Archive for category: Mechanical Aversions

Today’s iPhone Lust-O-Meter Reading

05 Jul 2007
July 5, 2007
The iPhone Lust-O-Meter

Life Outtacontext’s Current Reading on its iPhone Lust-O-Meter.

I have determined there is a direct correlation between iPhone Lust and physical proximity with the device. Handling an iPhone increases the desire to own one in direct proportion to the length of time it’s played with, I mean, used. In addition, watching a demonstration, even on TV, also increases one’s desire.

Since yesterday was a holiday, and my direct contact with the iPhone and my TV viewing was nil, my lust level has declined over the last 24 hours. Today’s Washington Post review of the phone here and here, while good in most respects, still had a leveling effect on my emotions.

Related Post: Yesterday’s Lust-O-Meter reading.

Spicing Up Your Marriage the High Tech Way

14 Jan 2007
January 14, 2007
Airport Express spices up a marriage

No, not those implants! Spicing up a marriage with these silicon implants: Apple’s Airport Express

Sometimes it takes a bit of modern technology to spice up a marriage. A few well-placed silicon implants can do wonders.

Last week I decided to upgrade our home wireless network. I had hacked an old DSL wireless modem to act as a router, broadcasting a wireless signal throughout our house. It had worked well for the last couple of years but we wanted more. Well, I wanted more.

The signal dropped off right at the entrance to the two back bedrooms, ours and our eldest daughter’s. Right there at each door the signal stopped. Our ten year old had to do her homework in the kitchen and surfing in bed could never be a luxury for her parents.

In addition, for months I had tried in vain to open a port on our hacked router to connect our TiVo to our home network. Even with the help of experts in the field, nothing worked. I resigned myself to using a thirty-foot telephone cord to connect our machine to the closest phone jack (on the other side of the house) to download television program information every two weeks. Each time I had to place bright orange construction cones along its path so the girls wouldn’t trip over it.

My family put up with all of this because they were in awe of this magic technology. Surfing the net while sitting on the couch was an amenity they had never imagined. Printing wirelessly from the other end of the house was heaven sent.

But I told them it could be even better. They didn’t believe it but gave me the go ahead to tinker.

Last week I started looking for a new router. I decided on Apple’s Airport Express. Sure, there were cheaper routers but Apple’s “plug and play” set-up might justify the extra cost. With two of them I could create a bridge, extending the network to the back bedrooms. And, if I was really lucky, I could finally network our TiVo.

I’m not a born tinkerer. If it doesn’t work the first time I panic. Tinkering requires time, an adventurous soul, and a backout plan. Usually, I have none of these. When I envision nirvana I want it simple and I want it NOW. The advertised simplicity of Airport’s network set-up was enticing. Sometimes it’s worth paying a premium for convenience and sanity. I was willing to take this calculated leap.

I bought two Airport Expresses and Saturday night I was ready to go. One would be our router and one would be our bridge. I was a little nervous disconnecting our old router, afraid that once done I could never go back. The thought of something going awry resulting in no Internet access was too scary to imagine. I pushed it out of my mind and plugged the first Express into the electric outlet.

All of a sudden my computer recognized the new network. I opened a browser and net access was on! Why had I been so worried? Next step, apply a secure network password to prevent prying eyes.

After I did that, suddenly, nothing was working. I called Apple and they helped reset my router. Network preferences were green so I should have had a net connection. But I didn’t. Apple suggested calling Verizon to check my DSL modem. “Call us right back when it’s done,” he said. But he failed to tell me they were closing for the night in five minutes.

Uh, oh. My worst nightmare. Rule #1 in the Tech World: one company never takes responsibility for another company’s equipment. Each has been trained to pass the buck to the other leaving us consumers in a deep dark void. Misdirected voicetrees and multiple suspicious disconnects with Verizon techs just as they were offering me the Holy Grail lasted the entire evening. After four hours of hell I called it quits.

I didn’t sleep well that night. I tossed and turned. What would my family say when they found out we were off the grid? My family hero status would be tarnished until I could get this fixed. And, like an action movie hero, I was
now entirely alone.

