Gone to the Dark Side, Have I

No, it’s not an iPhone. AT&T’s coverage where I live sucks. It’s an iPod touch. Why did I buy it?

1. It was time to get an eBook reader of some sort or another, and this can handle all the major formats and retailers;

2. Athena likes playing handheld games, and this I figure this is cheaper in the long run than a Nintendo DSi or Sony PSP, because the games are generally cheaper and more in line with her gaming interests;

3. While my Blackberry Storm has various apps for social networking, the fact of the matter is they pretty much generally suck in terms of UI, because the Storm is the red-headed stepchild of app development, and it shows in how apps generally perform on it. What also sucks: Storm’s Web browser. What also sucks: the Storm’s ability to allow me to access my blog’s backend. And so on.

This might not be a problem if I used my phone primarily as a phone, but in fact I use it primarily as a portable engine of social networking, and it’s finally got to the point where it isn’t really getting the job done. The iPod Touch has wifi, and I have one of those Boingo accounts (which codeshares with all the other paid wifi services) for when I’m someplace the wifi’s not free. So it’s pretty functional most places I go, and when it’s not, hey, I still have the Storm (to the Storm’s defense: Good e-mail and adequate camera. There).

4. What the Storm also sucks at: Playing music and video. Really non-intuitive and annoying, actually. For trips, I was lugging about an iPod anyway, so the iPod Touch is merely subbing out for a different piece of my geek travel load out. From a philosophical point of view, I wish the iPod Touch would accommodate my rented music from Rhapsody, but inasmuch as Rhapsody now has an app that lets me access the service via a wifi connection, this is not as huge an objection as it could be.

5. And also, you know: shiny pretty pretty gaah.

Go on, you can beat me now.

93 Comments on “Gone to the Dark Side, Have I”

  1. When I re-migrate Stateside, it should pretty much coincide with my iPhone’s account lapsing with my provider. At which point, I’ll be using it pretty much like you’re using your Touch. I may get a Palm Pré to replace it for commo functionality, or I may not. I don’t know yet. But you’re getting the best of the iPhone without having to eat the shit-sandwich that is an AT&T service plan, so … er…

    Hey, John gave me a free hit and I didn’t use it. Anyone else want it?

  2. It’s funny because when I hear people going to the dark side, computer wise, it’s usually referring switching from the Mac to Windows.

  3. If T-Mobile has good reception in your area you can get an iPhone and unlock it. Might be worth it. You can have a phone, music player and get access online. But, chances are that T-Mobile sucks in your area…

  4. I have owned for about 18 months and it is a great device. I didn’t really need a phone and data plan but the ability to watch movies, listen to music, get email, and browse the web (via wifi) are great. The only thing keeping me from upgrading to a newer model is the lack of any wireless N capable units. (Also I think my next purchase will be a refurbished iphone 3gs without a service plan).

    Stanza and Kindle for the iPhone are great. Be careful because having the ability to read ebooks in the dark doesn’t mean you should. I don’t know how many times my wife has walked in on me reading an ebook in the dark.

    Oh and it is nice to be able to read whatever.scalzi.com at the airport, work, or anywhere else offering free wi-fi.


  5. The iPod Touch is a very good machine and connects to a variety of WiFi sites much better than a lot of laptops. I’ve a first generation unit and the Safari browser handles all sorts of websites very well, but not Facebook. Of course, the third gen unit not only might do better but there’s a Facebook app you can get, much like the first gen unit has a YouTube app rather than putting the video into the browser.

    Dr. Phil

  6. The Kindle on iPod Touch is really quite good. It led me to buy a Kindle since it will all synch together and keep me on the same page.

    I wish it had a compass and the GPS.

