In which I take forever to get to the point because I don’t give a damn about SEO

We recently upgraded Macbooks, and in the process of doing so, I came across the dilemma of what-do-I-do-with-my-iPhone-now? Having never owned an iPhone, or really even an iPod, before last September, this had never been an issue for me throughout the past three laptop switches.

Managing music on an Android phone is fairly easy– you have a memory card, you have a dedicated music folder on said card, you drop music files into said folder, and done! Music can be added from any computer, music can be accessed from any phone that reads said memory card.

iPhones? Bit more complicated. I greatly prefer the folder method on Android to the notion of syncing, and thus have always chosen to manually manage the music and video on my iPhone. The well-documented-and-bemoaned problem here is that one can only manage one's iPhone library from one specific iTunes library that is not linked in any way to one's iTunes account, which really just boils down to: iPhone == computer. New computer? New iTunes library! New iTunes library that politely demands you erase all the content on your iPhone before it allows you to manage that phone again!

Apparently, if I migrate my user account from the old computer to the new one, I can use iTunes like normal, no problems, no hassle. Except I don't want my old user account. One of the joys of a new computer is getting to start fresh, like moving to a new place– you delete all the stuff you suddenly realize you don't want and will never need, back up the things you also don't want but suspect you will someday possibly need, and then you begin your brand new computer life with a clean, clean slate.

Anyway. I found, as one is resourcefully wont to do on Google, articles on how to sync an iPhone on more than one computer (technically in more than one iTunes library). Tried them, got nowhere. Turns out all those articles only refer to versions of iTunes earlier than 10. Dug through Google a bit more and found this gem on MacRumors, which worked in principle but not verbatim. More or less, this was my process:

How to sync your iPhone/iPod/iPad/iWhatever to multiple computers running iTunes 10!

  1. Uninstall iTunes 10 on the new computer and delete all the files (including iTunes Music Library.xml and iTunes Library) in Music > iTunes
  2. Install iTunes 9.2 (http://forum.gsmhosting.com/vbb/archive/t-1028451.html). Open the app, do quick setup, then quit.
  3. Follow instructions here and disregard the iTunes 10+ revelatory claim. For the clever lazies who also don't need screenshots, the instructions are:
    • Open iTunes Music Library.xml in your old library and copy your Library Persistent ID. Paste it somewhere.
    • Open iTunes Music Library.xml in your new library. Find the Library Persistent ID. Copy the new ID and paste it somewhere. Replace it with the original ID. Save the file and close.
    • Download HexEdit here (somewhere else, obviously, if using Windows).
    • Open the (new) iTunes Library file in HexEdit. Search for the new Library Persistent ID (Hex, not ASCII). Replace it with the original ID. Save, close.
  4. Download the latest version of iTunes.
  5. Ta-da!

Note that if you don't have access to your old computer/iTunes library, you're screwed.

Also note that if you're the type who wants to treat your iPhone like a multifunctional hard drive, you're probably also going to be the type who wants transferring media to be a two-way street, so if you don't have a weapon of choice here yet, I highly recommend expod.

An excruciatingly rambling essay on why I love Gowalla

(NOTE: these are all purely my interpretations and could very well be 100% contrary to each company’s intentions. But I’m an English major; we were taught to interpret to the death, and love is always subjective.)

(SECOND NOTE: this turned out to be really fucking long. This isn't an apology. It's just a factual warning.)

I’ve never been a big fan of social identification-awareness apps. Partially because, yes, I have intermittent bursts of seclusion and I don’t exactly feel like broadcasting these (made obvious by the days of absolutely zero check-ins anywhere– if I never check-in, even when I am out-and-about, then who could ever know the difference?), but also because it feels more like an unwelcome chore (if I’m somewhere and I want someone else to come join me, I’ll just send a text). And finally, because the friends I have in Vegas– for whatever reasons of their own– don’t use any of these services, either. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t people in my city who use Loopt, Brightkite, Latitude, etc.– but I don’t know them, so why would I care where they are?

