As I’ve lamented in various other places, this weekend was not ARGfest for me (despite conflicting photographic “evidence”.) In fact, until recently, I was expecting to follow it from home and help out where I could with FestQuest puzzles and/or other tasks that might pop up. Unfortunately, Kim’s help at her event this previous weekend flaked, so I had to drive up with her to Seattle for a bellydance event up there. I’m saying this like it was a chore, but really, it was pretty fun.
I wasn’t too keen on the retail experience — the last time I did anything like that was 15 years ago at Radio Shack and I hated it. (I liked the job and being able to play with the cool gadgets and getting parts at a discount; I just hated having to deal with customers.) Fortunately, Kim was around most of the time, and when she wasn’t, had a well-rehersed “I can try to answer whatever questions you may have, but the lady of the booth stepped out for a bit.” I think it mostly worked.
On Saturday night, we had some great (if overpriced) food at a brewpub (the Elysian) and retired to our fancy room. It was luxurious enough to have a giant whirlpool jacuzzi in the living room and a giant flatscreen TV above a remote-controlled(!!!) fireplace. It was all on Kim’s company’s dime and I really would have loved to enjoy it, but I crashed pretty hard after a few minutes and I believe Kim did too, not long after.
This trip let me field test the new iPhone. For the most part, things were a success. NetNewsWire’s synchronization with my desktop feed reader is amazingly cool, as is web, email, and Evernote. Twitteriffic is great, the new “officially on the app store” Twinkle is not yet ready for primetime. Yelp helped find nearby non-Starbucks coffee and sandwiches. The browser allowed us to log in to the administrative section of Kim’s site and remove custom one-of-a-kind items in realtime as they were sold. If and when we do this again, I need to code up an iPhone optimized version of that system. The downside is that the battery mysteriously drained quickly on Saturday. Both Saturday and Sunday had the same usage patterns, but the battery was close to dead 3/4 of the way through Saturday but survived all Sunday and beyond. I just can’t account for it. It made me glad that I brought a cigarette-lighter-plug-to-USB adapter for car charging. (And, consequently, I ordered a Minty Boost kit today and a few more rechargeable AA batteries, just in case.) I also found that the location services sometimes went to lunch on me. Realtime location and mapping seemed to work exactly once. If I exited the app and came back to it an hour later, it would either still think I was at the old place or would never get a lock on my position. At the time, I found that turning the phone off, then on again, “fixed” the problem. This afternoon, in Portland, I got the same symptoms again, but switching from 3G to 2G seemed to fix it (and then I bumped back to 3G once it could locate me), but seems to be working just fine now. Weird and buggy. Most of the issues I’ve heard have been related to the location system, so I hope they have a bugfix release for that soon.
With the Minty Boost, I may even be able to play a few games on the iPhone. As Simon says, “My favorite game from the iPhone App store is ‘Well-Designed Battery-Death Deluxe.’ Objective: make the screen go black.” Things like browsing the web and reading email and even listening to music with the screen turned off are well optimized for battery life. When you’re sitting there reading a web page, the processor is effectively doing nothing, so is using very low power. When you’re listing to music, the heavy-lifting of decoding and playing the MP3 files goes to a special optimized part of the chip. Games tend to do a lot of generalized thinking/procesing in the background, use lots of animation and 3D effects, and are usually doing something even when you’re sitting there doing nothing. They are huge batterysinks. Without an extra power source, I’m ashamed to say that game playing makes more sense by carrying along a Nintendo DS with a few cartridges. But games aside, it’s still a good phone and much better than the previous.