  7. The Facebook and Tweetdeck apps rock. Bookshelf is not free but rocks. Files rocks. PandoraBox rocks for swagging Today’s Free Shit. SketchBookX is handy. LastFM is a joy. Edge is a deliciously stylish isometric puzzle platformer. FlightControl is addictive. Droidz is good for people who had Commodore 64s. The “licenced” C64 emulator isn’t. I Dig It is great if you’re a Level Upper with OCD and a twitchy thumb. Dropship is a free twin-stick gravity shooter. PaperToss is amusing. Contraption is lovely. Hot Dog down a Hallway is silly. The NASA mission tracker is compelling. The Army of Darkness Soundboard is fun. Roadkill Café is one of the best “screen thumbstick” implimentations I’ve seen. Earthworm Jim is, you know – Earthworm Jim. A super-suit did fall.

    That’s my pocket app-pack for iThingy.

  8. Good choice. You probably already have e-reader software but I’ll plug my favorite anyway: Stanza. The night mode (white text on black) is beautiful on the Touch screen, and the UI is easier than any other I’ve tried. Touch the right third of the screen to page forward, the left third to page back, or the middle to bring up the menu. You don’t need page buttons at all.

    If you decide you have to have a smart phone and want to stick with Verizon, I hear the HTC Droid Eris (not to be confused with the Motorola Droid) is good.

  9. …we have cookies?

    I’m sure as with any new piece of hardware, you’ll find many uses for it. Have fun finding them all out. Also, it makes a good flashlight in a pinch – and yes, there are flashlight apps :)

  10. I like verizon as a carrier, but I’ve had a blackberry curve for just about a year now and hate it. It’s slow. It’s bulky. The vaunted trackball isn’t particularly accurate to use. The only thing I like about it is the keyboard. My next phone, given that I’m sticking with verizon, will probably be a droid.

  11. Harry Connolly:

    If I were a status-seeking beta monkey I would have bought it two years ago! However, once the iTablet comes out, I may have cause to be monkeyfied.


    Indeed, already have one.

  12. I’m so totally buying *two* iTablets the day they are released. To be fair, one will be for the wife. And you, the collective you, can call me whatever you want for that.

    PS Welcome to the dark side.

  13. I got mine when my previous ipod gave up the ghost and I started out mostly using it as a music-playing device. Movies were a nice upgrade, and then I discovered stanza and it became a really handy e-reader. I’ve never been that pleased with the wireless capability, mine just isn’t that good at getting a signal, but it’s likely they’ve improved this over time. I’m thinking of upgrading to an actual iphone, because damn those things are useful sometimes, and I could reduce the number of electronic devices I carry around.

  14. My folks and I got my brother one. I hear it’s lovely, but I knew it would be, since I now use an iPhone.

    (The iPhone won me over because of two things: both of them painting apps, which Blackberries didn’t really have.

    (The telephony, internet are just pure necessities, and it’s cheaper than getting a land line in Alaska for such things.)

  15. I’m enormously fond of my Touch. It has music, Urban Spoon, a Scrabble game (wicked addictive), the flashlight someone mentioned, and many books and short stories.

    A friend guided me to ManyBooks.net, which has a chunk of public domain work. In addition to your Agent, it has all of the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle…and thousands of others. :-)

  16. I hugely love my Touch. My wife has an iPhone, but the storage is much less and the 3G connection can be spotty. I’m not sure why Apple didn’t put a camera on the Touch since they did so with the smaller Nano.

  17. Man purse and ironic glasses next?

    Anyway, good timing. Dragon’s Lair was released in the App Store yesterday!

  18. I use my iPod touch for precisely those purposes, and as a super-portable netbook that’s perfectly suited for browsing the web in bed or on the couch.

    What memory capacity did you spring for?

  19. Hey, I’ve got one. I use it mainly as a way of listening to NPR podcasts on the Metro (I have a set of Bluetooth headphones), so essentially everything I get is free. I also use the free version of Evernote to keep track of my passwords, meds, license keys and so on. When I’m near a WiFi hotspot, I can use it as a phone anyway; I’ve got Skype installed, and the headphones have a mike.

    Mind you, I wouldn’t have one if my Palm E hadn’t died on me.

