I Shake My Fist at the Apple Store

(Welcome, visitors from ifoAppleStore! Glad you could come visit. I encourage you to take a look around, and read the comments before posting one of your own. Thanks!)

I like Apple. I really do. Rachel and I have matching 15″ Powerbook G4s, we each have an iPod, our house has two Airport Expresses, and I badly covet an iPhone. So it pains me to be filled with such boiling rage at a company that I admire.

My laptop died: these things happen. The hard drive croaked about six weeks ago, but I was able to resurrect it with the help of DiskWarrior, which totally rocks, and is much better than the useless crap the Apple guys tried. So I’m back up and running, and feeling pretty good about myself, until last night when I remembered that I’d turned off Spotlight indexing a while back for performance reasons, but then was irritated that I couldn’t search my mail, and so turned it back on. Forty-five minutes later, blam-o. Hard drive dead again. This time, not even DiskWarrior could save it. (Edited to add: although DiskWarrior couldn’t repair the drive this time, it was still able to access the files on the disk, and I was able to retrieve the few things that had changed since my last backup.)

So, I reluctantly schlepped my laptop into the Apple Store to have the hard drive replaced. What I was nervous about is Apple’s repair policy: they take my computer, take out the broken hard drive, put a new one in, and give me back the laptop. It takes about five days, and that’s cool with me, since it’s covered under Apple Care. But! They keep the old drive. I understand why they keep the old drive from an inventory perspective, but I wasn’t crazy about the idea. I’ve got stuff on there! Personal stuff! Six years of email, not to mention 40 GB of photos, and all of my bank account numbers.

I asked the “genius” at the Apple Store what my options were. (And let me just say, if you’re going to refer to your employees as “geniuses,” you should expect some sarcastic quotation marks.) Could he, for instance, format the drive while I was there so I could have at least some confidence that my personal data wasn’t going to be easy for someone else to get? Sorry, no such luck, as the drive wouldn’t mount, and see above re: their crappy software. I was disappointed, but more or less resigned to the situation until I saw the release I had to sign before they’d replace the hard drive:

I acknowledge that service may be subject to a $100 USD diagnostic fee as described in the attached Repair Terms and Conditions, and agree that either I have made a backup copy of my data and removed any confidential, proprietary, or personal information and removable media such as floppy disks, CDs, or PC cards, or I have assumed the risk that such information or media may be lost, corrupted, or compromised during service and repair. I further acknowledge and agree that Apple cannot guarantee the safety, security or integrity of any data that remains on my computer while undergoing service or repair and that Apple shall not be liable for any loss, corruption or breach of such data, including any confidential, proprietary or personal information or removable data.

Emphasis added. Lack of serial commas: sic.

I understand why Apple doesn’t want to guarantee the security of my data, but there’s something really offensive about requiring me to sign a release that pretty much explicitly gives them permission to sell my credit card numbers to Ukranian mobsters.

But, if I didn’t initial the box and sign the form, they wouldn’t fix my computer. I asked how much it would cost for me to buy a replacement hard drive myself, and “genius” Brandon pretty much admitted that Apple jacks up the prices for parts they sell to the general public to encourage us to pay for the labor instead. But besides, I’d paid for Apple Care already. I was entitled to the free parts and labor, and I wanted it. So, being a chump and kinda broke, I signed the damn form.

This policy sucks even if, as Brandon from the Apple Store claims, it’s industry standard. The industry standard is stupid. I don’t expect the Apple Store to be able to do anything about a terrible corporate policy, but I would have liked a little more sympathy. I would have left feeling much better if Brandon had said, “For legal reasons, we can’t make any guarantees, but we’ve never had any complaints about data being misused, and here are the privacy and security policies we have in place to prevent anything like that from happening.” He didn’t say anything like that, and I’d like to know if that’s because he found me irritating, or because Apple has no such policies.

(I’m praying that just because I made a fuss over this policy, Brandon and his buddies don’t “accidentally” step on my poor defenseless laptop, or check the “please ruin this guy’s life” box on the work order. Please don’t ruin my life just because I hate your policy!)

I’ll get my computer back in 5 days with a brand new hard drive, and that’s great, but some of my love for this friendly corporate behemoth has been lost. Apple: try not to suck so hard in the future.

