The Case Conspiracy

August 24, 2012

Look at any cellphone provider’s web site for a new phone and you will see they are only charging you a fraction of what that phone actually costs. At least according to them that is. I’ve heard the iPhone we all bought for $199 actually costs the carrier closer to $600. So how could they possibly be making any profit?

Welcome to (trumpets please) The Case Conspiracy.

You know you’re not leaving the cell phone store without a lecture on the need to protect your device. This includes the dreaded extended warranty doomsday diatribe, followed by case coercion, and for the finale the screen protector prophecy. After all, to replace your device is hundreds more than you paid, and how stupid would you be knowing you’re going to drop it at some point without having protection in advance.

I confess I caved on my iPhone having heard horror stories of shattered screens and inadvertent personal flotation devices, further reinforced by the spare no-frills prehistoric folding phone my salesperson whipped out as evidence of his current impending repair. I went for the hat trick, getting the case-screen combo and the extended warranty. I couldn’t wait to read the list of exclusions for the warranty because it just sounds so perfect in the store…whatever happens, wink-wink, we’ll fix it! Really? So basically if I actually carry the phone anywhere it likely isn’t going to last, so therefore I should pay extra in advance to pre-repair it, when it’s something that isn’t going to last as long as I expected in the first place. Great, where do I sign!

Had I not been in a hurry to transfer everything to my new iPhone and get back to work I may have thrown my phone against the store wall before I left just to see if they’d honor the extended warranty right then and there. Given my ongoing frustration trying to type on glass, I could certainly see myself exercising my sidearm fastball relay-into­-the-wall after the umpteenth incorrect auto-correct and random fat finger cut and paste yields yet another SENT nonsensical response.

But I digress.

So my theory is each cell phone manufacturer owns a case supply company whom they give exclusive rights to producing their uniquely formed series of covers for their devices. That $20 rubber cover you bought costs about 30 cents to make. Sell a few million of those in a bunch of colors and you’re quickly making up the so-called lost margin. This is why instead of including a cover with the device you’ve no choice but to buy one. Not sure? Go read the fine print on your warranty and you’ll see the exclusions for anything outside of a defect, normal wear and tear, or proper handling…unless covered by a suitable case. It’s clearly stated in plain olde English in standard 2 point Helvetica font on page 497: thou shalt buy a case for thy cellphone and thou shalt not bear false witness against thy carrier if thou droppeth thy phone.

Again, (trumpets please) welcome to The Case Conspiracy. Nightline here we come.


August 10, 2012

When I first got my iPad 2 I had to acclimate, as I’m natively a PC person. I’m used to turning on my laptop when I leave home so it is ready to use when I get to the office after my morning commute.

Upon quickly climbing the initial iPad learning curve I went right to the App store, tearing through the categories and lists, while focusing most of my efforts on the free stuff. After a long flurry of swipes, taps, and scrolls I had upwards of 200 apps. It made a nice dent in my 32GB. I went through the three clocks, five calculators, two compasses, and four picture editors. I watched TV, jammed on pianos, drew pictures, and gazed at the constellations. I launched birds, sliced fruit, dismembered zombies, and jumped, shot, soared, volleyed, and tapped like a human woodpecker. I cautiously synced some iTunes from my 112.92GB library. I tried to learn to be more productive the “Apple way”.

Three days later I surfaced and took a break. As I ate, which I do European style, I noticed my left wrist felt funny and my left shoulder was sore. I thought about it and recalled I hadn’t had much real physical activity the last few days. Hmmm. I did the slow motion circles pitchers do when their arms hurt and noticed when I brought my shoulder forward and turned my hand to face me it was at its worst. I was in pain and I was baffled.

I completed my break and having taken care of a few other things returned to the iPad. As soon as I picked it up, turned it on, and sat down holding it to face me the rush of pain returned. And then it dawned on me: I had Carpal Tablet Syndrome. The weight of the device and the new and somewhat awkward manner I held it in had led to a major case of CTS. I crossed my leg over my knee and laid the iPad on it so I could surf and see if others had suffered the same fate. Alas there was no, no symptom or condition listed at WedMD, or a thread at any site where I could learn further or discuss it with the alias-based, self-empowered, so-called experts of the world. It was not covered by an HMO, a PPO, or could be treated by a DO or a DPT. I knew I had to do something.

I decided I would combine my IT analysis skills with my background in sports and training. I needed to start out small and work my way up to the iPad. Though tempted, I opted not to use an app to track it.

For the first week I went back to using my Blackberry. Holding it in similar fashion to the iPad I started out doing three sets of 20 minute reps reading stories at ESPN and MLB and worked up to ten sets of 30 minute reps catching up on RSS feeds and articles at the Onion. Those first few days were a struggle as my CTS tried to discourage me at every turn. By Thursday I had hit the wall but pushed through it somehow. My recollection of Friday is still a blur, as was my vision, and I slept most of that weekend.

The second week I moved up to a Kindle, opting for the black and white version to train my eyes for the contrast of the higher resolution iPad screen. Though I had some lingering pain from my CTS I was gaining strength. I read 17 books that week and by early in the third week was able to do 100 Kindle curls and 50 app crunches without cracking a knuckle several times a day. My left arm was starting to show some new muscle tone and I could balance a stylus on my left wrist for hours at a time.

While I was tempted to jump directly to the iPad I knew I needed to establish endurance as I had no intention of returning it. So as an interim measure I opted for a Dell tablet, using my connections as Value Added Reseller to obtain a free loaner under the auspices of introducing it to a long-term client. It was heavier and bulkier than the Kindle and closer to the shape and size of the iPad. For the next week I split my routine into morning and evening training sessions, reading over a dozen ePapers daily and commenting on article after article, liking and disliking, and occasionally getting into a debate.

By the end of the fourth week I had made significant progress. I was feeling as strong scrolling in any direction as I ever did. But I knew there was still one test left, one hurdle to leap, one final challenge to get me ready. So rather than take the weekend off as I had been doing previously, I spent the entire weekend on eBay. I bid on over 1200 items that were under 15 minutes from closing, winning 27. Most items were under $10 but I did try harder for a Bentley and GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip in its original case, just to further sharpen my fine motor skills. By Sunday night I felt ready. My CTS was becoming a distant memory.

It’s been nearly six months since my month of tablet training and I have to say I am much better for it. My CTS is thankfully dormant though I know once you’ve had it, it can flare up at any time. I’ve settled into a regular pattern of iPad usage and with my upgrade to v5 am able to change wrist positions more frequently to match the associated swiping motion. At times I feel the Cloud has lifted the weight off my shoulders. While I still rotate through many of the free apps, I’ve actually purchased a few. I am much more utile with the device and have even learned a few shortcuts. For sure Solitaire is much clearer and easier to play on the iPad than on my Blackberry. Unfortunately the end of my right index finger seems to have lost some of its sensitivity and the knuckles behind it are feeling sore. I wonder if I’ve developed an index Pointing Angular Disorder?

Welcome to “The Blogs”

August 10, 2012

My views, your time. I hope you find them both worthwhile.

With a special shout out to the LANHappy crowd, welcome back.