Saturday, September 30, 2006

As I recently mentioned, my iPod was having issues, and had to be sent in under warranty. I'm pleased to say I got it back on Friday, and am even more pleased to report that Apple had some very good news for me: There was nothing wrong with it. According to the letter (which isn't in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing), either my iPod was found to be operating well within acceptable parameters, or otherwise did not require replacement hardware (the letter was deliberately vague, I presume, to avoid calling me an idiot or a liar). So apparently freezing up and not turning on are now features. I am trying to be optimistic, that perhaps in diagnosing the problem they took the iPod apart, and perhaps tightened up some loose part that was the cause of the problem. But I've noticed the iPod is a bit sluggish in opening menus or selecting songs, which makes me worry that nothing has changed. When I took the iPod out of the box, it wouldn't turn on, which I found quite amusing, considering the problems were supposedly in my head. I think they didn't complete the restore process, which requires the attachment of an external power source, because once I plugged it in to a charger it turned on (and I was able to verify that the battery was charged).

I must say the experience left me less than satisfied, and would make me less likely to consider an Apple computer in the future. Though to be fair, the experience was far more pleasant than my contact with Dell customer service, though ultimately neither was useful (but at least Dell acknowledged that my computer was non-functional). Of the two iPods I've owned, I should note my first iPod is still working fine, despite suffering several catastrophic-appearing drops (hard falls onto my concrete driveway, for instance). And even the troubles with my current iPod mostly have been only moderate, crashes repaired by simply resetting the iPod (though that was an inadequate solution for reparing the most recent crash). So while I am less confident in the long-term reliability of the iPod (in my opinion, the life cycle of a $350 piece of electronics should be at a bare minimum two years), I still see no better choice for large-capacity MP3 players.

I did look at some of the competition in the 60 gig+ MP3 player market, but really never seriously considered buying anything other than another iPod as a replacement. Especially when I realized there was an easy solution to the problem of my disillusionment with Apple technical support. I will purchase my next iPod at Costco, home of the 100% satisfaction guarantee, which will take almost anything back anytime. So if my next iPod acts up, I'll ignore Apple's warranty and simply return it for a full refund and buy the most recent iteration of the iPod, and simply continue to get free upgrades every time my iPod acts screwy, or I just fell like an upgrade. Love that Costco.

The situation did encourage me to take a look-see at the forthcoming Microsoft Zune. And I had to laugh when I learned that the Zune will not support "Plays for Sure." So for all the MP3 manufacturers and music stores who supported Microsoft's standards, Microsoft is rewarding you by engaging in direct competition with you, and undercutting the standard you adopted. I'm not a Microsoft fan, but I still expected better of them. If you don't buy an iPod, the most likely reason is the proprietary nature of their DRM. So why would you buy another manufacture's inferior product with an equally (or more) restrictive DRM (though unlike Apple, it does support a subscription service--though only their own)?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Okay, I know, I haven't really said anything in this space in some time, and now I'm back, and I'm making another post about Mary Worth. I'm sorry, but I can't help it. I probably spent about four hours today going through the comments to a single post at the Comics Curmudgeon, aptly titled Why, God, Why? I would venture to say that virtually every person under 60 who reads Mary Worth could be found their coming to terms with their grief. Some bizarre and amusing theories were floated to how Aldo might still be alive. A few even made video montages to express their pain:

(see also "The Wind Cries Mary Worth")

It was a bleak day. And the question that was on my mind, and many others, remains unanswered: Now that Aldo is gone, do I keep reading Mary Worth? Of course, it's been mentioned that there's no telling how long it will take Mary to overcome her grief and guilt for essentially killing this emotionally-disturbed man with her intervention-cum-ambush. But I imagine I'll stick with the strip for at least a little while longer.

Oh, and here's an article on "Aldomania", including an interview with writer Karen Moy, which confirms the resemblance to Captain Kangaroo was intentional.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Man, I've gotten lazy about this whole blogging thing. I had a nice little vacation, and have quite a bit to write about there (for now, I'll just say that the Museum of Jurassic Technology is freakin' awesome). But it always seems like there's something to keep me otherwise occupied. Most recently, it was some technical problems with iTunes, which I tried to fix using the brunt force method, which ultimately led to the loss of all my iTunes settings (playlists, song ratings, etc.), so I spent quite a bit of time tinkering with that and recreating my playlists as best I could. Only to have my iPod die this afternoon. Still under warranty, by just under a month, but I still have to pay $30 (!) shipping and handling. I could still have purchased an extended warranty for $70 rather than pay shipping for this repair, but I decided it wasn't worth it, as I have a feeling I'll be buying an iPod Video early next year, if the internet rumors are to be believed.

My iPod's death made me sad today, but what truly has me preoccupied is the death of Aldo Kelrast. By means of explanation, let me say that I have become a bit obsessed with the website Comics Curmudgeon. As a result, I have begun reading some comic strips I never paid attention to, like Apartment 3-G and They'll Do It Every Time (I'd never even heard of that one before). But the biggest shake-up in my comic-reading activity was the sudden interest I took to a little strip called Mary Worth. And while an interest in the meddling adventures of an elderly biddy was already percolating within my heart, it was this summer's series of strips, affectionately dubbed "Aldomania" by the internet community, which promoted Mary Worth from an ironic amusement to a full-blown obsession.

And it could be a painful obsession. I don't know if you've ever followed a soap opera comic strip, but with only three panels a day, stories take a long time to unfold. A week could pass just with Mary Worth ending her volunteer shift at the hospital. And the filler strips, intended to stall the story so that the shocking reveal could occur on a Sunday, those would really strain one's nerves, when one desperately needed to learn just how Toby's plan manifest itself. But this week, after I began to lose confidence in Aldomania, things took quite a turn.

I feel bad I didn't direct my the Comics Curmudgeon website months ago, so they too could bask in the glow of an elderly woman being stalked by Captain Kangaroo. But since I didn't, I'll simply direct you to some post from their archives, so that you can try to get caught up enough to understand what I'm feeling right now. Anyway, here we go:
It Begins.
Our first good look at Aldo.
Aldo's swarthy good looks accentuated.
Mary's whoring it up with Captain Kangaroo starts to bring shame upon her.
Is Aldo a murderer?
Aldo's magic mirror.
And we thought with this strip Aldomania was truly becomming awesome. We had no idea...
The reality of her situation begins to sink in for Mary.
Aldo contemplates the thrill of the hunt.
Is Mary asking for it?
Mary tears into Aldo! She says capisce!
Aldo has a drinking problem? No kidding.
Toby hatches a scheme.
What is the shocking reveal?
Christ, that's lame.

There are more posts about Aldomania to be found, if you peruse the Comics Curmudgeon archives, but those will give you the basic storyline of this Summer's Mary Worth. Things looked bleak after Labor Day, though, when the storyline seemed to be wrapping up with the lame intervention twist. But when the intervention ended, and Aldo promised to leave Mary Worth alone, things took another twist. The strip archives go back a few weeks, so you can read the most recent installments of Aldomania yourself. The Sunday strips aren't archived, so you'll have to read Sunday's strip at the Comics Curmudgeon.

Today's strip confirms the awful truth: Aldo Kelrast is dead. Aldo is dead. The feeling of loss is palpable. It's truly been a joyous summer watching Aldo desperately try to win the heart of Mary. I'll miss the little guy. The question is, where does Mary Worth go from here? I'm guessing someplace awesome. Unless that damn pompous chinbeard is involved.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006