Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's already here!

My computer has been acting up so I took it up to the Big Box Computer Store (BBCS) in the mall in Olympia to talk about getting it fixed and upgraded. The last time I had a little trouble with it, I went to one of those local 'Three Guys and a Computer' type shops, definitelty not a big box store. The guy said "Dude! You need a serious memory upgrade!" I think his name was Cody, or Zack (that memory upgrade). They fixed my glitch but I didn't pop for the memory. This experience (the computer haggling) at the BBCS was a whole blog post (a series!) in itself. But it’s not what I want to whine about today.

I went to the BBCS, … in the mall, …on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, … at about 11:00am. Think about that for a minute. Obviously I didn’t (think about it) before I left home. If I had I might have put that visit off, say until about the second week in January or so. You know what I’m whining about here. It was a mad house.

I’m not a particularly savvy shopper: I don’t go to great lengths to get a good parking spot, I don’t really plan out my ‘shopping stops’, I don’t shop the sales and I don’t usually consider factors that influence shopping; Things like special events, grand openings, or getting a ‘good deal’.

Riding, yes: I try to stay off Stevens Pass on holiday weekends, I try to avoid the Salazar valley if there is any chance of flooding (like heavy rain for a couple hours 2 days in a row) or any westward route through the Chehalis gap when the westerly’s are blowing. Shopping? I’m just shopping deficit I guess.

It hit me when I came over the hill and saw the parking lot. My first thought was ‘roving auto sale’, but right away I noticed the high incidence of teeny bopper cars (you know, the Honda Civic with the bolt on air dams and spoilers, the low pro wheels and the clear tail light lenses) the dented vans, the pick up trucks with wood racks among the sea of cars, I knew I had blundered into retro grouch hell: Christmas shoppers looking for a deal.

At the BBCS I knew what I wanted and actually knew where the tech support place was. I had to wade through the masses staring off into the electronic glow, weaving through strategically placed piles of indispensable gizmos (On sale!), but I didn’t have to start off wondering where I needed to go, I was no Snow White in the forest. And still the experience immediately grated on my nerves; like all the lining had worn off my ‘patience’ pads and the nerves ends were grinding, metal to metal against my ‘get going’ rotors. I just wanted to ask a few simple questions, decide to make a deal, …or not, and then get out of there.

But of course, first there is standing in line while several people ask essentially the same question about a ridiculously large TV that they thought was supposed to be on sale (the answer is no, the really expensive model is NOT on sale, the cheaper, ‘craptastic’ version is). Why are these people at the tech support counter anyway? All this while trying to juggle a clunky old CPU in my arms. Then of course when it’s my turn the tech geek gets busy with yet another bargain hunter with a huge TV question and I get Hillary/Chelsea/Brittany who of course does not have any more tech savvy than me. This is frustrating but I realize it is no fault of hers. She came to work on a busy day and the BBCS threw her into the breach, where they know the most frustrated consumers will be and the most help will be needed. She likely had no say in the decision and would probably have been much more effective in the MP3, boom box, or cell phone zone. I’m trying to be philosophical here, knowing that I’m going to have to wait until every possible question about huge TV’s can be asked and answered because Hillary/Chelsea/Brittany isn’t a tech geek. I’m no sexist! This could just as easily have been the kid in the Blink 182 T shirt at the bike shop who’s not sure of the difference between a drop out and dropping in. I’ve had some great technical assistance from young women, (cell phones if you must know). This was just a mismatch set up by the BBCS.

Finally it is my turn and as I feared the answer is yes, and yes, but. Yes, they could fix it and yes, they could add additional memory. But of course, that’ll cost more than 50% of the price of a new computer with three times the memory of my electronic dinosaur. It will include a new operating system (Vista, I’ve heard of this) and I could walk out today with all this the new, electronic goodness under my arm if I‘d like.

You know that sensation you get when you have a little tiny, invisible sliver in the end of your finger and it keeps giving you just the tiniest little poke under your gloves? I have that feeling while I’m waiting, and going through the sales pitch. Only in this case the tip of my finger is actually my ear, and the sliver is the incredibly annoying Christmas music looping not so subtly on the PA system.

So this occurred on November 24th, more than a month before Christmas and already, the whole ‘buy for Jesus’ train is rolling down the tracks … at full speed. It’s not like they are getting it in gear, not like they are starting to get ready to sell Christmas to you. It’s out there, revved and running at full speed and well, if you are a hick from the sticks and you have not been paying attention, it’ll run you over like Alexander’s elephants.

I need to get this new computer hooked up! Internet shopping has never looked more appealing. How about this “Shopping strategy”? I’ll just buy (via the internet) gift certificates and mail them (electronically) to the lucky winners? Does that convey the real meaning of Christmas? I used to try to make things to give away. It seemed to be more personal. Then it devolved to spending time shopping to find ‘just the right gift’ for every one. That somehow suggested a more personal connection with the giftee. This sounds like crap to me right now.

A personal connection would be taking someone for a walk on the Nisqually delta to look at wintering birds, or half a day of cross country skiing in the Teanaway river valley, or a sunny bike ramble out on the Long Beach Peninsula. Or maybe just a cuppa joe from a thermos on a public park bench. For some reason this seems somehow to have become impractical. People don’t have time for that now. They are too busy slaying dragons and beating back the hordes, … at the mall trying to find just the right gift.

So tell me your worst horror stories and best tips for ‘interfacing’ with Windows Vista.


  1. Vista is pretty much the same overall. Now you can get the weather on the right hand of your screen so you don't have to go "outside" to see anymore.

    15 tips and tricks for Vista:

  2. Thanks for the tips, I am sure I can use all the help I can get. Just back from a road trip out to Quileute so hopefully the new dope scope goes online this weekend.

    PS: I responded to your query about the Jack Browns (last blog post) hope you saw that.