Archive for the ‘Apple Computers’ Category

element cycleI’d been enjoying some extra bed time while getting over a bug, when I had this annoying nightmare. In it my MacBook was catching viruses off the internet. Could have been guilty download conscious, but I balance out such thievery with the reality that I wouldn’t buy any music even if I didn’t get it free. Suppose I was too spoiled receiving a never-ending supply of LPs and CDs for review during my music critic days. But as for movies, I have no excuse but boredom. Though I like animation, it’s highly unlikely I would have paid to see Happy Feet in the theater – unless I had some friend’s kids to take. And the lowly street or swap meet vendor is not losing out on my money either, ’cause doubtful I would ever purchase the Seinfeld-style “filmed in the audience” version from them. But there it was, the only full-length feature flick that didn’t stop half way whining “need more sources”; a low res Happy Feet inserting its avi self into the “shared” folder on my laptop. Shot by someone less artistic than Kramer, who didn’t even bother sitting front and center, or worry if his jacket might be covering the lens for a few minutes, and hand-held the thing – shaky-cam late ’90s style – for the full 98 minutes.broken surfboard

I know my dilemma – this fear of infliction – has less to do with guilt than it has to do with solidity. Living away from family, without a real permanent home, flowing through life, “riding the waves” so to speak, you have a tendency to utilize whatever is around you, to create structure; a sense of grounding. And I know it sounds silly perhaps, but my Mac has somehow become a symbol of such. Sure it’s not without its foibles, like any close friend, boyfriend, (in)animate object, but point is that I need to feel as though I can count on it; that it’s dependable, reliable. Yes, even though I know it can go at any time…it’s like one’s life, solid yet still vulnerable. Maybe that’s why when anything happens to my computer I get emotionally stirred. I count on it too much, to hold my thoughts, my dreams, facilitate my ability to work and create; a conceptually steady entity in an all-too fluctuating world.

Part of this sentiment is that when it’s healthy and working at its best, I work at mine. The flipside, the one I dread, like when the body breaks down and you end up lazy with sniffle-itis, is a fear of my Mac crashing, bringing up unhappy memories of lost files, documents, recalling the hours and weeks of work -poof- disappearing….

solid molecular structureEmphasizing these moments, of a pondered stability, I’ve had equally traumatizing dreams of grabbing my surfboard and at first it seems solid, and then it kinda flops and folds and doesn’t keep its shape. My last nightmare of that sort was disturbing, as I tried hopelessly to mold the board, as if it was Play-doh, into something ridable so I could paddle back out. Those who surf (more than they work 😉 ) understand the trauma of anything bad happening to their board, particularly if they can’t afford to just go out a buy a new one. Yes, almost like an addict not able to get their fix, or someone living in the outskirts having their car break down, or an earth sign unknowingly being dosed with acid – you lose the thing you depend upon so much. Things that offer continuity, solid ground; the anchor that keep one from blowing in the wind, or getting lost out at sea.

Surfers can be such a scattered breed, as we indulge to no end in the water element, it’s important to keep such cogent things about us. In the water, our foundation comes in collective and varying forms: our health and fitness; the strength we feel as we killed that last wave; of the fact that there is land that we can see; G-d we can feel; spiritual renewal that we experience; that we have our families, loved ones, pets waiting for us; a nice home…to go home to. Even a job or an appointment or somewhere to be after our session offers up some structure to our daily lives. But otherwise, it is the surfer’s gear that is the actual physical components that enable ourwater element adrenaline-based liquid reality: surf shorts, bikini, wet suit, surf wax, sunscreen, leash…and most importantly our surfboard. And that board, it really needs to be solid. It’s gotta float! So, to end up with a board that’s acting more like water…doesn’t work! Water won’t float on water…it disperses into itself.

The whole fear of the mutability of the surfboard, and I believe initial cause for such nightmares, first began while trying to support a local, East-side, Big Island shaper we’ll just call “escobar”. I purchased a couple of his boards. He seemed to be getting them out on time (a big deal in Hawai’i!) and I liked the shapes. Unfortunately what I didn’t pay enough attention to was the reason why all the kids who had his boards had them duck-taped around the edges and why they were flooding the used surf board racks in town; guess he hadn’t mastered a little thing called the glass job (for those unknowing souls that’s the coating -fiberglass cloth plus resin- that seals in and protects the foam and gives the board its “glassy” finish). Problem is, what’s the use of a good shape and getting the board in the specified time frame when the glass job sucks!

