Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Golden Joysticks

Firstly – what the fuck have they done to the Games Radar site? Jesus, talk about fucking up something that didn’t need to be fucked around with. Seriously – go there and have a look at the new layout. It didn’t look like that until yesterday; previously it was a bit like a blog where every new story would just go to the top and push the previous ones down and off the bottom of the front page onto page 2. Now it looks like Lawnmower Man has thrown up all over the screen – there doesn’t seem to be any logical arrangement to the articles...just complete random chaos. Sheesh. Think I’ll be going elsewhere for my daily gaming news until they sort that design car-crash out. Ho-hum. 

In slightly related, but not at all related news, I feel I must pay homage to the late, great Sir Patrick Moore who passed away at the weekend. Obviously, his main interest and knowledge sphere was astronomy and all things extra-terrestrial (by which I mean planets and quasars and all that malarkey), but to pretty much every gamer of a certain age, Sir Patrick was also the face of Thursday night gaming television on Channel 4: he was the Games Master. Fair enough, Dominic Diamond and Dexter Fletcher were also in there (the former much more than the latter, I know), as were several other UK-based industry types (publisher Dave Perry and developer Peter Molyneux among them), but it was the titular Games Master who set the challenges and was the main focal point of the series. 

For those who never saw Games Master, there were several series set over a few years and it was a show I used to watch religiously whenever it was running. The format was sort of like a game show where there was a presenter (the aforementioned Dominic Diamond, and for one series Dexter Fletcher) and contestants who would come on to take part in challenges set by the Games Master. The Games Master was basically Sir Patrick Moore’s head with various CG overlays, who spoke from a giant screen. If the contestant was successful in the challenge set, he or she would walk away with a coveted Games Master Golden Joystick. The best bit was that these challenges were usually set in games that were available to buy for the consoles of the time, and if you watch the episodes back on Youtube, you can sort of tell the era they were from by the games they were using. As well as the challenges, there were reviews and news items focusing on the latest games. Back in the early to mid nineties, gaming was still seen as a bit of a geek’s hobby (and probably still is by most people) and Games Master went some way to establishing the medium in the mainstream, certainly in this country. Obviously, the PSX had a little bit to do with it too, but I’d say that GM also had a fair part to play. 

Alongside the TV programme, there was a magazine (titled, er, Games Master Magazine) which I would get monthly as part of my regular haul of gaming mags. It was a really cool mag, and was kind of like an all-format Amiga Power-lite, in that it was written in a fairly adult tone, with lots of references to real-world happenings. The magazine is still going, but has since taken a bit of a diversion and is squarely aimed at the younger gamer these days. I suppose that’s why GamesTM and Edge now exist; filling a niche and all that jazz. But Edge is a self-important load of old toss, so we won’t mention that particular mag again. So yeah, what I’m trying to get at is that Sir Patrick Moore died at the weekend and I’m sure most people will remember him fondly for the part he played in the whole Games Master saga. 

Again, following on in this games-related diatribe, I read last week that Nintendo have re-launched the original Wii console (there it is, up there!). I say ‘relaunched’ but that’s probably taking things a little too far – they’ve pooed out the Wii Mini into Canadian stores (?). The Wii Mini is basically a stripped down original Wii, with all the internet functionality and backwards compatibility taken out, and repackaged in a rather garish looking black and red casing. The question remains: why? They’ve already confused half the casual gaming world with their Wii U, and now they’ve gone and added to the confusion further by releasing yet another ‘new’ Wii. Baffling. 

I took the Macbook to the Apple Store in Bristol on Saturday. The two people I spoke to on the phone last week said that I could have the chipped palm rest replaced in-store and even though I was slightly sceptical I still traipsed down the M5 (and discovered I had a flat rear tire on the way...which wasn’t fun) and took the Mac in to their ‘Genius bar.’ Genius?! More like Retard bar! The guy didn’t know what he was talking about for a start and then after he’d consulted his iPad for about 10 minutes just came back and told me they couldn’t do the job (even though I had been told otherwise on the phone by TWO different ‘Geniuses’). He did, however, go on to tell me at great length that there was a place in Cheltenham that would do the repair, but “it wouldn’t be cheap.” What happened to Apple replacing these palm rests for free? 