  20. ONE OF US! ONE OF US! :D

    Hey, even I won’t get an iPhone, because I can’t @#$%ing stand AT&T wireless. I’m considering a Droid instead, but waiting to see if Apple forces a contract change and opens the iPhone up to all cell networks…

  21. Marko Kloos:

    32GB, which was the biggest they had at the Wal-Mart (Yes, I shop at Wal-Mart, people. Rural America, welcome to it). I might have considered the 64GB if it were there, but 32GB was what I had been planning to get when I went in.

  22. I love my iPod Touch. Got mine after my old Ipod had an unfortunate meeting with the sidewalk.
    I would give it up in a heartbeat for an iTablet though. Until then, music, movies, and fun. I read more email on it than at my desktop, and Simplenote is great for writing on the go. I track my exercise and food too. I use it every day.

  23. Not going to beat you. I got an iPod Touch last week. Don’t want an iPhone. I just wanted the other goodies. I have a Kindle which I love and read at home but it’s really too big to haul around.

    I’ve already loaded a bunch of stuff and barely made a dent in 64 gig. Me like.

    2,000+ songs
    700+ ebooks
    1 HD movie
    2 other movies
    1.5 hours of HD TV
    1.5 hours of non-HD TV

  24. here I was thinking it was chocolate..I mean that’s what I think of when someone mentions going to the dark side…;-D

  25. BTW: The Skype app works fine on the iPod touch as well, and the 32GB has a mike built into the earbud set. You can do VoIP calls anywhere you can find a hotspot.

  26. The mike should also have click-functions. Click the mike-bud once to pause, click twice to skip to the next playing track, or shuffle if you have that function switched on.

  27. Have you thought of an Android device? I just got me one recently and I like the fact that there are things for apple-allergic people. Even if it doesn’t run as smoothly as the iPhone, at least my Android is based on Linux! Also, it plays music and movies very well. And there are a few fun games on it. It’s just getting better all the time.

  28. My roommate has a Touch and he loves it. We have a wifi connection and he walks around the house with his headphones listening to Pandora.

  29. Isn’t the screen too small to do anything really useful? I was sorely tempted to buy the Touch (for pretty much the same reasons that you bought one), but then I learned that they’d be releasing the iTablet, which has a bigger screen… so I decided to wait for that instead.

    Also: I nearly ruined my Palm V playing games on it; if you really want a handheld game device, I recommend buying a game device, and sparing the Touch from getting bashed around.

  30. Rick:

    Screen being too small — Not so far, although it helps that I can bump up font sizes. We’ll see how it performs over time. Likewise for games I’m not too worried; I do expect it to get bashed about a bit.

  31. Jeff @# 24: As to Apple “forcing a contract change and opening the iPhone up to all cell networks,” well, no.

    The way the cell handset biz in the US works in general is: Cell carrier buys handsets (sometimes exclusively, sometimes not) from manufacturer. Carrier pays manufacturer negotiated wholesale price (figure maybe $100 for a standard flip or candybar phone; $200-$400 for a qwerty smartphone; $400-$600 for an iPhone, though Apple and AT&T ain’t saying). Carrier then sells handset to consumer at a deep discount (often 100%), and makes the money back on the monthly charges. This is one reason all cell contracts have heavy early termination fees – the carrier has to make back what they paid for the phone.

    Except the iPhone. For the iPhone, in addition to paying Apple the negotiated wholesale price, AT&T pays them a percentage of the monthly service charge. This is a great deal for Apple, because it gives them an ongoing revenue stream as well as the equipment sales. Even if you buy an iPhone at an Apple store, AT&T still pays them a cut of the service revenue.

    The story as I heard it is that Apples offered the iPhone to Verizon, under the same deal, and Verizon turned them down. So it’s not a question of Apple forcing a contract change to be able to offer the iPhone over Verizon; it’s a question of Verizon not being willing to give over a cut of service revenues to Apple.

  32. Been carrying an 8g 2nd Gen Touch in my pocket beside my crappy LG rumor caveman phone for about a year now.

    Amazing little pocket computer. As noted by others it comes in handy as a flashlight along with all the other apps.

