I would beat up a woman.

Not just any woman, the woman who stole Julie’s computer and one of our digital cameras while Zoe was napping in her bedroom sometime between 1:45 and 2:15pm today.

How do I know it was a woman? Let me give you the whole story…

1:45pm, Julie and I leave the house with our new baby, and my sixteen year old, Zoe, is asleep in her bedroom. As we’re backing out of our driveway, a woman in a van is driving slowly, looking closely at our house, watching us back out of the driveway. Julie notices they pulled over just past our house as we back out and pull away. She thought something was strange, but we live on a somewhat busy street in Los Angeles — if you reacted every time you saw a strange person life would be difficult indeed. Baby crying, we drove off to run the errands we had to run.

4:45pm, returned home, Zoe’s been awake half and hour and is in the shower. Julie says, “Um, where’s my computer?” I yell into showering Zoe, “Where’s Julie’s computer?” figuring she took the laptop into her bedroom to do some homework or some such. “I have no idea,” is her response. We pulled ourselves together a minute, trying to figure out what might have happened and ended up finally facing reality: someone walked into our house and walked out with Julie’s laptop.

Nothing else appeared to be missing (at first). We poked around and the TV, my new MacBook Pro, the digital picture frame, and other easily-grab-able semi-high-dollar items were still here. Most importantly, Zoe was just fine.

I biked around the neighborhood looking for a teenage kid with a laptop under his arm. I visited our next door neighbors. Both had been home all day. One hadn’t seen anything. The other, with whom we nearly share a driveway with, had seen a woman with blonde hair leave our house just a few minutes after us. He didn’t think much of it, could have been a friend of Zoe’s or whatnot. When she reappeared a few minutes later, again leaving our house, he leaned over to take a look and she gave him a friendly “Hello” (creepy-ass bitch). Not thinking anything suspicious, he went back to washing his car.

We called the Santa Monica PD, they came in two waves. First a patrolman, then someone from forensics. They dusted, took all our fingerprints, etc. The patrolman asked if anything else was missing. We said no. He said, “No cameras, etc?” SHIT. My Nikon D50 had been sitting on the kitchen counter. Gone.

What’s amazing is that to get from the Nikon to Julie’s computer they had to walk RIGHT PAST this new MacBook Pro that I’m typing on right now. They took Julie’s two year old Emachine that was $800 brand new and skipped the brand new twice-as-costly computer. Maybe they just weren’t Mac people? They also walked right past a Sony T9 point/shoot camera.

They didn’t take the laptop power adapter. They didn’t get the charger for the Nikon, which was elsewhere in the house. I dunno why I find it even more annoying to know they can’t even USE the shit they stole once the batteries die after an hour or so of use. I want to put both these complementary items up for sale on The Recycler and see who bites. If it’s a woman in a white van she’s getting her ass kicked, straight up.

I can only assume that she somehow realized Zoe was here and got the fuck out of dodge before she was finished, else it was a weirdly selective job.

I called Gateway and reported the laptop stolen and got the SN for the police report. I filed a claim with my insurance company. But it’s not the lack of laptop or camera that matter. Our lives have been changed by the creepy-ness factor. From now on:

  • Doors are always locked. Always.
  • Alarm is always set. Always.
  • I’m calling the alarm company and beefing up, maybe even changing alarm companies to one that digs moats full of poisonous snakes or some shit.
  • I’m getting more serious locks for both front and back doors.
  • Every time I see someone creepy in my neighborhood I’m getting their license plate.
  • I’ll attempt to refrain from slashing the tires of every white van I see.
  • I’ll attempt to refrain from getting a gun to keep by my bed. Maybe just an ice pick.
  • None of my Flickr photos will be “public” anymore. Only people I at least know of can peek into my life in pictures.

But yeah, if I saw this lady again I’d slug her before even sussing out her guilt. Wouldn’t think twice. I know it’s not the best solution to the problem, but it’s hard not to want to violate someone right back. If anyone has a better idea, I’m all ears. Until then I’ll be beating myself up for being comfortable enough in my own neighborhood to leave the back door unlocked when I left for a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon. And thanking some higher power that Zoe is safe and sound and that all we lost were some very easily replaced electronics.


Zoe’s Zune. Just an MP3 player.

[NOTE: The views below are my personal views and not necessarily representative of my employer, Yahoo!, or any of the nice people I work with.]