I Shake My Fist at the Apple Store

24: Episode 16, 10 PM – 11 PM

Key Words: , ,

I’m mad at “24”. Two weeks ago, the cliffhanger was that the terrorist may or may not have got her information from Audrey Raines. Audrey was portrayed as a terrorist. Then,, “Oops, Christopher Henderson just told me to use that name.” Again, it’s a problem of trust. If we can’t trust “24” not to jerk us around and just throw in random bits of information, then there’s no reason for us to watch.

9:02: Looks like Jack Bauer’s plan worked and the world is safe for everyone.
9:03: Oh, my God, bring the terrorist to safety, Jack Bauer. Fire doesn’t burn Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer is the white-hot heat of one million suns.
9:04: Jack Bauer is scared? A shockwave just went through the universe.
9:06: Karen Myers’ assistant is like an airplane full of snakes.
9:07: Do you think Aaron Pierce goes months and months without being shot at and then relishes the days he’s shot at twice in a couple hours.
9:09: So is Evelyn a good girl or a bad girl? Maybe she’s both, the best kind.
9:10: Oooh. The “IP Account” that’s what the interweb is made of.
9:10: I just laughed out loud. No one cares about Evelyn’s baby. Except Jack Bauer.
9:12: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, THIS SHOW SUCKS!
9:16: “Backslash Protocol” hmmm.
9:17: How does Audrey not smash that guy? I don’t think her loyalties are as divided as Homeland thinks she is.
9:19: When a mid-level Chief of Staff starts throwing around nasty threats like that, Bushbots everywhere get excited.
9:21: This is another situation when the show is making it seem really obvious that a major figure (Hal Gardner) is responsible for everything. They did this earlier in the season and it made me really angry and depressed because I knew it wasn’t going to turn out the way they were making it seem like it was going to turn out.
9:24: Evelyn Martin’s daughter looks much older than I would have expected.
9:28: Duh. Duh. Duh. Hal Gardner, meet Wayne Palmer.
9:31: Audrey’s entrance into that conversation seemed horribly unnecessary.
9:31: This is so fucking stupid. There’s no explanation. There’s no way at all for it to be believable that Evelyn Martin would feel like she “has [David Palmer’s] blood on her hands” and not do everything possible to help the investigation.
9:33: “Patch me in”? How exactly does one patch someone in on a cell phone?
9:40: Why doesn’t Jack Bauer just torture Evelyn. I mean, in the scheme of things, what does anyone care about her? Jack Bauer has a weakness for little girls, but still…
9:42: Jack Bauer has an enormous sentimental side. Basically if you want to convince him to do something he doesn’t want to do you just play the revenge card and talk about you brother getting shot through the neck. He crumbles like a house of cards every single time.
9:43: What if the President is the puppetmaster? That would be the ultimate in unbelievability and right up this show’s alley.
9:44: Torture her, Jack Bauer, torture her!!!
9:51: “Damn it, there’s too many of them.” What the hell does that mean, Jack Bauer? When has that ever stopped you?
9:51: JBKC: 2 (Christopher Henderson’s bad guys).
9:51: NJBD: 1 (Wayne Palmer pops his death cherry on a buddy of Christopher Henderson’s).
9:56: JBKC: 1 (Christopher Henderson’s bad guy).
9:58: Ahem, I don’t mean to toot my horn but, “9:43: What if the President is the puppetmaster? That would be the ultimate in unbelievability and right up this show’s alley.”
3 JBKC, 0 tortures, 1 NJBD, Prediction Ratio n/a (I could count the rope-a-dope president, but I didn’t follow prediction protocol).
This shit sucks. President Logan is a mastermind and for what? The only reason I’m watching this is to see how lobbying and immigration get folded into the plot in the next couple weeks.
Totals for the season, 30 JBKCs, 5 tortures, 114 NJBDs, Prediction Ratio 45% (5 out of 11)

