What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Cash only. It’s 2018. I can order products directly from Europe from the comfort of my living room using my cell phone. We live in an age of technological wonder…. which begs the question, why in blue hell can’t I use a debit card to buy six dollars worth of lottery tickets? It’s apparently the only activity in the developed world that steadfastly insists on being cash only.

2. Weekday deliveries. I order a lot of things online. That means in most cases that thing is going to have to be delivered to the house. Most of the time it’s easy enough. They big truck arrives, leaves the package on the front porch, and I retrieve it when I return home. Occasional, something needs a signature before it can be released. There are usually easy ways around that too – except in special cases that require live ink from someone older than 21. Look, if you try to deliver the same package at approximately the same time on three consecutive weekday afternoons, the chance of typical working adult being there is somewhere between slim and none. The fact that SOP is to attempt delivery three consecutive times when a normal human being is probably at work reeks of ridiculous. There should be a better option available… and no, “we can hold it at our warehouse 40 minutes away so you can pick it up” is also a pretty dumb option. I’d be willing to pay a premium for some kind of guaranteed weekend delivery option.

3. “Uber is killing the taxi business.” I’ve never actually used Uber. It doesn’t feel like the kind of service that you could use reliably or cost effectively in the parts of the country where I tend to find myself. I’ve been in plenty of taxis over the years though. Saying that Uber is killing the taxi business and that government should step in to protect cab companies is a lot like saying government should make us all buy buggy whips and riding tack because we’re hurting the horse and buggy business by continuing to buy cars and trucks. It’s not fashionable to say it, but creative destruction is a real thing and tends to be of benefit in the long run.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

​1. UPS. I’d hate to think how much business I’ve pushed through UPS over the years. But gigging me for $5 to change the date a package arrives feels a little bit cheap on their part. Sure, it’s only $5 but I’m not sure what the difference is between delivering it “for free” on Friday or delivering it on Monday when I’ll actually be home to receive it – which is only an issue because *you* require an ink signature. I guess they do offer a free option of letting me pick up the package at a location an hour round trip drive away was supposed to be a helpful concession so maybe you’re letting me off easy. I don’t mind paying for a service, but I resent the hell out of getting nickel and dimed.

2. Disappointment. I know a lot of people, but there are only a handful that I would count among my closest of friends – the ones I’d go to the mat for with no questions asked or burn down whole cities for if they asked. You think you know most of what there is to know about them. But then there’s the day you realize you know nothing. It’s equal parts unnerving and sad and disappointing because though they may well go on being your friend, you’ll never see them with the same undiluted affection. Given enough time everything changes, though I wonder why it so rarely seems to change for the better.

3. Windows 10. Sometime in the dead of night Windows 10 was smuggled on to my work computer and promptly went about wrecking everything from my wifi connection to my email archives to my screen configuration and any number of small tweaks that I’ve made over time to make the archaic POS computer a little more usable day-to-day. Some things I’ve been able to fix on my own through the day. Other things can’t be resolved by anyone locally and must be corrected by the great network help desk in the sky… which means I might see resolution sometime around March 2019. Just once I’d like to get one of these official “upgrades” that didn’t end up giving me less capability and require me to spend inordinate amounts of time fixing things that it broke.

Live… from my kitchen…

iPhone release day is typically one of the highest traffic days of the year here at jeffreytharp.com. Then again on a fair number of those days I was standing in line using the blog as a time killer at 4AM more than anything else. Lots of pictures. Lots of updates. It was just something to do to pass the time that didn’t require “making new friends” with the people on my left and right.

FullSizeRenderWith Apple again offering home delivery on release day, I opted t stay home and follow the whole event from the comfort of my kitchen table. So…. if you’re checking in to see what kind of foolishness is happening over in the line at Christiana Mall, you’ll need to find a different huckleberry this year.

I’ll spare you the constant updates this year since what I’m doing to pass whatever time now between me and delivery are such exciting events as paying bills, washing dishes, and running the vacuum cleaner.

In the spirit of my heroic live blog of past years, I give you the following:

7:21AM – My iPhone 6 traveled overnight from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and arrived in Newark, DE last night at 2:41AM. It loaded onto a UPS panel truck at 5:47 AM and send out into the world for delivery. All that’s left now is the waiting.

8:40AM – A moment of hope for an early delivery. Sadly, the squeal of breaks and rumble of a diesel engine at the end of the driveway turned out to be a school bus.

