January 31st, 2006


(no subject)

I generally don't require a lot of help with my computer.


I generally don't require a lot of help with my computerS.

I've got a Mac Mini in my living room, which is cabled up to my TiVo, so I can archive episodes of The Tick and Good Eats to DVD. By the way, my DVD player doesn't play the DVDs I've been archiving. That doesn't bother me a whole lot, and it's certainly outside the thrust of this post. But still, it'd have been nice for DVDs to settle into a consumer-writable format a lot earlier (DVD+R, DVD-R? come ON!).

This weekend, I was moving hardware and software between and within various Linux boxes. I think I've fixed one of the problems plaguing my web/mail/file server. And part of that juggling dance involved taking the monitor from my Mini to the web server. (I'm about 2 monitors short of where I'd like to be, and that's after the KVM switches.)

Once I had got my server mostly where I wanted it, I gave up for the night. And then I noticed the lights on the video converter gizmo that sits between my TiVo and the Mini. They were blinking in a charming (I suppose) but completely unfamiliar way. I poked and prodded, and realized that the Mini was now failing to power up. Guh.

Fast forward to Monday morning, I'm on the phone with tech support. (I cite the fact that I don't often require help with my computers as both cause and effect of the fact that being on tech support was a painful experience.)

Fast forward past reproducing the same attempts that I tried, reading from the official web page of troubleshooting. Oh, well, you've got to bring it in, Mr. Tech Support says.

Oh, well.

Turns out that part of bringing it in involves using a Quicktime applet to make a same-day reservation. The Quicktime applet does not remember your information between invocations. If the day has been booked solid, the screen that the applet displays is friendly, but not full of useful information. Information like when I should try again.

So, being awake at 4:45 am, I blearily paw my way through this awkward (but pretty!) interface again, and manage to secure for myself an appointment with a "Genius". Woo!

My ambivalence over the Apple brand has collected a new population of experiences. I'm reminded of somebody's gripe about MacOSX and XCode - XCode is a surprisingly nice development environment for free, and MacOSX updates are surprisingly expensive. The griper in that case suggested that he didn't understand why Apple chose that direction instead of making things more convenient for the wider audience. Similarly, entering my name into a web form is surprisingly non-standard and in this case non-standard yields loss of usability. And it seems like usability is one of the goals of the Apple experience.

Perhaps the 4:45 am experience of a PC-savvy geek isn't central to their web presence strategy.


... which, I imagine, has a technical definition. Perhaps an individual having over 200 IQ. I could look it up, but bah, who has time for that?

I took my little brick of mac in over lunch today, and it booted first try for the guy behind the counter. Maybe he is a genius after all. I mean, that's who my appointment was with - a genius. And that's what his shirt said.

Anyway, he's going to give it to the elves in the back of the store and if he can't find anything wrong with it, we might just write it off as a loose connection - perhaps the bluetooth module had become partially unseated. (I really don't often have the opportunity to write sentences using both 'tooth' and 'seat'.)

The point here being that the guy I handed the machine over to was ready the moment I walked into the store (it helps that I was very close to running late), and he was knowledgable and discerned that I, too, was a geek, so he spoke to me using acronyms that I pretty much understood. So. I'm still not sure if he's a genius, but I'm happy calling him a guru.

Mostly unrelated - at lunch, I overheard the waitress getting excited because she had got a new quarter she hadn't seen before. It wasn't a state quarter, that much she could discern. A while later, I heard her relate that the quarter she was so excited about was a bicentennial quarter.

That at once makes me feel both geeky and old. I guess if you're younger than me and/or not at all interested in coin collecting, you might have lived your entire life not noticing that quarters minted in 1976 had that drummer guy on the back.

I'm really not that into coin collecting, by the way.