Friday, December 07, 2012

"It's just a flesh wound!"

This could very well be a melancholy iPad first, and not one I am particularly proud of. I arrived home this evening to find my son Tyler enjoying his reward for completing homework, reading, and a bath well before bedtime: a few minutes with his favorite game du jour, Glu Games Dragon Slayer. But he was doing furious on-screen battle with … his pinkies. And losing handily, it must be said.

I asked if this pinkie assault were some new cheat or feint to befuddle the dragons or the game mechanics and he looked at me solemnly, held up both index fingers, and I was shocked to see a layer or two of skin missing from the tip of each.

Now, the iPad screen remains a fairly frictionless surface until heated to a couple hundred degrees by the frenzied jabbing, swiping, slashing, and tapping of two small, unsuspecting fingertips, a device defect which, significantly -- dangerously -- is not disclosed in the product documentation, as my newly-retained legal counsel will make clear should Apple decide against settling out of court for a few more iPads, MacBook Pros, software packages, etc.

Friday, August 03, 2012

On behalf of your Windows computer

For the second time in as many years I added our phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry, in response to the frequency with with which we've been barraged by spam callers of late, but our experience suggests that this "registry" restricts only those individuals who wish to peddle Guatemalan hardwood flutes, Canadian pharmaceuticals, and Swedish sphincter relaxants all on the same call.

Any number of opinion polls, suspect charities, political interests, and purveyors of window glazing remain free, clearly, to harass the shit out of us each and every evening, and the most frustrating thing is that 90% of the time when we do trouble ourselves to answer the phone there's naught but a few clicks and a disconnect on the other end, denying us (me, really) the satisfaction of belching a sonnet into the receiver, an admittedly childish gesture but one which is rarely construed as "yes," or "please let me send you money!"

Things reached a new low this morning, however, when I took the following call from my old friend "Unavailable" while working from home, alone. Less a spammer and more a criminal, the caller likely hailed from India, with a pronounced accent and prim phone manner -- he was exceedingly earnest at the beginning of the call:

Me: Hello?

Caller: Sir, I am calling on behalf of your Windows computer. You are in trouble, sir.

Me: [Speechless -- I do not own a Windows computer, nor any computer which reaches out in time of need -- but am swallowing air as fast as I can to level Shakespeare at him when the time is ripe]

Caller: Sir, are you there? It is imperative that we check your computer for viruses and worms immediately.

Me: [Still trying to decide whether I simply hang up or play along, but a somewhat slow day at work, from home, urges the latter] Uh, wouldn't you be calling on behalf of Microsoft, and not Windows?

Caller: Sir, this is a serious situation. Your Windows computer contacted our department to let us know that you are in trouble. Please take a seat at your computer. Are you at your computer now?

Me: One second. [I decide to play along until such time as he knows that I know that we both know that he's an a-hole]

Caller: Sooo many computers are infected, sir. We have been very busy.

Me: Golly, I am no longer AFK, I am at my computer. [At this point I affect my best Gomer Pyle, thinking we would quickly reach the a-hole revelation together and get on with our separate days, but he doesn't notice the ridiculous impersonation or doesn't care]

Caller: Now, sir, in the lower left corner do you see the Start menu? Do you see it, sir? Click that menu, please.

Me: Shazam! I have that ol' Start menu up now.

Caller: Very good, sir. Now, can you right-click on the Computer item in that menu. C-O-M-P-U-T-E-R, sir. What do you see when you right-click on Computer, sir?

Me: [Still Gomer Pyling away] Surprise, surprise, surprise, that there menu just says, 'Please inform the caller that a chicken is pecking corn from his rectum.'

Caller: [Pauses] Sir, do you think this is a joke? Do you think that I am playing with you? [His voice breaks with a little laughter and we are nigh on the a-hole revelation]

Me: [Respectful at first but crescendoing to anger with hints of indignant nerd] Well, the problem you're up against, sir, is that I work with computers, have for the past 25 years, and I'm running Linux, so F*CK YOU!

I ended the call with those words and pecked out this angry missive, but just as I was about to get back to work I got another call from Unavailable, this time a recorded message from State Senator Joe Simitian, one I've heard two dozen times already, informing me in a chipper voice that he would be holding sidewalk office hours soon....

Is ridding ourselves of the landline the only remedy?

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rest In Peace, Richard Drury (1936 - 2012)

I lost one of my very best friends New Years Day and, as it happens, the one I've known the longest. He and I didn't always get along when I was in my teens and early twenties but, thankfully, our mutual interests pulled us together over the many years since, and our love and respect for one another only grew with each game of chess, round of golf, layover in Menlo Park, and visit with other friends and family.

Rest in peace, Richard Drury. You died as bravely and serenely as you lived. Few people leave this world with so many wishing you hadn't. I may never be half the man or friend you were to so many but I hope to be every bit as good a father and husband.

Richard Drury with granddaughter Katrina, Ukiah, CA, 2004


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Move Over, Leica

I have long lusted after the German-made Leica M rangefinder cameras, both the "older" film versions (M3, M6 and M7) and the newer digital incarnation, the M9. But even were I able to divest myself of $7,000 for the M9 camera body, I would still need to spend $4,000 to $10,000 each for the beautiful little lenses I'd want to accompany this camera (28mm Summicron, 35mm Summicron, 50mm Noctilux, 75mm Summicron, and 90mm Summicron, just in case anyone's in a gifting mood).

Now, suppose for a moment that you actually owned this outfit with all the aforementioned lenses. It would have a street value in excess of $35,000, not the sort of thing you'd want to carry -- much less flaunt -- in public without an armed escort, sadly, and I don't think I'd really be comfortable unless it were locked in a safe most or all of the time.

Enter Fujifilm and the company's new mirrorless X-Pro1, pictured below. It's not a true rangefinder with a full-frame sensor, as is the M9, but it's clearly aimed at Leica and those who admire/acquire the German brand. The camera offers some seemingly amazing technology to complement what will surely be outstanding optics in the initial three prime lenses and, perhaps best of all, the body will "only" cost about $1,700, with the lenses running round $650 each, a mere fraction of the cost of the Leica gear.

The only possible drawbacks to receive mention prior to release are that auto-focus may be on the slow side and that the lenses are not manually coupled to the camera and, thus, manual focus is achieved suboptimally via "fly by wire." But if those are the chief complaints leveled against this camera and its lenses I will be an owner shortly after it's release in February 2012.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

McDonald's: Powering Olympians

When McDonald's assures me in their Olympics television commercials that I "needn't be an Olympic athlete to eat like one," I'm reminded of the Quarter Pounder® with Cheese I ate not too long ago, and how, after taking the last bite, I knew without question that my colon would medal in the peristalsis freestyle 8-10 hours later, which brings me full circle to McDonald's marketing.

And the same thing could be said for Coke.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Have social networks killed my blog?

I don't spend a great deal of time on Facebook, but it seems that most of the random musings, videos, photos, and links of interest I would normally share here, end up there. Add to that an occasional tweet and the fact that I'm the network creator for a number of Ning networks (I work at Ning), including and, and that pretty much claims the little time I have for online interaction.

But I miss adding content to this blog, and generally dislike being limited in the number of words I may add to a Facebook update and, especially, to a tweet, so I hereby resolve to add something of interest here at least once per week, even if that means merely rehashing and expanding upon what I've already posted to Facebook or Twitter. In the meantime please let me know if you, too, face this dilemma and, if so, how you plan to overcome it.

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