Drive On!

YEAH! I went and did it again. What did I do again you all want to know? I’ll tell you!! I went to another one of the “BIG” computer stores to buy a piece of “Mac” hardware for my Performa. This time I was looking for an IOMEGA Zip Drive to add on for additional storage capability. But, let me back up and give you all the whole story behind my newest computer consumer adventure.

For a couple of months now, I’ve been considering adding on an external drive to my Performa 637CD which came with a 350 meg hard drive. I’ve been watching the available hard drive space dwindling down because no matter how well I clean up and get rid of non-essentials, there is always something new, exciting or necessary for my mac and on-going projects seem to be increasing all the time. So, I began the search for information on what was available for me to purchase within reason and budget. Like everyone else, I began with the numerous MAC catalogs that come faithfully each month to my mailbox. Don’t let anyone tell you that there is nothing available for the MAC OS, that Windows has more items available. There are external hard drives and removable storage devices from companies like Apple all the way through the alphabet to the letter Z. Drive sizes run the whole gamut from a hundred megabytes up to 4 gigabytes, with corresponding price ranges.

Well, I began to sort through all the information, including that available on line, through info e-zines and paper magazines and had finally narrowed my hunt down to basically three options. First, go with an IOMEGA Zip Drive, 100 MB’s removable storage, light weight, small size, relatively good price for the unit and for additional 100 MB storage disks ($190-$200 for the unit, $20. per disk, better pricing for 3 or 10 packs of the storage disks) Second, go for the EZ135 Syquest drive, 135 MB’s removable storage, small size, pricing good for the unit and storage disks ($200-$235 for the unit, $20-$25 per disk, with 5 or 10 pack discounts available.) Third, go with the Syquest 270 MB removable storage drive, price good for the unit and for additional 270 MB storage disks ($400 for the unit, $65 per disk, no great pricing discounts for bulk purchases of disks though). Having the capability of portability readily available appealed to me and I began to really look hard at when my budget would permit me the luxury of a purchase when an unforeseen event took place.

I had gone into work last Thursday like usual to my normal shift when I was approached by one of my friends and coworkers, a Mac Enthuiast from the days of the Classic, who works a permanent midnight shift. He and I have had many discussions over coffee about the Mac, and was somewhat stunned when he opened the conversation with “Would you like to have my old scanner?” Picking myself up off the floor, I immediately advised him “YES” and asked what he wanted for it. “Nothing” was the response, and he went on to advise me that the scanner had a dead spot at the far end and he couldn’t use it for the publishing work he does in his off time. He’d already purchased a new scanner and thought that I could probably put the old one to good use. Boy, could I ever!! The next morning when I arrived at work, he had the scanner and its appropriate software waiting for me. The discussion, after many thanks, covered external drives and the impact a scanner has on “storage space.” Well, after arriving home that afternoon, I decided to purchase the IOMEGA Zip Drive. Therein began my journey into computer consumer hell.

Since I had been looking and comparing prices through the catalogs, I felt comfortable in that I had found a few with good pricing and with whom I was familiar, so I called the first company. “Zip Drive, SCSI? Sorry, all out. Try the end of February.” No problem, call company number two. Same response, but try the first week in March. Third company – you guessed it! But they were more then willing to put me on their waiting list. Fourth company, – “Yes, in stock but “normal” delivery by ground will take a week to 10 days.”!!! Now wait a minute, what are you doing with it, putting it in a cab or something??

Now, you all know how it is when a Mac enthusiast gets it in his or her head that they want to purchase something. That means NOW or at the latest, next day delivery. Here it was Saturday afternoon and not fearing for my own safety or sanity, I began to call the few “BIG” computer stores that are in my area. (That means a minimum 45 minute drive from my house) First store, “Zip what? Oh, ok. Hold on….No, no SCSI drives. Do have parallel.” No thanks! Alright, second store, “Zip Drive, SCSI, hold on…………………No, maybe next month.” Third store, “Zip Drive, SCSI, I don’t know if we have any left. Hold on……..Boy, you’re lucky, I have 3 left.” JACKPOT!!!!!!!
Me-“What’s your price?”
He- “Well, it’s going to go up to $229. But I can still let you have it for $199.
Do you want me to put one off to the side for you in the pickup area?”
Me- “YES!!”
He- “When will you pick it up?
Not knowing what my wife had planned for me and the kids for the remainder of the day, I asked, “Can I call you back in a half hour and give you an exact time?”
He- “No problem, call this extension. I’ll be the one working the phones.”

