Category: consumer

The Worst Black Friday

If you actually know me, then you know I wait (impatiently) for this day. The day of all days. Black Friday. Thanksgiving, sure. See family, talk, laugh, eat, plan, eat, plan, eat, plan. It’s fun. How early are you leaving? What are you looking for? Don’t get that, it’s piece of shit! It’s fun! I make my list (have been for a month) of what I’m going to get and where. Whether it’s out during the day or online the Thursday before. This is what I do.

So for me to say that this was the worst is kind of a big thing.

Let’s start with Thursday: Very little family. I was disappointed. A chunk of the Ft Worth people couldn’t make it due to car trouble. Fine. Not their fault, shit happens.Grump. We ate. we watched football. There was weird cold drama that resulted in a weird mini explosion about a $15 can opener I swear to god. So Thursday was just weird as hell.

I sit Thursday and plan, and order stuff from amazon like I always do. Then I go to Best Buy online. There’s a camera bundle. Right there. For the ordering. Best Buy will ship it to me at that BF price. Nah, says I. Last year you could stroll in at like 6pm Friday and buy it [BAD MOVE].

I ask my mom if she’s going out with me. Last year she didn’t. It was a bit lonely but I got stuff done. My sister dropped out years ago. There’s nothing worth going out. But she asks where I’m going. I name some places then say “then I’ll head to Barton Creek Mall.” She says “well, I’ll do that. can you come get me and your other aunt? She likes to shop!” YEAH! That’ll be cool! I don’t get to see this aunt very often so FUCK YEAH! “Okay, I’ll come get you about 9am.” SWEET!

I get home at 1:30am. Then immediately buy a Thing because SOMEONE didn’t give me their list until Thursday. Set my alarm for 6:15 and sleep the sleep of the half dead. Get up bright and early, have a protein shake! The plan:
1) Blitz Target. This is where I usually get the stuff I’m looking for.
2) Head up the highway to Blitz Best Buy for that camera bundle and other Thing.
3) Head further up the highway to meander to the outlet mall and wander. See what’s what. I have no specific stores in mind because my list is fairly short.
4) Meander back down south, hit some shops or not.
5) Go home to do a package dump, eat a little something, take my pills
6) Go get mom and aunt.


Target: Fuck you Target. The one goddamn thing I wanted, that they have 364 days of the year, THEY DID NOT HAVE. Not sold out, just NOT THERE. No tag, no shelf space. Bought $35 of stuff. I usually do over $100 on BF. It was empty but I dunno. That vibe was just all wrong.

Get to my car. FLAT FUCKING TIRE. Fuuuuuck. NTB is right up the street. It is now 7:15. They open at 7:30 (thank god!) and about 45 minutes later I’m all patched and done and I have had breakfast far too early but now I’m OFF SCHEDULE. Run to Best Buy.

No one is working cameras. NO. ONE. Because they are horrible people. It doesn’t seem very busy but where the hell is anyone? Three of us kinda want that bundle. One guy is dithering and I want to kill him. He spent 10 minutes trying to convince me to get the other bundle (other bundle < what I want) then changes his mind 15 times. The worker finally appears and I let the guy go first since he was here first. Once he’s done dithering, he at least says “oh hey, can you check that bundle for both of us?” Nice enough. I also throw in “and I also need Thing B.”

Worker goes to back and returns empty handed. No bundles. That’s fine. Where’s Thing B that I asked for? “Oh yeah”. Okay, look, maybe if they had been open since the day before I could understand being out of it. But they closed at midnight and reopened at 8am. Fuck him. He leaves and comes back I go stand in line. There are 2 people in front of me and all 4 checkstands are occupied. Fine. But no one can figure out how to scan item, swipe card, bag item, leave. I don’t know what in the fuck is taking so long. Jesus Christ. I get to a counter. Thing B is in a security box. THAT HE CAN’T OPEN. The tool won’t work. Then it starts alarming. Loudly. He gets someone else to open it. Fine. I pay I leave and MOTOR to MY HOUSE to drop off one sad little bag and take my pills and pee.

