July 18, 2005

Off-Topic: Weekend From Hell In Review

Did you ever have one of those weekends where literally everything went wrong? I have.

It started Friday night. A massive thunderstorm rolled through Dallas, affecting power in the Ritual offices. While the UPS did its job and no work was lost, I figured "better safe than sorry," shut down, and went home. I managed to eat a quick meal prior to heading over to the "Harry Potter" midnight party with my wife (haven't read the books, just being a supportive husband), where I ended up being bored silly for 3+ hours.

I sleep in for a bit on Saturday, get up, go to Washington Mutual to change the PIN on my ATM card, browse through Lone Star Comics for awhile, then head into work to get caught up. I found a few interesting bugs, like an exploit in the accuracy system where if you crouch then immediately stand, you have 100% accuracy for about half a second. Logged those, and went home because we were going to go shopping for cell-phones.

Given our mobile requirements, we had decided on T-Mobile. We have a T-Mobile dealership across the street, so we went there. Now, we try to be informed consumers. We do our research prior to making a purchase. So having the T-Mobile representative on hand lie his ass off to us in a blatant effort to increase his commission really turned us off. Not only did we not buy our phones or a plan through T-Mobile, we even went and shopped the competition.

After two hours of being flustered, we decided to take a break and go buy some tunes. We went back to Virgin Megastore, thinking that even with our past experiences, that they couldn't screw up music shopping. We were wrong.

I bought a copy of The Car's "Greatest Hits" album and a 5-CD box-set called "Complete Eighties." (The box-set passed the 80-80 rule...only buy the set if you recognize 80% of the tunes on it, and like 80% of what you recognize.)

So when I get home, I plop The Car's album in my Media Center to rip it to my library and pop disc 1 from the 80's box-set into my console CD player. I get audio dropouts and static every 5-10 seconds. That's not good. I pop the CD out...no smudges, scratches or fingerprints. I grab The Car's album from the Media Center and pop it in. No audio distortion...time to investigate.

Turns out that Virgin put the price tag and other labels over the portions on the box-set where they tell you that it's copy protected. Yes, that's right...copy protected. They used some product called "Cactus Data Shield." If I wanted to listen to it on my computer, I would have had to install some drivers, downgrade my Windows Media runtime, and even then I only would have been able to listen to cassette-quality .WMA and I would not have been able to send the music to any portable devices. Had I known any of this, I never would have bought it. If I can't get the music I buy in stores onto my Portable Media Center, it is useless to me.

By this point, I'm frustrated, so I go to sleep. Unfortunately, I'm out of my allergy meds, so I don't have a restful sleep. I wake up on Sunday, get dressed, and go down to Virgin to return the box-set. They won't give me my money back because it's opened. They don't tell me that at first, however. Instead, they grill me for 45 minutes about my computer specifications. Finally, they agree to give me store credit. To make sure I don't have the same experience, I pick up "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" for the Xbox. At least I know that will work.

I get home, take a Benedryl, go to sleep...and barely wake up in time for work. Here's hoping this week turns out better than this weekend.

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