Saturday, 14 June 2008

PC Show and Tell

PC Show 2008PC Show: Day 2. Short version: the Apple reseller quoted the wrong price (they applied the discount to a non-sale model) and wouldn't budge so I didn't buy anything. I can get cheaper (or higher spec for the same money) via the build-to-order system. Bummer as the mental processes leading to a GO decision were long. Never mind, maybe I'll just get one anyway having managed to commit already.

I did buy a big Samsung monitor as a consolation prize; S$100 off plus a Bluetooth headset and a Samsung Beijing Olympics Swatch-style watch. Who could resist? Despite assurances, the Bluetooth ear piece does have a blue flashing LED and is truly Nathan Barley-esque. Why is it that for years we made curvy hearing aids out of flesh-coloured plastic, but mobile phone headsets are black & angular with blue lights?

The freebies were technically from Samsung itself, not the distributor, so you pay for the monitor, they put it on a not-too-crappy metal trolley for the journey home, then you take the receipt and (dragging the huge box through the throng) go to the official Samsung redemption counter where they validate the purchase, take your signature and IC number then hand over the freebies.

This is the way in Singapore; redemption counters for freebies. As a rule, there are only 2 reasons Singaporeans will join (and stay) in a long queue; betting shops and lottery ticket sales. A temporary third case is gift redemption counters. The Asus counter was outside the main hall doors and so their line (mainly laptop purchasers) snaked across the doors and off down almost past the toilets causing a congested knot that the event stewards simply ignored. Safety and crowd control was invisible, if not absent.

I was curious, given the supposedly heightened security stance these days, whether I could take a huge, heavy box onto the MRT? Yes, no problem at all. Passing security is all about fitting in; making it look like you belong. The guy who gate-crashed the Oscars in 2006 gave this advice afterwards:

"Show up at the theater, dressed as a chef carrying a live lobster, looking really concerned."

If anyway wanted to take something bulky and illegal onto a train, say for the sake of example, Durian fruit, use a big cardboard box with "HP Laserjet Printer" and board the train at City Hall (closest station to Funan IT) or Bugis (closest to Sim Lim).

The scary videos they run on MRT platforms show a shifty young man, wearing a baseball cap carrying a black holdall. But no-one wears baseball caps, or hats at all. No sports logos on the bag? Unlikely. Rather, just use a standard pull-along suitcase and get on the East-West line towards Changi. You'll fit right in.

Back to the big monitor. It looks great but I've run out of desk space and intend to put it on an arm. They claimed it takes the standard bracket. Turns out it's the other standard bracket so I spent all day today traipsing 'round trying to find the right part but no joy yet. Still, more screen than desk is what we call in the trade a "high quality problem".

The warranty card is a doozy. Apparently, for the warranty to be valid I need to return the card within 7 days, filled out with e-mail address, name, address, DOB, IC number, home phone, office phone, mobile phone, postcode, education level, salary band, occupation, and such marketing gems as what I think of Samsung as a brand and a list of every Samsung product I own or might own in the next year. I'm toying between giving up and fabricating farcical data. It's beyond the pale but I bet many locals dutifully fill these things in. There just isn't the same sense of outrage at loss of privacy and firms take advantage.