E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


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The iPhone keyboard doesn't suck

This began as a quick reply to a discussion on the Well about a recent posting from John Gruber which links to a hit list from Crackberry.com about the iPhone. Gruber focuses just on the keyboard issue, about which I found I had this to say:

With the built-in spelling correction, I can type close to 30wpm on my iPt keyboard. This is faster than I ever was with Graffiti, which I used for about 8 years and was pretty good at if I say so. Most of the stuff I do with the device doesn't involve the keyboard, and then I'm really happy not to have a hard keyboard.

It's also nice to be able to choose the keyboard size/orientation (though I want to have this option outside Safari). And the utility I've gotten from third-party software already makes me optimistic that more improvements to the input UI can and will be made -- improvements not possible with a hard keyboard.

Along those lines, I disagree with Gruber that T9 is a "gimmick". I had an old PDA that used it and I like it a lot. I could do about 25-30wpm with that too.

I'm sure I'd be a bit faster with hard little buttons, and I'd like the mechanical feedback. I've used the Blackberry. But the tradeoffs (device size, screen size, weight, wear, aesthetics) are not worth it to me. I admit it. I am a weeny-keyboard snob.

It's absolutely possible to type one-handed (one-thumbed) on the iPhone/iPt keyboard. I've written quite a few emails that way while walking the dog or strolling into town or eating lunch. I've even done work on my book manuscript (I 'svn up' on the way out the door and 'svn ci' when I get home).

(The Crackberry guy also says that you have to do the "funky pinch" to zoom pages in Safari, which is not true. Pinching is a last resort. Double-tapping on any HTML block element -- a paragraph, a heading, a sidebar, an image -- maximizes that element and another double-tap zooms back out.)

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
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Comment from Linda , 12 weeks later

Hmmmm, and HOW precisely do we enlarge the keyboard??? and it's orientation? I sure would like that when entering appointments on the iPhone G3.

and what is 'svn up' and svn ci'?

Comment from Paul , 23 weeks later

Linda, my comment about keyboard size/orientation was specific to Safari, in which you'll see a wider (and bigger) keyboard if you start entering text (a URL, a search, or web form content) while the device is turned sideways.

The "svn" commands I mentioned are for Subversion, which is used by programmers to manage their work. It's something I installed via the aforementioned Cydia, not something that will ever be part of most people's use of the iPhone or iPod touch!

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