Category Archives: Geeky

Why I don’t like Apple…any more

If you know me, you’ll know that I am quick to bash the Apple brand. You will often hear me say, “Apple Sucks!”, whenever something ‘i’ related is brought up.

People have asked me, why do you hate them?

It was not always this way….

Let’s go back to 1986. It was the start of the computer age for me. I was 10 and I went to a relatively small primary school in Western Sydney. The school had 2 computers. They were both Apples. The Apple IIe was the educational computer of choice. To be honest I have no idea what the school used them for, but for me it was ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego’ and ‘Choplifter’. Now, if you were born in the 70’s, you would have definitely played ‘Carmen Sandiego’ . Surely it has to be educational to travel to Paris to find the clues as to where Carmen has gone next! There were days where Mum would be late to pick us up from school, so I would happily spend an extra hour after school trying to find Carmen, playing Choplifter or Lode Runner.

This was my first experience with an Apple, but as I moved into high school, I would start to use them more.

My high school had a room full of Apples, and this time it was the Macintosh Plus. Yes, those drab beige all in one rectangular boxes with, oh my god what is that?, a MOUSE!, turned out to be my weapon of choice for several years. Not to mention that the mouse was handy for playing ‘Shufflepuck Cafe’ or MacCricket, not to mention the classic, ‘Defender of the Crown’.

I spent a lot of time in that room of Apples, and although I had a Commodore 64 at home, I found that the mouse lent itself to a whole plethora of excitement I could not experience with my joystick. (pun intended)

There was another computer room at my school. It held the dreaded ‘IBM Compatibles’. (the school obviously couldn’t afford real IBM’s!). These monolithic PC’s were my first taste of a BIOS, DOS and the overly stimulating, very boring LOGO software. (Look! I drew a circle!).

Ultimately the ‘IBM’s’ were shunned and we played Apples to our hearts content for those few years.

This was all to change, however, as Apple started to slip.

Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I was an Apple fanboy at this stage, but, yeah, I liked them. They were easy to use as a kid. There was a ‘windows’ like operating system. Just point and click! They were fun, with quick to play games, and there was no boring programming. Win Win!

As I grew older, however, I discovered that there was more to computing than fancy gimmicks, icons and games. The power of the PC became more apparent. I could get more programs (and games) for them. I could make it do what I wanted it to do. I could write programs for them.

And most importantly, I could convince my parents to buy me one because it didn’t cost the earth.

So, my Commodore 64 started gathering dust as the family bought our first PC and I never looked back.

In the meantime, the Apple’s went from bad to worse. No-one can deny that the 90’s were mostly a bad decade for the Apple brand. Failed attempts at laptops, portable devices and operating systems.

It wasn’t until 1998 that Apple produced the coloured novelty-looking iMac and suddenly the game changed. Here was a PC that was ‘all-in-one’. No ugly box, plus monitor, plus keyboard, plus mouse. This all in one machine came in PINK and you didn’t have to plug in your own hard drive or work how to to attach this and that…etc..

Gimmicks, my friends, and it worked! PC’s have always been popular in the realm of the nerd because you can upgrade, customise and make it do what you want it to do. Apple realised that couldn’t compete in this space, so they brought out the simplified version of a PC. It worked for them and they started turning a profit and became a player again.

It was also at this time that Apple  started giving me the shits. I liked to think I was pretty handy with a PC. I could fix problems with the family computer, as well as other requests that came from aunties, cousins and friends. I could pull it apart. I could put it back together. I could write script and code to do fancy things. I was a guru!

Then my sister got an Apple… “What the Fuck were you thinking?”. Her answer was that it’s what all the Graphic Designers use. This excuse is still used to this day and I’m yet to be proven that an Apple performs graphical tasks better than a PC.

All of a sudden I was a n00b again. I didn’t know my way around an Apple and it was like someone had redesigned a computer to be used by an 8 year old…which was good when I was 8, which was the way to solve a problem. Just think like an 8 year old and you could work out how to connect your iMac to a printer.

