The End of an Era

All aboard the party bus, next stop Freedomville.
All aboard the party bus, next stop Freedomville.

And the start of a new one — one that will suck really, really hard. As of tomorrow, I’ll be (finally) starting prototype after being on various stages of hold at three different commands since May 25th. It’s been amazing to have done pretty much nothing for so long, but also it sucks because I have literally forgot almost everything I knew… and now I have to stuff it all back in there. Not fun! For the sake of keeping things simple, I’m just telling everyone that I’ll basically disappear for six to nine months, depending on how long I’m actually stuck in the pipeline (there are numerous delays).

It’s actually making me a little sick thinking of it. I’ve been able to spend so much time with Carissa that this is… strange, to say the least. It’s going to be such a switch from getting to see her all the time to pretty much only at night, and only so I can pass out and go to bed. On top of her working until pretty late, I’m not sure when we’re supposed to get a chance to see each other. Oh well, part of the Navy — and much less sucky than a deployment where I won’t even come home at night. But, that’s still down the road.

So, to make the best of it, we went to the 30th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival, put on by the Charleston Restaurant Association. I’ve always done the restaurant week things in the past and thought they were cool, and we both love oysters and other seafoods. It’s been featured on billboards and posters, and it’s all over the radio. I’ve been pumped up about this event for over a month.

The event is at the Boone Hall Plantation, which is about a 35 minute drive from our place in Summerville and it opened today (on a Sunday, strangely) at 10:30 AM. We left the house at about 11 AM and about 5 miles away from the event is where we ran into the most ridiculous problems. The parking situation was the single most infuriating thing I’ve ever dealt with and will largely be the reason I won’t ever be back. We waited on the main road for over an hour and half and then we turned into a winding, dusty dirt road that took another 45 minutes of standstill traffic to reach the parking lot, which took about 15 minutes to park in.

It is this packed and more, and completely disorganized.
It is this packed and more, and completely disorganized.

From there, we walk about 5 minutes to the entrance, waited another 10 minutes, and get through (tickets at 15 dollars at the door). After that, you have to wait in a line for another 15 minutes to buy tickets to buy the oysters and alcohol. The tickets are 2 dollars each, and each bucket of oysters is 10 dollars. (Amazingly, wine and beer were 3 tickets each, meaning 6 dollars for less than a solo cup of beer. Cool.) And, if you’re going to eat oysters, you need to wait in line for 10 minutes to get the knife tool (4 dollars) to open them (and gloves [2 dollars each glove] if you don’t want your hands to get all cut up like ours did). So we get all the tickets and the tools finally, and we wander around to where the oyster bucket line is. This time, everyone was packed together like cattle with no real line, and fighting my way to the front took another 35 minutes. We got 3 buckets of oysters, with about 1 1/2 dozen in each bucket (it comes with crackers, hot sauce, and cocktail sauce though horseradish was definitely missing).

After that, if you want to use the provided tables, you have to wait until they open up or each sit in the grass. We got lucky and jumped in a spot fast. We probably spent 40 minutes having fun and eating oysters (damn you will get messy). We had a good time and ate a lot of these sea loogies, which were really hot and delicious. So, we finish and try to get cleaned up, but the sanitizing stations are empty already (bring wet wipes with you, trust me!). We try to go to the bathroom, but there were obviously not enough units for everyone and the wait appeared to be a good 20 minutes or more, so we just held it in. Fun.

There was some live music, but nothing that caught our attention. Most people were just out there getting slammed drunk and eating fried foods from the other vendors (who gets fried chicken at an oyster festival?). The size of the venue is almost a little small for all the people, despite being a massive plot of land available for use. Every inch of space was taken up by people’s stuff, so finding your way around wasn’t too pleasant. If there were more things to do than the music, eat oysters, and get drunk, we didn’t see it. We wandered around a little, but there wasn’t a map of the event or anything, so we just left after we got somewhat full. Our big loop into the plantation put us right next to one of the entrances, so I thought we’d have an easy out. Wrong, of course. They closed it off and had us drive through the front of the event, near the ticket gates. Of course, everyone was walking everywhere, so we had to wait on all the people and then drive through another winding dirt road in bumper to bumper traffic, taking around 45 minutes. When we got to the highway, we were so relieved to finally leave.