    Durable as hell too. I’ve dropped mine I don’t know how many times, so far not a scratch.

  33. The Touch, more than the iPhone, is the real game-changer device from Apple. I have an iPhone, but the Touch would fulfill 95% of my needs if I were to spring for a Boingo account as you’ve done. What put it all into focus was when I finished reading my first book on the little screen (using Stanza as the reader). If/when Apple releases an iTablet, I suspect it will be an even bigger game-changer.

    Most used app – Mail
    Most appreciated app – Pocketpedia2 (links to my book, movie and CD databases)
    Most goofy-grin-inducing app – Shazam

  34. You chose wisely.

    I’m hooked on my Touch and being a Pod person isn’t nearly as bad as some may fear. Welcome.

    #31 MarkHB
    I did not know that about the mic’s click function. That’s awesome! I like to keep my Touch locked and, as such, it’s soo much easier to pause or skip with the mic. (I guess I should read directions.) Thanks!

  35. No beating from me this time, either.

    I’ve had my Touch for over a year and I’ve never had a single moment of buyer’s remorse. I’ve had a [$gadget] since the very first Palm, and this is my favorite by far. Even my partner — who is very much not a gadget fan — is impressed by it.

    I’ll give it up when and if it becomes possible to get an iPhone with a pay-as-you-go plan. (And yes, I know that will make the initial outlay much higher. But there’s just no way the 2-year pan makes sense for me.)

  36. So, ok, I’ve been eying the Touch for a while now (and pretty exclusively – I have a Mac friend who tells me that the iPhone actually sucks pretty hard as a phone). So I’m not going to beat up on you for buying one. But I am intrigued about Boingo. I went and took a look at their site, and I’m not sure why I’d be interested in forking over cash to them. What exactly am I buying? The convenience of only having one log-in at the multitude of free wi-fi sites around town?

    Binghamton NY has free wi-fi downtown for everyone, which kinda spoils me. Plus, I migrate between a pair of campuses, both of which have wi-fi. Perhaps this service would be more useful in a less blessed location? Please explain!

  37. John,

    Get a case if you’re worried about it being abused a bit. I’m on T-mobile in Seattle and am debating getting an iPod Touch for pretty much your reasons… well minus the kid gaming since I have no kid. I used a Touch while at a beach house with some friends over Labor day and it’s reasonably nice… and wifi is available most places I go. I really feel the need for something like this when I’m in a book store, see an interesting book and would like to hit Goodreads, LibraryThing or Amazon and get a quick take on it.

  38. I got me an iPhone (recent release here in Japan, still a 3-week waiting list) and HOLY CRAP is it awesome. Unfortunately, in japan Ubiquitous wi-fi is still pretty far ahead, but the 3G network is outstanding, and the idea of having a fully functional computer in my pocket is awesome. My iPhone is faster and easier than my wife’s netbook!

  39. My boyfriend gave me the choice between the iPhone and the iPod Touch and I went with the Touch, and totally love it.

    Apps I have:

    – Fish pond (if stressed at work, set your lockout to never, and put fish pond on and get de-stressed.)

    – Colours (finger painting via the touch screen–can make surprisingly detailed paintings this way.)

    – Ereader (for all my Gutenberg classics…read all of Austen this way recently.)

    – Bejeweled (Crack! Also good for distracting me on airplane.)

    – Pandora (pop my Touch on one fo the docks in the bedroom or kitchen and voila! new music I like)

    Looking for a post card app to practise my German vocab with. (There are several, gonna pick one.)

    Handy: I loaded my portfolio (digital art) onto my photos section and now I can show strangers when they ask about my art or what I do. Took it to a job interview (and got the job).

    Sleep: Lulled to sleep with my chill playlist or my audio books (My boyfriend has all of Terry Pratchett, I has Bujold currently.)

    Alarms: I use this instead of my alarm clock.

  40. Oh, I was wondering if the iPhone has the same prob my touchscreen phone (some LG thingie) has: My ears touch the screen by mistake and buttons get pressed. I’ve developed a habit of holding my phone semi-perpendicular to my ear while listening.