24: Episode 16, 10 PM – 11 PM

24: Episode 11, 5 PM – 6 PM

Today’s edition of the 24 Blog comes to you from 30,000 feet above the eastern seaboard. I’m currently on Jetblue flight 1208 from PBI to Logan International. Last week when I saw that “24” was going to be 2 hours long, I disappointedly thought I’d miss not one, but two episodes tonight. Thanks to the magic of technology, and Jetblue’s partnership with Direct TV I should be able to watch both episodes with minor interruptions for safety announcements. Without further adieu…
8:02: Tony! Tony! Tony! Actually, why is Tony being treated at C.T.U.? I know they have hospitals for explosion victims.
8:04: Why does Tony need talk to Jack? I’m missing this dialogue because the captain is telling us about…
8:30: Oops. I forgot you’re not allowed to have laptops turned on during take off. Sorry for the missing minutes, federal regulations and all.
8:31: I’ve missed almost everything during this episode except that Tyler Memorial Hospital is in a lot of trouble. The pilot is so chatty, sheesh.
8:32: If Martha Logan isn’t careful, she’s going to kiss Aaron Pierce.
8:41: If there’s anything to say about Christopher Henderson, at least he uses a Mac.
8:41: Mrs. Henderson’s wife is REALLY annoying.
8:43: C.T.U. seems to be getting lots of lucky bounces during this hour. Come on, controlling the First Lady’s philandering is definitely NOT Mike Novick’s job.
8:44: Is shutting off the air not an option? It seems that’s the easiest solution.
8:52: Regular people don’t run into people that tried to kill them only an hour before. Jack Bauer runs into these people three times a day.
8:53: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. 1 torture (Miriam). “Miriam Henderson has been shot.” That happens when you shoot someone, Jack Bauer.
8:54: NJBD: 1 (Terrorist)
8:55: It took 8 minutes for the C.T.U. guys searching the terrorist’s body to find the remote detonator. Where do you think it was?
8:55: The football is in motion. This reminds Curtis of when he was a running back in college.
8:57: NJBD: 2 (Lynn McGill’s junky sister and her boyfriend). Who didn’t know that was going to happen?
0 JBKC, 1 torture, 3 NJBD, Prediction Ratio n/a
I’ll save the final thoughts for next episode.
Totals for the season, 21 JBKCs, 3 torture, 44 NJBDs, Prediction Ratio 44.4% (4 out of 9).

24: Episode 11, 5 PM – 6 PM

Cell Phones In the Sky

Apparently, the FCC is considering lifting the ban on cell phone use on airplanes. I’ll be honest, I don’t really have an opinion on this issue. I’ve always thought the “safety” argument was pretty ridiculous, since people accidentally leave their phones on all the time, and I don’t believe there’s ever been an instance of a wireless phone causing interference to an airplane’s instruments. Oh, look, I’m right:

One committee member questioned safety concerns raised by the FAA and DOJ. Although mobile phones are accidentally left on during potentially dozens of U.S. flights each day, no U.S. aircraft has ever found interference from phones, said Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican.

Thanks, Ted. Anyway, the remaining arguments against in-flight cell phone use are pretty weak. First, there’s the terrorist argument:

Representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told a House of Representatives subcommittee that wireless systems now being tested by two airlines could give terrorists a reliable link to friends on the ground, and mobile phones could be used by terrorists to remotely set off bombs on airplanes.

Riiiiight. Because the only thing stopping a member of al-Qaeda from using a cell phone to communicate with his buddies or to set off a bomb is the announcement from the flight attendant telling him to turn off his phone. “Sorry, Osama, our glorious martyrdom operation failed. The nice lady told me to turn off all electronic devices!”

I’m also annoyed by the “closing the barn door after the cow’s gotten out” philosophy that governs all airline security. The 9/11 hijackers used box cutters? No nail files! Richard Reid had a bomb in his shoes? Take your shoes off! Al-Qaeda’s last attack in America involved airplanes? Time to freak out about airline security! The recent bombings in London were on subways and buses. I haven’t heard anything about plans to outlaw cell phones on subways, have you? I’m tired of our government’s perpetual desire to outlaw technologies just because they have illegal applications. So is Bruce Schneier, who knows what he’s talking about:

This is beyond idiotic. Again and again, we hear the argument that a particular technology can be used for bad things, so we have to ban or control it. The problem is that when we ban or control a technology, we also deny ourselves some of the good things it can be used for. Security is always a trade-off. Almost all technologies can be used for both good and evil; in Beyond Fear, I call them “dual use” technologies. Most of the time, the good uses far outweigh the evil uses, and we’re much better off as a society embracing the good uses and dealing with the evil uses some other way.

