Went up to Rowland Heights on Thursday to visit Uncle Jiang. When we visited last time the lawns and trees at the hilltop development were still dusty plots and saplings. Only thing that grew faster than the trees were the prices of the houses. He wanted to get a computer and get on the Informational Superhighway. I'd been putting it off for a while, but it's a chance for dad to visit his friend, so we made what I thought was going to be an overnight trip. Got there about noon and went out for some really good beef-broth noodles. Sure, all the shops and restaurants are in these awful pre-fab SoCal-style mini-malls, but the food's 100% authentic. The trick is to make a flavorful broth to infuse the noodles with flavor, without using cheap tricks like salt and MSG.
Could've gone to the City of Industry Fry's (complete with cool industrial theme) and got our computer there, but I wanted to show off the Apple Experience, so we drove all the way down the Pomona Freeway to the Santa Monica Freeway to the Apple Store at The Grove. I'm all for urban redevelopment, and it's a great idea to integrate the LA Farmer's Market into the mall, but boy downtown traffic sure's a bitch. Spent some more time dickering over which model and even whether he should get a Mac at all. It's all about tradeoffs, of course. The iMac's compact and easy to use, but it's a bit outdated considering its price tag. There is more software avilable for PCs, especially Chinese stuff. Plus he's not going to have convenient tech-support, since his son's the typical PC-using guy. On the other hand, we stopped by at uncle's house in Irvine on the way down so I could patch up their PC again, so I'm not going to deal with that anymore unless I'm paid.
The good vibes from the store won him over and we walked out the door with a 15" iMac, Airport card, and a Base Station (with modem, just in case). The 17" was probably a better deal, but he was content with the 15" screen and he won't notice an extra 250MHz anyway. Now there was the painful task of heading home into the teeth of LA rush hour on the San Bernardino and Pomona freeways. A smooth cruise into the heart of Los Angeles is now a painful stop-and-go crawl back to the suburbs. Stopped by Fry's along the way to pick up some extra memory (I almost paid the 300% markup at the Apple store, but then they said "installation extra" and I was like "fuck that"), and even then I missed the turn-in and had to make a five-mile loop because the road dumped me right back onto the freeway going in the wrong direction. Went out to eat at a nice seafood place after we got back, before I could even unpack the computer. Looks like we're staying the night.
Michael was back from work when we got back from dinner. Obviously, he was curious about the big iMac box in the living room, and it was good for me to have somebody slightly clueful around to fill in their setup info. The iMac setup managed to fit on the dresser table, and auntie thought it was cute, which made for a good first-impression. I bought the ABS-with-modem because I didn't think they had broadband, but when I turned the iMac on it picked up the Linksys wireless network automatically (which suitably impressed Michael). Should've figured that a young Asian male wouldn't put up with dialup. Good thing we went out before I had a chance to rip everything open. Bought the wrong memory, too, because I forgot that the user-accessible slot only took SO-DIMMs instead of the regular sort. Looks like another trip tomorrow.
Managed to get the basic installs done before going to sleep. I don't do well in strange beds, so I didn't get much sleep, but when I got up early dad was already going over the basics with 江伯伯. Actually, I was kind of annoyed with that since I has my way of explaining things and dad has his, and there's nothing more confusing than two people talking in your ear simultaneously. But then he is dad's friend and it ends up as less work for me, so I kept my mouth shut and stuck to fiddling with the settings.
Headed out to the Pasadena Apple Store to return the base station. The Grove store was out of the iLife '04 package when we bought the computer, and they assured us that we could get it from another Apple store. The fat-ass graybeard at the Pasadena store insisted that the upgrade iLife packages are much too precious to be handed out to buyers from other stores. Bastard. Went to Yoshiz for a quick Japanese bento-ish lunch. Not that it was great food or anything, but it was a little Tech nostalgia. At least there was an obasan at the counter, and there were actual Japanese-speaking customers coming in for lunch.
Got the right memory module at Fry's, and grabbed Bejeweled while I was at it. Figured a slower, simpler game would work better for 江伯伯 than dad's favorites like Tetris and Scrabble. Set up the games and the browser bookmarks and let them have at it while I killed time. Stayed another night because there was much to do and because I was frankly too tired to drive that night. They were nice enough to buy us some fresh underwear and toothbrushes, and a fresh change of clothes sure helped me sleep better.
When I got up, he's already been playing with the computer for a couple of hours, with dad's help pointing things out and writing down cheat sheets. Got online banking working, too, after a few phone calls. By that time, it was time again to go out for lunch (dad paying this time). And only after one more run through all the installed programs did we finally set on out to San Diego, where we promptly run smack into an accident-induced traffic jam. Oh well.
All in all, the iMac was probably the right computer for him. Unfortunately for Apple, the number of un-computer people who have unlimited budgets for a stylish setup but don't care about speed probably doesn't amount to much more than 3%. Maybe they'll have more luck selling iPod Minis.Posted by mikewang on 07:02 PM