Sunday, November 30, 2003

macCompanion November 2003 Review

This is my review of the HARMONi G3 600MHz Processor Upgrade/FireWire Card Combo that appeared in the November issue of macCompanion. My December reviews should be up within a week.

Worst Shopping Trip Ever

I went to Best Buy on the day after Thanksgiving for Christmas shopping. After waiting in the Disneyland-length line for an hour, I finally got to the checkout. The cashier asked me for my name, address and phone number twice. Then she scanned the item(s) and received a Windows Internet Explorer "Page Not Found" error page. After waiting five more minutes for a knowledgeable manager to arrive, she was told that she would have to enter my personal info again and re-scan. The same thing occurred, but the manager hadn't stuck around long enough to see that. So after waiting for another five minutes for them to come back, the manager said he'd go talk to the systems guy. After waiting another five minutes, the systems guy says the national computer system is down (thanks, Microsoft) and the item/items (which I cannot reveal) cannot be sold to me.

The manager tells me to just come back the next day and purchase the item(s) which will "obviously not be sold to anyone else." Besides, they can't reserve anything, because it requires the national computer system.

Realizing that I'd just waited in line for an hour only to be told I can't make my purchase, the manager tells the cashier to give me a $20 gift card. Unfortunately, in order to activate a gift card, the national computer system is needed. Of course, the manager walked away before the cashier had a chance to tell him that.

So after waiting another five minutes, a different manager signs a note which I'm to validate at the customer service counter that I deserve a $20 discount when I return the next day.

When I do return, I have to wait in the customer service line (which consisted solely of myself) for 15 minutes, only to be told I didn't actually need to be in that line and I should just go get the item(s) in question ... which is/are no longer on the shelves.

When I leave, I ask the employee standing at the exit for a customer comment card. He tells me they don't have any, but he gets asked for them all the time and wonders why they don't have any. I think I know why.

Someone at 20th Century Fox has an obsession with acronyms and it needs to end.

First there was "ID4," which apparently stood for "Independence Day." Yeah, that makes sense. The same way that XP is short for 'experience.'

Then they named the "X-Men" sequel "X2." Of course, that had to be renamed later to "X2: X-Men United." Maybe because "X2" didn't mean anything to moviegoers...?

Then their movie adaptation of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was shortened to "LXG." That might be necessary for theatre marquees, but it it's still not necessary. And it sounds more like a clothing size.

And one of their upcoming flicks is "AVP." Aren't you excited about that movie? Doesn't the title just say it all? No, the full title does: "Aliens vs. Predator." It's not like putting 'vs.' in a title is bad. New Line raked in quite a few bucks with "Freddy vs. Jason." But someone over at 20th Century Fox apparently doesn't think the words 'Aliens' and 'Predator' could sell the film as well as "AVP" does.

We've got films like "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle Of Life," "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World," and somehow we haven't gone mad from all the reading they require. If 20th Century Fox had its say (or should I say "2CX") those films would have been called "TR²," "M&C" and "GXMAS."

Wednesday, November 26, 2003 [GOVERNMENT] Schwarzenegger Seeks $1.9B In Budget Cuts: "Education would absorb $160 million in cuts this year and next under the proposal Schwarzenegger presented to legislative leaders Monday."

I must have seen Arnold's television commercials at least 50 times, if not 100. One of them featured a staged Q&A session where Arnold said he wouldn't raise taxes and would instead cut government spending. A woman asked if that meant he'd cut education. He responded firmly by saying "No, we can do this without hurting the children."

So, to anyone who took him at his word ...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Virginia Tech Supercomputer Is World’s Third Fastest
A supercomputer made from 1,100 off-the-shelf Apple Macs at Virginia Tech now ranks third among the world's 500 fastest supercomputers, many of which handle with ease 1 trillion calculations per second.

But do iCal's and iPhoto's windows still resize slowly?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

A "Best Of" compilation is invariably a subjective affair, and U2's 1990-2000 edition is no exception (No "The Fly"? No "Lemon"?). But if you already have most of the albums and only care about the new songs (such as the Oscar-nominated yet surprisingly good "The Hands That Built America") or the newly-remixed songs ("Numb" is better?), you can now purchase just the individual tracks from Apple's iTunes Music Store for 99¢ a pop. If you have iTunes installed on your computer, just click this button:

And I'll give a prize to anyone that can decipher the brief new lyrics in "Mysterious Ways."

Sunday, November 09, 2003

When I was younger (before the advent of the Web) parents used to always complain about how their teenager(s), especially girls, spent way too much time on the phone. Telephone companies would advertise how you could get a separate line, to make certain your teenage child wouldn't keep you from using your phone.

Nowadays, teenagers use instant messaging via AOL, MSN and Yahoo. And what do I hear from their parents? "I don't understand instant messaging. Why don't they just call the person and talk to them on the phone?"

Online community not as politically powerful as some assumed
Here's my latest e-column for the East Oregonian. I'm not sure why they're using my old black & white mug, but at least they remembered to run the column.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Does anyone use a camera-phone for legitimate purposes? The reason I ask is because according to the commercials of companies that sell phones with camera-capabilities, their only good use is for ridiculous situations.

One has a woman taking a picture of a man who spills his hamburger, sending it to her girl friend and saying 'Here's a picture of your boyfriend.' (Ha.)

Another has the afore-blogged Bugs Bunny taking a picture of a "naked" Daffy Duck. (Yes, that would be useful.)

Then there are the ads where a man takes a picture of a motorcycle and the person he sends it to finds themselves surrounded by burly motorcycle riders or a woman takes a picture of a rodeo and the women she sends it to are surrounded by rodeo animals. (What can I even say about that?)

And there's the guy who takes pictures of items in the street to represent what's for dinner that night. (What will he take a picture of when he's making chimichangas?)

Seriously, if you gave me a single reason why a camera phone would be useful, I might consider ponying up the extra money to add that functionality. Perhaps taking pictures of people who talk on their cell phones in movie theatres...?

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

An advertisement for Sprint PCS features the Looney Tunes characters demonstrating the picture-taking capabilities of the phones. After Bugs snaps a picture of Daffy, disclaimer text at the bottom reads "Screen Images Simulated." What, you mean that photograph of Daffy Duck wasn't real?