Saturday, October 27, 2012
How Do Ya Like Dem Apples?
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!
I won't even come close to having any pretenses about knowing what the hell Shakespeare is talking about, but I do know irony when I see it. Brave New World indeed. These days I find myself stuck in the Brave New World that Steve Jobs has created. While it is true that greasers and greaser culture revel in all things old, most of us are not Luddites and have embraced ( some more reluctantly than others) modern technology.
We are all aware that vintage guitars sound way better, that tube amps are cool and that vintage cars and motorcycles are true classics of design. Like many other people, however, we are using computers at work and drive a Honda Civic to get there. Speaking for myself, I find it amusing to resolve the dichotomy that arose at my place of employment. I work with one hundred year old obsolete technology, yet am still trying to master the skills required to use Excel to document these archaic pieces of technology. While I am attempting to understand the i-Universe around me, the PC at work never lets me forget that Bill Gates has created his own Brave New World.
I recently found an i-Phone buried in the sand at a local beach. I truly hate the beach. Being roasted alive in the hot sun and going home with five pounds of sand in each shoe is not my idea of an enjoyable day. It therefore makes even more improbable that I would find such a device on the beach. But, hey, everyone likes free shit. There was a little bit of juice left in it, and after several beers, I finally manged to figure out how to turn on this needlessly complicated gizmo. I started randomly poking on the screen after fishing my glasses out of my bag to see the ridiculously tiny icons. As I continued messing around with this device, images began to squish and disappear and various unintelligible pieces of techno-babble popped up on the screen. I had no idea what I was hitting and started imagining me causing distant explosions, satellites falling from the sky or maybe even Captain Kirk appearing on the screen. As the remaining power began to fade I came to the conclusion that I didn't have three months to waste trying to learn how use this contraption nor did I have any use for the "apps" that were in it. I just left it on the beach and cracked another beer. I later found out that iPhones have an Orwellian overtone. They have GPS in them and maybe Capt. Kirk was charging his phasers and was preparing to zap my ass into oblivion. I find it slightly disconcerting that total strangers would have the possibility of knowing my whereabouts without me even being aware of it. Just when I was getting used to texting.
Ironically, I am writing this on an aging Mac. I take no small amount of heat for being one those Mac weirdos, almost as if I was being intentionally anti-social. The answer is much simpler; they are easy to use.I don't give a damn what's inside a computer, I just want it to work. That, however, is short lived. Computers get obsolete quicker than teen boy-bands and it's gonna cost you big time to replace it with a new Mac. There is no reason for electronics to become useless in such a short span of time, my twenty year old stereo amplifier is still working just fine. It's just that computers grow demented very quickly. They start forgetting stuff and are unable to do even the simplest of tasks and they even start doing the cyber-equivalent of pooping their own pants. Kinda like a real old dog who can't hold his bowels and walks in to pane glass doors. It's the operating system that is to blame. In the real world, you would upgrade this, like getting new tires for car, but you can't because your computer is to old and the microprocessor isn't fast enough. This is the type of circular logic employed in only the uppermost echelons of government.
Which brings me to the subject of music. I won't launch into a tirade about music being the whipping boy of the digital age, we all have to come to terms with the state of music and the music business these days. While it was physically impossible to carry one thousand vinyl records with you wherever you went there was never any issues of storage or memory. They were stored on a shelf and all you had to do was remember where that shelf was. There was no lost data, it was all there in the grooves. The only lost data that happened is if you lent some records to someone and that sack of shit never returned them.
Even in the days of primitive audio, people wanted to have music wherever they went. Motorola invented the car radio and at the same time invented the car audio goof. There were scores of dudes in model T's and handlebar mustaches cruising down Main Street blaring their car radios ( I guess there were annoying hipsters back then as well).
