Time travel for girls

An unexpected side-effect of being more or less trapped on the sofa for weeks (as a result of the ongoing activities of evil micro-organisms) is finding yourself on an unexpected sub-warp journey to a 1970s-80s world.

This is courtesy of the only daytime tv that’s left after watching enough “factual channels” to be able to pass post-graduate courses in How things are made; What scientific myths can be busted; Ancient history, and the Origins of the universe.

I take for granted that the endless stream of programmes about WWII battles and big building projects aren’t watchable. And obviously anyone would rather saw their own foot off with a rusty steak knife than watch hours of exploitative confessional shows (like Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer) or talk-shows featuring minor celebs.

So ancient detective stories – such as Columbo – are almost the only half-watchable daytime tv. Which causes temporal distortion after a few hours and I start to feel as if I’m living in the 1980s.

There are series like Murder, She Wrote, Golden Girls and Cagney and Lacey. Which come as a real shock.

Programmes with female leads. And the female leads are clearly not there for decoration. What are the chances of seeing ANY 21st century TV programme in which the female stars are not glamorous? There are few enough ongoing drama series with female leads who aren’t “desperate housewives” or people who work in fashion or femmes fatales.

OK, Law and Order always has a (good-looking) female lawyer. CSI has (good looking) female CSIs. At least they have jobs. But they aren’t exactly the central characters. Could you imagine these roles being played by the sort of women you see in the Golden Girls? Of course not.

Post-feminism, my arse. These ancient tv programmes seem to have almost come from a mythical golden age, when women in the media could appear in a whole range of forms. Assuming that you don’t watch tv or read newspapers and that you doubt for a minute media representations of women are now actually much more “pre-feminist” than they were twenty-odd years ago, here’s Dell’s new site for women customers.

This exists to reach out to the heads of women who might find a non-gendered tech-selling site too sciencey and off-putting. It focuses on the exciting range of different coloured laptops that you can match to your lifestyle.

(“Complement your personal style with a choice of colors or a distinctive pattern (starting at $40)”)

There’s a featured artist. Don’t think da Vinci. (A laptop printed with details from the Last Supper would indeed tempt me, I have to admit) No the artist is

Featured Artist: Robyn Moreno
Robyn is the author of the popular style book, Practically Posh: The Smart Girls Guide to a Glam Life (Harper Collins, July 2008), and is the editor-in-chief of a Turner Media website devoted to fashion. She hosts a web series called “Darling Robyn” on The Dell Lounge, a lifestyle site on Dell.com, and is a lifestyle columnist for Ty Pennington at Home magazine.

Basically, this site assumes that women are only interested in shopping and how well their laptop will fit in a tote bag. Or as the Register says, with justified scorn:

Della has four sections that emphasis the humane, nurturing, collective, and caring aspects of… purchasing Dell computers; “products”, “tech tips”, “giving” and “featured artist”.
The site appears mainly focused on punting Dell’s Inspiron Mini 10 Netbook to ladies. It’s a computer, the company emphasizes, that will fit in your purse and let you stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues through email. And everyone knows broads fall for that kind of stuff.
Della’s “tech tips” section offers seven “unexpected” ways a netbook can change womanly existence, including helping you “find recipes online, store and organize them, and watch cooking videos”. Or maybe you’re the kind of chick that prefers to “use your mini to track calories, carbs, and protein with ease”. That just about encompasses everything you need.

If this backwards time-travel carries on for much longer, we’ll soon be handing back those pesky votes. Though we’ll be way too busy shopping and becoming bitchy but glamorous Stepford wives to notice, so I don’t suppose it matters.

Buying from the Bad

A while ago, the customer service of ebuyer infuriated me to the extent that we went about creating a new category here (bad shops) and I genuinely intended to never buy from them again. Sadly, market forces have worked against me and I find myself about to make another purchase from the customer service vortex that is ebuyer.

Recently I have discovered that I need to get a DVD-Recorder. This is OK, because they are reasonably cheap now – Tesco’s sells Liteon models for under GB£70. As I was looking through the shops, considering which model to get (I want one which has built in DivX for example), I found Sainsburys sells a DVD-recorder which is DivX and has an 80gb HDD for £130. How can you turn that down? I went home and checked online to see if there were any other deals and, blast,Evil ebuyer do a Liteon DVD-recorder with a 160gb HDD for £124. Blast and double blast. It is hard to mentally justify spending the same amount of money for a machine with half the capacity, so another order with ebuyer was put together. I hate myself for it.

Comically, ebuyer seem to have done everything in their power to stop people purchasing products there. The DVD Recorder I want to get is the Liteon HDA740GX which I have seen in Currys for £182 and on Froogle should cost over £156. It is, from what I have read, a good model. Most shops (eg, PC World) sell the 80GB version for the price eBuyer is asking for the 160GB monster. Ebuyer, being cheaper than anyone else I can find by a fair amount, get the order. Blast, double blast and triple blast.

eBuyer Screen Shot - taken 14 Jun 07Now, the strange thing about ebuyer is when you try to navigate back to the product page you come across this conflicting bit of information. If you look at the second and third entries there you can see what I mean! (screen capped in case they ever fix it… 🙂 )

For some reason, the e-commerce site returns two identical products with different prices. One version, with a manufacturers part number of H DA740GX is going for the reasonable price of £124.5, but should you be foolish enough to buy the HD A740GX you will have to fork out £202.93. As far as I can see (with admittedly only a basic search for the manufacturers details), these are identical products.

Hopefully ebuyer will manage to deliver this to me by Wednesday as they have promised (and I had to pay for, as they don’t deliver for free to the remote places in the UK) otherwise I will have to resort to my somewhat impotent ranting against them and boycott them again (until I need a new tech order…)

On the e-commerce front, it isn’t just ebuyer which is insane. I was in PC World today (in the real world shop) and I saw a Belkin WiFi Phone which looked interesting, but there were no prices on it in the shop. Basically, this is a phone that connects to your Skype account via a wireless connection to your router. So, no need to have your PC on to use Skype which overcomes the main hurdle I have to using this wonderful service. Now, to prove this product exists you can look at it on the Dell site (which seems the cheapest) or on Froogle. It is real. It is what I wanted and it was in the shop I visited – they had dozens and it looked like they had been there for ages.

On the PCWorld website, however, can you find one? No. I tried searches for “Belkin Wifi” “Belkin Wireless” and even “Belkin.” At best I got a list of cables and network cards. No signs at all of the phone. Crazy.

Still, Dell sell it, so anyone reading this and looking for a present to buy me – consider it!

[tags]Bad Shops, Ebuyer, PCworld, Dell, E-commerce, Technology, Customer Service, Shops, Society, Froogle, Skype, Belkin, WiFi, Wireless, Telephony, Phone, LiteOn, DivX, Tescos, VoIP, Sainsburys, Currys[/tags]