Category Archives: Tech

Leaving Apple


I did my last shift at the Apple Store last night.

When I signed on to Apple it was like stumbling through a doorway into a party. My initial interview went from applying for a part time job to cover Xmas expenses, to a full blown poaching from my current career for a manager’s position at an undisclosed store location. The process was exciting but I got notice I didn’t get the job, all contact with that store’s HR person was cut (the rejection email left nothing to be questioned). 24hrs later I got an offer for part time work at another location. You can see how stumbly it was. Whatever their process, it worked, like some weird hack on an iPad.

I took the job because I like the product. I’m not a raving fanboy, I can see the faults and blemishes Apple has – anyone can. Let me tell you, when you get behind the big aluminum door at the back of the shop, there are a few areas they could improve upon, but the tenets of their management system is pure altruism. I utterly respect that.

Know that I can’t go into details. I signed a contract saying I wouldn’t. Just know that I’ve never had a job like it ever before. The staff at the store I worked at were eclectic, energetic, geeky, nerdy and hip. Even the older guys had solid personalities and while not technically savvy like the kids, had an air of product confidence that Apple exudes (which I was lumped into but happy to have someone around who knew a thing or two about the “real” 1980s). I think they hire based on a sliding scale of “funky”.

The one mantra of the store is “people building relationships” and we were drilled from day one we’re not there to just sell computers. We were taught to engage and interact and enjoy. However (and this is my only complaint) at the store I was assigned, in the middle of a tourist mall, we were so busy that even getting past first names was taking up too much time. The store is always horrifically busy which kills any hope for building any kind of relationship other than HOLY CRAP THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN HERE MUST FLEE OR BE TRAMPLED!! Also, half of the people I served at my time there were from either mainland China or Brazil. Not to crap on anyone’s English skills but try to explain the workings of a microSIM card and 3G network activation to someone who’s vocabulary runs no further than “iPad, Please! 32 Giga!” (Anyone not from North America says “gigah” instead of “Gigs” when referring to “gigabytes” – it’s cute!)

I could rant about the customers, but I can’t. They were your typical retail experience: the happy (“I want an iPhone so bad I may have to line up with all those jack-offs at 6am!! HAHAH!!”), the angry (“This doesn’t work.” “Can I ask what’s-” “This doesn’t work.” “What is wrong-” “I SAID THIS DOESN’T WORK!”), the weird (“I. Need. A. *twenty second pause* Caseformyiphone!”), the misinformed (“The camera on the iPad has digital zoom, right?”) to the so-technical-they’re-in-their-own-category (“I installed Ruby on Rails and the database can’t access the server due to Terminal issues.”). Do know that the last hour of my shift last night had the manager and security guard shooing away a guy wearing an East Indian wedding garb who had hoarked up a loogie and dropped it on the floor behind a display, in front of a lot of witnesses. When confronted he said “I don’t remember if I did that.”

If the shop was less crowded I might have stayed longer. With the death of my father, I need to de-stress my life for a while. They have offered for me to return at any time to reclaim my old part time job. Bless! And I may, in the spring, when I get past Xmas and the vacation. Hm. I may need to.

The End of the Shuttle


I can’t help but feel a bit saddened by the last of the shuttle missions. NASA says they’ll be using Ares rockets in the five year gap between the old Bessies being phased out and the next generation of orbiters. The Ares are basically the solid rocket boosters you see on the side of the massive fuel tank when the shuttle takes off, but in bigger form. To my futurists sensibilities, this seems like a step back and wish that Steve Jobs was presiding over their design teams. I think the extended and long history of the shuttle program has proven that re-using a multiform vehicle is much more practical than “reusable” rockets that crash back to earth for inevitable repair.

Listen to me, all rocket scientist.

Regardless, the gap is there and not pointing any fingers at anyone, NASA has to fill it if the US wants to stay viable in commercial space development. Meanwhile, the US military allegedly is testing a reusable shuttle of their own, but it’s purportedly a drone, unmanned robot that flies very high and very stealthily for surveillance. It looks like a Red Bull can with tiny wings. Renderings suggest it’s perfect Space Shuttle 2.0 but it’s a long time coming, like the second generation of Microsoft’s Zune. Too late!

