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Thursday, 21 May 2009
Apple tech hell: please standardise the kit, Steve Jobs!
I am currently in the Circle of Hell reserved for Powerpoint greenhorns trying to get presentations up and running for the first time.
With a performance of Anna May Wong Must Die! promised for next Tuesday, and with time running out, I discover that I am encountering every technical glitch it is possible to meet. It is as if some malign Screenwriter in the Sky has been on Robert McKee's Story course and is now chucking every obstacle at me he can think of in the hope that it will build my character/gimme a catharsis/make me a better person/teach me a Big Secret of Life, or somesuch. Actually, all it's doing is turning me homicidal but he knows that coz he's omniscient and omnipotent. Charlie Kaufman has taken over my universe and is having a right laugh.
I thought my problems at the St Ives preview were due purely to lack of cable connection from my Mac iBook to the projector. So I dutifully trot along to the Brent Cross Apple Store and ask for one.
Such a simple request. Who'd have known the horrors about to be unleashed ...
"Ooh no," says the handsome six-foot hunk in the orange T-shirt. "We can't do that. Too antiquated." But he kindly looks it up, writes down what I need for an iBook — a mini-VGA-to-VGA adaptor — and tells me to find it on eBay or maybe purchase it from the Apple Store on the net if I'm lucky, coz they stock no such outmoded equipment up Hendon way. (My laptop is only a couple of weeks past its third birthday, btw.)
Next up, I show him the Apple remote that's been mouldering in a drawer and ask him if it's a remote for my iBook or the iPod. He confirms it's for the computer. So why isn't it working with my computer? Do I need a new battery? He flashes it at one of their machines which miraculously switches screen. He assures me it's working but that maybe if I get the battery changed at Timpson's up the other end of the Mall, it'll work on mine.
The man at Timpson's tests the battery. It's on full charge. Not surprising as it's never been used. So why, I whimper back at the Apple Store, won't it work with my flashy new Mac iBook Powerpoint 2008 programme (£80 online)? Maybe, opines The Hunk, it's not compatible with Powerpoint 2008, only with Apple's own Keynote application, part of the iWorks package. Desperate to look as slick as a beach once Exxon has got through with it, I buy iWorks at £85 for the family pack.
I return home and order the mini-VGA-to-VGA adaptor (£17.50 including postage) for the iBook. Ain't no way I'm gonna get caught out again by tech gremlins
Next, I decide to kit up Loved One's MacBook which requires, I discover through much Googling, a VGA-to-DVI adaptor in order to work with an external projector. I order one toot sweet. Another £17.50 goes south.
Then, being a sensible sort of a gal, I book an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar. The heroic Marc (blue T-shirt) breaks the bad news that they had the mini-VGA-to-VGA adaptor in store all along (£15). And I learn that the stray remote must belong to the MacBook, not my iBook.
So the Hunk in the orange T-shirt hadn't worked out it wasn't working because the iBook doesn't work with remote control?
And it's quite unlikely that I'll find the USB Infra Red Receiver I need to turn my laptop into the cool state of the art wizardry my beloved project deserves. Indeed, Apple sells no such thing. Neither does Amazon UK. For one giddy moment it looks like Amazon US has one for fifty bucks, but it's an illusion — they're out of stock, no doubt due to the technology being wreathed in cobwebs.
And so I leave another £15 lighter and no closer to operating my show from all corners of the stage like a Powerpoint Nijinsky. But Marc does replace the two missing rubber feet off the bottom of my laptop so it will no longer slip all over the glass coffee table, much as I'd envisaged me tripping lightly over the venue, clicking away, making magic happen on the screen above me.
Instead, I will be nailed to the spot, moving through the slides, music and films with as deft a press of the space-bar as I can muster. But it will look fab and I look forward to seeing some of my lovely readers at the Roxy Anna May Wong Must Die! extravaganza on Tuesday for theatre, film, food and Akashi Sake cocktails.
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