Now I’m hauling ass to my mom’s house because to me, I’m late. it’s after 9. Dammit! Get to my mom’s house and to their credit, they’re ready. Sweet. Then I say “I gotta check your best buy” Sure, they said! Her Best Buy is packed like crazy. And someone is working cameras! Yay! “Hey you got that bundle?” “Er, no, but we have the parts and can build it!” SWEET. I have 2 employees and a manager building this bundle. All working together to get this sale. Yeah. No. As they gather parts it is becoming increasing clear that they cannot do this. This cable is never sold alone, they never have it in stock, the bag is a special branded bag that doesn’t have a SKU. The bundle itself is a different SKU. The computers will not even let them see if anyone else has it or even try to build the bundle. They are very apologetic and I appreciate that they tried. But then they ruined it. “Well, I can sell you the Thing and the memory.” Well no shit you can sell me the fucking thing alone! I reply “Do you see how that’s not remotely the same thing?” I shrug and walk off. As I walk off, there’s a cardboard display stand. Full of Thing Bs. No security box in sight. *sigh* Grumpy because I could have ordered the goddamn thing the day before and not worried, we pile in the car and head to the mall.


Mom and aunt haven’t eaten breakfast. Cool. I say “hey, upstairs is the food court. I’m gonna run to Gamestop [WRONG MOVE] and I’ll meet you up there!” Cool! A plan! I go to Gamestop. Fuck me running, I hate shopping at Gamestop and I never remember why until I get there. I circle the store looking for Thing. Could not find Thing so I ask “hey where is Thing? Did I miss it?” “Oh yeah, you did they are right here.” Nice! I pick up Thing and go to checkout.
Him: “Do you have a rewards card?”
Me: “No”
Him: “Would you like to sign up for one?”
Him: “No”

THIS IS WHERE IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED. But no, Bitchface McTrendyAss pipes up.

Bitchface: *GASP* (yes. a real live loud as fuck gasp) YOU DON’T WANT TO EARN POINTS?!?!?
Me: (not even looking up at her) NOPE!

Goddamn I hate that shit. It happens every goddamn time I go. No I don’t want your shitty rewards card. I never will. I have a momentary lack of judgement perhaps once every 12-18 months and find myself in your store. It is not worth it. Ever.


Upstairs to the food court I go. My mom and aunt went to Chik-Fil-A. It was packed. crazy packed. It’s fucking salty chicken, folks! ANyway. I just get a small fries and a small lemonade. That’s it. I hear around me people asking if they’re still serving breakfast [this is somehow important]. I hear yes and no and dithering. Whatever. Just gimme my damn fries. Guy hands me my bag and says “Here’s your order. Oh and a free chicken biscuit.” Oh hey thanks! Go to the table, unpack my stuff. My mom goes “what’s that?” “Oh I just ordered fries and he just said ‘here’s a free chicken biscuit.'” You would have thought that I said they were giving away cars to people specifically not my mom or my aunt or something. Both sides of me (mom and aunt) launch into “They said they weren’t selling breakfast! I didn’t want the sandwich I just wanted NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE!” Jesus H Christ! I didn’t even want the fucking thing, holy shit! “TAKE IT TAKE IT TAKE I’M NOT GONNA EAT IT!” is all I could say. We eat, they chime in every so often with “they said they weren’t serving breakfast!” Then. It happened. Two older women asked us if we were churchgoers. Er…whut? They asked what it meant when you could feel grief in your chest. Physically feel the grief. That’s when I realized where I get my gift of bullshit from. Each side of me got silent, then came forth the possible explanations. That were of course bullshit, meant only to placate. And this lady wasn’t hearing it. Everything to her was doom and gloom and FUCKING WEIRD. They eventually left as did we not knowing what in the actual fuck just happened.

JC Penney:
Every year for the last couple of years, I can find a brand of jeans I like on sale. They’re comfy, they fit, they stretch, they’re pretty hard wearing. This year? NOPE! One goddamn rack and none of them on sale. Now I’m hot and sweaty part because of the prednisone and part because Texas doesn’t know what the fuck. The high was in the 70’s and no one had the air running properly because it was somewhat chilly (NOT) overnight.

No one wants my money. Best Buy didn’t want it, JC Penney wanted to part of it. Who will take my money? THE LEGO STORE. They love me, right? We wander over and split up, me to the wonderful world of LEGO and my mom and aunt to Macy’s.

