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Cell Phones

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Randi Weingarten Torn Up Over Cell Phones

Randi Weingarten
Since this Friday is apparently "Kids Gone Krazy" day, we thought we'd update you on how serious things are getting in the New York City Public School cell-phone battle. After vetoing a bill that attempted to spell out children's right to carry a phone to and from school (for safety reasons), Mayor Bloomberg was easily overridden by City Council. The bill will pass, but still leaves unanswered the question as to how students are supposed to take phones to school, but not actually have them while there (where they are banned). "Most schools have a 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy" about phones, said teachers'-union honcho Randi Weingarten in a radio interview to be aired this weekend. [Ed. note: Wait, what? Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Oh, no, homo don't play that!] Weingarten is torn. She wants to help kids be safe while traveling, but admits that in some schools phones are so disruptive that it's becoming a serious impediment to learning. And we're betting it's only going to get worse. Phones, even when kids aren't talking on them, are distracting. Texting, playing games, and conducting business is easy to do under a table while appearing to pay attention. Adults do it all the time, in meetings. You could even write a whole blog while in boring meetings with your bosses. We hear. Weingarten Reveals Truth about Cell Phones [Daily Politics/NYDN]

Std Clr of Clsg Dors, Pls

• In the wake of the Great Subway Flood, city-council members are demanding that the MTA spend some $300 million to provide cell service on subway platforms — so that the transit agency can send riders jumbled, unintelligible text messages in the event of delays. [Metro NY]

Call Me

So the iPhone went on sale Friday afternoon; America rejoiced, God smiled, and people who'd been waiting on line for three days could finally go take a shower. (We must say our favorite touch is the line of what seem to be Apple employees at left, applauding the dude for, you know, shopping.) Funny thing: After all the hysteria and lines and waiting and so forth, our friend walked into an AT&T store Saturday afternoon, bought an iPhone, and left in about a half-hour. UPDATE: Aforementioned friend IMs: "Errata! I was in and out of Apple Store in 5 minutes." Apparently reporting over drinks late on Saturday night doesn't always yield complete accuracy. Who knew? Earlier: Daily Intel's we're-giving-Steve-Jobs-exactly- what-he-wants iPhone coverage.

iPhone Is Here

This week's issue of New York is a double issue, which means no issue next week, which means no "It Happened This Week" today. But that's okay; we don't need one. We all know what happened this week: The iPhone went on sale. iPhone! iPhone! iPhone iPhone iPhone. Remember how a few hours ago we told you there was virtually no line at several AT&T stores? Yeah, we just checked the one closest to the office — that's at Madison and 46th — and, well, not so much anymore.

Countdown to iPhone: Reach Out and Touch an AT&T Store

Sure, people have been camped out for days in front of the Apple Stores. But they'll be selling iPhones at AT&T stores, too, and — according to a spot check just performed by New York's intrepid interns — Ma Bell is the place to be. At noon today there were 197 people on line in front of the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street; a dozen blocks south at the AT&T store at Fifth and 47th, eight people were waiting. After the jump, line lengths at six Manhattan iPhone locations, along with whatever other information we could glean.

So This Is Christmas

"X-Mas Came Early This Year" says the sign on the Christmas tree planted in front of the Soho Apple store. Being of the more Hanukkish persuasion, we're not entirely up on every last Christmas tradition. But somehow we've always imagined snowy lawns, warm beds, and roaring fires — not steamy sidewalks, sleeping in chairs, and occasional pouring rain. Did we misunderstand something? Earlier: Daily Intel's we-realize-we're-just-as-bad-as- they-are ongoing iPhone coverage.