You can eat oysters at a sit down place all over town, for less than the price you'll get them for at the festival. Try Coconut Joe's and have a walk on the beach while you're there.
You can eat oysters at a sit down place all over town, for less than the price you’ll get them for at the festival. Try Coconut Joe’s and have a walk on the beach while you’re there.

So, if you total everything up, we spent 60 dollars, 30 on food, and 30 to enter (and more, counting the gas). We spent more than 5 hours total trying to get to the event and actually being there, and of that, we spent a total of 40 minutes actually eating the stupid oysters. I am completely amazed that people were actually having a good time here. I went to the fair, which was packed and it took us maybe 30 minutes to get in the gate, and maybe 10 to leave. I wasted my entire last day of freedom trying to get out of the house and do something fun, but I can’t figure out why I just didn’t lay in bed. If I was a smart man, I could have gone to a really nice seafood place and had more food for less money and be way more happy. I’m not sure if this is what South Carolina calls a good time, but it really sucks.

What should have been a really fun day turned out to be a huge waste. Today is the day that Carissa and I spent in the car together hanging out. If we wanted to do that, we would have done it in our driveway. They’ve been putting this thing on for 30 years and they haven’t figured out the logistics it takes to do this yet? Ridiculous.

The reason I wrote so much detail about the event is because I Googled it myself and could only find a couple of facts, such that it existed and that there is a lot of oysters and live music. So hopefully someone else Googles this and decides to never come here and do this. You can get oysters at tons of seafood places around town, and your day won’t suck. Avoid it at all cost.

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Why iPhones Suck

iPhones are really cool. I like them as a phone because I can take such a degree of technology with me that I can manage so much of my life at one time I rarely need a computer. In theory, they are great devices and are leaps and bounds ahead of other smart phones, but in practice, the frustration that comes from using them makes them outright awful. So here’s a narrative story on why you should never get an iPhone. Because if you already use an iPhone, it’s too late to turn back.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

The software (called the iOS and what runs the iPhone’s features) is an absolute bugged out mess. From the smallest annoyances to the greatest frustrations, the iOS has it all. Examples are plentiful and I’ve actually started an album on Facebook to chronicle my unfortunate problems. This is actually the main detractor from the phone because it’s the software that you end up dealing with all day. And yes, before you tell me to update, I am using (at the time of writing this) the most updated version of iOS.

Showcased to the left is myself trying to send an e-mail of a YouTube video to a friend. Astoundingly, it decided to bring up the keyboard while sending an e-mail and playing the video at the same time. I’m not sure how this happens, but it’s happened on more than one occasion. You have to exit YouTube, then stop YouTube from running, and then relaunch, find your video, and try again. It’s just a random added hassle that is more hilarious than it is harmful, but still an example of a bug that seems completely random.

The problem is that a lot of the bugs are completely infuriating. For example, the iPhone has a lag when locking and unlocking the phone (that button on the top right). This is not too big of a deal unless you’re trying to use it during two events: first, trying to lock the phone after you end a call may freeze the phone, or the end call button might be pressed and you lock the phone, and then it tries to lock the phone after the call AND by you locking it, and the phone freezes; second, and the most unbelievable, is when you have a password on your phone. When you unlock the phone you are prompted to enter your password and while the screen displays the digits for you to press, it is not fast enough to catch the first or second numbers you enter, making you re-enter your password immediately after. What a crazy place for lag to be, and one that drives me up the walls. Of course, why do you even have a password when people can still access your contact list, photos, and make calls?

Typing a message to my friends is so easy here

It doesn’t make sense to me how a phone can be so buggy and be so widely used… and everyone just loves them. And so do I, I guess, since I put up with it every single day. Believe it or not, today I got up at the wrong time because the iPhone, using its sophisticated future technology, was not able to correct my alarms for daylight savings time. But that’s okay, because they issued a warning on the internet. Thanks for the update that I never got. Oh well, it wasn’t too big of a deal, but you’d just imagine they could fix such a simple issue. Computers have been dealing with it since their inception, after all.

Neat, always wanted a keyboard that was completely broken and stretched out

The next issue is one that I can’t personally attest to happening on my phone, but rather on my mom’s phone. She kept complaining to me that the battery life was awful and that she could never make calls. Both of these are true: the battery life on the 3G is abysmal, but is thankfully better on the 4; AT&T provides some of the worst service ever (at least in Midland, Texas) and having calls fail while being in the middle of the city at home are commonplace (I actually bitched about it on Twitter some time ago and a representative responded saying sorry… sorry about what, that you’re selling a busted service? You don’t fix anything by saying sorry. Give me a refund of a dollar for every call that’s dropped and you’d more than pay for my phone service! But I digress).

