The queue…

I had the chance, many years ago, to queue up and pass under the dome of the U.S. Capitol while Ronald Reagan lay in state. That line stretched through switchbacks down the Mall from the foot of the West Front stairs down towards the Washington Monument. The wait lasted 8 or 9 hours through the night. Coming out of the darkened and muted Capitol just as the sun was rising will be something I remember for the rest of my life.

That long ago queue was nothing compared to the lines now formed for those waiting to file into Westminster Hall and past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s the queue to end all queues. As I write this, the line stands somewhere around five miles long and has as estimated 14 hour through time from end to end. The Government attempted to pause new entries on Friday morning, but people kept coming on in a volume that almost implies there will need to a queue for those waiting to join the queue. It will certainly grow even longer as the weekend gets properly underway.

The queue, in all of its absurdist five mile glory, is almost the apotheosis of Britishness. It’s a sight to see, something to behold in its own right – the last mark of tribute to the late Sovereign from the people she served so long and so well.

I don’t tend to be someone who lives in regret, but I already know not jumping on a flight to London earlier this week and sorting out the rest of the details in transit will be a lingering regret of a lifetime. Timing, finances, and assorted personal responsibilities conspired to make that an impossible lift. Although my body remains firmly here in Cecil County today, my heart is most assuredly in the queue. 

Bad decisions…

While I was in line at the bank on Saturday, I overheard a conversation. That’s not the kind of thing I usually do. Even if it were the kind of thing I’d usually do, I’d have wanted no part at all in this conversation. It was the sort of loud mouthed yammering that makes me wonder if people ever really stop and consider the words that come flying out of their gobs.

In the span of the five minutes that it took me to get from the back of the line to bing second to front, the women directly in front of me subjected me (and everyone, really) to her stream of consciousness thinking on all manner of topics. The best (or worst), were discussions of:

1) How wrong it was that the bank made her take out that “bad mortgage.” As if someone held a gun to her head while she signed.

2) How pissed she was that the guy she had been dating for six weeks wouldn’t sign the paperwork taking himself off of her checking account. Because adding someone you’ve known 30 days to your financial accounts always ends up being a good decision.

3) How happy she was that her new beau was only going to be in jail for six months so at least they’ll be together soon. By this point, I’ve stopped analyzing out of fear that my brain might overload and catch on fire.

It’s safe to say I now know more about this random woman in line at the bank than most of the people who have known me since childhood know about me. It’s an honor I neither sought out nor wanted.

The only common thread I was able to identify through the flow of her verbal diarrhea, was the simple fact that nearly all this individual’s problems could trace direct back to piss poor decision making. Basic life decisions don’t require a 180 point IQ, but they damned well require the application of a bit of common sense. I increasingly fear the supply of this commodity has been exhausted.

If I can offer any advice, it’s just this: Stop making shit decisions. You’ll be amazed how much life doesn’t suck if you just try to get out of your own way now and then.

Live… From beautiful Newark, Delaware…

As promised, I’m coming to you live and in person from the Apple Store at Christiana Mall in Newark, Delaware. At 3AM EST, I’m estimating a line that’s a ragged 250-300 deep. Not surprisingly, the crowd is very subdued and there is a heavy presence of Delaware State Troopers already on hand. Good times. With doors open in five hours, I’ll be back when things start picking up.


3:35 AM – I’ve been the last person in line for 20 minutes. Does that make me the least dedicated of the early adopters or most dedicated of the regular consumers?

4:17 AM – According to one of the nice people beside me, the line is 254 souls. Glad to see my power of estimation is still pretty accurate.

4:46 AM – Just got an email from Apple. Apparently they’ve started selling some kind of new phone today. Who knew?

5:00 AM – Lots of NY license plates coming onto the lot now. The line is stretching around a corner and out of sight behind me. Best guess is that it’s probably 2x longer than it was at 3AM. After starting to read reports if shipping times slipping into October, glad I didn’t decide to wait and try sneaking in an order online. Three hours to doors open.

5:17 AM – The inevitable asshat with a boom box just showed up playing what I think is called “dance” music…. Although at quarter past five in the morning it may prove to be “get your face smashed to a bloody pulp by tired people in line” music.

5:46 AM – The mall is opening their doors at 6:00, so the line is preparing to schlep inside. Those who brought chairs are now losing their places in line as they dump them back in their cars. Suckers.

