Conan Visits Intel

I don’t know how long this clip will be available for viewing so please HURRY and watch it while you still can. Conan O’Brien visits Intel and his observations on the cubicle life at Intel is spot-on. You’ll love the cafeteria where a group of geeks are playing Chess during their lunch hour and Conan confesses his love of playing Hungry Hungry Hippos back in the day.

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Surfing the net in your pajamas on a lazy Saturday afternoon can be very dangerous. I jumped on the computer to check my inbox and Six Degrees of Separation later, I created a Meez.

Yup, that’s my online 3-D Avatar. I’ve got the Bose QC-3 headphones on and clearly you can see how happy I am in the field of sunflowers typing away on my tricked-out notebook wearing the bunny slippers and beige Capri pants. My chosen t-shirt says something about me blogging, but you can’t really see the details from this vantage point.

But you’ve got to try creating a Meez if you have about 30 minutes to waste. It’s totally addictive just like creating a Mii on the Nintendo Wii. One of the drawbacks right now with Meez is you can’t really customize your facial features to resemble YOU. They didn’t have glasses for me to wear and their face shapes left a little to be desired. But the upside is I’m much cuter online, than in person, which isn’t so bad.

There are so many more choices when it comes to choosing backgrounds, themes, animations and accessories. You almost saw me in an 80’s Roller Disco rink wearing a thong and sporting a sexy black mesh top that I would never dare wear out in public.

In the bucolic setting that I chose, I could have added my Beagle Minnie to the meadow or an overweight Fluffy, but I decided to keep it simple. Flowers and technology at it’s best. I wonder where I’m getting the WiFi connection in these Fields of Gold?

The site gives you lots of cool things to do with your Meez. You don’t have to settle on just one. You can store up to five unique looks in your albums so there’s lots of opportunity to have fun. (Don’t worry, I didn’t save the thong-wearing Roller Disco Kim) The profile page has all the standard information boxes, but it also includes a little chat box if you’re into that scene.

There’s just so much to do with your 3D ID once you create it. You can export it as a link to put on My Space or your Blog, you can get an Img Tag to use in Forum posts or a simple URL to link to your Meez. Want to send it to your phone? Easy. Just pony up $1.99 with their partner Zaptophone and you can send it as wallpaper to a cellphone. If you don’t want to bother with all those fancy options, you can simply download your Meez as a .GIF file and cut/paste it anywhere you’d like.

I also tried their Add to Email option and was surprised to see a link to yet another one of their partners Gigya. It’s a Beta email program that is being marketed to users of My Space. It’s no surprise who their demographic is with features such as these options in their ‘Fun Tab’: Layouts, Graphics, Videos, Words, Smiles, Icons, Glitters, Photos, Tools & Toys and Games.I’m hooked. I signed up for a free email account and easily imported my Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail contacts with a click of a button. Another interesting feature if you like Widgets is the ability to post any html code from anywhere on the web and make it public so other Gigya users can add it to their emails. I’m really liking what I’m seeing so far.

It’s nearly 11:30 am and my Saturday morning is coming to an end. Time to get showered, dressed, walk Minnie and get out into the real world.

I miss my meadow already.

Rotten Apple

I ordered two personalized iPod (2nd generation) shuffles in mid-November from the Apple Store. One for me and one for my sister-in-law Katie as a Christmas gift. Personalization was free and each cost a mere $79. I was excited to have something as small as a matchbook to hold 240 of the most bass-thumping rap songs possible for when I started going to the gym.

Predictably the gym thing didn’t happen. I finally got around to opening my shuffle at the end of January to load it up with some songs and discovered my laptop wouldn’t recognize it. (I also own two other iPods so I was pretty comfortable with all the trouble-shooting techniques using it with a PC vs. a Mac.) I tried for days to get it to work and no amount of trobleshooting worked. I finally broke down and called Apple Support.

I was on hold for 15 minutes before I got to speak with an Apple Representative. I explained that I had done all the recommended steps, but she chose to have me do them all over again. Frustrating. She requested that I plug the Shuffle into each and every USB port to see if it recognized the Shuffle explaining that this second generation Shuffle had a known issue with power supply on USB 2.0 ports. You don’t say.

I explained to her that I thought the dock might be defective because in doing some online research I saw lots of people describing the very same problem I was having with the Shuffle.

Once the USB port tests didn’t work, she asked me if I had another computer to plug the Shuffle into to test it out. I did have another computer and I’m not joking when I tell you we went through all the same steps with my second computer. I became argumentative. Why couldn’t she just send me a replacement?

She told me I could take the Shuffle to an Apple Store for them to test it out, but was quick to caution if it was the actual unit (and not the dock) they couldn’t just give me another one because my Shuffle was personalized. There isn’t an Apple Store near my home nor where I work. The closest one is in Chestnut Hill! Why should I have to drive that far out of my way when they could just send me another one in the mail?

I was asked if I knew anyone who owned a Shuffle so I could try out their docking station. No way was I going to tell them my sister-in-law had one and she lived down the street from me. At this point, I was really pissed at Apple’s customer service.

She said that before she could issue a replacement, she wanted me to try out the Shuffle on my laptop at work. I know…I know… why did I even tell her I had a work laptop? I’m sooo stupid. I continued to argue with her that I couldn’t believe for a $79 unit they couldn’t just send me another one out the very same day.

So I took the annoying Shuffle to work and of course it didn’t work. I called Customer Service again and requested a replacement. No problem–except that I had to provide a credit card in case I decided to gyp Apple by not sending back my original Shuffle. I was told to expect the replacement in five to seven business days.

I called Apple back on February 12th letting them know that my replacement was MIA. The Customer Service rep. looked at my repair record and explained that there was a block on my replacement request and that’s why it hadn’t shipped. She cheerfully removed the block and I angrily demanded my replacement be sent UPS Next Day Air. She agreed and noted this expedited request.