When we were in New York last month, Noah and I had lunch with two of the Foursquare founders. In preparation, Noah downloaded the app to his iPhone to get a feel of what Foursquare was all about, and ever since, he’s been using it. One of his observations from the first few days was that the social aspect aside, he liked using Foursquare simply as a way to keep track of where he’d been. 

I registered an account after that lunch meeting and used it a little on my Blackberry, but their mobile web app was bland and a little frustrating to use (ultimately, what I did was wait for Noah to check in, wherever we were, click on the location from his profile, then use that to check in myself), so after we left New York, I stopped using it. I did install it to my Hero once I’d made the switch, but a lot of the places I go aren’t registered yet in their system and creating new locations wasn’t worthwhile to me (I’m big on accuracy and precision and I never know the address of these places) [1]. Also, none of my Vegas friends use Foursquare. Also, I have a fairly good memory.

Enter Gowalla.

I actually found it through my Facebook news feed; a friend up in the Bay Area posted that he’d checked into a spot using Gowalla, and there was a colorful little icon accompanying the notification. I’ll be honest– if it hadn’t been for that icon, I would never have clicked through to the website (and if it hadn’t been for the presence in my news feed, I’d still be in obscurity regarding Gowalla’s existence), and as it turns out, Gowalla's iconic artwork is representative of everything that makes Gowalla so marvelous.

Foursquare is a social service with game-like features. Gowalla is a social game with service-like features.

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a difference between Gowalla and Foursquare (more or less the leader of social location-awareness apps). In both, you check in to places, create new ones if necessary, and publicize where you are to your friends (or the world, depending on your privacy settings) via Facebook or Twitter. 

In Foursquare, you get points for your activity– currently devoid of redeemable value, but for now they’re good for competition and psychologically it encourages its users to keep playing, and it’s certainly possible that Foursquare will roll out something in the future where those points *will* be redeemable. You can become a Mayor (of which businesses are starting to take advantage), you can leave tips and suggestions when you check in, and you can make to-do lists of places that others have visited that seem pretty cool to you, too. It’s like a condensed Yelp within your social circles.

Being superficial and easily won over with eye candy, I initially fell for Gowalla (despite not being able to play it at the time) because I liked their Passport feature. Instead of getting points when you check in somewhere, Gowalla gives you a stamp: either a generic icon reflective of that place’s category, or a custom icon if that place is considered noteworthy (as per Gowalla’s discretion, though they accept nominations for custom icons by their users). Thus, my main motivation to play Gowalla was to fill up a passport with adorable stamps.

So when Gowalla for Mobile Web was released this past Friday for Android users, I couldn’t have been more excited– except this beta doesn’t allow you to create spots (also impossible from the website) or drop/pick up Items (which I didn’t care about at the time). How could I fill up my Passport when the places around town that I visited the most weren’t created yet? So I was a little dismayed, but ultimately, grateful to just be able to participate in the game. I started to make a list of nearby Gowalla spots where I could check in and get my stamps.

Two stamps and a day later, I was a little defeated. Still passionate, of course, because I’ve known they’ve been working on a native Android app (I think all the Android-using Gowalla fans are clutching to this for hope), so it’s only a matter of time before the Android experience evolves into awesomeness. But interestingly enough, the fact that I desperately wanted to create locations but couldn’t made me start to reflect on why I wanted to create locations in the first place, and whether that was in line with why Gowalla wanted people to create locations.

Gowalla is about much more than just you

In Foursquare, locations exist because that’s where people are, once again reinforcing my statement above that it’s more a social awareness service. Want to be Mayor of your mailbox? It’s kind of lame, but there’s nothing stopping you from putting your mailbox on Foursquare, checking in there every day, and earning points and a Mayorship. All your friends will know that you are dedicated to participating in postal communications (unlike myself; I empty my mailbox approximately three times a month).

