Two Months with an iPhone

I'm a little over two months into owning and using my iPhone and it is past time to share my experiences so far. I made a complete transition from using a BlackBerry 8800 with a dedicated exchange server to an iPhone with local iCal and Gmail. I've certainly had better results than Scott Hanselman so far, though key for me was a complete migration to the Apple way of computing.

Before picking up the iPhone I was still living in the Google apps world for calendar and mail. This is partly because it made the transition from Windows easier, and partly because my GTD system was wrapped up in GMail. While iCal can consume Google calendars just fine, it is one-way read-only access and it grew very frustrating not being able to add calendar entries directly into the iPhone. Here's how I have the iPhone setup right now:

  • I'm using Mail.app on the Mac almost exclusively. Gmail is still my mail host and I'm living with the POP3 integration just fine. Sure, the email search capabilities from the iPhone are pathetic, but Gmail mobile is just a click away and I can search easily within Safari.
  • I'm using iCal as my primary calendar with Spanning Sync to synchronize with Google Calendar. To be honest, I'm not sure why I'm even synching with Google Calendar right now other than to have the warm fuzzy of an online backup of my calendar. I suppose it will be helpful when I care about publishing free/busy info to people.
  • About 2 weeks ago I switched to the OmniFocus alpha for my GTD system. I'm a huge fan of GTDInbox but over time I've been craving a system that is decoupled from email so that I can work my actions list without having email running (important for getting in the zone). I also grew concerned about long-term support for GTDInbox. OmniFocus includes a nifty web server that runs from your desktop, exposing a web interface to your GTD system that is tailored for the iPhone. It is very slick and a nice touch and it saves me from printing out action lists.

Overall I'm thrilled with the iPhone and think it was a good choice (the $100 rebate was nice too). It has enough storage space to have become my primary iPod - I gave my 40GB video iPod to Jacob and haven't missed it. It is so easy to rotate albums that I take with me that I've never felt I'm lacking space though I can only hold about 1/4 of my music collection.

The browser is much better than I had on the BlackBerry. I'm particularly impressed with the Google Reader experience - it feels like it was designed for the iPhone Safari browser.

That said, I do have a few issues with the iPhone that I hope get addressed soon:

  • I love having Google Maps on the phone, but the integration with other aspects of the phone is poor. For example, I commonly put the address of an appointment in the location field. It sure would be nice to be able to touch the location and have Google Maps automatically bring up the location. It does this for contacts, so why not do it for meetings?
  • The ring volume is too low. I miss about 75% of the calls coming in because I can't hear it ring. Even with vibrate on, if I'm at football practice I often won't notice the call coming in. I never had this issue with the BlackBerry.
  • The iPhone should have voice memo recording. I know there are options if you want to put native apps on your phone, but I'm not ready to take that step yet.
  • There needs to be a todo list capability for this device to be called a PIM. Even better will be if they open up the interface so that apps like OmniFocus can tie into it seamlessly.
  • I wish there was a way to mark all email messages as unread. This feature was always a click away on the BlackBerry and is helpful when determining if new messages have arrived.

That's a pretty minor gripe list - overall I'm thrilled. Oh, and I don't hate AT&T like many folks do and don't really care (now) about having a choice of carriers. Coverage is fine in Oregon and the rates are reasonable.

How Do You Know if Your DSLR Sensor/Filter Needs Cleaning

On some landscape shots I've taken recently I've noticed some significant spotting on the resulting images. I've cleaned my lenses and the spotting remains, so it is most likely an issue on the camera sensor (actually the filter in front of the sensor). I followed Bob Atkins' advice and took some shots that would neutralize any lens effects and repeated with a separate lens. The results are clear - I need to do some cleaning.

30mm Lens Before Clean-1.jpg [

Zoom Lens Before Clean-1.jpg