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Teaching Online Journalism

Day 1, iPhone 3G

I had to give a lecture at 9 a.m. Friday, so I couldn’t go to the AT&T store and stand in line.

At 6:15 p.m., when I figured all the homebound Friday traffic would be finished, I went to the AT&T store on the south side of town. The sales guy told me they had sold out by 10 a.m. However, he said, they were hoping to get another shipment Friday night, so he advised me to come in Saturday at 9 a.m. when they opened. No promises, he repeated more than once. Maybe the shipment wouldn’t arrive.

He was not able to tell me how many they had received, or how many they had sold.

Come on, I said, this is a college town in summer. It’s empty. It’s dead. There’s no one here. The most I could get him to say was there had been maybe 80 people in line at 8 a.m. Friday, and they all got phones.

This morning, it was raining. Not too much. I put on my rain jacket and rode the Vespa over to the AT&T store, arriving at 8:25 a.m. There were eight people in line.

The store manager came out at about 8:55 a.m. He was very nice, explained that they had all three models, told us they would let in six people because he had exactly six sales staffers working, and then we’d enter one at a time as each previous customer left the store. Very orderly. Very calm. People in the line were relaxed and chatting. The young woman in front of me was a longtime T-Mobile customer, like me. We both agreed that we were nervous about giving up T-Mobile because we’ve been very happy with their service. (The AT&T monopoly on service is my No. 1 complaint about the iPhone.)

It took about half an hour to get it all done. I left the store about 9:45 a.m. There were maybe 15 people in line outside.

The iPhone detected the free wi-fi in Atlanta Bread immediately. I drank coffee and watched YouTube videos. The speed was great.

The rain had stopped. I went home and downloaded the newest version of iTunes. Set up Mobile Me (that was poky). Downloaded a few apps (Google Mobile, Twitterific, WeatherBug, Pandora Radio). The Apps Store on iTunes is a great idea — very easy to use. Set up my e-mail, or tried to (Gmail was a cinch; my Exchange server is still AWOL). Update: See post about how I got my Exchange e-mail to work.

The only bad part of the experience is that I can’t set up an online account at AT&T because — and this is funny — instead of e-mailing your new password to you, like any normal Web registration service, they text it to you. Ha! This from the company that won’t give you any free text messages — the lowest-volume text package is an extra $5 a month in the U.S. Well, because I transferred my phone number from my old BlackBerry, I can’t get the text message — I never had text service on the BB either. So AT&T is sending SMS to my old phone, and I can’t log into their site.

Guess what the alternative is? They’ll gladly mail me my password. Mail, as in postal mail. In an envelope.

I’m rather amused by that. And I’m very happy with the iPhone 3G.

P.S. I’m trying out the New York Times and Bloomberg apps. WaPo doesn’t have one yet, and neither does the BBC. And (horrors!) there’s no Google Reader app yet!

P.P.S. I am tagging blog posts that provide lists of new iPhone apps that are recommended in my del.icio.us bookmarks. Feel free to poach!

Update (July 14): Even though my phone number is still ringing on my old BlackBerry, I did finally receive a (free) text message from AT&T on the new iPhone, yesterday. Registration successfully completed on Sunday afternoon. Called T-Mobile this morning to officially cancel service. As always, their phone support person was polite, helpful, intelligent … I know I’m gonna miss T-Mobile!

Update (July 16): This morning, all calls and voice mail were still going to my old T-Mobile phone! So I called AT&T Wireless support (611 on mobile) and got relief. It took a long time, about 45 minutes, and two people to get it done. I’m happy to report that both people who assisted me were polite and intelligent. Before we hung up, I tested both outgoing and incoming calls on the new phone, and it’s all fine. Tip: Turn off your old phone if you have ported your old number to a new phone.


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7 Comments

  1. Mindy,
    Google Reader doesn’t have an app but it does have a specific iPhone version. By going to http://www.google.com/reader/i/ on your iPhone you can see how great it is for viewing your items. It isn’t perfect but it’s better than zooming in and out all the time to navigate my feeds.

  2. Mindy says:

    Thanks, Jared — you’re right, that works very well. Also, you still get all the Safari features, like side rotation and pinch enlargement. Yay!

  3. omar c says:

    Don’t forget to check out the Al Jazeera English iphone app! – http://i.aljazeera.net

  4. Mindy says:

    Thanks, Omar. That works really well. The AP app is a bit buggy, and the video is not very good quality.

    The Al Jazeera video looks excellent on the iPhone.

  5. Mindy says:

    The Washington Post Web app (not a standalone app) for iPhone is here:

    http://twp.com/

    The same thing is also here:

    http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/

  6. Pat Thornton says:

    Mindy,

    You can also make an icon for your Google Reader app and put it on your home screen.

    All that is needed now is an offline mode for Google Reader (airplane use would be a biggie).

    But the mobile Google Reader rocks. Twitterific is the best App, however.

  7. Mindy says:

    @Pat – I’ll look up how to make that icon!

    I’m not so keen on offline RSS reading — rather save the articles themselves for offline reading. Too frustrating to see the feed and be unable to get the full article.

    Twitterific is implemented beautifully, I agree. It work really well when you tap a URL — that impresses me heaps.

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