Archive for May, 2013


USB type-A male to USB type-A male cables not available at Radio Shack

USB cableI have this drive enclosure that I got from my dad a while back. It’s got a couple jacks to connect it to your computer. You can either connect it via a standard USB Type-A female jack (type-A is regular-ass rectangle USB) , or you can plug in an ethernet cable and connect it to your router. Pretty easy. I decided to go the simple and direct USB route. It should have been simple, except I don’t have a type-A male to type-A male USB cable (pictured above). I used to have dozens of these all over the place a few years ago; they came with every new gadget I bought, and I had a few still in the plastic. Yet, when I needed one, I couldn’t find any in the house. I have type-A to micro, type-A to mini or type-A to the “chunky square one that connects to printers”. What I don’t have is just a plain old USB to plain old USB (pictured above). I figured I’d pick one up at Fred Meyer electronics. No big deal, since I had some shopping to do anyway. I scoured the place. Nothing. They had lots of variations, but no male-to-male type-A cables. The guy there said he hadn’t seen any in years. Feeling like I just stepped out of the Twilight Zone, I decided that I should just go to Radio Shack and be done with it.

I walked into Radio Shack, which is apparently a cell phone store now, and attempted to find my cable. I had a strange disembodied feeling and momentary vertigo. Was it possible that I imagined that these cables ever existed? No, of course not. They were completely commonplace a few short years ago. Still, as I scan the shelves I can’t seem to find one…and this is the store that should have every conceivable combination of consumer electronics cable.

Right as I’m about to leave, one of the never-helpful Radio Shack clerks walks up, and asks if he can help me find anything. [Side note: Radio Shack clerks are minimally trained in electronics, and heavily focused on loss-prevention. You are a thousand times more likely to be profiled than helped in their stores. They also try to position themselves between you and the racks of cables and adapters that you’re trying to scan through.] This dingus, whom I finally realized hours later to be the embodiment of the Zack Galifianakis’ pretentious illiterate character , asks what I’m looking for, then proceeds to tell me that no such thing (like the one pictured above) exists, nor has it ever existed. He tells me that USB cables always have something besides a type-A male connection at the other end (unlike the one pictured above). He says “I’m sure that if you go home and look closely at the drive, you’ll see that it has this connector” He shows me one of the square-type connectors that I mentioned above. I reply “Actually, I looked at the drive very carefully last night, and it doesn’t. Which is unfortunate because I do have those cables.” He then pulls a Microsoft Easy Transfer cable down off the rack, which is USB Type-A male on both ends, but has a giant chunk of mystery electronics in the middle of the cable. These are specifically for transferring your user folder from your old computer to your new computer and they cost $40.  He says “ah, this is what you’re looking for”. And I reply, “no, that’s a specific cable for transferring data directly between computers, and it’s also quite a bit more expensive than what I need.” He says “Still, I’m pretty sure it will do the job.” Skeptic Chad was skeptical.  Then I say, mostly thinking out loud, “This is really strange, because these cables used to be everywhere a few years ago.” At this point the guy delivers the line of the evening: “Clearly the world has moved on since then.”

In a flood of crimson rage, I reach out in a cobra-strike and press my fingernails into his windpipe. “Listen up you smug little shit!” I hiss through my gritted teeth, “You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about!” I shove him up against the rack, knocking adapters and cheap glittery iPhone cases everywhere and sending his glasses askew across his face. “I LEARNED TO CODE ON A RADIO SHACK COMPUTER TEN YEARS BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN CONCEIVED! EVER HEARD OF A TRS-80? DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT “TANDY” IS? YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TELL ME ABOUT TECHNOLOGY, PISSANT! I’M FIVE AND A QUARTER INCHES FLOPPY AND YOU’RE TWO AND A HALF INCHES SOLID STATE! YOU DO NOT MESS WITH OLD SCHOOL GEEKS! I WILL FUCK YOU UP WITH BASIC!
10 CLS
30 GOTO 20

None of that last paragraph actually happened. I just muttered “I guess I’ll look around online.” So I did. Four bucks on Amazon. I’ll be damned if I don’t get fucked right in the ass every time I attempt to shop brick and mortar.

The author as a young boy on his TRS-80. (Re-enactment.)