Sunday, March 08, 2009

Go go gadgets

I am what you might call, technology-savvy. But, at the same time, I'm not someone that wants or needs to be on the leading edge or that wants to be particularly "connected" in all ways possible. Even though I took my first computer class in high school in the early 80s, my major in college was computer science, my first job was doing data entry, I've worked in the credit union software industry since 1992 and I've been on the internet since 1996, I didn't own my very own PC until the 2000s. I was also late to music CDs, staying on cassettes until the early 90s. I also went straight from VHS cassettes to DVDs in 1999, skipping laser disks entirely and I was never a PC gamer. (If I have to be completely honest, I had a pong game in the late 70s, a color TRS-80 MC-10 sometime in the 80s - I actually still have it in storage - that I could hook up to my TV set, but that wasn't much more than a toy. I also did have an Atari 2600 and I even remember playing E.T., the game that nearly killed the gaming industry, on it.) I also never had a beeper or a pager and didn't have a cell phone until about 5 or 6 years ago.

Basically, I've always avoided being the owner of the newest gadgets because I had enough gadgets in my work life. I've been on the internet since 1996 because work gave me a laptop to use back then.

Times, they are a-changing. About two months ago, my employer told me that they wanted me to get a Blackberry so that they could always reach me and I could always get my work email. I understood the reason they wanted this, but I was in no hurry to be that much more connected. Well, after several weeks of delays due to misplaced equipment, scheduling difficulties and ineptitude on the part of a Verizon Wireless store employee, I finally got my Blackberry up and running. It's the iPhone-alternative for those of us not on AT&T, the Blackberry Storm and, for the most part, it's actually pretty cool. Sure, it's buggy as hell, it crashes for no apparent reason and the touch/press typing and mistyping can be tedious, but there's no beating having full access to my address book (over 1,000 entries), calendar, my email, gmail, IM, and internet. I even got a Bluetooth earphone for this thing, something else I've avoided until now, and it actually works great.

But, since the post says gadgets, I wanted to just quickly mention that I seem to be on an inadvertent buying spree of technology since November, starting with a new car (I had no choice, my old car was destroyed by a drunk driver) with a very nice climate control system and XM radio (love First Wave and Cinemagic, although I would cancel XM in a minute if I had to pay more than the $5/month deal I got). After the car, my old PC started dying, so I have a new PC with a widescreen 24" 108op monitor. I also bought a Blu-Ray player, networked it and my DVR, bought a wireless inkjet printer (the old printer was not compatible with Vista x64, the OS of my new PC) and, just yesterday, purchased an iRobot Roomba.

Right now, most of my spare attention has been given to trying to figure out this Blackberry, so I've not yet even opened up the box for the Roomba. Hopefully, I'll open up that box and get that going sometime this week, which is a far cry from the time it took me to get around to hooking up a brand new AV receiver a few years ago - about a year and a half after I bought that, I opened the box and hooked it up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A blog in search of a new identity

Now that Dweedle Dum and his evil administration are about to be replaced by a man that I consider a personal hero of mine, my views will no longer be considered "aid and comfort to the enemy" by the executive branch. Thus, I am retiring the "Comfort for the Enemy" name and my blog, for the time being, is untitled.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Star magazine? Really?

I was a subscriber to Premiere magazine for its entire 20 year existence until it folded in 2007 and I loved that magazine. When it folded, they tried to convert my remaining multi-year subscription to US Weekly, but I asked for and got a refund.

I was unhappy about Premiere, but luckily, Radar Magazine had just re-started publishing and I, at least, still had that.

I just got the postcard in the mail today that "due to marketplace conditions, Radar Magazine has stopped publishing" and they offered me three options for the remainder of my subscription:

  • Star
  • Men's Fitness
  • Shape
I'm not gay nor am I into sports, so I'm about as interested in the last two options as I would be in a magazine about pig farming (not at all, in case you're sarcasm-challenged). But Star magazine? Did the new owners of Radar really think that people that read Radar would want to read a celebrity gossip magazine that you find at every single dentist and doctor's office in America? I mean, I read Radar because it was smarter than that (at least in the beginning). And the worst part is that the postcard includes the disclaimer, "You will receive Star if no response is received by January 12, 2009".

Of course, there was no option on the postcard for a refund and no contact information. I had to search "The Internets" to find out that AMI purchased them and then contact Star magazine to ask for a refund. Of course, the very nice girl that answered the phone didn't yet have any information about the Radar cancellation and no way to process a refund for me; she was good enough to contact a supervisor, take down my information and tell me that she'll try to process the refund once they do get the information on "their system".