Scripting News for 7/2/2007

Attn TwitterGram Devs 

A new entrypoint in the API.

http://docs.twittergram.com/#isPhoneRegistered

There will be an end-user announcement here tomorrow.

Exciting times! :-)

On the Libby Clemency 

NY Times: “Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.”

Miguel de Icaza: “No criminal left behind.”

Why I love the iPhone 

I do actually love this product.

And I’m grateful for it too.

Basically I like all Apple products. To me, it’s a way to buy a BMW every month, without having to pay $60,000.

Have you ever driven a mid-to-high-end BMW? I have, recently, I test drove a 535i. The car feels as if it has a grip on the road, it’s got a confidence, it’s upright, and fast, and it maneuvers, but most important, it feels good to sit in one, and it feels even better to move one. Feels, feels, feels. We buy these things for the feeling. Same with Apple’s products.

My MacBook Pro has the BMW feeling, with its Titanium everything, it’s just got that solid, upright feel to it. But it’s big. The iPhone has that feeling, in something small, that fits in your hand.

You don’t want to give it to someone, you want to just hold it. I know it sounds silly and dorky, geez it’s just a phone, after all, but it’s not. It’s a totem. A symbol. A charm. A fortune cookie. It’s personal. It’s mine.

Yes I know I sound like Gollum. :-)

That explains the “love” part of the relationship. But what about the gratitude?

Well, we’ve needed to have a serious conversation about mobile devices for a very long time. I realized this when Scoble was starting to nudge people about how their sites looked on his cell phone. Then I got a Blackberry, and started playing, and all of a sudden I wanted to have serious conversations about where this stuff is going. Plenty of people showed up, with tons of knowledge and experience, but the conversation drifted to the background. Now it’s back in the fore, and I don’t think it can drift to the back, not after so many people waited in line, and they sold 500,000 in the first weekend, and they’ve got a software updating mechanism that as far as I know no cellphone manufacturer has ever had. There’s going to be an update for the iPhone in July, and one in August, and in September, and on and on. Eventually you’ll have to buy a new one, probably long before the battery wears out. That’s how Apple works of course. :-)

So while I list my wishes, and complain about their chutzpah, that’s just to make sure these things get on the record, maybe finally Apple will have some competition, someday I’d like to buy a Mercedes or a Lexus, nothing wrong with that, right? You learn from your competition, and Apple hasn’t had that benefit. I hope they do, so we can spread the love and gratitude.

iPhone wishes 

I’m still finding things I wish they did, not little things, but big ones, incongruities, things about the iPhone and its positioning that don’t match the feature set.

Probably the biggest area the product is lacking is in browser prefs. i’ve been using the web for almost 14 years. We’ve seen a lot of ideas come and go in prefs for web browsers, but it has settled down to a predictable set. Apple says this is a real web browser, as opposed to the more limited browsers that come with other cell phones. If so, where are the most rudimentary of preferences?

The one I miss the most from my Blackberry is the option to set the start page. I created a list of sites that I like to check when I’m on the BART or waiting in line at the supermarket. Without the ability to set the start page, I have to rely on memory, and I have to type the first few characters of the URL.

The ability to set the default font and size is a very standard and time-tested browser pref. I always set this in a new browser, I never accept the default. And never have I seen a browser that needs this pref more than the iPhone does.

Wouldn’t it be great if it had a fractional horsepower HTTP server built in, so when you’re near a laptop or a desktop, you could configure the iPhone from a full-size screen and a computer that has a clipboard (another thing I suspect I’m really going to miss on the iPhone).

Things I have figured out 

Okay, I made my peace with synchronizing to get music on the iPod, but it doesn’t do me any good because the ear buds hurt my ears, after just ten minutes of use, and that’s hardware I can’t replace, so I’m afraid the iPhone loses on that one. However it is nice that the speaker is loud enough so that you can hear the player even without the ear buds, and it’s nice that the buds have a mike too, but of course that’s useless to me because of the physical pain.

Basically I want to use a pair of cheap Sony headphones to listen to podcasts on my daily walk, and you can’t do it with the iPhone and sorry I don’t care what the excuse is, that’s just wrong.

An aside, I wasn’t able to figure out how to get an episode of The Wire onto the device so I could watch it. I just wanted to see what watching a TV show would be like, and I’m opposed to using their store to buy shows I’ve already paid HBO for (twice, not only have I had a subscription for the last 30 years, but I also bought the DVDs from Amazon). Try as hard as I can, I couldn’t get iTunes to upload the video to the iPhone.

PS: Thanks to Matthew, I got it working.

I figured out how to email a picture taken by the camera, thanks to a tip from Robert Scoble. And Flickr has a special email address for every user that makes it easy to connect the camera to Flickr, so here’s a picture I snapped of myself with the iPhone, uploaded seconds after taking it. Nice!

Briar Dudley on the iPhone 

Every one of his ten points is right on the money.

17 responses to this post.

  1. Your analogy to the 535i is well placed. The “new” 535i brings back a classic bmw model, a pristine version (5 speed) of which I drive. Fun to drive, but as the TTAC guys mention, not so fun in stop/start traffic.

    A drive from Tahoe south, on 395 would be about right (link):
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=&saddr=South+Lake+Tahoe,+CA&daddr=Ridgecrest,+ca&sll=37.13884,-120.246685&sspn=5.997416,7.042236&ie=UTF8&ll=37.300275,-118.839111&spn=5.984929,7.042236&z=7&om=1V

    Reply

  2. You really don’t want to let anybody else hold it.

    After waiting in line, and rushing home to activate it (I’m so glad I missed the activation mess), I went with a bunch of friends to a restaurant. Being that I’ve only had the thing for a little over an hour, of course I pull out the iPhone and start exploring.

