Thursday, September 6, 2007

Think Different.

So after this morning’s rant where I said something or other nasty about Apple and how I hope they get invaded by Homeland Security or taken over by Microsoft or something like that – I ended up this afternoon in the Apple Store. Yep. That’s fate for you, witty eh?

Now, just for the record, I did feel a shooting pain deep in my brain, the Earth did rumble ominously, and small children began to weep. Outside, lightening flashed and the skies darkened. A chill wind began to blow. However, I was on a mission and was not dissuaded from my purpose.

See my wife has an iPod and she’s heading out on a business trip soon and I wanted to get her an external power-supply – basically a little gizmo just large enough to hold a couple of AAA’s that plugs into the iPod and extends or recharges the internal power supply, so you can watch movies the whole flight instead of just the first four hours or so. Yeah, you probably have one, good for you. Anyway, moving on, for iPod crap, you have to go to the Apple store – or Wal-Mart. I have never been in an Apple Store. I was feeling adventurous, so I chose the more unknown of evils today.

What we learned today: Some clichés are based on fact.

A few observations:

1) There were five people working in the store, four men and one woman. The woman was wearing shorts and a wife-beater type shirt; she does not shave and she does not care if you know it; she was wearing Birkenstock shoes; she was short, wide, and somewhat cubistic in shape; and she looked like she could kick your ass all up and down the road. All four men had beards. Not neat stylish beards. More like scruffy, living-in-your-mom’s-basement and never-had-a-date beards. None of them wore suspenders; however, all four wore glasses, wire-rimmed in odd shapes. I don’t think bathing was something most of them did as a priority. One of them smelled like burning oregano, he might have been the manager but I can’t be certain as none of them wore name tags or any other identifying marks. It is possible that no one was in charge, they may have been organized in some socialist hive structure – but then you’d think that they would all smell like burning oregano, it’s a mystery.

2) The store was practically empty of inventory. There were some cool looking monitors with very slim minimalist keyboards that I assume were Apple Macintosh computers. I wondered where the actual computer parts were, I didn’t want to get too close, I was afraid they would smell the PC on me and attack. There were exactly seven, seven, boxes of Apple software. I actually counted them. Seven boxes in the whole glossy white little store. Apparently even the Apple Store doesn’t carry Macintosh software. Maybe there was more in back, I don’t know, however there were twelve boxes of Microsoft Windows XP. When I remarked about it, oregano-breath made some crack about “at least it isn’t Vista,” then he made some kind of snorky nerd noise. There were more iPod accessories than everything else in the store combined.

3) I was the only customer.

4) None of them had any idea what I was talking about, but all of them were pretty sure they didn’t carry it. I had to go look through the iPod paraphernalia myself, like some high school pothead desperately pawing through a seventies hop-shop looking for a pack of zigzags (yeah yeah, the burning oregano smell put the metaphor in mind, and I was damn well going to use it). Not only did they have one external power supply, they actually had four. And as soon as I pulled it down from the wall-o-iPod all of the Apple Associates became instant experts on the device. Oh, that external power supply…why didn’t you say so?

5) They could not work the cash register. No, really. The register was a Macintosh, very fancy, with lots of gizmos attached to it, including the credit card reader (I say ‘gizmos’ because I don’t know what you call Apple peripherals). First, the register would not connect to the wireless server (wireless cash register? Wireless? Hmmm Okaaay, he says dubiously). Eventually all four of the bearded types were wiggling and jiggling various Mac components and scowling at the screen – the chick ignored me. Eventually oregano-breath goes in the back and voila we’re connected. Now the register won’t connect to the database. More scowling, more wiggling. Eventually we’re in. Uh huh, one of them actually said “we’re in.” I was looking around for the Mission Impossible crew. They take my debit card (it’s a group effort at this point), but the card reader doesn’t work. Maybe if we do it slowly. No? Maybe fast? Somebody remarks that the “IT guy needs to fix this thing.” Excuse me says I, but aren’t you guys technically IT guys? They answer with blank stares verging on the hostile. Two of them wandered away, I had apparently offended them. Then again I hear oregano affects concentration so maybe that was it. Eventually the card reads, but …wait for it…nothing. Can’t connect to Visa or some such. They asked if I could maybe come back later? Tomorrow even?

6) I went to Wal-Mart.


  1. I am so disappointed. Not in your visit to the Apple store, but that you actually entered the evil empire (Wal-Mart). Bleh.

    The Apple stores here in the Mile High City are (thankfully) NOT manned by oregano-smelling rejects from the Timothy Leary Fan Club. The ones I've seen contain hip, clean, informed associates who are admittedly a bit rabid about their brand. But at least they know their brand.

    How odd that your wife has an iPod and you have a Zen...I have an iPod and my husband had a Zen for quite some time. Then I converted him to the iPod. Cackles Evilly.

  2. Janiece, you have no idea how much I detest Wal-Mart, really you don't. Just entering the parking lot raises my blood pressure ten points or more. But, I live in Palmer, Alaska, options are limited. Once Wal-Mart moved into Wasilla ten miles down the road, everybody else closed up shop and went to work for the Walton family.

    We bought my wife's iPod first. Right away I didn't like it. The buttons are hard for me to use and I hate the look/feel of iTunes (this was before the server incident and the intense loathing I've since developed for iTunes). My wife hates being limited to iTunes on her laptop for sync. She'd much rather use WMP v11. So, when I went looking for a player to use in the shop I bought the 60g ZEN which I love. It's a little more bulky, but it works great for me.

  3. Wow, that's probably the only Apple Store like that. Every one I've been has clean up and a little too much on the perky side people working there. Mostly I ignore them and go for what I want to look at, and only engage them when I need to say, "I don't see a box for this, do you have more in back?" The Apple store her in Cleveland (Beechwood) is really small, and they also don't have a lot of software.

  4. I just pimped you and Buchheit over at the Whateveresque, so you might end up with the "Janiece Bump" over here at Stonekettle Station. Take care of my on-lines buddies, I do.

  5. Thanks, Janiece, you're a pal. I push Steve's site on anybody I know who's even vaguely interested in writing as well. Fun stuff there, and educational :)

    I got technorati'd on the previous Apple rant posting, and my stat counter is spiking hard right now. Interesting.

    Steve, I'm curious, I know you're a Mac user - how does Win XP work on the Mac. I start to shake at the mere mention of "emulation," but I understand this is not that? And just exactly where do you get software for the Mac?

  6. janiece.murphy, you're good people, no matter what Jim said about you. :)

    Jim, you can run it natively either in a dual boot configuration (Boot Camp, in beta now, will be standard in next OS release) or as a window using a program called Parrallels. Macs now have Intel processors so there's no emulation. I've heard somethings are wonky, but then they also are wonky on different PCs. Most Mac users (at least us old folks) are used to catalog ordering software (or downloading now with these intertubie thingies). Here in Cleveland we have MicroCenter which has a good selection of Mac Software, the Apple store here has an okay selection.


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