Apple’s event announced for…zzzz…

The Verge1Not singling them out, since every tech site will have the same vapid article had an article on what to expect at Apple’s next event, revealed today to be on September 12, 2023. They said there would be a new iPhone announced. You know, like what Apple has done every year for the past million years. The new phone will have stuff and blah blah blah.

I mean, I’m not expecting dramatic innovations in smartphones, especially from Apple, a company that gets more conservative and convinced of its own brilliance the richer it gets, so I suppose my complaint (because let’s face it, complaining is what I am doing here) is how the announcement of a slightly improved iPhone is still an “event” at all. I know, the hype machine must be fed. Everyone does it. But it just feels so tired and late stage capitalism-y. Look at the new shiny! Buy it even though you don’t need it! Watch Tim Cook continue to show the fire and emotion of a bucket of water! You’re going to love it, it’s their best iPhone ever! And so on.

I have an iPhone 12 and I think the only thing that would make me upgrade to something newer is a super fantastic camera. It can’t be just super, or fantastic, it must be BOTH! And then I may consider getting a new phone.



Time to watch Peter Gabriel again.

Customer service fun time with Telus

man wearing brown suit jacket mocking on white telephone
No actual yelling on the phone took place. Also, I don’t have nice hair like this guy. Or hair. Photo by Moose Photos on

First, let me start by saying that I worked many years in tech support and have spent a lot of time trying to help people. I know a lot of people suck, but I also know that reps, whether for tech or customer support, are often obligated to stick to scripts, ask certain questions and say certain things.

I get it.

It’s still bloody annoying.

Recently, I decided to make some changes to my Telus Optik TV package. They allow you to make changes to your plan online–I had done so in the past. Now, all I would get when clicking the appropriate link from my online account is an error message. This one:

I tried again today…same error. So I called the 800 number and girded myself. My request was simple: “I don’t watch regular TV, so I would like to cancel my Optik TV package but keep my internet service.”

This is how it went:

  1. I call, and I am put on hold for a few minutes. This is not bad. However, extremely loud hold music plays while I’m waiting. I turn my phone volume down. Remember the olden days when your only option was to hold the receiver away from your ear? Dark ages!
  2. The customer representative (henceforth “rep”) greets me and asks for my account-related info.
  3. Rep audibly gasps when I say I want to cancel my TV service. I don’t know if this is scripted or just a dramatic bonus.
  4. Rep: “Please wait while I check your account” and “I’ll call YOU back if we get disconnected.” I never find out what exactly she was checking for, but I have theories1.
  5. 10 minutes of silence follows. No hold music plays, so I don’t think I’m on actual hold. About eight minutes in, she pops up to assure me it will just be a few more minutes (this is accurate).
  6. Rep moves to next stage: retention/talking me out of cancelling. Rep offers other TV plans/bundles, including one that vaguely sounds like I’d pay less for the internet part (good) but still pay for the TV part (bad). I decline all offers.
  7. Rep switches to offering other services, like security cameras, etc. I decline these.
  8. By now I am visibly annoyed. I tell her to stop trying to upsell me stuff and to just cancel the TV service, or I would ask to speak to a manager.
  9. Rep finally relents and tells me how to return the PVR after I get confirmation by email on the cancellation. She seems unfazed by the whole thing, as if we’d just started the call. Rep tells me service is now cancelled and tells me to have a wonderful day.
  10. Total time: Felt like forever.

I got two emails shortly after, one saying I’d been removed from the Optik TV service, and another confirming the cancellation. I checked the TV and verified that, yep, I no longer had access. Fast! In a day or so, I’ll receive another email with a waybill I can print in order to ship the PVR and remote back to them (no charge).

As I said, I appreciate that these people have to follow a script, but the whole process is repellant and a waste of time. A few clicks on their website would have worked, but it’s been broken for months (and I had a long chat with another Telus rep about it; she finally advised me to just call to make changes to my account if the site remained broken. Great show of confidence in your web team! And justified, as it turned out).

  1. Theory 1: Simply hoping I’d get tired of the silence, hang up, and the rep would “forget” to call back, ensuring no cancellation takes place. Unethical and probably illegal, so not very likely. Theory 2: She is checking past bundles and packages I’ve had in preparation for the next part of the phone call: convincing me to not cancel. ↩︎

Haiku for seasonal allergies

So you try to breathe
But nothing gets through your nose
Allergies are great

Okay, even by my low standards, that haiku basically sucked.

But who even knows if they’re allergies or something gone totally defective in my sinuses? It’s funny in a way, because as annoying as it is to have my nose almost perpetually plugged up, I’ve kind of gotten used to it. I guess this proves the old adage that you can get used to almost anything.

And addicted to nasal spray.

No, not addicted. I can stop any time. Any season. A season without allergies. The best season.

