Psyched…

Back in the day, I was fortunate to run with a crew of four other guys who I had the pleasure of considering my personal band of brothers. We were together for thick and thin and for everything in between. Time, being the bitch that she is, does what she does and as the years ground on to the better part of a decade, we didn’t do as good a job at keeping up with each other as we probably should have. Sure, we passed the occasional email and the even more rare phone call, but other interests and commitments intervened and “the Guys” became something we could only speak of in the past tense.

Happily, I’ve been able to confirm today that three of the Guys will be getting together here in Memphis this August for the first time in probably five years. In fact, this is probably the largest reunion of the group that we’re likely to ever see, due to circumstances largely beyond the control of any one individual. It’s all the more special because it’s we three kids from the crick who really formed the original core of the group.

I’ve forgotten who said it originally, but I’m reminded of I heard as a freshman at Frostburg that said something to the effect of “Any time three guys get together, they’re joined by a fourth guy… and that guys name is ‘stupid.’” I’d say everyone can rest assured that sometime during this trip, “Stupid” will make an appearance.

So, there it is. The first weekend in August, I’ll have two of my oldest and dearest friends in town. Toss in the Counting Crows (who were my soundtrack for most of the mid-90s) concert that they’ve graciously agreed to attend while they’re in town and Jeff is one very, very happy guy. Is it still OK to say psyched? Yeah, psyched totally covers it.

Dear AT&T Mobility…

Dear AT&T Mobility,

Your 3G network blows enormous hairy monkey balls. If you would like to contest this statement, please advise why 6 calls made over a span of 10 minutes this evening dropped and why it took several attempts at each call before being able to reach the party to whom the call was being placed.

I do understand that it’s the nature of cellular communications to be interrupted from time to time, but a drop each and every time I have made a call lasting longer than five minutes over the past week and a half seems a touch excessive.

When I signed our contract, I was under the impression that in exchange for my monthly payment, I would be provided with service that included actually making telephone calls. If I missed part of the contract that covers that or if I need to sign some additional paperwork to use my delicious new iPhone as, you know, an actual phone, please let me know at your earliest possible convenience.

Very truly yours,

Jeff

Fast forward…

The week that I expected to drag by has been basically stuck in fast forward for three days with no sign of letting up as it moves into the stretch. The daily annoyances are getting under my skin far more than usual and I’m finding it nearly impossible to hold back on the snarky comments… Not that it’s ever been one of my strong points.

It’s probably a bit past time for a quick reset. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be spending the upcoming weekend with good company… And with probably more than a few strong drinks. I’m going to do my level best to take three solid days, tune out the office, and try to get my brain in the moment instead of thinking about milestone charts and project plans. Wish me luck.

Upgrade update…

I was unimaginably relieved to find that when I got to the Apple Store at 6:15 this morning, there were already about 40 people in line… and that fortunately they were in the “walk up” line rather than the line for those who had pre-ordered their tasty new iPhone 3G S. Why someone wouldn’t have just gone online and done the pre-order thing is another question altogether. The sales and activation process worked flawlessly (after the two previous iPhone launch efforts approached the status of epic failures).

I won’t try to do a comprehensive review at this point, but suffice to say that if you are on the fence, go ahead and do the deal. It’s much, much snappier than my year old 3G and even with the added speed, it has seemed to be a touch easier on the battery in what I would describe as heavy use. I’ve already covered some of the basic updates like copy and paste (finally) as well as some of the features that are still lacking, such as support for MMS (boo AT&T) so I won’t cover that ground again this afternoon.

What I’m really looking forward to is the new apps that I’m sure are being developed to take advantage of the new capabilities… seriously upgraded graphics, real-time turn by turn navigation, and a metric crapload of storage. Toss in video capture and voice control that I’m just now getting around to testing out and I’m predicting a winner for Apple. There are a lot of commentators out there saying that it’s an evolutionary phone rather than a revolutionary one. I’m OK with that if only because they got so much right in this model.

It’s a beautiful (if insanely hot) day, I’ve got a fantastic new toy, and I’ll be enjoying a tasty beverage at the Flying Saucer in just a few hours… It has been a good, good day all the way around.

Version 3.0…

I’ve had a few hours tonight to digest the latest iPhone OS upgrade from the fine people at Apple and have to say that it’s almost turned my year old iPhone into a new machine. It’s much more responsive to input and seems to be loading apps slightly faster. Like almost every other smartphone on the market it now supports copy/cut and paste and voice recognition (hello 2003). There’s also a snazzy little search function that seems to be very well integrated with all aspects of the device.

The overall feel is still the same. Same basic inputs, gestures, etc, but for those not ready to pony up the extra $200 plus for a mid-contract upgrade, 3.0 might very well be the thing to tide you over until your next upgrade.

Of course no review of the iPhone is complete without the obligatory bashing of AT&T, so here it goes… AT&T sucks. They have screwed the pooch on upgrading their G3 network capacity and as a result punked out on teathering and friggin picture messaging for iPhone until “later this summer.” it’s 2009… In the name of all that is good and holy, spend a few dollars from your overpriced data plans and hook yourselves up with a little extra bandwidth so I can send a friggin picture in a friggin text message.

With that said, if you haven’t upgraded to 3.0, go, go do it now. Tonight. For the slightly more obsessed among us, I’ll see y’all in line on Friday morning.

Reserve price met…

Let me start by saying that the original device specs aren’t any better now than they were a few days ago when I first read them… but after having three days to do the research and to come to the realization that the inner techie in me wasn’t going to be satisfied until I once again had the latest and greatest model hanging on my belt, I’ve bitten the bullet and pre-ordered the new iPhone 3G S. In theory that should mean that I can walk into the store at 8:00 next Friday morning and come home with a shiny new bauble sure to quench my thirst for new toys for a few months. With a marginal discount for being a touch less than a year into my contract with AT&T, the total will be somewhere north of $399.99 once taxes are added on, but really, can you put a price on having that childhood Christmas morning feeling and knowing that you’re going to get exactly what you want… except MMS and tethering, of course.

Right here, right now…

It’s not being heavily covered here in the States yet, but there’s something unusual going on in Iran this week… In the closing days of it’s presidential election, their crazy-assed dictator is actually running neck and neck with the opposition candidate. And that’s something that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago.

Half of the voters in Iran are under thirty and they, along with many academics and the rising middle class, have taken to the streets in protest against what they see as the corrupt and fanatical tyranny of their leader. I’m trying hard to put the grainy film of similar demonstrations 30 years ago out of my mind and remember that the world has changed alot since 1979.

I’m no optimist, but maybe, just maybe these young reformers will have enough juice to pull their country back from the brink. While this isn’t exactly the spirit of ’76, we could be seeing the birth pangs of a real democracy movement in one of the most dangerous parts of the world… Or, if it’s not nurtured, we could watch the movement die before it draws it’s first full breath.

I believe democracy in one form or another is the destiny of all people. It’s marked the long upward struggle through tyrants and kings of the civilized world. It was wrenched by petty dictators, holocausts, and long centuries of bloody wars, both civil and otherwise… And it’s not an inevitable destiny.

Hopefully, I turn my eyes to those brave men and women of Iran who are even now risking all simply by telling their government “this far and no further.” The tide of history is with you as are the greatest hopes of those in our great country who would call you friends.