It was also around this stage that the iPod was released and this is the point where I have to confess, I own an iPod. I am loathe to admit it, but it comes down to my love of music. There is no other device that lets me store all of my music in one place (20,000 songs)  and let’s be honest, the iPod interface is very good at what it does.

The problem is, Apple just won’t quit. They seem to think that they can overtake the world with their i products. The iPhone came out to make people think they could be cool and hip AND talk on the phone and then the ridiculously named and un-useful iPad came out.

Seriously, don’t get me started on that.

It’s the transition that Apple made in the 90’s from realising that it couldn’t be seen as a serious computer contender to becoming a ‘Computer for Dummies’ that pissed me off because people bought it.

Look, I understand that not everyone is a computer geek and most people don’t want to know how many Megabytes they are using, or the CPU speed, or the Operating System, but the fact is that you should. If you are using a computer, you should know what you are using. Computers are EVERYWHERE and they will always be everywhere. We can’t just blindly go out buying the flashy new and next big thing just because Joe next door has one. Especially when it is NO DIFFERENT TO THE OLD ONE. Apple is trying to cash in on novelty marketing. 1mm thinnner! 1 inch wider! (not the mention $200 dearer).

I haven’t even started to elaborate on Apple’s unethical marketing practices, prevention of free speech, secrecy, arrogance, no admission of guilt, inflated prices, design flaws,  lack of compatibility with anything, Steve Jobs and iTunes hell. Need I go on?

Someone said recently that people like Apple because it makes them feel smart.

Why dont’ they just GET smarter?



WTF KFC ATM LOLZ

Remember the days when the Internet first started and all of a sudden there was this new language to learn?

I think they called it ‘net-speak’ or something as innovative as that.

My first experience of such a phenomenon was the emoticon, back in 1994. I was one of those dorky Uni guys that would spend most of the day in the computer labs discovering this new thing called ‘The Internet’ which meant that I could talk to random strangers on the other side of the world IN REAL TIME.

I mean, how cool was that? I was saying something and then someone else was saying something back, and it’s not even a phone!

So, anyway, I was using Telnet to connect to these servers which hosted things called MUDS, or MUCKS where you would connect to a virtual world as a character and then go around talking to people, jumping around and being a fool or doing other such unsavoury activities that a 17 year old might do. Especially when you are 17 year old that spends all day in a computer lab.

I digress. I started noticing people were ending their sentences with 🙂 or ;). I thought it was some sort of way to end a sentence, or that they had simply added extra random characters at the end of their line.

Then one day, someone told me to turn my head to the left.

All of a sudden, 🙂 became something different altogether.

Over the coming years we would be bombarded with every emoticon possible. Even Slash uses his special Slash emoticon on this twitter feed  – Iii|; )

Not only was the emoticon an innovation, so were the net acronyms. The first one I came across was brb, closely followed by bbs, atm, irl and ttfn. Although to be fair, ttfn was stolen from Tigger.

Of course, the big one. The real doozy of a netcronym (like what I did there?) is LOL. Fucking Laugh Out Fucking Loud. It shits me. It always has. I have never used it. I don’t laugh out loud very often I guess, but really, does anyone that writes LOL really Laugh Out Loud when they are typing? Based on my in-depth research I would say. NO.

Instead, I use the eloquent and succinct ‘hehehe’. You see, it gives the impression that you think something is funny with a little snigger, but doesn’t go over the top with the whole boisterous laugh about something not very funny.

The even weirder thing is that nowadays the old acronyms are becoming everyday vernacular.

People are LOLing and OMGing all over the place. I have been known to drop to odd ZOMG and FFS as well.

I have no problem with this, for the most part. I feel that I am a part of the generation that helped to bring The Internet to the masses and reveal this whole other side of geekdom.

I may not use telnet any more, but it’s sure nice to know that 16 years later there are still remnants of those first few weeks of ‘online’ time that live on today..

Oh yeah, and enjoy this clip 🙂


Right. So Where Was I?

Fuck. It’s nearly the end of March already.

You realise that when the 1st of April hits, we are 1/4 of the way through 2009 already?

And THEN, we will hit a new decade. The Naughties will be gone. We’ll be into the Ten’s. That just sounds weird.

