Saturday, June 30, 2007

Part II: Apple vs. AT&T - The Activation

We all love cell phone activations, right?

It seems like in the past I've spent more time than I care to in the store when I purchase a phone.

With iPhone in hand, I went home to complete the activation. I had already downloaded iTunes 7.3 in the morning, so I was ready to go.

Unwrapping new Apple products is always a pleasure. They focus on the design, the packaging and how it feels. And I've always noticed that for 1st generations they put much more effort into it. (If you ever bought a first gen iPod, you'll know what I mean).

I plug the phone into the dock, connect to my computer and I'm off and running in iTunes. 5-6 pages later I arrive at the "Complete Your Activation" screen. I'm told it may take up to 3 minutes.

I wait, and wait. And then receive a messages that says "You will receive an email confirmation once your activation is complete." WTF?

Now I have to wait for email confirmation. This can't be Apple. So, I call the 800 number on the screen.

I still don't know if it was an Apple rep or AT&T rep, but the phone rings twice and is picked up - no waiting. Clearly those extra 2000 staffers made a difference. And amazingly the woman was very pleasant and easy to understand. I suspect that the rep was from AT&T, but it was a specially staffed iPhone 800 number. It was just too good for a regular carrier.

Apparently, AT&T is backlogged in new activation requests and it may take 24 hours to receive an email. Keep in mind, that NO iTunes syncing can occur until after your phone has been activated. So, basically I can't even use the phone.

Many compulsive email refreshes later, I receive the email, and my phone starts syncing. I had already setup preferences to sync contacts, calendar, personal email account, songs, photos, and a couple tv shows.

In summary, the activation experience (aside from the waiting) was awesome. I did it all in the course of 5 minutes from my computer.

Word on the internet, is that if you were porting a number from another carrier, the WAIT is much longer.

So, it appears that Apple's design experience and server available were top-notch. AT&T needs to figure out how to activate phones quicker.

Apple vs. AT&T

So, did I get an iPhone yesterday? Read and see.

The Logic
I decided to wait in line at the local AT&T rather than the Apple Store. My reasoning was that the lines were a lot longer at the Apple Store. 300 in my neighborhood vs. 100 at AT&T. And Apple was allowing two phone purchases per person while AT&T was allowing only one.

The AT&T Experience
I had a late work meeting, so I didn't get to AT&T until around 5pm. At that point, I was about 95th in line. The mood of the crowd was reasonably happy, no one here had been waiting for days.

Fast forward to 6pm and the doors open. The line moves up a bit as people crowd forward, but from then on moves VERY slowly. We finally get to a window where we can see inside the store and they have 10-12 stations, but the computers are moving VERY slowly, and it seems to take 10-15 minutes just to get one person done. Apparently, they're doing FULL credit checks.

They won't say much about inventory, but say we should get a phone though it may not be 8GB. This continues for around an hour and a half. Then at around 7:30pm, they say that there's a very low chance we'll get the 8s based on where we're at in line. I waiver, and decide to wait a bit more time. At 7:50pm (with 40 people still ahead of me), they say they're out of 8s and MAY not have any 4s available by the time it reaches me.

To hell with that. I resign myself to trying tomorrow, but decide on a lark to walk down to the Apple Store on the Promenade.

The Apple Experience
I get to the Apple Store at around 8pm. The line has about 150 people. But, it would seem to be moving fairly quickly. There are 10x as many police and the mood is much more festive.

Rumor passes through the line, that there's still plenty of iPhones, both 4s and 8s. But, the Apple employees while nice, won't confirm.

Meanwhile, there's free Starbucks coffee samples AND they start passing out water bottles to people in line.

Every 10-15 min. they're letting in groups of 30 people at a time. They're cruising through.

Around 9pm, about 15 Apple employees clap and cheer as I walk through the doors. I'm siked to hear that they still have the 8s in stock. Going through the in-store line, Apple employees are letting us play with iPhones while we wait to get to a register.

I'm up, I want an 8, and they're done in 3 min. I HAVE the iPhone!

The Moral
When faced with a choice to wait in line at an AT&T or Apple Store. Choose the Apple Store if you want free water.

Friday, June 29, 2007

iTunes 7.3

New iTunes update came out today to support iPhone activations. Probably tweaked some other things as well, but the first one I noticed was a bit weird.

Alphabetical sorting now puts artists and albums with numbers after the alphabet rather than before it, so the 22-20s are now near the end of my library, while a-ha has risen to the top.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


While trying to recall the old Chatsworth address for the Gmaps entry, I stumbed onto this blog post:

when i was staying in hollywood, i took a job at a company called

Gotta love the photo of the pen.

Anyone remember this guy?

New GMaps Feature is the Holy Grail!

Neil sent me a text about this tonight, and I actually left a restaurant early to come home and play with it. (True that double true.)

Hmm, I'd rather take the 405...

Wait, what am I thinking. Surface streets make more sense...

Un-flipping believable!

Play with it here

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

iPhone Video 2: Activation and Sync

Another iPhone video is up, this one about how to activate and sync.

My thoughts/predictions:

-They seem to have done a great job in allowing you to activate at home yourself via iTunes, as this tends to be a long, tedious, and confusing process that was made extremely simple.

-Based on this in home activation, rumors of no removable battery, and no obvious battery door in the other demo, we may have our answer on the "will it work on other carriers" question. My guess is that the way they "locked" the iPhone was quite literal: they locked the SIM in the phone, making it non-removable. (Or at least not easily removable.)

