Category Archives: tech

Car Alarms

Oh, were you expecting a post about Viva? Instead, you get the following:

My car was broken into again last night. In my previous car, the thieves had to break a window to get in. Kind of a deterrent, but not 100% foolproof. They took a portable CD player that time, and it cost me $200 for a new window. With my current car, though, the window design allows for anyone lacking a sense of ethics to simply slide a hanger or slimjim in between the glass and the gasket, and open her up. It happens about once a year. “Lucky” for me, the sleazebags around here aren’t so bright, and generally take the worthless stuff and leave anything of value behind. Last night, they missed my GPS but took – get this – my reusable shopping bags. (They once left behind a CD wallet, but took an umbrella. I shit you not.)

While nothing of serious value has yet been stolen, there is always some form of physical damage to the car, from the scratches and dents of uninvited entry to the smashed steering column or last night’s forcibly removed sun visor that costs me some amount of money to repair. On top of that, of course, is the icky feeling of being violated; that some stranger (and a jerk, at that) has been in my car.

I’m thinking that a car alarm may be the way to go. Actually, I would like to wire my car in such a way as to provide a taser-like stun to anyone who touches it against my will, but barring that, a blinkie light and a siren will have to do. One friend tells me that an alarm system isn’t much of a deterrent, because when was the last time you saw anyone rushing to protect a car that was blaring an alarm? He has a point. But what else can I do? For $230 I can get a basic alarm system with remote locks, installed. If I spend more money, I get more features, but what good does a 2-way buzzing remote do me unless I sleep with it in my pocket? And the keychain screen that shows me precisely where my car was violated? What good is that? I can already tell from the damage, and it still does me no good to know.

The install should take 3-5 hours. I wish there was a movie theater nearby.



Filed under cars, shopping, tech

Late to the party

June 11th, 2007. Apple’s newest product, the iPhone, is the talk of… well, everyone. I had started to watch the Apple keynote announcing the phone with absolutely no interest. All I need my phone to do is make and receive calls. Wait, it what? It has a touch screen? It scrolls by touch? Plays video like an iPod? An ambient light sensor? A proximity sensor? It knows if it’s being held it upright or sideways, and flips the screen? On a phone?

And it looks like that?

Want. Wantwantwantwant. Even the sworn-to-PC guys at the office wanted one. So, June 11th came and went, but I was locked into a contract with Sprint. Dave got an iPhone. Megan got an iPhone. Mary Jo got an iPhone. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the friggin’ universe bought iPhones.

I was still stuck with Sprint.

That’s okay, I reasoned. The iPhone is too small anyway. My old iPod has 10GB of RAM, and that’s not going to be suitably replaced by a 4 or 8GB phone. I’d guess the next release will be 20GB; I’ll wait for those.

The next release was actually 16GB. Close enough. But…

I was still stuck with Sprint.

A year after the initial introduction, the next generation was released. A slightly more ergonomic shape, a few physical improvements, a faster network, more precise GPS, and snazzier software. Still, I am stuck with the fabulously craptastic Sprint. My friend Dave, who works as a tech writer, is now on his third iPhone. In an extraordinarily gracious gesture, he gave me his “old” 16GB iPhone for my birthday last month. All I need to do is activate it. When my (expletive deleted) Sprint contract expires in October. I wondered about taking it out of the box, and turning it on, just to see what would happen. Would it instantly take me to an activation screen? Would the more rudimentary features work? I didn’t think about it too much, and didn’t remember try it.

Dave is staying with me for a few days, and while we were working side-by-side on our laptops, he suddenly remembered that I can indeed use the phone, in a manner not unlike the iPod Touch, to play with all the goodies that aren’t phone based. I took it out of the box. I unwrapped the protective plastic film. I turned it on.

I squealed with delight.

Dave showed me the pertinent stuff. He recommended a few iPhone apps. He worked on his assignments, while I giggled and cooed over the phone, and he answered questions when I had them. I can only really play when I’m within range of a wifi signal, which this weekend meant when I was home. Still, I’ve done a pretty good job of learning my way around the standard apps, and the few that I’ve added. Dave has been an invaluable help as well (in addition to the iPhone business, he also hooked me into the Starbucks wifi system that I’d been having trouble with, disconnected the superfluous VCR from my TV setup, and updated my Wii so that it would STOP BLINKING AT ME). I already feel more capable as a user on the iPhone than I do on the Samsung phone that I’ve been using for the past 22 months. I found a neat new silicone outfit for the iPhone on Saturday at, of all places, the local Dollar Tree. I look forward to taking the phone to work this week, and testing it on the office wifi network. I very much await October, when I can plug this beauty into the iTunes Music Store and tell it to hook me up with an AT&T account.

For the few of you who haven’t yet used one: This thing is awesome.


Filed under friends, tech