A Busy Saturday Morning

I brought Dwight (my accordion) to our Music Together class yesterday. I had worked up simple arrangements of three songs from the current songbook, and accompanied the class while they sang and danced. (I sang along where possible too, but was thinking too hard most of the time.) It was so much fun, I’m looking forward to doing it again sometime. I also want to bring the uke in at some point.

After class we went to Verizon Wireless to look at the new Droid, which Laura went ahead and bought. (I’m officially jealous. I love my Samsung Flipshot, but man is that thing sexy.) The kids entertained the sales guys by pretending to talk on the dummy model phones throughout the store. One of the guys went in back and got a couple of discontinued models, and gave them to the kids as toys. They were so proud. They’ve been making pretend phonecalls on them ever since.

Then, next door to Verizon is a Tae Kwon Do school, and they were celebrating their fourth anniversary with free food, demonstrations, a bounce house, and cake. The kids had a ball and wore themselves out. Riley was imitating the demonstrators, kicking and shouting an approximation of “hyah!” We got to thinking about how martial arts would teach a lot of the things that Riley needs most: confidence, discipline, focus. We spoke with the manager, and she was very supportive, saying they work with special needs kids all the time. She set Riley up with an instructor — a teenage boy who surprised us by being really good with Riley. We signed Riley up for classes. He seems excited about it, we’re hopeful he’ll participate well.

(Of course, as I typed this he was screaming his lungs out, in protest of being sent to “quiet time” for having screamed about having to wear non-preferred underwear because he wet his Spongebob ones. So we shall see. Rome wasn’t built in a day and so on.)

Page Two: Bryce endorses the ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro Handset

On our last move, we decided to lose the land line and go all-wireless for our telephony. A phone line at the house was another expense and we barely used it anyway. It’s been almost a year now and we haven’t looked back. During this time my cell phone and I have grown closer. I’ve gotten a bit more reliable about keeping it with me constantly.

Now, my phone is a fairly typical marvel of modern nanotechnology. It’s got hours of music on it, Internet access, a navigation app with voice recognition, Bluetooth, a 3 Megapixel camera with video capability… and oh yeah, you can use it to make calls too. And perhaps most amazing of all, it’s small enough to fit in the same pocket with my keys (just in case I should happen to want to scratch it all up like a turntable at a rap concert).

But therein lies my beef with the thing. It’s designed for the human pocket, not the human head. It’s uncomfortable to hold in the hand for any length of time. Forget cradling it on your shoulder while your hands are busy, it’s so thin that you have to kink your neck at about an 80° angle to pin it there. And the flip-open style does get the microphone closer to my mouth than my old phone did, but it’s still not quite close enough that I can talk at a volume that I consider normal. (And I can’t stand “cell phone voice.” It doesn’t seem to bother most people to have to raise your voice to be heard, but it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine, in any context.)

Enter this thing. It’s a handset like old fashioned telephones used to have, back when cranial compatibility was a primary design goal — there’s a reason phones were shaped that way for so long, after all. But this one’s got Bluetooth, so you can use it wirelessly.

I got myself one with birthday money a while back. It’s as comfortable as I wanted it to be, holding it is like a friendly handshake. The classic shoulder-prop is a much more reasonable technique now, and it cups right up to my mouth so my soft normal voice is usually enough. I do need to crank up the headset volume on my phone to make the earpiece loud enough, but that works perfectly. The battery life is good, for my usage anyway. Two thumbs up!

Not so much “tech” as “moral” support. Presumably.

So last summer we bought an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax, the HP LaserJet 3390. It worked fine for months, but for some reason decided to stop scanning while I was out of town. There’s nothing wrong with it mechanically — it still faxes just fine using the same apparatus — but when I ask it to scan, it lies about there being no paper in the document feeder, and pretends not to remember that it can just scan the glass anyway.

So I try their email support first, because frequent interruptions don’t really matter with that. I get a reply a couple of days later with some things to try. None of them make any difference. I email back to tell them this. No response to that. A few days later, I email again. Still no response. So I call for support by phone.

I’ve had this thing less than nine months (even now, let alone when the problem first started three weeks ago), but they tell me it’s already “out of warranty” and that if I want support by phone (or by live online chat, as it turns out), I have to pay for it. I feel like I’m being fleeced. So I said I’d just wait for the email response. Still waiting.

Shoulda gone with a different brand. I believe I’ll avoid HP in the future.

Dear Windows Vista:

I can smell how badly you wish you were MacOS. But you’re getting it all wrong. Please stop acting like Word, thinking you know better than I do what I want from you. It only counts as “ease of use” if you’re actually correct in your assumptions. Go ask Clippy.

Thanks in advance,

Just a Few Noteworthy Items for Now

Riley’s front two top teeth have just broken through in the past couple of days, bringing the grand total up to five. The next two out from those are almost through too, you can see the gums straining to hold them in. (Still no sign of the second bottom right incisor, but it must be in there somewhere.)

I’ve been taking photos of Riley with my cell phone to send to Laura while she’s at work. I’ve started archiving them in my LJ scrapbook. I like the current scrapbook layout, but I want to add some links in a sidebar or something. This would be pretty easy, except the source code for this style isn’t public. So now I’m thinking I might reverse engineer it, in my copious spare time. 😛 Unless somebody reading this knows of someone who’s already reinvented that wheel.

Father’s Day brunch here at home tomorrow, consisting of huevos rancheros. Mmmm.