats. 

This ability trumps any need to purchase a Microsoft Office license. I have found that most people use only 10 percent of the functionality in any software, and the increasingly complex versions of Office offers no benefit. Still, their document formats are the lingua franca of business, and being able to open attachments and see them correctly formatted is a big thing. 

neoffice-docThe programs are fast and very functional. This all builds into my basic premise that Microsoft and its dance partner, Intel, have reached the end of their upgrade rope. Basically, with the current set of Windows XP netbooks, you can watch get on the internet, check email, watch video, and do work. You can do it on a Mac even better. If you need to frag aliens on a shooting game, then you need a high powered rig, but the basic items of fast internet connection and ability to read the basic file formats: MPEGS, Flash, and WMV’s (movies and music), DOCs (wordprocessing), XLS (spreadsheet), PPT (presentations), and databases, allows to do 95% of computing work. It’s available for free. If you can create PDF’s it’s even better because you don’t have to waste paper. 

Even better, you don’t need a computer if you sign up for a Google Docs account. You access it with your gmail login -and you can create the basic triumvirate of doc, xls, and ppt documents right on-line. No need for a flash drive or burning CD’s. 

So what is the value added for paying for software? I use iWork from Apple because stuff created on it just looks better and blows away anything you can make on the free stuff or on Microsoft Office. You have to get something in return for what you pay for. 

But the free stuff is great, because it levels the playing field. It means your four year old computer does not need to be upgraded because you can still create documents on it. It means your netbook that you bought for 300 bucks can do anything the laptop your company tries to load on you, but only lighter and simpler with battery life. It means that by getting a Mac, you get a competitive advantage if making presentations and documents is your livelihood because the stuff on it just looks better. It means being free of the Microsoft/Intel duopoly that demands a tithe every three years.

The Elected

obama_time_cover_102306The inaugural is being carried live by Hulu (link here). I’ll be at work, so I’ll try to sneak a peak!

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The Exhibitionist

img_1488I love Natural History Museums -the image above is from the Smithsonian from a trip last year. Their dioramas bring out clinical details that are missing in zoos. Because of the artifice of stuffing animals and posing them in au naturale, these collections hark back to menageries and freak shows. The animals we choose to display and how they are displayed reflect a lot about ourselves, and I find it no different to walk through a Natural History museum (or the Evolution Museum as Tina Fey’s Palin quipped) than it is to peruse a Damien Hirst exhibit. damien-hirst

Harvard’s collection is a must see, especially if they are exhibiting the glass flowers. New York’s will always hold a place in my heart because it captures that 19th century optimism and obsessive compulsion for collecting (killing) ever rarer and more difficult to obtain specimen. It also does not shy away from displaying people, although they are mannequins and not stuffed (I think).

I would volunteer in a heartbeat (when it comes my time) to be stuffed and displayed in my white oxford button down shirt, khaki’s, and loafers with a plaque Homo sapiens sapiens korean-americanus nerdificissimus maximus et bellygazingus. Put me next to the chimps.

Man’s Second Puberty


img_14401
The first puberty comes with surprising hair in strange places. You get used to it and you move on. The second puberty which occurs to men at around 35-45 also comes with strange hair in surprising places. I had made note of my vibrissae in an earlier post. I was scratching my ear with my pen earlier today when I heard an incredibly loud sound -kind of like one of those parallel parking wires attached to the right side of cars hitting the sidewalk. I ran to the mirror and was horrified to see these -it was the same fascinating horror that I welcomed hair in my arm pits and nether regions so many decades ago. I demanded information from J who with a roll of her eyes informed me that she

earmirror

 has noted these for several years now! And didn’t mention a word. I can respect that, I suppose, because if I see crazy hair sprouting from some part of her that she can’t see, I probably would keep mum too. All the more reason to get a personal trainer, go on a diet, and buy a Porsche. 

My take on this is too personal to relay, but I will probably blurt it out in some later post in metaphors, allegory, abstract symbolism, Klingon, and modern dance.

 

addendum 1/17/2009

Gizmodo, one of my favorite gadget blogs, posted this ear mirror -who knew that I am pioneering a trend? Eternal friendship to the person who sends me one for my birthday.

Dead X-mas Trees

treeturnercopy1We used to get “real” Christmas trees when we were living in New York, but it was the disposal of the trees that made me sad. There is something definitely pagan about sacrificing a a living being for holiday purposes. 

An old Christmas tree and an unwanted corpse share many features. They have overstayed their welcome. They shed. They smell funny. You have to hack off limbs if you want it to fit in the garbage. They are best dumped in state parks off hiking trails –I recommend transporting in a black Lincoln Town Car which is virtually invisible in town, roomy trunk. Even better if you have a wood chipper.

Now, we stick to a plastic tree.