I love you. You took my money, happily. I am pleased.

Nothing was bought, I wasn’t looking for anything there. We looked at cookware. I think my mom wanted to buy some for my other aunt (the one being weird Thursday) until I said something. Let’s just say I related a comment from the night before and the fucking apocalypse happened.

Why? There’s nothing for me there. Or anyone. Overpriced, poor selection, just ugh.

Old Navy:
Shit I didn’t need. But it was half off the whole store. The American way, I tells ya.

So mall is done. Now we head to Southpark Meadows. This used to be an utdoor concert venue. Now it’s a big ass strip mall. Makes me sad. We hit the Target. My mom insists I keep saying there is an item here that she should look at. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The thing I want her to look at I would NEVER buy at Target. Because she’s thinking of cheap, no name brand Thing. A Thing you should NEVER BUY AS A NO NAME. Anyway. Again, they didn’t have Thing They Usually Have (bastards). They also didn’t have Other Thing I Was Looking For. But it’s Target and I still like Target. We hit the small appliances where the words “I’m not paying $15 for a can opener for her.” were uttered. This is a callback to the night before. The sight of a $15 can opener causes yet another mini apocalypse. I do not know what in the actual fuck is going on, but it’s both entertaining (not happening to me!) and disturbing. We hit another aisle and I see a thing my sister said she wanted because it was a good idea. I mention it to my mom. Previously I had told her about it and she said it wasn’t worth it. This day? She just threw it in the basket with a “Okay!” Mind boggled. We wander around the store when suddenly we see The Things. Like, tons of them. 10 of this huge one, 15 of this not so huge one, plenty of the $99 no name special, just tons. Almost as if no one knew about this Target but it was busier than others. Again, my mom makes a beeline for the No Name and I put my foot down. Because I’m the one who’s gotta hear it when shit breaks! I think she finally gets it because she says “well, what price range should I look for?” when I tell her, she like “okay fine.” Then we see it. A stack of name brand Thing. She rushes to make sure she has her card, I rush to my phone to make sure it’s not crap. It’s not. Someone has scored a pretty nice Thing.


We leave. And I can’t help it. There’s a Best Buy. I had to try.

Best Buy #3:
Short and sweet.
Me: Do you have bundle?
Her: We might. *calls in over radio* Nope, we sold out yesterday.
Me: okay, thanks
Her: But we do have the Nikon–
Me: Nope.
Her: Alrighty then.
Me: thanks anyway.

In and out in 5 minutes. WITH NOTHING.

I drop people off, I get hair done, get home and start surfing. I go to Canon’s site. The bundle deal? Yeah, that’s an across the board Black Friday deal. It was available from ANY CANON DEALER. Meaning, I could have ordered directly from the site. I do! And they’re sold out. FUCK! But the better Thing is on sale too. Well, I don’t wanna pay that much. I hem and haw. Then see they have massive discounts of refurbs. Yeah. I managed to get a better thing, same accessories, for about the same goddamn price, free shipping direct from Canon, AND I used a cash back site so I’m getting $13 back. Fuck you, Best Buy!

Somehow, every Black Friday, I get home tired and shopped out. I shower, relax, maybe nap. Then head to Opal Divine’s for dinner with friends. Why Opal Divine’s? By the time dinner rolls around, I’m ready to SHOP MORE and feel the need to hit Fry’s to see the aftermath of the carnage. This year? Not so much carnage. Why? They did promo codes. Why in the fuck did they do that? You had to sign up online to get promo codes in your email that you had to show in store to get the prices. I don’t even know. It’s like they don’t want anyone to shop there. Why would you make it harder for people to shop there? What was wrong with having an ad and having people come into the store and buy shit? Big fail, Fry’s. Big fail.

Anyway. I get home and then proceeded to order everything for everyone imaginable. Knocked out 80% online between Thursday and Sunday.

Then Saturday happened. I was going to go to Lane Bryant to see if I could find a nice dress for a party and go to World Market because i like World Market. THIS WAS MY MOST SUCCESSFUL SHOPPING TRIP. Mom takes Friday, I claim Saturday. Planned to just look, found what I was looking for and then some. This. This was the feeling I was missing from Friday.

