White Sewing Machine Manuals

See that picture?  That’s about what it felt like as I was trying to track down the manual for the White #999 sewing machine I bought at a garage sale last week.  I’ll explain below, but if you happen to find this page while on a similar search let me save you a bunch of time – here’s the magic recipe:

  • Go to https://www.singer.com/manuals
  • Search for the model number of your machine (e.g. “999” in my case)
  • With a bit of luck, you’ll see a result for your model along with a “Free Download” link.

Okay, now for the rest of you loyal readers (Hi, mom!) the reason I’m posting this is because of how insanely difficult it was to figure out these seemingly simple steps.  If the internet has done nothing else, it has made finding information about old products (i.e. manuals and user guides) much, much easier.  Or so I thought.  With rare exception, every time I’ve gone looking for a product manual online, be it for a computer, power drill, or a washing machine – I find a free download in a matter of minutes.  Typically available directly from the manufacturer.

But apparently sewing machines are off in a completely different world.  My attempts at googling for a manual turned up naught;  no manuals on the manufacturer’s site, and nothing but link after link of 3rd parties charging $10, $15, even $20 for what I felt should be a free download.  (Me: “WTF??? I only paid $15 for the darn thing, I’m not gonna drop another $15 on the manual!”)  To understand the frustration involved here, picture a 6’6″ guy with big hands who hasn’t touched a sewing machine in at least 30 years trying to decypher the 15-20 steps needed to properly thread such a device.

It was only after contacting White Co. directly that they pointed me (4 days later) at the Singer site, above.  Nevermind that there is not a single, solitary mention of the term “white” on singer.com.  And never mind that none of the manual descriptions mention white.  Or that if you search for “white” on the aforementioned manual page you get zero results.  Nope, ignore all that, because this is the official product manual download page for White sewing machine manuals.

Don’t ask me how this came to be.  I’m assuming that somewhere along the line (probably back in the 70’s) Singer acquired the White brand.  And, while they have the legacy manuals in their database, they’ve been doing their best to wipe all other traces from their corporate memory.  Or so sayeth the conspiracy theorist in me.  Regardless, someone over at Singer and White Co’s really need a kick in the pants for this.

To end this rant on a happy note, I’m pleased to say that I eventually did figure out the thread path (w/out the manual, no less!) and for my first project, I stitched up a nice little tool pouch for the screwdriver set I keep in the office.  Look out, Martha, there’s a new domestic goddess a-comin!

Hakkerz say, “Upgradz!”

As you can see, the site has a new look this morning. It’s not entirely voluntary, however. Much to my chagrin I discovered that Google seemed to think my site was a great source of information about Viagra and various other prescription drugs. After a little scrounging around, I discovered my WordPress installation (i.e. this blog) had been hacked recently.

Fixing the problem necessitated changing all my wordpress and database passwords, and upgrading WordPress to the latest version. And, since my old theme was kind of kludged together in the first place I’ve just opted for a nice 3rd party theme for now.


Correction: Web 2.0 Sucks For Reviews

There’s an interesting phenomenon taking place lately that I find a bit disturbing. It has to do with how consumers are leveraging their newly discovered online powers of opinion. In principle, I think empowering people by given them tools to communicate with one another is a good thing – people should be able to be heard, and share ideas and comments on everything, including the products they chose to buy or not. But when it comes to software applications and services, reviewers are all to ignorant of how permanent their actions are compared to how rapidly what they’re reviewing can change.

Take for example the smackdown currently being handed to EA’s “Spore” on Amazon.com. As of this writing it has 3,000 ratings, 2,500 of which are one-star reviews filed by users upset by the copy protection software it uses. The majority of these reviews come from users who likely haven’t played the game, mind you, they are merely protesting the copy-protection system they’ve heard about. I’m not saying DRM protection is a good thing, but it does seem like the punishment here is a bit excessive. Spore is doomed to never rise much higher than “two-something star” rating no matter what EA does to improve it or address their users concerns. This would require receiving nearly 2,000 more 5-star reviews, which is over double the total number of reviews that the most popular video game ever made (World of Warcraft) has received in the four years it’s been listed on Amazon.

The first Spore review, alone, has been marked as “helpful” by over 6,500 people, most of whom are presumably deciding not to purchase the game. This in spite of the fact that the review is no longer accurate (EA revised the Spore DRM less than two weeks after the game’s release.) That’s $325,000 in lost revenue. From a single review. Ouch.

Amazon’s review system, like nearly all such systems on the web, is designed to let people review immutable things like books, CDs, or even Tuscan Milk – products that don’t change over time. But software is dynamic – it can be updated and improved, even after you bought it. And this is something that simply isn’t taken into account; not by sites that let you comment on products, or forums, or any other myriad channels we users pay attention to. What’s needed is a way to temper the relevence of reviews and comments based on how a product evolves over time. In the meantime, it would behoove people to be a little more circumspect in what they review and how they review it.

The Software Paperweight

There, I did it. I’ve set my away message on AIM to, “On Skype (as Broofa)”, and am quietly tucking it into a dusty corner of my desktop. Possibly, hopefully, never to be used again.

Okay, okay, I’m not quite that serious about it. Heck, this’ll probably only last ’til my next reboot, but still. It says something about how marginalized this once must-have service has become. There’s an entire column waiting to be written about why I find myself deprecating the service that most of my buddies are on. But the short explanation is four IM services is three more than one person should have to have running. Skype has been my de-facto IM service, so AIM is getting a gentle heave-ho.

I’d quit out of it altogether, but this away message is important – I need to tell people that I’m not gone, just over on a different service. So I find myself having to keep it running for no purpose other than maintaining my online presence as “On Skype…”. Kind of sad, actually. Especially since it’s a bit of a memory pig (see screenshot) compared to Skype, which is easier to use, has a better UI, and offers more functionality.

In effect, AIM has become a 20-30MB paperweight on my desktop. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

P.S. Since I probably won’t get around to writing that column about why I’m not using AIM, the least I can do is include the screenshot I’d use. This is AIM circa 1999. Look familiar? It should, because for day-to-day use it’s pretty much exactly what you get in the latest version of AIM. Sad.

Camping Out, American Style

Does anyone else find it horrifying that people have started lining up to get the new Sony Playstation… 9 days before it’s going to be in stores???

Actually what I find horrifying is not that these people are this rabid about the new Playstation (which does look pretty cool, btw). No, what is most disturbing is that this is as close as these folks will ever come to actually camping out under a night sky.

Oh well. I’d be more upset about the deterioration of our culture if it didn’t result in such cool commercials …