I rang the place in Cheltenham and they said the same thing – they’d have to send it off to their workshop blah fucking blah, and that it wouldn’t be free unless I called Apple and got their approval. Yes – call Apple. And get their approval for a free repair to my computer. As if that’s going to happen. I fobbed the guy off and hung up. 

Something made me go back into the Apple Store though, I don’t know what. I suppose I just wanted to have a muck about with the new Macbooks and stuff. It’s been a while since I’ve been into an Apple Store and just had a play with the sexy gear on show. And it’s amazing what you pick up just from being able to see the whole product range of a company just laid out and easily accessible. For one, I didn’t know that the Macbook Air and the new Macbook (with Retina display) don’t have DVD drives. Who the fuck thought that was a good idea?! Sure, the omission of an optical drive reduces weight...but what about being able to watch a DVD without having to lug an external drive around with you? It’s almost as if Apple and Nintendo are working together to wind people up by doing stupid things with their new hardware (the whole ‘you can’t use a USB stick on two different Wii U consoles’ thing is equally strange). That neither of those two systems (and the new iMac) have optical drives instantly makes me look elsewhere. 

And as a matter of fact, I did: at the Macbook Pro. The normal, £999, 13,” 2.5 Ghz, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD model to be precise. What an amazing piece of engineering. I can see why people love Apple hardware, with it's super-sleek aluminium casing and quality feel. I had a play around for a good while and instantly fell in love with it – the two-fingered mouse pad commands were something I had never come across but instantly didn’t want to live without. So I just went and bought one. Right then and there I just went up and asked for a 13” Macbook Pro and paid for it outright. And I have to say it’s the greatest purchase I’ve ever made (apart from the HS30 EXR, naturally...but they go hand in hand what with iPhoto and all the other cool Mac photo shit). It’s been two days now and I’m still fascinated by the thing and all the cool stuff it does. Not too impressed that you can’t plug normal headphone-jacked speakers into it without getting this weird buzzing noise (something to do with feedback of the current or some crap), but I’m totally blown away...and while it doesn’t have a Retina screen, it does have a DVD drive so I can watch my Warehouse 13 series one boxset when I eventually get around to it. I still have the used Macbook white sitting on a shelf, but that badboy’ll be going on Gumtree by the end of the week.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Le Big Mac

Ok, this is going to make me look like the world's biggest hypocrite...but yesterday evening I spotted an advert on Gumtree for something I've been thinking about getting for a while; even more so since I started with the whole photography thing. I rang the number, chatted with the seller for a bit and then agreed to go and have a look. I was impressed with what I saw at first and was maybe slightly blinded by the whole 'image' thing associated with the object...and with hindsight I'm not sure that I did the right thing by purchasing it. Sure, it's pimped out with extra technical gubbins that clearly aren't standard...but upon getting it home and inspecting it closer I've discovered that it's actually a little tatty and the 'L' key requires slightly more attention than the other keys when typing.

What am I on about? Well...I went and bought a used Macbook. It's a few years old and suffers from 'light wear and tear': namely the palm rest has the usual 'broken off' edges around the bottom and sides and the case itself has a few cracks and scuffs here and there...oh, and the fan gets a bit tasty when there are more than a few applications running at once. Overall I'm quite impressed by it, but still I'm not overly convinced that I should have just spent a bit more on a brand new one. Only time will tell I guess.

Having dabbled with macs extensively over the years (going back to the old LC III I convinced my mum to buy way back in the mid nineties), I'm pretty au fay with the various iterations of Mac OS X and this one came with Snow Leopard already installed so I've been having a bit of a play around. I'm liking the App Store and the new updated iTunes layout, and I've found it relatively easy to set up new user accounts etc...I just can't help but feel a little let down by the condition of the casing. I didn't really know anything about the whole 'brittle body' Macbook thing until I bought this one (I'm writing this on it now), but it seems to be a common fault having looked around the various forums. Weird. But anyway, it doesn't affect the running of the Macbook itself, so I guess I should just stop wingeing. 