So, I’d like to give a huge shout out to all you asshole retailers who were open on Thursday and people who actually went out that day:
Hey. Screw you. You ruined it for the rest of us who like to go out on Friday. I’m not talking about “oh I didn’t get that deal” because screw that camping out crap. I mean just being out in it. You guys made it suck. It was simply no fun. It really wasn’t. And it made me sad.

So, good job, jerkfaces.

The Hunt Begins….

Sunday night, ABC aired a Schoolhouse Rock special to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary. It got me thinking. Where in the hell is my disc 1? I own the 30th anniversary dvd set. Bought it….10 years ago. And the first disc has disappeared. It’s gotta be somewhere in the house, somewhere in my office. Welp. Let’s get looking!


Hrm. Not in this box of unmarked discs and cases!

All that’s left to do is search every other case on my shelf. In this digital age, it shouldn’t take too long…


Just as I was about to think positively about TWC…

Last night. 8:23pm. Home phone rings. 1-800 number. But my cell phone rings too. So it’s someone with my Google Voice number. I answer.

me: Hello? *nothing* Hello? *clicks* HEY! HELLO! (I give you three times)
Jake: This is Jake from Time Warner Cable! How are you?
me: Fine. (tersely)
Jake: Good! So I see you have our internet service. Are you interested in our tv and home phone service?
me: NOPE! Not one bit!
Jake: Oh. Well if you ever need us….

You motherfuckers. You had me. I was giving you actual praise for not upselling when I called Friday. Only to find that you just call back later for the sell. I was on the phone for 30 minutes for a 3 minute action. Not ONCE did I get an apology (Twitter does not count). I was on the phone that fucking long, don’t you think that I would have said “Yes please sign me up for your shitty DVR and crappy cable as well as IP phone that I still can’t rely on!”

Fuck. You.

RIP Slingbox Solo: Jan 2012 – Jul 2013

Slingboxes are awesome. I had a Slingbox Pro for a few years. At least 5 years. It worked like a dream. I could watch the bedroom TV from my office, I could watch TV from work (hey, we just got laid off. Zero fucks were given that month). It was glorious. Then one day, it refused to connect. The web interface (which I LOATHE! Why, WHY in the fuck should I have to log into a web page to watch a tv that is in the next goddamn room and on the same fucking internal network????) couldn’t find it either. That’s when I knew, my poor Slingbox Pro was dead.


Slingbox Pro, I miss you so much.

Being hopelessly addicted to visual entertainment, I bought the Slingbox Solo. It was smaller, sleeker, less ports. And for 18 glorious months we lived in harmony. It worked on the website, it (more importantly) worked with the ancient desktop software that I refuse (REFUSE) to give up. Then, late(ish) Tuesday night I smelled cigarette smoke. Really bad cigarette smoke. Like cigarettes soaked in old pee. I stood and sniffed. And sniffed. The funk was strong in the bedroom. FUCK! I sniffed the DISH receiver. It was overly warm, but no. It was not the culprit. The little used DVD player (Phillips 5960 represent! Region unlocked, muthafuckas!) was not either. I lifted the Slingbox and inhaled. HOLY CHRIST HOW IS MY ROOM NOT FILLED WITH SMOKE?!?!?!?!


No lights. It was dead. No reason. Wasn’t even using it. So I look around. It was well out of warranty. Which didn’t seem to matter since Sling Media still charges for support after the first 90 days.

Well. Fuck. I google a bit more and see it could be a couple of blown capacitors. Hey! I have a soldering iron and like $10 to spend on capacitors! I crack open the case. Caps are fine. GREAT! But what is this?

Is…is that what I think it is?

Is that a….


Yup. Burned the fuck out. What is that? Word on the street is that it’s a diode. Replaceable? Possibly. Bypassable? YUP! Am I going to do that? Fuck no. $70 gets me a refurbed unit that will be here in a couple days.

So why not get a new one? Because the new ones run too much fucking money and ONLY work the retarded ass web interface that I hate so goddamn much.

Will this one die the same death? Possibly. Nothing else in this stupid world lasts. Just being a good little Consumer Whore.