That’s it, I’m going to bed. Or have a bath. Something to take my mind off my nose.

* Possibly not an old adage

About that summer cold…

I am getting more stuffed up as the evening progresses. I do not like this. But I’m not complaining.

Yes, I am. I am totally complaining.

I’m going to re-read A Complaint Free World. I need to get back on the complaint-free bandwagon.

And never catch another cold again.

Fake edit: I have just ordered an official™ Complaint Free bracelet. It’s purple, so I’m pretty excited. It will apparently take 10-25 days to get here, so I’m going to get in a serious pile of complaining in the meantime, as a healthy way of purging it from my system. Yep.

April, the shortest month of the year (when it comes to blog posts)

April was a bad month. Let me make a list:

  • I bombed out on a relatively easy goal for Camp NaNoWriMo 2018
  • I had to visit the emergency room after two days of throbbing pain in my mouth
  • I had to visit the dentist due to the above and get a semi-tooth yoinked due to infection
  • I had to take antibiotics due to the above which have fun side effects like diahhrea
  • I barely ran at all due to weather, my suddenly sore knees and general ennui
  • I gained 1.1 pounds (I’m actually surprised it wasn’t more)
  • I felt like no progress was made in work-related matters (this may change)
  • I wrote almost no fiction at all
  • My one-post-per-day blog rule fell to dust (this is post #21 and I’m pretty sure I’m not cranking out nine more tonight)
  • Other stuff

There were also some good things and I am more hopeful for May. If nothing else the weather should be better.

Also I’m going to start the 21-day complaint-free challenge again. I feel like I went from being super-observant in watching what I was saying (ie. complaining) to just opening my mouth and spewing rants almost randomly. I need to get back on track and find my inner teddy bear.

In which Chance Miller showcases the world’s largest couch

How else do you explain this line in his review of the Zag Slim Book keyboard for the 10.5″ iPad Pro?

I’ve spent far too many hours searching in couch cushions for my Apple Pencil

Does Chance Miller really spend hours looking for his Apple Pencil in his couch? Is his couch as big as a city block? Perhaps. I’ve seen some pretty big couches. Or maybe he is perpetually losing it in every couch he encounters, as he goes through life dangerously nurturing his couch obsession, risking permanent loss of his Apple Pencil.

More curiously, he states that “I’m hard-pressed to find a reason to choose the Slim Book over the Smart Keyboard” then lists the Slim Book’s superior features:

  • a holder for the Apple Pencil (take that, couches!)
  • backlit keys
  • lasts for up to two years on battery
  • costs less
  • a full set of function keys (wait, he doesn’t even mention this, though they are plainly visible in the review’s screenshots)
  • a decent amount of travel in the keys
  • is easier to use on your lap
  • is more versatile, with multiple viewing angles
  • includes a palm rest
  • has a much sturdier stand

It’s clear why one would be hard-pressed to find a reason to choose the Slim Book when its list of superior features is as big as a couch.

But wait, let me provide the full quote from above:

I’m hard-pressed to find a reason to choose the Slim Book over the Smart Keyboard, but I’ve grown very accustomed to the typing experience the Smart Keyboard provides

Thus proving himself utterly mad for preferring the terrible, joyless, noisy MacBook Pro keyboard. Okay, to be fair, I actually find the Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro to be superior in feel to that of the new MacBook Pro, but he still professes “to love” Apple’s keyboard design and specifically calls out the MacBook Pro. Insanity!

Mostly, I wished he had written “I’ve spent far too many years searching in couch cushions for my Apple Pencil” just to see if the editor was paying attention.

I bought a book about not complaining (this is not a complaint)

I picked up a book about not complaining. It was on sale, so I certainly will not complain about the price. We’ll see if it, along with my newly-infused Kaizen brain, can overcome the negativity and gloom that has descended over me during the past year.

I’ll admit, it would help if Trump got kidnapped by Bigfoot, too, but I can’t pin my hopes on such a happy thing occurring.

So here’s hoping A Complaint Free World helps.

I’m typing this on my MacBook Pro, so I’m going to get in one last complaint, again regarding its extremely low travel keyboard: Do not like.

There, done!

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Cranky Sunday

My inbox is now filling up with notifications of great Cyber Monday deals, which, by coincidence, are pretty much exactly the same as the Black Friday deals. This and another four weeks of Christmas music everywhere you turn.

It’s not that I hate the holidays or anything…but I kind of do. Christmas in particular–you know, that nutty holiday originally celebrated as the birth of Christ–is now like U.S. elections, seemingly never-ending. And there is no subtle context here, no need to dig to find the reasons, it’s simply because the retail sector wants us to buy their junk and if they can convince you to start Christmas shopping in September, I guess they figure you’ll buy more stuff rather than just get your shopping done three months early and spend the rest of the time annoyed by the millionth playing of “Jingle Bells” on any store’s music system.

