Getting Started: The Hardest Part

Two weeks ago, I wiped the slate clean on this blog in an effort to start building a cohesive online identity that supports my present goals. In contemplating the process, I’ve been admittedly overwhelmed by the various points of consideration that have crossed my mind. I’ve more or less decided not to engage in any extensive reputation management efforts and clean up the traces of my past scattered about the internet. Being an internet user for so long and having delved into so many different services and technologies over the years, doing so would be a time-intensive endeavor that I cannot afford. This leaves nuking all of my profiles and content as the only feasible alternative, and it was hard enough to do that with my prior blog posts; I simply can’t bring myself to support the notion that all of the experiences in my past and the time I invested in documenting them have to be eliminated for the sake of appearances.

Moving beyond the past and shifting focus to the present & future, I find myself similarly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of goals I want to accomplish and the various knowledges I aim to acquire and master over the the next few years. It’s a lot easier for me to come up with ideas for things that I should write about than it is to stay focused long enough to translate the ideas in my head into text — this is something that needs to change immediately.

Luckily, this weekend is a three-day holiday weekend. I have nothing scheduled, and am free to utilize it for productive purposes to get caught up with myself. This is something I’ve been in desperate need of, since the hours my current job had me working up until the start of this month have been taking up the majority of my time and leaving me too mentally exhausted to use my free time productively. I’m really feeling the pressure and necessity to upgrade myself and my life to get myself to the point where I need to be, and this is where it all begins.

Boxed, Sealed, and Archived

Some time around the middle of July, I decided (after giving the matter lots of consideration) to temporarily un-publish all of the posts on the blog. After my last post, I kept reading through the archive and decided that I needed to wipe the slate. When I first decided to start keeping a blog a couple of years ago, my intended outcome was a lot different than it is today. At the time, I was struggling with a lot internally and had started actively reading on the topic of personal development/self-improvement. I imagined compiling, over time, a kind of public online journal chronicling all of my internal/external changes as I sorted things out. Unfortunately, what I ended up drafting wasn’t as progressive and meaningful as I’d hoped. Instead, I ended up writing would have best been kept as offline DayOne journal entires — the thoughts and feelings that shouldn’t be readily available to a search engine query.

Personally, I’d have no personal issue with leaving them publicly available. I’m constantly cognizant of how much I’ve changed throughout my life, so much to the point where I’ve ended up externalizing different periods of my past and see them as the different people I’ve been over the years. In turn, I treat the things I write as what’s one day going to be the past of my future self. I’m human and imperfect, but not ashamed of myself in any way. Same goes for photographs; I don’t subscribe to the idea of deleting all unflattering photos of yourself. I don’t see a point in creating a record of your life if it’s not going to be honest.

However, in this hyper-networked era of social networking, mobile computing, and evolved search engine technologies, it’s imperative to put your best foot forward and craft an online presence that leaves a good impression. All of my existing content doesn’t support that goal, and it’s certainly not what I’d want a neighbor or prospective employer seeing first. Not only that, but that narrative doesn’t suit me anymore. I’m not the 17 year old that developed that writing style over years on LiveJournal. With all of the information available on the web, it’s time to step up the game and start creating things that are worthy of consideration.

So, now that that’s settled, let’s get this show on the road.