We don’t ban cars because bank robbers can use them to get away faster. We don’t ban cell phones because drug dealers use them to arrange sales. We don’t ban money because kidnappers use it. And finally, we don’t ban cryptography because the bad guys it to keep their communications secret. In all of these cases, the benefit to society of having the technology is much greater than the benefit to society of controlling, crippling, or banning the technology.

So, yeah, suck on it, DOJ.

The other, louder, argument against the use of phones on airplanes is that it would be annoying.

“If you’re on an airplane, it’s very annoying when you have a chatterbox sitting next to you, or a small child,” said Representative Lynn Westmoreland, a Georgia Republican. “I can’t imagine somebody sitting next to me talking in Arabic or some other foreign language on a cell phone for an hour-and-a-half flight.” Westmoreland didn’t explain why someone talking in another language would be more annoying to him than someone talking in English.

Yeah, I bet he didn’t.

Look, it’s not the role of government to outlaw things that are annoying. I’m sorry, but it’s not. It’s annoying when people talk on cell phones on trains and buses, in restaurants, and in frankly almost any public place. But that doesn’t mean it should be against the law.

Ok, I guess I have an opinion on this after all: that the ban should be lifted, but that individual airlines should be free to decide their own policies about cell phone use. But mostly I think that the law enforcement people should get their heads out of their asses, and that the people annoyed by people talking on cell phones should get an iPod.

Cell Phones In the Sky

Thoughts

I don’t seem to be able to finish writing anything I start these days so I thought I’d post a collection of some links I caught myself sending to other people over the past couple days.

This is from RD’s sister’s man’s blog and talks about a new device that helps you wake up better. It’s a watch-like contraption you wear to sleep and, by measuring your biometrics, the watch keeps track of your sleep cycles. This allows it to predict the best time to wake you up in the morning, usually while you’re sleeping lightest.

Bill Simmons has done it again and it’s only a matter of time before people accuse me of making him my binky. After this weekend’s donnybrook between the Red Sox and Devil Rays, ESPN reprinted this 2002 column about basebrawls. In this long column, Simmons goes into detail describing 12 reasons baseball fights are so great. Reason #9 is especially poignant in lieu of Trot Nixon’s actions this weekend, though Simmons disputes the existence of a “Crazy Guy” in this weekend’s imbroglio. I guess it’s his column so I’ll defer to him.

Imagine being able to search for files on your computer by the location you worked on them last. I know, my mind was boggled too. GPS enabled laptops are coming, and I can’t wait…

Another reason to love kottke.org this morning is the McSweeney’s RSS feed he created for the good of all mankind. If you haven’t read any of the lists at McSweeney before, you might be interested to in Actual Ways I Have Been Flirted With That, in the Future, I Wish You Would Refrain From, With Explanations as to Why, and Suggestions for Alternative Methods. and Reasons to Fear Canada..

I’d like to find out from Mel Kiper, Jr if the point of the NFL draft is to choose attractive, athletic players of if the point is to win Super Bowls. Because Kiper seems to want athletes, not champions. I can’t think of any other reason he would give the Patriots a C in this draft when they drafted 4 players that can presumably help immediately and ALSO picked up a 3rd, 4th, and 5th round pick in next year’s draft. Also, Mr. Kiper, who cares if “Matt Cassel is a big project at quarterback”, did the Patriots make an underreported draft day trade of Tom Brady for Jay Fiedler? In the same column (and although he gave the Broncos a C as well), Kiper describes the Broncos selection for Maurice Clarrett by saying he’ll “defer to coach Mike Shanahan when it comes to fitting the right players into his system”. This is obviously a reference to Shanahan’s ability to take ANY athlete and turn them into a 1200 yard running back. If Shanahan is getting that type of leeway, shouldn’t Belichick’s THREE SUPER BOWLS IN FOUR YEARS give him the same type of draft capital?
Kiper’s Patriots’ draft rating for those of you without access to ESPN Insider.
New England Patriots: C
Guard Logan Mankins was a reach in the first round but the Patriots obviously like his size and nastiness, and he will help fill the void left by Joe Andruzzi’s departure via free agency. Ellis Hobbs has good size but not enough skill to be more than a nickel back, and safety James Sanders was a teammate of Mankins at Fresno State and both were helped by the relationship between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Fresno State coach Pat Hill. Tackle Nick Kaczur could play guard as well but came off the board a little early and Matt Cassel is a big project at quarterback.