So – the specs. Well, it's a white Macbook from around 2008 I'd say. It has 4GB of ram and a 500GB (not standard) hard disk. As I said earlier, it's got Snow Leopard on it and all of the applications and free software (GIMP, Chrome, OpenOffice etc) seem to run just fine, as does the bluetooth, wifi etc. I paid £340 for it, which is a damned sight cheaper than pretty much every other Macbook I've seen either on eBay or Gumtree and the guy who sold it to me seemed fairly genuine and happy to show me all the features and let me have a play around before I handed over any cash. Like I said, I'm still undecided as to whether I actually got a bargain yet (what with the cosmetic issues, and the inability to upgrade to Mountain Lion), but again I got it for a relative steal compared to what many other used Macbooks go for. Ultimately, it will replace my HP Pavilion laptop which my brother has expressed an interest in...I just hope I haven't just wasted a fuck load of cash. On the plus side, it does look fucking cool and it has a remote control to switch music tracks and movies and shit in Front Row. Now all that I need to do is sit in the window of a Starbucks and look like an absolute twat while using it.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Icewind Dale

Sadly, this post isn't about an ancient PC role playing game, so if you came here after googling that title - I apologise. That's apologise, with an 's' - not a 'z.' Fuck off auto-correct. I went back up to Manchester at the weekend on the motorbike. I set off on Friday afternoon hoping to avoid the traffic on the motorway (it's always, always congested around Birmingham. Without fail. I bet it's congested right now, actually), but on the way to the M5 I discovered that my back tire was flat. It didn't look particularly 'down,' but when I was riding, the back end just felt 'funny.' Not Joe Pesci 'funny,' just a bit unstable. I stopped a few times and looked at it and pressed it with my thumb, and it looked and felt OK to my novice eyes/thumbs...but I called in to a garage before my junction and asked if a mechanic could have a quick look at it. Turns out it was completely void of any air whatsoever. Completely flat. He pumped it up with his little hand held squirty-gas thing (technical terminology, right there) and it went rock solid...and the ride quality improved dramatically. Leads me to wonder whether it's been flat the whole time I've had it, as truth be told, it's felt a little bit unstable the whole time. With the CBF, you could instantly see if you had a puncture because the tires were quite thin, but with this bike's big fat tires, it's hard to tell. Unless you get a bloke with a pressure gauge to check for you. So – note to relatively new motorcyclists: check your tires. If I hadn't just happened to pass that garage, I probably would've continued on to the motorway and then cranked the bike up to 70 – 80mph with a flat tire...and who knows how badly that little scenario could've ended.

The weekend passed with little incident – saw my myriad nephews and nieces and brother and sisters, saw some friends on Saturday night and then came back. The ride back was particularly horrible, though it had nothing to do with traffic jams or a flat tire – it was down to the fucking gale-force winds that threatened to blow me sideways off the road almost continuously. Seriously, the trees at the sides of the motorway were bending over with the force of the fucking wind and at one point just past Stafford, the back wheel actually shifted from under me and I thought I was dead. I managed to keep control and get the bike straight again, but fuck me – what is it with the damned weather this year? It feels like mother nature is throwing everything at me: January – February, when I first started riding, the weather was stupidly cold – to the point where I was wearing 3 pairs of gloves to keep feeling in my hands. March – September it rained almost constantly, with a little bit of wind and sleet thrown in for good measure, and now we've hit October, the wind seems to be wanting to get in on the act. The kind of wind I've only ever seen in news reports. And it's always blowing against me – never behind me, making the ride actually bearable. So, not only is riding a motorbike loud and cold and (to be honest) a little bit uncomfortable, now I've got to hold on for grim death because the wind doesn't want me to stay upright. Makes me wonder why I fucking bother to be honest. Oh, wait – petrol is still £1.40 a litre. That's why.

Went back to that shopping centre in Bristol this week to try to use some more of my vouchers. I'm probably in an enviable position in that there's not really anything I want or need. I've got a fuck load of gadgets, and enough I bought a travel towel for my planned Thailand trip in early 2013, and an iTunes voucher. Never used an iTunes voucher before, but it's pretty straight forward really – you just scrape the silver strip off the back and input the code that's revealed. So what did I get from the store? Bit of a mixed bag really. Got the new Muse album, The 2nd Law. And it's a bit cack. Several of the tunes are complete rip-offs of Queen songs, and the rest are, in the main, floaty high pitched dross with a few guitar riffs thrown in. There are one or two semi-decent tracks, but this is a world away from their last good album, Black Holes and Revelations. Their previous effort was underwhelming too... so might give Muse a miss from now on. The others I got were the new Motion City Soundtrack offering, Simple Plan's latest, an album from a band most people have never heard of but actually write some of the best punk/pop I've ever heard – The Click Five, and the latest album from Nas. I'm not a massive fan of the rap genre, but Nas' stuff is quite good in my opinion. Hence the purchase. So there you are. A few near-death experiences and some iTunes purchases. An action-packed weekend I'm sure you'll agree.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Weekend Endevours