As things play out, Faking Hoaxer has just released a new video of “Shuttle Scenarios” which are creepily foreboding as the last of the aging shuttles come home.

Leisure Time

Distractions, Tech

When I was a kid, I recall reading books with huge minimalists illustrations that promised us a beautiful future, which got me interested in speculative thought and science fiction in general. I remember some wild claims the book made vividly (title I can’t remember, sorry) and for something from the early 70s (I’m assuming) it was pretty darned spooky.

The book claimed that we’d be living extremely comfortably in clean communities – now “comfort” is relative. There are people living in tents right now, some have oil washing up on their shores, some are waking up from a long night sleeping on a park bench. Because it forgot to mention that crime and poverty will never be eradicated I only award the book half points.

The book claimed that we’d have autonomous cars that thought and drove for us. Again not exactly true. While we can purchase a car that can park itself, we can’t sit back and enjoy the scenery yet. Though it is being developed – DARPA has been holding contests for hobbyists to create a car that can traverse deserts without a driver. And they can be turned on and off remotely, find their way, chill your drinks and show the latest episode of American Idol, but they can’t drive themselves. So, again, half marks.

The book also said we’d be ordering our food from the phone – or telepresence or something equally “phonic”. I remember the first time I used and had my food delivered right to my door within the 30 min window I specified. And then I realized “This is how you wind up on The Discovery Channel as The World’s Fattest Man – I’ll never leave the house!” Plus I like to shop. Good for you Book, but I don’t like it.

Around our hips would be satchels that contained our communications devices, says the Book. Or on our wrists. Mines on my desk beside me – thankyouverymuchSteveJobs. Bang on Book!

One thin that hasn’t come true, and I recall this one vividly, especially leaving the house this morning on such a lovely day, is that we’d all have more free time with this technology. The Book said we’d be working 4 days a week. Our lives would become fuller and enriched because of the extra day and society would swim in all the culture we’d create which would lead to more intelligent people and live would be fantastic!

Not. Bloody. Likely.

In fact, due to technology, I have less free time. I just took a part time job at an Apple store (a whole other blog post, before I sign the confidentiality contract) where I enslave more people with technology. But it will give me a better class of hotel for my next vacation.

So Book, where ever you are now, thank you for the future. I wished for it and it mostly came true.

Rogers iPads It’s Pockets

Tech, You Stupid Dick

I’m shocked and I’m not shocked, really.

Rogers is allowing free tethering from your iPhone (of course you better have a good data plan in place) but yet was going to charge you an extra $20/month to tie your iPad 3G to your existing data plan. This bit of info was removed sometime this morning. The rest of the rates stand. Choose one and quit your whining.

Uh. It’s the same data…? And in many cases the data from an iPad/iPhone is more condensed for faster loading over wireless networks?

Dear Rogers. Bite me. Seriously. I’ll get an iPad but I’ll not be getting the 3G out of principal. And if I do, it will be with Wind or some other provider. Your pricing plans are not very well thought out.

That is all.

Marry Me Jon Stewart

Tech, The Bad

You’ve probably heard by now that my favorite tech site Gizmodo got their hands on the next generation iPhone months before it was to be announced. Much hullabaloo on their methods of acquiring the device, much hallyballoo over giving it back. It’s returned without comment (in a bag). Love them or hate them, Gizmodo’s mandate is to report (albeit in a goofy, juvenile way) upcoming new gadgets and the next big thing and that’s exactly what they did, so I can stretch my moral tidiness over how the phone got into Giz’s hands. The “fact” that the phone was acquired legitimately through someone who “found” it doesn’t bother me because I don’t know the whole facts, only Giz’s side of the story – and Apple ain’t talking. Even when they posted the name of the engineer who lost the phone (if that fact is true) for all to see I didn’t think that amoral – that was an inevitability, someone else would have found out and would have broadcasted it. No, Giz lost me when they dissected the phone and posted pictures of it to the web. That smacks of corporate espionage and was utterly unnecessary. To do it to a prototype is just tossing sand in Apple’s eyes. Then for a week they wrote article after article justifying their actions.

