Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Information needs to go both ways, Hello!

I had a moment in Staples tonight that I'd like to share with the whole bleepin' world. Yes, it is a bit embarrassing. No, I'm not an idiot. But sometimes I act like one.

At lunch today, I ran down to the AT&T store to price-shop some Bluetooth headsets. When I walked into the store, I immediately recognized one of the salesmen as a dancer. We greeted each other coldly (not exactly friends), and he asked if he could help me. I told him what I was after, and he shoved the most expensive models in my face. Um, yeah... no sale. I said my good-byes and marched out of the store without buying anything. His rudeness bothered me for the rest of the lunch hour, and I took my afternoon break to do some quick research about the headsets and about flash drives for my cell phone.

I hate shopping, so my pre-store-entry routine usually involves tons of research. I will price-shop until I know I'm going to get a good deal. I will wait for sales, will barter, will do just about anything to think I'm coming out ahead. So in my research today, I identified the two or three models of headsets I liked and would be interested in purchasing. I also found the memory card I wanted. Armed with a couple questions, a good hold on my wallet, and an attitude, I set out after work to Staples.

When I walked into the store, I made a straight line to the headsets. I was looking for the one I wanted most when I saw huge sale stickers. Reaching down, I realized *the one* was 50% off. SWEET! Oh, and I got the last one in the store. Neener neener neener. Having some extra cash due to the savings, I ambled over to the memory cards. Sale again! Score. 1GB for $15.

But then I hit a problem: how am I going to get information from the memory card in my phone to my computer? I needed a cable, a contraption, a device, a... something. I found some card readers, but they weren't labeled well, and I couldn't tell if they'd accept the card I was buying. And of course, because I had a question, nobody was around to help me. I walked over to the customer service counter and asked the nice lady for some help. She called a guy over to help me. I carefully worded my question, "I have a memory card that I'd like to buy, but I need to know if I put the card into the reader and connect the reader to my computer, will the reader also write to the memory card?" (Remember: DVD players only play, they don't write to DVDs, and the card reader specifically said READER, not read-writer. This is my logic.)
His reply: "The reader doesn't actually store data."
Um, no really? I knew that, which is why I asked the way I did. "Does the reader also write?"
He was dumbfounded that I didn't understand him the first time. "The reader doesn't hold information. You save data to the card, then you put the card in the reader, and then the computer reads the data out of the reader." Clear as mud?

By this time I'm running down. I'm not stupid, and I'm not a complete idiot when it comes to computers. The packaging didn't make sense to me the way it was written as a "reader" in the context of storage devices like CD drives or DVD drives. I have a USB drive, and I even know how they work, but the idea of a "read-only" card reader had me baffled.

Finally, another nice sales associate came over. I asked him the exact same question I asked the first guy. His response? "Yes." THANK YOU!

I know I have moments of utter insanity, and perhaps this was one of them. In any case, the packaging for card "readers" is misleading. They should be called card "translators" or card "transfer devices." That would be much better.

Now I have a hands-free wireless Bluetooth headset (so I can talk while I'm driving more safely, talk while I'm cooking, or just talk normally), a memory card (loaaaaaded with music), and a card reader (that also writes, thankyouverymuch). And I saved, like, $50. So there.

(I'm gonna go lay off the parenthetical notations now, k?)


Jen said...

I think they should be called converter, or connector. It isn't really a reader--The computer does the reading. The gadget only lets you plug it into your computer.

Eric said...

keep in mind that memory cards were originally predominantly used for digital cameras, in which case a write to the memory card made no sense (though it was always possible and the method used to delete the photos once transfered), so the moniker became, inaccurately, 'reader'.