My new boyfriend

As you may know, I have a new relationship in my life and it is with my iPhone. A friend mentioned in an e-mail that I have satisfied my Apple fetish for now. He has also said to a mutual friend of ours that this device is my new boyfriend. Oh god, what a high maintenance one it is.

Finally! Got the iPhone!

Yesterday, I finally got the iPhone after waiting for two Fridays and a few days. I’ve downloaded the wordpress app and I’ve written this entry on it. Tapping ok a glass screen takes a little getting use to. Sometime, a bit later, I’ll have to do a proper blog entry with a picture of my blog on my phone. Plus, I started to go Project Runway on one of my ties. I’m making a cover for it. Fun times.

Today, Chris went on this crusade against e-mail priority flags (a God-awful invention if I ever saw one) and I went on some mini-tangent about Office 2007, which I saw as another useless Microsoft invention (Zune is one of those things, but that’s another post altogether).

A lot of my frustration with Microsoft’s finest creation stems from my experience with the software during my first week of school. At the college in the desert/mountains, the composition classes have one hour of computer lab time and they’re in these brand new classrooms with state of the art PC’s. Last semester (before the new building was completed), my class met for their lab in the library, and those computers were polished white iMacs (circa 1999-2002, the cathode ray tube variety). All of my students (and yours truly) hated those antiquated devices (which were updated with Panther, but incredibly slow. The spinning rainbow wheel was a common occurrence). Even though I’m not a PC person, I feel the new computers are a vast improvement. Of course, they come equipped with Office 2007.

Since I teach English, I naturally have them use Microsoft Word for their in-lab writing assignments. I suspect all of them were familiar with some previous version of the word processsing program. Before my encounter with the new Word, my most recent experience was with Office 2004. Two weeks ago, I plunked Office 2008 into my new MacBook, but that did not prepare me for its PC-based sibling.

Unfamiliarity with the program didn’t make the lab an easy one, especially since I had students create writing samples during that first day.

The interface was the thing that confused all of us. Office’s website calls it “Fluent User Interface,” but it was a foreign language for all of us. Certain formatting features (new ones) are laid out in a way for the user to easily click on them to use, but this does very little good if you don’t need them right away. For some simpler functions, they weren’t so readily available like on the older versions. Mac’s Office 2008 retains this older interface and integrates it with the new interface. However, Office 2007 goes for something newer and flashier. It took one of my students to figure this out, and she told me to click the “medallion”* on the upper left hand corner and comes the functions to save, print, and some of the other basic ones we all love.

Once we all understood these things about Office 2007, things are easier. I’m sure there’s some more learning we will all do as the semester comes along. There are a few other computer issues I can think of, but that’s for another time. Sometime down the road, I should call the school’s IT department and arrange for someone to come to the lab as a guest speaker.

As I played around with Word 2007 today, I have to say it grew on me. One of the coolest features I discovered was that files can be published as blog entries. Strangely enough, this feature isn’t available in Mac’s Word 2008. Yes, I am eating some earlier words. Perhaps I’ll say more as I become more and more familiar with the program.

*my little term for the Microsoft crest that adorns the upper left hand corner of the Office 2007 program window.

The Apple tastes weird

weird copy

Did someone fall asleep on writing the copy for this lovely Apple e-mail I got tonight? “iPhotoready on your Macis packed with beautiful templates for you to customize.”

Perhaps they were awake; only, the sentence was written in Japan. Is this a case of nonsensical Japanese captions spilling over into American products?

Alas! My iPod’s Obsolete!

Some time ago, I did a post on Apple Technology as part of my back to school series, and Chris ribbingly asked me how much Apple was paying me. This afternoon, I find that Brian‘s on fire as far as the blogging goes, and his latest post is about the latest in iPod technology. The Apple Website confirms much of what he says, especially about the iPod Touch, which has all the features of the iPhone without the phone.

So, how much are they paying you, Brian? 😛

Back To School: (Apple) Technology

As you embark on your college journey or are returning to school, you can’t get caught without technology in the 21st century educational environment. Of course, you can go anywhere and buy a PC with the new Vista operating system, but get a Mac. They’re more attractive, better made, and have significantly less headaches than the machines on that Microsoft operating system. Okay, I’m biased, but you get the point.

Apple brings sexy back into computing with the iMac
That’s not completely true, but largely so. Apple has made computers sexy for the 21st century with the G5’s, Macbooks, PowerBooks, and its piece de resistance, the iPod. In time for new college freshmen in need of computers or those returning to school in the fall, the slender incarnation of the iMac enables you to do your homework, research, and e-mailing in style. These new models have plenty of hard drive space (250-500 GB) for those projects and presentations you’ll do for that A. Plan for desk space as the screen and CPU combo comes in 20” and 24” sizes. Good for work and for fun, and the support for any Apple product is excellent.

MS Office For Mac (A Wonderful Oxymoron)
While Mac has its own set of office utilities, Microsoft makes smooth working versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for its rival platform. MS Office saves your work in the same file formats as its Windows counterpart, so you can easily send your files to a PC user (who may very well be one of your professors. Not me – definite Mac user). Best of all, MS office is priced at an academic discount, available at the Apple Store or your local college bookstore.

