4 April 2003
To the last detail
My current desktop computer was assembled by a local builder to my specifications, largely because if I'd bought all the parts myself and done all the scutwork, it would have saved me a whole fifty bucks and cost me the remaining skin on the knuckles of at least one hand.
Still, this is relatively easy to do for PCs: you pick a box and a board, snap in a CPU, add peripherals, get the freaking operating system installed on the fifth try, and you're done. It's decidedly more difficult when you have to select a consumer product that doesn't afford you a choice of interchangeable options; you have to be able to specify exactly the performance level required, and harder still, you have to be able to convey that specification to a retail person who's about to go on break.
If ever I have to do this, I want Sarah Bunting by my side. Here's how she went shopping for a cosmetic I think of as simple but she recognizes as incredibly nuanced:
I marched up to the makeup counter at Saks and told the lady, "I want a mascara that will stay on during a daring underwater escape, followed by a make-out session in the rain, capped off with a torrid shower scene, and by 'stay on' I mean 'not run, smudge, slump, leak, or move at all until I dip my eyelids in witch hazel laced with hydrochloric acid.'"
To me, this seems infinitely more complicated than, say, "512 megabytes of SDRAM".