As I wait for my wife to get back from the store, I begin to make sure that I have everything I need, like money and a very good reason for buying the drive. My wife got home 15 minutes later and I had a cup of coffee waiting. “What do you want?” she asks. (Like I never make her a cup of coffee) So the whole story spills out in 15 seconds and I ask if there was anything special planned for the next 2 hours, figuring drive time up, purchase, drive time back. “No, go ahead.” TERRIFIC!!! I get up and call the store back and talk to my “friend” in sales and pricing, letting him know that I will be there in 45 minutes. He gets all the particulars from me, name, address, phone number and lets me know that he’s sold one (in 15 minutes!) but he’s made sure that mine is put aside. Feeling good, I hang up and ask my 16 year old son (a budding Mac enthusiast) if he wants to come along. He does and we’re off to get the drive. Fourty eight minutes later (I hit traffic) we pull into the parking lot of the “BIG” computer store that I’ll call Computers of America. Go inside and over to the customer pickup area where I see the ZIP Drive, sitting on top of a(yuck) Pentium computer. Give the sales girl my name, point to the box and tell her that it should be mine. It is and over towards the cashier we go, but what do I see – the little Mac area, but there’s a guy wearing a white shirt with the Apple logo and the words “APPLE DEMO DAYS” on it.

Wow, I can’t resist that and neither can my son. We go over and catch the tailend of the guy in the white shirt telling another customer “I don’t know, if you can’t find it in that manual, ask one of the sales people.” At this point the warning bells and lights should have gone off in my brain but I was weak from the hunt for the drive. So the guy in white looks at me and asks if he can help. Figuring that I’m in good hands, I begin to ask about the SCSI termination on the ZIP drive as part of the SCSI chain from my Performa and I watch as his eyes glaze over and this strange look comes over his face. He stands there for a minute, waves his hands muttering something about the books say that the SCSI chain has to be terminated but that I should ask one of the sales people. He then proceeds to walk away but as my son and I begin walking towards the cashier, looking at each other and shaking our heads, the guy in white yells “Come back, come back”, sticks a baggie in my face and tells me to take one Apple pen, just one, not a handful. No wonder Apple is having troubles if this is one of their “Apple Demo” demonstrators.

We get up to the cashier, I put the box down and the sales woman scans it and says, “$229 plus tax.” Excuse me, I say, I called up, was given a price of $199., drove 45 minutes and I am not about to pay that price, particularly since the box itself was marked $212 and there must be a big error here.” I ask her to check with sales/pricing and that the staffer will verify the price, particularly since it was set aside and I had just picked it up. “The price is correct sir” she tell me. Again, I explain it to her and ask her to please check with the sales/pricing section. She is now standing there with this strange look on her face, scratching her head. At this point I begin to fear that maybe whatever is effecting her (and the Apple Demo guy) may be contagious and that I may have exposed my son to it. I ask her again to call and check with sales. She blinks her eyes, picks up her microphone and asks for “Accessories to register 4 for a price check.” She is still standing there scratching her head when a gentleman walks over with a tag on his shirt that says “STORE MANAGER”. I explain the situation to him, the call, the pricing, the drive, customer pickup, the problem. She looks at him and says “The computer says $229.” He looks at both of us and says, “I don’t have time to research this, give it to him for $199. This won’t happen again.”

DAMN RIGHT IT WON’T!!! Next time I’ll make sure that I deal with a catalog company or I’ll make sure that there’s another store that does have what I want. And, just maybe, I’ll force myself to wait a day or two. But I definitely won’t be dealing with this particular store again!!!!

And the Zip Drive? Got home, opened the box, read the brief instruction/setup sheet, hooked up the drive and was operational in minutes. Cleared out 30 megs from my hard drive in just a couple of minutes. No muss, no fuss. And the question of SCSI termination? Clearly explained by the user’s guide, and set up by a SCSI termination switch on the rear of the unit. Am I happy with the Zip Drive? YEP! What about the scanner? Well, that’s another story.

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