10:10AM – First pot of coffee finished.

12:01PM – Soup.

1:24PM – I’m going to cut the grass… in hopes that UPS will try to sneak up on me while I’m distracted.

1:48PM – UPS delivers to guy two doors down… and then drives off in the opposite direction.

2:02PM – Delivered.

Missing in Transit…

Setting aside the fact that the US Postal Service has a legal monopoly on delivering first class mail in this country and they fact that they’ve had 236 years of practice moving things from Point A to Point B, sometimes I wonder why they have as many problems as they do. Then, of course, I get a handy reminder of why they suck and I used them as little as possible.

I ordered a prescription refill from my vendor of choice on the morning of August 11th and it shipped out later that afternoon. Then, somewhat inexplicably, on August 14th my order was scanned at a post office in Fort Lee, NJ and labeled “missent.” Which is fine, of course, except for the part where according to the USPS it has never been seen again. They’re quick to point out that theirs is a “delivery confirmation” system and not a “tracking” system like they use at such upscale shippers as FedEx and UPS. So it’s equally possible that the envelope containing my prescription has actually left the Garden State. It’s also possible that it’s still sitting there. There is apparently no way known to man to find out which of these options is the case. Let’s just say that the conversation with the USPS Customer Service Representative (and I use that term loosely) does not fill me with confidence. But hey, if it stays missing for five more Postal Business Days, we can officially proclaim it lost, so that’s a plus.

Don’t worry, I’m not letting CVS Caremark off the hook for their role in this little fiasco either. After all, they’re the ones who selected the USPS as the shipper of choice, which shows piss poor decision making skills right off the bat. They’re also the ones who won’t reship a prescription unless it’s been “missing in transit” for more than 15 days. They did, however, offer a very helpful suggestion of getting my doctor to give me a new prescription that I could fill at my local pharmacy… Which pretty much defeats the purpose of using your goddamned bloody mail order pharmacy program in the bleeding first place, doesn’t it you backwater asshats?

I’m a reasonable guy. I don’t expect miracles. All I know is that I can order tasty bits from Europe and have them in my hands three days later (including a Sunday) with UPS. I can order a book from Amazon and it’s sitting on my porch in 48 hours. But apparently delivering the drugs that keeps my blood pressure from rocketing into the “about to have a stroke” level in less than ten days is a bridge too far for United States Postal Service. Next time I’ll leave well enough alone and just walk to New Jersey to pick it up. It’d be faster.

Editorial Note: In the interests of fair and balanced reporting, two hours after I called USPS, the package in question was scanned in at my local post office and showed “out for delivery.” It arrived, crinkled and battered, ten days after I ordered it, but it arrived. Fortunately, the rant had progressed too far past its failsafe point to call back.

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 http://www.macrumors.com. 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?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Iran. A country that’s our sworn enemy planned to carry out a terrorist attack on US soil and our response is the diplomatic equivalent of telling Iran that gee wiz it would be great if you wouldn’t do things like that anymore. Call me an hawk if you want, but when a sovereign country decides it wants to threaten the United States, I want a house-sized bomb to fall on their head. Maybe that’s just me.

2. People who say “I don’t believe in social media.” I think what you actually mean is you don’t like social media or maybe even that you don’t understand social media. But since it exists and is becoming pervasive, I think the ship has sailed on the decision to believe in it or not. That’s probably just semantics, but I just don’t understand the mindset of someone who wants to exert their moral superiority by abstaining from Twitter.

3. Occupy Wall Street. Who, exactly, are these people that apparently have unlimited free time to do nothing all day but defecate in the street, paint witty signs, and generally make a nuisance of themselves? If they went home, took a shower, and spent as much time looking for jobs as they have squatting in the financial district, they’d have a better chance getting themselves into the top 20% or 5% or 1% of incomes earned. I wonder how many people with a little skin in the game are so eager to burn the system down. America isn’t about guaranteeing success, it’s about getting the opportunity to be successful. Knowing the difference between the two is important.

4. UPS. How damned difficult is it to get your website to say MD instead of DE? This should not be a major technical challenge for a company that generally manages to move massive amounts of product around the globe within 24 hours. I’m just saying.

5. Sleep. It’s what I won’t be getting much of tonight because it’s the fanboy’s equivalent of Christmas Eve.