Categories
glamorous industry iphone OSX

iPhone “disappearing photos” bug

No moving parts. No gears to wear down, no pads to replace. The code-powered device is an engineer’s dream and a user’s delight—until the software heads south.

Take my iPhone. Please. This morning, it stopped taking photos, and none of the approved means of restoring erring iPhones to sanity—restart, reset, restore—is of the slightest use.

Oh, there is still a lens on the back of the iPhone, and there is still a Camera icon at the top right of the Home screen. Clicking that icon still initiates camera-like functionality. I can still frame my subject in the glorious full-screen viewfinder, still press the shutter button at the bottom of the viewfinder window, and still enjoy the satisfying shutter click sound effect when I do so.

But I will not have a photo to show for my efforts. For the device does not actually take photos any more.

White box outline hack

Yesterday it was a camera. Today it simply emulates one.

If I try to view my photo(s) in the Camera Roll section, the iPhone tells me it contains “No Photos” and advises: “You can take photos using the camera.” Awesome suggestion, dudes!

If I navigate to the Camera Roll from inside the Camera (by pressing the blue outlined camera roll icon at the bottom left of the Camera’s viewfinder window), I see an empty white box indicating where the photo I’ve taken would be if the iPhone had not obliterated the data the moment the shutter snapped. (For that’s what it seems to do: take photos and immediately obliterate their data.)

If I take five photos before pressing the camera roll icon, I see five empty white boxes indicating the five photos whose data the camera deleted. Take ten photos, see ten empty white boxes.

I discovered this bug after using the iPhone to take photos of my three-year-old wearing a bathing suit and angel wings (she dressed herself). They were the best photos I ever took whose data was immediately obliterated.

88 photos, 96 tears

Yesterday the camera worked beautifully. During a long and wonderful day, I ended up taking 88 photos with the thing, all of which I synced to iPhoto, and a few of which I uploaded to Flickr. And I think it’s the number of photos I shot yesterday that sent my iPhone on a first-class carriage to Bugland.

I have noticed in the past that the iPhone is most likely to act up after I take a lot of photos—more than, say, a dozen.

Sometimes when I’ve taken a lot of photos (for instance, at a wedding or concert), iPhoto doesn’t sync. Instead, it erroneously tells me that the iPhone contains no photos. Usually, though, restarting the Mac restores proper sync, and no photos are lost in the process.

Here, every photo I take is immediately lost.

The standards fixes don’t

None of these help:

  • Restarting the Mac doesn’t help.
  • Restarting the iPhone doesn’t help.
  • Resetting the iPhone doesn’t help.
  • Even restoring the iPhone’s software—the court of last resort—doesn’t help.

Firmware problem? Hardware problem? Dude, I just work here.

Pin the bug on the lug

Mac fans are like Maoists. We are masters of cognitive dissonance. (Look it up.) If an Apple product delivers a less than satisfying experience, we assume the person reporting the problem is a fool. If not a fool, he or she must be an apostate.

You’ll have questions. Am I running the latest version of the iPhone’s software and firmware? I am. Am I running the latest version of iTunes? I am. Did I erase my iPhone lately? No. Was my iPhone “jailbroken” (i.e. hacked)? No. It’s a standard iPhone running Apple’s iPhone OS and nothing else.

Did I drop the iPhone, hold it under water, boil it in oil? No, no, no.

Do I think busted iPhone functionality is an earth-shattering problem? No, I think it is a luxury problem. Not only is it the least of the world’s problems, it is the least of my problems. Still. I saw at least a dozen things I absolutely had to photgraph today, and shot not a one. And that makes Sonny blue.

Thanks for sharing

Options. Be proud that my iPhone is “special.” Disdain photography. Cultivate an inverse snobbery that fools no one. (“You take … pictures? Really. How quaint.”) Or bring the damn thing to the Apple store nearest me and demand a replacement. That sounds like the winner.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses a photo.

