Tuesday, January 19, 2016


During my retreat at Spirit Rock in December, possibly the longest train of thought I got lost in had to do with my new computer and its various exasperations.

What is driving me the most crazy are the scroll bars, which are extremely skinny, making them a bit tricky to select, and which, maddeningly, do not have up or down arrows. I notice it most of all in the photos application, where I have many, many pictures. Instead of using one finger to hold the up or down arrow on my mouse to smoothly scroll through them, I have to use my entire hand to drag the mouse along, which uses unnecessary muscles and is much less precise, making it very easy to overshoot.

I called to inquire about this and Apple’s support person started by saying, “Now, when you say ‘scroll bars,’ what exactly are you referring to?” It seems as if Apple has just hired 500 people who are totally unacquainted with computers and made everyone who used to be a regular old support person into a “senior engineer.” You have to have a long conversation with one of the former before you can talk to one of the latter, one of whom advised me that he was able to answer only one question! This was many, many hours into the most frustrating computer setup I’ve ever experienced, and this was going from an iMac to an iMac.

Another senior engineer peeked at my Firefox tabs while he was connected to my computer and asked, “Have you ever had a lucid dream?” We had a great chat about his lucid dreams and mine, but the next day we did not have a chat about anything, because right after we spoke, he quit his job with no notice, mystifying his co-workers, and someone else took over my case. (It wasn’t anything I did! I don’t think.)

So when I got home from my retreat, I could not have been more delighted to see an email from Apple asking for feedback on my recent purchase. I was going to publish that feedback here verbatim, but decided it would make me sound more peevish than I like to have people know I am.

Ah, well, these are of course first-world problems and the computer is finally set up. There were two things I was particularly concerned about: moving my email from Entourage to Apple’s Mail program, and if my Logitech Squeezebox Boom would still work. Someone at Apple assured me there would be no problem with my email. In fact, it turns out that this operation can’t be done, period.

As for the Boom, which uses a wireless connection to play mp3s stored on my computer, and also streams online radio stations, someone at Logitech said I could just download the Logitech Media Server onto my new computer and fire it up. The downloading went fine, but the server wouldn’t start.

Logitech’s technical support, like Apple’s, has declined precipitously. By the time I’d discussed the issue for weeks with people who had no idea what I was talking about, I’d resigned myself to buying two devices to replace the Boom: an Internet radio and a wireless thing to play my mp3s. Then I realized I’d only have to buy one thing, since the Boom was still working fine as a streamer of online stations. And then I figured out I could plug an iPod that I have in a drawer somewhere into the back of the Boom and use the Boom as speakers for the iPod, so I wouldn’t have to buy anything at all, though it would be a minor hassle to periodically load new mp3s onto the iPod.

Nonetheless, I was ecstatic when, using the iMac’s command line interface and recalling Unix commands from long ago, I finally got the Logitech Media Server to start. As for my email, I imported it all into Mozilla Thunderbird in case I needed to look up an email address or reread any of my own particularly witty bon mots.
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