  41. Excellent! (rubs hands together) We’ll have you on a Mac yet. Remember as you use the Touch that Macintosh computers and software are of similar quality.

  42. I love my 16GB iTouch. Not so much iTunes. Ripping CDs into iTunes takes forever. Does anyone have a suggestion for an alternative that handles AAC? I’ve got about 7000 tracks in my iTunes library and it seems like every time I rip something it takes longer.

    Another suggestion for apps: readdle.com. They have a bunch of classic literature to download. I have the complete works of Shakespeare on mine.

  43. If Apple had been smart and gone with Verizon, I’d have one. But all other carriers suck where I live, so I chose a different phone (I’m upgrading to the Droid later this month).

    I do have the 8Gb and the 32Gb Touch. I do a LOT of social networking from them, listen to a lot of podcasts / books, use the calendars and email and news apps, and play games. Even though I have to carry around 2 devices, it’s worth it. The Touch is a gem.

  44. I have both an iPhone 3GS and a 2nd gen Touch. The Touch is for travel in the car because Apple made the iPhone 3G incompatible with my after-market in car connection and with my portable speakers. But I love both devices. I rarely turn my laptop on anymore. There isn’t much I need it for that my iPhone can’t do.

    Don’t overlook the Barnes and Noble eReader software. I like it better than the Kindle software. Both have PC software and B&N has Mac software (Amazon has a Mac version coming) so you can switch between your iPod and your PC for the same book.

    Rick @34, the screen is small but I have read my last dozen books on my iPhone without much eyestrain. Reading glasses help if you need them anyway.

    Other favorite apps: Grocery IQ, NY Times reader, iWiki, Nite Stand, Google.

    Favorite peripherals: Bluetooth headphones, Altec Lansing speakers, Just Mobile Gum Pro external battery for long flights.

  45. I’ve been a Palm user since 1997, but am pretty well convinced that the next PDA I get will be a Touch. The only thing that holds me back is the Palm desktop; I prowled the iPod app store looking for something comparable, but didn’t see anything that looked too promising.

  46. PixelFish @ 49 –

    I haven’t had a problem with that on my 3GS. The iPhone shuts off its screen as you turn it from checking the caller id to your ear. It automatically turns the screen back on if you go to look at the screen.

    This you allows you to not be bothered by the problem you mentioned. But it allows you toturn on the speaker and multitask while using the phone.

  47. dawn@53: You mean if Verizon was smart and went with Apple.

    Apple is making money hand over fist with the iPhone. There’s very little they’ve done stupid.

    Rumor has it that the exclusive AT&T contract ends next summer.

  48. Deb @ 42,

    Doubleclicking the frontice “home” button also brings up your playback controls, kindly disregarding the screen lock for a couple of seconds. I’m rocking a lovely pair of noise-exclusion Sennheiser buds, so this replaces the mic bud clickery well. Be honest. Apple peripherals stink. Core kit can be nice (if overpriced and flaky) but their default earbuds should be issued at Guantanamo Bay. Along with their mice.

  49. FYI for anyone looking to get a Droid or Droid Eris, Sears Wireless (.com) has them for $50 less than Verizon.com does, and you get the $100 rebate instantly, no mail-in nonsense. Yay.

    I’m waiting for the Passion/Dragon/whatever it’s called, an HTC Android phone with WVGA AMOLED screen and 1ghz Snapdragon CPU in it. Definitely not digging the evilness of Apple’s store as far as their attitude towards developers. They’re gonna pay heavily for that. Rumoured 1Q2010. Not sure yet on carrier. Hopefully either Sprint or Verizon.

  50. Whenever my Palm finally dies beyond the ability of a $50 repair to fix it, an iTouch is high on my list of potential replacements. I mostly use the Palm as an ebook reader anyway, so if I install eReader on an iTouch, I’m good to go. And the wifi capability would just be an extra bonus.