Walking the iPhone Line

The iPhone! This afternoon! Yay. New York contributor Tim Murphy stopped by the Fifth Avenue Apple Store yesterday to check in with the crazies lined up on the sidewalk. What drives them to wait on line for this piece of technology? "It's all about picking up girls, man," one dude tells Tim. "You just pull that thing out, and that's what it's about." Ain't that always the way? Street Level: iPhone Debut [NYM]

Countdown to iPhone: Two Important Thumbs Mostly Up

Been feeling smug lately, looking down at your friends who'd drank the Apple Kool-Aid? Convinced yourself that the phone wasn't going to be all that? That you'd wait for the second generation? ("First-generation Apple products always suck" may be the single sentence we've heard most in downtown bars these last few days.) Yeah, well, the reviews are out today, and it looks like the crazies were right.
"But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles. In other words, maybe all the iPhone hype isn’t hype at all. As the ball player Dizzy Dean once said, 'It ain’t bragging if you done it.'" —David Pogue, New York Times "Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions." —Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal
And at 3 p.m. this afternoon — that's 51 hours before the thing goes on sale — ten people were queued up in front of the Fifth Avenue Apple store. It's 92 degrees out. Earlier: Daily Intel's coverage of the iPhone. Related: Steve Jobs in a Box [NYM]

Countdown to iPhone: The Lines Begin

What hope does a covetous indie-film star have? The iPhone doesn't go on sale till 6 p.m. Friday, but as Racked reports, queues at the midtown and Soho Apple stores started forming yesterday. Here, the first guy on line at each location. (We suspect this isn't the first time the guy in midtown has slept out for days for something.) Good luck, kids. iPhrenzy: The First People in Line [Racked]

Have We Found the First iPhone Problem?

Coming to the end of our cell-phone contract a few weeks ago, we called AT&T Wireless to inquire about abandoning our current provider and maybe, just maybe, getting our mitts on an iPhone. Could she help us with that? She could. "I'll add you to my waiting list and call you on June 29 to sign you up," she told us. Sure, it cost way too much, and sure, all our friends were warning us against first-generation new Apple products. But we were curiously excited about having the actual Internet in our pockets — such fast NYTimes.com browsing in that commercial! — and we shoved our worries to the back of our minds. We were counting the days. Then, Monday, the AT&T saleswoman called. Preregistration? An early phone? Far from it. Now, it seems, the iPhone won't be available for telephone sales from AT&T, the friendly saleswoman sadly told us. Due to a glitch, she said, the phones can only be activated at store locations. "Most brand-new phones are recalled," she said. Oh. We called T-Mobile, renewed our contract, and upgraded to a Blackberry Pearl. In white. —Fiona Byrne Related: Steve Jobs in a Box [NYM]

One Day Our Cell Phones Will Be Judged Not By the Color of Their Shell But By the Content of Their Features

The Wall Street Journal is breathlessly reporting on an announcement from BlackBerry yesterday that the company is planning to "strike back" against the new iPhone by releasing -- drumroll, please -- a new BlackBerry Pearl. We scanned the article eagerly, excited to find what further features would finally let the Goliath knock Apple's David to the ground, but we could only find one change: The formerly black Pearl will now also be available in white . (To be frank, we're a little mystified that a product called "Pearl" didn't come in white in the first place.) Now, we're fine with the white cell phone riding up to save the day when the black cell phone just can't cut it -- but we're wondering, who decided to announce that on Martin Luther King Day? BlackBerry Pearl Goes White [WSJ (subscription)] Now, a White BlackBerry Pearl! [Techtree]

New Yorker Makes Your Cell Phone the Best Etch-a-Sketch Ever

It's all thanks to the geniuses in Cupertino that you'll soon be able to ditch your barely functioning Razr for the oh-so-shiny new iPhone, right? Wrong! We're sure you'll be as thrilled as we were to learn that a major part of the iPhone's cooler-than-thou technology — the first touch screen that allows you to simultaneously use two fingers to manipulate two things, like Tom Cruise in Minority Report — was created by a New Yorker: Jeff Han, a research scientist for NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. The video above reveals the fascinating possibilities. Whether the phone plays trippy music every time you minimize Mom to order some Domino's? Unclear. Multi-Touch Interaction Research [nyu.edu via MUG] Earlier: Steve Jobs Wows the Faithful (But What About Those Options?)