Archive for the ‘Gadget lust’ Category

Black Friday reds

November 26, 2010
Cowgirl up

No, Herself did not just win the Kentucky Derby astride a midget horse. We paid for the wreath and got the photo op' for nothin'.

OK, so we finally surrendered to the Dark Side, taking a huge gulp of the Konsumerist Kool-Aid intoxicating millions of our fellow citizens as chronicled by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Californian Derrick Love was clearly under the influence of something. He and lifelong pal David Martinez spent nearly two days camped outside an Oakland Best Buy so he could get a $600 Toshiba laptop for $349.

“We’re on a huge adventure,” Mr. Love told The Times. “One day I’m going to tell my grandkids about this, how we were the first.”

Ai, Chihuahua. If only John Steinbeck were still alive to chronicle this epic tale. Call it, “Toshiba Flat.”

Alas, we proved no more resistant to the siren song of shopping. At the crack of noon Herself and I ventured out to a local nursery, where we ordered up a Canadian red cherry tree to replace the defunct apple trees in our now-treeless back yard. In an orgy of extravagance we added a holiday wreath to the tab. Then Herself posed for a photo with a horse that someone had apparently washed and then popped into an overly hot dryer for an alarming period of time.

We overextended ourselves further by purchasing a couple sandwiches from a downtown eatery and taking them home for a gourmet lunch, after which Herself toddled off to the Humane Society to help a few fuzzy little faces find new homes for the holidays.

As for me, I Vespa’d down to the grog shop for a couple jugs of brain eraser and then spent the afternoon plinking away at the keyboard, composing a hymn to capitalism, American style. Dirty work, but someone has to do it.

Tour de meh

October 19, 2010
Blue skies, smiling at me. ...

Blue skies, smiling at me. ...

Oboy, oboy, oboy — the route of the 2011 Tour de France is announced today and there’s an Apple proclamation slated tomorrow. My cup runneth over.

Well, actually, not so much. I don’t give a shit about the TdF, other than as a source of income. Cav’ wins all the sprints, the Schlecks win all the climbs, the Euskaltels hit the deck, there’s no time trialing to speak of and the winner tests positive for something you never heard of. There’s your Tour.

And if Apple announces a leaner, meaner and cheaper MacBook Air, as is widely expected, well, I don’t much care about that either. The old black MacBook seems to be ticking along, and if it croaks again and I need to leave the DogHaus to do a job of work there’s always the 12-inch G4 PowerBook, the 12-inch G3 iBook, the 14.1-inch G3 PowerBook … we got more Apples than the average Washington-state orchard, is what I’m sayin’.

Meanwhile, it’s a beautiful fall morning — 30-something, with a high in the mid-60s forecast. A guy with any brains would be out riding his bike. And if he did, he might see me out there riding mine, too.

The O’Grady Theory of Affordability

September 22, 2010

Well, baby, what I couldn’t do
With plenty of money and you.
— “With Plenty of Money and You,” Count Basie

There’s an old gag about the typical bicycle racer being the kind of guy whose car is worth less than the bike on its roof rack. But y’know, that ain’t all that high a bar to hop anymore.

Check out what one of my colleagues considers to be “performance bikes at prices for real people.” * A $3,000 frameset? A $7,000 ready-to-ride bike? If these are down-to-earth prices, I’m clearly living somewhere around the planet’s core, because the only way I could afford either of those items is if I did my shopping with the old S&W hand cannon instead of a Visa card.

You know what you can get for a hair over $3,000? A 2009 Honda Rebel. That’s right — a fucking motorcycle. Don’t gotta pedal it or nothin’.

Know what you can get for $7,000? A complete, ready-to-ride custom Steelman road bike with an Ultegra build kit — plus a spare frameset in case anything unpleasant happens to the first one.

And for $10,000? You can have my 2005 Subaru Forester. It’s got a Thule roof rack, too, so you can slap a couple $7,000 road bikes up there and fit the profile of the typical bike racer.

In the damp and steamy dreams of the cycling press, anyway.

* The headline has since been changed to something a little more sensible. So we’ve got that going for us.

Scrambled Easter eggs

April 4, 2010

Up from the grave he arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er his foes

And a corncob pipe and a button nose

And two eyes made out of coal.

Hm. I seem to have scrambled my religious holidays again. No wonder the Easter Bunny didn’t leave an iPad under my pillow in exchange for that tooth.