[tags]apple, iphone, bugs, firmware, updates[/tags]

Categories
events family glamorous Happy Cog™ industry work Zeldman

Facts and Opinions about Zeldman

  1. Yesterday I spoke at BusinessWeek and was interviewed for a podcast that airs next week.
  2. Tomorrow I will speak for Carson at Future of Web Design.
  3. I will not be nicely dressed.
  4. That is because the fancy drycleaner—the best in town—has not yet returned the sharp clothes I wore at An Event Apart San Francisco.
  5. Don’t get me wrong. I do have another dress shirt.
  6. But I wore it to BusinessWeek yesterday. Hence, nothing “tailored” that is also clean.
  7. Which means nothing tailored for my meeting today with a client whose business and premises are somewhat traditional.
  8. All because my drycleaner takes longer to clean my dress shirts than my company takes to design a website.
  9. Almost.
  10. I would switch, but the other drycleaners in my neighborhood tend to shrink my shirts and then deny responsibility for the damage.
  11. So. What to wear.
  12. I might go for the Steve Jobs look.
  13. Or I might go for the “Zeldman” look.
  14. Which, admittedly, is not much of a business look.
  15. But I got into this business so I would not have to dress up. That was kind of the point. Learn HTML, and work in your underwear.
  16. Now that I actually have to dress for clients and the public, I have, in the words of Imelda Marcos, nothing to wear.
  17. Although Imelda was talking about shoes and my problem is shirts.
  18. I could buy a new shirt.
  19. If I didn’t have to work today.
  20. Why, yes, I have been using Twitter. Why do you ask?

[tags]zeldman, businessweek, FOWD, futureofwebdesign, carson, aneventapart, aeasf07, mockturtleneck, stevejobs, apple, twitter[/tags]

Categories
family glamorous homeownership

Into the murky deep

Tucked away in a quiet corner of The New York Public Library at 42nd Street sits a small, clean, neatly appointed classroom. At 3:30, we commandeered it for an impromptu meeting with an attorney.

For half an hour, the secret, quiet room was a lawyer’s office. In it, after discussing various ways the deal could end tragically, we signed five copies of a contract to purchase an apartment. I wrote the biggest check I have ever written in my life. And then, like bats startled by light, we flew off in different directions.

The attorney headed to his next meeting. The wife hopped a bus downtown to hand our documents to a secretary at the seller’s lawyer’s office. And I ran here.

We do not own a home yet. A lot could still go horribly wrong. But after two weeks of frantic paddling, we have dived cleanly into the murky deep.

Related

[tags]homeownership, homebuying[/tags]

Categories
A List Apart An Event Apart client services Community Design eric meyer events family glamorous Happy Cog™ homeownership Publishing Zeldman

Faster, pussycat

Have you ever bought clothes while traveling, and been unable to fit everything in your suitcase when it was time to go home? That suitcase is what my days are like now. For starters, The Wife and I are buying an apartment—or at least we are attending all the meetings, filling out all the paperwork, hiring all the attorneys and assessors and brokers and fixers, faxing and messengering and hand-delivering all the documents, auditing all the books, returning all the missed calls, sending all the e-mails, digging through spam traps for all the missed e-mails, rescheduling all the appointments, raising all the money, applying to borrow all the much more money, digging and refilling all the holes, and running up and down all the staircases that are supposed to lead to us owning a place.

Timing is the secret of comedy and an ungovernable variable in life. Our first-time homebuying marathon comes during one of The Wife’s busiest weeks at The Library, and amid a frenzy of new client activity at Happy Cog and the planning of next year’s An Event Apart conferences. In my idiocy, I agreed to speak at other people’s conferences, which means I need to create the content for those engagements. I am days behind in everything because completing the Findings From the Web Design Survey sucked nights, days, and dollars. It was our Apocalypse Now. The dog is sick and requires constant watching. The Girl must be taken to preschool and picked up and played with and loved and taught and put to bed.

My life is like everybody’s. I’m too busy and I’m grateful for everything, but I worry that I will miss some detail, forget some essential, give less than everything to some e-mail or document review or design.

I intended to write about the Findings From the Web Design Survey on the night we finally published them, but there was nothing left inside. I intended to write about them this morning, but instead I have written this excuse for not writing about them. During my next break between brokers, I will clear up one area of confusion as to the motivation behind the survey’s undertaking.

