Bill Gates quits Microsoft to try and take Apple down from the inside?

So I had another encounter with AppleCare tonight and what a memorable one it was too!

I was trying to get my external microphone working with my MacBook Pro and failing miserably, I googled and found some articles about setting it up in System Preferences and also in the Audio MIDI Setup but nothing I did seemed to work so I figured I would use the AppleCare plan that I paid so much money for and ask a genius!

I got through to a guy on the phone and he didn’t have the slightest clue what he was doing, I had to tell him about the System Preferences with the audio input panel and suggested it might be something to do with that, at which point started to leaf through the manual in front of him, let out a big sigh and said…

“You wouldn’t have this problem if you had a Windows PC, everything would just work”

Err… … …

I couldn’t stop myself laughing :) He obviously hasn’t been drinking the Kool-Aid about “Everything just working with a Mac”.

Now this guy obviously didn’t care about what he was doing in the slightest and just kept trying to get me off the phone, at one point I asked if there was anyone else I could speak to who knew slightly more about audio on the Mac and his best suggestion was to put the phone down and keep calling until I got through to someone who knew something.

Fabulous customer support, I only wish I had been taping it (I might have been if my microphone had worked!!! :) anyway I didn’t get it fixed and gave up in the end but the phone call wasn’t wasted because it did make me chuckle a lot ;) Sort it out Apple.

Update 1: Some comments are suggesting that I made this story up, I can not prove it of course but I assure you that it is true and not exaggerated. I have nothing to gain from making Apple look bad and I do not mention that they are worse than any of their competitors.

The thing with this is its a funny story and I wanted to share it! ALL call centers have pissed off people working for them and I certainly got on the phone with one of them tonight, I may have been unlucky but it is true…

P.S. I don’t actually think it was Bill who answered the phone tonight, unless he was putting on the accent of a bored british teenager ;)

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Anna Kournikova Naked.jpg

Don’t worry, I am not going to rake it all up again but I was getting spammed with these all night on IRC tonight.

Dodgy DCC Send

Viruses on the platform or not, there are some things you should NEVER click “Accept” to!

The point of this post though? I have become quite annoyed with Colloquy recently because of this bug which means I need to spend time every time I connect to IRC manually joining channels and the fact that I can not just turn DCC file transfers off altogether means I am on the look out for a new IRC client. I don’t want anything too fancy or overly techy, Colloquy was about the right tech level for me (meaning I want to talk on IRC rather than write scripts that slap people with assorted seafood :)

Any suggestions?

PS. For those who think the post title is a bit random, it is a reference to this and lets face it, when am I going to get an opportunity (however thinly veiled) to have a post title like that again!

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Battle of the Bulge

So I haven’t had the whining or the overheating but over the last couple of days, my early adopter tax is finally being paid :)

This past week I have noticed that when when I have been using my MacBook on battery it would get to about 30% charge and then the machine would just completely die! Power off, no warning messages or anything.

So yesterday it happened again and as I picked the machine up, I noticed this:


and on closer inspection:


MacBook Pro Battery Bulge

The battery is making a break for freedom! Not good!

I did a quick google for similar problems and sure enough, it seems like a problem found with early MacBook Pro’s (Mine is a “W8609” serial number which I am led to believe is one made in week 9 of manufacture).

So I decided to take an afternoon trip to the Apple Store in Manchester (at the Trafford Centre), I booked an appointment with the Genius Bar on the web site which was an entirely painless experience and sure enough when I turned up at the store my name was up in lights above the genius bar, this is an extremely slick process and the only flaw seems to be that not many of the people who were coming for help actually knew they had to book an appointment. Anyway the guys at the Genius Bar couldn’t actually help because apparently they don’t stock batteries for MacBook Pro’s they sent me away with instructions to visit and order a battery replacement. Unfortunately you can only order battery replacements for PowerBooks and iPods there rather than a MacBook Pro so I ended up calling AppleCare phone support this morning where someone helped me through the process of ordering a replacement battery, so I could have saved myself a trip to Manchester but I am glad I didn’t (more about why I thought it was worthwhile later!).

I am guessing that this problem is limited to US MacBooks (I bought mine in California, nothing like going right to the source, eh? :) because everyone who looked at it had never seen anything like it before and the guy from AppleCare UK support was so interested in what was happening he has created an case for the engineering department to look into and wanted me to send these photos to them so they could investigate. I did mention that he should do a quick google as it was very easy to find other people with the same issue.

So what is my impression of AppleCare after all this? I have mixed feelings at the moment but generally positive. On the plus side in today’s culture of having to argue tooth and nail to get manufacturers to admit fault and provide hardware replacements it is a huge benefit to be able to easily book an appointment with a real person and to be able to go along and be able to show someone and say “Look, there, its broken!” rather than having to try and explain it to someone over the phone so I liked that a lot. On the other hand, if you are going to offer technical support at your retail stores then why would you not stock basic removable parts like batteries?