5:52 – My little corner of the line before heading inside.


6:22 AM – Lies. Damnable lies! Still standing outside.

6:45 AM – And still outside. Not sure if it’s an issue with Apple or the mall security set up. I’m guessing the latter just from observation.

7:15 AM – Still outside. Blue shirts came by asking the line if anyone was buying only the 5c so they could form a delegate line. So far, 500 people asked, zero 5c sales. Not surprising, but a fun fact. Also, no availability on the gold model from any carrier.

7:32 AM – All silver iPhones, all carriers are sold out. My level of confidence in getting hands on today is plummeting.

7:52 AM – No more word on stock outs. The line, however, is getting restless.

8:01 AM – All 16 GB AT&T iPhones are out of stock.

8:33 AM – Line hasn’t moved in 20 minutes. Blue shirts claiming the still have AT&T and Verizon availability in space grey.

8:36 AM – 32 GB AT&T is out of stock. Confidence in making this happen today is almost zero.

8:40 AM – stock out of AT&T. Bugger me.

9:25 AM – 2nd in line at a Best Buy that didn’t open early. Crossing my fingers.

9:34 AM – Mission success @ Best Buy!


12:46PM – Well, that took more effort than I anticipated. The short version: I have an iPhone 5s in hand. I’m back at the house and once I get some coffee and chow into my system, I’ll give you a “first impressions” review. Stay tuned.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. iOS 7. I’m not the kind of guy who’s exactly comfortable with change… and for good or ill, iOS 7 represents a pretty radical level of change in the Apple ecosystem. Maybe not so much in how your device now behaves (most of the same old functions – and some new ones are right there), but it’s certainly looks different while it’s performing all of those magical functions. It looks different to the point where an explosion of the Crayola factory wouldn’t quite be out of place. Soon enough it’ll blend into the background and just be “what is,” but first impressions left me feeling like the new iOS was too bright, to candy colored, and just too un-Apple.

2. Television “experts.” If you want to be taken seriously as a professional commentator on issues that involve firearms, it’s best to actually have some experience with putting lead downrange. For instance when you’re a national news organization and report that a suspect is using an “AR15 shotgun,” well, you sound like an idiot to anyone who actually knows the difference between a suppressor and a stacking swivel. Maybe it’s best to report facts instead of random wild-ass theories, rumors, or things you just make up on the fly. When you don’t stick to the facts you lose credibility… which I suppose is only relevant if being a credible news source if important to you.

3. Knowing what I’m in for. Sometimes not know what’s about to happen is better. But knowing that you’re about to stand out in the cold, without enough caffeine, and needing to pee for at least several hours in the middle of the night is just one of those things you’re better off not knowing until you’re in the middle of doing it. I’m old enough to know a bad option when I see it heading in my direction… but I’m also geek enough to know that if I’ve got the opportunity to have the latest toy in my hand tomorrow morning and pass it up for the ease and comfort of sleeping until 5AM, I’ll regret it. And that would annoy me even more than getting up in the dead of night and standing in line.

P.S. And yes, I fully recognize the irony of waking up in the middle of the night to stand in line for a phone whose OS I’m not enamored with… Can’t a guy be conflicted?

The wee small hours of the morning…

Unbidden, I woke up at 3AM this morning, as if my brain were hard wired to Apple’s central hive in Cupertino. It’s iPhone launch day… sort of. It’s pre-order day for the iPhone 5c – the new polycarbonate-shelled, mid-priced successor to the iPhone 5. Even though I’m not in the market for the “c” variant, my internal clock still managed to rattle me awake in the wee small hours of the morning. Sadly that means being in for a long Friday with way less sleep than usual to get me through to the weekend. C’est la guerre.

It shouldn’t be a particular surprise that I’m holding out for the 5s, the new glass and aluminum Apple flagship. In previous years, this morning would have been pre-order time for it too, but some combination of marketing, constrained supply, and production factors mean that the only options for its first day of ability are buying directly from a retail store on the 20th or ordering online that morning and waiting (if all goes well) until the middle of the following week to take delivery. My plan for next Friday remains a footrace between my dislike of crowded spaces and an equally strong attraction to having a new toy at the first possible moment.