And there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same in Gowalla, but– there’s really just no point. You’ll get recognized as being the creator of the location, you’ll get a stamp for visiting it daily, but it’s hardly a point of interest to the general masses. But refraining from creating spots of everywhere you go? It's kind of hard to accept until you think about the Gowalla Passport in terms of a real-life passport (politics aside). What if you could take your little book and get stamps anywhere you went? Eventually, your passport would be so flooded with stamps from grocery stores and gas stations and subway stops and Taco Bells that 1) the concept of a stamp would lose its value and appeal, and 2) all the stamps of the really cool and special places (like the Monterey Bay Aquarium or that one cafe where Jason Mraz used to play all the time before he got big) would get lost in the mix.

Put another way– Gowalla isn’t about you. Again, hard to accept when all the other location-based games *are* all about you– where are you? Where have you been? Where are your friends? But it’s not that Gowalla doesn’t care about you or your life; it’s just, instead of valuing you (first) as an indi
vidual, Gowalla values you (first) as a member of a community, be it your local, everyday community or the community worldwide. Instead of just wanting to know where you are, Gowalla wants to know where you are where others would be interested in visiting, too, and why.

So instead of logging every single place you’ve been, the Passport should be a record of every single *interesting* place you’ve been. And maybe every single place you visit *is* interesting enough that others should definitely swing by– great! But in Gowalla, locations are more than just spots to check-in and get stamped. And this is because the Passport is really a secondary feature of Gowalla.

How Gowalla is a game before it’s a service: Trips

Trips are a specific set of Gowalla spots that fall under some common theme, like the Berkeley Coffeeshop Marathon or the Austin Bar Hop. When you complete a trip, you get a pin– an award of achievement, in a way. Trips provide users with a ready-made itinerary of places Gowalla (and/or the Gowalla community) thinks you should check out, which is awesome for those days when you want to go out and do something but you have no idea what. Even if you end up hating all the spots on your trip, at the end, you at least get rewarded! Yes, the reward is only an image. No, the image has no monetary value. Neither does the Monopoly card for Park Place. It's a game.

How Gowalla is a game, period: Items

I just now hopped onto the forum to look something up and stumbled upon this thread, where below in the comments, Dr. Barnabus Peddingferd sums up in one concise statement what I’ve been blathering about above and am about to continue blathering on below:

“Gowalla is not a social networking tool to tell your buddies where you're currently grabbing a pint so much as a traveling game more akin to Geocaching.”

At the heart of Gowalla are Items, virtual goods that can be dropped, picked up, or vaulted for keeping. Upon registering, you’re randomly assigned a random number of Items (I got five), and you’re also able to see Gowalla’s entire inventory of Items so you know what you’re missing from the collection (the Gowalla Wiki also has the comprehensive list here).

One aspect of the Gowalla game, then, is to have the complete collection of Items. This is tricky in that in order to pick up an Item, you have to leave one behind in its place; the only way to obtain an Item “for free” is by actively checking in at different Gowalla spots– it doesn’t happen every time at every place, but once in a while, a check-in will be rewarded with a bonus Item. (The wiki list offers tips on which categories of locations will reward a particular Item.) This turns Gowalla into something of an Easter egg hunt (or a treasure hunt, for you non-Gentiles like my boyfriend), where you can look through the spots around you to see if something you’re looking for has been dropped lately. Obviously, some objects are less distributed than others, making the collector’s-set quest difficult (in a positive way that simply encourages more gameplay and community interaction) to achieve.

But the other aspect of the game, the one which is “more akin to Geocaching” and the thing that makes me adore Gowalla the most, is sending an Item off on a journey and tracking its travels. Though there are only 85 Items (with new ones being introduced once in a while), every Item issued to someone (either via the first five for signing up or the random check-in bonuses) is unique. So while there is only one Yellow Kayak in the collection, there might be 1000 of them in the wild, each identifiable by a tracking number and a Gowalla website page.