The next morning I decided to start over. I pretended I had just bought the new equipment and was making my very first call to the companies I rely on for peace, happiness, and uninterrupted net access (the very same companies that had driven me to the brink just hours ago). And why bother explaining to these new techs all that had transpired with their coworkers the night before? I knew what I wanted now (after all, I had spent the entire night thinking about it). I stifled my desire to whine. Speaking in short and informative phrases was my best hope. I called Verizon first. “I’m hooking up a router and need to reset my modem.” Done.

Then I called Apple. “I want to set up an Express as a password protected router and then configure another as a bridge.”

I wrote down all my new passwords, ran the set-up application (while keeping the Apple tech tethered to the phone), and suddenly, nirvana: a net connection (and a faster one at that). And when I plugged in the second Express into an outlet near the bedrooms, suddenly we had Internet access everywhere.

One more hurdle: I went to my TiVo’s network configuration screen. It saw my new network. I pressed a few buttons and in less than two minutes it was connected to my home network. No more long phone cords and construction cones. Now, seamlessly each evening TiVo would connect to TiVo Central, download programming info and that was that. As an added bonus I showed my wife how we could now download recorded programs from our TiVo directly to our computers to watch whenever we wanted. She was amazed. I was her tech hero once again.

Now every evening I come home and turn on my TiVo to marvel at the updated programming. It’s a miracle. My wife never understands the ramifications of these upgrades in prelaunch theory. But when she experiences it, she too is enraptured.

She called me her genius that first evening. I was her He-Man Tech Man. There is nothing like a new set of well-placed silicon implants in the guise of two Apple Expresses to spice up a marriage.

Tech Support in Retrograde

20 Feb 2005
February 20, 2005

Mercury, the messenger of the gods, is in charge of all things that have to do with communication, electronics and transportation. And Mercury is set to turn retrograde for the next three weeks.

During this time, it’s challenging at best to get where you want to go or reach who you want to contact and dealing with computers can be an absolute nightmare. Fortunately, there’s a purpose for everything.

Right now, you’re being asked to review, repair, redo, revamp and look things over for a second time until Mercury goes direct. In the meantime, concentrate on fixing what’s broken, giving something a second shot and being especially diligent at troubleshooting.

From an Online Astrological Site

I have been shamed into entering the 21st century. Shamed! “You are a Web designer and you don’t have broadband at home? Tsk, tsk, tsk.”

I really never saw a strong need for it, given its price point. I was paying a whopping $6.95/month for dialup. But with my friends’ strong admonitions (you know who you are) and my need for a faster home connection to establish a VPN hookup to my work’s servers, I was forced to reconsider.

Cable was too expensive and they added fees for every computer you wanted to connect. After copious research I settled on Verizon DSL. It was the cheapest and they had been supporting Mac OS X for a while. When it comes to being the first Mac person in my neighborhood to walk into a PC-based world, the vanguard I am not.

When my DSL modem arrived last week I was pleasantly surprised to see it was also a wireless router. Connecting the other computers in the house should theoretically be a breeze (and I wouldn’t have to buy an Airport Basestation).

To those of my readers who are already in a fog by my use of acronyms and words like VPN and router, wait there’s more. I understand your desire for clarity. And this is the point of this tale.

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Form Doesn’t Necessarily Follow Function: It’s Negotiable

01 Sep 2003
September 1, 2003

You think we don’t know what you’re doing?! Do you actually think you’re fooling us? You’re just pretending to clean our dishes. Well, yes, it did take us months to realize just what you were really up to. Every now and then we’d notice a piece of food cemented to a clean glass or bowl. At first we simply ignored it. We didn’t want to believe you would turn on us. But when the evidence became a regular occurrence we were forced to call in a specialist who pronounced your computer brain utterly and certifiably dead.

You’ve been washing with hot water but you’re no longer signaling the little door that holds the soap to open on cue. With great hope we add detergent to each load but leave that door open. We want to think that some portion of the soap will dribble out, hide from the drain during the first cycle and actually sanitize our plates. We know we’re living in a dream world. We just pray it isn’t a salmonella-laden one.

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Domestic Tranquility: My Spotted Record

11 May 2003
May 11, 2003

I, the fashion maven that I am, have declared the 1960s are back! In particular that oh-so-special tie dye look.