3 other happenings of note in the last week:
I’m definitely not the most pious of Jews, but I do my best to observe Passover every year. This time around, however, the boys at Streits, threw me for a loop on my very first meal. Apparently, they sell matzah these days that’s “Not for Passover Use.” How many seemingly observant Jews have been ambushed thusly?

While walking to work the other day, bird poop splattered on the pavement mere inches from my feet. It was almost like almost getting hit by a car. Almost. You have to admit, something like that is pretty omenesque. My outlook on the morning changed and then I got to work and realized nothing was going to be different, so although I was glad to not to get hit by bird poop, I didn’t look at it as an omen anymore.

The parking lot at the train station employs the use of an honor box to charge for parking. I’m constantly forgetting to look at what parking space I’m in before I walk away from my car. In the middle of last week, this happened and I walked back to figure out for which space I had to pay. A combination of tiredness, being late for the train, and general brain dysfunction forced me to determine the wrong space for my car. (Admittedly, I didn’t walk all the way back to my car, but stopped at the beginning of the row and counted down to my spot, incorrectly). When that happens, I pay for the wrong space and come back in the evening to find an envelope on my car asking for the parking fee plus $1 service charge. I deserve it. This day was different, though, because on my way to the honor box after figuring out which space I was in, the woman who had parked next to me was also walking back to figure out her space. I smiled widely and exclaimed “You forgot also, right? I do that all the time. You’re in 723.” Random act of kindness? I feel bad about it, but she probably got an envelope, too. Oh well, it’s all in the thought, I hope.

Thoughts

Thanksgiving

Ah, November!

I love the fall. It’s absolutely my favorite season. I like gray days with a nip in the air. Autumn is my best season, sartorially speaking. I have skinny legs, so shorts aren’t particularly flattering; give me short-sleeve shirts with long pants, and then I can add sweaters, sweatshirts, button-downs, pullovers, jackets…

Where was I going with this? Anyway, autumn. I love apple cider, hot, with a cinnamon stick. I love wreaths with Indian corn. (Wait—Can I say “Indian corn?” Is there a more sensitive name I should be using?) I love deciduous trees, leaves on and off.

Ok, I should probably revise that. This was my first fall owning a house with a yard that needed raking. Our lawn was completely covered with a 3 inch coating of dead leaves, that got rained, snowed, and rained on. Raking was a treat, let me tell you, and especially bagging. We filled nineteen plastic garbage bags full of leaves, and schlepped them to the curb. I know, I know, plastic bags are bad, we should be using paper lawn bags. Well, my better half went to every store in a five mile radius, and they were out of them, so we used what we had. Believe me, I’d have rather used the paper bags, they hold more than the plastic ones, and it would have made for less schlepping.

Anyway, imagine my surprise and delight when we came home the next to day to find that the leaves hadn’t been taken with the trash; rather each bag had a small green sticker reading “Leaves must be in PAPER BAGS only!”

“Noooooooooooooooooo!”

Thanks very much, City of Providence, how did you know I wanted to spend the Sunday after Thanksgiving moving sixty cubic feet of wet leaves from one bag to another? Bastards.

Ah, but autumn, and Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s really my family’s only big family holiday. Oh, sure, when we were younger we had Chanukah. Ah, Chanukah. Every year mom would put out a pile of presents for each of us, and my siblings and I would begin the careful rationing to make sure we had something good to open on the later nights. (“And believe it or not, that little pile of presents, only enough for one night, lasted for eight whole nights. And that’s why we light the candles for eight nights every year.”) There was more to Chanukah than presents, of course. I have warm memories of lighting the menorah as a family – and when I say warm memories, I mean it literally. I have two sisters and a brother, and we each had to have our own menorah, plus mom had to light one, and that one’s my favorite, can I light two this year? Suffice it to say by the fifth night or so, we had to take the batteries out of the smoke detector.