On an Icon’s page, you can see its history– to whom it originally belonged, who has owned it since, and where it’s traded hands. Like this Airbag Industries Pin that was issued to someone in San Jose, made its way down the coast to San Diego, came over to Las Vegas and is now who knows where. Or these Bats which started in Washington and have traveled since to Chicago and New York. Or this Cowboy Hat, originally from Texas and now in a coffeeshop in Philadelphia via Las Vegas. Remember the garden gnome’s travels in “Amelie”? It’s kind of like that.

There’s no real, functional point to collecting Items or seeing if an Item can make its way around the globe; it’s just fun. And that’s why I say Gowalla is a social game before it’s a social service.

However.

“Who will win: Foursquare or Gowalla?”

As soon as I found out about Gowalla, I started pestering Noah to play, since he has an iPhone. He's consistently refused, however, insisting that he has a loyalty to Foursquare and he’s not going to cheat on them with Gowalla (even though Gowalla is from Austin and he loves Austin and Austin is where we fell in love).

I’ve tried to explain that he can play both without disloyalties because they serve different purposes, but despite everything I’ve written above– how the only spots in Gowalla should be points of interest for everyone and Gowalla isn’t meant to be a log of an individual’s daily whereabouts or a current-location broadcasting tool– well, that’s just my interpretation of what Gowalla is for. The reality of the situation is a bit different.

Remember how initially, I only cared about racking up stamps in my Passport, which meant my focus was purely on how many check-ins I could do, which meant I wanted to create spots for every place I frequented? I’m terribly embarrassed to confess that my first two stamps are from Petsmart and Trader Joe’s, that I actually wrote in a thread that I didn’t care about the Items aspect of Gowalla.

“I'm one of the first people (and by far the most active) in my area (Rochester, NY). I've been creating spots left and right. […] I've created spots for 2 liquor stores, a post office, 3 banks, a gym, my work, 2 grocery stores, 2 restaurants and a library, and have checked in a total of 19 times between those places.” -Cassandra (original thread)

“Was just out shopping/creating… When did apparel get split into men's and woman's? What about places that do both? And maybe kids too (ie Old Navy and the like)…” -Megan Bechtel-Pike (original thread)

I’m not alone in that early mentality, which should if anything be evidenced by the fact that Petsmart and Trader Joe’s existed as spots in the first place. (To be fair, I’m also hardly alone in thinking Gowalla spots should be limited to noteworthy locations; see below.) A lot of people, possibly most, sign up for Gowalla thinking (as I did) that it’s just a more visually appealing version of Foursquare, leading to creation of spots that may be heavily frequented bu
t not necessarily interesting.

Most of the discussions online regarding Gowalla only reinforce the comparison to Foursquare, particularly the debates and pontification on which of the two is better, which of the two will “win”. But to those of us who find Gowalla’s appeal in its games, the comparison is apples to oranges. Or high heels to flip-flops. Yes, Gowalla and Foursquare fall under similar categories (social, location-based), but ultimately they are different products that serve different purposes.

However.

I have no idea what Gowalla actually thinks

As I can’t stop stressing enough, this entire entry is based on my interpretation of Gowalla. For all I know, the Gowalla team does want to be direct competition with Foursquare and simply tried to distinguish its product by implementing the game features. Maybe Gowalla wants to be a Foursquare killer; maybe Gowalla wants its community to use Gowalla to let friends know where they are and where every single nearby sushi restaurant happens to be.

I really hope not, though. I get that those are really popular services right now, but neither of those are why I (now, after a lot of thinking) love Gowalla. If I wanted to know where the best [restaurant, auto repair shop, salon, etc.] is, I’d use Yelp or Google Maps (aside: those two really need to consolidate already). If I wanted to broadcast my location or log my activity, I’d use Foursquare or Latitude. But if I want to find out where all the nearby spots with cool histories to tell are and to do some virtual geocaching? Hey, Gowalla! What’s up?

