For some reason, I’ve had lots of recent success at selling my old books and CDs that I no longer want, read, or ogle. It’s not a matter of making money on these “old” objects (which, like “old” Europe, are still quite valuable), but I feel in some way that I’m recycling the object itself, making up for its inherent value as I (obviously could not live up to it. The service I’m using is, well, Amazon.com’s Marketplace, which is very easy to set up and can even automate many selling and transaction tasks. It’s a fine system, and I’m making some good subway fare cash, but I’m also quite aware of the inherent sadness of sending away the objects that I desired so strongly — that old Lou Reed album, the Dreamweaver 4 book, the Dinosaur Jr. CD that I can no longer allow to enter the stereo system for fear of becoming 24 again.
I’ve almost entirely shipped all of my files (exactly 17 GB in size) and about 15 critical design and business applications to the new G4 and I’ve successfully ported all secure data, emails, contacts, website information, and photo files to the new machine. It only took hours and hours of time, but I’m a happy camper and I’m now going to sleep. Ahh, sleep. Now, if I could only get rid of that pesky ringing in my ear.
Many people have written me about the origin or original meaning of the aphorism “Arranging the Deckchairs on the Titanic,” and I’ve spent a good deal of time researching it on the Web, with very little to show for it. The saying essentially means, of course, doing ridiculous activites in the face of crippling adversity. I believe that the title, recommended by friend V.S. for this blog a few years ago, is ironically apt and, in fact, perhaps applies to many weblogs. I mean this as a compliment.
More interestingly, I asked a Google Researcher to help with finding more information about the aphorism and I found, much to my great surprise, that it originates sometime in the early 1970s, when I was a tike, and not in the 1920s, when I was, well, nothing. It appears that the phrase was originally in reference to PR debacle. The researcher, who was paid for his services through the excellent Google Answers wrote:
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (5th Ed. 1999), page 533, lists a
quotation from the Washington Post, 16 May 1976, by Rogers Morton,
American public relations officer: “I’m not going to rearrange the
furniture on the deck of the Titanic.” The context, according to the
dictionary, was that Morton had lost five of the last six primaries as
President Ford’s campaign manager.
I’ll write more about this later, but here is the full Google report.
I called Apple today and, with the sternest voice I could muster at 10:00 am, asked that the company “remedy” the situation described below. They did. Apple provided a refund of their calculated difference (albeit, it’s less than my own calculation) for the G4 then and the G4 now. Once more, I hand it to Apple for being customer-savvy.
What I don’t quite understand is why Apple, and other software and hardware manufacturers, cannot stick to an annual schedule or at least a public, published one whereby folks can decide whether to purchase Pumpkin XYY before Pumpkin XYZ comes out. Car manufacturers do this and the transparency of knowing the value of your “older” product provides car dealers and their customers massive price and stocking leverage. It also demonstrates a more serious, mature pricing system than just “surprising” folks about the latest and greatest when the new product may not even be available, as Apple has done. I’m all for interesting marketing techniques and means to generate buzz, but isn’t it time for technology manufacturers to grow up?
Sometimes there are days when everything happens at once. Today was let’s-change-everything-computer-wise-on-Andrew-day-and-see-what-happens.
11:00 AM. I started loading my new G4 with lots of RAM and hard drive space with my applications. So far so good.
12:30 PM. I find talk in one of the bulletin boards that Safari has been upgraded from Beta to Gold (which is long for Go?). I’ve been waiting and hoping for this and it’s true.
12:40 PM. The new Safari browser that I just downloaded takes me to the Apple website homepage, which shows that the company just released its G5 computer, making my brand new G4 fundamentally obsolete. Plus, I wasted money, time, and energy on this old computer, which runs spectacularly, by the way.
1:30 PM. I can’t easily restart the new G4 because it doesn’t have a nice, little Power On/Off button in the middle of the keyboard. I’m pretty sure that the sleek new G5 has a keyboard bellybutton.
11:15 PM. After continuing to load my apps on the G4, I feel a need to post something on Deckchairs — a need borne by desire. And Blogger Pro looks different, strange even. It has an entirely new interface and I’m not sure if I’m just looking at it oddly in Safari, I’m on some kind of new G4 medication, or Apple has done a new number on me.
This is a really well-written and edited site chock full of real interviews with “creative people in a technical world.” Today’s piece is about Mr. Zeldman, who will promote again and again to whoever will listen (that means the 3 of you). But it’s a nice, if underproduced, site.
In case you ever wondered what your exact coordinates are on this planet Earth, you might want to look at the U.S. Census Bureau’s Map Server.
The ACME Mapper is way cooler, showing you a satellite photograph of your location — there’s little image detail so you won’t see yourself waving but it’s still quite astounding.
Finally, I pulled together a few hours to prettify a few of my sites, including this one, with customized favicons. If you’re viewing this site in Netscape, Safari, Chimera, or Mozilla, you should see at the left of the address bar a teeny weeny, 16×16 pixel icon of a deckchair. And at MANOVERBOARD.com, you should see a little red man pointing over a board. Boy, those 256 pixels sure do make me giddy with the novelty of reinvention. I think I now know (a little) what artists who draw mountains on single grains of rice must feel like.
About four years ago, a friend told me that I really need to watch this site, whose tagline is “vertias odit moras”, and is really an academically-oriented review of and pointer to news, culture, and criticism on the Web. I went back to the site today, after sadly ignoring it for four years and while its appearance is almost exactly the same, the content is unbelievably good.
Here are some highlights: Susan Sontag calls for English or an international lingua franca, in the TLS. Only 47 items are currently missing from the Baghdad Museum, out of 8000 originally, in the Washington Post. A feature by Elizabeth Drew, in the New York Review of Books, about Bush Neocons. I’m truly flabbergasted at the linking, culling, curating, and editing talent of ALDaily.
In many ways, this was to be expected: MS gives over its browser-ware to Apple and its new Safari. Does this mean that alternative browsers like Mozilla, Opera, and even Netscape have an opportunity here to rule the Mac world? Yes, but it means absolutely very little at this point in time. Apple is aggressively stationed to create its own superior utilities and other software and the reality is that few large companies, other than Adobe and Macromedia, care.