And THEN we’ll be into the 20’s, and when people refer to the 20’s, how will we know if they’re talking about the 1920’s or the 2020’s?

….

Life is like a snowball.

It rolls, and rolls and rolls, accumulating more snow, sticks, shit and stuff on it’s way, but then eventually it hits the bottom of the hill, or a tree, or just melts cause of the friction (or change of season) and then what? You have a massive broken snowball.

Great analogy, I know.

As you may have noticed, blogging has taken a back seat in my life lately. Firstly, my motiviation for posting has been non existent, but also I have been busy with that snowball of life and…..

… I have discovered Twitter. I mean, yeah, I’ve known about for ages, but I just thought it was a poor substitute for facebook. (which ironically now looks very much like twitter)

As it turns out it is a marvellous way to stalk celebrities and personalities that seem to have a need to ‘tweet’ everything they are doing.

This has particularly been useful with Stephen Fry, Jimmy Fallon, Lily Allen, Drew BarrymoreSteve Buscemi, Gina Riley, John CleeseChris Cornell, The Grates and Kevin Smith. Not to mention that the whole Triple J clan has joined up as well.

There’s a feeling of harmonious warmth when you see celebrities ‘tweeting’ each other, but also tweeting back to you like you were best mates or something.

I mean, just today, Steve Buscemi sent me a direct message telling me to “kick the shit out of a public bathroom for St. Patricks Day”. I mean how fucking cool is that?

The funny thing is, I think that everyone on Twitter realises that this is a fad. It will not last forever. Something bigger, faster and more exciting will come along and just like Myspace and just like blogs and just like Facebook, the participation rate will slide into oblivion and everyone will start using the ‘new’ thing.

But hey, it’s fun to jump on these bandwagons at the height of popularity, otherwise what else can you brag about with friends (I have 5000 friends. How many do you have??)

Besides, I am now officially a cripple and my Indoor Soccer career is over, so what else am I supposed to do?

Oh yeah, I broke my foot on Sunday afternoon.

Picture this.

I’m running to get the ball, with the usual vigour that I reserve for team sports, and I get my foot around the ball just as somewhere else reaches for it from another direction.

My ankle gives way and I roll onto the outside of my foot.

Suddenly a distinct sound permeates through the air;

“CRACK!”

I proceed to collapse onto the floor in pain, wondering why my (often) rolled ankle made that noise.

As I hobble off the court, I notice what appears to be a golf ball slowly rising up from the little toe side of my right foot.

I poke it. OUCH! Hmm. That can’t be good.

Although I would normally just hobble my way through a week with a sprained ankle, I have never seen swelling in my foot from a sprain!

It didn’t take too much convincing from LaLa to get me down to the ER to check it out.

The doctors were even excited enough to show me the X-Ray (all on computer now by the way. No x-ray boxes, although the nurse still referred to the monitor as an ‘X-Ray Box’).

There we go. An avulsion fracture of the 5th metatarsal. Awesome.

For those who don’t follow the link, imagine a tendon pulling away a section of the bone. That’s what an avulsion fracture is.

The doctor asked me, “Are you an elite athlete?”.

Well, it was flattering to be asked, but after LaLa and I chortled heartily, I replied “No.”

I shouldn’t require a pin put in it. Probably just a cast and a walking boot (classy!) for 4-6 weeks.

….

So here I am. At home. Blogging, facebooking, twittering, watching Entourage, playing Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, practicing songs for my band and trying to keep myself busy as my foot starts to heal.

So, where was I?


3 is the Shittest Number.

So, you remember how I was looking for a new mobile phone?

After wading through all the crap that is the mobile phone industry and analysing ‘cap’ plans and coverage and free phones and pre/post paid options, I was decided on the $49 Cap Plan with Three Mobile that was offering the Nokia N95 8Gb phone for free. $310 worth of calls and all that stuff.

The Nokia N95 has the equivalent features of an iPhone without the hype, touch-screen or wankiness.

I even got a deal through a cricket mailing list I was on that offered $50 credit if I bought if online or over the phone and unlimited ‘Sportscap’, which was Sports updates and scores and stuff.