Unfortunately, if Gowalla limited their check-in spots to only POI, activity would understandably decrease. How many people check in at their state’s Capitol every day, as opposed to the number of daily check-ins at Starbucks nationwide? And how would people play Gowalla if they lived in small towns with only four or five “noteworthy” locations? It would suck, and it wouldn’t seem fair.

“[Gowalla spots] should be about […] the true flavor of a city and something worth discovering.” -joepinelli

“If anything, take the advice of Gowallite, Curtis Williams (@lenier): "Pro Tip #743 – If you’re going to tag a McDonald’s, at least include an interesting fact – The Spot." Make that spot more than just another chain business.” -Dr. Barnabus Peddingferd

(original thread)

“It's interesting to see how new players go about when they first load Gowalla. They're most invested in creating spots anywhere and everywhere. Hopefully over time they learn to appreciate the art of creating quality spots. 

"But yeah, I'm not really a fan of creating spots at bus stops, mailboxes, etc unless they have something of interest, and if so, that spot creator should add such detail in the description. Nothing worse than going to check in to the spot, and look blankly around you like "what gives???".” -Irene (original thread)

On the one hand, there’s been no official word from Gowalla regarding their position on the existence of spots that are created for the sake of creation, and there certainly aren’t any regulations in place that prevent users from turning anything and everything into a spot.

On the other hand, one of the four components of Gowalla’s tagline is “Go Discover”, and at the end of a company blog post, Josh Williams writes, “My selfish goal for Gowalla is to see people go places they otherwise would never have ventured to go. Whether its a unique toy store down the street or one of the best beer and pizza joints in NorCal, I want you to get out there and Gowalla.”

Maybe the Gowalla team will figure out how to compromise. Brian Bailey (Official Rep) notes that they “use Featured Spots to highlight some of the truly unique and interesting spots in a city” (this category would be redundant if spots were restricted to *only* unique and interesting ones), but also that they “definitely want to focus on what makes a city special, though, so we hear you and we'll continue to explore how to do that.”

My selfish, snot-nosed wish? That Gowalla doesn’t want to directly compete with Foursquare, etc. by marketing itself as another social networking/location broadcasting game, and that it holds both the Items games and the discovery/sharing of the locations that make each city “special” as its top priorities. It's totally not fair that there are people who live in places where there aren't many unique locations that give that area its signature flavor, but you know what else isn't fair? The fact that Las Vegas isn't home to either an Ike's or a Bay Cities or a Tacodeli. Or outdoor miniature golf courses. But I have no claims of entitlement; those business owners don't owe me anything, and they're not going to compromise their plans and best interests just because I, or even a group of people who share my desires, can't take part in their products or services unless I travel away from home. 

(This, by the way, also applies to Gowalla's platform compatibility. I'm anxiously looking forward to the Android app (or even full gameplay integration on the Mobile Web app), but I'm not demanding it, and I'm not angry because it "still" isn't out yet. Request To People Who Are Angry About Such Things: please lay off. Gowalla knows you non-iPhoners want to play, too, and I highly doubt they are deliberately keeping your participation at bay. Just be patient while they continue to work on this completely free product that isn't going to cost you even a cent to use.)

I do, of course, find it very laughable that I’m so crazy about something I can’t even fully use yet– though I joked a while ago about installing it on Noah’s iPhone and playing it that way (and after finally getting my sampler sneak preview of Gowalla via the Mobile Web app, I don’t think that’s a joke anymore)– to the point where I can go on so extensively about it and have even gotten involved in the community forum. I’m participating in forum threads! Do you have any idea how huge that is, that I’ve become so invested in a product and its user base that I’m openly offering up my voice, my thoughts, my opinions? HUGE. Times a lot. Plus seven.

So, anyway, cheers, Gowalla. I’m rooting for your success.

