Jon’s “Broken” Day

So I should start this post by noting that as of 7:24 AM this morning, Saturday, “Broken” day has been resolved. Amazingly. So however horrific this ‘bad day’ story sounds, at least I believe it has a happy ending.

Broken glass © by liknes

Yesterday started out like any other Friday. Little did I know that it was the day that most of technology and mechanical interaction were gunning against me. I peacefully woke up, worked out, showered, and was excited to teach on a Friday for the first time in 5 years. Karey even woke up early with me, and offered to make me breakfast.

“Sure”, I said, “Just make me a couple of pop tarts”.

About 10 minutes later, she arrived with said pop tarts, which were burnt around the edges.

“Sorry – I don’t know how they got so dark so quick – I’ll eat them if you want, and make you new ones”. My wife is great like that – she’s willing to remake something for me and even masochistically eat the ‘bad’ food so it doesn’t go to waste. I declined said offer, and just ate the crispy parts first to get rid of them. In retrospect, I should have seen this as an omen of the day ahead.

I arrived at work around 9, and at 9:45 I headed off to my class. The clock in the back of the classroom was running slow, so my colleague ran a bit over on his class. No problem, I got in, got set up, and was off and rolling by 10:01.

Then at about 10:30, everything died.

And by everything, I mean the computer, monitor, and projection system. My notes disappeared into the ether of thrown breaker. My students rejoiced, and I tried to ad-lib, recalling my lecture as best as possible. The custodian in the building checked in with me every couple of minutes, asking if she’d thrown the right switch to bring my class back to life, which in a way only made things more vexing. Now I’m trying to recall my lecture outline from memory, and just as I get rolling, I need to break to see if the power is back on. At one point, I simply looked at my students and explained:

Listen, I view this as “I’m telling you the story of the lecture”, and I apologize for the distractions. It’s sorta like telling a story to a child and having the book suddenly explode. It throws you off

After the students got a good laugh, and about 10 minutes, the computer came back on, and I was back in business. Not a horrible event, but one that was annoying.

So I played ‘catch-up’ as best I could, noting where I left off to resume on Monday. I returned to my office, and found an email, displayed below:

Hmm… so that’s why it was a bit warm in here. Oh well, at least it’s only in the 80s today, not the 90s as usual. And I have a little fan, so I make due.

The rest of the work day was pretty uneventful. The A/C got fixed, the second “show” (a.k.a. lecture) went smoother, and I left work around 5. I wanted to get home quick because a new “toy” was waiting for me. You see, after 5 years, the dyed-in-the-wool geek in me finally decided to buy and activate a current-generation iPhone. And it was arriving today.

So, anxious geek Jon gets home, checks the mail, and no iPhone. Karey was out shopping, so I assumed she got the mail first. I figured I’d check the tracking information when I got to my computer, however upon returning to my computer, I am distracted by a very loud buzzing noise coming somewhere in the sea of technology of both my and Karey’s desk (which are back to back). I dismiss the buzzing in favor of looking up the tracking number, and see an “exception” – “notice left”. This makes no sense – we have locked mailboxes here – why wouldn’t USPS drop the package? I start to get angry. Post offices here are not open on Saturday, so if it’s sitting at the post office, it will be there until Karey picks it up Monday during the day.

While I wait for her to get home, to see if she might actually have said notice or package, I decide to figure out the buzzing issue. I check the two small desk fans, neither are on. I check Karey’s laptop, it’s fine. Finally I decide to turn off my monitor, and it goes away.

I turn the monitor back on. And nothing happens.

Now I’m really stressed. My monitor is a 27” Apple Cinema Display, which I (in a delirious state and after receiving a consulting payment) paid nearly $1,000 for last year. I intend for it to last quite awhile, and shutter at the thought of lugging it in for service (especially since my nearest Apple store is 3 hours away, and I don’t know if authorized repair shops take AppleCare). I mess with the plugs, power cable, etc.. and nothing works. I am now sad, angry Jon.

Karey arrives home with my iPhone – it had been left, the postal service website was wrong (And they wonder why people find their service sub par). I figure if one Apple product is broken, I might as well play with another. Since moving to our new apartment, my T-Mobile service has absolutely sucked in the building and at our pool and fitness center. Since it’s my only phone, I’ve investigated multiple options to get around this limitation (VoIP, etc…) but nothing has worked. Most of my phones don’t have T-Mobile’s WiFi Calling, so I decided a few weeks ago (in a moment of rage) that I was just going to dump T-Mo after 9 years, 9 months of service. Surprisingly, I found that Verizon would give me everything I was currently using for a cheaper rate, so my mind was made up.

So yesterday I took my used iPhone 4s (which I bought on eBay after verifying the ESN was clean) to the Verizon store and got it activated on a month-to-month service basis (Because I have a feeling a new iPhone might be coming out soon… that I’d like to use a subsidy for). The whole process seems to go smoothly, the number ports, and my 4s is up and running. Karey and I grab dinner, and head home.

I arrive back at my desk to look at the giant paperweight which used to be my monitor. Figuring that now was as good a time as any to call Apple and see what they have to say (And since I now have cell coverage, I can do that confidently), I dial them up.

And the call connects!

And there is no audio!

Yea, my first night on Verizon, and the calls have no audio incoming or outgoing. I freak out. Did my new iPhone have some weird defect related to the phone’s radio audio channels? The rest of the phone works fine. Speaker works fine. Mic works fine. No audio. Grr….