Meantime, Eric Meyer, the survey’s co-author and co-sponsor, has written nice pieces about practical problems overcome in the survey’s creation, and how to keep probing the data for new answers and new questions.

[tags]aneventapart, alistapart, webdesignsurvey, design, survey, happycog, homeownership, NYC, newyorkcity, newyork[/tags]

Categories
A List Apart An Event Apart family glamorous industry work

We live as we dream

My cold is in its second week; I slept less than four hours last night. Yesterday we decided to check out the housing market in our neighborhood and ended up making a bid. Anxiety woke me at 1:00 a.m. and kept me eyeballing the dark ceiling for hours.

Tomorrow, if all goes to plan, we will publish the findings of the web design survey. The findings document alone will weigh in at more than 80 pages. It has been less work than building the pyramids, but I may revise that opinion by the end of the day.

Lots happening. Watch this space.

[tags]alistapart, survey, careers, webdesign, webdesignsurvey, NYC, apartments[/tags]

Categories
books cities dreams family glamorous

God Knocks

“It’s becoming a bedroom community for people who work on Wall Street,” the Wife says of our beloved Manhattan. While the housing market everywhere else incurs gangrene, prices here are sky-high and climbing. A new condo goes up every three seconds and an angel does not get his wings.

When I moved to New York City in 1988, it was possible to find a rent-stabilized apartment in the East Village, Kips Bay, and plenty of other places—to live an artist’s life, or a drunkard’s, while securing a semblance of middle class security and stability. People moved here to pursue music careers, acting careers, writing careers, anything that didn’t pay. Some even painted. They could live here indefinitely while the market ignored their talent.

Today the city is cleaner and safer, but a small one-bedroom in an indifferent neighborhood costs over a million dollars. It’s not just the poor and the old who are getting priced out. Not just the working class. Not even just the middle class. New York is still a melting pot, but its ingredients are changing as the city squeezes out all but the richest rich.

Brooklyn is where many families have moved and many creative people with or without families are moving, but Brooklyn’s prices are no better. You get a little more space for the same obscene truckload of cash, and you pay for it in subway mileage.

Any reasonable person who does not already own a place and is not fabulously wealthy would catch the first bus out of town and not look back. But if Osama bin Laden could not chase us off this island, neither will the lesser abomination of insanely high and continuously escalating housing prices.

Throwing our first stake in the ground, we have enrolled our daughter in a fine preschool. And when the newly-out-of-rent-stabilization but still-below-market rental lease I have ridden since 1990 finally ends next year, we intend to buy. Don’t ask me how we’ll do it. I only know that we will.

Which brings me to God and the knocking sound.

I awoke this morning to a quiet, insistent, knocking, high-pitched and hollowly wooden—as if a tiny woodpecker were signaling from the back of our bedroom’s bookshelves.

(I actually awoke to our little dog’s barking, something he never does. He also peed twice on the floor, something else he never does. And threw up all over our gorgeous white Flokati rug. But that isn’t part of the God story.)

When a person who has not been particularly spiritual enters a spiritual program, odd things begin happening. Atheists call these things coincidences. For instance, an addict in a big city fearfully attends his first Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Chairing the meeting is the guy with whom he first bought dope. Programs like NA and AA are rife with such incidents.

The Wife is in a very different sort of program, but it is spiritual, and it concerns really living your life. Yesterday in that program, she and a friend focused on the notion of our owning a home, even though it seems impossible here. Before bed last night, she said we could start the process of finding a home by taking an action as simple as reading Home Buying For Dummies.

So this morning, there is this knocking sound. It’s not coming from the bureau. It’s not coming from the desk. It’s not electrical. There’s no big truck out on the street causing the windowpanes to rattle. The sound is insistent. We cannot localize its source or account for it logically.

Doors cover part of a bookshelf. Searching for the source of the sound, the Wife opens the doors. Out falls a book: Home Buying For Dummies.

And as she picks up the book, we both notice that the sound has stopped.

