Neither my wife or I has ever had a mobile phone. This marks both of us as somewhat eccentric, and it’s not a dogmatic choice for either of us; the truth is simply that neither of us uses a phone much, so why bother paying extra to carry one around? For various reasons, though (probably most notably my iPod Touch enjoyment), my brain started thinking earlier this year that having an iPhone might actually be worth seventy-five bucks a month. So I spent some time investigating that possibility, and then set it aside waiting until something gave me a further nudge.

Which happened last month: some events occurred which made me think that it would be wise for somebody in our family to have a cell phone, we were about to go on vacation, and I was in an Apple store for an unrelated reason. (Repairing the new iPod; good thing it was still under warranty, but I continue not to be impressed with the reliability of Apple’s hardware.) So I walked out of the store with my first cell phone.

About which I have no complaints at all. I was getting a lot of the iPhone’s benefits from having an iPod Touch (I spend a lot of the time at home and work, both of which have WiFi reception, and I can even get WiFi wandering around Mountain View), but it’s still useful having internet access even more frequently. And right before that trip was a good time to get one: the hotel we stayed in on the trip advertised itself as providing free WiFi, but it didn’t actually reach into our room, so I had to go down to the lobby to use it. (Other downsides of the hotel: they used funny-smelling cleaning chemicals; while trying to figure out if they had wired internet, I noted that their phone jacks had no cover, leaving an unsightly hole in the wall; the phone also didn’t have instructions on how to call various locations within the hotel (though pressing 0 got me to the front desk); they shuffled me to an 800 number for my questions about WiFi access; and one evening even the lobby WiFi didn’t work. I will try to avoid the Holiday Inn in Decatur, Georgia in the future, and indeed the chain as a whole.) And it also never crossed my mind that my father-in-law wouldn’t have internet access at all in his house. So I was glad to have a phone available to feed my Twitter habit and look up the occasional piece of useful information.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law had perfectly nice internet access; I even got some reasonable programming done on vacation while in her house. In general, it was a quite pleasant trip; very relaxing, and our hosts were fine with me lounging around and programming rather than, say, visiting Stone Mountain. Though I did go see some sights; in particular, the manta ray at the Atlanta aquarium really is wonderful. We had some quite nice food, too, most notably at Rathbun’s.

And, as I write this, I’m at Agile 2009; having a phone is proving useful to allow me to call home without worrying about exorbitant hotel phone charges. It’s only being moderately useful in terms of internet access, though: the interior of the hotel is pretty much one big dead zone. (I would have naively thought that Hyatt would find it useful to work with AT&T to ensure that one can get cell phone coverage in their hotel, but apparently not? Speaking of hotels that I’m not too impressed with, I’ll add Hyatt to the list: they charge for internet access; the ethernet cable in the room has the plastic locking bit at the end broken (which they could certainly afford to replace, given that they’d make up the cost in a fraction of a day of internet charges); the food prices are ridiculous; and the bathroom manages to hide the light switch, the toilet handle, and the kleenex in odd locations. I may be imagining this, but there may even be something wrong with some of the power jacks in the room; though it may be that my power supply is going south.)

I still think that $75/month is overpriced, especially since I can’t, say, use the phone to get internet access for my computer. But the iPhone and the iPod Touch really are wonderful devices, with their mix of being a solid music player, a very credible internet access device, and a very credible application platform: a more than worthy addition to my pocket.

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