This year AT&T announced that they were capping bandwidth for DSL and U-Verse subscribers. 150GB for DSL and 250GB for U-Verse. This, in short, is bullshit. “How can you possibly use 250GB worth of data”? Steam and Netflix, motherfucker. The Internet is not just for checking your goddamn mail. It’s for porn. Duh. Anyway, I voted with my wallet and ditched them When they asked why I cited the bandwidth caps and the fact that the connection would drop whenever it felt like it. They offered to send a “last chance technician”. What the hell could he do that the previous 10 techs couldn’t? They’re rewired the phone and U-verse drop. They laid new wire in the ground from the house to the box in my neighbor’s yard. They put in filters. They grounded everything. Still, dropouts and my phone STILL has static. My neighbor had 13 techs out in about a month and a half timespan. I only had the U-verse internet. They had the TV as well. The problem obviously lies with them.

Since I live in Austin, my only other choice for broadband was Fucking Time Fucking Warner Fucking Cable. Christ how I hate them I hate them so very very much. “But, Topenga, surely you can get Grande Communications!”. No. No I cannot. I live maybe a mile from their offices. I can’t get them. “Comcast”? Nope. “Cox”? Nope. Time Warner is it. But they don’t have caps. And DOCSIS 3.0 is coming soon (might already be here). So I begrudgingly sign up over the internet. My install time is a Thursday 1-3pm. Fine.

1pm: no call, no tech. fine, he’s got 2 hours.
2:58pm: Tech calls and says he was over booked. He’ll be able to come by 4.
4pm: no show.
5pm: tech calls and says he can make it by 6:30.
6:45pm: he shows. I quickly show him where the modem goes, where the outside box is and tell him if he has any questions to talk to Aelerelean because, motherfucker, I have shit to do.


9:30pm I return home. There is no paperwork other than a work order. I have no idea how the modem works, what the log in to it is, what MY login and email address is, nothing. I call customer service. What do I find out? THE TECH NEVER FINISHED THE GODDAMN INSTALL. The modem was rebooting itself because it wasn’t registered (or something). They got all that fixed up but oh wait, it rebooted again. The customer service guy put in a repair call for Sunday but they were supposed to call to get it moved to an earlier date because it was a botched install. Fine. I still had my randomly disconnecting U-Verse, so I was okay.
11pm: Get ready to got o bed. I turn on the TV: NO SIGNAL. THAT SON OF A BITCH ASSHOLE TECH DISCONNECTED MY GODDAMN SATELLITE! You do NOT FUCK with my TV. I call Dish, they’re gonna send someone out Saturday morning. Awesome. And I am advised that if I get charged (which I shouldn’t) to make sure TWC pays for it.

Saturday am: Dish guy arrives a 7:45am. Takes on look at the box on the house and says “what a fucking moron. He only had to connect ONE cable.” 5 minutes, I had mah precious TV signal. Awesome. And no charge. And now to wait for TWC. No call. I never got a call. Nothing saying it was scheduled, or moved, or the dispatcher manager calling to apologize for the tech. I call. My install window? 8am-11pm.

You have GOT to be kidding me.

I get a person on the phone. She swears up and down that the tech will 1) call 20 minutes beforehand and 2) he won’t be out nearly that late. Fine. Again, I had shit to do so I leave. Aelerelean called me when the tech showed…and told me that the Super Awesome Fun Time speed I signed up for I can’t actually get because the lovely DOCSIS3.0 modem was ass. I had to drop to the lower tier to get the regular modem and get the same speed for less. I had him repeat that 3 times because holy crap that made no sense. He promised it would work.

6pm: It works. The modem was a dumb modem. No configuring necessary. And I was getting 30Mbps down. I paid for 20. Hot damn, we’re in business.


Internet goes out. Modem reboots constantly. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!! I call TWC. When rebooting the modem doesn’t work, the tech support guy had the audacity to be surprised. He schedules a truck roll. FOR NINE DAYS LATER. I swear to fucking god. NINE. DAYS. How in the FUCK is that right? Outage? You roll that fucking truck in a day or two. NOT NINE. I haven’t even had this service a fucking month and it’s already broken AND I have an unreasonably long fucking wait for a repair. That’s straight up bullshit. So right out of the gate, Time Warner Cable has not failed to disappoint me with their level of service. I knew they were shit, they’ve always been shit, why should I have expected anything different.