It didn’t take long to do. I called them up, went through all the legal mumbo jumbo and was told my phone would arrive 2 days later.

It did! I unwrapped it, charged it up and was off.

Problem was….the documentation that came with the phone indicated I was on the $29 cap.

My impression was, that I had been given the phone ‘free’ on the $29 cap, but when I logged into the Three site, it indicated I was paying $18 monthly installments on the $29 cap. This comes to $47 a month but with only $150 worth of ‘capped’ calls compare to the $310 worth on the $49 cap plan with the phone free.

Obviously I was not happy with this scenario so I called up Three to ask them to switch me to the $49 Cap Plan as requested.

What has followed has been a continuing battle with Three’s ‘Customer Care’ centre that obviously resides in India. Frustrations have reached such a point that I have threatened to go to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Like they seem to give a shit..

Check out this letter that I sent to Three on Monday and copied to the TIO (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman)

Hello,

I would like to express my dismay and frustration at problems since joining Three Mobile.

The details of my complaint start when originally signing up with Three Mobile on the 23rd of July.
I was sent an advertisement for a Three deal via the Australia Cricket Family mailing list. It advertised the Nokia N95 8Gb on a $49 Cap Plan (and SportsCap) with $50 free credit.

I was keen to change plans and have always been interested in using Three as my service provider so I decided to take up the deal.
I original went to my local Three store, but they advised that to take advantage of the code in the email and get the $50 credit, I would need to apply over the phone or online.

So, I went about calling the Three Sales Team on the phone that afternoon (23/07/08). (probably around 3pm)

I spoke with a lovely girl from the Sales team and discussed the $49 Cap Plan with the Nokia N95 and we went through all of the application process smoothly. All discussion on the phone with the girl were regarding the $49 plan with the phone being free on this plan (no monthly installments). She also indicated I would get the $50 credit and gave me 2 months of free web browsing on my account to try it out (100Mb a month plan)

As promised the phone arrived on the Friday and I opened to packaging to find that the paperwork indicated I was on the $29 Cap Plan.

As I was going away that weekend I did not have time to call until the following week (Thursday 31st of July) when I rang the 133 320 Customer Care Number.

I spoke to the operator and explained the situation as I have written above, but was told that everything on the account indicated that I was on the $29 Plan (with $18 handset installments) and not the $49 (with no monthly installments) as requested. I told him that there must have been a mistake as I at no stage asked for the $29 Plan. I was told that the legal declaration was for the $29 Plan. After some discussions in which the operator could offer no reasonable resolution, I requested to speak to the supervisor. The operator told me that I would not get a different answer from them, but I insisted. The supervisor then told me the same things, saying that the declaration was for the $29 Plan. I again told him that I had never discussed the $29 with the sales lady at any stage, so a mistake has been made on their end.

The supervisor finally agreed to follow the situation up the with the Sales Support team and told me he would get back to me once he got a reply from them. He told me he would call on Friday.

On Friday the 1st of August, I called 133 320 again to follow it up, and got a woman on the Customer Care line. I wanted another opinion on whether I could be switched to the $49 Plan simply. She indicated the same as the previous call and told me that the supervisor was following it up from the day before. I agreed to wait for contact from him.

The supervisor called back that afternoon (01/08/08 ) and told me he would call on Monday with an answer from the Support team.

By Thursday the week after (07/08/08 ) I had not had a callback from Three so I again called the Customer Care line. I spoke to another operator for almost 30 minutes explaining my situation. He once again insisted that all indications on the account were for the $29 Plan. I told him a mistake had been made and it should be changed to the $49 Plan, but he said that he could not do that. I was getting very frustrated now and told him that I expect this to be resolved and asked when a callback from him will be forthcoming. He told me he would call the next day with an update.

The next day I received no call and as of 10:20am on Monday the 11th of August, I have had no response from Three Mobile.

This whole process has been frustrating, stressful and extremely annoying. I cannot believe that I am repeatedly being told that even though I was not the one to make a mistake, I could not get the plan change to the one that I asked for. There is not even any logical reason why I would ask for the $29 Plan with $18 installments as it comes to the same price as the $49. I would even be paying $2 more for the $49 Cap Plan.

