Setting a goal
For the last several days, I’ve mentioned to a few close friends that I have been reading and learning a little bit about iPhone development. I’ve touched Xcode a little bit, but haven’t really done any coding beyond messing around with creating a class in Objective C and making some buttons and input work. I stumbled into some unexpected free time since I got laid off from my job late last year and I haven’t really done anything too amazing since then. I’ve had ideas running around in my head for a while for businesses and websites, but I figured it’ll help to kick things off with a good challenge to myself. This is why my personal iPhone 30 Day Challenge was created.
My 30 day iPhone development plan
The plan is that over the next thirty days, I’ll be working on an app and submit it to the Apple App Store. After a completely random brainstorming session, I’ve decided on a niche app with a similar layout and functionality to the Yelp app. The app will allow the user to search and submit location-based information from their iPhone
Track my progress
Today consisted of creating a little mockup that you can see to the right. This doesn't really share anything other than the similarities to Yelp, but hopefully I'll have more to share soon! I’ll most likely tweet about my progress at twitter.com/jeffsawyer and I’ll update here on my blog with detailed information as I feel it’s relevant. If you notice that I’m doing anything the hard way or have comments about my progress, technique, etc., I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. If you're doing a similar iPhone challenge for yourself, link me up. I'd love to read about other projects as well.
Comcast and their @comcastcares reps on Twitter have been mentioned as being one of the more progressive at dealing with customer service. Now more and more businesses have embraced social media sites including Twitter. This is a little of my recent Comcastic experience.
I've been a happy Comcast Internet subscriber for some time now, but over the last couple of weeks that faithfulness was challenged. It all started when I suddenly began experiencing extremely slow and unpredictable Internet access. I figured I'd reboot the modem and router to see if that would help and started doing ping tests on my router when it did not. I found that I was experiencing packet loss of up to 70% at the worst times! I was about to dial up Comcast but didn't have much time to be kept on hold and wanted a quick reaction. I've heard of success stories with @comcastcares, so I figured I'd send out a tweet... I quickly heard back from another Comcast associate on Twitter and he only really said that they'd need to send out a tech. I figured this meant they were taking care of it and acknowledged it was an issue on their side since I didn't hear anything else further and the next day I once again had decent Internet access.
Of course, the better service didn't last long. I called Comcast and set up a time for a tech to visit. What was interesting here was that when I mentioned that I asked @comcastcares on Twitter, they didn't seem to know what I was talking about and said my account didn't have any notes on it. They couldn't schedule a tech to come out till Tuesday and I agreed. Tuesday came around and everything was working again so I canceled my appointment. Once again, Tuesday night came around and the net was useless.
I did a little more research and found that I should check out my Cable modem's Status and Signal on my local network at 192.168.100.1. I found that I was getting low signal levels of < 27db at times and that these levels should be at least 30-35db. A more reasonable signal is anything about 35db apparently. Of course I dialed Comcast which led to a brief hold time and my insistence that the problem was not on my side. The representatives I worked with were all very understanding and helpful, but it's always tough to stay calm when your connection is acting up... I scheduled another visit and a tech was out in another 2 days. He was the best Comcast tech I've ever had and was able to verify that the problem was at the tap. He temporarily hooked me up to a slightly better signal line at the tap and scheduled a network technician to come out and fix the issue permanently.
I guess my lesson here was learning about the signal level I should get and just to call Comcast. I was on hold for less than a few minutes and they were all very helpful. @comcastcares may be better for some quick billing inquiries or something -- but I found that just calling was a lot faster and easier to have a good back and forth discussion. I still applaud Comcast in their efforts on Twitter, but it doesn't seem to be a perfect replacement for a good old fashion phone call yet.
The Palm Pre was just announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) yesterday and there's already been a flood of discussion about the product on the web. This is Palm's long awaited answer to the iPhone and they were committed to not just getting a product out as soon as possible, but trying to build a better product. Now as the market has already been flooded with iPhone look-a-likes, only time will tell if Palm's Pre will pay off.
Palm's stock jumped yesterday and even more today in response to the phone and possibly an upgrade or two, but there's still no date that we can expect to actually have the device and it appears that we'll have to join up with Sprint to have one. I have yet to see pricing information on the product, but most expect it to sell for no less than $200. The iPhone really changed the market of higher end phones with a full touch screen device, but it also frustrated high end smart phone enthusiasts that wanted a real keyboard and multitasking abilities. A 16GB iPhone 3G is currently priced at $299 while the 8GB is $199. Palm's CEO, Ed Colligan, firmly said "Why would we do that when we have a significantly better product?" to the question of pricing it for less than an iPhone.
Engadget.com provided some of the most comprehensive coverage of this product announcement that I could find. You can see a video here of the product in action and there's several photos here with updates of the actual announcement. Videos of the actual conference are available here.
The biggest concern I have is that there really isn't much new about the device that isn't already being done on the iPhone or a competitive device. Also, with so many people signing a 2 year contract to get their iPhone 3G's recently, I don't see that there's going to be a huge adoption rate. If only this device had been announced a little sooner. There will be a number of people that had refused to switch to the iPhone and found the first go at a gPhone disturbing and will find the Palm Pre to be refined. Afterall, it is. The Pre is one of the best phones I've seened demoed since the iPhone, but I tend to think the iPhone could have a software update that would fix it's problems.
The response to the Palm Pre has been huge online and the majority of bloggers and commenters appear to love the device. I haven't seen it in the wild yet and have yet to demo a unit myself, but I'm not getting as sucked into the hype. I really like the looked of the Pre, but I won't switch from the iPhone to it. There's really just not enough of a change to make me do so. The iPhone does everything I need it to do and is good enough for now. I don't have the spare change lying around to throw at another device and another service plan... If the Pre continues to seem just as good when it officially launches, I'll take a second look. The iPhone has one other huge advantage as well. The development community has already attached to this product and there's tons of games and fun/useful apps. This is where technology can never beat out software. And when you've got ease of use and software, you've got a success. Look at the Wii. Look at the Dreamcast and how it failed even though it had amazing hardware. I'll wait and see with the Palm Pre and believe me -- I'm anxious to see it, but I'm not 100% buying into it right now.
Update: Joshua from Engadget was recently on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and his discussion about the Palm Pre really startd to sway me.. Amazing... Here's the video from the show: