New Crush

We men are disgustingly fickle. It’s hard to believe it has only been two years since I raved about the sleek, petite, figure of my latest infatuation. And now my attention has been stolen by one slightly less petite, but with unbelievable elegance and far more intelligence. I suppose even the most shallow man can only be captivated by empty beauty for so long before boredom sets in. Yes, it’s true. I have abandoned my once-beloved Razr for a hot new iPhone.

Although this may seem like mindlessly deserting one fling for the next, there was actually some rational thought in this, as I forced myself to avoid my usual rash impulsive behavior. Before setting foot in an AT&T store (no Apple stores in this wilderness), I promised myself I would not pay the advertised standard monthly rate. There was a dubious announcement that existing customers with a “qualified voice plan” could simply add the data plan surcharge to their current plan. But there was no explanation of which voice plans were “qualified” and they refused to publicly acknowledge that my $15/month plan even existed.

So I walked into the store prepared to walk out if they tried to sell me into a more expensive plan. And I was greeted by a young punk who looked at my account and said “Jeez … what kind of plan is this? You don’t talk much, do you?” I resisted the urge to respond that I had nobody to talk to and that’s why I needed a phone that could download porn. I ignored his derision and meekly asked if the iPhone data plan could be added to that.

Instead of taking the obvious approach of asking his computer, he went into the back office to ask his boss. And he returned, still muttering about my “weirdo” plan, and said that his boss had told him to see if the system would allow it.

Then, after some conversation with his countermate about how much trouble it had been when they tried to upgrade some other “grandfather plan” that the system rejected, they decided that I needed to upgrade to a more expensive voice plan. “But you’ll get more minutes, and unlimited nights and weekends, and mobile to mobile, and roll over minutes, yada yada yada”. I said “Well obviously I haven’t needed any of that yet” and walked out.

Then, after a week of being pissed off because he didn’t even try to sell me what I wanted, I walked into another store. I was greeted by Emily, who asked “How can I help you?”, with a smile and a figure similar to the one Dora Lee used to sell me a Celica 8 years ago. (Dora Lee’s opening line, “See anything you want?” was even more entrapping).

At that point, my steel resolve could have melted. I managed to tell her I was interested in an iPhone, if I could get it with my existing plan. There’s a good chance she could have nudged me into one of the more expensive plans. But, to her credit, she didn’t even try. She just said “Let’s see … yes, you can!”

Surely it couldn’t be that easy. No grumbling about a strange plan, no need to consult anybody, just “Yes, you can”. I managed to avoid asking “Are you sure? The jerk at the other store said I couldn’t”. But just to make sure we were on the same page, I asked “That’s just the additional $30 data charge on top of what I’m paying now?” She said “Absolutely. Your voice plan doesn’t change at all”. She did note that my existing plan included no text messaging and asked if I wanted to add an extra $5/month for some number of messages. I suppose the thought of someone with an iPhone not using text messaging seemed totally bizarre. But from my perspective, it seemed silly to pay extra for text messaging when the data plan provided unlimited email, chat, etc. So don’t text me … email me or IM me.

In this case, gratification was not instant. They were still dealing with a backlog of orders, and I was promised my iPhone would arrive in “8 to 21 days”. Three days later, I received email telling me to come get it. So now I’ve joined the legions of iPhone disciples.

After two weeks, the honeymoon still isn’t over. But in the long-term, I don’t think I’m going to regret the decision.

Perusing various online forums, one can find heated religious arguments between the faithful and the unbelievers. In all fairness, there are some specific features about the iPhone that maybe some other phone does better. For example, the camera is “only” 2 megapixels when other phones have higher resolutions. But considering that a cellphone camera is most likely to be used for quick snapshots that will be emailed to somebody, 2 megapixels is plenty. I get pissed if anybody mails me a picture that big anyway. It doesn’t do video at all, while many cheaper phones do (even my Razr). All I can say about that is that I’ve never used the video feature on my Razr, so I probably won’t miss it.

So, with these acknowledged deficiencies, what does the iPhone offer, besides the Apple mystique? Well, it comes out of the box with a functional email program and web browser better than those offered by other phones, basically clones of Apple’s Mail and Safari browser. It has a Google Maps program which interfaces with the phone’s GPS to show you where you are and how to get where you’re going. It has a calendar which interfaces nicely with Apple’s desktop iCal, much better than the limited calendar on my Razr. And it has a calculator, and a notepad, and other miscellaneous goodies. And it runs a version of Apple OS X, unlike some of those other phones that run Windows Mobile. There’s no way I would walk around with a Windows system on my belt. I’d be afraid it would make me impotent.

But the real advantage is the Application Store, which has hundreds, or maybe thousands, of programs from third-party sources to do almost anything. I’ve shown some co-workers the SSH client that can be used to perform various server administration tasks from wherever. And for the security-conscious folks, there’s a built-in VPN client. Since we have ditched all our S390 systems in favor of AIX, I don’t need a 3270 client any more, so I haven’t looked for one. But it wouldn’t surprise me if one is available in the near future.

One co-worker asked me if it would play Sudoku. He thought he was joking. I showed him that there are over 30 different Sudoku programs that can be installed. Then, since he’s a performance-car nut, I showed him the G-meter programs that use the phone’s bullt-in accelerometers to measure vehicle acceleration and braking G-force. Now he’s trying to convince his wife he needs one.

If one believes the adage “Pretty is as pretty does”, I would have to say the iPhone is exquisitely beautiful. And, unlike my Razr, I can read the screen in daylight. I think I’ll keep it .. at least for a couple of years. Don’t be surprised if I find more reasons to boast about it here in the future, or start posting more pictures, which will probably be scaled down from the “insufficient” 2 megapixels.

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