Monday, September 7, 2009

My iPhone 3GS Defense Force

I've been using an Apple iPhone 3GS for almost two months now. Each day this handheld device grows in importance to my daily digital life and my personal productivity. It's a big step up from the original iPhone I had been using for almost two years.

It's become such an important resource I've quickly established what I'll call "My iPhone 3GS Defense Force." It's not like I need or want an army to stand around and protect the device from nefarious miscreants desiring the device for themselves, but I do want to the 3GS iPhone to last and I want to keep it in fine working order.

My defense force consists of three key items: AppleCare for the iPhone, an iPod shuffle and my original iPhone sans AT&T's voice and data services. For those of us who purchased an iPhone under a subsidized contract from AT&T, it's easy to forget a $199 or $299 iPhone 3GS actually costs much more. AT&T happily hands over the balance due Apple for the pleasure of providing me with data services at an attractive margin.

I want the iPhone 3GS to remain in good working order at no additional cost beyond the dollars I forked over to Apple for the two-year AppleCare warranty. The AppleCare contract is tied to the start of the iPhone's purchase and synchs with my two-year AT&T contract obligation. AppleCare covers any issues with the iPhone's battery, adding to the allure of the extended warranty's purchase.

The second item in my 3GS defense force is a lowly iPod shuffle. I've enjoyed the 3GS iPhone so much I had been using it as my digital music player on my long daily commutes. I've chosen to purchase an iPod shuffle to handle my music player needs while traversing the congested highways and byways of Los Angeles County often at a slow, glacial pace due to the mass of humanity residing in this expanding megalopolis. Using an iPod shuffle as my primary digital music player saves the iPhone's battery and extends the time between needed recharges of the phone.

The third item in my iPhone 3GS defense force is my original Apple iPhone. Even without AT&T's voice and data services it connects to my home WiFi network and is now used the same way people might use an Apple iPod touch - for music, Web surfing and spending small bits of time occupying oneself at home with fun and amusing games available from the iTunes App Store. It's also a handy device for checking weekend sports scores while watching my favorite teams on TV.

The only nemesis for my 3Gs iPhone that remains is me. I need to find some good exercises that assist me keeping a firm grip on this handy digital device. My original iPhone evidences the outcome of my sometimes slippery grip.

Snow Leopard On The Prowl

It's an interesting thing about Snow Leopards. They're rarely seen but their territorial markings are more frequently found. Apple's recent Mac OS X commercial upgrade named after the elusive cat exhibits some of the same traits. For $29 (or $49 for the Family Pack) Mac OS X, 10.6 makes its presence known but often in subtle and non-conspicuous ways.

I've finished my five Family Pack upgrades (yes, we have five Intel Macs in the house) and each Mac, no matter the model or vintage, exhibits snappier performance running Apple's latest Mac OS. Screen images are more crisp and on my primary Mac (a Core 2 Duo iMac), Snow Leopard has enhanced what was already an elegant user experience.

Mac OS X, 10.6 eliminated my most frustrating computing issue: Time Machine's slow performance. Now backups are completed much more quickly and without a noticeable drag on the Mac's performance while Time Machine goes about its work.

In developing Snow Leopard Apple rewrote much of the OS in 64-bit code. That of course means I had to boot my iMac in 64-bit mode just because I can. I wasn't expecting to see a huge performance boost but I'd say there is a pickup in performance in the routine tasks I regularly perform. But that's beside the point. By positioning Mac OS X as a true 64-bit OS, Apple is positioning the product for the next several years of development.

The low-price and noticeable performance gains makes Snow Leopard an attractive purchase for Mac users running Intel-based machines. I recommend the upgrade and I'm confident Apple's refinements in Mac OS X today are setting the stage for more conspicuous enhancements tomorrow.