Wednesday, September 05, 2007

iPhone, Thou Art Dead To Me

Apple has released the perfect iPhone ... i.e. an iPhone that isn't saddled with an AT&T plan and, um, doesn't make phone calls (...yet). At last, a browser perfect for reading books on the toilet.

They've also added custom ringtones on steroids to the iPhone (you still can't just grab some arbitrary piece of audio and make it your ringtone because, um, well because) and you can spend money at the iTunes store anywhere you get cell reception and have your iPhone, instead of merely anywhere you have internet access.

And it's about the same price as a similar gadget from Nokia that doesn't do most of the stuff it does, looks a whole lot clumsier, isn't touch-based, and appears to have lower battery life. But it does support some version of Flash. Obviously, the new iPod Touch is grossly overpriced...

Numbers, Revisited

OK, here's my second opinion on iWork '08. It's incredibly good, just frustratingly imperfect.

As I think I mentioned, I have two "killer documents" that I try to work with in every word processor and spreadsheet that comes along. The document is a complete set of role-playing rules, featuring complex table styles and cross-references.

Pages comes so close to handling this well I can taste it, but not quite there yet. Still, the only program to ever handle this document gracefully has been Adobe Framemaker (formerly just Framemaker). It's kind of hard to complain that a simple word processor aimed at folks writing family newsletters to send out at Christmas can't handle a long, hideously complex document effortlessly.

Second, Numbers is annoyingly missing some features such as multiple heading rows and vertical or angled column headings that would just be thrilling, but I've managed to use it to implement a working character sheet (as in fully automated) in about two hours, and rewrite my entire magic system (including 300 or so mix-and-match spells) in a couple of afternoons. Not too shabby.

I might note that Word and Excel are equally flawed in their handling of both documents, harder to use, and quite a bit pricier. Oh and slower and not yet Universal Binary.