Try to appreciate that life usually looks very different through someone else’s eyes and experiences. “What is it with these idiots and ‘road rage’?” I used to think. “It’s pretty freaking sad if someone cuts you off in traffic and you can’t simply deal with it.”
And then I got my first iPod cassette adapter.
It worked great for a good long while, but then some crucial atom inside either the adapter or my car’s tape deck decayed. Once every half an hour or so, I can count on my podcast or musical reverie being interrupted by the clk-CLK of the deck’s auto-reverse feature and then…silence.
“…Which is why, when the data was finally tabulated, the worldwide scientific community reached a terrifying but incontrovertible conclusion: By the year 2012…”
(Ihnatko reaches over and taps the “Tuning” button to manually re-reverse the playback head)
“…including most mammalian life on the planet. But the effect would actually leave many parts of the planet unscathed. If you live in…”
(Ihnatko reaches over again. He taps the button with greater force and impatience this time)
“…during the last break, Debbie here admitted to having a huge, girl/boy type of crush on her favorite technology columnist. I don’t know if he even listens to this podcast, but she has some photos she’d like to send him privately, if you get my meaning. So if you’re listening, Mr…oh, I just know I’m not going to pronounce this correctly…”
And at this point, I’m punching the button with the knuckles of my fist and yelling “Gawd-DAMMIT!!!“
(No voting on this one: hands-down the chewiest and most satisfying of all curses.)
Which would actually be quite an appropriate reaction if denial of personalized naked pictures were involved. But I find this error so annoying that I’m sometimes even shouting during, say, an NPR program about the decline of the Sudanese tradition of sock-puzzles. That ain’t healthy.
It’s endlessly infuriating and infinitely frustrating. In general, I mean. The worst possible feature for any piece of technology is one that makes decisions on your behalf, which often gets those decisions wrong, and which can’t be turned off or adjusted.
“Just. Do. Nothing!” I keep seething to the tape deck. “Don’t make any decisions of any kind. Do nothing, and you will be working perfectly!!!“
This type of problem keeps rearing its head over and over again. There’s the presentation program that automatically snaps items to a center grid whenever you drag something anywhere close to it. The photo organizer that won’t let you crop a photo with any precision, because every time you drag the selection rectangle into a certain section of airspace, a floating “filmstrip” window that you never use and can’t disable fades into view, obscuring your vision. You could set the clock on a new component manually in about eight seconds…but no, the machine would rather spend ten minutes trying and fail to set itself automatically via radio.
And so, the hunt is finally on for some sort of hardwired car solution for my iPod and iPhone. FM transmitters? Good idea, but unfortunately I live in that rare part of the country where FM radio stations are still being operated. Most FM adapters can’t even deliver clean iPod audio in my driveway. Those few that can get clobbered by a nearby station within the first two miles.
It’s probably going to come down to having a new radio put in…one with an MP3 input jack. I’ve avoided this up until now, because I happen to drive a fine automobile that’s well within the means of a freelance journalist in this economy who works out of his house and doesn’t need to commute anywhere in the morning.
IE, it’s a bit of a beater. A $200 radio wouldn’t double the value of the car, but the percentage increase might actually be in the double digits.
Nonetheless, it’s time. I fear that if I let this sad state of affairs continue, the day will come when I’m delivering the live version of this blog post to a police officer while my vehicle is idling in the town common’s new drive-through gazebo.