So for next Friday, my choices seem to come down to this:

Option #A – Wake up at 2:30 AM, drive to Delaware, get in line in the pre-dawn darkness and hope that the local Apple Store has stock on hand by the time I get to the front of the line; or

Option #B: Wake up at 2:30 AM, direct my browser to, hit refresh until the site comes back online, complete the order process, wait for a confirmation email, go back to bed until 5:00 AM, go to work, and then wait for four or five days for the FedEx truck to back down the driveway; or

Option #C: Waiting until the supply chain is refilled from the early adopter rush, walk into the local Apple Store and buying a phone a month from now. It also involves about a month’s more patience than I have on tap at any given time.

So really, it comes down to A or B… Both bad options in different ways. Option A is a roll of the dice regarding whether they’ll have the unit I’m looking, whereas Option B is an exercise in at least minor amounts of patience. Unfortunately, because I’m upgrading a current line, these options are also mutually exclusive – meaning I don’t think there’s any way to order one online at 3AM and the go try getting my hands on one a few hours later from the retail store.

With a week to go, I remain decidedly undecided.

Lines, lines, everywhere there’s lines…

So, Apple… listen… you’re a big, multibillion dollar international corporation with a supply chain that wraps around the globe. So I have to ask… What asshat in your marketing and sales department decided that not offering pre-orders for your new flagship phone was a good idea? I know you want the faithful to line up and cram the stores because that’s a great PR image that every news outlet is going to cover, but let’s face it, people are going to line up regardless of whether you have preorders or not. I’ve been on both sides of launch day; waiting in line at Saddle Creek and Christiana and sitting at home waiting on FedEx. Both served me well in the past, but I always had the option.

You know I want your shiny new phone on launch day and you know I’m going to be sorely tempted to schlep over to the Apple Store and get in line, but the fact is I’m older now and less willing to put up with the jackassery of standing around in lines waiting to give people my money than I once was. It’s not that I’ve gotten any more patient. I’ve just grown increasingly intolerant of large groups of people that I can otherwise avoid. As much as I want your new toy on its first day of availability – the day that I’ve had my greasy little hands on every previous model – I think I’m going to have to ride this one out until I can have one left on my doorstep or until your supply chain catches up and I can walk into a retail store and pick one up without getting into a knife fight in the parking lot.

I wish I could point to this as a sign of becoming older, wiser, and more responsible… the reality is probably that it’s just a sign of me becoming even more of an antisocial hermit as the years roll by. Then again, maybe it’s just the same concept expressed in a different way.

Just another launch day live blog

4:37a – Well folks, here we go. Up and moving, getting caffeinated, and prepping to head over to Delaware for my tax free shopping fix. Starting to see some reports from the earlier time zones coming out and it sounds like it’s another winner. I’ll be uploading pics, general impressions, and plenty of snarky comments from the beautiful Christiana Mall Apple Store this morning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy bringing it to you.

4:42a – I think it’s cute that Apple sent me an email letting me know that “The new iPad is here”. Wow. Thanks for the heads up on that. Maybe I’ll trundle on over to the Apple Store and check it out. You’d think by now they’d know me well enough not to have to send the marketing.

5:17a – It’s go time. Hope the real die hards kept me a place in line.

5:59a – DE State Police are running crowd control. Big, big crowd.


6:16a – DSP is randomly pulling people out of the crowd and putting them in line. No apparent organization or plan from Apple to manage people. Not good.

6:27a – 3-400 people in the main line.


6:30a – What the line looks like if you pre-ordered for personal pick up.


That’s right, who’s 4th in line. This guy right here.


7:30a – 12 people in the personal pick up line. All very civilized. The other line, not so much. Lots of Apple employees and troopers yelling at people. Good times.

7:37 – sadly, I just turned down an offer to be interviewed by the Wilmington local news station. Sorry to disappoint.


7:49a – This crowd is stooooopid. Lines completely out of sight now. Lucky to be in line with some fun guys. Making this enjoyable.


7:59a – in my hand and out the door.

8:02a – Here are a few shots on the way out. Stay tuned for the review.




Live blogging the launch…

In the past, I’ve been in the habit of live blogging iStuff launches from the line at the Apple Store at Saaddle Creek. Since a trip to Memphis seemed a bit excessive even by obsessed Apple fanboy standards, I thought I’d change gears a bit this time around. I promise I’ll spare you the details of sitting in the kitchen casting longing looks out the door every time I here a large truck pass by. Today, I’ll focus a little on unboxing and adding a few pics and initial impressions.