  51. My wife and I both recently got the Droid (Verizon service), and it’s a fairly awesome toy. The screen resolution is better than the iPhone, and while it doesn’t have quite the library that the iPhone has, it also hasn’t been out as long, either.

    Music and video quality are both excellent, though it *is* worth pointing out that the battery life currently isn’t a bonus. Still, I’ve been having a blast playing with the thing for the last few weeks, and each update continually makes it that much better.

    Since you mention that you like your Verizon service already, John, you should really take the time to check one out.

  52. Steve@57:
    Handing over part of your monthly revenue to Apple isn’t a smart thing for a telco to do — that’s the telco’s bread and butter.

  53. I find the existence of the phrase “lugging about an iPod” to be amusing. It makes me think of you, chained to a six-foot-long slab of glass and polished steel, with a set of head-sized earbuds dragging along thirty feet behind.

  54. Recommended iTouch games:
    Civilization Revolutions
    Word Fu
    NYTimes crossword puzzle app

    Sims 3 is a particularly heinous console port

  55. Can’t remember what life was like before my iPhone – must have been colorless and boring. The kindle ap convinced me to get myself the Kindle for my early Christmas present, and now I have two great toys to love!

    I don’t get the AT&T hating – when I had Verizon they annoyed the sh*t outta me. I have had only one issue with AT&T, an overcharge for using my iPhone in Aruba, which took a phone call to correct. Other than that, service is great here in NJ, used it travelling all over eastern seaboard and no issues so far. Only place with no service is at my Mom’s place in West Virginia; no cell phone known to man works there so I was not surprised.

  56. Congrats on joining the cult.

    Picked up a 3GS this summer, love it to pieces. I ended up getting a case after it slipped out of my hands 3 times in the first 24 hours I owned it.

    Beats what I was using before; an old dumbphone and a Palm OS clone with no wifi. Can’t imagine not having either anymore. I used to convert news sites to text documents to load on my PDA to read during breaks. Nice to not have to do that anymore.

    One app I will recommend that’s different is iCab. It’s an alternate web browser for the iPhone and iTouch that’s pretty good, with lots more features than Safari, and many of them easier to reach. It can go to full screen mode, and lock into widescreen or portrait mode, which is useful for reading in bed. Worth the cost for me.

    Apps that I do not recommend are those that simulate loading and firing a shotgun, mostly because the act of loading includes swinging it up and down, which I suspect leads to some iTouches and iPhones being thrown in the air. For similar reasons, I also stopped using a bowling game.

    One question – did you give your iPod a name?

  57. Hi –

    +1 for the Android folks.

    While I continue to buy dead tree products, I do read a lot of eBooks as well. I’ve been using a Palm Zire for that, the blue one that came out a number of years ago and had a lovely app that scrolled very smoothly. Read a lot in PDB format.

    Tried the same on the iPod Touch, and had to switch formats: ‘sokay, time goes on. Also a decent workaround to a dedicated device.

    But when my contract came up here in Germany, I was able to get a Motorola Milestone, which is what the marketing fools call a Droid here.

    The screen resolution in conjunction with eBook reading is … totally awesome. The resolution of 800×480 just rocks and there is absolutely no way back for this eBook boy.

    Stanza is available for Windows and it’s what I use to convert pdb format to EPub, which the FBReader app (freebie, freebie!) simply loves. There’s an option for night and day (night is white on black, day is…figure it out) and it’s just marvelous to read. Sure, tiny print, but I use it to maintain marital peace by not turning the light on when my wife is asleep and yet I can read to my heart’s content.

    Oh, and it makes even more sense if you’re a google user: seamless integration between Google contacts, calendar and and and and…

    Seriously: take a good look at the Android.

  58. but then I learned that they’d be releasing the iTablet, which has a bigger screen… so I decided to wait for that instead

    There’s been a rumor that they were going to release a tablet Real Soon Now for the past few years. Hasn’t happened yet, so you might go ahead and get a Touch.

  59. I think you mean “Gone to the Dark Side, I have“, y’know, if you’re looking for a Yoda feel.

    “Gone to the Dark Side, have I” has more of a pirate vibe.