As for the phone support, well it was generally good and the guy I spoke to was nothing but polite and showed a genuine interest in escalating this problem to the engineering team. My only issue with it was the amount of time that it took to get this done, I was on the phone for 54 minutes (at my expense, of course) to arrange a battery replacement!

I will update this when the new battery arrives to finish the tale properly, in the mean time I am glad that I can still use the machine without the battery installed :)

Update 1: There is a wiki for Apple defects, see this battery article on it.

via Advocrazy

Update 2: The battery finally arrived today, 4 full days after reporting the problem. For a simple battery replacement this is not good enough. Lets hope that this one is better behaved at least :)

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Sorry I have been AWOL, I have been quitting my job, leaving the country for amazing conferences trying to set up my own business which is taking way more time than I ever expected!

I will blog about the business at some point soon (as soon as I have a proper web site up, for example :) but as a result of the new company, I have started using for my business e-mail and tonight I just came up against my first little ??? moment when this dialog appeared:

Windows Friendly?

Now I would expect that it just strips out the .DS_Store files and other Mac guff but I am really not sure what it is doing and while I will tick it for now, I would like to know for sure so I know what I am doing by ticking it!

I have a load of stuff I need to blog about and I hope to find the time this week to get back into it!

Sorry I abandoned you all (if there is anyone left now :)

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Jungle Disk

So, via TUAW I heard about Jungle Disk which is the first application I have seen to make use of the Amazon S3 file storage service and last night I downloaded it and had a play.

The good news is that there is massive potential here and even with the current beta release of the software I was able to upload 1,000 or so small files from my Mac and then download them onto my Windows PC without any major issues. So that is cross platform, encrypted, fully redundant file storage backed by a financially stable company for $0.15 per Gb per month. A cheap, cross platform iDisk? Good stuff.

There are plenty of rough edges in both stability and usability here (it crashed both on the Mac and on the PC) but it is beta software and so I am not going criticise that. No the main issue I have is that of the sign up process, and this could be as much Amazon’s fault as Jungle Disk’s. To use the application you have to have an account with the Amazon S3 service and it sends you over to this page on the Amazon site to register. Unfortunately the sign up pages are targeted completely at developers aiming to develop against the web service rather than consumers. After signing up, you get shown how to download the WSDL (and no consumer should ever need to see those letters next to each other) and the sign up e-mail starts with:

Greetings from Amazon Web Services,

Thank you for signing up for Amazon S3. You can now build innovative and entrepreneurial applications using this and other AWS web services.


Who else can picture the confusion of someone attempting to replace iDisk with this? :)

This disconnect comes because I am fairly sure that Jungle Disk are not utilising S3 in the way that Amazon originally intended. Doing a little research in the S3 developer guide I am pretty sure that the boys and girls in Seattle intended Jungle Disk to own and operate one single S3 account as a file store for all of the files used by any of their users rather than have everyone sign up for an original account. That will work very well for some applications but isn’t what Jungle are trying to do just as valid? I like the idea of having my data protected by a different security key than my virtual neighbours. So, the solution? Either provide a consumer friendly sign up or provide an API to your account creation process so that I can still have my own account but it looks like a Jungle Disk account.

However this is going to be a cracking little utility that needs some work but shows a lot of promise. Am I going to use it now? No, but I will be keeping an eye on it.

One final thing, I don’t really understand how Jungle Disk are making any money on this. The software is free, the data storage and transfers are paid directly to Amazon with no cut taken by Jungle Disk. It looks like a referrer ID is getting passed to Amazon if you sign up with S3 from the Jungle Disk web site but that is a very sparse revenue generation model. I hope they have a plan :)

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We all knew design was important to Apple …

… but even so, this is beautiful even for Apple.

It is apparently open 24×365 as well, not that I have ever felt the desire to buy an iPod at 3am on Christmas day!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I am having a busy week but normal service will be resumed soon :)

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Clarification on exactly what WebKit is?

I have been doing some experimenting (read farting about) with WebKit recently and I am now a bit confused by what WebKit actually is.

The Wikipedia article about WebKit states that it includes WebCore (HTML/CSS rendering engine) and JavaScriptCore (JavaScript engine) and that it is used in Safari amongst other apps. That sounds logical so I went to the WebKit Project page and downloaded a nightly of it (I did have a reason for doing this but it can wait for a future post :).

The confusion came when I launched WebKit in how similar it is to Safari! I expected a reference implementation of the basic browser but it is a full featured web browser that apart from the different colour surround to the compass in the icon is indistinguishable from Safari. It uses my Safari bookmarks, the menu items are identical, the annoying beach ball is there when loading large web pages, even the application name in the menu bar shows as “Safari”.

So, does this mean that other software that wants to use WebKit has to either include all of the additional Safari functionality or strip it out manually? This seems to me like a rather backwards way to do things, shouldn’t WebKit be an absolute bare bones implementation which applications can easily integrate and then Safari be a project based upon that (they could open source Safari itself if they want to give a more comprehensive example of WebKit being used).

Just seems a little strange to me, am I missing something?

Oh and I am going for “WebKit” rather than “Web Kit”, if it is good enough for their home page it is good enough for me.

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