The best part about my complaint is that A Charlie Brown Christmas pointed all of this out 50 years ago, and It’s a Wonderful Life did it 19 years before that, in 1946. I’m pretty sure there are cave drawings of carolers being attacked. This is to say that not only is my complaint not new, it’s as old as the universe itself, or pretty close.

Anyway, as part of the Black Friday consumer madness I went out and bought groceries, none of which was holiday-themed.

Then today I went out and bought an Apple Watch. But I did it because my partner also got one and somehow that made it seem logical and proper. Plus today is neither Black Friday nor Cyber Monday. So I’m good.


(I’ll have my thoughts on the watch in a few days or so once I’ve gotten used to it. I got the smaller 38 mm model and will say already that it’s lighter and more svelte than I had expected, so that’s a plus. I kind of think Steve Jobs would have hated it, though. More soon™.)

But I registered!

The other day I found that my copy of mIRC was showing as unregistered, with the nag screen back in place, something I hadn’t seen for years. I’d just done a Windows update so naturally assumed it was to blame because it was a convenient coincidence.

I had my doubts, though, so when mIRC opened a browser tab that took me to a handy “register your copy of mIRC” page, I looked it over and found this:

Question: Will my registration work with newer versions of mIRC?
Answer: If you are a home user, your registration entitles you to ten years of free updates to new versions of mIRC.

I looked up my original registration email and discovered I had done so in 2004. I actually got a bonus year out of registering, apparently. Strangely, I was still annoyed. On the one hand, getting to use the software for ten years before having to pay again is a pretty good deal when most similar recurring licenses (Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.) charge yearly. And yet there was something about the program wiping out my registration as if it never existed–and doing so without warning–that rubbed me the wrong way. I started looking at open source IRC clients but eleven years of using mIRC has made me very comfortable with its interface (and quirks and flaws, of which it has more than a few).

Right now I am running it in “free” mode and putting up with the nag screen while I ponder what to do. I’ll probably pony up the $15 registration fee and be good until 2025. By then I’ll have forgotten all of this and will write this post again.

Physician, heal thy selfie

All you need to know about the decline of our civilization is that iOS 9 includes a new “selfies” folder for photos. The geniuses at Apple (they have geniuses there, you can book appointments with them at Apple stores) believe that enough people use their iPhones (or iPads, perhaps even the gigantic iPad Pro coming out in a few months) to take photos of themselves with the front-facing camera to warrant a specific storage location for said images. And they are correct, as the web is awash in digital self-portraits.

Admittedly, my complaint (er, observation) feels somewhat “old man yells at cloud.” It may be that we as a (modern) society have always been vain, it just wasn’t as easy to record in high-definition sound and pictures and spread like some doomsday flu all over the world.

Not surprisingly, there is actually a collection of iPad selfies put together to (wordlessly) mock the very concept, on a website also not surprisingly called Here’s one that nicely illustrates how most tablet selfies simply make the operator look like they don’t know how to use a tablet:

Just about to give the iPad a good scrubbing in the sink, no doubt.

In the future we’ll probably have micro-drones following us that are programmed to take the equivalent of selfies at key moments, using sophisticated algorithms to detect important events like “having food for lunch” or “posing with BFF for the billionth time” or even “chasing away fearful old man who hates how technology enables people.” Big Picture Edition

engadget is a fluffy tech website. It doesn’t provide pages of benchmarks and charts like AnandTech or in-depth analysis like Ars Technica. It provides stories about consumer electronics in simple, easily-digested stories. And that’s okay. I don’t always want comprehensive.

The site has apparently gone through a quiet redesign in the last few days or an intern has gotten his unauthorized hands on the code. The main change is the left column that lists stories in chronological order has been widened. Eyeballing it, it now seems to occupy a little over two-thirds of the page. As every story also includes an image below the headline, the images are correspondingly bigger, too. The image in the Vimeo story shown below is 960×535 pixels. My browser window (on a 24″ 1920×1200 pixel monitor) is currently sized to 1512×1000 pixels (this is somewhat randomly chosen but seems to work for my browsing needs). This means the image–a stock photo of an iPhone showing Vimeo’s Cameo app icon–is the single largest element in my browser window. The actual content of the story is reduced to three lines before I need to scroll to see the rest of it.

Larger than life
Would you like a very big image? Yes, you would!

Having stock photos and other unneeded images dominate the page is bad design. I don’t know why they would do this, there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for it.

Anyway, I don’t have the time or inclination to complain further. I’ll just stop here with another image of another story from the site. Enjoy very large stock image!

Also larger than life
Robot hand likes friendly pretend smartphone.