We spent the weekend and today down in Galveston, celebrating the first weekend of the kids’ spring break. It was my first trip to Galveston since the hurricane, and things looked about like I expected. There is a lot of damage yet to be fixed, and quite a bit of damage that doesn’t look likely to ever get fixed. For example, there’s one house nearby that has an entire exterior wall missing. You can literally see entire rooms, with furniture and all. It looks like a dollhouse someone left out in the rain. On the other hand, most of the obvious parts of the city are open and appear to be engaging in business as usual. Casey’s had a big crowd tonight, and though there was a long wait, there were unused tables in our room. Maybe this was a Monday night staffing issue, or maybe it was because the people at a nearby table came absurdly close to getting into a fistfight with a waiter. I was like a little slice of the blogosphere, island style.
Because I was only there for a couple of days and because the local unsecured wi-fi quotient is painfully low post-Ike, I decided to leave my laptop at home and rely on my iPhone to keep me connected to the office and the internet in general. It worked reasonably well, but a few things were very apparent to me.
One, email, including corporate email, is a lot better via the iPhone that on a Blackberry. Blackberry lovers will freak out over this, but it’s true. Email is easier to read and write, and the handling of attachments is better than it was a year ago (when I last had a Blackberry) and at least as good as on a Blackberry today. I carried Blackberries for years, and the simple fact is that the iPhone is a far superior device, even for business stuff.
But, there is room for improvement.
When I tried to write this post from the island, it again became clear to me that there is no decent blogging software for the iPhone. I again tried to use iBlogger and again I gave up in frustration. I wish Microsoft would release a Live Writer iPhone app, but I’m not holding my breath. In the absence of that unlikely event, the space is wide open. If someone released a reasonably full featured blogging app- that would support photos and maybe a Photobucket integration, they could own the space from day one. The fact that there is not a single decent blogging application for the Mac, however, does not bode well for the iPhone. It also became painfully obvious to me that the iPhone really needs the tethering feature, so you can use it as a wireless modem to connect your laptop to the internet. That was, by far, the most useful feature of my last Blackberry- and a feature I miss dearly.
Some iPhone apps work great and almost circumvent the need for a laptop, but sans wi-fi some of them are pretty spotty. Tweetie worked the most consistently, though my partially self-imposed Twitter exile did not allow me to take advantage of it (unlike the hand picked music I used to manually post there via Blip.fm, Live Writer automatically Tweets my new blog posts, so for the time being I’ll just use it as a billboard, like everybody else). On the other hand, neither of my RSS readers (Feeds and Byline) worked worth a crap over the telephone network (about half and half between 3G and Edge in the Beachside area of Galveston). I got so frustrated trying to read my feeds, I thought about giving up the internet altogether and subscribing to a newspaper for the first time in a decade. We can huff and puff all we want, but until those who aren’t in the heart of a big, big city can access online content reliably, online content will continue to be a luxury and not a necessity. Dropbox, which despite being my online storage service of choice, still inexplicably lacks an iPhone app, worked pretty well via Safari. I was able to access data over both the 3G and Edge network.
The camera, with a little help from Darkroom, also worked reasonably well, though the iPhone desperately needs a flash.
Make no mistake- the iPhone rocks. But take it or any other mobile device to the edge of the grid, and things get a little dicey.