I get on my phone (thank FUCK for T-Mobile data) and ask @pakazmir about this. He just replaced his modem like a week ago. I prayed that the new modem he bought was at Fry’s. It was. 10 minutes and $80 later I had a shiny new Motorola Surfboard SB6120. I hooked it up and *gulp* had to call TWC back to get it added to my account. I told the guy “I went to Fry’s and bought a modem. I need it activated.” I swear to god, he asked me for the serial number to MAKE SURE THAT IT WASN’T THE MODEM ALREADY ON THE ACCOUNT.


I…I just fucking told you I bought it. 10 minutes ago. The FUCK? After rattling off the number he explains that it isn’t on the account (No shit?) and hands me off. A very nice lady in Dallas (THIS IS SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT) finally activates my modem. After a number of modem reboots to make it “activate” she can do nothing else. She can see the modem, but it’s not reporting…something. She says “I have to transfer you to someone in Austin.” Why? What? Why didn’t get routed there to begin with. What? I get a dude who sounds aggravated. It’s a Sunday. He’s working help desk. Of course he’s aggravated. He also realizes I am too because I have to repeat my address and phone number again. For the 5th goddamn time in 25 minutes. So here’s two pissed off people who just wants the goddamn Interwebtubes to work. He tries the same thing the Dallas lady tried. Nothing. Then (and I believe this is why he’s Tier Not 1), he asks “are you directly connected via computer or is there a router connected?” “Router.” I reply. “Oh hey, reboot both of them please.”

BOOM. MOTHAFUCKING INTERNET! Problem. Solved. And it only cost me $80 more and my sanity.


Last Christmas I renewed my interest in photography. I asked for and received a Canon SX20 digital camera. It’s essentially a big ass point and shoot. An acquaintance’s husband actually sneered at it because it wasn’t a DSLR. Well, I didn’t want to have to keep up with lenses and DSLR’s a fucking expensive. I don’t have the same network of people with lenses that I can just borrow, jackass. That just pissed me off. Holy shit, different people have different needs/requirements? Stop the fucking presses! Anyway. I like my camera. I can turn it to full auto and get regular shots or I can turn it to full manual…and be dumbfounded because I don’t know shit about real photography. I get some great shots, I’ve done interesting things, I even plan on getting a hacked firmware for it. Then, suddenly, I wanted an SLR. Old school. Film. Lenses. Just after I got done bitching that I didn’t want to keep up with that crap. *sigh*

I hit up ebay and found a sweet Minolta SR-T 202. This motherfucker was built in the 70’2, back when they knew how to make shit. Heavy, built like a brick shithouse, three lenses, manual (ORIGINAL), case, remote shutter bulb, and strap. Total cost? $35. As far as I can tell, it’s in great condition, supposedly perfect for a student. I ran a roll of cheap film through it but I haven’t managed to get it developed. (lazy++) Then I decided that I wanted an instant camera. I already have a Polaroid PoGo Printer but I missed the instant cameras. So I found and bought a Fuji Instax Mini7. It’s cool! Little business card sized pictures (what is it with me a mini pictures??)!

Recently, I got as a present, some Instax instant film….for the wide format instant camera. I dunno if I mistakenly put the big film on there or Amazon screwed up the links but now I had this film that I didn’t want to return. And I had been looking at the wide format camera for a while now. Maybe it was a sign. Maybe I should have the Fuji Instax 210. Or maybe it’s the holiday season and once I start binge buying stuff, I can’t stop until the money is gone. Welp. The money ain’t gone and Precision Camera on N. Lamar (fucking awesome place) had them in stock. So now I’m the proud owner of the 210. this thing is MASSIVE. The pictures don’t do it justice. They need to put a baby next to it to show you the massive size of this thing. The Polaroid One Step was never this big. I haven’t opened it yet, but I plan on playing around with it very, very soon.

Yes. I am a consumer whore. Especially for cameras and camera equipment.

Tablets tablets everywhere….

The iPad is, admittedly, a neat little device. It does lotsa shit. It’s portable. And the first tablet PC. I’m sorry, what? Someone actually said that the iPad is the FIRST tablet PC. Really? Okay, then what is this?