Categories
family glamorous

First day of preschool

It’s our daughter’s first day of preschool. I’m excited and nervous, as if I were the one beginning an education. And in a way, I am. For, even more than the first time we let someone else hold her, even more than the first time we let someone else watch her, her first day of school is the true beginning of our sending her out into the world and away from us.

Nothing says Buddhism like raising a child. To cherish what has already changed as you look upon it. To hold most tightly what you must most let go.

[tags]parenting, preschool, school, education, love[/tags]

Categories
creativity film glamorous Ideas style writing

Proposed Catch-Phrases for the Next Bruce Willis Film

  • E-I-E-I-O, motherfucker!
  • Hi-ho, the motherfuckin’ dairy-o, motherfucker!
  • Anchors aweigh, motherfucker!
  • Hinky dinky parlez-vous, motherfucker!
  • Skip to my loo, motherfucker!
  • A tisket, a tasket, motherfucker!
  • Pocket full of posies, motherfucker!
  • The cheese stands alone, motherfucker!

[tags]catchphrases, hollywood, screenwriting, scriptwriting, brucewillis[/tags]

Categories
cities glamorous war, peace, and justice Zeldman

September 12

A gloomy, rainy September 11th in New York City. An eye doctor visit in the morning left my eyes dilated. For hours, I was overly sensitive to light. It was a perfect way to experience this city on that day.

In my apartment building, a woman boarded the elevator going down. About 60 years old, carrying someone else’s clothes to the laundry room. We were the only two passengers.

“Wet Tuesday,” she said. “Hot day, six years ago. Six years ago, my daughter was on TV, running for her life.”

In the doctor’s office, with dilated eyes, I siphoned bandwidth from an unsecured wireless network and read The New York Times on my iPhone, holding the handset close to my face. An article about Gen. David H. Petraeus’s testimony generated hundreds of comments. At least four of them were rational.

At 1:00 I braved a sudden monsoon in Curry Hill to meet a friend who was traveling in from Brooklyn. He told me he’d been somewhat concerned about coming into Manhattan on September 11.

At 3:30 I was home, hanging wet clothes from the shower rod and thinking about Iraq. I cannot stop thinking about it.

At 2:00 am I woke up. In my dream I had been trying to bring the soldiers home.

Comments off.

[tags]9/11, september11, nyc[/tags]

Categories
Applications Community Design dreams glamorous Tools Zeldman

How to make love to a ghost

Sunday morning, while dreaming, I began receiving messages from the other world. They covered matters of etiquette when interacting with the dead, and even offered glimpses of what the spirit life is like:

  • Do not accept food from a ghost.
  • Do not make love to a ghost, even if she is your wife.
  • Don’t ask ghosts questions about time. They don’t understand them.
  • Fill your eyes with tears. That is how a ghost sees.

These messages were conveyed clearly, and with authority. Although I knew their origin, I was not afraid. So matter-of-fact was my acceptance that I began framing what I was learning within a normal workday context. Specifically, I realized that these messages made the perfect Tweets.

For while Twitter may reduce the immense possibilities of communication to single-line banalities of 140 characters or less, it is paradoxically the perfect vehicle for distilling and broadcasting profound, irrational truths, such as those the dead share with us while we dream.

This dream also involved Robert Benchley and so many cartoonish implausibilities that it is possible that the messages I received came only from my own mind. But is that not equally infinite?

(The dream’s plot involved a luxury cruiser, torpedoed in World War II. Benchley, urbane in middle age, piloted a series of unlikely rescue vehicles, including a school bus that somehow managed to navigate the ocean and deftly avoid smacking into large chunks of wreckage. It was night, and raining, and black and white. A young Michael Keaton, who was sometimes a young Jack Nicholson, also played a role in the endless and pungently fraught narrative.)

[tags]ghosts, afterlife, twitter, webapps, robertbenchley, michaelkeaton, jacknicholson, dreams, death[/tags]

Categories
A List Apart glamorous industry

Block

I sat at my desk today with just one goal: to write the web design survey results article for A List Apart, or at least to make a good start of it. As the day draws to a close, I have not written a word on the subject. And I know I will not. Maybe tomorrow.

I write well, but find the work daunting. Beginnings, especially.