OK, ’fess up, now — how many of you crazy kids rushed out to score iPads yesterday? I won’t make fun of you, I promise. You can trust me; I’m in the media.

If you had one and were able to figure it out in time for the Tour of Flanders this morning, you’d know that Fabian Cancellara crushed Tom Boonen to win the cobbled classic. Dropped him like a used syringe on the Muur, he did. But you might not have been able to watch any of the live video feeds ’cause they’re probably Flash-based, which makes the iPad hork. Pray for the rapid expansion of HTML5.

Launching (i)Pad

April 3, 2010

In comments Steve O’ is placing bets as to whether I’ll be buying an iPad. Sad to say, if any Dog-catchers are staking out the Briargate Apple Store in hopes of throwing a net over me, they’ll be disappointed.

I’m pretty much in agreement with former Apple marketing guy Guy Kawasaki, who told The New York Times: “The first 5 million will be sold in a heartbeat. But let’s see: You can’t make a phone call with it, you can’t take a picture with it, and you have to buy content that before now you were not willing to pay for. That seems tough to me.”

Well said. I think the iPad is a nifty little toy with a wealth of possibilities, but in its infancy it’s clearly more about consumption than creation, and I already feel a tad overwhelmed by the wonders of the digital world, thanks all the same.

If I were to spring for some new technology in the iPad’s price range, I might go for a netbook Hackintosh, if only to drive myself further around the bend with technical problems. A guy can write and edit on the run with one of those.

Meanwhile, the NYT is live-blogging today’s iPad mania. That’s about as close to one as I intend to get. For now, anyway.

• Late update: Jesus, Apple’s marketing department must love the media foofaraw over the company’s every product release. Every major daily and most of the minors sent the troops out to cover today’s iPad feeding frenzy. Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, told the NYT that he estimates Apple will spend $77 million promoting the iPad. Uh, why, exactly? Why buy what everyone’s giving away?

Have you blackened your Friday?

November 27, 2009
Oh, the tangled web we weave when spending cuts we first perceive.

Oh, the tangled web we weave when spending cuts we first perceive.

Not us. Herself is downstairs working and I’m upstairs goofing off, enjoying the fracas from a distance. My idea of a good time is not playing Australian rules football with a bunch of bargain-hunters in a Best Buy at four o’clock in the morning.

Mind you, I like to shop. It’s often more fun and less disappointing than actually buying something. But I usually root around online for quite a while, checking specs and weighing options, before marching down to some local shop to lay hands on the product and finally slap down the plastic. Or not.

Here’s a case in point. I have authorization from Herself to buy a new Mac, but haven’t done so. How come?

Well, it’s that natural contrariness rearing its ugly head again. The Black Turtleneck Mob in Cupertino isn’t selling exactly what I want to buy, which is an affordable, accessible consumer tower model like my old G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac, simple to fix and/or upgrade, but sporting modern hardware and software.

There’s the Mac Pro, but at $2,499 I’d hardly call it affordable, especially since it ships with a measly 3 GB of RAM and no Airport Express card. You want to double the first and add the last, tack on another $200.

OK, how about those nifty iMacs? Not sure I’d like working full time on a glossy screen. My 13.3-inch MacBook has one, and it can be irksome to see my ugly mug staring back at me as I cook up another bouillabaisse of bullshit for fun and profit. Plus all its ports are in the ass-end of the thing. WTF?

New MacBook? Got an old one, thanks, from 2006 and in a manly black (I dislike pasty white computers). MacBook Pro? No separate audio in/out ports on the new 13-incher, which seems to offer the most bang per buck, and no user-removable batteries on any of ’em. Plus I already have more laptops than Cheney’s closet does skeletons. As daily drivers go, they and the multiplicity of cables to peripherals required eat up a lot of desktop space, which irks the cats, who like to use my desk as a springboard to the window for reasons known only to themselves.

Mini? Another Mac I can’t crack, and it seems underpowered, if nicely priced.

And then there’s that voice, only one of many in my head, but among the most insistent, which keeps whispering, “You work in a subset of journalism, a craft with all the future of a Conestoga repairman in Manhattan.”

