A wonderful Christmas had by all, and that’s enough of that: we’ve moved on, haven’t we, with our faltering sights now fixed on the next holiday to be scaled and conquered. This will be a light week with few updates, but the Entire Slew begins again next week – along with BleatPlus, a small weekly feature accessible to patrons of the site. (You can be one too!) I should finish the code and layout this weekend; notices will go out to all who contributed.
Did I mention it was a wonderful merry and so on? Not just that: picturesque as possible, thanks to an Xmas Eve ration of steady heavy wet snow. Beautiful. But Saturday I heard the brittle sound of freezing rain, and knew this meant ill. The gazebo’s roof was damaged by heavy snow; the steps were slick, and required 200 pounds of Quik-Melt to burn off the ice, and – worst of all – when the plows came Sunday night the drivers could not be bothered to lift the blade as they passed, and they shoved an enormous wall of frozen snow and rock-hard boulders on my freshly-shaved driveway. At this point the Beauty of the Season had curdled into innumerable recollections of the petty hellish details of life in the winter -
Well, no; that happened earlier in the day, when I was pushing my cart through the Target lot, over rills and moguls, through marshes of slush, and I was amazed again that the simple act of pushing your purchases to your car has to be a trial. When it’s snowing on Christmas Eve and you’re driving around, slow and happy, carols on the radio, you don’t want to live anywhere else. But in the middle of demolishing the Driveway Ice Wall to make a space for my car, my phone rang; wife, wondering what I wanted from the Chinese place. I told her what I was doing, how some of the boulders were so large I feared dislodging them lest they ramble down the street ’t crash through someone’s front window, and man, I hate this stuff.
Then it all bottled up, everything, all of 2009, all the contusions and frustrations and annoyances and petty krep, and I leaned back and yelled I HATE THIS STUFF into the arctic air. It echoed.
Okay then, said my wife on the other end. Kung Pao okay?
Yes dear, that would be fine. Kung Pao.
For Christmas I got a Brookstone photo scanner. It was on my list of things I’d mentioned in that off-handed way that assures you’ll get it, but still allows everyone to maintain the fiction of surprise when the package is opened. Oh, of course! This thing! I’d completely forgotten. You may ask why I wanted it when I obviously have a scanner. Simple: I thought it would be easier to feed the stacks of old 90s photos into the thing instead of putting them on the glass, going through HP’s aneurism-inducing software, cropping, rotating, and so on.
Yes, you MUST RESTART NOW. The assumption is that you want to start scanning, and would be confused to the point of tears if you got the option to RESTART LATER, only to find your scanner didn’t work. But I didn’t want to restart, so I quit the installer.
Naughty, naughty me! Thought you’d get away that easily, eh?
That text passed at least one level of review. At least two people – the author and the supervisor – thought it was a fine example of clear, crisp instructions. It sounds like someone who’s slightly stoned but paranoid that people will think he’s stoned. Less good! Did I say less good? Is that right? They can tell!
Here’s the problem: the box shows photos fed to the scanner face up. Well, perhaps that’s for demonstration purposes only. Surely the instructions are right. Let’s scan, face down:
No. Let us contemplate the meaning of this: there are two possible ways to put the photo – the right way, and the wrong way. The entire point of the product depends on choosing the correct way for your dialog boxes. They screwed it up.
Here’s the settings window.
The first two options are permanently grayed out. Below that, three sliders – brightness, contrast and . . . I’ve no idea. From looking at it, anyway. (Turned out to be saturation.) Below, you can rename your prefix, but good luck asking it to open the picture with a particular application. For that matter, good luck telling it not to open every picture as it’s scanned.
Well, perhaps that’s in preferences.
It was checked by default.
Well, let’s go to the manual, in handy pdf form.
So this is from 1997, then?
Carp, carp, carp, you say. Does it work? Is it speedy? In the end, does it suit your need? No. Couldn’t get it to give me one good scan. I tried recalibrating, but there are no options for recalibrating. Then it just gave up and made everything look like this:
At least it deigned to scan those. After a while it gave this message on every scan, even when I’d made sure to scan the picture as straight as possible.
When shut down from the menu or by Command-Q, it automatically generates a crash report and sends it to Apple.
So I went back to Brookstone on Sunday. I did not have a receipt but I figured I’d be safe. After all, the box says BROOKSTONE all over it, right? No. Need a receipt. But it was a gift. You need a gift receipt. But they mailed it from Boston. I said I’d take store credit.
The clerk looked at the larger manager type at the other register and he said no.
Do you have their credit card? she asked. I said I did not. “I could call them and ask for the number and come back to the store and give it you,” I said. “That would be inconvenient and I would never want to shop here again.” The larger manager looked over; some combination of syllables had tripped a switch. “Seriously, do you think I’m trying to pull something here?”
“You can exchange it for the same item,” said the larger manager.
“But I don’t want it,” I said. “The software was designed by brain-damaged monkeys.”
“You can have store credit but only today,” said the smaller manager.
I said that would be fine, and thank you.
Afterwards I went to Target. Needed some deli meat. Walked up to the counter, which had a sign that said “$3.99 per pound Market Pantry Honey Roasted Chicken.”
The clerk was having an amusing conversation with a co-worker about another co-worker but he saw me, wiped his hands on his apron, came over and asked if he could help.
“I’d like a Half a pound of the Market Pantry Honey Roasted Chicken,” I said.
“Yes sir. Which one?”
“Market Pantry Honey Roasted Chicken.”
“And how much?”
“A half a pound.”
In the future I might as well say “thirty smedlicks of dried Mocklin skins,” because either they don’t listen at all, or they’ve been instructed to repeat the questions to make sure the order is correct. I suspect the former. In all my years in retail I never managed to tune out individual responses – a random remark, a spark of cleverness, something that played with the drearily civil conventions of the retail exchange, these made the job much more enjoyable.
LATER: Matchbook. Or not. We’ll see. Oh, bonus: anyone recognize the half-scanned photo’s location? It’s still there, although it’s all gone.
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