iPhone night in NYC

It’s the night a million Mac fans have been waiting for – the launch of the iPhone.

I’ve been pondering whether I would get one ever since it was initially shown off at Macworld.

I finished work today after 6pm (the launch time) and walked up Broadway past an AT&T. I bumped into a couple of colleagues who had been lining up but had given up after the store had run out of 8GB models (apparently they only had 20 in stock.) They wanted to get one, and I wanted to see the line outside the Apple Store in Soho (which is only a 5 min walk from my apartment) so we walked up there instead.

We got there around 7pm and the line was around the corner, but only about 10 minutes in time. Once inside, the Steve-Jobs-clones were organised perfectly. There were 2 demo desks setup downstairs and a fast moving line to actually buy them upstairs. My colleagues went straight for the purchase option and were done lining up and buying in less than 5 minutes.

Still reticent I decided to spend some time trying it out. The good things about it:

  • It’s a great design. Pretty small, feels very solid, easy to hold, very lightweight.
  • The touch-based user interface works well, especially considering this is a first-of-a-kind device.
  • The screen is great. Bright, clear, huge for a phone.
  • It’s just wonderful to use – it really does put every other phone out there to shame

The not so good:

  • EDGE really is pretty slow. I tried using Maps – it works ok but not great. To really push it I tried Flickr which of course was dog slow. I loaded up the front page of Meebo (which would allow using an instant messenger, an app which the iPhone doesn’t have natively) but didn’t want to log in on a shared device so I don’t know how it works.
  • Some weird text functionality is lacking. Selecting chunks of text, no cut/paste.

Then the other things I didn’t like which I already knew:

  • No push email – if you regularly check for updates this could kill your battery life.
  • only 8GB – not enough to be an iPod replacement for me
  • $600 for the handset and no rebate on the $60/month plan, and only 200 texts/month? I can afford this, but that’s damned pricey, especially since I’m going to want to replace my (now dead) 20GB 2nd gen iPod soon.

So in the end, despite the peer pressure, the hype, the Steve-Jobs-reality-distortion-field I didn’t buy one.

But there’s always tomorrow. Or maybe I should see what the 5th avenue Apple store is like at 4 am…

I'll be at Agile 2007, speaking on Continuous Integration

My conference attendance this year will be a short trip south to Washington DC, to Agile 2007. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a big agile / XP conference and I hear they’ve grown a bit so I’m interested to see how the community has changed. Indeed, Agile 2007 is already sold out with 2 months to go before it actually takes place.

I’ll be speaking on the Wednesday, giving a beginners’ track session – Introduction to Continuous Integration. It’s a subject I’ve been speaking on for years now, but it’s always enjoyable to be able to share this kind of stuff with people new to the area.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

Pigs, pokes and Parallels

There’s an old saying – Never buy a pig in a poke – which roughly means “don’t pay for something unless you’ve seen it”. It was one that came to mind as I forked out for the Parallels pre-release upgrade a week or so ago.

Parallels is a virtual machine environment for the Mac, allowing you to run Windows applications even when OS X is running as your primary Operating System. Parallels 3 has just been released, but upto a week or so ago you could pay for an upgrade (before getting the actual software) with a discount. This is a classic case of pig/poke alarm, but I thought Parallels had built such good marketting momentum over the last year or so that they would do anything to hurt that.

I paid for Parallels less than a year ago, and so I was already a bit miffed about forking out my hard-earned bucks for an upgrade so soon. However, it had one feature I was particularly interested in, that of 3D video support. I don’t play many games, but it would be nice to play Half Life 2 occasionally wihout having to boot into Windows using Boot Camp.

I was a little surprised to hear that Parallels were willing to sell this functionality without a big test phase, but they mentioned both ‘Half Life 2’ and the phrase ‘at near native speeds’ explicitally in their advertising, so I decided to purchase sight-unseen.

Of course, it was too good to be true. HL2 doesn’t run anything close to native speed, and is pretty much unplayable, even on my beefy pimped-out iMac. The software is definitely not production-ready, and definitely not worth the cash of the upgrade. Sure enough, there was a pile of stones, and not a pig, in my bag.

Parallels had better fix this up pretty soon or all of their good marketting is going to drain away in the direction of VMWare. May the Mac virtualisation games commence!