Submit Questions for Apple Fanatics!

courtesy: gizmodo.com

 If you haven’t heard, Apple’s highly anticipated iPad will hit stores Saturday morning at 9 a.m. It’s the most hyped product from Apple since the iPhone, so you can expect a healthy line outside of every Apple Store in the country. I’ll be at the Apple Store at Pioneer Square Mall in Portland Friday night and Saturday morning. (No, I’m not getting one.)

My mission: Interview the biggest Apple fanatics who’ll be camping outside the mall to drop $500 on a device they’ve never seen or touched.

I need your help! What should I ask these Steve Jobsians?

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Confessions of an E-mail Hoarder

On another note, what inspired this pose? No human has ever posed like this before.

I’m something of an e-mail hoarder. For whatever reason, I just can never find the resolve to delete e-mails for fear they may contain information I’ll need later on, be it a login ID, a password or an alibi for a murder conviction.

As it stands, there’s more than 850 e-mails on my work e-mail account and my personal Gmail account is flirting with 1,000. I realize it’s a problem, and at my lowest points, I pause and think about what it would be like if I had the same issue with snail mail. I picture envelopes stacked to the ceiling, my girlfriend crying a lot, A&E sending a camera crew. So yeah, it could be worse.

It’s sad how the personal e-mail has all but disappeared. I never saw that one coming. If I receive a personal message from friends or colleagues, I’m usually getting it through Facebook or Twitter. That makes my hoarding problem worse on two levels. First, any time someone sends me a message on Facebook or Twitter, I get an e-mail letting me know so. That means I get a message letting me know I’ve received a message on Facebook or Twitter. Secondly, if the hundreds of e-mails I’m stockpiling have no personal or sentimental value whatsoever, what does that say about my hoarding habits?

In other words, what in the hell am I holding on to?

I’ve come to characterize shopping online as a series of one-night stands which are horribly misinterpreted by the sites at which I shop. For instance, if I purchase a solitary T-shirt from eastbay.com, I’ll receive two e-mails per week for the rest of my natural life alerting me of any and all sales pertaining to male size XL T-shirts. Thanks, eastbay.com.

To make a purchase online, 99.4 percent of the time you have to submit an e-mail address. With that, the stores play the role of scorned ex-lover.

At first, it’s innocent: All New Era hats now 15% for our spring training sale!

After a while of ignoring the e-mails, they get more aggressive: I know you like New Era hats. You bought one two months ago. Remember? I do.

It’s not long before you totally forget you ever shopped at the Web site. Things turn desperate: You never shop me anymore! What is it?! Was it something I sold?! Are you shopping somewhere else?!

In this poorly conceived metaphor, labeling e-mails “trash” would act as filing a restraining order. The problem is, I forget to divert e-mails of this nature to my trash bin, so instead, my inbox makes me look like a one-timing, no good e-commerce slut. And really, I can’t disagree. I like variety.

This one’s on me, I know. Maybe my spring cleaning this year ought to include my inboxes. Search “inbox management” on Google and you’ll get 21,600,000 sites. Misery loves company and clearly I’m alone.

What does your inbox look like? Any e-mails you just can’t bring yourself to delete? Any embarrassing inbox overflow stories?

Google Knocks Tiger in Super Bowl Ad

No one’s going to see this ad and think, “Google? What’s Google?”

The ad is completely unnecessary. Google is the most popular Internet search engine in the world.

But, how awesome is it that they scrapped together a few bucks to air this thing during the Super Bowl? Apparently, we’re to the stage where Tiger’s extracurriculars are just good material.

This is really all I have to offer today for TMT. I don’t give a damn who wins the Super Bowl, but I’m watching it. I’ve been watching the pregame show for the past two hours and there’s still two hours to go. It’s a sad day for football fans, as this is the last consequential football game for a good eight months. My Minnesota Vikings should be playing today. This should be one of the most memorable days of my life as a sports fan.

Bloody hell.

My prediction: Colts 34, Saints 23. Manning should change his name from “Peyton” to “Patton.” He’s the best quarterback in the NFL, and while he’s the blandest, most vanilla star athlete in pro sports, you have to admire the fact he’s really, really good at what he does because he puts in the work.

Jesus, listen to me. I sound like Jim Nance.

My Shameless Mug Plug for Uncle Mark

Mark is aware of my rampant Twitter usage. I'm not so sure he approves.