The communication with Three has been nothing short of inadequate. I have waited on the phone for long periods of time with no positive feedback and I am told the same things over and over again. It’s like the operator expects me to just back down and admit that I have made a mistake, which I have not.

I am not going to back down from this as the customer service has been appalling.

I expect the Plan to be altered to the $49 plan I asked for with no monthly installments and as discussed with the Sales lady, I would get the $50 credit and also the 2 months of complimentary Internet access (this access worked for the first few days, but has not worked since)

I have contacted the ACCC regarding this issue and they have indicated that this issue may contravene Section 52 of the Trade Practices ACT relating to misleading or deceptive conduct.

I expect a response and resolution within 7 days, and I have cc’d this email to the Telecommunication Ombudsman so they can act on my behalf if required.

Regards,

Mick

This was sent on Monday. The Telecommunication Ombudsman called me on Wednesday and told me they would follow this up if I got no responses from Three Mobile.

It’s Friday, and so far….nothing.

I am pretty pissed off that a company can try and get away with this sort of crap and not give their customer any decent level of customer service.

Why would I ever recommend Three to anyone after this sort of support, or lack of.

It totally shits me off when companies can offer no sort of reasonable resolution to what appears to be a cut and dried case.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted. If they don’t reply by Monday arvo, I’ll ask the Ombudsman to represent me. Then hopefully they’ll kick their arse!

Plus I want something free for the stress they have put me through.

Look at me. Stressed. 🙂

UPDATE – They called me up and told me they couldn’t stop the $18 installments coming out, but they would credit me $18 a month and up me to the $49 plan. I was sick of messing around so I accepted it, but I never got my 2 month of free Net access. Oh well…


Help Mick Buy a New Mobile Phone.

Yes. As the title says, it is your chance to help me pick a new phone.

Here’s what I have at the moment.

It’s a ratty, old Sony-Ericsson k750i.

I have replaced the screen and the chassis last year, but the joystick is ratshit.

I have to physically force it in whichever direction I want to make it do anything. If I don’t force it in the exact right way it ‘selects’ something instead of moving up or down or left and right and it’s ANNOYING AS ALL FUCK.

Good thing is, it stops me from using my phone too much. Bad thing is I want to smash my phone onto the ground whenever I try to text, which is what happened today when I threw it hard onto the ground. TWICE.

The damn thing still works.

Anyway, before I really do some damage to it, I need a new mobile.

And no, I don’t want, nor can afford an iPhone.

But here’s what I am looking for.

I want the following, in order of desire

Needed

  • Good and easy to text.
  • has decent sized buttons.
  • has an FM Radio.
  • has expandable memory (bear in mind, I already have a 4Gb Memory Stick with my current phone, but I realise that most phone no longer use these)
  • Bluetooth

Preferred

  • 2Mb+ Camera Phone
  • 3.5mm headphone plug

Nice to Have

  • WiFi Access
  • GPS Tracking

Brands

  • Sony-Ericsson – I would prefer one of these because I have the memory card that fits into some of them, and I like their phones for toughness and compatibility
  • Nokia – I hate Nokia’s, mostly because I think they are made poorly and break way too easily. Having said that, I would consider one if it had good reviews
  • LG – No. Just No. Don’t you know that LG stands for Lousy Goods? (or as LaLa says, “Life’s Good, when it works)
  • Samsung – I have heard good things about Samsung phones, so would consider one.
  • Motorola – Not a fan of the Razr. Do they make anything else?

Style

  • Candybar – Yes please, yum yum, but also, yes please. I prefer this style of phone as there is less to break and no moving parts
  • Flip-phones – Annoying to answer and how many people have had flip-phones where the flippy bit just doesn’t work properly?
  • Slide-phones – I would consider one of these if it was made well, but prefer not to have to move anything to dial a number
  • Touch Screens – Yes please, but don’t know if my budget will extend that far.

