September 6th, 2003

Me 2012

Toys I Don't Need

Last night, Lut and I went out to CompUSA for the last time. (Hurrah!)

A bit of background. for three months, from November of 1996 to February of 1997, I worked for CompUSA, in what might be described as "the longest three months of my life". Summer vacations should have lasted so long.

I do not like CompUSA, as a company, although I'm actually quite glad that the upper management at my store were such unreedemed jerks. If there'd been a shred of decency or intelligence in them, I might have stayed at CompUSA longer. Fortunately for me, they were so obnoxious that they overwhelmed even my usual levels of inertia and complacency, with the result that I quit and, a few months later, started work for Toddler Bank, an organization in every way superior to CompUSA. So I have to give them credit for that. If a company is going to be bad, it's handy for them to be utterly atrocious. That way I don't wind up with inconvenient misgivings and wondering, "Were they really that bad?" No, they really were that bad.

Oh, all right, I shouldn't speak for the whole nationwide network when I talk about them. I only worked for one store, and not everything negative about that experience was the direct result of corporate policy. Maybe just half of it.

Anyway, I don't like CompUSA and prefer not to shop there.

Last night, however, Lut learned at 6:21PM that CompUSA was running a sale from 6PM to midnight, which included selling 80 meg hardrives for $100, with a $50 mail-in rebate -- so a final cost of $50, assuming the rebate thing worked. (I do not have great faith in rebate). Still, $100 for an 80 meg harddrive was not a bad deal, and Lut had been wanting a new harddrive for a while. The CompUSA website said the local store has 12 of these left in stock. So I got dressed, we hopped in the car, and drove out to the store. We arrived at 7PM, hunted around for the location of the harddrives, and eventually found where they would have been, if they'd still had any in stock, which they didn't. A sales associate eventually informed us that they had sold out within five mintues of the sale's start, meaning that they were already gone when Lut checked the web site and it said they still had twelve. This surprised Lut, though, since I had once worked here, it did not surprise me.

Lut went to wait in line at the customer service desk. I wandered the store, looking at techie toys I want and do not, by any stretch of the imagination, need.

I want a PDA, or maybe a laptop. The biggest thing I want one of these for is for writing while I'm on the way to work, or when I'm travelling to a con or whatnot. For a while, I thought perhaps I should just get a cheap old IBM laptop for this purpose. But a cellphone PDA has a certain appeal ... I could update my journal while on the bus. And while playing with one of the PDAs at CompUSA, I discovered that its handwriting recognition was actually not bad. It was slow, but I couldn't figure out if this was a flaw in the system, or simply a matter of me not understanding how it works. Anyway, I already find myself using a paper notebook to write while on the bus. Writing into an electronic notebook that could then upload to LJ -- now that would be cool.

Mmmm. PDA.

About half an hour later, Lut got to the front of the customer service line, and was told that he could pay for the harddrive now, and if it showed up in the next two weeks, he could still get the $50.00 rebate. If it didn't, he could get his money back, or wait for the HD to come in and get it at the full $100 price.

We decided this sounded unpromising, and left the store, vowing never to return. I'm not entirely sure that this episode merits a vow to never return on Lut's part, but, as I said, I hate CompIUSA, so never returning is fine by me.

Because we were already out, Lut wanted to go to Micro Center, another computer supply place. While he went to look at the harddrives there, I went to look for more toys I don't need. I found drawing tablets. Mmmm. Drawing tablet. I never had much interest in drawing tablets, until ursulav mentioned that it is much easier to do digital color with a tablet than with a mouse or a trackball. The idea that painting digitally might be as easy as painting with oils, and a lot less messy ....

Of course, I don't use the art supplies I have now. I've got oil paints and a bunch of canvases. I couldset up to do painting on top of Lut's old desk. I don't need to spend another $200 getting a new art toy that I won't use. (I could get a Graphire 2 for only $100. But I always have a hard time committing to a cheaper version knowing what I really want is the pricey one.)

Oh, and while I'm listing off things I want and don't need, I'd like a new printer. And a digital camera.

Weirdly, the thing I most likely to get is possibly the drawing tablet ... not so much because I'd get a lot of use out of it, but because at least I know exactly whcih one I'd get. Figuring out which printer/PDA/laptop/digital camera/etc. to get seems to be a huge pain. So many options!

But I really would like a PDA. When Lut and I go out to the park, I could get writing done ....

Sigh.

Do I really need any of this stuff?

No.

But I want it. And it's not that expensive, really -- but then I have to decide: which one?

Yargh.
Me 2012

Pixel paint

Well, as I mentoned to Tufty in the comments to my last entry, I bought a drawing tablet Specifically, a 4x5" Intuos2 Wacom tablet.

When I was talking to telnar on the phone this morning, he suggested a sort of compromise on my ambivalence about buying a tablet. My main reluctance to buy one was that I figured I wouldn't use it, in much the same way that I don't use most of my art supplies. Telnar suggested I find a store witha 30-day return policy, then buy one from them, with the understanding that if I haven't gotten much use out of it within the 30 days, I'll return it.

While I was at the store, I looked at PDAs some more. I'm thinking I may keep waiting for them to get better and cheaper for a while yet. I'm just not impressed by the functionality on low-end models. Maybe i'm just not trying hard enough with them, but it seems like they wouldn't be particularly good even for something as simple as writing and uploading text.

But I did get the tablet. It's ... interesting. I'm not sure how much I like it yet. It is clearly a huge improvement, drawing-wise, over using a mouse, or a trackball, or, heaven forbid, a touchpad. (*shudder*)

It was easy to install. As a pointing device, it's hard to get used to. I find the double-click button awkward to use (it's too high up on the pen for my grip) and I have occasional trouble clicking, or not clicking, on things. Purely as a brush, however, it's straightforward and intuitive.

I haven't tried using Painter Classic, the paint program that came bundled with it, yet. I've been using it with Corel Photopaint, and it works fairly well there, though I'm not sure how well Photopaint utilizes the pressure-sensitivity of the pen. I ought to give Painter a try, really. I'm relcutant to because I am just now finally starting to understand how Photopaint works, and my learning curve is so bad on these things that I hate to think of trying to adapt to yet another program.

I spent about two and a half hours working with it. The results weren't bad; sort of like oil paints on a bad day. Then again, I wasn't using a visual reference for my work, and I always do better with a good reference. So that probably didn't help.

The worst part was my hand cramping. Tufty suggested the stylus might be too thin for me; I dunno. It's thicker than all but the fattest pens already, actually. I think I just have a bad way of gripping pens in general: too tightly, and too low. Whatever the case, my hand hurts now. I'll play with it some more in the morning. In the mean time, I really ought to get some writing done on Prophecy.