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My new laptop arrived today. Or maybe it didn’t. It’s hard to tell what Dell wants me to believe.

I know it’s here — I’m physically typing this post on it right now — and customer support both called and e-mailed to tell me that it had been delivered. Then again, I never received any notice that it had been shipped prior to this, and when I log in at their website to check on the order, it still comes up as in production.

Adding to the confusion, it actually says the order “is partially delivered,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I joked over Twitter that I’d ordered Schrodinger’s laptop, both here and not here simultaneously, but as near as I can tell everything I ordered arrived. I followed up with Dell’s customer support, and I’m sure I’ll get a half dozen more phone calls and e-mails from one or two gentlemen in India before this is through — they have been persistent even when they haven’t been helpful — but so far I’m quite pleased with the computer that came by FedEx today.

Then again, I was quite pleased with the last one, and that caught fire and quit working. If this doesn’t do that — and I continue to not be charged for those first two orders that didn’t get processed at all — I’ll be happy. The laptop’s a little weird, a little different (because I didn’t want to tempt fate and get the same exact model), but it’s shiny and new, which makes up for a lot of things. Living in the cloud is all well and good, but there are some things it’s just a lot easier to do on a laptop than on an iPad or iPhone. (Like purchase this laptop for one.)

And yes, I know that’s like the epitome of first-world problems. You should have seen me the other day, when I couldn’t find the remote control to my air conditioner. The servants’ collective heads rolled for that! I joke; I don’t have servants. I do have a remote-controlled air conditioner, though, thank you very much, and woe betide the servant that comes between me and its temperature control. (It actually has a wifi option, too, but that’s apparently an added attachment we didn’t buy.)

Anyway, all this is to say I have a new computer, and in the three hours or so that it’s been on thus far, it hasn’t caught fire or disappeared in a puff of Schrodinger logic.

My back, on the other, was kind of terrible today, although this I think was a pulled muscle — probably connected to but not exactly the same thing that happened to me last week. I think this because it’s on the opposite side, and I was pretty much fine until I bent a weird way in the shower this morning, and also because it seems to be getting a little better this evening. As always, walking helps, even when walking at first makes you want to cry, is the very thing that makes it feel worst, and so I went to work. (Also, while I have some sick days left, I neither want nor really can use them so soon after using two last week.)

Honestly, I don’t want to whine about my bad back, particularly as it does seem to be getting better this evening. I’m getting some comfort out of listening to David Mitchell’s Back Story on audio book (in small part about his own bad back). And I did I mention I have a new computer that hasn’t caught fire? Things really are looking up!

Malware in the world?

I had a recurrence of malware on the weblog this week, likely some backdoors I’ve hopefully shut for good. I ended up paying for a service, then changing passwords and settings all across the board. As of today, it seems to be fine.

Of course, just before the end of today at work, that computer was hit by malware, crashing the system and wiping out my profile — no desktop, no programs, no documents. I left one of our IT guys working on a little before 5, and he seemed optimistic about restoring most, if not all, of my files. There was nothing irreplaceable on my desktop or in my documents, I don’t think, as most everything I work on is on one of several shared drives. But, still, it would be nice not to lose those files that were there entirely.

It’s been kind of a long week.

Wednesday various

  • How Doctors Die [via]
  • A Drug That Wakes the Near Dead
  • Every Beatles song played at once. Can you make it to the end? It isn’t easy, and I’m not sure it rewards you for your efforts — audibly, that is; some of the comments are quite funny — but it’s an interesting experiment nonetheless. [via]
  • “Won’t it make you lose your wits, / Writing groats and saying grits?” Can you pronounce all these words correctly? [via]
  • And finally, Warren Ellis on what sounds like the worst computer repair problem ever:

    One day, a few years ago, my backups all got corrupted, and my backup device died. I didn’t have online backups at the time. I’ll fix that on Sunday, I thought, as I was under deadline pressure. Saturday evening, my main machine died in flames. Sent it off for data recovery. The guy running the data recovery shop took it in and then went off to Europe for an operation. And died on the operating table. Came back to the shop to get my machine, because no-one was answering the phone, to find it boarded up, the (mostly off-the-books, apparently) employees scattered to the four winds, and the shop stripped down to the plaster. Not a computer left in there — not even mine. I lost everything, all notes and scripts for work in progress as well as the entire archive.

Fire fire

So I probably won’t be buying a Kindle Fire anytime soon:

If you’ve used an iPad, using the Kindle Fire will most likely remind you how much attention Apple does pay to design, user experience, deep detail. Apple thought long and hard not just about the features almost everybody will want all the time, but which some people will want sometimes. The iPad is a pleasure, sometimes even a mystery, to hold, explore and use. The Kindle Fire is a black rectangle with a screen that let’s you basically do seven things.

That said, it’s about to become “the rest” of the tablet market, everything but the iPad. For users who don’t want a sexy category-defying mini computer, this device will be great.

Finally, despite its seeming passion for books, Amazon is not a device company; it’s a company that has irrevocable changed, and innovated retail, and that’s what it’s doing again with the Kindle Fire. Bezos has gotten customers to pay him (although the FIre is a loss leader) for the privilege of owning their own portable comprehensive Amazon shopping experience. What he is probably most excited to sell a lot of are Amazon Prime subscriptions, which come with, of course, the free video content and the lending library, but, most importantly, with free two-day shipping, meaning if you’re feeling two lazy to walk over to the store to buy your toothbrush (or toaster, or boxer shorts or whatever), you’ll just order it from Amazon. This device is all about buying stuff, and lots and lots of people are going to buy it, and the Amazon content and hard goods it sells, this holiday season.

Wednesday various

  • Mike Daisey remembers Steve Jobs:

    Mr. Jobs’s magic has its costs. We can admire the design perfection and business acumen while acknowledging the truth: with Apple’s immense resources at his command he could have revolutionized the industry to make devices more humanely and more openly, and chose not to. If we view him unsparingly, without nostalgia, we would see a great man whose genius in design, showmanship and stewardship of the tech world will not be seen again in our lifetime. We would also see a man who in the end failed to “think different,” in the deepest way, about the human needs of both his users and his workers.

  • Actress sues IMDb for revealing that she’s totally old and gross. It’s an interesting case, although I don’t think IMDB has a responsibility to lie in order to combat Hollywood’s unfortunate age- and sexism.
  • Mysterious paper sculptures [via]
  • I’m sure by now you’ve heard this, but it’s still pretty remarkable: Online Gamers Make Discovery in HIV Battle
  • And finally, learning the wrong lesson from 127 Hours.