Well, ok, I messed up. But it really wasn’t my fault. I followed my wife’s point-by-point instructions for removing spots from my girls’ tops and now I have, sitting in front of me, a pile of clothes with all these wonderful patterns.

I’ve convinced the girls they look cool and I’m reading them bedtime stories about flower children. I’ve got their interest but I will have to work a bit harder to convince my wife.

Here’s what happened: I washed the tops in the regular fashion to see if that would get rid of the catsup and other assorted food trails. When that didn’t work it was on to Step Two: fill the washer with warm water. Add 1/8 of a cup of bleach and agitate before putting in said spotted outerwear in to Autosoak (a 30 minute soaking before the regular cycle began). I followed my wife’s instructions to the letter. I set the dial to Autosoak, closed the top, and went to bed.

The next morning I awoke with much anticipation. I couldn’t wait to view my first solo spot-removing success. I opened the washer and there they were: still soaking in that bleach-infested tank. I’d forgotten to pull the washing machine dial OUT to start the cycle. The clothes had been stewing in that broth all night long. Well most of the clothes.

When I pulled them out, the parts that had been above water were the way they were before I’d put them in: bright and colorful. However, the rest of the garments were just a tad lighter than the night before.

The girls voiced a loud “AH OH” in unison. I pulled the tops apart and began looking closely at each. One, a yellow frock with blue sleeves actually looked pretty good. Really. The tie dye effect only occurred on the sleeves. The main yellow section apparently had been completely submerged and showed no pattern. I showed the girls how the mottles were like clouds. Yeah, like clouds: if you looked very closely you could make out animal and other shapes. I found a rhinoceros and they found a star and a pair of sunglasses. The other shirts were completely ruined.

What would I tell my wife? Well, I didn’t have to. When she made her nightly phone call, the girls immediately did it for me. “Dad wrecked our clothes but it’s really neat. We can see all sorts of shapes!” When it was my turn to talk she quietly asked if I had consciously made that mistake. “Did I consciously tie dye their shirts?” I replied. Did she think I tried to remove the spots in my sleep? Did she actually think I did it on purpose? Or was she being facetious: toying with my sense of manhood.

Sure, she could smirk. There she was in the mountains above Seattle being a “real” artist at a famous art school. Was she looking down on my domestic pastiche? I explained what had happened. It was an honest mistake (as are many artistic breakthroughs).

“Call my mother and let her take a look,” she pleaded. I think I’ll just put on some Jimi Hendix instead.

Happy Mother’s Day, dear. We’re doing just fine (although we miss you terribly). And don’t worry. I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Sonic Bummer

26 Jun 2002
June 26, 2002

I knew it! I knew it!

Earlier this month I mentioned that the sound of children’s crying could drive someone mad. I suggested someone invent a deafening device to save parents from approaching the brink. One must be careful for what one wishes for.

In a twist, the Pentagon has taken my research and is now developing a weapon that WILL drive people (i.e. our enemies) into submission using the cries of babies. Our government wants to harness the power of this innocent, yet untapped demographic to help in the war effort!

I never meant for my problem to become others’. I never thought my wishful “thinking out loud” would lead to the development of a weapon so powerful, so utterly agonizing that the very thought pummels me into capitulation.

Conservatives and the Bush administration are worried about cloning and using stem cells for research. What are the moral underpinnings of developing a race of supersonic criers? Will researchers vie for government grants to identify the genes responsible for decibel potency? And will the rush to develop such a weapon take precedence over other audible (and dare I say, cultural) developments?

Will composers and conductors be called to duty, dropping their metronomes and batons for the good of our country? Will our hearing impaired be drafted for this new war effort? Afterall, while the reports state that operators of this new superweapon will not hear those killer sounds, stealth covert activities during transmission will require special operatives, those who would most certainly need to be immune to its effect.

Finally, who will raise these supertykes? If they’re kept at home, they (and their poor families) will certainly have to be segregated. Auditory ghettos will arise. Huge Cones of Silence will have to be built around these zones. We are inching perilously close to that slippery slope!

Where do I sign my daughter up for field testing?

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