Toolie Travel Blog

A million-mile flyer talks about the life of a business traveler.

Newsletter: Journey to the Fruit Side - My iPhone

I'm not used to being late to the technology party: I just got my first iPhone this month. McAlister has giggled over his iPhone for the last 3 years ( and-the-iphone/ ) and that was OK with me. He's a Mac guy, and while I might have been somewhat jealous, I had other priorities for my phone.

For someone who has relinquished the techie life for his art studio, and claims that he doesn't want to be thought of as a tech guy, McAlister sure loves his iPhone. He keeps it with him ALL the time. Even when he's in Sculpture Class or at the pub afterwards with his friends, if some subject comes up in conversation that requires fact- checking, all heads turn towards McAlister, who by then has his iPhone in hand and is looking up the facts on the Internet.

Good Old Windows Mobile -- a Mainstay

My old Windows Mobile phone served me well for years. A couple of months ago, I thoughtlessly left it on the top of my car as I pulled out of the driveway. The phone hung on for dear life as I drove downhill, but when I hit the curve at the bottom, it went flying off the roof and skidded on the pavement. It horrible to see (out of the corner of your eye) your phone flying towards the asphalt when you're powerless to stop it!

When I realized what happened, I stopped, turned around, and went back to find the phone. Miraculously, I found all of the pieces of the phone: the battery, the back cover, even the stylus, and put it all back together. The phone was working!! It was a little scuffed, but it survived.

A few months later I lost the stylus for the fourth time, and this time I decided not to try to replace it. The designers of the phone had, for some inexplicable reason, decided that it should fit in the lower right corner of the phone, upside down, and once the plastic holding it in place gave up, bye-bye stylus!

The next sign of imminent cell phone death was the difficulty in using the slide out keyboard. The left corner of the keyboard was the point of impact from its flight off the car. The little Function key that provided the numbers and alternate characters I needed for text input of any kind was in that very corner of the phone. The damage really became an issue when I took on a short-term, full-time consulting contract and text-messaging became our virtual team's primary method of contact. Mobile communications were becoming the norm again in my life, and I had to act.

Cell Phone Waiting Game

I've been involved with Windows Mobile since the very beginning. Back when I was working at Microsoft on the Visual C++ team, I worked with the marketing guy who was preparing presentations on the Mobile portion of this development tool. We were teaching developers how to write applications for the first versions of Windows phones back in

1995. I got to play with some of those early devices, and I was hooked. For years afterwards, I tried to find a job on the Windows Mobile team, but never found one for which I was qualified.

When the iPhone first came out, I was interested, of course, but I wasn't crazy about the usability (this is one of my specialties). Give me a keyboard, people! I need a stylus! As the iPhones improved, they got my further attention because it appeared that one really could manipulate the on-screen keyboard with sufficient dexterity.

My next objection was the fact that one HAD to sign with AT&T to get service. I specifically left AT&T for Sprint 12 years ago because AT&T insisted that I get a new phone! At that time, AT&T was tying specific service plans to specific phones, and apparently my phone at the time didn't qualify. I got a phone call from AT&T when I was visiting my alma mater, Wheaton College. The operator asked for my EIN number, then informed me that I would have to change service plans or change phones. I told them that if I had to change phones, I would also change carriers. I did.

So now it's May 2011, and I have a dying phone. The last straw was seeing the offer for $49 for an iPhone 3GS. No, it's not the latest iPhone, but it's a decent phone, and I had to make a choice. So, I went over to the Fruit Side.

The Fruit Side?

If you're a staunch Windows person, then using an Apple/Mac product MAY be referred to by your equally staunch Windows friends as "going to the dark side," an oblique "Star Wars" reference. Mac people will say the same about using Windows products: no surprise there. Since I already own 2 iPods and live with 3 Macs on the network in my house AND live with a Mac Guy, I decided not to refer to my iPhone purchase as "going to the dark side." Instead, I've simply gone to the Fruit Side. Hey, I'm even planning to install in my office the Mac Mini I got back from my Dad after he passed away in January. As a responsible web designer, I have to test my designs on as many platforms and browsers as I can. Now I won't have to run upstairs to McAlister's computer to check my sites on his Mac.

Mobile communications on cool devices like the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and others have shifted the way business travelers operate. You can see now on your phone travel information similar to what I was preparing in my travel guides, only instantly and wirelessly from a vast repository of travel data. I've just begun to explore the available travel apps in the iTunes App Store, though I've spotted the TripIt app that goes with my subscription. Facebook and LinkedIn are already on my iPhone (I might get some social media marketing done after all), but since I have ONLY 8 gigabytes of space (hee hee), I'm being careful. More importantly, I'm being careful of my TIME and trying to not waste it on apps that won't get me to my destination efficiently.

The App Store: it truly is a techie playground. I have a feeling I'll be writing more about my iPhone adventures in the months to come.
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