Wait, what was I talking about? Thanksgiving.

My family has spent it together every year for as long as I can remember. If Chanukah coincided with college breaks, great, we’d be there, but we always came home for Thanksgiving. Most importantly, at least since our mom died, my sister and I have done all of the cooking. We’re good at it now, but I have to believe it was a bit of a leap of faith for my dad the first year. Especially since we won’t allow anyone in the kitchen while we’re cooking. (We like our space.)

I almost decided not to go home for Thanksgiving this year, but my sister was aghast. And she’s right, we have some traditions that we can’t miss. Every year, there’s the phone conversation where we “decide on the menu.”

Me: “Oh man, I saw the greatest stuffing recipe on [insert name of Food Network show]. We should totally make our own stuffing this year.”

Li’l Sis: “I don’t know…”

Me: “It’ll be so good! Dried cranberries, and sausage, and sage…”

Li’l Sis: “But Stove Top is so delicious!”

Me: “Stove Top?! C’mon, just once we should make our own stuffing.”

Li’l Sis: “Sooooo deliciousss…”

Me: “But– But– Sigh. Fine.”

And so, every year, I come home to find the big red box of Stove Top stuffing, and every year it’s delicious. Every year we make our secret garlic mashed potatoes, the details of which I am sworn not to reveal. Every year there’s some kind of sweet potato, homemade cranberry sauce, and assorted other odds and ends. The turkey is a whole ‘nother thing. My sister and I have a pretty basic turkey recipe which we augment slightly every year (brining overnight, roasting on a bed of aromatic veggies, herbed butter under the skin, baste with orange juice), but the key tradition is the “argument” over who has to reach up the turkey’s ass and pull out the bag of innards.

I wimp out every year.

(Oh man, I just remembered. I don’t know if anyone else saw the Food Network All-Star Thanksgiving special. Seven of their stars, each contributing a dish, with my man Alton Brown bringing the turkey. The food was cool, sure, but the highlight for me was the end, when they’re all sitting around the table eating, and Emeril and Tyler Florence are piling food onto Giada de Laurentiis’s plate, saying “You’re too thin, you’re the thinnest one here, you have to eat!” and the camera cuts to Rachael Ray whose facial expression is clearly saying, “Are you calling me fat?” Priceless.)

Last year, actually, was an aberration. Every year my dad talks about frying a turkey, and every year we assert our dominion over the preparation of the meal. Well, the year before we’d run out of ideas for presents for him (what do you get for the man who wants everything?) so we bought him – wait for it – a turkey fryer. Yeah, I don’t know what we were expecting would happen at Thanksgiving other than that we’d agree to let him fry a turkey. (Of course, he bought a Cajun-seasoned turkey, because if there’s one thing my dad’s all about, it’s gilding the lily).

Drunk with power, he topped himself by also mail-ordering a turducken. C’mon, you’ve heard of this gastronomic monstrosity: it’s a boneless chicken, stuffed in a boneless duck, stuffed in a boneless turkey, with two different kinds of stuffing in there. We had Thanksgiving dinner two nights in a row, and I’m still full just thinking about it. This year we put our foot down, and dad agreed: back to regular turkey.

So I’m going home. Look, I’ve done the air travel bit, and you all know traveling on Thanksgiving weekend sucks, but I have to go. My sister and I have to pitch a fit that everyone’s in the kitchen while we’re trying to cook. We have to have our last-minute panic that the turkey’s not going to be done, and kick everyone out of the kitchen while we scramble to assemble an aluminum foil shield to prevent the breast from burning. We have to re-remember which one of our siblings doesn’t like pumpkin pie. We have to be patiently smile and nod as we’re reminded for the seven millionth time to make a separate dish of potatoes for Grandma, because Grandma doesn’t eat butter. (Doesn’t eat butter – wrap your brain around that one.) We have to tell our dad that we’ll call him when it’s time to carve the turkey, and until then, could he please get the hell out of the kitchen?

Family.

I don’t really have a point I’m coming to here, except that I’m glad to be going home. So, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. And please, for my sanity and your safety, please, please get the hell out of my kitchen.

Thanksgiving