Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thoughts on the Passing Scene

It's 2:18PM PDT. I just lit the pilot light on the heater. NWS Reno has issued a Winter Storm Warning for tonight into Wednesday afternoon. Snow level lowering to DaveCave level by morning.

My brief brush with our dystopian digital future has turned into a trend.  I ran into Reno Friday to pick up some specialty mechanic's tools, and provisions. On my way down the Truckee River canyon, I noticed CalTrans was busy trying to wrap up their paving project on Westbound I-80 before the rain arrives. There was a two mile long backup in the Work Zone, and I made a mental note that I might want to go home via the Mt Rose Highway.

It was a lovely day in Reno...90°F of nice desert-dry heat. I filled up at COSTCO but demurred on the warehouse visit (I don't do COSTCO on Fri/Sat/Sun) I heard a traffic bulletin about the slow going on WB 80 as I wrapped up my errands and turned south towards the Mt Rose Highway.

The desiduous trees were beginning to show their autumn color as I reached the summit. There was a heavy haze in the air (It's prescribed burn time in the Tahoe Basin) There was lots of fellow motorists up there on the mountain...that traffic bulletin I guessed. Even obscured by smoky haze, there isn't a better vista than Lake Tahoe looking south from high above Incline Village. I reached Lakeshore Drive, and headed towards Kings Beach...where I ran into another road construction project. I wasn't following close enough, so the flagger twirled the SLOW/STOP semaphore to STOP as I arrived.

I watched the eastbound traffic go by for 7:00 minutes...on the radio the news of Bank of America's new $5/month Debit Card Fee was breaking...I payed it no mind and gazed instead at the lake views and fancy boats playing on the glassy water.

Hours later I tried to logon to BofA's site to balance my checkbook, and it was unavailable. A few minutes later the website's troubles were a story on the 11 O'clock News. It was Sunday before I could do my online banking. Millions of BofA customers were logging on to file complaints about the new $60/year fees, slowing the website to a crawl. I washed my hands of the whole thing...I want perfect performance, without any drama or glitches when I'm banking online!

Tuesday I ran up against crashing websites everywhere again! About 10AM PDT Tuesday morning, I (and millions of iPhone Fans around the world) hit various tech websites to find out about Apple's latest whiz-bang gizmo. Rumor Central said the iPhone5 was going to be the greatest thing since sliced Blackberries...

Now none of these websites were streaming live video of Apple's presentation, these were LiveBlogs, where geek journalists type a sentence or two every minute or two, that are posted to the various websites for visitors to read. Very low bandwidth compared to video, and still these websites were driven to the brink...several lockups, drop-outs, and 404, my... the power of Apple's marketing is really something!

I gather the Apple Fanbois are a little crestfallen since the iPhone 5 didn't make it's long lusted for debut. Apple followed their usual MO and introduced the iPhone 4S. A new faster, dual core processor, new camera and 1080p HD video, an new operating system with 200 new features and voice control, all in cahoots with iCloud, Apple's move to cloud storage and computing.

So, what was I doing...paying attention to the iPhone hoopla? I don't need a smartphone. Well I was hoping some of the new goodies would show up in the Generation 5 iPod Touch...especially the fullHD video and the upgraded camera. No such luck...

My iPod is now two years old. It's a Gen3 without the cameras. I've got a month and a half to follow along with the early adopters who upgrade to the new iOS5 before deciding to get one on Black Friday, the only day of the year to get Apple products on sale. I've never upgraded to iOS4 because so many Apple iPod owners had tons of trouble with their upgrades...specifically their battery life dropped by thanks.

I have all the capability of the 5th Gen iPod between my 3rd Gen iPod and pocket digicam now, except for Apple's FaceTime and iCloud. I fancy FaceTime the iOS Video Chat/telephony app, but I can wait until next October in case the iPhone4S' chips, cameras, and video capabilities trickle down to the Gen6 iPod.

Ten hours later, all the Geek Websites are firing on all cylinders. I'm happy to soldier on with my bag of digital goodies until there's a pocket-sized quantum leap in Gadgetville. Technology never sleeps.

As I get ready to call it a day, I can hear the rain pelting the front door. I might be shoveling snow in the morning...that's OK...the weather is supposed to warm back up by the weekend.


  1. It is October after all. Just drizzle here. Maybe snow to 5000' later in the week. The Western Larch is our deciduous tree. Oh, how I miss the oaks, redbud, dogwood and maples.

    The thing about electonic gadgets is that they've become cumbersome leashes. My life is relatively free of electronic clutter. Can't be bothered with thie "I have to be in contact with EVERYONE all the time" world. Nor do I want to hear all of the screaming and bellyaching by super idiots.

    It's bad enough that CCTV and facial recognition and all those other infringement of privacy gizmos record a lot of our moves all the time. I've done no harm. And yet, no one seems to speak up against them. The Fear Machine has done their job well.

    On the other hand, instant information was quite impressive in Egypt during their recent civil protest.

    WF is charging $3 for ATM monthly fees. Not happy, not happy at all. Probably switch to a local bank that gives 3% interest on checking and "free" ATM if one has direct deposit.

    Winter is coming on and Vermont is still without important infrastructure. We need that guy CC ? to go back there and fix it for them. At least get a one way road system workable so people can get in and out of their little towns and get provisions.

    Who knew there was so much glacial gravel?

    Maybe that dude that writes the scarey novels S King could lead an electronic movement to help these fine citizens of the North? He must have a few million followers on line?

    Was going to write to the Gates and the Buffets but may just write to him instead. They are more interested in assisting our nemesis the Chinese and Indians rather than building a stronger U.S.A.

  2. You can thank Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) for the debit card swipe fee. Financial analysts predicted that his amendment to the finance bill allowing the Federal Reserve Bank to dictate debit card interchange rates would force banks to make up for lost revenue by charging their customers.

    I am simply going to change my habits and stop making purchases using the debit card.

    You are not charged the fee if you use a BOA ATM to get cash and I believe the same will hold for other banks.