Not cool.

Apple is now firing shots across the bow of Gizmodo in the form of police action (they’ve called in a brand of cops called REACT that deal specifically with computer crimes), which involves kicking in doors of journalists (albeit goofy, juvenile journalists) and possibly illegally confiscating their computers.

Not cool. This whole thing is becoming a quagmire. And not in a giggity way.

Once again, Jon Stewart wades into the whole mess and sums up my feelings so succinctly I want to follow him around so I can be his human footstool. Video here not surprisingly on GawkerTV (Giz’s parent company). As usual Jon holds up a mirror to Apple and reveals its sometimes super ugly craggily face.

PS: I love the “hand crystal” reference to the Apple Store. Exactly how I felt during my last interview (which by the way, probably won’t go anywhere since, after stating in my online form application, 2 written applications and verbally to the People Person that I can’t get time off from my current job to accommodate them, they still managed to called me in for an interview in the morning, which I declined, which I was told 48 hours ago that they’d call me in 24 hours to reschedule).


The Cool Before the Storm


Last winter SharkBoy and I bought ourselves lovely man-purses (murses? Mansacks? Over the Shoulder Macho Holders?) in anticipation for our winter vacation. The superficial justification being that some crazy terrorist decided to blow up some planes and the world freaked out and decided that it wasn’t going allow a lot of onboard luggage. So we needed something small for our electronics and maybe a magazine. After a few weeks of looking, we discovered WWII Nazi/Russian messenger bags – At least that’s what the guy in the store told us they were. Loudly he proclaimed that the one SharkBoy chose was German and mine was Russian. While the thought of using a bag that might have carried instructions on the proper way to close off the city of Minsk to stave off the encroaching Nazi hordes excites me, I doubt that it’s really Russian. But I can fantasize.

SharkBoy wrote about our purchases here.

Since buying it, they relaxed the restrictions and we never used them.

I (not so) secretly wanted it for the impending iPad arrival in Canada. It’s the perfect size – well I assumed at the time since no one actually had seen one at that time. It sits by my bed waiting to be shown to the world.

Kann ich jetzt gehen? ist es Zeit, um cool zu sein?

Gizmodo freaked me out yesterday (no not the whole Jason C getting his house ransacked by Apple California Computer Police) by posting the “coolest bag for the iPad“.

You guessed it. We rock. You may touch our sleeves.

As an update too, I am going for my second interview sometime this week. Need to sched. (snicker… “sched”… I need an ascot scarf hipster thing)

Knock Knock… Housekeeping

Celebs and Media, Tech, The Bad

I just went through my blogroll and cleaned out a few Celeb blogs I stopped reading (bye, Thomas Dolby) and added a couple more. I blame Twitter for the waning list.

If I’ve removed yours you’ve either haven’t updated in 3 months or I have a shaky hand and deleted it by mistake.

And whoever signed me up for a Topsy feed… Sorry. I’ve classified you as trackback spam. Get a real RSS feed.

Oh and HOLY CRAP! Someone Gmail me now and you’ll be MR/MRS 10,000!

Friday Grab Bag

Distractions, General, Tech

Lisa’s Facebook page has an app that is updating her wall with goofy remixed pictures of her profile pic. It’s creeping me out. Today’s pic is of her being eaten by a tiger. No shit.

I got new glasses. Actually SharkBoy got some too but his aren’t as he expected. He’s going to have to get progressive lenses since he’s skeeved by taking them off just to read. Mine make me look like a fat Elvis Costello. I think.

The iPad is making splashes through the web, having been dropped off early at some nerdy tech writers. Gizmodo has a great cross reference graph for your perusal.  Yes. It’s making me want one. And I don’t really need it at all, but something in me…wants… one… arg.

Fortress of Solitude posts a funny pic. I find a companion video.

This weekend my family converges on Toronto again from Calgary, Ottawa, Brockvegas and the grand United Kingdom. I’m looking forward to it!