Went down to Bristol on Friday to collect my prize from the Heart FM competition I won after last week’s half marathon. The prize was £1000 in shopping vouchers for anywhere in Bristol city centre, and they could be split across five different stores. I did a little bit of research into which shops I might want to get vouchers for, but as I’m an indecisive twat at the best of times, I opted to get Cabot Circus vouchers. For those who don’t know, Cabot Circus is a new(ish) shopping mall in Bristol that is kind of like the Bristolian version of the Manchester Arndale, and is named after the famous Italian explorer Giovanni ‘John’ Cabot. He set sail from Bristol in the 1400s and is widely reputed to be one of the first Europeans to set foot on the American mainland. How thrilled his spirit must be to have a shopping centre named after him. So yeah, I got the vouchers as gift cards that could be used in any of the shops in the Cabot Circus complex. Before I could go off in search of 'stuff' though, I took part in a photo shoot for the local newspaper (The Bristol Post) and also for the Heart FM website where I had to hold a load of shopping bags stuffed with towels to simulate, er, shopping. Twas all very amicable, and I would like to thank the staff from Heart for the prize...even if the chance of any of them actually reading this dirge is miniscule. Off I popped then, to Cabot Circus. 

The first place I went to was H & M. I looked at the garishly hued men’s clothing department and quickly decided that I’d rather be tried as a 12th Century heretic than wear any of their clobber, although I did need some new socks so I picked up a pack of 12 and headed to the cash desk. I handed over my gift card and the girl behind the counter just stared blankly at it. She tried to process it as a normal debit card and it wouldn’t work, so she went off to speak to a manager. After about 5 minutes, she came back and declared that the shop didn’t accept Cabot Circus gift cards. A little confused, I left H & M and went into Next, which was next door, funnily enough. I tried to purchase a pair of jeans...only to be told that they didn’t accept gift cards. Onwards I went, to the Apple Store, where I found a rather nice iPod armband running thingy. Tried to buy it...couldn’t because the little mobile chip and pin things that the Apple ‘geniuses’ carry around with them don’t accept gift cards. 3 shops...3 times I’m told that my prize is useless. I almost fucking exploded with rage at the guy. 

With that, I marched off to the customer information desk within Cabot Circus and told them that no matter where I went, none of the shops were accepting my gift card. The staff there were actually pretty helpful and explained that every store within the mall had signed up to the scheme and that they should all take the cards. With that, one of them went back to H & M with me, verbally bitch-slapped the staff behind the counter and made them ring the socks through (that were still on the counter where I’d left them 20 minutes earlier). Lo and behold, the card suddenly worked! I had some new socks! I thanked the woman who had accompanied me and she assured me that if I had any further problems using the gift card, that she’d be back to help. I had more problems with staff who didn’t know how to process the gift card, but they were generally overcome after several calls for management staff etc. In the end, I managed to get a few useful items including a new rucksack (for next year’s expedition to Thailand), a Lonely Planet guide to Thailand, a few T-Shirts and a few birthday presents for my niece. I didn’t spend the lot – how could anyone spend £1000 in a day?! I just got a few things I actually needed and bought a few presents for people. I still didn’t manage to get anything from the goddamned Apple Store though, as they insisted that their payment machines weren’t compatible with the gift card. Which kind of figures really – Apple and ‘incompatible with the mainstream’ go hand in hand. The thing that struck me was how many of the stores in Cabot Circus gave me crap and treated me like some kind of criminal just because I was using a gift card. They really need to sort that shit out as I’ve no doubt I’ll be the first or last shopper who comes into contact with untrained shop staff only to be told that particular stores don’t accept them...when in fact, they do. 

