I’m still loving my iPod touch. It’s really a great little handheld computer. I’m able to do almost everything I need with the stock apps, but there are a couple free third-party apps that have earned a permanent place on it. One is the game Chess With Friends from NewToy. This is a version of what is also known as “postal” or “correspondence” chess. You make a move and send it to your opponent; your opponent makes a move and sends it back to you.
It will surprise few that I have not yet given Apple $10 for the privilege of upgrading my iPod touch (“iPt”) firmware from 1.1.5 to 2.x. Update: A month after posting this, I took the plunge. Version 2.2 came with some nice little improvements. I still miss my shell, but at least I have an SSH app! At first, I resisted out of attachment to the open source software I had installed via Cydia – with no supported “upgrade” process per se, I would have had to reinstall all my packages manually.
At the Western Mass. Developers Group meeting this week I showed a few people some of the unixy fun you can have with a (jailbroken) iPod touch and the Cydia package manager. Cydia is a port of Debian’s APT system to the iPhone platform – i.e. it’s a real package manager. It made it a snap to install Python, Mobile Terminal, Mobile Text Edit, Subversion, etc. This is the toolset that has allowed me to even do some work on the book as I mentioned in my last post.
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.
My first week with the iPt has been a thorough validation of my decision to jump ship from the Palm platform. The things this new device doesn’t do are still a problem, but the things it does do it does incredibly well. I won’t gush over those because they’ve all been thoroughly gushed over. But anybody who thinks the success of the iPhone/iPt platform is primarily based on superficial factors of appearance or brand image likely hasn’t used one for more than two minutes.
I bought my Palm TX in December 2005, a few months after it came out. In my blog post where I weighed the pros and cons of the device and the platform, I grumbled that “Palm has successfully crushed any optimism I might have had for fixes appearing in the form of a free, downloadable OS upgrade.” My grumpy intuition was right – in fact, the Palm platform has pretty much just stagnated since that time, punctuated with spastic feints toward Linux that you can read about elsewhere or in my old Palm-related posts.
I’m here in the great city of Portland, Oregon for the 2007 O’Reilly Open Source Convention, or OSCON. Looks like it’s going to be a fun week. The first two days are for “tutorials”, half-day sessions on specific practical topics. Though you are officially required to sign up for your sessions in advance, sometimes you just need to float. There’s so much going on it can be hard to choose to stay put.