iPhone Life magazine

An IT Guy With an iPhone

I’m an “IT guy” and have spent the last dozen years in a variety of roles, ranging from providing Level 1 Office and Windows support in a call center to managing very large international networks. For the last several years, I’ve switched to a role as an IT and Network Consultant to SMB companies in Austin, Texas.

For the vast majority of my clients (along with my colleagues in our small firm), I am the IT department. As such, I wear several hats—from advising on upgrades and purchasing to managing and maintaining e-mail and other critical systems, as well as supporting users. After years of working in large, multinational organizations, I love the sheer variety of what’s on my plate every day, the closeness of relationships with clients, and the constant learning that comes with my current role.

An excellent resource tool

I also run a Web site called Just Another iPhone Blog (just
anotheriphoneblog.com), which is devoted to all things iPhone, but focuses particularly on iPhone applications. For the last 10 months, the best tool I have in my regular job and for running my site has been the… iPhone!

I know—IT folks are supposed to be skeptical about the iPhone and block it at the corporate network gates. The iPhone 2.0 software not only includes Exchange support, but it also addresses most of the security-related issues and includes many other items on my corporate wish list.

Easy to use, and doesn’t freeze up!

I’ve been a huge fan of PDAs and later smartphones and really appreciated the range of applications available for Windows Mobile devices. However, once I got an iPhone, I realized that Apple had taken handheld computing to a new level. The iPhone’s simple and slick interface is a breeze to learn and almost effortless to use, and its rock-solid OS X operating system works all the time. With every other mobile device I’ve owned over the years, I had to learn to live with freeze-ups and system crashes. But these are almost a thing of the past with the iPhone. If fact, the number of system crashes and reboots I used to experience in a typical week outnumber those I’ve experienced in 10 months with the iPhone!

Web and user-installable apps

I take advantage of a variety of Web applications that work through the iPhone’s Safari browser. One of the most useful Web apps I’ve found is Evernote (evernote.com), a notes and image capturing application. I use the desktop and Web versions as well as the iPhone Web app. I love the ability to e-mail photos directly to Evernote. In addition to Web apps, I use Safari to search the Internet for work-related material, including technical articles and solutions and general information.

Finally, iPhone 2.0 opens the platform up to third-party apps downloaded via Apple’s new App Store. Early on, I “jailbroke” my iPhone 1.0 device (see sidebar), and I’ve been using a number of excellent but unauthorized third-party apps. Here are a few:

  • Vnotes and iPhone Recorder are examples of voice notes applications, which allow you to record short voice notes on the fly. These are probably my most-used third-party apps.
  • VNSea is a VNC client and viewer that lets you remotely access your PC or Mac from an iPhone.
  • DNS Tools is a set of terminal-based utilities for getting network-related information fast.
  • Twinkle is a client program that lets you access features of the Twitter social network site. Twitter is very useful for keeping up on the latest news by tracking keywords, and getting answers by sending a “tweeted” question to all.

Mobile computing—easy and enjoyable

Once I started using the iPhone, I left behind the crashes, clumsy interfaces, and difficult Web browsing experiences I had with other mobile devices. I didn’t realize how easy and enjoyable mobile computing could be. In spite of these advantages however, none of my clients have adopted the iPhone into their business environments. Of course, that’s not surprising with iPhone 1.0, which did not support Exchange and 3G connectivity and lacked robust security features.

All that should change with the release of the iPhone 2.0 OS and the iPhone 3G. I have seen great interest in it from clients, and strongly suspect that many of them will end up with at least a few VIP iPhone users—and possibly a more widespread adoption of the platform. The 2.0 software, with its full support of Exchange and a slew of solid business apps coming via the App Store, is going to make the iPhone an even more powerful and essential tool—for me and for other business users. I’m pretty sure I’ll be supporting it with a number of clients in the very near future.

No need to “jailbreak” iPhone 2.0

“Jailbreaking” refers to the process of opening up access to the iPhone’s full file system, used primarily for the purpose of installing unauthorized third-party applications. The process was developed by third parties for iPhone 1.0 devices. With the release of iPhone 2.0, this is no longer necessary. Apple’s online App Store will be offering a rich array of approved, user-installable third-party programs. In fact, some of the best apps developed for the jailbreak system have been adapted to iPhone 2.0 and will be released as authorized apps. Note that Apple does not support or approve of jailbreaking—doing so voids your iPhone’s warranty.