My “tastemaker” daughter scored herself a free Zune, and I helped her install it last evening.� Personally I was pretty excited about the Zune, I really like my Toshiba Gigabeat (on which the Zune is based) and I’m as excited as Gates is to see anything that’ll give the iPod a run for its money, even if they do box-out our product, Yahoo! Music Unlimited, in the process.� I’m sad to report that the Zune install was absolutely anti-climactic — it turns out to be just an MP3 player, yet another hard disk with a screen, with the unfortunate limitation of being tied to a single, proprietary store.� Huge amounts of money spent missing the mark.� Ugh.

The install went fairly well, aside from taking 4000 years.� Funny that the software CD wasn’t inside the main packaging (a little late, perhaps?) and needed to update itself on first run, then needed to install new firmware for the Zune immediately, but it did work in the end (post reboot, annoying). �

The stupidity started when she tried to register for an account, after 5000 questions they denied her access because she told the truth about her age (KIDS, LIE ABOUT YOUR AGE WHEN REGISTERING WITH ZUNE).� Now an “underage” flag is tied to her email addr and I have to create an account and somehow bless her usage — suffice it to say she doesn’t even have a Zune account yet and I don’t know how to help her get one.� I guess I’ll figure that out tonight.

It started auto-loading everything from her HD onto the device.� Not what she wanted, so she stopped it, then tried deleting everything from the device, which didn’t work due to what looked like a bug, so she erased everything from the device (which she later regretted because not only did it get rid of the songs it’d copied on but also the default videos and art files). �

Finally she loaded just the MP3s she wanted into the Zune app, started just the ones she wanted on the Zune syncing, and went to bed.� I stayed up a little longer looking for more videos to load the Zune with.

I couldn’t find a single legal video on the Internet you can put on this device.� Zune Marketplace doesn’t seem to sell any, videos purchased from other stores won’t work since the Zune DRM is proprietary, and I couldn’t even get KeepVid.com to help me out here.� I have a few MPEG videos (like an incredible Joni Mitchell live bit that Andy from Waxy.org sent us), but the Zune doesn’t recognize those.� Maybe I’ll go to the trouble of converting the MPEGs to WMV files.� Not likely.� This morning Zoe put on one Beastie Boys video we had lying around and a couple episodes of This Spartan Life.� Not exactly the overwhelming choice the iTunes store gives you.� Anyone have any advice on how we should get Zoe some videos to load on this thing?

Since we have only one Zune, we’re not able to test the “killer feature”, the ability to share files wirelessly.� Zoe will take it to school today.� If she can’t find one other person with a Zune in one of the biggest high schools in the country (3700 kids), then, well, the feature probably isn’t so killer, is it?� I’ll let you know how that goes.

So far, for us Zoe’s Zune is an overhyped MP3 player.� For Zoe it’s a step backward because all her Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscription tracks won’t play on it.� But seeing how she recently broke yet another player (she’s been through two Creative Micros, both broken, an iRiver H10, lost the proprietary cable, and most recently a Samsung Y-9 that ceased to operate), she’s stoked to have something new.� We’ll see if she ever uses it to do anything other than play MP3s, which she’d be perfectly happy doing with an iPod. �

I’ve gone from being excited about the Zune to being a little sad.� The least Microsoft could have done was show the world that the physics Christensen describes in the The Innovator’s Dilemma was true.� That when the technology is not yet “good enough” (Microsoft’s WMDRM technology is *still* not yet good enough) the integrated solution wins (Apple’s ITMS/iTunes/iPod is the integrated solution, and it’s *really* winning).� BUT (says Christiansen) eventually the technology catches up to what the consumer wants and then overshoots what the consumer needs, making way for disintegrated solutions (such as WMDRM/Yahoo! Music Engine/Toshiba Gigabeat) which are “good enough” and low-cost.� So Microsoft could have AT LEAST spent their time building an integrated solution ON THIS PLATFORM, but they didn’t; they built (and over-invested in) a me-too proprietary system, slowing down or halting the natural Christensenian physics which were supposed to work to the advantage of those of us disintegrated value chain.� Thanks, guys.� We appreciate the help.� It’s hard not to imagine what kind of progress we could have made along this eventuality if you’d have put your resources into YOUR OWN PLATFORM (The one you SADDLED THE REST OF US WITH).� Even if you’d have built an end-to-end solution a la Zune on it, at least you’d be moving us all forward at once.� If portable subscription eventually fails, I’m blaming you.� Period.� OK, maybe the more I think about about it, I’m a little mad in addition to a little sad.

I shot some video of Zoe installing her Zune last evening, if I have time tonight I’ll upload and share.� She’s funny.