My uncle, Mark, is a marketing genius. He’s got a sweet promotion going on over at his blog, Ninth and Pratt. You can win won of these classy coffee mugs, signed and sent by Mark, just for referring a few folks to his blog.

I’m promising a share of tonight’s $115M Powerball jackpot for TMT visitors who commented a few posts ago. I hate to be the one to say, but we’re probably not going to win. Mark’s blog, on the other hand, is offering a very real, very redeemable coffee mug. (You’ll find the details there.)

Why do we do these things? To drive traffic, but what that really means is widening our audience and gaining a better understanding of just who we are writing for. Both of our blogs are non-profit. We simply want to reach as many people as we can, because as writers, that’s a thrill. Because of this, we’re willing to give away dishware or a fraction of  $115 million.

Now, go get your mug, which is great for sipping on coffee whilst reading The Miller Times and Ninth and Pratt.

My Humbling Post Office Experience

A few years back, I was in this nondescript testing center in Edina, MN, filling out a privacy agreement prior to taking my GREs. I’d studied for a good four hours the night before and gone through a series of preparations in the weeks leading up to the exam. A solid score meant I could possibly pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Iowa, Arizona or maybe Oregon State. (That’s what I thought at the time, anyway. Silly boy.)

The test? No trouble at all.

The hardest part? Rewriting the privacy agreement in cursive. The statement was about 60 words long, and I remember sitting in a room with several others prior to the test, laboring over how to make a lower-case “Q” when I should’ve been more concerned about the actual test. It literally took me 20 minutes to rewrite the statement, and in the process, I nearly blew out my wrist and forgot math. (That’s the excuse I use for my less-than-desirable math score.)

I don’t know how to write cursive. In fact, I don’t know a lot of things that were really, really basic just a decade or two ago. And that’s what this post is about because yesterday, again, exemplified how naive and ignorant technology has made me.

I just sold a pair of shoes on eBay, so I needed to send them to the buyer in California. Seems easy enough, right? Put the shoes in the box, put the box in the mail? Well, eBay has this rather convoluted process for sellers where one is referred to the PayPal Web site to print off a shipping label. I know about as much about shipping as I do pop culture in Sri Lanka, so this is where my confusion began.

I printed the label made for a box much larger than the one I was actually sending. Better safe than sorry, I assumed. I figured I couldn’t just slap a label on a Nike shoebox, so I wrapped it with pages from the Willamette Week. Not really paying attention as I went along, I ended up wrapping the box with the personal ads and the ad section which features nearly all of Portland’s strip clubs. When the wrapping was complete, the box looked a little like a porn bomb — something you might expect from Ron Jeremy or the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

It’s important you know I’m the guy who will stop at a gas station when lost. I know myself too well to not ask for directions. I can play up humility to the point where I probably sound ditzy, but I like to think of it as good old fashioned self-degradation:

Me: “Say, I’m a product of the South Dakota public school system. Can you tell me how to get to 47th and Main?”

Helpful Stranger: “Oh, wow. Yeah, no problem. Take your second left and then a right.”

I took this approach at the post office in the Pearl District where I sought out the least threatening female employ. Her name tag said Sandy and she’d pimped out her navy blue U.S. Postal Service shirt with various buttons and ornaments. She had to be someone’s grandma, so I expected some mercy.

“Look, this is really embarrassing but I need help sending this package,” I said.

She looked over the package and shook her head, which she then began to scratch.

“OK, first off, you’re going to need to tape down these corners and that label needs to be secured to the box. It looks like you’ve got a little extra weight to work with but that’s OK. Priority mail? That’s fine. You want that. Look, take this tape roller, go over there, secure the package, drop it in the blue box in the corner, and you’re good. OK, doll? Does any of that confuse you?”

Have you ever tried to teach your parents technology? What about your grandparents? My grandfather got a laptop computer just a few years ago and its in a permanent state of disfunction whenever I go to visit him. Patiently, I try to explain how to better use the computer and not click on every ad that claims he’s a winner. I tell him some e-mails aren’t appropriate to send along, because they might be considered rude or offensive. I try to explain viruses and spam, but I worry he thinks there’s actual germs, bacteria and canned eat inside his computer. I try to keep things simple.

How strange it was to be on the other end of the spectrum, where I know everything in the world about technology, but postage? Shipping? Cursive? That’s where Sandy, my grandpa, my parents or any number of elders have me beat. It’s a total role reversal, which makes me think my ability to use technology is still a strength, but my reliance upon it is a weakness.

