At Home with Tech

Don’t let your gadgets kill your Zen. Byte back with your inner geek!

Have You Forgotten How to Make a Phone Call?

Imagine this: Aliens have landed, and you’ve got to make that call to hightail it to the crazy island on “Lost.”  Wait a minute… The phone number isn’t on speed dial!  And now the keys on your telephone are starting fade away!!  Unlikely…?  Well, you may want to start preparing for the disappearing keys part…

Imagine this: Aliens have landed, and you’ve got to make that call to hightail it to the crazy island on “Lost.” Wait a minute… The phone number isn’t on speed dial! And now the keys on your telephone are starting fade away!! Unlikely…? Well, you may want to start preparing for the disappearing keys part…

Have you ever wondered what an alternate universe would be like?
How about a place where people didn’t need digits on their telephone keys?

I found myself in that warped reality recently when I was squatting in a stranger’s office.
(No, this wasn’t a random act… just office sharing)

I turned to make a phone call, and bam!
I felt the space/time continuum shift slightly as I tried to focus.

There was nothing to see but twelve blank keys.
I closed my eyes and conjured the Force.

Tap. Tap…tap…tap. Tap…tap…tap. Tap…tap…tap…tap.

“Hello?”

Phew… I recognized the voice on the other end…

Memory Wipe
But seriously, how does that happen?
Years of someone else dialing that same keypad?
(But there wasn’t even a sniff of identifying ink on any of the keys beyond the star and pound signs.)

And in a future that’s already here, complete with speed-dial and voice-activated dialing, I suppose you really don’t need to remember the numeric sequences anymore, let alone their location on a phone.

The question is… have you already forgotten how to make a phone call?
And without a visual assist … did you ever really know how?!

A Fringe Event
Perhaps my parallel universe keypad was accidentally left behind by an “Observer” from the future.
Maybe it’s purposely placed there as a warning…

‘Don’t Forget!’
Never forget how to make a phone call.
Memorize that keypad now!

Don’t succumb to DKS!
(Disappearing Keys Syndrome)

The future of this world may depend on it one day…

You Can’t Bum a Smoke Off of CVS Anymore

If you’re thinking of running to CVS to grab some cigarettes, you’d better think again.  The pharmacy chain has decided to start taking better care of its customers…

If you’re thinking of running to CVS to grab some cigarettes, you’d better think again. The pharmacy chain has decided to start taking better care of its customers…

So I was dispatched on an emergency mission to CVS/pharmacy recently to pick up some extra Play-Doh for an upcoming playdate.
Apparently, my son’s supply had gotten dangerously low…
(And yes, I’ve discovered that life’s little emergencies such as a Play-Doh crisis can easily redirect your blogging focus. No biggie. Just write on…!)

At the CVS checkout counter, I noticed something a little strange… rows and rows of empty shelves.
(Had there been a massively successful sale on some must-have item?)

Not quite…

I peered into the corner of the disheveled shelving and spotted a lone pack of cigarettes hanging on for dear life.

Then, as if on cue, one of the CVS employees behind the counter gleefully yanked at the entire row of shelves, and it all came crashing down.
It was like I was witnessing the destruction of the Berlin wall.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“We’re not going to be selling cigarettes anymore,” the man at the register proclaimed.

“Really?”

“No… We decided it doesn’t make sense for a pharmacy to sell cigarettes!”

“You’re right!” I agreed.

And then I walked out of this quite public celebration with my two cartons of Play-Doh.

And I went home to do a little research…

CVS is On a Health Kick
So this isn’t really breaking news.
CVS announced its change of heart back in February saying tobacco products would be off their store shelves by October 1.

Yes, America’s largest pharmacy gave itself a lengthy eight months to kick the habit, but the good news is my local CVS made the big move a month early.

So why all the fuss about the health of its customers?
CVS expects to lose $2 billion in revenue annually as a result of its new health kick.

I did a little Googling in search of an economic rationale.
And I discovered it’s still all about improving CVS’s bottom line.
But first, there needed to be a serious image update… plain and simple.

Wired.com put the logic together quite nicely…
In the age of the mighty Amazon crushing brick and mortar stores, CVS is trying to stay relevant. As a pharmacy, it wants to become a place “to go to get care, not just stuff.”
(and stuff that can kill you)

Throwing out all the cigarettes is clearly a nice way to enforce that message.