So instead of greening up my Black Friday with a new Mac, I’ve gotten myself a tad more computing horsepower by hooking up the MacBook to my 22-inch ViewSonic. The G4 tower now serves mostly as storage space, three drives’ worth, accessible wirelessly through my DSL modem-router combo. But I’ll also use it to scan and color cartoons, since it has an ancient yet serviceable version of Photoshop (another $500 goes unspent).

This probably won’t fly come July, if I’m still helping push pixels during Le Tour. But it ain’t July.

• Late update: Reading the Gaslight‘s latest coverage of the first official shopping day of the holiday season (suck it, you out-of-Focus fucktards), it’s sad to note that while the G found it worthwhile to report from big boxes on Powers and Academy boulevards, in Woodland Park and in Castle Rock, they didn’t bother to send anyone downtown — which is about a mile away from Gaslight HQ. Maybe they’re afraid of ice falling from the USOC HQ, but I can’t see this lot being scared of a head injury, considering where they keep their brains. And they wonder why both the newspaper and downtown are struggling.

Big wheels keep on turning

September 15, 2009
In which I break my own commandment: Thou shalt not use thy iPod while cycling. It's actually an iPhone, and I wasn't listening to music, but that doesn't make it right.

In which I break my own commandment: Thou shalt not use thy iPod while cycling. It's actually an iPhone, and I wasn't listening to music, but that doesn't make it right.

Our long national nightmare is over. Well, mine, anyway. Sorry about yours.

My nine-day, extra-credit stint in the VeloBarrel came to an end last night, so I slept in this morning, enjoyed a medium-heavy breakfast and then went for a ride. The big yellow ball was back in the sky, and I wasn’t the only one enjoying it, but the path was not crowded and so I had time to snap a quick pic of myself — actually on a bike instead of in an office chair — without endangering anyone, including myself.

It was a short ride, because I needed to get busy spending some of the extra money I made. The Forester needs service, the iPhone needs a hands-free kit and I’d really like to buy a new camera. I don’t much like my Canon PowerShot S5 IS — it’s bulky without the corresponding feel of solidity, the battery life is terrible, and the four rechargeable AAs and SD card sit in the same bay, so when you need to pull out the card to transfer pix, well, the batteries pop out, too. Plus the lid to the battery/SD card bay is a pain in the ass.

I’m thinking about the Canon PowerShot G11, but not very hard. The sucker costs a ton, and even with extra money burning a hole in my pocket it’s hard to justify spending $500 on a camera when I already have two of ’em and a wife-slash-accountant who is very aware of this. Ain’t no flies on Herself. She’s small but fierce.

Solstice me arse

June 20, 2009
The 2010 VW California, which is not available there.

The 2010 VW California, which is not available there.

Again with the rain. ‘Tis a fine soft day so, as my people across the water might say. This filthy weather (and the English) is why the smart Micks risked the long coffin-ship trip to America. How much worse could it be? they thought. At least they got a chance to dry out a bit before they croaked. Well, their clothes did, anyway.

What a guy wants on a day like this is a road trip, and wouldn’t you know that the Germans have been hiding my dream vehicle from me. Dan Neil, the only reason I can think of for reading the Los Angeles Times, drove the 2010 VW California during a recent visit to the Black Forest, and the only news more depressing than the price of the updated Westfalia camper (upwards of $50K) is its availability (not in California or anywhere else on this side of the Big Ditch).

Writes Neil:

Did you go to Humboldt State? Did you vote for McGovern twice (once as a write-in candidate)? Did you stop following the Grateful Dead because they became too corporate? Brace yourself. This is the Westy of your dreams: a state-of-the-art camper van with a gas stove, running water, an electrically deployed pop top, a fold-down double bed, rotating front captain’s chairs and a staggering number of reading lights, climate outlets, cabinets, storage bins and convenience features, and all of it executed with the kind of aerospace precision one might associate with Piaggio corporate jets.

For a guy who on the road used to nap under a leaky topper in an ’83 Toyota truck and today drives a Subaru Forester only rarely, this is the Holy Swiss Army Grail of multipurpose vehicles. Small and fuel-efficient enough for a daily driver, capacious enough to live in for short stretches when one’s hometown weather can no longer be borne, the VW California would be my Rocinante — if only its diesel engine met U.S. emissions standards.

Well, there’s Herself to consider, too. I proposed the purchase of an iPhone today and I’m still picking pieces of my piece-of-shit Samsung cell phone out of my left ear.