Thursday, December 19, 2013


The march of progress waits for no man, and after ten years it is nearing the time to say goodbye to The Haunted Brick.

You see in the picture above my MP3 player, a 40GB Creative Zen Touch, bought after several weeks of comparing-and-contrasting, having discounted the cheaper (and better) iPod on the first day of deliberations on the grounds that iTunes was evil. It probably was - and still is - evil, but the truth of the matter is that The Haunted Brick with its disc drive containing actual moving parts was pretty much obsolete the minute it came out of the box, what with the entire industry going off in the direction of flash memory the second I hit the 'order' button on Amazon.

However, The Haunted Brick has served me well down the years, being the home to the best part of 5,000 tunes. But now is the time to knock it on the head like an unwanted Christmas puppy and leave it stinking the place up like so much carrion.

Its downfall was not down to any mechanical failure, unless you count that of my previous laptop which killed itself completely to death rather than be used by me a few weeks ago. Sadly for The Haunted Brick, the new machine runs on Windows 8 and the two devices talk to each other much like the way I tried to ask a taxi driver to drive me to the American Embassy on a visit to South Korea (nice Kimchi restaurant round the back. Nothing dodgy going on). We both used the same words, but somehow I made no sense at all.

The whole episode of buying The Haunted Brick is one that has been repeated at regular intervals throughout my life. In a world of consumerism, I see something that I want to buy, carefully weigh the options, the features and the value. Then I buy the worst one on the market. It's not necessarily the cheapest one - I spent weeks reading camera reviews, eliminating the best candidates through a Robot Wars process of style, control, damage and aggression, before buying one with the battery life of a damsel fly and a refusal to stay in focus. It's still in a box, under my bed, sulking.

Ill-advised purchases? Tell me about them...

Before the MP3 came the portable CD players (one with an encoding system that NO OTHER model ever used), the cars (Fiat Strada, anybody?), the camera tripod that wobbles in a light breeze, and the not-Sony Walkmen which went back to Argos the next day because the door fell off. And so did the door on the replacement, making one believe that the door-off thing was actually a product feature of Argos own-brand door-optional Walkman-a-likes.

So, what this lifelong decade journey has told me is that it doesn't pay to compromise, you tight-fisted moron. Even the football team I support under-achieves, so I suppose it's something engraved on my psyche. I also drive a Nissan Micra.

[An aside. Actual phone call when I was getting it insured recently:

Salesman: Does it come with an immobiliser?

Me: It's a 1997 Nissan Micra. I can leave the keys in the ignition in the centre circle at Wembley on Cup Final day, and nobody's going to touch it.

Salesman: Fair point]

So, my mind is made up. I'm getting an iPod, ten years after everybody else.


Dan Sett said...

An iPod?
Get a minstrel to follow you around.
# Brave, brave , brave, brave Sir Scary.

TRT said...

Actually, it's not the brick that's the problem, it's the *spit* Windows 8. THAT'S the ill-advised purchase in this tale of doom and woe, without hedge-sickness.

Alistair Coleman said...

Windows 8.1 now - a massive download just to add a graphic that does the same as one key-press

Rik said...

Avoid iTunes, unless you want your pc to become completely controlled by it and significantly slower. I give people Copytrans Manager, and it's so much better...

Win8 Blurghh Blurghh said...

I've got the very thing for you. An Ekco stereogram - Radio, Music. So adaptive, it'll even play vinyl discs. Portable (only needs 2 people)and comes with new technology knobs and things. Pre-select buttons for Home Service and Light Programme. Large box, with flip up lid, to be sick into.

Dioclese said...

Took me decades to switch from Windows to Mac. Never regretted it. However, wouldn't buy an iPod. Overpriced and too tied into iTunes.

I use the iTunes app on the Mac as a music catalog but never buy anything from iTunes store. Torrents are much cheaper!

I have a Creative Zen MX 16Gb. Cost me about £50. The beauty of it it that there is a slot in it that takes a standard SD card which makes it infinity expandable - and you can't say that about an iPod.

You plug it into the USB port and the PC just goes "Oh look - another disc drive" and you copy MP3s onto it. Simples.

Anonymous said...

Fiat Strada?
I had to research that - it's like a baby Yankee-style pick-up truck!
Cute as the dickens!
The Tutor drove a 1968 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - bought used in 1972.
A chick magnet he says.

The Tutor used to get his digital music from Limewire and/or Ares Galaxy. I think Limewire is in jail now though.

Dai Sharvoo said...

Newcomers do not need to search any further than this weblog for a Fiat Strada pic.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough, Dai Sharvoo, but the gullible English oiks have been duped! What y'all call a Fiat Strada is actually a Fiat Ritmo.

Google search "Fiat Strada" and ya get the pick-up truck. Google search "1978 Fiat Strada", and you get Mr. Duck's chick magnet - the actual photograph to which you link above actually.
Funny that.

Alistair Coleman said...

The story of this is that Fiat keep recycling names, sometimes not even onto the same type of car.

Le Piat Dog said...

Ritmo - Rhythm
The driver of a Ritmo was usually addressed as Il Stronzo.

Anonymous said...

Il Stronzo?
Not "questo cazzo" or perhaps "stugots" then? You Brits are so polite and refined - no wonder you folks ruled the world for a while.

In The Americas, Skoda takes the place of Fiat.
As in:

Hey Stugots! Getta you f****** Skoda offa mya lawn. You f****** mangia cake!?