[tags]writer’s block, webdesign, webdesignsurvey[/tags]

Categories
An Event Apart Design events family glamorous San Francisco Standards Zeldman

San Francisco, here you come

San Francisco. California’s jewel. America’s prettiest city. Cool fog and hot startups.

I last left San Francisco on September 10th, 2001. It was a good day for flying. I had gone there to speak. Normally when I present at a conference, I stick around, listening to the other speakers and chatting with attendees. But I saw little of that conference and even less of San Francisco, for accompanying me was she who is now my wife. Even from the heights of Coit Tower, I only had eyes for her.

On October 4–5, 2007, I return to the city by the bay for the fourth and final Event Apart conference of 2007. The schedule of presentations, published Monday, outlines a holistic approach to web design rarely seen on conference stages.

There are sessions on writing the user interface and developing effective content strategies (art direction for words, if you will). Sessions on designing and redesigning brands, adding ’zazz to tired layouts, and creating designs that scale to accommodate a thousand users or millions.

Someone who’s actually done it (and at a big company, yet) will share insights on promoting and nurturing standards adoption in the workplace. We’ll find out how CSS really works and what IE7 means to developers. And we’ll learn how to design and structure forms to maximize accessibility, improve semantics, and allow for more flexible styling.

The world’s foremost expert on the subject will tell us what’s wrong with online video captioning (a concern in our increasingly YouTubed world) and how to do it right. And from one of the founders of the usability movement, we’ll gain clues into how people follow the scent of information—and how that knowledge can help us connect users to the content and functions they seek:

…how the quality of links affects whether users click on them; how longer pages actually help users get where they are going faster; the three types of graphics; how users follow a scent; and four ways your design could be blocking their smell.

An Event Apart San Francisco presents one of our most striking speaker line-ups yet: movers from Google and PayPal, shakers from Apple and A List Apart, passionate leaders and experts, all. Plus two big parties, sponsored by Adobe and (mt) Media Temple, where you can network, job-hunt, swap horror stories and phone numbers, or just boogie the night away. Plus breakfasts, lunches, and snacks on both days, and a dandy bag of swag. All for $795 (reg. $895) during the earlybird savings period through September 7th.

Readers of zeldman.com can take an additional $50 off by using the discount code AEAZELD. Enter that code in the discount coupon area of the registration form to get all of AEA San Francisco for $745. Seating is limited and this opportunity won’t last forever. Don’t leave your seat in San Francisco. Tell your corporate overlord or generous uncle about An Event Apart San Francisco 2007 today.

[tags]aneventapart, aeasf07, design, webdesign, webstandards, conferences, seminars, sanfrancisco[/tags]

Categories
architecture cities family glamorous Philadelphia

Bang!

Had I known that there was an explosion in midtown Manhattan near where my wife works, and that my wife and daughter were out in the ensuing chaos, I would have been far more anxious during my train ride home from Philadelphia last night.

I had gone to the city of brotherly love on business. One of our party misplaced her iPhone, discovering the loss as we were about to board the train back to New York. The odds against her recovering it would kill a game in Vegas. But it is her only phone and she is about to leave the country, so she stayed behind in hopes of locating it. Anxiety on her account, and some guilt at having boarded the train without her, kept me plenty busy on the ride home.

Like The New York Public Library, the old Pennsylvania Station was a Beaux-Arts masterpiece (photos: concourse and entrance in 1962, two years prior to demolition). An abomination replaced it. Outrage over this desecration gave us laws supporting historic preservation and preventing future desecrations, making the old Pennsylvania Station the Jesus of buildings.

One emerges from the current Penn Station as from a none-too-clean public bathroom.

On emerging from Penn Station as from a none-too-clean public bathroom, I overheard people discussing 9/11. That seemed odd. New Yorkers don’t talk about 9/11; we leave that to politicians. When I reached home, fifteen minutes’ humid walk later, my doorman was also muttering about 9/11. Odder still.

I expected to find my daughter asleep. Not so.

“Can you tell something happened?” my wife asked.