    Unless you were going for piratey. In which case, carry on, matey.

  60. Steve Burnap @57, nope. I meant that if Apple had been smart, they would have gone with Verizon. Verizon has a better market share, more customers, and reaches more rural areas than AT&T does. Even within many cities, Verizon has vastly superior coverage to AT&T.

    The rumor about the iPhone going to Verizon has been around for a while. I’ve also heard, however, that Verizon won’t pick it up. They have a strong phone line, and now with the Android phones they carry, they are getting a new type of customer that they didn’t have before.

  61. Even though you aren’t buying another phone until your contract is up next year I have to say that I just switched to Verizon and bought a Droid around 3 weeks ago and I’ve been loving it. It does everything I want it to do so far including streaming music via pandora over 3g.
    It’s a great gadget and I love the android OS.

    Just something to keep in mind.

  62. I got an iPod Touch a few weeks ago, and I love it. AT&T sucks where I live, so it was a “next best” move for me (the Droid could not do a straight sync with Outlook – having long crossed over the the dark side I gotta have my Outlook)

    It is a great little eBook reader. Little being the operative term; it is readable you just have to change pages often.

    I have been using Kindle for the iPhone and am trying out Stanza (http://www.lexcycle.com/).

  63. The Itouch should serve you well. My iPhones are very nice little hand held terminals on wifi. As phones I give them a B-. AT&T gets an F both from my iPhone experience (~9 hours, 6 trips to the store and 14 phone calls to upgrade the account) and the inability of AT&T to move a land line from one house to the house right next door, given 10 day notice (they got 3 chances to correct their mistake after missing the install). I had to fire them first; then they moved the line in 2 hours with no site visit required (oh and this is in central San Diego not the outer exurbs of Gnome).
    Let me be clear in the case of the iPhones this was not standing in the fan boy line waiting for nirvana, this was I have bought the phones and now have to port the two numbers (which have been AT&T numbers through three corporate acquisitions) to the new phones. In the latter case I a dumbfounder that an icon of American technology cannot efficiently move a phone line from one house to another, it not astrophysics (like finding evidence of the big bang). As an American technologist I am deeply offended that whoever is running that circus have managed to degrade that once pound name to it’s current state of fail; there ought to be jail time involved.
    Apple’s “geniuses” are not up to snuff either. I returned a phone because it was having intermittent hardware failures and they agreed to replace the phone, but I had to wait for the next shipment to arrive. I told them (three times) that they should call me on my land line when my phone arrived because my cell phone was broken; they agreed and typed my number into their “system”. Two week later I called them to status the order and was informed that the phone had been there for a week and that they had left me a voice mail notification one my cell number…words failed me at that point.
    The iTouch should work very well for what you want to use it for, but avoid the Iphone and do yourself a favor and shake up a nitroglycerin martini before you have anything to do with AT&T.

  64. The apps and UI of the iPhone/iTouch cannot be beat. I typically hate Apple because they are such a closed and controlling platform, reminds me of IBM of old.
    Regardless, apple does have a good phone/music device. I also have a Droid from work (we are writing software for it). It is a open platform and not controlled like Apple but using it is a little clunky.
    Someone already mentioned Stanza. I very good ebook reader. You can buy books via fictionwise and download directly through wifi.

  65. John,

    I’ve been traveling the dark side since 1988 when my brother brought home our first MAC. It has been total bliss. Sure there are some downsides (limited app selection) but I enjoy the power and stability i get using Apple products.

    Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong.

  66. I got a 2nd-gen touch over a year ago and it’s unqualifiedly one of the best purchases I’ve ever, ever made. Not an iPhone because I don’t talk on the phone enough to warrant the increase in rates over my current plan (Credo), plus I live in Austin where wifi is ubiquitous (especially on the campus where I work). The touch provides almost everything I need in mobile computing and now I’m wondering why I bothered to also get a MacBook that it turns out I don’t really use all that much.

