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Asiaphilia laptop style
Feel the cultural appropriation around us

I swear I don’t go looking for these kinds of things, they find me all on their own. I went to VoodooPC’s website to check their tech support hours (in the hopes of me getting my laptop back this century…) and I saw the above image.

When you mouse over it you get this lovely text:

Feel the harmony?

Do I even have to do an image and textual analysis of this for everyone to understand what’s wrong with a North American company (recently bought out by HP, mind you) capitalizing on the fetishization of Asian culture in order to sell its product? Okay, then.

Honestly, if I didn’t have so many things to do already I’d be sorely tempted to make a satire of the above ad using Christianity. The laptop as Jesus, anyone?

Delay, delay, arrive. [My Voodoo, Part 2]

Rouge: My Voodoo LaptopAfter over two months, I’m finally sitting here typing on my brand new laptop. I’ve been spending the past few days migrating my stuff over from my old laptop and desktop and I’m not quite done yet. Am I happy it’s here? Hell yeah. Do I like it so far? Sure. Would I recommend this company to someone else? Probably not.

The main reason why I don’t think I would recommend this company again is because of the sheer aggravation I went through to get this thing. Another is that you can get a comparable machines for a lower price, although VoodooPC offers some peripherals that Sager does not (including the paint job and tatoo, which I rather like). If this machine turns out to be the best thing since baked bread, however, I may give people a qualified endorsement. But, onto my retelling of the Delay Saga and the first impressions of Rouge (my computer, named after the Sonic Adventure 2 character, of course) when I first got her.

I. The Dreaded Delays

Rewind, if you will, to January 2, 2006 (22 days after I placed my order). Jess Williamson, a member of VoodooPC’s Web Team, sends out a (presumably form) e-mail to update me on my computer.

I just wanted to let you know your computer has been gathered and in about 10-15 days it should be complete. Let me know if you need anything.


46 days after that (68 days after I placed my order), I get another (presumably form) e-mail from VoodooPC. This time it’s from Jodie Salvador:

Hi Andrea,

I was just emailing you to let you know that your computer has finished testing and will be sent out to you in the next few days. Thank you again for your order.


I was not pleased to learn that they hadn’t even sent it yet, so I fired off this e-mail in return:


First of all, I would like to thank you and VoodooPC for keeping me up to date on the progress of my laptop. I must say, though, that I am highly disappointed in the turnaround time.

When I purchased the machine back in December (68 days ago), my confirmation page told me that my laptop would be ready and shipped in approximately 30 days. The previous e-mail, from Jess Williamson, I received 46 days ago said that my laptop would be complete in 10-15 days.

I had expected that the 30 days would be give or take a week or two, but this is bordering on ridiculous.

I didn’t receive a reply after that, but an hour later I got an e-mail informing me that my order had been shipped. I checked my tracking number and discovered that the shipping had been expedited, and therefore would arrive at my dad’s house in Miami in two business days. I’m not sure if the shipping I paid for was expedited shipping, or if they expedited it because I complained. Neither my invoice nor my website specifies what “North America” shipping entails.

The arrival date, mind you, was right in time for me to be up in West Palm Beach in preparation for my returning to Washington with my mom. Long story short, much aggravation led to my dad bringing it up to Boca (where my grandpa lives) and us having dinner, me getting the package, then flying up with two laptops. Quite an experience, let me tell you.

II. First Impressions

My very first impression of Rouge was a mixed one. I was impressed that I was given all relevant discs, including the Windows XP install (which, if I remember correctly, Toshiba did not give me). I was interested to see that I had to go through the final part of the installation myself. I was not, however, happy that the laptop lacked a hardware volume control. The one that it uses is dependent on Windows being fully booted, so the only way I could stop from waking up my nieces sleeping next door was to put my earphones into the plug. I’ve had a few other embarassing experiences with the volume being up too high since then.

My only other complaint is that the software that I have discs for requires that I enter the CD key the first time I use them, which isn’t bad except that I haven’t done it for everything yet and I don’t have the discs on me when I travel. The fans can be noisy sometimes, but they keep the laptop nice and cool. The bottom has little grates for the air to come out, which seems like a stroke of genius to me given the bad design of other laptops I’ve seen.

Other than that, I have been pretty happy so far. I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring the different features, and playing with my webcam (I think I need to install better software for it). There’s a bar on the bottom with (among other things) controls for a CD player. I doubt I’ll ever use it for that function, but it works with all of my AV programs so I can go to the previous/next tracks, stop, and play my files without having to use my mouse. That is totally cool in my book.

II. Conclusion

I’m allowing myself to hope that the worst of this experience is over. It was a pain in the butt waiting so long for my laptop, especially given what I paid for it, but the machine itself seems to be pretty quality. I haven’t played any games on it yet, and I don’t know how it will hold up against the rough handling I tend to put my electronics through, but I suppose that’s a blog post for another day.

The saga of Rogue is far from over.

Build, Order, Whine [My Voodoo, Part 1]

So, I ordered myself a Voodoo laptop today. After a frustrating website experience, I decided to write up a series on how my Voodoo weathers the next few years. Seeing as I just ordered it, and therefore cannot write about the machine itself, I decided to make this an introduction/rant about the website.

As soon as I get it (which, given that I’m going to be in Miami for the next two months, better be a month after it arrives), I’m going to write a First Impressions post on it, and then I’ll update things whenever a new problem crops up. Because you know problems are gonna come up.

I. Why Voodoo?

Ringing in at a whopping 4186.96 USD, my Voodoo Envy 732 qualifies as the most expensive computer I’ve ever bought. It’s a few hundred dollars shy of being more expensive than my current desktop (hand built, mid-line for its time) and laptop (light weight, best bang for buck) combined. I knew there was a reason why I never told Dad what I wanted for a birthday present last July. Happy birthday to me. If I didn’t have to rely on it for my computing and gaming needs for the next 3-5 years, there’s no way I would have spent that much, so the darn thing better be worth it.