At this point I had come to the sad realization that as much as I wanted someday to own an iMac, it wouldn’t happen unless it was a gift. This arrogant company made me bend over backwards to prove to them that their crappy $79 Shuffle was defective and now I couldn’t even get the replacement when promised.

You can guess what’s coming next, right? The Shuffle never arrived via Next Day Air. I called back a few days later only to be told that there wasn’t any notation in my file to ship it NDA and currently there was a known backlog of Shuffles in Shanghai. Why Shanghai? Well, apparently they were replacing my Shuffle with another personalized one and this required it being made overseas.

I fumed and raised my voice. I asked to speak to a supervisor, but that wasn’t possible because any escalated issues had to be forwarded to a Help Desk and the current wait was about ten minutes. I was dumbfounded. So I played the game and was eventually connected to the escalation Help Desk. I insisted that they ship a Shuffle out for delivery the next day. Apple explained they could do that, but since a confirmation number had already been assigned to my repair order I had a better chance of getting the personalized Shuffle sooner than the replacement. It was explained that there was bad weather in Pennsylvania that day and a non-personalized replacement might not get shipped out due to inclement weather conditions.

Disgusted with the whole experience, I simply gave up. I figured eventually I would receive it. Several days passed and the Shuffle didn’t come. I’d check online entering my repair number only to see the canned notation “Replacement pending”.

I phoned Apple one more time on February 28th to check on the status and was relieved to receive a FedEx tracking number. The Shuffle was expected to arrive by March 5th. Apple apologized for the delay and threw in the excuse about a backlog of Shuffles in the factory and additional delays due to Chinese New Year. Yea, Yea. I know all about Chinese New Year. I work in Manufacturing.

As I write this blog, today is March 2nd and FedEx delivered my Shuffle. I opened the box and there it was-my little silver jewel. I flipped it over to see my name in lights and guess what? It wasn’t personalized with “Kim Marie Perry”, but with the following:

NDR 1/21/73


It took Apple a whole month to personalized my Shuffle with that? How nice! Tonight after posting this, I’m going to try to use my brandy-new Shuffle. I’m prepared for utter disappointment and will be pleasantly surprised if this replacement actually works like it should. I can move on from their personalization screw-up because I bought a metallic pink slipcover for it and it will cover up the NDR 1/21/73.

But here’s the rub. After my very first call to Apple, they were Johnny-On-The-Spot about emailing me with a customer service survey about my Apple Experience, yet it took them over a month to replace an MP3 player that probably costs the company a few dollars to make.

I’ve never worked so hard to get such poor customer service. So beware if you buy any Apple products. They may be ranked in Business Week as #18 in Top 25 Customer Satisfaction Champs, but based on my experience they wouldn’t make the list. I’m not here to advocate Microsoft vs. Apple or PC vs. Mac. What I am saying is if they can’t do right by me for a $79 Shuffle, why would I ever expect them to take care of me with an expensive $1800 computer?

Bust A Move!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought you all would appreciate my slick (sick?) sense of humor. Forget greeting cards and rose for your sweetie this year. I’ve got something way more interesting and thoughtful.

Check out the Busty Mouspads website. I know it sets feminism back lots and lots of years, but what man (or possibly woman) in your life wouldn’t get a kick out of gel-filled 3-D breasts on their mousepad? A little poke here…a little poke there…NICE!

Pacman Fever

I was always one of those fortunate kids growing up that received really great presents from my parents. I never wanted for anything, but obviously there were a few toys that my parents didn’t allow me to have that I always wanted: Easy-Bake Oven (cursed root of all my domestic woes in the modern-day kitchen), a Big Wheel (Mom thought I would roll out onto our dead-end dirt private street and get instantly terminated by a speeding car) and not letting me go see Duran Duran at The Worcester Centrum on their Seven & The Ragged Tiger tour when I was 13 years old. She had read in the local newspaper that all that banging people did on the seats was going to cause the structure to come crashing to the ground. (Still haven’t forgiven my mother for not letting me see my favorite Super Group of the 80’s)

But sometimes I got exactly what I wanted, too. As was the case with just having to own the first video game console that was all the rage in early 1980-The Atari 2600.

I remember my dad driving us down to RH White’s at Lincoln Plaza to buy me the gaming system. The lower level of the store had a housewares section, a candy counter and other domestic things such as the Atari 2600 locked up in a glass case. Go figure. I want to guess that my dad paid about $200 for the Atari. But the fact that he also bought me Pac-Man for $50 specifically sticks out in my mind because it was like a windfall for me. I had just won the kid lottery and it wasn’t even Christmas or my birthday.

My dad drove a trailer for most of his life and earned really good money at the time for being a long-distance driver. He could afford really expensive things like a tricked-out Harley Davidson, a huge heated waterbed, tons of toys for me and the ability to give my mom the credit card so we could go down to Lincoln Plaza shopping pretty much on a daily basis.

But still–he bought me my first gaming system. I loved Pac-Man it was the only video game I turned out being really good at. I loved the chomping sound as I moved my little yellow friend deftly through a stress-filled maze loaded with colored ghosts trying to break my manic stride of eating as many dots as possible all the while hoping to make it to the next level.

I was all about the score. I remember that was how I could tell if I was gaining skills maneuvering around the maze. Pac-Man brought me hours of fun when I was a pre-teen and I’ll always remember it was my Dad who gave me one of the coolest gifts ever.

In later years, I was able to get the Pac-Man video game in various formats for other systems like Sega Genesis, but it was never the same as when I was 13 years old. The magic was long gone. But fortunately the memories remain that at one time in my life, I was the coolest kid in my neighborhood because my dad spent a fortune buying me an Atari 2600.