Dot Mac is where it’s at
.Mac has upgraded to 10 GB of online memory space, which you can use the space for e-mail (and have a super cool e-mail address), back up for all those files you create as homework, or for hosting a website and/or blog.

iPod – Definite Space Saver
Do you really want to lug all your CD’s with you to college? And, aren’t they so 20th century? Save some dorm space, get an dock, and hook your iPod to your stereo. Plus, you can take your tunes wherever you go. You can also download new tunes and your favorite TV shows (and even movies and games) from iTunes. The standard model (30-80 GB) comes in black or white, but you can dress it up with protective sheaths, covers, and socks. If you need something that can take a beating, get a Nano or a wearable Shuffle (in your choice of several fashion colors). They hold fewer tunes, but enough for music on the go, and they’re good for workouts or jogs around campus. Buy a Mac and get a Nano free. Just don’t let me catch you with it during test time.

Can’t endorse the iPhone…
I’m not sure if a phone is worth the hefty price tag, even with some fabulous features. Price aside, the iPhone offers some useful applications for students: e-mail, iCalendar to manage schedules, web browser for research, and a much more sensuous version of the iPod built-in. All that’s missing is a word processing program to write papers on the go. The keyboard function does take some getting use to. Buy at your own discretion or risk, but don’t let me catch you using it during test time.

Update, 9/5/07
Apple has a new fall line of iPods, including the iPod Touch, a phoneless version of the iPhone. Thanks to Brian for the update.

Exploring the iPhone

I stopped by Fashion Valley’s Apple Store to check out the iPhone. Given that it’s been on the market for a few weeks, there’s obviously still much interest in this device that is essentially a prototype for future generations of iPods. I managed to find one that was not being molested by a customer and sampled it (oooooh….. aaaaaahhh!). The touch screen display is definitely more sensuous than the iPod‘s clickwheel (which is quite tactile) and puts Star Trek: TNG‘s idea of the touchscreen into the 21st century. Yes, touchscreens have existed in one form or another for almost twenty years, but the iPhone‘s functions in an absolutely flawless way. Almost, anyway. The screen responds well to touch, but the keyboard function, when brought up, takes some getting use to. I just can’t tap the screen with my fingernail, but must touch a “key,” “button,” or icon with the fleshy part of my fingertip. The landscape, or horizontal, presentation of the QWERTY keyboard is preferable, but still difficult to use.

The iPhone has no difficulty pulling up webpages in their full aspect ratios. Width isn’t compromised, but there is little less of the height in the Safari browser. However, scrolling down isn’t too hard. The odd thing about going down in a website is “pushing” the brower with an upward motion by your finger. The one drawback is that the links are extremely tiny, especially the text ones. There should be an iStylus for the iPhone, made in a texture that approximates the softness and firmness of a fingertip.

I took some photos on the sly to show what a website looks like in iPhone‘s Safari Browser. I have used ShindoTV and a couple of my cyberfriends’ blogs to show how they appear:

ShindoTV as seen on the iPhone
ShindoTV as displayed on iPhone‘s Safari Browser.

Ramblings of a Hopeless Khowaga as seen on iPhone
Ramblings of a Hopeless Khowaga displayed on iPhone‘s Safari Browser.

Urban Bohemian as seen on the iPhone
Urban Bohemian as displayed on iPhone‘s Safari Browser.

Given the small drawback with the keyboard, the iPhone makes a wonderful Internet access device. A laptop with WI-FI feels clunky in comparison. I played around with a few other functions, such as the calculator (the 10 key is digit friendly), iCalendar, and a few other applications. That the screen can detect its orientation and adjust the screen accordingly is one of its amazing features. While Zune introduced the basic idea late last year, iPhone makes Zune look like a neolithic knife in comparison. The iPhone adjusts without prompting, while Zune’s screen position must be changed manually. I have written some things about Zune in the past, and my opinion is reinforced by this experience.

Sometime last year, iTunes introduces a more visual element to browsing the library by going through the Albums’ artworks by scrolling from side to side. This new feature is perfected in the iPhone, and there’s a more visual menu where one can choose music, video or podcasts with the tap of a finger. The icon menu is much more appealing than the click and view text interface of standard iPods. The sound is excellent (but the demo iPhones used Bose headsets).

The iPhone has a camera. Cameras are almost a standard feature mobile phones these days, but the iPhone‘s shutter could also be a logical outcome of the cameras that are now embedded in the iMacs and MacBooks. Like most phones, the iPhone‘s camera has low fidelity, but still can take some decent photos. If you want to take a picture of yourself (as many people are doing), that can be difficult as the “button” is a two dimensional icon on the glass sceen. It’s best to have someone take the picture for you. I managed to get this photo taken.

I e-mailed the picture to myself from the iPhone, thus being able to show you my mug. The only thing I didn’t do in my brief exporation of this brave new device was make a phone call.

Computing grade: 7 out of 10.
Telephone grade: no empirical data available to evaluate mobile phone function.