Rotten Apple

"We're proud to announce the iMiller, which will feature ball-bearing joints, an LCD facial display, a rechargeable lithium-ion heart and wireless earbuds installed in each cochlea. Plus, it's fully iTunes compatible."

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want Steve Jobs to design my first child. Or I used to, anyway.

I’m on my second Apple laptop, my fourth iPod, and my first iPhone. I visit Macrumors.com daily to see what Apple’s cooking up. I clear my schedule so I can watch every Apple keynote speech live (including the upcoming address on January 27, where Jobs is expected to give the first glimpse of Apple’s highly anticipated tablet.) I worship in the Church of Apple.

Imagine my shock when I started having issues with my most recent iPod, the third-generation Shuffle.

The in-line remote for the third-generation iPod Shuffle is perhaps Apple's biggest gaffe as a company.

It was the No. 1 item on my Christmas list for the reason you might expect: It’s ridiculously small and perfect for working out. My previous iPod — the second-generation nano — was boosted from my car back in September. It, too, was a great size for working out and running. However, when I needed a replacement iPod, I went for Apple’s $60 alternative. It’s small enough to lose in your pocket, holds 500 songs and, impressively, uses an in-line remote where users can control their music and volume without fumbling with the iPod itself.

One minor problem with the iPod Shuffle’s in-line remote: It can’t handle moisture. Like, none. Here’s an iPod perfectly engineered for working out and working up a sweat. The only problem is once sweat begins to run down the cord of the earbuds and into the remote, things go seriously awry.

In my case, the moment I break a sweat, the volume on my iPod goes down, little by little. Then, the voiceover feature — which announces the song and artist when the remote is pressed and held — begins to repeat over and over. The volume becomes nearly inaudible, and I hear a male robotic voice repeat “YOU. MAKE. MY. DREAMS. COME. TRUE. BY. HALL. AND. OATES.” a dozen times before I come to terms with the reality Apple has seriously violated my trust.

This is where it starts. Tiger Woods runs into a fire hydrant. Barry Bonds claims he didn’t know what he was taking. Mariah Carey stars in Glitter. Tom Cruise jumps on a couch.  Chris Brown punches Rihanna. James Frey admits he fudged some details. Britney Spears beats an SUV with an umbrella. Bill Clinton denies sexual relations. Apple creates a faulty iPod.

All good things come to an end, right? It’s only a matter of time before something once thought perfect shows its single flaw. I’ve invested roughly $6,000 in Apple products because I stand by the company and I believe they make the best computers, MP3 players and smartphones. I could stroll on over to the Apple Store just a few blocks from my apartment, raise a fuss and demand a refund. Instead, I’ve gone all MacGyver on my headphones, securing the vulnerable in-line remote with Saran wrap and rubber bands. My iPod Shuffle doesn’t look as sleek and sexy as intended, but now it is fully functional and damn near waterproof.

Sometimes, it’s about making the most of a less than desirable situation. No one — and nothing — is perfect. In this case, it’s about not letting one rotten Apple product spoil the whole bunch.

Selling my iPod…Getting an iPhone…

I’ve had it with BlackBerry and T-Mobile.

My second straight BlackBerry has prematurely gone down the crapper and T-Mobile hasn’t been any help. So, rather than buy another BlackBerry off eBay or buy one at full price (for nearly $400), I’m selling my iPod Touch — which I never use — to help pay off the $200 contract termination fee. My BlackBerry Pearl will probably be sacrificed via fireworks this July 4th.

This is the first time I’ve used eBay as a seller. It was quick and easy and I’m hoping I get some reasonable offers.

675169479_d50503fe65_mNow, on to the iPhone. Apple announced last week the entry-level iPhone 3G has been lowered from $299 to $99. It’s already the most impressive SmartPhone on the market. At $99, it should sell even more. The only hold-up, of course, is that AT&T still has exclusive rights to the iPhone. While I’m not exactly excited about having to switch carriers, I’m looking forward to using a quality program.

For the record, I’ve owned/purchased:

  • iBook G4 laptop computer ($1,000)
  • MacBook laptop computer ($1,500)
  • iPod mini ($200)
  • iPod nano ($200)
  • iPod Touch ($270)

It pains me to do the math, but after I get this iPhone, I’m hoping Steve Jobs & Co. put me on the Christmas card mailing list or maybe offer me a few stock shares.