[1] CORRECTION: I didn't know you could edit addresses of places you create on the Foursquare website. This makes me a lot more amenable to creating addresses on the fly, which would be necessary for just about everywhere I go.

Sometimes four-and-a-half, if I have enough milk.

I just downloaded Google Maps 3.2.0 for Blackberry solely because it has the new Layers feature integrated and– actually, no. I downloaded it primarily because 3.2 isn't out for the iPhone yet so for the time being I can finally brag that my phone can do something that an iPhone can't, other than 1) make calls and 2) alert me of new messages and missed calls and low battery levels via a status LED; and secondly because the guy in the demo video had a cute voice. 

But anyway, I downloaded it and without really thinking about it, signed in to enable the Latitude layer, and then I started adding people, and *then* I remembered why I never use Latitude! For the same reason that I don't really like to use Foursquare! Because it's not that I'm averse to sharing with others what bar or restaurant or cafe or whatever I'm currently patronizing. I just really don't need to broadcast to anyone the fact that I am perfectly fine with shutting myself indoors and not leaving the house for three days straight.

I made those examples up. But they sound impressive and complicated.

Unless you want something insanely complicated, like double firewalls with bypass security protection or hidden MAC addresses with IP subnet masks that allow you to assign different network functions to individual ports while running a VNC that you can access when you’re on the road, there’s really no need for you to PAY someone to “install” an internet network in your home. I’ve always suspected it was something of a rip-off, especially considering how much most cable companies will charge people to set up wireless networks.

Anyway. D.’s internet service is through Comcast and I guess he had the Comcast guy do everything, except he wasn’t home when the technician did his magic. As a result, D. has never had the password to his network, but the technician had it so that D.’s Macbook automatically connected (through the stored password), so this was an inconvenience, but not really a noticeable one. For D.

Then he got a roommate at the end of July. D. always *meant* to call Comcast to get this issue resolved (via having another technician come back out and re-do everything, except while D. was actually home), but as to date, it still hasn’t happened. So his roommate hasn’t been able to access the internet. For over a month.

Enter me. D. went to do a tour of the West Wing this afternoon, and I was sitting on the couch eating candied pecans and watching Tropical Storm Hanna infiltrate D.C. when D.’s roommate came out of his room. He had to edit some papers and needed the internet for it, and of course D. had volunteered use of *his* computer, but his roommate was kind of resigned about resorting to that. At which point I looked at the wireless router sitting underneath the cable box and said, you know, all you’d really have to do is reset the router to its factory settings and then re-establish the network with a new SSID and password.

Being such a considerate and unimposing person, D.’s roommate said no, no, it’s okay, I don’t want to risk something going wrong.

NOT being such a considerate and unimposing person, I insisted it would be a piece of cake and we’d even be doing D. a favor this way (by not having to deal with Comcast) and threw a pencil at him and told him to hit the reset button on the router.

The router reset. I connected D.’s Macbook to the router via ethernet and tried to access the gateway page. User ID: admin, password: password. Because that’s what the Netgear defaults are.

And: access denied. By the fifth time and the third reset, I was convinced that there was something wrong with either the keyboard or my literacy. D.’s roommate was starting to panic, but I persevered– it wasn’t like I’d *broken* anything, and worst-case scenario, D. would just have to call Comcast when he got home and get the gateway login information from them. He might be annoyed about it, but it wouldn’t be anything a cookie accompanied by Big Eyes wouldn’t pacify.

Either way. I’ve mentioned before? That I have ridiculously amazing search engine skills? And yeah, those skills totally pulled through. Turns out Comcast reconfigures the defaults for their Netgear routers, so in case you, too, were thinking of resetting someone else’s Comcast-branded Netgear router (D.’s is a CG814WG), the gateway address is 192.168.0.1, the default user login is “comcast” and the default password is “1234”.