    Within two minutes, most of the restaurant staff was at the table and arrayed behind me, spitting out questions: “What is it?” “How much did it cost?” “Where did you get it?” “How many GB is it?” (he was saying “Gee Bee”)

    I tried to answer all fo the questions.

    Suddenly, one of them reaches over my shoulder, grabs the top of the iPhone, and starts pulling while exclaiming “Let me see!”

    Oh man, I didn’t like that at all. I just tightened my grip on the device, and explained that I’d had it for very little time, and let the “and you’re not going to grab it from me” remain unsaid.

    I’m still hesitant to use it in public.

    Reply

  3. Would love to have you be part of iPhone the Book.
    I dropped you an email with more information.

    Reply

  4. “they’ve got a software updating mechanism that as far as I know no cellphone manufacturer has ever had.”

    The Danger Sidekick / Hiptop smartphone has an auto-updating of the OS, works great. I believe its all Java-based. I had a Sidekick 2 as a non-phone web terminal / email browser and it was really a great device.

    I’m betting Apple has more than a few Sidekicks somewhere in their labs.

    I still wish somebody would do one of these as a wi-fi only, no contract required device.

    Reply

  5. Dave, you can take your DVDs and use Handbrake (http://handbrake.m0k.org/) to rip them to iPod format. Mark Pilgrim has a great guide over here: http://howto.diveintomark.org/ipod-dvd-ripping-guide/

    Reply

  6. Not quite a fractional http server, but you might want to check out Firebug for iPhone, which seems to have interesting potential:

    http://www.joehewitt.com/blog/firebug_for_iph.php

    “Basically, it is a little Python web server which acts as a bridge between your iPhone and the Firebug console running in the browser on your computer. When you call console.log() on the phone it sends your log message to the server, which reflects it back to Firefox (or Safari or whatever), which displays it in your nice big Firebug console.”

    Reply

  7. Posted by matthew on July 2, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    start an iphone synch, click to video tab, and click synch movies

    Reply

  8. David Stone, that’s what I did.

    In fact the latest version of Handbrake has it as a menu choice so you don’t need the Howto anymore (but I had used it successfully in the past with my iPod).

    Reply

  9. Posted by Paul on July 2, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Dave, I left this pointer about the headphones on yesterday’s page on accident….

    On the headphones, apparently (according to Apple and others, maybe it was also Pogue or Mossberg who said this) the headphone jack will work with any standard headphones. Some work right off the bat, but some will require a little adapter that you can get at an ATT shop, I think an Apple store, and probably Radio Shack. (My favourite non-Apple headphones work fine, but they are a little loose fitting). I’ll check the web…wait I think it was on Pogue’s Q&A page…

    Reply

  10. Posted by Paul on July 2, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Dave, Like I thought, from Pogue’s (informed?) iPhone Q&A:

    Can you use your own headphones?
    Fortunately, the iPhone has a standard miniplug headphone jack; unfortunately, its plastic molding prevents most headphone plugs from seating properlyy. Inexpensive adapters are available from Belkin and others.

    http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/06/28/often-asked-iphone-questions/

    Reply

  11. You might have to play with the aspect ratio. The iPhone isn’t 1.78:1 (more commonly known as 16:9 widescreen), rather it’s 1.5:1. You might have to re-encode the videos.

    Alternatively, if they’re in iTunes, you might have an option when you right-click (or whatever the Mac equivalent is) on the video to Convert for iPhone (I have two options to convert for iPod and Apple TV). That’ll take a while though.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Stephen Bove on July 2, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Steve Jurvetson’s blog reports that Eric Schmidt dropped and broke iPhone #6…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/544791833/

    How fragile are these things??? My ‘berry has survived several high impact falls (out of shirt pocket while running across street at full tilt)…

    Reply

  13. Posted by Jake on July 2, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I have little confidence that other phone manufacturers will “get it” and copy the iPhone features properly.

    Looking at the history of the Powerbook and the iPod, the designers of the competitive products seem to misjudge what to include and what to exclude. They work from the mentality of more is more and not realize that sometimes less is better.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Paul on July 2, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Steve Bove: That fall of Schmidt’s iPhone #6 may have lead to its current apparent indestructiveness. PC World ran a host of test trying to scratch and basically destroy the thing without much success. It’s not very pretty what this guy does to his iPhone (and let us know how your ‘berry does also please), but I suppose it’s all in the name of good journalism:

    http://www.pcworld.com/video/id,545-page,1-bid,0/video.html

    Reply

  15. I think the lack of a “home page”, however disconcerting, has to do with the inability to “launch” the browser – rather one is always resuming the last session so if one is browsing and gets a call and then goes back to the browser it doesn’t take you to ‘home’ but to where you left off. It still seems wrong not to set the home page.

    What I’ve done instead is put my page of links, the things I pull up all the time (while waiting for the imaginary BART in Vegas) is to put the first bookmark as my links page so it is easy to find.

    Reply

  16. No home page? Good. Means that when I go back to Safari, it’s at the same place I left it. I, too, am bad at remembering site names. That’s what bookmarks are for. That “+” to the let of the URL box? Add a bookmark. The bookmark icon at the bottom of the screen? Select or edit bookmarks.

    Reply

  17. “[apple has] got a software updating mechanism that as far as I know no cellphone manufacturer has ever had”

    Nokia has over-the-air software updating mechanism in most of its recent N and E Series handsets, see here.

    Reply

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