hobo grifter – in which I fail at problem solving and computer fixes itself

I went to New York City for a long weekend. I was working there on Monday giving a few talks and I figured I’d show up early and see some people. This was fun, and a good idea, though it meant that when I finally showed up in Roslyn the night before a long day of work, I still had a few finishing touches to do on my talk. It all went fine, despite my night-before concerns which are becoming sort of formulaic [I worry it will go badly, I will get no sleep, I will somehow embarrass myself or oversleep, or both!]. You can see notes and slides here. It’s a 100% new talk [not a single recycled image except the moss theme] which I am proud of.

Monday night I hung out with friends for dinner and then got up early on Tuesday [not my choice, that’s when the building renovations start, eight on the dot] and walked from the East Village to Grand Central station complete with backpack. Along the way I stopped at a chi-chi coffee place that I liked and managed to be so concerned that the gal next to me would knock over my coffee that I knocked it over myself. Mostly on to myself. A little on to my laptop. Now people who know me know that I “rock” a Macbook Air [thanks MetaFilter] so it’s a sort of spendy item. I swear as soon as the coffee hit my trackpad, the gal next to me grabbed her phone and twittered it.

I basically drink my coffee without sugar just in case of this sort of eventuality so I mopped it up and was pleased to see that everything still worked. Except the trackpad button. Now the new Macs don’t even have this button but I’m sort of fond of mine. In fact I even turned off tap-to-click some time ago. This meant that with my mouse button busted, I basically was immediately transported into no-mouse land with a five-hour bus ride approaching and only one book to read. In short, I was doomed. All I needed to do was borrow someone’s mouse for thirty seconds and I could click the checkbox and I’d be fine! So began my saga.

Here are places not to get a mouse in Manhattan: Staples [$29], cell phone gear shop [$20 but they’d sell it to me for $15], Rite Aid [they said they sold them but could never show me where they were]. Other places to not get a mouse: NYPL [SIBL and the downtown branch – nothing in lost and found and no one was going to lend me a damned thing], Grand Central Lost and Found [if the guy could have detached his own mouse he would have let me use it but it was locked down under the desk] Kinkos [same]. No one brings mice with them when they travel anymore. No one on the bus that I asked had a mouse to borrow.

I was resigned to my fate [and called my sister to have her Google this problem “how do I turn on tap to click when I can’t click” and the answer was a resounding “you’re screwed!”] when my mouse functionality came back a little bit. Enough to click the box once, not enough to use. I had to put my laptop to sleep and wake it up with the mouse positioned over the check box and click and hope. It finally worked. I learned to use most of the laptop’s keyboard navigation features and hack Google searching to just type words in the URL box and hope I’d get lucky with whatever page it sent me to. I never was able to click a link, I suspect the button was stuck ON for the majority of this trip. I spent a lot of time on chat bemoaning my lack of mouse button and asking for tips from other people who mostly couldn’t believe you could laptop sans mouse.

Now that I’m home, the laptop has mostly fixed itself. I’m trying to figure out what other way I could have possibly solved this problem short of calling friends who worked in midtown and saying “Hey can I borrow your mouse?” I sure did enable tap to click though.

new york city!

I did that get home in the middle of the night thing again but this time it was because my train from New York City got in to Rutland at around midnight and then I had to drive an hour home. This time I did not nearly hit a moose. I also had a new EVDO card for my laptop which meant that I was online for a lot of the train trip which made it go a lot faster. Sneaky bossman, giving me new ways to work.

The trip to New York was a flyby, in on Wednesday, out on Friday. I was talking to some people about “digital nomadism” and I’d like to say that it was for some sociology white paper, but it was really for a Dell ad. I’ll let you know if my yammering face is going to be on the web somewhere. You know how I like to talk.

The photos from my NY trip are online here. I managed to see a lot of friends and go a lot of places in such a short time. The weather was great and I was feeling pretty good. I even charted my walking routes using mapmyhike.com which told me that I’d walked about seven miles in two days which told me that it was okay to eat rice krispie treats on the train on the way home.

Once I got home I had my obligatory all-online day. I used it this time to upgrade my main blogs to the latest WordPress and put my photos from DNC 2004 online. I had them up before in a sort of php-run photo essay, but now they’re on Flickr, tagged and everything. Today was Art Day over at Kelly and Forrest and we all went over there to do projects. I’ve been sending out change of address postcards so I made a bunch more today. My apologies to those of you who get a few of them because I’ve forgotten I already sent you one. I sure do have a ton of stamps.

I have no real plans for Labor Day — or as I call it Fake American Labor Day — except to shake my fist at all the places that are closed. I’ve got to get the house in decent shape for the weekend since I’m having people over to give me a birthday high five on Saturday [my real birthday is Friday]. If you’re in the area, consider a trip over.