In short, I’m writing this from *my* computer on the floor of D.’s living room. He hasn’t come back yet, but I’ve been celebrating myself with Cookies & Cream Haagen-Dazs ever since the success and now D.’s roommate can check his email from his own bedroom. It’s been a pretty awesome afternoon.

Hey! Hey look! Look at what I got done while I was surrounded by dudes in the middle of the desert!

Since there were those whole two or three months when I wasn’t writing much, thus the front page content wasn’t updating often, you probably haven’t scrolled down to the bottom of the page in a while. Some weeks ago, I finally finished working on the design for the footer and tacked it on, and last night and this morning I put the finishing touches on my "About" and "Links" pages.

Derek Powazek mentioned once that there should always be something at the bottom of the front page as a sort of "reward" for the reader’s making it all the way down there. Something like that. I would look for it, except I’m being rushed out the door for a last-second trip BACK to Vegas (and then we come back tomorrow morning so I can pick up my car, and then it’s off to Fullerton for the rest of the weekend). Either way, that was his general idea and I really liked it and now I’m finally implementing it.

So, yeah. Check it out! And have a great weekend. ::muah!::

Over it like a bridge over water. Or like Tom Cruise’s career.

Also, a heads-up: the site might be a little messed up for the rest of this week. "Might" being an operative word: what *should* happen is, I’ll work out the CSS kinks on a test page and then apply the debugged templates to this site.

What *tends* to happen is, I start hacking away at the active site code one section at a time at 2 a.m., thinking I’ll have it finished in a few hours, and then by 3 a.m. I’m frustrated and tired and I leave everything in shambles (technically functional but shit to look at) and don’t touch it again for days.

We’ll… uh, we’ll see. To be absolutely honest, what will *probably* happen is: absolutely frigging NOTHING. Because how long have I been saying I’m going to do this redesign? EXACTLY. Japan, I love you, but I am so over your cherry blossoms.

[UPDATE, 5:56 a.m.: So, some things are gone. They’ll be back-ish later. Um. A lot later. Also, my lastn and offset commands aren’t working properly; despite the configs, nothing beyond 5 posts gets displayed with the MTEntries tag. I’m so irritated right now.]

I used to think he was saying “the city of cotton”

Apparently I go through this phase often enough that I’m actually aware that it’s a phase. But, uh, yeah. I have about eleventy thousand hundred and two posts 90% written and saved as drafts. None of them have titles. I can’t let myself post anything unless it’s titled, and my title-generating machine is out-of-service. Someone’s scheduled to come by and repair it tomorrow between the hours of noon and never.

Anyway. Geo lecture was canceled today so I had an extra hour to dick around in the library stacks (which were freezing cold today), so I decided to participate in the song chart meme that’s been going around the Internet (again, I know this isn’t new or anything) like HepB and flu combined:

This is getting ridiculous.

My Frankenbook G4 is finally home for good

You might be thinking that I’m REALLY FRICKING EXCITED! right now because I’m using Kipper right now, but not only am I using Kipper, I’m using him on the other side of the room from the router and the only wire plugged into him right now is the power adapter. And I’ve had nothing but a steady, full-strength wireless signal for the last hour. And I’m even picking up signals from other networks in the neighborhood.

And, it’s true. I have to admit, it’s true, I am excited that the wireless in this here laptop is finally working properly. But *mostly* I’m excited because I am finally at liberty to let loose my seething wrath re: the bullshit that is CompUSA.

Reasons why I hate (the) CompUSA (tech shop [on Sahara]):

  1. The phone system: First, you have to navigate the menu to be redirected to the tech shop. But after only four rings, if no one picks up, you’re automatically looped back to the introductory message and you have to be redirected all over again. This wouldn’t be SUCH a maddening ordeal were it not for…
  2. The customer service, or lack thereof: Nobody picks up the phone in the tech shop, which means you might go through the phone loop thing a good 6 or 7 or 19 times before making contact with a human being. This is partly because the tech shop is somewhat understaffed, I’m guessing– but even when someone does, by a blue-moon-miracle chance, answer the phone, 9 times out of 10 they’re going to answer with, "Hello?" Hi, you may be the tech shop, but you’re the tech shop of a professional business, so maybe you should answer the phone a little more, oh, I don’t know, professionally? And god forbid you need to leave a message for, say, the tech lead, because guaranteed he won’t get back to you. What? You’ll hold while the tech lead is paged? Oh, okay, should only take about 20 minutes to find him and get him over here.