Review: The Hand Glider

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I was cleaning my photo library, and found some photos I took for a review of the Hand Glider that I never got around to writing, so I decided to go ahead cross it off the backlogged to-do list. I first read about the Hand Glider at the start of June via a post from The Unofficial Apple Weblog, when it became available for order on their website. The product had tried it’s run at a Kickstarter donation campaign for funding, but apparently failed to meet its goal. I guess the inventor, Joseph Bell, found an alternative means for funding and was finally available for purchase. I immediately made a mental book mark about it, since it seemed to elegantly yet simplistically solve a long-standing issue I’ve had with the iPad. There’s a lot of awesome note & drawing apps available for it, but the inability to rest my hand on the surface of the tablet really takes away from the experience and in some cases, hinders usability. The concept seemed sound – I’ve tried using touchscreen devices in the winter months, and they’ve been impossible to use when wearing gloves. In turn, I had no difficulty believing that a glove specially designed to only cover the contact points of the user’s hand would be a great way to work around that problem. Especially when it received an endorsement from someone named Kyle Lambert, a very competent artist judging by the pieces he has on his site.
So, how well does it work? Skip ahead to the end of the post for that. Leading up to that, I’m going to detail the entire purchase experience, since that’s just as important of a step in the buying process as the experience with the actual product. (All email text is copied in it’s original form)
Saturday, 06/09/2012
I placed the order for the Hand Glider through their website. The order confirmation email doesn’t contain any information regarding shipping time. Even though I see on their website that the estimates are 1-3 weeks, I write an email to verify that time frame. The nightmare begins.
Friday, 06/15/2012 (Week 1)
All week, I waited to get a shipment confirmation, and never heard from the company. I replied to the email thread and asked about the ship time again, pointing out that they missed the window they’d given me. At that point, I was still cool about the situation. I respected the fact that Joseph Bell had come up with a creative and simple solution that resulted in an innovative and stylish product. I also realize that behind every small independent business, there’s a person trying to realize a goal/dream. I know that if I were to take an idea to market, the launch would be a little rough. I would need time to learn how to get things running smoothly. I don’t know when I sent it, since that message seems to have been deleted from Gmail’s archive. Definitely somewhere between Thursday (06/14/2012, when the week moved past the “early” phase) and Wednesday of the following week. All the stuff I wrote in the paragraph I also communicated in my email. I wanted to make sure that my email would be perceived as angry and demanding. I was still all about supporting the man’s idea, and was simply looking for an answer to a very simple inquiry.
Friday, 06/22/2012 (Week 2)
I receive a reply to my email:

Jimmie,
Your order is scheduled to ship next week.
-The Hand Glider Team

I got a little annoyed; that was a curt response to the long and cordial email I sent. They just answered the question, and didn’t even acknowledged the failure on their part to follow through with what they’d told me. Still, I keep things on the nice side side of the spectrum, and wait to hear from them again. At this point, even the 1-3 week estimate ship time on their website has been exceeded.
Thursday, 06/28/2012 (Week 3)
The same exact thing happens again. I send another email:

On June 15th, I was told it was going to ship “early next week” (the week of 06/18). Then I was told on the 22nd that it was going to be shipped this week – it’s already Thursday, and I still haven’t received any information regarding shipment. Should I still expect it to be shipped out this week? 

I was starting to get mad at this point, but still didn’t try to jump down anyone’s throat. So I waited for their next response.

Friday, 06/28/2012 (Week 3)

Jimmie,
We apologies for the delay, we have been hit with an enormous amount of orders that have put us behind schedule. I personally will update you with a shipment date by tomorrow the latest. Thanks for your patience with us. Your going to love the Hand Glider.
-Joseph Bell

Okay, more than EIGHT days later, I get a response. Even though it took way longer than it should have, I feel a little better – it’s signed by Joseph Bell. The big boss is aware of the problem, and makes a sincere sounding promise. It sounds reasonable, and after this long what’s one more day?
Saturday, 06/30/2012 (Week 4)
I learn that Joseph Bell’s word doesn’t mean jack shit.
Tuesday, 07/03/2012 (Week 5)
10:10 AM
I refused to have to wait until the end of the week to get an answer. I sent another email, still not allowing myself to fly off the handle over the situation:

Joseph, 

Your message from four days ago said “I personally will update you with a shipment date by tomorrow the latest”. It’s now Tuesday, July 3rd, which means that not only have I not heard back from you yet, but in 6 more days it will have been an entire calendar month since I’ve placed this order and I still don’t even have a proper ship date.
I’m aware that you must have a lot of orders – I found out about the Hand Glider by stumbling on the Kickstarter page after the funding period has closed. I think it’s a great idea that you should make money from, and have been very patient and understanding the past few weeks. However, after so many missed ship times and lack of follow through, I will admit the only thing keeping me from canceling the order altogether is that I don’t know of any viable alternative product. I don’t doubt that I’d love the Hand Glider – my doubts are concerned with whether or not I’ll be seeing it arrive anytime in the near future.
I look forward to hearing back from you regarding the matter, and hope you’ll have good news regarding the shipping status of my order.
Best Regards,
~J.

