Selling my possessions, switching to Mac

I was looking for snooty pictures (to illustrate the average Mac user) and I found this one of a squirrel wearing a beret.
I was looking for snooty pictures (to illustrate the average Mac user) and I found this one of a squirrel wearing a beret.

When my mom gave me her MacBook Air, I was like, “Sweet, I’ve been looking for a new computer for when I travel. You know, with Dropbox, I can sycn my files between all my computers and…”

And she was all like, “No, no, you’re gonna ditch your other computer and use just this one.”

And I said, “No, no, the other one is fantastic. It’s big, but it’s so fast and I’m used to Windows, etc.”

But she was right. This one is better. Because I can just plug in and then unplug my external monitor with no hassle, there’s really nothing keeping me from using it both when I’m at my desk and when I travel. And the interface is better, it’s a lot easier to switch between windows, for one thing. And since I don’t play computer games anymore, there was really nothing holding me back. So yeah, I’ve pivoted over: I’m now a fully enrolled member of the Mac ecology. I am going to start sprinkling my conversations with design/technology buzzwords–“intuitive”, “lean startup”, “iterative development”, “pivot”, “ecology”–because that’s just who I am now.

Anyway, in selling off my old computer, I decided to take the opportunity to clear up all the other crap I had lying around: old game systems, an external monitor, computers, my standing desk thingy. In doing so, I used Craigslist for most things and eBay for the computers.

I am wary of eBay. My first time using it, I got scammed: the guy manipulated the PayPal system to get a refund without returning the thing I sold him (he claimed he never got it). And my second time, I screwed up and shipped the wrong items to the wrong people. Although I refunded their purchase prices and let them keep the items, I still got negative feedback. EBay is so aggravating. I’ve already had multiple people message me and try to scam me by asking me to sell them the item outside of eBay. All three of my eBay options just closed, and I know something is going to go wrong.

Craigslist, on the other hand, was pretty good. I’m sure I didn’t get as much money as I would’ve, but I didn’t need to pay for shipping. I didn’t need to go anywhere. Everyone came to me. And all my interactions were extremely pleasant. There’s something much nicer about dealing with people face to face. Personally, I don’t really care about maximizing the returns I get from selling my stuff: I just want it to be as hassle-free as possible.

I think we’re generally reluctant to do things that involve speaking to and meeting with strangers. For instance, I used to always try to solve customer service problems using email or chatlines. But it’s often much easier and nicer to go ahead and try to speak to a real person. It’s easier to just ask someone a question instead of looking for the sign, or something, that explains what you’re supposed to be doing. There’s a certain basic level of decency that kicks in when you’re dealing, in real time, with a person that you can see (or at least hear). And you don’t get that through a lot of these newfangled online services.

Problems In My Life That Have Recently Been Fixed By Scotch Tape

1. My Credit Card’s Faulty Magnetic Strip

I had taken a picture of my credit card and was about to upload it before I came to my senses.

For at least the last twelve months, my credit card has been getting refused at gas stations, grocery stories, drug stores (including every CVS, for some reason), and anywhere else that requires you to swipe yourself through. Sometimes a friendly cashier would go through the rigamarole of swiping the card through again with a plastic bag wrapped around it, which somehow allows it to miraculously work (I tried to do this once myself, and made a total hash of the procedure). I kept meaning to call in and get my card replaced, but day after day, month after month, I put it off. The result: literally hundreds of minutes of my life lost to fumbling for a different card or swiping again or messing around with a plastic bag.

Then my savior appeared! At the CVS here in Charles Village, a cashier gave me a contemptuous look and then pulled out a few inches of scotch tape and stuck it onto the magnetic strip. Shouldering the load of her disgust, I swiped the card again! And it worked!

Since then, I’ve had zero problems with the card. This much-put-upon woman was, admittedly, not very friendly. But her grumpiness was a creative grumpiness. Out of a desire to never again deal with my stupid card problems, she utilized a simple piece of folk wisdom (or, I dunno, I’m just assuming this is folk wisdom…maybe it’s her own invention?) to solve my problem forever!


2. The little percentage completed indicator at the bottom left corner of my Kindle

For years, I haven’t been able to complete a page on my Kindle without a quick glance at the progress indicator to see whether this page turn made the percentage completed number go up. Although a small distraction, I found that it repeatedly broke my absorption in the given text. Oftentimes, I’d waste some seconds in calculating how many percentages I was reading per hour and how many percentages I’d get through by the end of the day and how many page turns it’d take before the percentage went up. It was all just a thorough-going waste of time.

But it wasn’t until I began to read Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit that the percentage sign became truly an impediment to progress. Little Dorrit is really fucking long (more than 250,000 words), and there was just no way I was going to get through the thing unless I could forget how long it was. And there was no way to forget how long it was when I could read for half an hour and see that little percent only go up by three or four points.

Something had to be done!

After remembering the credit card miracle, I realized that my answer was close at hand. I went back to that same CVS and bought some scotch tape. Then I came home and taped a tiny black chit of paper over the place where the percent sign goes.

Voila! Ever since then, I’ve been blowing through the book (I’m almost halfway done).


3. The blinky LED on my phone charger

Okay, this just poor design. People charge shit at night while they sleep. And they charge shit in their bedrooms. And the last thing you want in your bedroom is a surprisingly bright LED light. And yet, every damn thing in the world has an LED light on it. With a charger, this is particularly silly, because you can just see, by looking at the phone, whether the charger is working.

Anyways, tape to the rescue!!!


4. The battery cover on my laptop

My HP Laptop is magnificent. But it just has one problem. The battery cover comes loose whenever I slide it backwards. Since my hands rest on the front of the laptop when I type and exert a constant (though slight) forward pressure on it, the damn battery cover is always slipping out.

Well, no longer!

Okay, I kind of added in that last one a bit gratuitously, since by that time I was wandering my apartment with tape in hand and looking for things to tape. But the other three are pretty legit, I think.