    And even face-to-face, the tech "pros" kinda suck when it comes to common-sense customer service. There was only one guy at the front desk for the tech shop this afternoon, and when I got there he was engaged in conversation with some really old customer, trying to explain how a wireless router can also serve as a wired router and blah blah blah. The customer was not getting it, even after 10 minutes of s.l.o.w., repetitive explanations. Finally, though, I guess he got it and asked for help in finding a good router. So the tech dude wandered off with the customer onto the sales floor and was gone at least another 10 minutes before finally returning to the counter to help the guy standing in front of me. No apology for the wait (and I could tell the guy in front of me had been waiting for some time already by the time I walked into the store).

  3. Hi! Have I mentioned the fact that it’s been 18 months since this whole process began? I have? Well I probably *haven’t* mentioned the fact that when I turned Kipper in (18 MONTHS AGO) I pointed out that probably this little metal piece that plugs into the Airport card would have to be replaced because look! It’s not properly attached to the little wire! And that, in the process of trying to fix the wireless on Kipper, the tech lead replaced every other goddamned thing *except* that little metal piece (one at a time over a span of about 15 months) until a month ago when I reminded him that, hey, maybe it’s that little metal piece that plugs into the Airport card that needs to be replaced. And he said, oh, and ordered the part, and king of kings, everything’s working beautimously now.

I have more reasons, but those would be the main ones.

The CompUSA out here in Henderson closed last month. The one on Sahara is in the process of having a massive clearance sale, and I don’t know if that’s indicative of an upcoming closure, but suffice to say I will be far from heartbroken if Best Buy soon becomes the only remaining third-party Apple retailer in town.

(I guess there’s still Fry’s, but after a shit experience with Fry’s in San Diego, I don’t even consider going to them for expensive electronics anymore.)

Actually it’s the alt-text, which I was too lazy to reproduce here, that’s relevant

xkcd

Years ago when I was still at USD, I came home one summer to take classes at UNLV. After setting up my RebelMail account, someone in Student Computing gave me anti-virus software CDs (one for Windows, one for Macs) for free. I showed them to my dad later that day and he looked quizzically at the one which was for the OS X platform.

He had a point. I’ve never seen Norton installed on any Mac I’ve ever used; in the almost-three years I’ve had Kipper (PowerPC) and the over-one year I’ve had the Mini (Intel), I haven’t had to deal with spyware or viruses or any related iterations and variations. It’s de-lovely.

I always missed that second button, too

As if it really bears repeating: I love Macs. I’ll use a PC when necessary (software compliance, etc.), but really? My heart is with Macs. They’re pretty and stable (don’t start with me on Linux– no– NO, DON’T START WITH ME) and, well, yeah, kinda overpriced. But at least I’m not performing system operations and maintenance on my Mac every week and having to download and install service packs every other day.

That being said– I *love* this article by Charlie Brooker of the Guardian Unlimited: "I Hate Macs."

[Re: the "I’m a Mac/I’m a PC" television spots that used to air]

…When I sit down to use a Mac, the first thing I think is, "I hate
Macs", and then I think, "Why has this rubbish aspirational ornament
only got one mouse button?" Losing that second mouse button feels like
losing a limb. If the ads were really honest, Webb would be standing
there with one arm, struggling to open a packet of peanuts while
Mitchell effortlessly tore his apart with both hands.

I’ve never read a better-argued opinion from an anti-Mac person, never had such a scathing take on Macs make me laugh so very hard. Glorious!