I pulled up Twitter, searched “Verizon”, and find nothing of note. So it’s just me.

After an hour of frustration, multiple reboots, and much frustration, I search Twitter again, and find 1 tweet. Here’s the conversation I had with the gentleman:

By Midnight, my “wiggin” service was fixed. I head to bed, figuring that I’ll deal with the monitor tomorrow.

This morning my eyes popped open at 7 AM (Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead), and I stumble out to my desk with my non-wiggin phone. Figure I’ll give the monitor one more shot. Nothing.

After my macbook finishes booting, something prompts me to try the monitor yet again. And for some weird reason… it works.

So I power cycle a few times, and it comes back each time. No problem. In fact, I’ll do it right now just to tempt the Apple gods.

And it came back again. Hopefully the issue was transient and now we’re back to “normal”.

So, to recap, here’s what broke yesterday:

  • My pop tarts
  • The power in my classroom
  • The A/C in my office
  • The United States Postal Service’s method of tracking packages
  • My ludicrously expensive Apple Cinema Display
  • America’s largest network

Here’s hoping that today isn’t a repeat!

Welcome New Students!

It’s the first day of the fall semester, and this post is for any of my new students who decide to wander over to my website or my Twitter feed. My message on here is pretty short and to the point: Welcome to my class! If I haven’t made it abundantly clear during the first class meeting, I’m very excited to be teaching and want you to feel comfortable contacting me whenever you have questions about the class, assignments, life, etc…

Let’s have an awesome Fall semester!

OK, This is Sorta Creepy When You Think About It

Recently I’ve been working out and trying to get back on my diet (err… Reduced Calorie Intake Plan – RCIP, remember?). One of the sites I use to track my information also has a forum for members, and I sometimes scan the list of topics just to see what’s going on. It’s there that I found a slightly creepy exchange.

The back story: A woman complains that her husband doesn’t want to have sex with her as often as she wants (especially now that she’s working out and it’s “all she thinks about”). He’s got no interest. Amidst many of the helpful comments, one person wrote the following, which was heavily quoted and heartily agreed to:

So assuming her husband does not want to have sex, I believe the word that describes the actions above would be… oh yea… rape. Could you imagine if the roles were reversed? How super creepy would it be to go to a forum and see a man complaining about his wife having no interest in sex, and then have someone write the above. “shush her and tell her it will all be over soon” – sounds like a line from a horror movie or crime docudrama, right? And then to have multiple people agree…

Kinda creepy on this Friday morning!


Why Do Printers Still Suck?

The Installer failed and looped endlessly. You should be ashamed.

Recently I bought an HP Photoshare 7510, a pretty nice printer/scanner that brings me up to the wireless age.  I’ve had a few problems setting up the software though. My Mac had a few hiccups with the scanning from the printer feature, and Karey’s Windows 7 laptop refuses to have the printer installed. After spending an hour with it, I told her to simply email the printer a PDF to print, the software is just hopelessly broken.

Frustration © by music2work2

How broken? Well after downloading 3 different files from HP, the last being a wizard, the software just endlessly loops through the entire installation, saying “Downloading drivers”, then when that install fails, the same wizard picks up again and says “Downloading drivers” and launches the install all over again. This prompted me to leave the above snarky-yet-true quote on HP’s web survey. It didn’t help that pressing the “Details” button on the installer error page just brought up a dialog box that said “Installation Error”. Those are some deep details.

But the bigger issue – can anyone explain to me why in the last 10 years we’ve made enormous advances in all areas of technology except printer drivers? They’re still bloated and buggy, even as the hardware has gotten better. The software simply is horrendous.

Better yet, the companies are still in the mindset of “Bloat it on up, we don’t care if it drags the computer down”. Windows installers are horrible in this respect. The HP installer I just looped through 5 times required me to press a button to show checkboxes, which I could then uncheck, for a bunch of useless things I knew Karey wouldn’t want on her computer. It was purposefully built to be a pain to do.

Oddly enough, the Mac version of the same software had far less bloatware (i.e. nearly none) and all its optional stuff was “opt-in” (i.e. I had to check it to get it to install). All i can figure is that the Mac software is programmed by Mac users who think “I wouldn’t want this junk on my system” and disregard upper management’s “Make them opt out” cries (call it “corporate disobedience”). While the Windows software is programmed by someone who is an inch away from unemployment and will do whatever horrible thing upper management says. Reminds me of a car dealer mechanic once who confided in me that he felt horrible drilling holes in brand new cars just to screw on a dealer nameplate. He knew no one cared to advertise where they bought their car for free, but if he didn’t screw that sucker in, he’d be in the unemployment line. Probably the same for the Windows guys (since there are obviously more of them on the market than the Mac guys – something related to that huge number of people who use Windows over Mac OS)

In the end as much as I hate to admit it, I have to print things sometimes. I also have to scan things (a lot). I can’t get away from these monsters anytime soon. I just wish companies would get a clue about how to build decent non-dysfunctional software.

The Pirate and The Butterfly (And The Man)

So those of you who noticed my Short Story of the Day project a few months back probably realized that I am much more comfortable with writing than drawing. I tell the anecdote time and time again that I have no idea how someone who has artists for parents can’t muster up more than a decent stick figure. But last night I found an app that gives me hope (Well, one of many apps that help out loser artists like me): My Story Creator, an app that recently went from the horribly high price of $0.99 to free, so I downloaded it.

And here’s my first story. It’s a work in progress, and has a cliffhanger ending for sure! (Click each picture to enlarge)