That, my friends, is the HP/Compaq TC1100. MY TC1100. Yes, you see a keyboard and cry “Hey, that’s not a tablet”. Oh but it is. That keyboard comes off, turning it into a pure slate computer. True it does not have touchscreen input but instead uses a pen. Even cooler? The pen has an eraser. I can write with the pen stylus and erase my input. It’s neat! It’s great! I get questions every time I use it! It’s also slow as molasses in Christmas in Minnesota. I have a fiend who has an Acer netbook. He was amazed that his netbook was faster than my tablet. Yes. Yes it is. Why? The TC1100 was discontinued in 2005. Yes, a 5 year old tablet is gonna be a bit slower than your 6 month old netbook. Surprise, surprise.

Anyway. My little guy is showing it’s age. In fact, the picture above is my 2nd one. I managed to mangle the user serviceable memory slot on my first one and couldn’t handle the blue screening every half hour. Every time I think of selling it (oh yes, there is a very active fan base of the TC1100), I find something to stop me. First it was Windows 7. I am running Windows 7 pro 32-bit on a machine with a 1.0 GHz Pentium M with 1.5GB of memory. No aero of course, but it is functional and the pen input is greatly improved over XP Tablet Edition. After a while of that (and shit going wonky with One Note), I thought of selling it again. Then I saw that there was a Kindle app for the PC. Ooooh…. Ever since the Kindle went down in price I thought “Oh god, I don’t need a Kindle but I totally fucking want one for no real reason.” So hey, why not use my tablet buddy as a kindle? It has WiFi just like the $139 version. And I can do some real (slow) surfing on it. Granted, the battery life is only a bit over 3 hours and gets hot enough to keep my tea warm, but hey. I save $139. I just installed it today, so I dunno how well it will work just yet.

First World Problems That Are Still Annoying As Fuck

@aelerelean and I were watching Life last night(the “fuck you Oprah” version, Attenborough for lyfe yo!). And I notice at the top of the screen there’s a shadow. It’s not the disc, it’s not the picture, it’s my tv. See, I bought a DLP years ago because LCD’s were expensive as fuck. This particular tv had a manufacturing defect with the light engine. I managed to skate by 4 years with having the issue when *BLAM*, there it is, out of the blue. *sigh* I call Toshiba who tells me that I have to get it serviced locally and they give me the name of who to call. Fine. (guess who forgot to call this morning. dammit).

Later on in the night, i noticed that it was hot as hell in the living room. Did I leave the oven on? Nope. It was 10pm and my livingroom sat at 80 degrees. Oh HELL no. try to run the AC fan. nothing. I push random buttons on the thermostat and only get clicks. OH GOD NO. I look impotently at the furnace/blower. It’s cold. Cold, cold air is drifting from the intake, the whole system is cold to the touch. All breakers outside are fine, none tripped. Welp. There’s the extent of my HVAC knowledge! Time to call somebody (it is now 10:30 and 83 degrees inside, 81 on my porch). I call Strand Brothers because they installed my AC less than 6 years ago and they maintain it as well. Sweaty and grumpy (humidity hitting 70%), I call, because fucking hell, I just had the damn thing serviced a month ago! They send some poor guy out. Turns out that my compressor was running fine but the blower wouldn’t. this made the coils freeze. He fiddles around and gets me mah air conditioning! W00t! Sorta. It’ll run, but the fan won’t shut off. Why? The control board is busted. And he doesn’t have one (hey, you can’t stock every single type of control board), but they’ll call me Monday to get it all sorted. In the meantime, I can has the cold airs with the fan on constantly. I don’t care. I’m going to bed. Then, as he’s leaving, he says “Oh, since you don’t know how long the compressor’s been on, you probably should run the fan by itself for about an hour or two to let all the ice melt.” It was almost midnight. *cry* I stayed up, letting the fan blow 85 degree air all over the house so that the coils could thaw.

I then grabbed my work laptop and messed around for a bit. Well, tried to. I couldn’t get a connection. Why?

My internet connection was down.


AT&T, goddammit

I moved into this house in 2003. I hadn’t gotten DSL installed yet so I had dialup. Shitty, static-y dialup at a whopping 28.8k. The phone line was crap. Static all the time. I called AT&T over and over. They would come out, do some voodoo and it would clear up for all of three days. I eventually gave up.