She had seen the explosion while standing about a mile north of it (just as, on September 11th, 2001, she had seen the twin towers on fire from a position on Fifth Avenue about two miles north of the disaster) and asked two firefighters who were also gazing in its direction if the intersection where it had occurred was known. 41st Street, they said. Reassured that our home had not blown up, she went on to the rendezvous where she was to pick up our daughter from her baby-sitter. Our daughter and her baby-sitter were not there. I can imagine my wife’s reaction to that absence. (I knew nothing about it, sitting in a crowded Amtrak car, discussing a client project, and worrying about a missing iPhone.)

Finally our daughter arrived; her baby-sitter was put in a cab; and my wife and daughter attended a birthday party for one of our daughter’s friends—a younger girl who had just turned two. Pizza and cupcakes were served.

At seven, the party ended, and, as at all children’s parties in New York, the guests were shooed out.

Philadelphia is 100 miles from New York. I made it in an hour. It took my wife and daughter two hours to traverse the single mile home. The subways were out, two avenues were closed, the whole world was taking buses or walking north, away from the disaster. Just below the cutoff and oblivious to it, I walked home knowing nothing except that I had had a good meeting in Philadelphia, and had perhaps overdone it on the huevos rancheros at Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat Restaurant.

Here’s how it looks in a newspaper:

A steam pipe installed in 1924 ruptured in a thunderous explosion shortly before 6 p.m. today, sending steam, water and debris shooting outward and sending clouds of smoke and dust billowing through Midtown Manhattan at the height of the evening rush. One person died of cardiac arrest, and more than 20 others were injured. The authorities ruled out any criminal activity, saying the explosion was apparently caused by a failure of antiquated infrastructure.

How was it for you?

[tags]steampipe, explosion, nyc, newyork, newyorkcity, myglamorouslife[/tags]

Categories
glamorous industry Tools

The heartbreak of technology

It is an internet connectivity trifecta:

  1. The phone company configured your DSL line wrong.
  2. The new DSL modem supplied by your ISP was a dud.
  3. Your brand-new Airport Extreme wireless router does not work. It’s under warranty, but to get it replaced, you must endure another hour-long session with Apple technical support. You’d rather chew off your own leg. (Update.)

It’s really a fourfecta. The phone company fixed the DSL line, but didn’t tell the ISP. They didn’t even tell their own service technician. Dude showed up to fix a line that wasn’t broken. You wonder what the guys in his Anger Management class had to say about it.

Two and half weeks into the void, a light bulb moment: Maybe it’s the modem. ISP sends new modem, you get your speed bump.

But only when you plug directly into the modem. For your new Airport Extreme wireless router cannot find an IP address even when you enter it manually. Indeed, this remarkably attractive piece of technology cannot be configured in any meaningful way. It cannot even restart without hurting itself.

You read that the new Airport Extreme works great. Alas, there was one lemon in the production line. You got the lemon. Trifecta.

Two faces

You tell PC users you bought an Airport Extreme because it was time for a new router, and Apple computers work best with Apple routers. Besides, Apple has that whole 802.11n thing going. That 802.11n is just so much better than the outdated spec they’re using. They just wouldn’t understand.

You tell Mac users you bought an Airport Extreme to replace a perfectly good third-party router, because OS X 10.4.x is semi-incompatible with third-party routers. All too frequently, one of your OS X 10.4.x Macs becomes unable to find a wireless signal sent by your ancient Linksys router.

You didn’t have to buy the Airport Extreme router. You could fix the compatibility issue by adjusting a setting on the old router. To do so, go to Fresh Kills, dig your old G4 tower out of the landfill, boot into Virtual PC, and log into the old router.

Can’t find the old G4 tower in the landfill? Buy an Airport Extreme. Apple makes it. Their stuff just works.

Support

The Lithium Woman in Apple Technical Support was unable to suggest anything beyond restarting the hardware and sticking a pin in the Reset hole—things you tried many times before breaking down and calling Apple. Why this tech support call took an hour is a mystery. Why it is called “support” is a more profound one.

At the start of the call, you said all you needed was help accessing the Manual Configuration panel to type in the WAN I.P. address, because for some reason the Manual Configuration Panel would not load. But the Lithium Woman made you plug stuff in and unplug stuff and turn stuff on and off for an hour. It was the stuff you’d already done, and you explained that, but that’s how tech support works, so you did it.

