Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tech Rant

OK, so I decided that 2008 was the year to stop grousing about my sub-par technology (slow, and slow-witted, and--I presume--virus-clogged cell phones and computers). In an attempt to rectify this, I set about things in a methodical way. After researching Verizon vs. AT&T and convincing myself there wasn't much of a difference between the two providers service-wise, I proceeded to contact AT&T (with whom I had gone out of contract many moons ago, apparently) and ask if the new(ish) Treo 750, which I could buy for $99 after rebates etc., was compatible with the Palm technology that has been running my contacts, calendar, tasks, and, yes, even the quote log, for years. I spoke to some joker named Malcolm, I think, who assured me, in answer to my explicit question about same, that the 750 would indeed be compatible with Palm technology. On the strength of that, I went ahead and ordered the new phone.

Then I decided to buy a new computer. The Dell guy couldn't have been nicer, and one of the many decisions I had to make was whether or not to have Microsoft Outlook pre-installed on my computer. Given that I was comfortable with Palm, and all my data were on that platform, I saw no reason not to save myself the money and declined. Made sense, right?

To AT&T's credit, the phone did arrive very quickly (yesterday, and I had ordered it Saturday). I spent the better part of yesterday trying to get it set up. While I could send and receive calls and text messages, I couldn't access the internet. I had to call AT&T customer support to get their assistance with this basic function. It involved taking the battery out of my phone (huh?) not once but twice while Olga, bless her heart, "set switches" or somesuch. After that 22-minute task was completed, we moved on to trying to get my phone to "push" my Gmail e-mail directly to my phone rather than my having to "pull" it from the internet. (Let me note here that this was another explicit question I asked Malcolm, and he informed me it would be no problem.) We still have not solved this issue, but I decided to give up the ghost on it for now.

We next turned to the issue that I was not able to sync my phone to my laptop, which has all the aforementioned data on it. That, I was informed, is a Palm issue and so I had to call them. After being on hold for almost 11 minutes, I was disconnected. I called again and got Max, who informed me (after some back and forth) that the new phone I had was NOT compatible with the Palm technology. Huh? It says "Palm" right on the front of the phone. I swear to God. In any case, it is a Windows phone, and so my only option is to purchase the Outlook software (remember, the software I told Dell not to put on my computer because I didn't need it?) and then go to a website entitled, I kid you not, (huh? again), and download some other software that will convert my Palm data into an Outlook-compatible format. Clearly, we can all surmise how easy and trouble-free that experience will be. OR...I can send back my new phone (lucky me! they will pay for the shipping) and get the Treo 680, which has fewer capabilities and pay an extra $200. For an older phone with fewer features. Wait, can that possibly be right?

Let me venture a thought here. I am the first to admit that I am not the most technologically adept person on the planet. But I am adequately so, and of above-average intelligence. How is it that it took me something like 2.5 hours to set up a new phone for use? What about all the other poor saps who are even less adept than I? How are they supposed to wade through all this muck and mire? Shouldn't the phone companies and OEMs make this whole process a lot more seamless and user-friendly? May I also point out that, in my lawyering days, the time I spent with the various above vendors would have cost them about $600 minimum. (Granted, the firm got that money, not I, but the logic still applies.) Don't they owe me some kind of rebate for my time?

I swear, as good as my life is in so many areas, technology just ain't one of them. It's like when I was recruiting people for the computer systems department of D.E. Shaw (my first job out of college) and my computer would literally break down every 3 weeks or so. Given that we received all our resumes for said systems professionals via e-mail, my computer was literally biting the hand that fed it.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Quote Log, Part III

"No better way to ingratiate yourself with a new law firm than to refer to their intranet site and policies as 'HAL.'"
--Javier Martinez

"You couldn't be rude if you played an Emily Post record backward while sitting in a pentagram chanting and wearing white after Labor Day."

"I thoroughly enjoyed our martini-soaked Mozart massacre. Hopefully Austria wasn't too disturbed by the subterranean rolling."
--Jessica Gould re: our rendition of "La ci darem la mano" at my 2007 Christmas party

Charlie: "My friend Andrew claims he's a Russian prince, but sometimes it's a little hard to believe everything he has to say."
Paul Christenson: "What gave it away? When he started talking about his Aunt Anastasia?"

"I realized five months into dating the Socialist that it had to stop. Luckily he then moved to a former Soviet State."
--Hilary Conway

"The plural of anecdote is trend."
--Neiswanger as told to Jonathan Funke

“Dude, it's gonna get f----d up. And it's gonna get f-----d up in a foreign language.”
--Barrett Fallentine re: my
father's well-intentioned but semi-ill-fated trip to Mexico with his wife and her children's various families to Mexico for Christmas of 2006.

"It's not just about finding what lights your fire--you need to figure out how to pay for the firewood."
--Selene Morgan

"The people who would consider oak a fundamental taste of wine are the same people who consider ketchup a vegetable."

--Randall Graham

"Upgrade until it's right."
--Alexis Vourvoulis

Thursday, January 03, 2008

An Evening of Wonderful Music on January 10 in New York--Get Your Tickets!

My friend with the astounding soprano voice, Jessica Gould, will be singing with the always-sublime Four Nations Ensemble headed by the charming and talented Andy Appel. Please find below the information on tickets, time, and venue. Please go! You will love it.


The Four Nations Ensemble with guest artist soprano Jessica Gould

Instrumental Offerings: Music as Diplomacy in 18th Century Europe
Thursday, January 10 7:30PM
The Mannes College Concert Hall
150 West 85th Street
$25/17 seniors & students

While porcelain, paintings, and precious gems were valued as gifts among royal courts, music was an equally significant offering as well as an accompaniment to gift-giving rituals. Serenades, sonatas, cantatas, and recreational music were often presented as forms of affection, respect, and homage.

Presented in conjuction with the Bard Graduate Center exhibit, "Fragile Diplomacy: Meissen Porcelain for European Courts," this concert will feature cantatas by Heinichen and Hasse, Johann Sebastian Bach's trio sonata from the Musical Offering (composed for Frederick the Great of Prussia) and selections from the Anna Magdalena Notebook (a gift from JS Bach to his wife). The Heinichen cantata will be a modern-day premiere, reconstructed by Ms. Gould from the manuscript in the collection of the Sachsische Landesbibliothek Dresden.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

We have all finally made it through the holiday season, and there were many things about which to be thankful. As usual, there was lots of merriment and revelry, too much delicious food, too many cocktails, and, most important, the wonderful glow that comes from sharing special, loving times with the warm and generous people I am lucky enough to have in my life. Thanks to all of you who opened up your homes and hearts to Dad and me this Christmas.

Incidentally, thanks to all of you who were so kind to check in about Dad. His pacemaker operation went very well the second time and he is in high spirits with more energy than he's had in a long time. Your prayers helped!

So, onward and upward! Most people I know are not too sorry to see the back of 2007, and they also are very optimistic about 2008. Let's hope we're right!


1) Reacquaint myself with this locale called the gym.
2) The usual alcohol detox for the month of January (with three exceptions).
3) Read more fiction.
4) Live more in the moment.
5) Work on a catchphrase, such as "There it is" (the Emperor in Amadeus) or "That's all" (from The Devil Wears Prada).
6) Date Anne Hathaway.

Anyone else care to share theirs?