Then the DSL started being shitty. I called again (over and over), they had shitty customer support and I gave up.

Finally, when I upgraded to U-verse, it all went to hell and I called. Support had gotten MILES better. They sent a tech, he replaced the gateway, connection goes down that night. Fuck. I call again, they send a tech who claims “someone ran a new line for you already.” he’s an idiot who was looking at the cat6 WE laid a year ago. He replaces the jack. connection goes down again a day later. They send ANOTHER tech. He runs a brand new line from the box to the jack, no breaks. He also used the second pair of wires to run the phone because the OTHER tech that was sent with him saw that my main phone line was spliced at least 4 times with different types of line each time. Which is why my main line is now dead and the secondary line now works. Whatever. All is well for a few weeks when, guess what? Connection goes down AGAIN. I call and get another 2nd tier tech.

Now, each time I’ve called, I would tell them what happened, how long it’s been down and that–this is important–whenever I pick up the phone to call tech support, I can hear my DSL connecting and the connection come back and the static disappear. Yes. When the connection is down, my phone gets horrible static. WHen I make a call, the connection returns and the line clears up. They all ignored me. This tech? Listened. Said flat out “that’s not a coincidence.” Dispatched a tech then made sure the tech stayed on the phone with him so that he could monitor the line reads. Turns out that the last guy who ran the new line crimped the cable hard AND the grounding strap wasn’t…grounding. So. It’s all fixed. I’ve been static free and connection up for a month.

And it only took 7 years.

iTunes: A Cry For Help

I clung desperately to my minidisc player. I loved it. It worked. It was fine. Even as mp3’s appeared and replicated all over the place, I held fast to my MDs. I broke down, finally, and got a proper mp3 player. No extra software. I plug it in, drag my folders over, perfect. It plays what I tell it to, is even smart enough to keep stepping through folders if I don’t tell it not to. It’s. WONDERFUL. So why am I now bitching about iTunes? I got given an iPhone. Nothing spiffy, just the 2G. I never wanted an iPhone, or even an iPod for that matter. I would hear things about iTunes doing this, deleting that, etc and just wanted no part of it. So I never paid any attention to it. But, hey, you get gifted a piece of perfectly functional, not ancient tech, you don’t turn that down.

So here I am with an Apple product, a very popular Apple product, and very little idea of how to make it do what I want it to do. What am I trying to get it to do? Play my music in a normal, straightforward way. That’s all I ask. But no, I can’t. I can sort my music by all sorts of ways, but each one lacks…something. For instance, I have tracks that don’t have ID3 tags. Sorry, it happens. It’s nice that iTunes still shows me these “lower class” tracks, but if I try to transfer it to the podphone, I can’t find it. Because it wants to be helpful and categorize it somewhere, but it can’t because there’s no tag. Easy enough fix: tag it. Fine. Here’s  more exasperating issue. On my machine, my music is organized into folders in which each folder is an album. Make sense? Okay. I want to transfer an Eminem album (don’t judge me). I sort my library by artist, select the album I want, then drop it to the podphone. Perfect? No. Because sorting by artist doesn’t pick up the three or so tracks from the album where it’s “Eminem feat. Obie Trice”. Oh no. That track is 37 tracks down. Okay, group by album. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Compilation albums fuck that right up (assuming because the tagging is weird). I’ll see the same track 3 or more times in a row all pointing to the same album because a tag got fucked up somewhere. Grrr. Why can’t I have my folders? Why is that so hard to understand. I don’t want iTunes to “manage” my media. I use it because that’s the only free thing I found that will sync the podphone. The Winamp plug-in fails miserably for me. I just want to know why there isn’t some extra little option, like an advanced button, that will just let me drag and drop shit the way I want it. “Just make a playlist! Folders are so 90’s!” I’ve already made my “playlist.” It’s the goddamn folder. JUST PLAY ALL THE TRACKS IN THE FOLDER AND GO TO THE NEXT FOLDER IF I DON’T STOP YOU. How hard is that???

I guess I don’t quite have the hang of this piece of software that 80 year old grandparents who can’t work a simple remote control have absolutely no problem using.

Do any of you have any good free iTunes alternatives that will work well with a damn iPhone?