Saturday I was kind of dreading slightly, as it heralded the first proper long-distance journey on the Suzuki Goose. As documented here, the previous times I have taken it onto the motorway, it’s died on me. Granted, both times it was down to either having the fuel tap on ‘reserve’ or simply having no fuel, but like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I had become accustomed to associating the M5 with the spluttering and eventual packing up of the bike’s engine. I needn’t have worried though, as Saturday’s early morning trip down to Dorset went without any hitches at all. In fact, it flew by with alarming rapidity, thanks to the extra 100cc I now have at my disposal. The only things that were slightly unwelcome were the extremely cold wind and the mildly uncomfortable riding position of the Goose – it’s not really the kind of bike you want to be doing 200 mile journeys on unless you’ve got a well-padded arse. I don’t, so I was walking like John Wayne on arrival at my destination. Apart from that though – no problems at all. The bike itself is fairly tatty (what can you expect from a 20 year old machine?), but when it’s got enough petrol in, it runs like a dream and goes like greased lightning. Here are a few pictures I took of the Goose over the weekend: 

Saturday night involved a wedding party during which I discovered a taste for Gin and Tonic and Sunday was spent recovering from the G&T tsunami from the night before. Also saw the new Liam Neeson film Taken 2 on Saturday afternoon – next up: my rambling thoughts.

Friday, 14 September 2012

BlackBerry, and Apple Crumble

PayPal finally caved in and allowed me to have access to my own money, which was nice of them. I got an email late on Wednesday evening alerting me to the fact that they’d reviewed my transaction and found nothing to raise concern, and that my cash had been released. Well thank you very fucking much, PayPal. I don’t actually recall asking you to come and investigate the totally legitimate sale of my motorcycle, but thanks all the same.

I’ve transferred the majority of the money back into the savings account from which I funded the purchase of the Suzuki Goose, and paid off a few minor debts I had (I gave back money I borrowed for the purchase of cheap booze and heroin). I did make one purchase with the spoils of my profit-making sale, however – a new phone. I think this must be about the 5th time I’ve bleated on about a new phone on this blog (let me see...HTC HD2, Palm Pre, O2 XDA, Huawei Blaze...yep, it is), so that just shows you how prone to failure/out-moding these ubiquitous devices really are. Fuck me – I’ve only been blogging since 2009 (well, 2006 if you count the Dreamcast Junkyard, but that doesn’t count) and I’ve already gone through 4 different mobiles! Planned obsolescence in action, or evidence of really shoddy manufacturing? You decide (in an old skool Big Brother Geordie voice). I’d probably go for the latter, as at least two of the mobiles had to be replaced due to the hardware going tits-up through no fault of the user (me); the Palm Pre’s touch screen went haywire and rendered it useless, while the Huawei Blaze’s speaker died so phone calls became an impossibility.

I was planning on replacing the Huawei with another touch screen, Android-based device – the Sony Xperia Tipo. This particular handset is described as a budget device, but it boasts a newer version of Android than the Huawei Blaze (Android 4) so that was the main attraction for me as I was pretty attached to the apps and stuff that the Play Store offered for Android 3.5. Upon reflection though, I wasn’t overly keen on the ‘screen only’ input methods of both the HD2 or the I took a gamble and bought a BlackBerry Curve 8520 instead. It’s a little antiquated (no 3G, for one), but BlackBerrys are renowned for their robust nature and the solid user interface, so that’s what swayed me.

My first impressions are pretty positive, even if the OS on the device is a little arcane at first glance. As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve also got a BlackBerry PlayBook so I have some basic knowledge of how these things work, but the Curve is a lot more simplistic than the PlayBook. There’s no touch screen for a start, which may be a blessing in disguise – you have to scroll around using the little optical trackpad thing. Also, BlackBerry seem to be really into ‘security’ and such, so you have to create all these fucking accounts and stuff and go through registration setups and shit. Bit annoying, but I’ve managed to link it to my existing PlayBook ID so it’s all working fine(ish). I say ‘ish,’ because due to some fucked up method of operation, I need to have a special add-on with my Giffgaff account in order to use the BBM and email etc, but I can’t add it to my profile I’ve got to wait until October to add this magical extension. The phone works fine as it is (I can call, text, go online via the Wi-Fi or through Opera Mini (love a bit of OS trickery!) when I’m out of the house), but I’m assured that the BlackBerry phone comes into it’s own once you’re allowed to access all the cool shit like the instant messaging etc. Ah well...October is but a few weeks away, and I’m sure I’ll cope.

