My Stuff Hates Me

Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, most of my posts over the past month being private. But, I feel like ranting semi-publicly, so, here goes.

My car is dying. A few months ago when I had some unrelated work done, my mechanic told me the rotors and axles need to be replaced (not dangerously so, but they’re not in good shape), at a cost of roughly $1000. I decided to put this off. A few weeks ago, my car wouldn’t start. My mechanic found a leak in the head gasket. It’s been band-aided, but who knows how long it will last. That’s at least another $1000, probably more if the head gasket fails while I’m driving it. The car is old, but not exceptionally so: it’s a 1997 Honda Accord which my parents bought used for me in 2000. The mileage was somewhat high when I got it (around 65k miles), and now it’s up to around 140k. While that’s not particularly impressive, it’s not like the car hasn’t been used.

So, I’m looking for a new car (well, not new, used, but only a couple years old, hopefully). While I was initially somewhat opposed to the idea of another Accord, I’m starting to change my mind. I’m looking at a 2004 Accord coupe (my current car is a sedan) on Tuesday, and I have a few more in my list that I need to call.

I’m considering a Honda Civic, but I’m not sure I want one (no good reason). Ditto for Nissans in general. Not really interested in an American car. Toyota is a possibility. Open to European makes, but only if the cars generally have histories of not being in the shop too often (so that leaves out Saab and Volkswagen, among others). I’m buying used to avoid the good old new-car premium and immediate depreciation. I can also get a much nicer car for my money if it’s a couple years old. I’m not willing to spend more than $20k (even with that amount I’ll have to take out a loan), but I’d like to spend less, of course.

I’d like this car to be a bit more “fun” than my previous few cars. Manual transmission, decent engine (V6 preferred, though a high-hp 4 cylinder will do). Gas mileage should be decent, though, to be honest, I don’t mind current gas prices too much, and I’d be ok (but annoyed) even if they doubled. (Well, I do mind current gas prices; I much preferred the $1/gal we were charged just 10 years ago, but I’m saying current prices aren’t much of a financial burden to me.) I’d consider a diesel-fuel car if it met my other requirements. A better-than-standard audio system, bluetooth, and an in-dash GPS would be nice, but aren’t required.

So, that’s that.

In other news, tonight my laptop’s (the 12” PowerBook G4) hard drive decided it doesn’t like data integrity anymore, so I just ordered a new Seagate 80GB hard drive from newegg. Putting $60 into the machine kinda hurts, as I was hoping to be able to live with it as-is for another 8-12 months until hopefully Apple wises up and starts selling a 12” MacBook Pro – or even a 13.3”, but I’d prefer the 12”; I have a 13.3” MacBook from work, and it’s just a little less portable than I’d like it to be. Fortunately, it looks like the drive is still mostly alive; even though it won’t boot anymore (Linux says the root filesystem is hosed), the /home partition appears to be completely intact (just made 2 images of it).

So, don’t expect much work on Xfce (xfconf, mainly) for the rest of the week, as I don’t expect the HD to get here before Weds or Thurs, and then I’ll likely spend the next couple days rebuilding the system (I might be able to recover the root partition, but I’m not sure I’d trust it). Yeah, still running Gentoo, so I gotta wait for shit to compile (though fortunately I can offload 2/3 of that to my HTPC and server in the closet).

Oh, and speaking of stuff breaking… I bought a Samsung SGH-T619 (that’s a cell phone) 4 months ago when I switched carriers from Verizon to T-Mobile. End of August, the external screen breaks. No, not the outer plastic, but the actual LCD screen cracked. I really don’t know how: I set it down on my nightstand to charge before I went to bed, like I do every night, and it was fine. I wake up in the morning, pick up the phone, and the screen is cracked. Go figure. I bought the phone from a company called LetsTalk (online, but I don’t feel like linking to them); I emailed their returns department, not really expecting much, as they only guarantee the product for 30 days. But I at least expected an email back telling me to get stuffed; no, I didn’t even warrant that: I got no response at all. Great customer service, assholes.

I need to give Samsung a call to see if they’re replace/repair it under warranty; I read the terms online, and, surprisingly, they don’t exclude the screen from warranty protection. Assuming they’ll repair it, hopefully I can find an unlocked GSM phone to use while my phone is “in the shop.”

I was debating getting an iPhone given my semi-broken phone. My semi-broken phone was better than free: after activation fees, I got $15 back due to rebates and discounts and whatnot. So I wouldn’t actually be losing anything by buying a new phone. My old iPod Mini is starting to show its age (it’s almost 3 years old): the battery barely lasts 3 hours (even with the backlight disabled), and it’s a bit scratched from use. The battery life makes it somewhat useless on planes (where I find myself quite frequently lately), though it’s ok for bringing to work and plugging into my laptop to listen to music while I work. So, I figured, I could either get a new iPod Touch for $300, or an iPhone for $400. Of course, the T-Mobile contract makes things difficult, as does Apple’s stance toward phone unlockers/modders. This post by Mark Pilgrim kinda did it for me: I’m not going to buy an iPhone. I had a bunch of niggling doubts about my desire to buy one, but it helps to have them in block text right in front of me. I especially like this bit (in this case about the AppleTV):

I don’t understand this continuing obsession with buying things that you need to break before they do what you want… I thought the big draw for Apple hardware was that “It Just Works.” By breaking it, you must know you’re giving up the “Just Works” factor, so what’s left? Rounded corners?

Hell, with things like this, I’m feeling less inclined to even buy a new iPod… ever. Why should I buy from a company that appears to be openly hostile toward allowing me to use their hardware with a non-blessed OS?

Though, to be fair, I like Apple products not solely due to logical reasons. (Hell, I still have no 3D video acceleration on my PowerBook while running Linux, and the 2D accel is virtually nonexistant as well, and yet I still love my little PowerBook.) The hardware is pretty. It’s a status symbol; as much as I’d like to believe I’m immune to status symbols, I’d hate to deceive myself. And I do like MacOS X. I have a MacBook from work that only has OS X on it; I do some Mac development at work (seriously, working with Cocoa and Interface Builder is an absolute joy, even though Xcode’s text editor sucks ass), and I can get by using Citrix to access my mail (sadly we’re a MS/Outlook shop, and I hate Outlook webmail) such that I don’t need to use my WinXP work laptop all that often. I’m not totally pleased by the aesthetics of the MacBook (vs. the MacBook Pro), but I do like it.

And why shouldn’t my laptop look cool by my standards? People buy cars with dual reasons, too: your average car buyer wants something reliable and safe, but also something that conforms to their sense of aesthetics. That’s why there are so many different car designs and you can pick from a variety of colors.

Anyway, that’s the state of my electronics, and then some. I should get to bed; busy day tomorrow.