Since I feel comfortable sticking with a theme, and the Scientae Carnival is about “school” suplies I’m going to talk about more “school” supplies! Today’s topic is the iPhone.

I was late to the cult of iPhone. I remember my officemate getting the first iPhone and immediately bragging about how he was using jailbreak. I of course sat there squinty eyed going “but why would you want an iPhone when the first thing you need to do is circumvent the operating system?”. But finally this last year after our move to the land of the wanna-be Ivy I gave in and ditched T-Mobile after multiple crappy changes to their internet service and went to AT&T and purchased the iPhone. Yes, my iPhone has music and videos loaded on it for the dog walking and the plane flights to telescopes, but I also feel love for my apps. I don’t have many, in fact I only have 1.5 screens worth. But the two most handy items I have are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is handy for communicating with astronomer friends on trips and Twitter. . . well I have an unnatural love for twitter.

My love for Twitter as a scientist is related to not needing to be in 5  places at once. At the AAS meetings you can easily find tweets from a parallel session you couldn’t make with the meeting’s aas hashtag (this next meeting in Jan will have the hashtag #217). During the press conference for the Astronomy Decadal Survey I sat in a room watching with a ton of people cursing the rambling that was going on but found a link to an high level review of the results in a tweet. I’ve also seen info from other conferences thanks to other scientists who live tweet with their iPhones after asking their followers if there is any interest. This week I’ve learned about astronomy education, the fires near Boulder Colorado, the latest hurricane updates, how to play with tables and databases in Python, the peach and apple statuses at the local orchards, the Gemini Observatory transition plan, and oh yeah football scores from my undergrad institution (and that’s just tracking back to Friday).

Downsides to the iPhone are plentiful though, the most obvious of which is that you’re always plugged in. Sometimes being plugged in is good- at conferences you can plan and maneuver lunches and dinners via friends on twitter, or via text message. But if you’re like myself you also have an email addiction. I blame my job before undergrad where I was expected to turn around email responses as fast as possible. Thanks to my iPhone I’ve spent a number of Sundays cursing because I could check my email while I was out and saw yet another email from the advisor wanting something. However deactivating push capabilities for your phone (where servers can push data to your phones) can keep the headaches to a minimum.

So the iPhone- it’s handy! I find myself lusting over the iPad now for the reasons of Pages and Keynote, but I’ll wait until the second hardware release. As it stands I think I shall leave my laptop behind at the DPS meeting and use just my iPhone as I’m only doing a poster, and I don’t feel like lugging my laptop all over the US. Perhaps in a month I can say how useful it is to have only one’s iPhone to stay plugged in.