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The iPod Touch, One Work Week In

Well, I’ve had a full work week to bond with my new toy, and let me tell you, we are now attached at the hip. It does everything I need it to do and more (unless I’m out of wireless network range, but even then I can see my calendar thanks to the 2.0 version of the firmware). Since people asked me for my impressions, I thought I’d write up this list of pros and cons, and then throw in a my current list of things I had to figure out in order to make it do what I needed.


  • pretty much everything
    It’s faster to check my calendar on that than it is on Zimbra, since Zimbra is kind of a slow-loading web app, so I end up using it when I just need to quickly check up on my appointments for the day. And since mobile calendaring was the primary goal of the purchase, I’d call the purchase a grand success. Everything else is gravy. And boy is there a lot of gravy. Email and contacts sync, too, and having web access is so handy. I can imagine taking this down into the stacks and checking call numbers and locations right there with students.
  • Apps
    I loving having Pandora Radio, Evernote, and Twitter apps with me all the time.
  • Lunch break listening
    I like the option of having music and books-on-iPod with me even at work. Sometimes you just need to get away at lunch, plug in, and forget about work.
  • Event notification
    I’ve turned off the sound effects so that it won’t let everyone in the room know when I receive an email or have an appointment coming up, but the screen still lights up and displays allerts about upcoming appointments, which I love.
  • Intuitive, mostly
    Except for the little trick about scrolling with two thumbs if you have to be on a web page that contains a scrolling text box, I never had to think about how to move around and zooming in and out of pages.

Cons (mostly minor… did I mention I love the lil thing?):

  • Battery life
    This is so far the only little electronic thing that I have to charge every day, and I don’t listen to music on it for more than 20 minutes a day.
  • Sounds without granular control
    I’d love to turn off the sounds that tell me I’ve gotten email while keeping the sounds that tell me I’ve clicked something, or that I have an event coming up. Right now, it’s all or nothing with the sounds.
  • Browser flips sideways (easier typing) but most apps don’t
    Typing while the keyboard is squished into the portrait version of the screen can be quite an exercise in precision and aim. It’s much easier when you can flip the screen to landscape orientation, but most apps don’t allow for that.
  • Can’t get to any but my main calendar in Zimbra (UPDATE: see comments)
    This may be just for Zimbra users, but there’s no way to get to calendars other than your default calendar. The web interface won’t let me leave the mobile version, which only shows the default calendar, and the calendar app only syncs with the default calendar. I’ve been in the habit of printing my default calendar to hang on my office door, but if I have to put things like doctor’s appointments in that calendar, I won’t be printing that stuff out to hang on my door. But I think that’s ok. Students and co-workers are much more accustomed to finding schedules online now, so I doubt anyone will miss it.

Things to know to make it work right (from my perspective)

  • Zimbra connection is achieved by setting up the Microsoft Exchange account options (as I noted in my previous post). Using these settings, I can let it sync wirelessly!
  • Two-thumbed scrolling gets you around on web pages that have scroll boxes in them.
  • You can uncheck “open iTunes when you plug this iPod in” for easier work re-charging (since an iPod can only sync with one installation of iTunes, and I regularly work with three to four different computers).
  • You can reorganize the icons on your main screen (as pointed out in the guide that comes with the iPod).
  • Searching google for instructions or apps or anything will go better if you search for iPhone and just realize you don’t have the phone or camera functions. Fewer people are writing about the iPhone’s lesser cousin, the iPod Touch.
  • The little plastic hook thingy that comes with the iPod is a stand. This was not obvious to any of us.
  • Bookmarking things (like google or the library catalog or google reader) is great. Placing icons on the main screen is even better.
Published inTools and Technology


  1. Frederick Frederick

    “scrolling with two thumbs”? Not sure I know what that accomplishes and I’ve had my iPod touch for quite a while.

  2. Iris Iris

    You know how, for example, user agreements appear situated on a web page, but they a housed inside their own box with a scroll bar on the side? So it’s like a window in a window? Well, if you try just regular flicking to scroll the page, it’ll move the outer window, but not the one inner one. To move the text in the inner window, you have to do it with two thumbs moving together.


    Hi Iris! Just want you to know that the single calendar is not a function of the iPhone nor Zimbra, it’s a limitation of ActiveSync, the protocol (language) used by the iPhone to sync over the air with servers like Zimbra, and Exchange. This is the same limitation people have with Treos running Palm or Windows Mobile using ActiveSync… one calendar at a time.

    You probably already know this, and you can see multiple of your own calendars, and even the ones shared to you from other people, using iZimbra. iZimbra is reachable through the Safari web browser built-in to your iPod Touch (and iPhones), just surf to the normal login window for your Zimbra server with Safari, and you can login to it. Happy scheduling!


    PS: Your Zimbra server needs version 5.0.7 or later for full support of the iPhone and iPod touch.

  4. GeekChic GeekChic

    Hi Iris: As someone who has used iThings for some time now – may I suggest that you and your colleagues purchase a USB charger for your iTouches. This will charge the items faster than through the computer (something that is useful if you have to charge every day).

    The one I currently use can be seen here: (it’s from Sonnet and is around $19).

  5. Iris Iris

    That does sound like a good idea, Geekchic. Thanks. :-)

    And GR. Thanks for the clarification! I still can’t figure out how to see calendars that have been shared with me on the mobile web interface. I must be missing something obvious. How do I do this?

  6. Tim Tim

    Iris, you don’t have to do anything special to do this. When you log into the mobile version of Zimbra from your iPhone or iTouch then click on the calendar tab you should be able to see your appointments as well as those on shared calendars. They should even be the correct color like they are in the normal web interface.

  7. Iris Iris

    Hmmm… Mine isn’t working like that, Tim. On the mobile interface I only see those calendars that I “own.” Not those that have been shared with me. I have about 10 calendars shared with me, too, so having them all on at once would be a problem of a different sort. And, in fact, even if it shows all the calendars I own that would be a problem unless I can turn some on and off. I coordinate a service point and created a zimbra calendar to manage student worker schedules.

  8. Iris Iris

    Ah HAH!!! I’ve figured it out. In the standard version I can see everything just like I can on my desktop. But in the mobile version I can only see those calendars that I had turned on last when I visited the non-mobile version. So if I turn on my work and personal calendars on my desk-top computer and then go about my day using the iPod Touch, I’ll be able to see my work and personal calendar items interfiled in the mobile interface. If I want to then see the student worker schedules, I have to leave the mobile interface, open the non-mobile interface, and turn that calendar on there.

  9. Rikhei Rikhei

    My dad and I have been chatting about battery life on the iPhone, so I thought I’d Google for ipod touch battery life. I thought this might be useful to you. :)


    Glad you figured it out, Iris! We placed your example in our knowledge base, in case our clients run into the same challenge.

    Note that Zimbra 5.0.9 will support multiple calendaring syncing with the iPhone over-the-air. We expect it will be available later this month, will announce our plans to upgrade on our Zimbra groupware blog when ready.

  11. Iris Iris

    Excellent news about the new Zimbra upgrade! Thanks. :-)

    And thanks for the link, Rikhei. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of turning down the screen brightness…. Everything else, I’d thought of. Just not that. Now the battery life seems much more reasonable.

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