Let me give some of a back story: I had known I needed a new laptop to be my desktop replacement when I go to Japan in April for over a year, but I had decided to put it off until the last possible moment so as to get the best hardware I could. I was still annoyed about what happened with my Toshiba laptop – three months after I bought mine my sister got the same model with significantly better hardware. Although her software is even more screwy than mine, which has caused a bunch of problems for her.

I chose Voodoo not because I think that they’re the bestest laptop makers ever, but because my research didn’t turn up any major problems (except that they’re spotty with customer service, which I tend not to make use of anyway) and because I know from experience that whatever laptop I get will have problems that no one on the internet seemed to talk about. Like Toshiba with their massive overheating problems (mine is small, so it’s not terrible, but the larger model that my cousin and friend have get really hot really fast) and their odd software problems (both my and my sister have issues with our internet connections that have no discernible reason that I can find).

I also chose the company, I admit, because I liked the idea of having a decent degree of customization that they offered. My laptop style probably won’t be the only one like it in the world, but my guess is that it’ll be the only one like it at my school. And that’s cool. What’s not cool, however, is gendered designs.

Yes, you heard me, there are “boy” styles (read: tribal) and “girl” styles (read: animals). To their credit, the cost is the same for both. Some people may think it’s cool to do things this way, but I find it 1) annoying and 2) limiting. Annoying because what if a guy wanted the Phoenix design? I know some guys who would avoid it simply because it was labelled as a “girl” design, even if they liked it. Even if the phoenix had a special meaning to them. Limiting because breaking it into descriptive sections would make it easier to branch out into several other kinds of designs. I’d like to see celtic, or logos, etc. I ended up going with the Wheel of Time because I didn’t like any of the other tribals and I liked it better than the Phoenix animal.

They don’t gender their colours, which I like. I ended up with pink because it was the only colour I really liked. The red wasn’t awful, but it just didn’t look right for some reason. The green was a nasty shade. They call it “monza OLIVE” but it’s more of a forest olive. And an unattractive one at that. My ideal colour would have been a lime green, like my car. Oh well.

II. Have You People Even Heard of W3C?

Now, I had enlisted my mother’s partner as my sounding board for the purchase because something as significant as my only computer for the next 3-5 years of my life is not a purchase to make alone. He knows pretty much what I do about the hardware (which was not much about the specific devices, but a decent amount of the companies involved) and, aside from a fateful Gateway purchase back in the 90s, he has been pretty sensible about what computer he buys. My mom relies on him to do the initial footwork because she’s too lazy – I mean “busy” – to look stuff up on her own.

I went to the website and logged into my account. It was loading a lot slower on this connection than it had for me when I had been on my laptop in Vancouver, which was an annoyance but not necessarily the fault of Voodoo. I went to the laptop page and the first thing he said was that he wanted to see a comparison of the Middleweights (the style of laptop I wanted). Yeah, me too, buddy, me too.

There is no option to do a one-click comparison of all laptops in a given section. We tried clicking on a link called ‘See The Difference’ and the header picture, which was apparently Flash, went blank. Loading it in IE produced a Flash menu about their company, almost exactly the same as the navigation at the top of the page. Thanks, Voodoo. Thanks. I just love it when companies 1) don’t program for multiple browsers, and 2) abuse Flash, javascript, or any other potentially bandwith intensive goodies. Goodies should be used sparingly and with purpose, not for things that can be done better with straight up HTML.

So, then we were like, “Ok, there’s a little button named ‘Technical’ that might have it.” I clicked it. A blank javascript window appeared on the page, obscuring the description of the computer model, and Firefox went into its “Loading” animation and……………………………….did nothing for like a minute. At this point my mom’s partner was like, “Are you sure you want to buy from these people?” He was annoyed, rightly, that their website was a slow loading, Flash & JS intensive, obtuse POS. Me, too, but I just wanted my damn computer at this point and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of researching other sites and dealing with their BS, etc.

Eventually I got fed up, clicked the back button, then the forward button, then tried the Technical button again and it worked. Thankfully. So, yes, indeed there was a comparison chart that we then clicked.

A javascript window popped up. I’d just like to take the time to say just how much I hate pop up windows. I specifically have Firefox open them in new tabs because I hate them so much. Except that javascript doesn’t work that way. So much hatred. But, my annoyance aside, the window let us compare the Middleweights against the Heavyweights and I confirmed in my mind that yes, the Middleweights are for me. Most of the Heavyweights didn’t have as good of a video card as my 732, which is one of the biggest bottlenecks for gaming. My poor little Toshiba has like 32 megs at most. Maybe less. My 732 has a NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX GTX 256MB. Mm, tasty.

Fast forward through talking about pros and cons of weight, performance, battery, etc. I finally went to the build page and did a couple of upgrades: I got 2 GIGs of RAM instead of 1, a Seagate 100 gig 5400 instead of a Hitachi 60 gig 7200, an Intel M 750 instead of 740, and got MS Office Small Business Ed. I read through their TOS as specified, and got slightly annoyed that they referenced an Online Privacy Policy that was not defined anywhere, but not annoyed enough to wait until they open tomorrow to call and complain. Oh, just looked at a sheet I printed out. Apparently there was a link at the bottom of the previous page to it. Not that a Google search turned it up. Argh. Anyway, after another eternity of waiting for things to load, I finished placing my order.

III. My Journey Has Just Begun

“Your customized Voodoopc Machine has a 30 day ETA,” they say. We’ll see, Voodoo. We’ll see.