Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another Annoying iPhone User is Born

I have joined the ranks of annoying iPhone users. You know, those people who can't stop playing with their phones because they're so cool and do so many things, and they're really happy about it, and the rest of world wishes they'd just shut the heck up already. I know. I know because last week I was one of you.

Here's how it went: For many years I was a Sprint customer for my cell phones. I was never thrilled with Sprint, but the service usually seemed decent enough. I was also pretty sure I only wanted a phone to be a phone, and not to be a camera and an organizer and a game unit.

But, as time went on, I became more and more annoyed by Sprint's problems. Large areas where they claim to have service where there's no signal at all, and calls that I never receive until I get the notification that somebody left me a voice mail (sometimes hours later). I also got used to the idea that having several uses to a single gadget could be a benefit. But I still wasn't convinced that I wanted to go with AT&T, the only "legal" carrier for the iPhone.

So I decided to seriously study which cell services were the best. I asked everybody I work with. I posted the question on Twitter and Facebook. I also checked articles on CNet and elsewhere for reviews of the services from the "professionals." I only found one other person who still used (and liked) Sprint. The AT&T and Verizon supporters were pretty much split, with Verizon coming out slightly ahead in the reviews.

AT&T (and I believe the others as well) will allow you to cancel an account within 30 days without penalty and return a phone for a refund, less a 10% restocking fee. I figured that fee would be worth it to take the iPhone for test drive and see if AT&T service would suffice. If it failed, I could always go to Verizon. So I picked up an iPhone a little over a week ago.

I tested the phone from the Santa Cruz pier, to my home in the mountains, to Los Gatos and Sunnyvale, and up to the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto. The only place I had no signal was in the dead center of the Ikea store (but it worked closer to the entrance). I can't say that AT&T is vastly superior to Sprint, but it's certainly no worse.

Beyond finding the service acceptable, I've been loving the device itself. I love that the calendar and address book on my Mac automatically syncs with the calendar and address book on the iPhone using the MobileMe service. I love having my email with me, wherever I am. I love the camera - far better than any other in-phone camera I've seen. And I love the apps (checking movie times while out and about, posting to Twitter whenever I like, and, yes, the games).

And so, this last Friday, I returned to the AT&T store and had them re-assign my Sprint number to the iPhone, picked up a new phone for the wife, and canceled our Sprint account. Like there was any possible way I was going to return the iPhone once I had it in my hands.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Term Limits? No, thank you.

Back in May, I wrote here of my fantasy of repealing California's Term Limits. Term limits, I wrote:
... only help [the politicians] escape the blame. If any of them had a long-term interest in keeping their seats, they'd work out a budget compromise, as they did in the days before term limits. Now, they are on to the next position before the full estimate of the damage they've done currently is in. Musical chairs may be fun to watch and keep score, but it has left the lobbyists and political consultants in charge of neophyte electeds. It has failed the people and bankrupted our state.
Yesterday, one of my YouTube buddies, Frank (aka Ockteby), made a vlog reviewing the problems of entrenched politicians; representatives who no longer represent. I agree completely on the problem, but not on the solution. Here's my response to Frank:

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