Price

  • I don’t want to go on a contract if I can avoid it, but would consider it if I got a good enough deal with the phone.
  • I am currently on Virgin Mobile’s 10c/min, 10c/text pre-paid deal. It’s bloody good, but I still use $50 a month (automatically charged to credit card). I like pre-paid because it’s easier to manage and I’m not tired into anything, but similarly if I can find a good contract with decent rates, I would think about it
  • I would spend up to around 300-400 on a phone, buying it outright. eBay has pretty much every phone you’d ever want.

So, recommendations? What should I go for?

I have done a little bit of research and here’s what I am liking at the moment.

I raved about the Sony Ericsson k850i a while ago.

It’s the model up from mine and features most of what I want, but no WiFi or GPS and is a bit bulky. Also, my 4Gb Memory Stick would not work in it.

It is only about $250 – 300 on eBay though.

There’s the Sony Ericsson C902. It has HSDPA Web Browsing, radio, 5 Megapixel Camera and looks pretty.

They are also releasing the C905 later this year which has a 8.1 Megapixel camera and looks very pretty.

I wouldn’t mind a good quality camera on my phone, but it always lacks zoom, which is a pain. I have a 8 megapixel Lumix camera that I love, but it’s very bulky to take out on the town.

What about Nokia’s? Is the N95 any good? I hear people raving about it. It has a pretty screen, and GPS and WiFi, but it’s going for around $500 on eBay or free on a $49 cap at Three Mobile.

Argh. Too many to choose from and there are new ones every month.

Anyone out there willing to share their ideas on what to pick out of the mobile phone haze?

Help!


iDon’tCare released Friday

Seriously.

Dudes, Ubergeeks, Macophiles, anyone that wants a new mobile phone. Listen to me.

..

..

..

It’s just a phone.

It won’t help you get lucky with that girl/boy at work.

It won’t magically stop irritating telemarketers or your mum calling you.

It won’t make the Internet suddenly become new and exciting again. (a’la 1992)

It won’t bring back your youth.

It won’t tell you which are the winning lotto numbers.

It won’t stop you texting you ex in a drunken stupor.

It won’t make your phone bills cheaper.

It won’t give us world peace.

It won’t get Obama into the White House.

It won’t make your favourite football team win.

..

It won’t make you happy.

It won’t make anyone else like you any more.

..

It’s a phone.

Get over it.

(or click here to see goods reasons why you can get over it)

It’s Download Day!

Download Day

Be part of a World Record and go and download Firefox 3 NOW.

There is currently no official record for the most downloaded software in a day, but Firefox is hoping to set it TODAY (from 10am Colorado time)

It’s easily the best browser around. I have been using Firefox 3 Release Candidate 3 without issue for the last few weeks. There are some handy new features, such as:

The Awesome Bar – type in something into the address bar and it’ll show you a myriad of sites to chose from that you have been to before. Not that disimilar to how it used to work, but prettier 🙂

Download….Pause…Resume – You can pause a download and continue where you were up to. This has been available in 3rd party apps for a while, but nice to have it built in.

Give a man a phish.. – There’s built in malware and phish protection. VERY good for those people who like to click click click on anything!

Smarty Pant Bookmarks – There is a ‘Most Visited’ Bookmark Folder and ‘Smart Bookmarks’ that give you quick access to your often visited sites. Although if you really wanna go to Facebook, there are quicker ways 🙂

Yes, I would like to remember this password, thanks for asking – The popup box that used to stare you in the face after trying to log in? It’s still there, but at the top of the page now, letting you click it whenever you want, and not just to keep loading!

Strap on an Add-On – The Add-Ons are the best feature of Firefox and always have been. Customise how it looks, acts, moves and shakes. The Add-On Manager lets you search for stuff straight from the Add-Ons List (without searching in a web page). Easier. Yay!

Integrate my Back to Front! – The back and forward button has been modified so the BACK is bigger and there’s just one little button to show you previous pages you’ve been at. It works good even if you don’t understand what the hell I mean.

No more months in a leaky boat! – Firefox used to churn through memory and CPU like it was butter. Although you churn butter, it doesn’t actually churn anything. In any case, this version of Firefox is reportedly the best performing browser on the market, and that’s a good enough reason to download it in itself.

So go on, just download it.

This timer will tell you how much longer you have to wait before Download Day begins!