Up In The Air

Boy, what a debacle this week has been:

  • Boss walks into my office at 1:30 PM. "I know you're busy, but can you travel to Akron Ohio?"
  • "When?"
  • "Today."
  • "Today? They're two hours ahead of us. That means I need to be on a plane, like, now..."
  • "True..."
  • I'm in Layton at this point, so I race home, pack a bag, and haul to the airport. I get all the way to the TSA check in when I realize that I don't have my wallet. So, I run back out to the parking garage and somehow, amazingly make the flight.
  • My flight from Atlanta to Akron leaves at 8:30 AM. I get to work around lunchtime in Akron, and spend my day working in a freezing cold aircraft hangar.
  • There are basically no flights back home, so I'm booked on a 6:30 AM flight Friday morning, but the folks I'm working with want me to come back in Friday, which I decided I should probably do.
  • Another day in the freezing hangar. I was supposed to fly home early that Morning, so the secretary does her best to get me rescheduled to leave that night. Well, the east cost is buried in snow, and the travel system is a total mess across the board. The best they can do is to move my flight to Saturday morning.
  • I wake up in a panic at 5:50 AM, 30 minutes before my flight. Luckily, I checked in the night before, and I make it to the airport with enough time, I hope, to make the flight. Except there's one problem. Atlanta was "buried" in three inches of snow, and both flights to Atlanta that day were canceled. I get my rental car back, get my hotel room back, and spend most of the day catching up on the sleep I missed.

  • Not wanting a repeat of yesterday's near miss, I wake up at 4:50 (ungh!) I get to the airport promptly at 5:40. (I remember, I checked.) I get to the check in kiosk, and it won't let me check-in. WTH? I look at my itinerary, and I realize, with total dread and disbelief, that the Sunday flight leaves 16 minutes earlier than the Saturday flight had been scheduled to leave that day before. Of course, if I had checked in earlier, that wouldn't have been a problem -- one thing, though, the agent who rebooked me the day before had told me check in with him in person. Bah, if only I hadn't listened.
  • Well, I try to make a gamble. I have a copy of Saturday's boarding pass. I figure that if I can get through security somehow, they might still be boarding (It's 5:55 now.) Well, in what is surely a sign of the competence of TSA, my boarding pass from the previous day totally gets me through somehow. I get to the gate, but just like the ticket counter, NO ONE IS THERE. (What airline is this?) After about 10 minutes, someone finally wanders by. I milk my situation for all it's worth, and they get me rebooked, With only one extra stop now.
So, there you go, a total mess. Some of it caused by the airline, some of it because of the weather, and some of it, my own fault (though I still really think that airlines need to list the check-in time on the itinerary instead of the flight time - especially if no one is at the gate.)

Hopefully I'll be home sometime today. Happy Valentine's Day all!


Why I Don't Own a Mac.

I might be what you call a computer expert. I don’t mean to boast in saying that, but I imagine that others would find it to be true. Here are my credentials to see if you agree: I have two degrees in Computer Science. I’ve been writing software professionally for 5 years. I’ve taught computer classes at the college level. Every computer I’ve ever owned (5 so far), I’ve built with my own hands. I worked for a school district, providing network and desktop support to teachers and administrators. Basically, if it can be done with a computer, I’ve done it.

I am also a Windows user. That’s actually kind of odd when you think about it, because I grew up using Apple IIs and Macs in school. I used to sign up for “computer camps”, where I would spend two weeks of the summer going back to school so I could have unfettered access to the computer lab. In Junior high, I won desktop publishing and computer aided design competitions, both using Macs. I even still organize my desktop icons like I’m on a Mac (hard drive icons in the upper right corner, trash in the lower right.)

So, why don’t I own a Mac now? There are lots of reasons; none of which really matter to you probably, because for what I need a computer is different than for what you need. In my situation, I have issues with Macs’ cost, hardware variety, software availability, and tweak-ability. And as I figured, none of those things matter to you (except for cost, probably.)

The really big problem I have is with the attitude of superiority that seems to exude out of Apple lately. I think that’s always bad news. The best thing that happen to Windows was the explosion of Linux and the development of OS X, because that led Microsoft to develop a truly worth competitor in Windows 7. The other problem with superiority is that is breeds the attitude that “our way is the right way”. This does a huge disservice to the users of their devices, because they end up being oblivious to the alternatives. When I was a kid, I loved the Apples and Macs because they helped me to do things I had never done in ways I never thought possible. They opened up a whole a new world. And now, I expect that freedom with any device that I spend a lot of money on or use on a daily basis.

The really odd thing is that I don't think I can find that freedom in a Mac anymore. Sure, if I want to do something that's included in Apple's wonderfully designed suite of programs, I'm set, but what if I want to do it differently? What if I want to do something else entirely? My options are then really limited. It seems a far cry from Apple's "1984" ad.

In case you were wondering, here's a list of the things that vex me:

Why do songs in the iTunes store have DRM? Why do they cost more than those on Amazon? Why can I only use iTunes to put songs on my iPod? Why can't I take songs off my iPod using iTunes? Why did Apple reject the Google Voice app from the iPhone and hundreds of other useful apps? Why is it so hard to troubleshoot Mac problems? When a new version of iTunes comes out, why do I have to download a whole new 100 MB app instead of a few megs up program files? And why do the old versions stick around and clog up my hard drive? Why do mac laptops require expensive connectors to be hooked up to standard projectors and TVs? Why do Mac users believe they can't get viruses? Why can't I use whatever hardware and peripherals I want with a Mac? Why can't I use whatever language I want to write Mac applications? On what planet does it make sense to drag a CD to the trash to eject it? When I plug a non OSX drive into a Mac, why does it create all these extra useless files? Why can I tell when a movie has been made using iDVD, an album made in iLife, or a Facebook profile pic taken from a mac laptop? Why does Quicktime still insist on the horrible .MOV format that isn't compatible with anything other than Apple devices? Why does so much software stop working when Apple upgrades OSX to the next version? Why does Apple think anyone will be satisfied with the iPad?