Another way is to change your name. Earlier this month,
CVS Caremark changed its corporate name to CVS Health to reflect its broader heath care commitment.

Bravo, CVS Health!

Struggling to Pre-order the iPhone 6 Plus

Say hello to my little friend.  Well, he’s actually kind of a plus size.  Wait a minute!  Is that a piece of paper taped to cardboard?!  The more important question is whether I’ve been able to successfully pre-order a real iPhone 6 Plus…

Say hello to my little friend. Well, he’s actually kind of a plus size. Wait a minute! Is that a piece of paper taped to cardboard?! The more important question is whether I’ve been able to successfully pre-order a real iPhone 6 Plus…

When Apple CEO Tim Cook finally verified the existence of the next iPhone last week, I decided to take a little overnight expedition.

A journey of simultaneous necessity and absurdity…

Yes, it’s another trip down the tech rabbit hole, and it began exactly at 3:00am, EDT this past Friday.
The very moment the new iPhone 6 was supposed to become available for preorders online.
(and a full week before it hits stores)

Yes, I had become one of ‘them…’

Am I a crazy devotee who waits on line for hours or days to be one of the first to own the next Apple device?

  • No, I hate lines.

Had I somehow leapfrogged ahead in my tech-ownership rules of engagement and become a cool early adopter?

  • No, I still stand by my standard position to let everyone else work all the kinks out of a new tech product.

Had some smarter life force taken over my brain to simplify my life?

  • Quite possibly.

I Can See the Future
Yes, I would attempt to pre-order an iPhone 6 moments after its release online in the wee hours of the morning. As unnecessary as that sounds, I decided my fanatic decision would also create a cascading sense of well being in my life…

  • It would free me from the need to methodically research whether the next iPhone was any good.
    (I think we all know what we’re getting by now…)
  • And then I won’t be disappointed when the first batch of iPhones quickly sells out.
  • I won’t have to worry about when stores finally restock them…
  • And get angry when it’s still months later until I finally acquire one…
  • And I won’t get all worked up when some of my friends claim to have simply walked into an empty AT&T or Verizon store and picked up their new iPhone like it was a loaf of bread.

All this future heartache is avoidable if I just do the overnight Apple dance and have my shiny new iPhone shipped to my home.
(A more civilized next-morning online purchase plan with a cup of Joe might be too late, resulting in a multi-week shipping delay.)

The Best-Laid Plans…
Truthfully though, who in his right mind really wants to get up at 3am to buy anything?
(even to replace my old iPhone 4S)

But I convinced myself I would also be able to go back to sleep within mere minutes of beginning my overnight mission. I would salvage my remaining R.E.M. sleep and wake up the next morning the proud owner of the next iPhone…

What could possibly go wrong…?

Supersize It?
So like the rest of you Apple die-hards, I’ve been struggling with the new ‘Plus’ choice.

I really like the larger screen size of the iPhone 6 Plus, but the big question is will it fit into my trouser pocket?!

Fortunately, after some quick Googling, I uncovered a useful ‘pre-order picker’ PDF that AppleInsider.com has posted online. It’s a helpful, printable diagram with accurately sized outlines of an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

So I printed the PDF, cut out the iPhone 6 Plus and traced it onto a piece of cardboard from a recent Amazon shipment box…

My four year old watched this activity with great interest… Then, he immediately initiated his own project with the remaining iPhone 6 outline.
(Like father, like son… I’m so proud!)

I taped the pieces together and placed my new cardboard iPhone 6 Plus into my pocket.

And then I went to work…

Will the iPhone 6 Plus Fit in Your Pocket?
I carried the cardboard cutout around with me all day.

I took out my paper clone every so often and held it in my hand. Then, I slid it back in to see if it would fall out of my pocket.
Granted, my mock-up was a little thinner and lighter than the real deal, but it wasn’t a bad approximation.

Occasionally, I was in the presence of other colleagues when going through my little exercise.

“What’s that?”

“Oh, this is the size of the iPhone 6 Plus, and I’m testing it out before I decide to buy one.”

“Uh huh.”

If there were two or more people watching me, they’d glance at each other knowingly and roll their eyes.

But then I’d ask, “Do you want to try it?”

And after a short pause, everyone jumped at the opportunity.
Because we were still a week away before anyone could test out a real one in an Apple Store.
(So I had something of an exclusive!)

Everybody took a turn holding my cardboard iPhone 6 Plus.
And then, all my new test subjects quickly had an opinion to share on its larger size.
(It was quite a conversation starter!)