At the end of the hour, having sufficiently atoned for your sins, you again asked for help accessing the Manual Configuration Panel, as you needed to type in the WAN I.P. address, and the Manual Configuration Panel just wouldn’t load.

The Lithium Woman said you shouldn’t have to type in an I.P. address.

Impasse.

After a while, feeling bad for her, you offered her a face-saving way of ending the call without having helped you.

You figured, once your new DSL network was set up, your Airport Extreme router would just work.

But let us pause

Most readers stopped after the first paragraph. A few hardy souls made it all the way here. Thanks for sharing the journey.

Die-hards will want to suggest solutions. For them, a few details.

Automatic setup and manual configuration both end in “please try again” error messages.

The router freezes and crashes without ever connecting, suggesting that the problem is software based. We’ve wiped Airport Utility off the hard drive with App Zapper, removed preferences, reinstalled from disk, and run Software Update to download and install the latest version. That kind of reinstall usually does the trick. Not this time.

Resetting the device with a straightened paper clip is the only thing that briefly lets you access Manual Setup. You enter the IP Address, Subnet Mask, Gateway (Router), and DNS Servers. You verify the data. The device restarts itself. You bite your nails. The software congratulates you. You open a browser. You are not online. And you can no longer access or change settings. Unless you restart the device with a straightened paper clip.

Nothing works. You are the proud owner of a piece of modern art. The object is beautiful, but it has no heart. There is no network, no nothing. George and Martha. Sad, sad.

Categories
glamorous industry

Noware

I’m on one of the oldest DSL installations in New York City—you should see the copper in my closet. It is also one of slowest DSL connections still in active use in the world, I believe. Maximum throughput never exceeds 32 KB/second.

The syrup-slow pace keeps me honest as a web designer: if our page weights cause pain, I feel it and we fix it. Still, when every YouTube video stutters, and every emusic.com preview times out, maybe it’s time for a speed boost.

After An Event Apart Boston, I ordered a DSL speed upgrade. I should have harpooned myself repeatedly in the thigh. It would have hurt less and been quicker.

No matter who you choose for an ISP (I use the Mac-friendly company Speakeasy), upgrading DSL service in New York City almost certainly means working with Covad and Verizon. Those two companies installed my original DSL network back in the go-go, dot-com 90s, and it was up to them to flip the switches once again.

It’s been an amusing two weeks of reboots and service calls—of voice mail that never hangs up, and an internet connection that never connects. For your pleasure, I will share two conversations that actually took place:

The phone call

Two weeks in, the DSL technician from Verizon phones me.

He asks what the problem is.

I say, doesn’t he know what the problem is?

He says nobody tells him anything. This turns out to be true.

He doesn’t know I’m a Verizon customer.

He doesn’t know Verizon works with Covad and Speakeasy to provide DSL.

I ask if he is the guy in charge of DSL for Verizon and he says yes.

He asks what the problem is.

I explain that the modem isn’t getting an IP address, and there is no internet connection—not even when you manually enter all the IP data.

He says, “So you have a synch problem.”

I say, because he seems to want this, “Yes. I have a synch problem.”

He says he’ll be right over.

This really happened

Using my phone, the Verizon technician calls Covad to initiate tests. The Covad operator tells the Verizon technician to hang up at once.

“No wonder he doesn’t have the internet if you’re using his phone,” the Covad operator says.

“What are you talking about? That’s a feature of DSL, that you have an internet connection even when you’re on the phone,” the Verizon technician explains to the Covad operator.

This conversation really happens. I’m right there.

Noware

Adam Greenfield has famously said, “The age of ubiquitous computing is here: a computing without computers, where information processing has diffused into everyday life, and virtually disappeared from view.”

I believe him. But meantime, I need to use computers and phone lines.

During the blackout of 2003, when there was no electricity in the northeast, and no water in New York City apartment buildings above the sixth floor, Adam Greenfield less famously told me, “Infrastructure’s a bitch.”

Adam Greenfield is right.