Away from the minor shortcomings of the OS and the network, I really like the look of the Curve, and the keyboard is fantastic for writing text messages. The coolest feature though? I can connect this badboy to my PlayBook via Bluetooth and use the thing as a mouse! Yes – you read that shit correctly! It’s possibly the most pointless (geddit?!) thing I’ve ever heard of considering the PlayBook is just one bit capacitive touch screen, but there you are. I don’t know how I could ever use this feature, other than to impress my equally nerdy flatmate (as I did, yesterday), but the fact that it exists is enough for me. There are other uses for this ‘BlackBerry Bridge’ feature - for instance you can tether the tablet to the phone for internet access etc...but I doubt I’ll ever feel the need to do that when Wi-Fi is pretty much everywhere these days.

Does this make me a BlackBerry fan boy? Maybe...but I’m several degrees further from hell than all the Apple zealots clamouring to get their perfectly manicured, fresh-from-the-cloning-vat hands on an iPhone 5. What is the deal with all the ‘new’ versions of the iPhone? They don’t look any different from the last one, but people are falling over themselves to get the latest model as soon as it's announced. There’s at least one person where I work who has a perfectly good iPhone 4S...yet they’re sweating about how they will be able to fund the purchase of an iPhone 5. And the price...fuck me - £500 minimum? My BlackBerry cost me just over £100 from Sainsbury’s, unbranded and SIM free. I just don’t get it. Neither does the guy who wrote this article about Apple's new product launches being boring now that Steve Jobs has uploaded himself to the iCloud.

However, I’m not going to turn this into another Apple-bashing session. I’m over that. I’m a BlackBerry power user now, and we just don’t stoop to that fucking level. Peace.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Whenever I try to ring anyone on my mobile, I find myself having to dangle by my feet out of the fucking window in order to get a signal. Either that, or go outside so the GoldenEye satellite can get a fix on me and triangulate my Nokia. And that, my friends, is because the mobile phone network in this country is utter dogshit. You may recall that a few weeks ago I was spunking all over my new 'non O2' network Giffgaff, and waxing about how good it was. And to be honest, my opinion hasn't changed. It's outstanding value for money. The only downside is that it still runs on the O2 network...a network that, in all honesty, is about as reliable as an Alfa Romeo without an engine. So, you can imagine my interest when the BBC released a network map of the UK that details the coverage of the 3G signal.

Where I currently reside (and in the vast majority of rural locales I find myself in), you can count yourself lucky if you can get two bars of 2G signal, let alone 3G so all these people with smart phones and other devices that rely on a high-capacity data connection in order to function - forget it. And yet the major networks are all getting giddy about the impending 4G standard that should start rolling out in the next few years.

Now, I'm by no means a telecommunications expert, but here's an idea O2, T Mobile, Vodafone and the rest of you cunts: how about sorting out the 3G coverage before you start looking at moving to 4G? Just an idea. Oh, and while you're at it, how about extending it beyond the boundaries of London? How fucking brazen can you get: I was listening to Talksport the other day - a national radio station - and I heard an advert for Vodafone that was boasting about how good their signal was in London. London! Fucking great! What about the rest of the country you douchebags?! I realise that a lot of people who reside in our nation's capital are probably oblivious to the fact, but there are other places that exist outside of the boundary of London y'know. Sheesh.

But I'm digressing. The crux of what I'm bitching about is this: what's the point of trying to improve the data capacity of the mobile network in this country if the current one is still a pile of festering arse? Surely it'd be cheaper and more useful to improve the 3G coverage as more people currently own compatible handsets. The mind, my friends, boggles.