If you’re wondering what I’m doing to pass the time, check out the forums at They’re always a great time waster. Oh, and laundry. I’m doing that too. Judging from the line the local morning news programs are showing at Towson mall, hanging out here at the house seems like it might have been the best idea. Plus, sitting around in the rain never seems like a good idea.

Without further runup, here’s what we know so far…

– 0611: Package out for delivery from the UPS sorting facility in Newark, Delaware. Delivery address is still wrong on their website. Status: crapshoot.

– 0822: Six cups of coffee down. Dogs snoring. Tapping foot impatiently. Updates and pictures as breaking news happens.

– 1014: Still waiting. Coffee count is 12 cups.

– 1151: Still waiting. Hail the size of marbles and torrential rain. Switched to Coke Zero. If I’d have gotten up early this morning and stood in line I’d be up and running by now. Lesson learned.

– 1224: The mail truck sounds an awful lot like an UPS truck. Sadly, it only brings bills and other junk mail.

– 1336: And still waiting. Next launch I’ll be back in line. With iPhone 4 I was home, activated, synced, and at the Flying Saucer by this point in the day.

– 1428: Still waiting. Last visages of patience evaporating and beginning to seriously ponder the likelihood of finding a phone “in the wild” at a retailer at this late hour of the day.

– 1451: Aaaaaaand there goes the FedEx truck.

– 1523: FedEx truck #2 delivering on my street. Yet no UPS.

– 1544: It’s here. It’s here. It’s here!

– 1616: It’s now the traditional time on iPhone launch day when AT&T chokes.

– 1705: AT&T activated is still hosed. They are allegedly running 2-3 hours behind demand. After 5 years of doing this, one might think they’d have gotten an effing clue.

– 1759: Finally broke through the server jam. iPhone 4S is restoring from backup. We’ve got a pulse.

Dear Lord, please don’t let them screw this up…

Today is the first iPhone launch that doesn’t find me standing in line somewhere. The first iteration was the local AT&T store, but after that I discovered the grownup candyland that is the Apple Store. As much as I don’t particularly like hanging around large groups of people, launch day crowds are something a little different. We’re all geekily obsessed in more or less the same way. Plus there’s always a smattering of hot nerdy chicks in line and really, who doesn’t like that?

This time around, in the absence of confirmed in-store reservations, the better course of action seemed to be ordering direct and waiting for my shiny new precious in the comfort of my own home. Judging by a look around at the weather, that’s probably for the best. There’s still a part of me that feels a little bad about missing the lineup. Not needing to get up at 2AM and having fresh hot coffee, my fuzzy slippers, and an actual chair to sit in temper that feeling just a little bit.

If the internet is to be believed, my phone is now out for delivery. I’m still more than a little concerned that UPS will jack something up at the last minute, but in an effort to maintain some semblance of reasonableness I’m working under the assumption that I’ll have a tasty new treat in my hot little hands by around noon. Then I’ll need to find something else to look forward to (i.e. obsess over)…. Sooooooo when did they say iPad 3 was coming out?

Live from Saddle Creek…

11:30 CST – A ground level reconnaissance pass reveals approximately 20 holding a place in line. Holding fast on the plan to arrive at 2:00 for my own spot. Regular updates will follow.

2:15 – it’s a line, but not the worst I’ve seen for a product launch. Lots of milling around for the next few hours. Check back!

2:25 – Thanks for the free Starbucks, Apple. Well played.

2:36 – according to the nice Apple store guy who just came by, I’m #74 in line. It’s a pretty stringy line, but very surprised I’m under the 100 mark.

3:35 – Hour and a half to go! It’s, ah, warmed up out here quite a bit. And concrete is not comfortable for sitting. You’d think that’s something I’d remember from year to year. Fortunately there are two very attractive, yet sadly very married, young ladies in line in front of me for good conversation. It doesn’t make the concrete any softer, but it certainly passes the time.

4:20 – Quite a line behind me at this point. Actually more of a clump.

4:40 – counting down now. 20 minutes till go time. Reports from the east coast sound positive for the device and a quick sales process.

4:50 – Obligatory cheering Apple employees.

5:00 – open for business!

5:10 – official ticket passing out. Size not specified, but guaranteed not to be out of stock completely. This is a good, good thing.

5:15 – made it to the velvet rope. I feel very VIP.

5:20 – front of the line. Check back for the unboxing results.