Anyway, today I finally told her to give me her phone so I could show her how she was doing it wrong, which she usually is. I tried to make a call and the phone just sat at the calling screen for about 5 minutes with full signal. I decided to restart the phone, and when it came back up the battery had went from full (she just had it plugged in when she gave it to me) to about 10% or so. How is this possible? I’m guessing something in the software isn’t reporting the battery percentage life. As well, I could now make calls. What a joke.

This next one is a combination of the software and the actual hardware of the phone. I can’t believe that this phone was made with so many blatant design flaws. The first of which is that I bought my 3GS in June of ’09, my first iPhone purchase. After using it for a little under a month’s time, I was texting someone and typing and the screen just cracked. You might be wondering how many times I had dropped the phone. None. Even then, it was in a case to prevent things like this happening. Apparently, my unit was defective because the screen should not be so weak that typing on it makes it break. Fine, whatever.

Another thing that probably no one besides myself a few others will ever see is the text message limit. Apparently after 75,000 texts, you go over a limit and the phone tells you to delete some. Well, I’m the kind of person who likes to have full logs with whoever I talk to, so I never delete messages and I can pick back up and remember what I told some girl whose number I got in a bar at 3 AM a year ago when she messages me asking how I’m doing randomly. (This is a real situation. I am prepared.) But, after this limit, you’re screwed. Why such a limit? My phone has 4 gigs of space still free on it. There should be no limit. It’s not like the phone is pulling up this information every time I text; it’s only used when I want it.

Uh, thanks for the cryptic message?

I put up with this for a while and shortly thereafter I kept getting strange messages popping up that didn’t make any sense to me. I literally had no idea what they meant and tried to ignore them. However, after they came up, I realized that I could no longer make a call and speak — that feature had been disabled somehow in the software. The error message in question is shown at the right. Essentially, this random message that seemed unrelated to me was that I had connected some mystery accessory to my phone that it did not approve it. That’s fine, only that it wasn’t connected to anything at all. It was just popping up every 15 minutes and letting me know this. At this point, I became absolutely infuriated: my awesome future technology was a busted piece of shit already and I had only had it a few months. Really Apple?

So I called these guys up and of course I was transferred to some Indian guy who could barely speak English as far as I could tell and he told me that first, I had gripped the screen “too firmly” (I will never forget this) and that caused the phone to crack. Too firmly? What the hell, should I hold it lightly like it is a magnificent baby kitten? No, this is a phone and I don’t want to drop it and break it. The irony. I also mentioned that I couldn’t make calls and this was making the phone a giant paperweight. He said that I could should remove the accessory (the one that I didn’t have) and that cracking the screen had probably caused this. I asked if he had ever heard of either of these problems, and he said no.

Thanks, love that YouTube feature

I was told that I could replace my phone no problem. It would be 130 dollars to get the screen fixed and it would take 3 to 4 weeks for this to happen, and that I would also be out shipping. I asked if there was any way that Apple or AT&T could give me a loner phone to use while mine was being fixed, and I was told there was a way. All I had to do was give them 650 dollars (a holding fee plus shipping) to get this phone. So, basically, Apple told me that I was shit out of luck. I called AT&T and they told me to use an old phone or to call Apple. They didn’t care about me either. I called Apple back to see if there was anything they could do to work the situation out and I was told I needed to pay 30 dollars to talk to a representative. Uh, what? I cursed loudly and hung up the phone (not my phone, mind you).

Texting someone(?) my candid thoughts

So, I did what anyone would do: look online for a fix. First, I found a number of other users complaining about their screens cracking in dubious ways and a ton of people who had the problem where it said there was an accessory plugged in (and a ton of people who called Apple and had them say they never heard of such a story!). So, the problem was the moisture in my pocket had created a bond between two connectors in the docking port, causing it to think something was plugged in. The solution was just a rub down of alcohol and it was fixed, but I wish I could have been told that over the phone instead of reading it on some forum. And why is that such a common problem? What a great design feature. I still don’t get why there aren’t rubber plugs that cover those areas that are common on pretty much every other phone ever made. Whatever.