1:10 PM
I get a generic response from “The Hand Glider Team”. It was basically another “next week”, but at least made the effort to try to switch things up by getting more specific about the ship date they were going to miss next. Neither on time nor personally delivered by Joseph Bell, and…c’mon, Week 6. Things were well beyond ridiculous at that point.

Jimmie,
Our new shipment comes in on Sunday and will ship by wednesday. We apologize for the delay.
-The Hand Glider Team

Monday, 07/16/2012 (Week 6)
I gave up after they missed yet another ship date, and decided to just wait and “be surprised”. I walked into the office to find that it FINALLY arrived…but there was something wrong with it.

Hello Joseph & Team:
I finally received my Hand Glider in the mail today, one (1) month and seven (7) days after I placed my initial order for the Hand Glider. When I tried to test it out with my iPad and stylus, and opened the envelope and removed the Hand Glider. As soon as I took it out of the envelope, I immediately noticed a large loose thread (attached: IMG_0700.jpg).Upon investigating the thread, I noticed that it was loose at a point where the inner lining and outer lining are stitched together along the wrist, resulting in a gap that’s about 1cm long (attached: IMG_0701.jpg). At this point, I don’t even know what to say. When I placed the order on your website, it said that orders ship within 2-3 weeks. After waiting over a month to receive The Hand Glider with so many missed ship dates and lack of follow-up in communications, I was very angry to find what I received in the mail is a defective product that was already falling apart before I even received it. This entire has experience has been a nightmare of an ordeal, and the state of the product upon receipt is unacceptable. I appreciate your prompt response.

Hand Glider Defect (1)   Hand Glider Defect (2)

Tuesday, 07/17/2012 (Week 6)

Jimmie,
We apologize that after such a long wait for this product you are in satisfied with it. We will ship a new one out to you this week. We want our customers to be happy with the money they spent. Please return the defective glove to the address on our site.
Again we apologize.

I’ve received more apologies from these people than I know what to do with. Not only has there been delay after delay, but then they have the gall to ask me to mail it back to them. They’ve wasted so much of my time, and then I’m supposed to pay out of pocket to send them back their defective product? Wow.

Saturday, 07/21/2012 (Week 6)

Jimmie,
Your exchange was shipped yesterday. We will look out for the defective glove.
Monday, 07/23/2012 (Week 7)
The replacement Hand Glider arrives! I pull it out to examine it, and notice that something feels different. I looked for the original one they sent me, then compared the two. It seems that loose thread wasn’t the only defect.
The Hand Glider makers have never heard of quality control
 Left: Original   Right: Replacement
In my disappointment with the original one already coming apart at the seams, i didn’t bother to look at the rest of it or even try it on. When I compared it to the replacement, I realized that it wasn’t even SHAPED properly. The first one they sent doesn’t even look like it’s shaped for a hand…unless your pinky happens to be the size and shape of a penis.
IMG 0720  Version 2
See it now?

THAT SUCKED…BUT HOW DOES IT WORK?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dmCoCa3_DI]

If the video doesn’t play for some reason, here’s a clue: it doesn’t.

Here’s a screenshot I took after the test in the video:

Screen cap after using the Hand Glider for the iPad

If you’re wondering, I was trying to write “Does this thing work?” The Hand Glider doesn’t. Resting my hand on the screen with the glove on prevented the iPad from properly detecting input from my Wacom Bamboo Stylus, and even created a few random dots.

