Wednesday, March 02, 2005

For I have crossed the Rubicon, let the bridge be burned behind me

I'm becoming increasingly fed up with Windows' quirks. At one point they may have been endearing, in an awful, esoteric sort of way, but now they're crossing a line. Most recently and most bafflingly, the screensaver refuses to start; this, even when the task manager seems to show no other active processes that should be interfering with it. Whatever's making the Defiant (Dell Dimension 4550) think it's not idle when it most certainly is also interferes with power management, which means the monitor won't go to sleep. I never realized how much I took for granted not having to manually hit the power switch whenever getting up from my desk. I've been using a hotkey shortcut to the actual screensaver .exe whenever leaving for only a few minutes, rather than several hours, which is a disgraceful kludge of a solution. Somewhat further back, I learned that System Restore (even when reverted back to most recent specs) is capable of manifestly screwing up an attached PDA's files - because, see, Windows thinks that it's a new device, and therefore all synced documents need to be renamed and touched (in the Linux sense), thoroughly destroying the chronological order of all my lecture notes for the past year, because they're "new" files. This is no way to work. So, having lusted after the magnificent prettiness of OSX for the past two years (and now needing to work with Adobe Illustrator documents for print publishing, an iffy proposition given the available and half-assed colour management schemes in Windows), I'm getting a Mac. A dual-2.0gHz G5 tower, with Apple Cinema Display, to be precise. I've known for a while that - gaming notwithstanding - I wanted my next computer to be made by Apple. The sheer joyous functionality of the iPod confirmed that for me. It won't be a replacement for the Defiant, but an adjunct; I plan on using a KVM switch to save space. However, while the new job pays well, I'm still not rolling in cash by any means. I had a choice: either wait three months to get the whole package, get the Cinema Display now and the G5 later, or vice versa. Much as I'd love to have the loveably well-designed OSX at my disposal for a filesystem right now, I'd have to run the DVI connector through a VGA adapter and then to a VGA/USB KVM switch. Having seen the Mac mini running with that DVI-VGA adapter on a small CRT - and given the signal interference that KVMs tend to perpetrate upon the analog video of a VGA connection - it became clear that wouldn't really help much in terms of graphic quality. Moreover, it seems a terrible insult to OSX to let it reach my eyes via a mediocre Dell monitor. (It'd also be painful to buy a shoddy KVM workaround that I'd only need for a few months.) So, I've taken the second option, and will soon have a 20" Cinema Display arriving on my doorstep. The Defiant has a GeForce FX 5900 video card with DVI connector, so I can immediately take advantage of the high-quality flatscreen display, and when I can afford the G5 itself in another month or two, a DVI/USB KVM will solve all my connectivity problems (without the same analog noise that VGA connections are prone to, if I understand correctly). However, the Apple Store has been somewhat less than impressive so far. Compulsively checking on the order I made Saturday evening since noon Monday, the order status page gave only an unhelpful "Open" description until a few hours ago, with no explanation how or why it would take up to two business days just to get the box out of Apple's doors. (I can appreciate there might be good reasons. Third-party-vendor-based reasons. Warehouse-inventory-shuffling reasons. I'd just like firm acknowledgement that there is a reason, and my beautiful new display isn't being delayed so long that two-day shipping means it won't get to me until next Monday, just on a whim.) This morning, the order status finally changed, to Shipped, with a Purolator tracking number...which, according to Purolator's site, didn't exist. Returning to the order status page, I then found that it'd been changed to "Shipped (Open)," which isn't actually one of the states an order can have, according to the shipping FAQ. Moreover, the previous shipping number (and link therein, to Purolator's tracking application) had disappeared. Confused - and wanting confirmation that it hadn't suddenly become the Schrödinger's Cat of online purchases - I called the 800 number. As it turns out, the very helpful order-taker explained to me (Wow, it's nice to call a large company, and not have to deal with an impenetrable Indian accent), the shipping charge has somehow...not been shipped. Which means that, because the order (of exactly one item) is being shipped incrementally, it's still technically open, though the display itself has already been dispatched. The intangible good of the shipping charge, when and if it arrives, will then mark the order as closed and complete. Whether or not I receive a valid tracking number for parcel 1 of 2 (containing item 1 of 1) is unknown, at this point. I know this sort of silliness could happen to any e-commerce site. But it doesn't fill me with confidence to see it happening to Apple. I hope there's no such recurrence when I order the G5 itself...

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