    My favorite non-essential touch apps are Reflect (http://www.sidewaysmobile.com/Sideways/Applications.html) which generates some totally wiggy art and makes me wish I was still a stoner, and The Deep pinball game. Because you can play pinball on a table 10% of the size you’re used to if you really want to, you know.

    Filemagnet is handy for read-only on PDFs, Office docs etc. I heard DocsToGo is great for R/W on Office docs and got it but haven’t had cause to use it yet.

  67. I’m with Brendan: I adore my Palm, and am kind of pissed that I can’t replace it, and I don’t want to triple my phone bill when I am in perpetual “maybe I’ll be laid off” mode. So I will probably go Touch. From what I hear, unless you get a Pre there is nothing at all out there like Palm any more, though. Sigh. Heck, I hear Touch is the only non-phone organizer any more anyway…

  68. Welcome to the world of Apple.

    I love my iTouch. I hope the rumor of Apple ending their exclusive contract with At&T is true–I’ve wanted and iPhone since they first came out, but the wireless coverage is awful here, so I live with a Blackberry for now.

  69. MarkHB @58
    What? You presume I STILL haven’t read the directions? Well, you’re right. Thanks again for the info! And I totally agree about the mice, but if you install 3rd party software to speed up the new Magic Mouse it’s actually not that bad (but don’t quote me on that).

    Dr Rocketscience @73
    LOL! You are spot on.

    As for iPhone starting on AT&T and migrating, I’m sure the AT&T deal was very profitable for Apple. Verizon didn’t NEED the deal. The rumors that iPhone would be available on other carriers has been around for a long time now. iPod touch is a great option for those of us who like our Verizon and still want the rest of the fun stuff…

  70. My iPod touch was my first and only apple product (something my sister hated since she’s an apple freak). I loved it so much. Then a month ago it got stolen which confirms to me that I’m not supposed to have apple products. (but I was sososo upset when that happened, I really did love that little thing)

  71. The iPod touch is a small computer disguised as an mp3 player. This I discovered when my little sister bought one and proceeded to use it as such, making me jealous of her tiny-computing powers.

  72. As for carriers? Verizon sucks where I live, AT&T has much better signal. I also do not like Verizon’s unlimited texting plan that has a limit.

  73. Welcome, from a household full of iPhone owners. :-)

    Actually, my mother has a Touch as well, and she uses Skype on it to gain most of the benefits of an iPhone without dealing with AT&T. (I already was an AT&T customer, from back when they were AT&T before they were Cingular, so the iPhone was a logical step up.)

    I honestly think that devices like the iPhone (and the Touch, to the extent it shares that lineage) are the “wave of the future” in computing. It’s the first step to what Jeff Duntemann was thinking of when he wrote his essay “Jiminy!” back in ’92. One does need to keep up with the times.

  74. Got me a refurb 8GB Touch last year, for cheap, to see if I’d like it. To date, I’ve really enjoyed it (get the Settlers of Catan app!) and am getting ready to step up to an iPhone …

    The US History app is priceless, and PhotoFlipper and CropSmart are great mini-tools for dealing with images. I’ve got no-internet-needed maps of DC (street and Metro) as well as similar maps for Munich, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Strasbourg and Freiburg (needed them during holiday over there in October) as well as a handy Dutch phasebook (I can get by auf Deutsch and a bit of French, but not much Dutch).

    The voice app, IIRC is standard with the 3.0+ system update … no mike for mine, but it’ll be irrelevant after I upgrade to the iPhone.

  75. Well, if it’s cool enough for Scalzi, it should be cool enough for the little man. If he doesn’t like his Xmas gift it’s your fault. They do look really good, but most everything apple makes looks great.

  76. Hey John… I just bought an HTC Eris smartphone on my daughter’s existing Verizon plan. As a phone, it is great. Better than my Razr. But you know, I use it mostly for reading. You’ll hear some kvetching about battery life, but with some tweaking you can actually get a couple of days out of it.

    If you are thinking about upgrading out of the Storm (as you note, the red-headed stepchile) I’d seriously look at the Eris. (Goddess of discord indeed!!)