CLOSING

It’s been little over a month since I gave up on the Hand Glider. After that terrible experience, I didn’t bother to send back the junk glove they sent me the first time. I didn’t bother to email them again and go through more hoops trying to get a refund. At that point, I just wanted to be done dealing with them, cut my loss, and not waste any more of my time. I meant to write this back then, but I stopped myself – I didn’t want to publish something on the internet with my name on attached to it out of anger. I felt if someone was going to call attention to the awful customer service and quality issues of the product, it wasn’t going to be me. Those type of things can have unintended influence – I didn’t want a rant on my part to negatively affect Joseph and his employees’ lives. Now that I was reminded of this as I was going through my photo library, I felt compelled to finally write it and push it to the web.
I no longer harbor anger over the situation, but I don’t want to just write it off. If there’s someone that’s contemplating buying the Hand Glider and stumbles upon this post, I want them to know what exactly it is they might be getting into. It would have made a considerable difference in how all of this played out if I’d known in advance what to possibly expect. I also hope this helps light the fire under Joseph’s ass to get his shit together – selling something that doesn’t work and neglecting your customers throughout every step of the buying process is not the way to succeed in business. If this does happen to have any negative, I regret it – but I don’t apologize for it. Fault for that, if it happens, is all on him and his team.

In Memoriam: Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs

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It’s been five days since Steve Jobs passed away. Even now, five days later, it’s still difficult to wrap my mind around the idea that he’s gone forever. The world has lost a living legend and an amazing modern renaissance man. Jobs’ contributions to modern society, be they Pixar animation studios or the iconic iPhone, have changed the course of human culture and technological development in previously unimaginable ways. He was to us what DaVinci was to the world in the 1500’s. Like so many others, I mourn the loss of one of history’s most talented visionaries and leaders.

Now, I would love to continue to extol the virtues of Steve Jobs, but that would be misleading on my part. The truth of the matter is that my opinion of Steve Jobs has not always been the most favorable. See, for the longest time, I was a strong opponent to Apple products. Not out of allegiance to the Microsoft brand, but out of my love for technology as a whole.

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Boom.

Though I am primarily a Windows user, the Mac OS has been a large part of my computing experience as a whole. I first taught myself to use a computer using outdated Macintoshes in my elementary school’s computer lab, and later on using my Uncle’s Macintosh LCIII. Every time I used a Macintosh, I enjoyed it. As a child, it was intuitive and user friendly.

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However, I also had been given a Packard Bell D160 Multimedia PC by father as a Christmas present in 1995, and grew to love the Windows operating system. Though in hindsight it wasn’t that great, at the time the immersive Packard Bell navigator software that booted with Windows was impressive. It simulated an actual living environment, each room with a specific function – living room for media, office for documents, etc. The games that were available (The Journeyman Project comes to mind) offered me a way more impressive computer experience at home than the ones at school did.

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In the years since then, Steve Jobs returned to Apple and revived the company with the iMac. At the time, I was enrolled at Lewis Middle School, whose school slogan was “Leading in Technology”. They lived up to it: every classroom and every computer lab was stocked with both the color all in one iMacs with the hockey puck mouse, or with the latest variants of the classic Macintosh line. I once again grew to love the Mac experience. Though I hate to admit it, I loved playing the shit out of Nanosaur at any chance I could get.

Still, Macs came at a premium, and my Dad governed the computer purchases. He was a fan of the more practical Windows platform, so that’s what I got at home. I remember wanting to eventually get a Mac to do graphic design work on when I was in high school. Unfortunately, by then, the revolution started by the iMac sparked the elitism of the Mac brand: if you own a Mac, you’re better than everyone else. As a computer enthusiast who had grown up with an enjoyable Windows experience, I stuck with Microsoft. I understood the power of each platform, but didn’t agree that one necessarily had to be better than the other. Since they were both good, I felt I needed to stick with the one I’d grown up with and was subject to very harsh criticism.