Other news: Steve Jobs has finally stepped down as the head honcho at the world's most pretentious company. Thinking of sending him a farewell card with a note asking for the reimbursement of the money I wasted on multimple iPods over the years before I realised they were SHIT and stopped buying them. As I've mentioned here in thepast, I've cracked my way through several iPods in my time simply because they stop working for various reasons. Batteries stop holding a charge, chargers break, buttons stop working...I could go on. Anyway, on the subject of mp3 players, my last one (a Phillips GoGear Vibe) died earlier this week and so I needed a replacement to use while running. I headed to Tesco and found this thing for a mere £9.50:

Yes, it looks like something Miley Cyrus might shit out, but I'm quite impressed with it. It's a Samsung Tictoc, and it's clearly aimed at teenage girls, but I'm open-minded. And tight as fuck too, so the £9.50 price-tag was a deal-breaker for me. It's quite an odd contraption - there's only one button but it takes on multiple functions depending on how you orientate the device. Press the button while it's facing upwards and it increases the volume, press it while it's facing the floor and the volume decreases. Press the button while holding the thing horizontally and it skips tracks etc etc etc. It's a bit like a Wii, but in mp3 form. Without a shit-load of rubbish games. Or the layer of dust as it sits under the TV unused since the last strained dinner party with your wife's work friends. Or the stench of the death of Nintendo as a proper games company wafting through the room.

I'm digressing again. So I'll stop.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Rotten Apples

So my iPod has finally died. Well, semi-died. And I have to admit I'm slightly annoyed. It's an iPod Nano 5G - the one with the camera on it - and up until about two weeks ago it worked perfectly and I pretty much took it everywhere with me. It provided tunes in the car (via my slightly antiquated tape-deck adapter) and it provided the motivation I need when I go running. Alas, a few weeks ago it started playing up. Namely, the 'wheel' stopped registering commands and only worked intermittently when I tried to lower or raise the volume and then last week it just died on me altogether. It works fine when attached to the (expensive) dock/speaker thing I bought a few months back, but once it's disconnected it just shuts down and dies. I had a quick look around the iPod forums online and discovered that I'm clearly not the only person who has suffered from this rather infuriating iPod 'death' and it seems that the only way to remedy the problem is to send the thing off to Apple who will attempt to repair or replace the thing for an extortionate amount of money. And they can fuck right off. I've already spent £120 on the thing - I'm not paying to have it fixed when the fault is their...erm...fault! Apparently it's some kind of battery malfunction that stops the iPod from holding a charge, thus rendering it useless unless it is connected to a power source. Grrr. This is, infact, the third iPod I have owned and had go tits up on me. The first two were iPod Shuffles - a first (long and white) and a second (with a clip) generation. They both stopped working due to charging issues. Now this one, my third and most expensive one has also stopped working as it should due to charging issues. I'm seeing a developing trend here.

Here's another developing trend: I will never buy another Apple product for as long as I live. They've had enough of my cash for their products just to fuck up after a few months of moderate use. And to think that my first 'proper' job after I left University was working for an Apple-authorised dealer! Yes, I was a sales monkey at a Apple dealer in Manchester and my days usually consisted of demonstrating the (then) new Power Mac G5 to potential customers and trying to show people why they should go for an iMac instead of an eMac even though at home I had a PC and wouldn't have had anyMac (see what I did there?) even if they gave me one for free. Sure - they look nice...but what, exactly, can you do on them that you can't do on a PC for less money and with more support?! Pfft. Indeed, one of the managers was trying to persuade me to purchase a teeny weeny Powerbook through the staff finance system and as such let me borrow a brand new one for a few days. I got it home and unboxed it, marvelled at the tinyness of it with my housemates...and then it just sat there in my room until I took it back to work because all it had on it was the OS. Great fun.

We also had a load of those old skool iPods with the black and white screen and an actual 'wheel' that span round on the front instead of the fuck-up prone 'touch wheel' that the newer ones have. I bet those fuckers are still working now...unlike my Nano. It makes me want to fucking scream. As a result of Apple's crappiness, I'm having to use my Palm Pre in the gym or when I go running and even though it's pretty small as far as phones go, it's still like having a pebble in your pocket when you're out pounding pavement.

I've decided that as soon as I've got the cash, I'm going to just buy a normal MP3 player again. Sure, it won't be able to utilise the admittedly brilliant iTunes-based music transfer interface I know and love...but Apple - you've lost a customer here. I'll Probably just go down to Argos and pick up a mid-range Phillips or Creative player (or maybe another Sansa Clip, if they still make them), and hopefully it'll last longer than a few months. Gah...