-Synching is iPod simple, with nice touches of being able to auto-sync a Yahoo address book and have POP mail settings synched to the phone as well if the accounts are already on your computer.

-We also have the billing plan answer from the video: $59.99 for 450 minutes, $79.99 for 900 minutes, or $99.99 for 1,350 minutes. All plans include unlimited data, visual voicemail, 200 SMS messages, and the usual AT&T rollover and mobile to mobile minutes. (A little steep, but with my limited talking I could probably get away with the low plan and paying extra for an upgrade on SMS.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

iPhone Video: Check out the UI

Neil tipped me off to the video that Apple has on their home page. It's a 25 min. tutorial of how the iPhone works.

The demo shows a lot of the contextual power of the UI. You have the right buttons that you need when you're performing certain actions. This seems like to be the biggest problems with most software.

Things I liked from the demo:

- easily adding a caller (conference) to a call - this seems like one of the things that regular phone systems never make easy

- different functionality is accessed depending on the orientation of the phone (vertical or horizontal)

- pinch zooming in and out

- they only mention Google and Yahoo as search options. Poor Microsoft.

- my Treo has SMS message threading. But the iPhone UI shows both parties in a bubble talk format

- the biggest problem with the demo, is the unbelievable speed that the internet is accessed. I'm sure it'll be much slower in reality

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The 38th Parody

They say it's the sincerest form of flattery for a reason. It actually is pretty funny. My favorite is the ad at the top of the fake one. "Your mom is looking for a good developer." LOL

37 Signals
SvN: Sketching with a Sharpie
Ballpoints and fine tips just don’t fill the page like a Sharpie does. Fine tips invite you to draw while Sharpies invite you to just to get your concepts out into big bold shapes and lines. When you sketch with a thin tip you tend to draw at a higher resolution and worry a bit too much about making things look good. Sharpies encourage you to ignore details early on.

The 38th Signal
Wireframing with the blood of your enemies
Ballpoints and fine tips just don’t convey the same sense of malice and dominance as blood. Fine tips invite you to draw while blood invites you to visualize your concept obliterating the competition. When you sketch with a thin tip you tend to spend too much time worrying about making it look good. Using blood encourages you to ignore extraneous details and focus on what matters: the annihilation of your rivals and the subjugation of their people. You can almost hear the women weeping.

UPDATE: Fixed the 38th link above to be a permalink to the referenced article, now that they've started adding parody posts to match some other SvN content. Full site here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Sippy Cup Incident

TSA video counts 'sippy cup' allegation

Woman stopped by airport security for having water in her son's sippy cup. TSA says she can't take it and has to get rid of the water and go through security again. In her anger she walks out of security through the exit, intentionally dumps out the water onto the floor, and tries to go back into security through the exit. A larger incident follows, and in the process she misses her flight. After the fact she claims she spilled the water by accident and was sorely mistreated in an abuse of power.

Rather than just take the heat, the TSA posts the security video on their website, calling her bluff and proving she spilled the water in an intentional episode of immature rage. (As you can probably guess, I love that the TSA posted the video.)

Moral of the story:
Even if you are put off by an arguably overzealous and unnecessary piece of red tape policy, lying will only make it worse.

And big brother is always watching...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Random Site: Forum Search Engine

I randomly came across this site.

From their About section:

"Omgili is a specialized search engine that focuses on "many to many" user generated content platforms, such as, forums, Discussion groups, answer boards and others."

I'm sure there are better examples of sites like this, but I was drawn in by the design more than anything. I don't like the color scheme.

Do a search for "dating" and notice Buzz Meter that shows up on the right side.

I'd love to see Google incorporate historical popularity of search terms next to results, or have it as an option on the Personalized home page. Google already seems a little more cluttered with the new interface.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Browser Wars Revisited?

Does Safari for Windows mean the old browser wars are heating up again?

It's a head scratching move to a degree from a pure web browser standpoint, though it does make sense as an iPhone WebApp development environment, or if the iPhone eventually synchs Safari bookmarks over the air.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Origins of Deja Vu

Vague, but interesting.

Origin of Deja Vu Pinpointed
The brain cranks out memories near its center, in a looped wishbone of tissue called the hippocampus. But a new study suggests only a small chunk of it, called the dentate gyrus, is responsible for “episodic” memories—information that allows us to tell similar places and situations apart.

The finding helps explain where déjà vu originates in the brain, and why it happens more frequently with increasing age.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


This is pretty neat. I can't hear it, but Arlo can.

A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears
"When I heard about it I didn't believe it at first," said Donna Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in Manhattan. "But one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She played it for her first graders. All of them could hear it, and neither she nor I could."

The technology, which relies on the fact that most adults gradually lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, was developed in Britain but has only recently spread to America — by Internet, of course.

The cellphone ring tone that she heard was the offshoot of an invention called the Mosquito, developed last year by a Welsh security company to annoy teenagers and gratify adults, not the other way around.

It was marketed as an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected.

MP3 here.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Become Famous on Google Streets

So, by now you've already heard of Google Street View that was officially announced at the Where 2.0 conference:

Google Maps Street View and Mapplets

However, what I didn't think about was the potential for Google's cameras to find people and things in weird situations. Here's an article on 10 weird sitings:

10 Bizarre Sights in Google Street View

I like the Borat one.

Now, if I can just find out when the Google van is going to visit my neighborhood.