In the fifties someone came up with the bright idea of making a record player for cars. These things did to records what that critter living under the Flintstone's sink did to trash. Then you had the infamous 8-track player that would interrupt songs right in the middle with an alarming klunk,
Then everyone went nuts in the seventies and invented Disco and ghetto blasters. Those things were loud, were about the size of an average doghouse and ran of 24 D cell batteries. Many a young person spent their college funds on the constant need for replacement batteries. Their immense size and volume output was guaranteed to annoy people for a radius of a few hundred feet as they were subjected to the questionable musical tastes of the person doing the blasting. There was, however, poetic justice in the fact that it took hours upon hours for said blastor to make the mixed tapes to annoy the blastees.
Then Sony invented a way for everyone to look like dorks and called it a Walkman. You could get spare battery packs, equalizers and cassette carriers that all strapped on to your belt making you look like a douchey sort of Batman. They would still annoy, as the users of this newfangled gadget would crank them up to eleven and the headphones would emanate high-pitched sounds and distortion. Those people are all deaf now. It is interesting to note, that Walkmans had quite a social impact at the time. They were considered by many to be anti-social and many people took serious offense to them (not unlike dudes who walk around wearing hoods and texting).
Not content with stirring up shit, Sony upped the ante and came out with the Discman. Personal players were almost ubiquitous at this point so from a social perspective it was no big deal. This was pretty much the death of the mongrel mixed tape. Instead one could now fumble with a bunch of CD's while riding the subway. Sony neglected to mention that CD's were made out of metal and 25 of them weighed a ton. They also conveniently neglected to tell us that they scratch easier than paint and stop playing altogether if you look at them funny. I'm sure we all knew someone who had fifty coasters made out of CD's.
One day, when nobody was looking, all the CD stores shut down. Some basement dwellers who grew tired of Dungeons and Dragons came up with ways of getting free music on the internet. Enter the iPod ( It actually started with a weird gizmo called the Diamond Rio, but nobody remembers that one).
iPods are even more common that Walkmans ever were, but getting one these things to actually play music requires an engineering degree. There's that ole Apple voodoo again. If you are fortunate enough to own a Mac (by fortunate I mean if you were coerced into paying two grand) the two gizmos speak the same language. That is until one of them goes nutso. This iPod will only work with a certain operating system and your computer is too old, congratulations, you have just bought yourself a two thousand dollar doorstop.
Apple has their own stores where you can buy Apple products. The staff is way more knowledgeable than your average flunky at Best Buy, the only problem is that they don't want to share that knowledge. They don't even want to talk to you. If you do get one to talk to you you will be treated with contempt or told to send them an e-mail to make an appointment the following week. If you want to witness true apathy, try to get one these Macsters to upgrade your old G-4. It might or might not be possible, I never did get a straight answer. They will refer to some obscure part and make it seem more difficult to obtain than talent for the average Pop singer. It's almost as if they are a secret society with arcane rituals and you can't get in without knowing the secret handshake.
You have now ascertained that your Mac wouldn't be upgradable without an act of Parliament and have to purchase a brand new one just get your iPod to work. But wait there is more, one day your new Mac will not be compatible with the latest generation iPod. Wait,..wait.. there is even more. You must decide whether you want an iPod with flash memory or a hard drive. Hard drives have a tendency to not work if you drop them in a toilet bowl and can wipe out 40,000 songs in a flash (no pun intended). Or they may randomly decide to stop working on their own. The only way to wipe out 40, 000 songs on vinyl is if your vindictive ex sets fire to your house.
Once you have set up all this stuff at home and manage to get these things unpacked and hooked up you realize that there are two types of Firewire , you have the wrong one and the Macster can only see you a week from Thursday.
I haven't bought that iPod yet, and I still have my Discman. I think I'll load up 40 pounds of CD's in my backpack and make a stop at a beer store and a grocery store. I will buy 12 beers and a bag of Apples. The beers are for drinking as I listen to my 40 pounds of CD's and the apples are for tossing in the windows at the Apple store.