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In the years between high school and the present, that resistance to Apple became an absolute disdain for it. I loathed the arrogance of the Justin Long Mac vs. PC commercials. Steve Jobs was perpetuating that elitist attitude I couldn’t stand. This became even worse when my best friend Chris switched from PC to a Mac. At every chance he could get, he would interject how my computer is pathetic because it runs on Windows. Any performance hiccup was interpreted as a plea for a gospel on the superiority of the Mac. Or, in layman’s terms, he became very fucking annoying.

Now, as much as I had grown to resent Apple, I was still a techie, and I still liked my gadgets. I’ve purchased many iPods over the years. When I was a teenager and finally had the option to upgrade from my Nokia 6682 to a smartphone running a real OS, my only viable options for a good 3G phone were the iPhone 3G and the Blackberry Bold. Android was only barely starting to gain traction, and AT&T went many years without carrying Android devices in favor of its exclusivity with Apple for the iPhone. Though I’d always wanted to get a Blackberry throughout my time in high school, I found myself going with the iPhone simply because it’s unique touch screen allowed the best mobile browsing experience possible. So it was with heavy heart in December of 2008 that I “sold out” and became an iPhone user.

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Even with iPod and iPhone in hand, I still continued to resent Apple solely because of my resentment of Steve Jobs. I’ve jailbroken every iPhone I have because I don’t agree with the limitations Apple has set on the device. They sell you something they will allow it to do for you, not something that can do everything it can for you. I was outraged at the 30% Apple started charging for in-app purchases, forcing competitors to rely on webapps to circumvent the unnecessary fee, thereby making iBooks a more attractive option with simple in-app purchasing. I was pissed when Steve had his Apple townhall and called Google’s “Do No Evil” mantra “bullshit”. I was furious when Steve set his crosshairs on Adobe (yeah, the company that makes the software that most professional Mac users use a Mac for) and Flash. Even worse was when the iPhone Developer ToS were updated to render the flash-to-iPhone compiler Adobe was planning on including in the upcoming CS update unusable.

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Google is bullshit and Adobe is lazy, says the Goblin King!

So, Steve did shit that pissed me off because I like Apple, but I also like everyone else that Apple has been absolutely shitty to. This led me to say (and by say, I mean “post online”) very many ugly things about Steve. God, I couldn’t stand the guy. I admired him for his achievements and business acumen, but hated his totalitarian approach.

A few months ago, I decided that I was going to invest in the Mac platf
orm. As an iPhone and iPad owner, I want to explore the integration that iCloud will offer across it’s devices. I remember that it was only two days after I first had this thought that Steve resigned as CEO. I remember laughing to myself that it was as if by simply having that thought in my head, Steve had won. I was interested in finally giving in on the one front I staunchly refused to give in on, the PC computing experience, and so his work was done. He stepped down in victory.

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Once he resigned, I found myself missing having him in charge. Without Steve at the helm of Apple, there was no reason to really resist Apple. My love-hate thing with Steve only worked when he was still in charge and ready to do something more. So in the time that I would normally read the latest on Steve Jobs, I started reading about Steve Jobs. I then started to realize the true extent of his genius and innovation, and the importance of his contributions. I also have come to realize that the very things that I hated about him were the things that I admire the most about him. He was innovative and decisive. He had great standards of excellence and amazing insight. And most of all, when it came to something he had made up his mind on, he just didn’t give a fuck. His word was final.

So, I’ll say it. I miss you, Steve. Furthermore, I’m glad to have shared time on earth with you. I can say that I lived during the era that Steve Jobs revolutionized the world. I don’t regret that I spent so much time hating you – you were kind of a real prick. However, the fact that you had the balls to do all the things that set me off was always something I secretly admired. Now that you’re gone, I only wish you were still around to keep doing what you did for another 20 years.

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Rest in Peace, Friend.