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I generally don't require a lot of help with my computer. s. I… - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
January 31st, 2006
04:56 am

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I generally don't require a lot of help with my computer.

s.

I generally don't require a lot of help with my computerS.

I've got a Mac Mini in my living room, which is cabled up to my TiVo, so I can archive episodes of The Tick and Good Eats to DVD. By the way, my DVD player doesn't play the DVDs I've been archiving. That doesn't bother me a whole lot, and it's certainly outside the thrust of this post. But still, it'd have been nice for DVDs to settle into a consumer-writable format a lot earlier (DVD+R, DVD-R? come ON!).

This weekend, I was moving hardware and software between and within various Linux boxes. I think I've fixed one of the problems plaguing my web/mail/file server. And part of that juggling dance involved taking the monitor from my Mini to the web server. (I'm about 2 monitors short of where I'd like to be, and that's after the KVM switches.)

Once I had got my server mostly where I wanted it, I gave up for the night. And then I noticed the lights on the video converter gizmo that sits between my TiVo and the Mini. They were blinking in a charming (I suppose) but completely unfamiliar way. I poked and prodded, and realized that the Mini was now failing to power up. Guh.

Fast forward to Monday morning, I'm on the phone with tech support. (I cite the fact that I don't often require help with my computers as both cause and effect of the fact that being on tech support was a painful experience.)

Fast forward past reproducing the same attempts that I tried, reading from the official web page of troubleshooting. Oh, well, you've got to bring it in, Mr. Tech Support says.

Oh, well.

Turns out that part of bringing it in involves using a Quicktime applet to make a same-day reservation. The Quicktime applet does not remember your information between invocations. If the day has been booked solid, the screen that the applet displays is friendly, but not full of useful information. Information like when I should try again.

So, being awake at 4:45 am, I blearily paw my way through this awkward (but pretty!) interface again, and manage to secure for myself an appointment with a "Genius". Woo!


My ambivalence over the Apple brand has collected a new population of experiences. I'm reminded of somebody's gripe about MacOSX and XCode - XCode is a surprisingly nice development environment for free, and MacOSX updates are surprisingly expensive. The griper in that case suggested that he didn't understand why Apple chose that direction instead of making things more convenient for the wider audience. Similarly, entering my name into a web form is surprisingly non-standard and in this case non-standard yields loss of usability. And it seems like usability is one of the goals of the Apple experience.


Perhaps the 4:45 am experience of a PC-savvy geek isn't central to their web presence strategy.

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From:ginsu
Date:January 31st, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC)
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XCode is a surprisingly nice development environment for free, and MacOSX updates are surprisingly expensive. The griper in that case suggested that he didn't understand why Apple chose that direction instead of making things more convenient for the wider audience.

I think it's part of the new-millennium Jobs strategy of mimicking Gates's old tactics. Make the developers happy; shamelessly charge the users more. (Gates was better able to hide it because the charge was passed on to the OEMs, whereas Jobs has no OEMs.)

Now, why Jobs charged developers a cool grand for a development box to migrate from PPC --> x86 I'll never understand. He should've been begging them on bended knees, and since he didn't, here we are with blisteringly fast Macs and hardly any native software.

Similarly, entering my name into a web form is surprisingly non-standard and in this case non-standard yields loss of usability.

This talk of booking time with a Genius makes it sound as if you have to bring it to an Apple Store... which is peculiar since there are many places in the US which have no Apple Store inside driving distance.

On the occasions my PowerBook's made faces at me, they've sent me a custom box, I've shipped the 'book to them express, and gotten it back fixed inside four or five business days. I guess they don't wanna do that for lower-margin products.
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From:tsmaster
Date:January 31st, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
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This talk of booking time with a Genius makes it sound as if you have to bring it to an Apple Store... which is peculiar since there are many places in the US which have no Apple Store inside driving distance.

Yeah, I don't recall if I volunteered to take it in, or if that was just the easiest option that made sense at the time. Mr. Tech Support did mention two places I could take it that weren't Apple stores. My thinking is that it could be a quick operation (pop it open, press the magic 'continue working after warranty expires' button on the power supply), or a semi-quick hardware swap (take out the graphics board that I inadvertantly fried while swapping monitors). If it's either of these two, I'm hoping that it'll be a quick job at the Apple store.

If I hadn't been able to secure a reservation for today, I was ready to take it in to CompUSA. And the thought of that makes me shudder.
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From:ginsu
Date:January 31st, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)
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press the magic 'continue working after warranty expires' button on the power supply

There is in fact a Power Manager on Macs that gets horribly bollixed occasionally and needs to be reset via a button or key combination... but I'm guessing it was covered quite thoroughly already via the website and the tech dude (who was probably inside guitar-amp distance of my place, over at Apple's tech site across town).
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From:tsmaster
Date:January 31st, 2006 06:43 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, the Power Manager reboot was the sum total of the web- and phone- friendly troubleshooting that could be done.

2 hours before I get to meet a "Genius". I'm hoping for Leonardo Da Vinci.
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