life hacking @ Target

I am currently downloading Yosemite from the Mac app store using the free in-store wifi at Target and, while i am reluctant to jinx the process by either bragging about it or by using what scant broadband is required to keep this WordPress backend open, i am excited about it enough to consider blogging about it AT THE SAME TIME.

These are my early forays into hacking. It’s a 5GB update that i wouldn’t be able to download through any of the wifi networks i’ve found around town. I could buy a data package for my phone and use the personal hotspot, but why would i do that when i can use the broadband of a chain department store and get some sun while i’m at it?

I feel like such a hardcase. I even took a selfie with my sunnies on to illustrate the point:

my best Matrix-character impression

my best Matrix-character impression

But i looked silly, so i took my glasses off and took this:

honest eyes

honest eyes

Makes for a good GIF, no?



Curiously, i tried the second hit on Google for a gif maker, but the domain was blocked by Target. The first hit was not.

Anyway, so this started this morning when the machine i’m typing on decided to have another conniption and not boot up.

I thought i had fixed this problem with Dwayne, the guy i found in Bendigo. It seems we fixed some of the problem, but not all of it. I don’t know,

because what happened is the machine started demonstrating the same symptoms as it had before, which seemed to be caused by a dodgy stick of RAM — that’s what Dwayne and i concluded, after we put the machine back together with only one stick installed, and hey presto!, it was working again, although now on one cylinder.

So i’ve been using the machine with only one 2GB stick of RAM installed where there would normally be two, totalling 4GB. And everything was fine until this morning, when it seemed to go kaput again.

So i wrote to Dwayne and he called me right back, and we decided i would get some precision screwdrivers to remove the remaining single screw on the backplate so i could get at the RAM slots.

I got the screwdrivers and was on my way to buy some carrots (another story) when i saw Kerang Computers across the road. Thinking it unlikely they would be stocking random chips of Mac RAM, i went in anyway, figuring there was only one way to know for sure, thinking, It might not be the problem, but i need to get that stick of dodgy RAM replaced at some stage, so maybe i’ll try my chances.

The guy was kind of a twat, but i tolerated him for long enough to discover he did in fact have a random chip of Mac RAM out the back, and the 2GB version that is apparently quite rare these days (this machine being from mid-2010). (Tolerating twats for long enough to get what i need is another aspect of life-hacking i’ve been exploring lately: by being self-righteous about not dealing with twats was only cheating myself.) It was even the same brand as the other chips the machine was running, and the code digits printed on the label were EXACTLY the same as on the chips i already have.

While i was in the shop i opened up the back of the machine and tried the troublesome chip to just see if indeed it was that chip that was causing the problem — sure enough, BEEP BEEP BEEP, the tell-tale sign the RAM was knackered.

So i’m feeling pretty bad-arse at this stage, standing in the store wearing my cycling duds, manually repairing a computer i thought you couldn’t even get the back off, feeling like a hacker, even though it’s not actually hacking.

But it is hacking, if you consider hacking to be the manual manipulation of systems that would otherwise prevent you even general access.

That’s a wild oversimplification of the term ‘hacking’, and it says more about how i perceive Apple computer systems than it does about the systems themslves, but it’s still hacking to me because it has involved problem-solving, resourcefulness, and a bit of lateral thinking.

Instead of just running to the nearest Mac shop (which is probably in Melbourne anyway, and therefore considerably out of my reach), i am:

  • fixing this problem myself, with the help of a guy i found on the internet;
  • while camping on a lake in the Victorian countryside;
  • and commuting into a small country town (where the best of Australian country and western is playing on the public speakers, presumably as a loitering deterrent);
  • where i am using freely available hi-speed wifi to download a 5GB software update from Apple in California.

Now that’s pretty cool, by anyone’s estimation. Perhaps not cool enough to warrant such a creepy gif, but cool enough for me.

Cool enough for me, yep yep yep!

So far:

  • i have downloaded 2.5GB in the hour i’ve been sitting here (during which time i had an overly zealous conversation with Mum about facilitating the sort of inner change that might eradicate greed from the world);
  • the battery is at 43%, which means i might make it all the way to the end —
  • if the school kids don’t drop on the place in about an hour and start STEALING ALL THE … free wifi …
  • or if my login doesn’t cut off after the hour limit,
  • after which i guess i can log out and log back in with one my many and varied email addresses.

Yes yes yes! Life hacking!

fuckyeahlifehacking …

aaaaaaaaaand the download stalled because i reached the hour limit,

aaaaaaaaaand now i have to start the 5GB download all over again:


this reminds me of trying for weeks to upgrade my software in Thailand.

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

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