Here's the screen I saw before my phone wiped all of my text messages away completely

I guess there is hope for the future, because Apple does release updates to fix all the bugs. Or introduce new ones. When I upgraded to the iOS 4, it had the awesome feature of turning my phone into a paperweight. Yeah, it actually managed to make my phone break by updating it. The phone got stuck at a screen showing a plug and the iTunes icon, meaning, to me, to plug it into iTunes. Well, nothing happened. So I tried again, restarted my computer, reinstalled iTunes, and nothing worked. I called Apple but this time couldn’t even get through to anyone who knew what I was talking about… much less anyone who could keep track of my data. They kept getting my name wrong and thinking I was someone else. Cool guys.

So what did I have to do? Well, skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read a lot of nerdery.
Uninstall iTunes 10 after putting the iPhone in DFU mode
Delete all the old files in the iTunes directory
Install iTunes 9, but find out your library is now incompatible
…So rename your old library files
Then iTunes 9 will start and see the phone
Then recover it
Then copy the iPod directory from Program Files for iTunes 9
Then uninstall iTunes 9
Then install iTunes 10, and ignore the error messages when installing
Then rename your library files to the originals
Then cut and paste the iTunes 9 iPod directory over the iTunes 10 directory
Then start iTunes 10 and it will see the phone, the music, and the iPod service will work
Then restore your last back up and wait a few hours

RIP 3GS

Neat, so after you follow those steps your phone will work again. Glad that Apple told me how to do that. Oh wait, I had to spend my night on forums hating life. Either way, the phone has lasted me a good while and over time my time crack became another crack and another. I wasn’t going to put it in a case after it already had a crack — what’s the point? But just a few days ago, I dropped the phone from about 4 feet onto the dirt (the most extreme diamond covered dirt in the world, apparently) and my phone just lost it completely. That’s fine, whatever. I was out in the oil field and people kept trying to call me and I couldn’t slide to unlock it so they just assumed I had electrocuted myself and died somewhere. That or assumed I didn’t have service because I have AT&T, the nation’s fastest worst 3G network.

So what did I do? Well, I debated either switching to Verizon and paying the fee to break up from AT&T so I could get the Droid which everyone I know that has it seems to love it (and the customer service is excellent: my brother dropped his and it broke, so he sent it in and they fixed it for free, and gave him a free loner phone), or I could just get a new iPhone. Admittedly, there’s not much different between the 3GS and the 4, but after using the 4, I find that it’s actually a better device overall. That screen really takes away from the strain on my eyes. Why would I get a new iPhone when I just spent the better part of an hour bitching about them? Well, I realized that Apple owns my life. I have so much stuff saved on this phone that I can’t switch. I don’t care, just give me the new iPhone. I’m screwed for life. All of my music is through iTunes (at least in the last couple of years), so I’m locked to devices that can sync my tracks that are purchased content. (That also means I have to use iPods when I go for runs, sly bastards.) Finally, the iPhone backs up all of your content into some magical file that will restore most of what you have, making it easy to transition to a new iPhone. This isn’t a complaint really because it makes it simple and convenient for people to change their iPhones. However, it also means that I don’t want the hassle of learning a new phone, trying to migrate all my content manually, and then being upset with the lack of all the apps that I’ve accumulated over my iPhone ownership period.

How meta.

I’m stuck. I will always buy the iPhone. I don’t care how much AT&T and Apple piss me off, don’t care about me, and in general, treat me like I’m a clueless fool who isn’t entitled to decent treatment. This is the worst abusive relationship I have ever been in; I wonder what iPhone user needs sex when they get screwed every day?

11 February 2004

I recently got my hands on the NEWEST GENIUS IDEA FROM WRIGLEYS.

This is what the gum comes in. Notice the new flavor.

This is Wrigley’s new Strappleberry flavor. I tried to speculate which berry this indeed was, but the closest I’ve got to it is possibly some form of… well, I’m not really sure. This looks red so I’m assuming that it will taste like delicious strawberries or cherrys.

This is me choking back the gag reflex

Who here likes the taste of cough medicine and rubbing alcohol? Aw, c’mon, I know you do. This tastes… remotely red. The rest tastes like chemicals. In fact, it made my mouth burn. I think the story behind this gum is that Wrigley’s had a vat of excess chemicals and flavoring that they needed to get rid of and this was the perfect excuse since dumping these into a river or pond would surely be bad because the water would light on fire or animals would start glowing or something else nasty.

Clay's Rating: 😦

Don’t waste your money. My teeth are stained purple now. Yes, purple. Don’t ask me.