Electronic botherations


in Daily updates, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Rants

One of the Sarah Lawrence students studying at Wadham

I obviously haven’t been making frequent enough offerings to whichever god watches over electronic devices. First, my digital camera got some kind of dust or mold permanently inside. Since it’s not a camera with lenses that can be switched, there is really no way to open it up to clean the senror. The dust is sitting directly on the sensor and the dark blotches it produces need to be manually removed from every photo that I want to look presentable, especially those with large areas of a single colour. That camera was itself a replacement for the first one I got, which had a defective flash that always fired at full power.

Today, my iPod simply stopped playing any sound in one ear. The iPod is also a replacement for the one I originally got, which would pause randomly and for no reason if it was not kept perfectly still. Hopefully, cleaning the jack for the headphones will fix this newer problem, because my experience of sending the first iPod back to Apple was hellish and the one they sent back (more than a month later) had a click wheel that was off kilter.

I wonder whether I have particularly bad luck with electronics or whether I am just pickier about them working properly and more willing to go through the hassle of getting them fixed. Both my Sony and Panasonic portable CD players got sent back to the manufacturer for defects. My GPS receiver is actually the replacement for a replacement. It’s grandfather had abysmal reception, even compared to other identical models, and its father died for no apparent reason during the second Bowron Lakes trip.

I should not, in any case, let these things distract me from the task of finishing my core seminar paper for tomorrow. It’s on whether order and justice are compatible in international relations. Obviously, it’s the kind of topic that anyone with normative concerns will feel fairly strongly about after five years of studying IR at the university level. That makes it both easier and harder to write upon. In the interests of not being up all night, I shall get back to it.

PS. This week’s readings on normative theory have been the first time I read a lot of Dr. Andrew Hurrell’s work. It has been really interesting, well written, and suited to my research interests. I think I will probably take normative theory as one of my two optional subjects next year. Overall, I think it meshes well with a research project focused on environmental politics.

PPS. It seems like it might actually be my headphones which are defunct. While they seemed to work in my iBook before, they do so now only when you hold them in a certain way. I will need to try out the iPod with another pair.

PPPS. Upon further experimentation, the problem lies with the headphones, not the jack on my iPod. While they work if you twist them in a certain way in the iBook socket, they don’t work at all in one ear with the iPod. I will need to buy new ones. In some sense, this is worse. At least the iPod is under warrenty, and all electronics are absurdly expensive here. I honestly can’t understand why people tolerate it. England desperately needs Walmart.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

V.A.K February 27, 2006 at 7:08 pm

Have you ever owned a vacuum cleaner? They seem to break down on a yearly basis. My mother’s vacuum lasted her for a decade. It makes one wonder if the adage “they don’t make things like they used to” is true.

Milan February 27, 2006 at 7:16 pm


While I didn’t actually own either, I worked extensively with two very troublesome vacuum cleaners when I was the janitor at the King’s Court Apartments in the Upper Lonsdale area.

The firse one used to break down all the time and, since I didn’t know how to fix it, I just had to go home and wait for the manager to fix it. It also weighed about thirty pounds. The second one was much lighter but also much less powerful.

In one sense, they certainly don’t make things like they used to: with the expectation that they might be fixed. Nowadays, once something electronic breaks, stores just send it to the manufacturer who strip it down for parts and send you a refurbished one.

B February 27, 2006 at 7:19 pm

If it’s just a dirty electical contact, a q-tip with some rubbing alcohol on it might fix the earphone jack of your iPod. Otherwise, there must be an authorized retailer in London somewhere.

The best option here is to develop Elvis Presley levels of wealth and dispose of defective electronics with blasts from high powered handguns, then calling upon underlings to replace them.

Anonymous February 27, 2006 at 8:15 pm

If the iPod is under warranty, I wouldn’t go messing around trying to fix it. Those connectors are cheap as hell and I am sure they can pop a new one in very easily.

One thing to check before you send it off: make sure that it’s actually the music player and not your headphones that is the source of the problem.

Good luck with your paper. :)

Milan February 27, 2006 at 8:37 pm


I sent an email to Apple to figure out how to get a repair box sent to an address in the UK. The automated request form on their website will only let me send one to Canada, though I made triply sure the Applecare plans for my iPod and iBook would still work here.

Incidentally, from companies that act responsibly with them, extended warranties can be wonderful things indeed.

Ben February 27, 2006 at 10:50 pm

Surely it depends what you mean by ‘order’ and what you mean by ‘justice’… How about international libertarianism and spontaneous order, a la Nozick and Hayek?

sasha February 28, 2006 at 12:37 am

England needs a WHAT??! Please, let us remember that what the world needs is far fewer mega corporations willing freely to exploit workers both at home and abroad, regardless of the impact on our cozy, western, consumption-oriented lifestyles. There are relatively few things that I still can’t resist getting preachy about, but this is certainly one of them.

Milan February 28, 2006 at 12:43 am


Normally, I would agree with you, but the retail culture here is terrible. There are no cheap stores, so prices everywhere are very high. Also, since they don’t need to maintain some reason for their high prices, the service everywhere is terrible. While the answer may not be Walmart, per se, this is definitely an industry badly in need of a good shaking.

Anonymous February 28, 2006 at 1:26 am

Case in point:

Sony Fontopia Headphones
Amazon.com: US$24.99 (C$28.79)
Amazon.co.uk: £25.66 (C$51.69)

Exact same product, from the exact same factory, and it doesn’t cost any more to run Amazon.co.uk than it does to run Amazon.com. It’s simply a matter of a lack of competition.

Sarah February 28, 2006 at 6:18 am

The retail stores aren’t really at fault – the main problem is land costs. Most of the price differences ultimately lie in rental costs (both for the business directly and the increased living costs of all their employees). If there were fewer people in the UK then things would be cheaper (things are already far cheaper in areas of the UK with lower population densities). As it is, we have one of the highest population densities in the world, which means one of the highest living costs in the world, and you’re coming from the place with the lowest population density in the world; no wonder there’s a contrast. The only solutions I can see are a) a plague kills at least 1/3 of UK occupants, or b) a similar number move to relatively underpopulated places like Canada. I’m doing my bit, wheras you have clearly gone the wrong way.

Ben February 28, 2006 at 9:25 am

Oxford is sorely lacking in cheap shops like, say, Wilkinson’s or Poundland – but even then, we have a Next Clearance.

I thought Walmart were the corporate devil – but what’s more they do have a foothold over here (Asda)

Anonymous February 28, 2006 at 9:39 am

Country – Population density – GDP per capita (Purchasing Power Parity)

United Kingdom – 244 / km^2 – US$30,900
United States – 30 / km^2 – US$41,800
Canada – 3.3 / km^2 – US$32,800

Anonymous February 28, 2006 at 9:41 am

Not that that should make any difference for online stores trading in fungible commomodites. You’d expect the stronger currency of the UK to lower the price of imported goods.

WildWeasel February 28, 2006 at 4:29 pm

My theory on the electronics failures would be the mental EMP field theory – the more intelligent one person is, the more likely that their electronic possessions will fail in some manner. Headphones are particularly susceptible to this (my older brother’s Archos Jukebox MP3 player failed after approximately a year – the hard drive crashed and could not be restored).

The physics behind this theory involve pulses from one’s brain – I can’t be sure at all that this is true, considering that I’m not a scientist by any means. It’s an interesting idea, though.

B March 2, 2006 at 8:27 pm

Today’s photo:

Documentary value: 4/7
Artistic value: 3/7

Anonymous March 19, 2006 at 11:17 pm

iPod Repair Status

Step 2 – Service
No trouble found (17-Mar-2006)

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