So maybe I’m not such a geek after all.
(…maybe)

My informal work survey split about 50/50 on whether the iPhone ‘phablet’ was too big.

But when I got home, I had my decision: I was confident the iPhone 6 Plus would fit into the many pockets of my life!

All that was left to do was to set my alarm clock…

3AM

It’s Time to Wake Up!
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with an early wakeup call…
(And midnight really isn’t that late if you happen to be on the West Coast…)

Here’s how it all went down…

3:00am EDT
I jump onto the online Apple Store.
I immediately sense I’m on an endless line.
I read, “We’ll be back…
We’re busy updating the Apple Store for you and will be back soon.”

We'll be back

This continues for the next hour and five minutes.

3:24am…
I decide to check out AT&T’s website.
Yep, it’s selling the iPhone 6, but the small print talks about 14-21 business day shipping. As I ponder the delay, the website crashes (3:44am) and then reboots a few minutes later with “coming soon” next to Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
(easy come… easy go)

ATT is Sorry

3:48am…
I figure I should try calling 1-800-My-Apple. I had nothing else better to do… (except get more sleep!)
I hear, “Due to extremely high call volume, we are unable to answer your call at this time…”
(What am I thinking?! The delirium must be setting in.)

So I wait some more while the Apple Store continues to ‘update.’
(crash)
Grrrrrrrr.
Apparently, I am not alone…

4:05am
I come across a suggestion on CNET to try the Apple Store IOS app.
(It was reportedly standing up better to the online stampede of iPhone buyers.

So I give the app a whirl on my 4S.

Cannot Connect to the Apple Store

But on the second attempt, I’m in!

I feel like I’m starring in a scene from “Mission Impossible!”
Peppy music starts playing in my head as I whisk through each order screen.

But then something unexpected happens.
No, the app doesn’t freeze, but the final ‘Order’ button is grayed out.

A message pops up that suggests there’s been a minor hiccup…

My new iPhone has been reserved, complete with my own reservation number…
…but the order can’t be completed….
…because the Apple servers can’t reach the AT&T servers to confirm my details.

D’ohhh!!

I would receive an email link to complete my order, and I would have to respond to the link within 24 hours or lose my place in line.

We have an iPhone for you

By now, it’s almost 4:30am.
I don’t know whether I should feel satisfied or not.
So I go to bed.
(again)

Morning Brings Clarity
When I wake up, I take a look at my inbox and see a confirming Apple email with my reservation number.
(Well, at least I’ve got a digital paper trail.)

I guess the real question now is whether I will receive my iPhone in the first wave of happy recipients, who were lucky enough to complete their order in the first minutes of the release.

Next, I go to see if the online Apple Store is still down.
No… in fact, it’s chugging away… just like any other day.
Hmmm.
So I perform a few clicks…

And in less than 60 seconds, I‘m where I had hoped to be at 3:02am.

And I think hard about discarding my reservation and striking while the opportunity is right in front of me. Until I realize it’s all too good to be true…
The shipping date has already slipped to 3-4 weeks.

So I let the reservation ride…

Apple Comes Through
I go to work the next morning pondering the intelligence of my entire plan.
Plus I’ve got a headache from the night’s sleep-deprivation…

11:34am
Ping!
The email comes in with the link to complete my purchase.
My heart rate elevates as I quickly navigate to the finish line.

Click.

And what will my wait be until I am to receive “my precious?”
I squint at the fine print…
“Available to ship: 7-10 business days”

Well, that’s doesn’t put the iPhone in my hands on the first day it hits retail Apple Stores, but it’s close.

And more importantly… I’m done!

Apple says thank you

Yes, there’s still the little detail of receiving and activating my new iPhone 6 Plus. But let’s assume that goes smoothly.
(If not, I’m sure you’ll hear about it…)

iPhone or Bust
So what’s the learning here?

No, I wouldn’t consider my iPhone purchasing experience especially quick or smooth.
On the other hand, yes, I successfully bought my iPhone on day one.
And all my waiting did occur in the comfort of my own home.

And now I can’t help but feel a little Schadenfreude as I read that
pre-orders for the iPhone 6 Plus are having ever growing shipping delays.

Hmmm…
I guess all my effort paid off after all.
Soon, I will be at home with my new iPhone.
(Cue some Tech Zen music.)

Now, it’s time to catch up on some sleep…!

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