It had barely been a month since I’d had the board and the rails were already crumbling like old feta and on top of that there were tiny pookas covering the bottom from not saturating the cloth enough. But the one moment that still shakes my core to this very day was when I was putting my board into the back of my car and as I was sliding it over the seat, pushing it in, my thumb actually went into it! It was as if the molecular structure altered. My reliance on the congruity of the object shocked my system. Buuuut… if my surfboard is not a solid, what is? Ah, okay, I’m being dramatic you think, but honestly, for a broke-ass surfer, the incident was a true rug-pulled-out-from-under-you moment. When all is not what it seems and you have no control. Besides being physically injured and unable to surf, it’s those times when there are waves but you don’t have a board when a surfer comprehends his or her true dependence and vulnerability.patched mac

There I was, sent adrift, having spent my surfboard fund on something that was carelessly created and disintegrating before my eyes. My season of winter surfing – my exercise, my challenge, my release, my daily opportunity to clear the mind, focus, renew – potentially ended just as it was beginning. Aren’t there any guarantees in life? At least those things for which I pay my hard-earned bucks should supply to me the illusions of solidity that they are intended on providing; from surfboards to Apple computers.

Macs never really had viruses. Well, Apple may have had the first official wild viruses on their floppy bootable antique Lisa machines, and that one the Mac publisher released as a prank on its own readership to prove viruses could happen, but most of the Mac viruses were really just weirdnesses. Like the altered date setting that was actually some Apple programmer embedded issue, which surely made sense to them somehow but I still don’t understand why I needed to be bothered with wasting time struggling to find the most current version of a document because they were all mixed up with 1904 dates; fooooey! The Finder might get corrupt, or the system would need to be reinstalled, or SuperClock would go koo-koo. I recall many font conflicts, renumbering fonts, and having one Helvetica that would print and another that wouldn’t. But they weren’t really viruses, more like corruptions. Besides minor inconveniences, usually at the output place, it’d be fine.Mac vs. PC guy

Today most of these Mac “viruses” are mainly vulnerability issues (often for Microsoft software – and for which we get regular automatic updates). Still, from alarmist articles (written by PC users) to conversations (with PC users) they always like to inform you, “Well, they’re coming.” The viruses for the Mac are coming. Ergo, why use a Mac because you only think they are safe. Ergo, I will stay sick and infected and fighting off viruses with my Windows machine ’cause at least I know what I’m dealing with (it’s kinda like an unhealthy person using the “Well, we’re all gonna die anyway” as an excuse for bad lifestyle choices). Yet, they have been saying the same thing for years. It’s not that I don’t understand the potentiality of infliction some day, that I should use protection, especially as Mac market size increases and as Apple keeps egging hackers on with their superior “we’re impenetrable” verbiage, but do I really need to live with that problem now? Do I need to add any instability to my day-to-day life? As the headline of one article stated: “Windows vs. Linux vs. Mac OSX – Ignorance is Bliss” … it is bliss. It’s also nice that I never have to reinstall my system, wonder why I can no longer print or connect to the internet, or have to bring my machine in for regular antibiotic treatments like most of my PC-using friends.

On Apple’s web site they boldly state:

By the end of 2005, there were 114,000 known viruses for PCs. In March 2006 alone, 850 new threats were detected against Windows. Zero for Mac. While no computer connected to the Internet will ever be 100% immune from attack, Mac OS X has helped the Mac keep its clean bill of health with a superior UNIX foundation and security features that go above and beyond the norm for PCs. When you get a Mac, only your enthusiasm is contagious.

Drew Barrymore Mac Guy Justin LongMacObserver explained away much of the “Big Mac Attack” articles and these so-called Mac viruses in a piece, dated in computer world terms, but still holding true: Mac Viruses By the Numbers – Word Macro: 553, Classic Mac: 26, OS X: Zero. And of course, there are the commercials that explain Mac vs. PC in a more simplistic symbolism: of the kinda geeky but casually hip creative guy (played by actor Justin Long – Drew Barrymore’s new boyfriend) vs. the repressed conservative nerd business man. (What, you didn’t really think Drew was going to date the loser using a cheap clunky bug-ridden Dell?!?). Sure, in this “PC” world, I also am more apt to naively trust in the Mac guy….xo one laptop per child computer

Hey, it’s not that I don’t have my problems with Mac (see article “Apple Computers: My Long-term Love/Hate Relationship” – and I’ve had a few more since then, that keep me on the edge of nervous [still confident a few pow-wows with Steven J. we could clear this all up! Honestly, I don’t know why he still won’t take my calls!]). And I can only imagine most surfers – with their sun, sand, wet lifestyle – would only feel completely secure the day they invent the 100% waterproof, sand-resistant, ding-proof version of their laptop (maybe a fully loaded “sports” model? Perhaps once they start some healthy competition with XO in the “One Laptop Per Child” campaign they’ll put more cash back into “rugged, durable, child-friendly” adventurer model).Intel Tablet Surfboard

I want my MacBook to thrive amongst a little sand and sea, as it does while rummaging through Limewire. Ultimately, I feel more safe on a Mac – not having to worry that my new ridiculous version of Happy Feet is the idiocy that might render my computer and I terminally ill. And though I’m all about supporting the local shaper, I need to find the ones that also support me. My surfboard must keep me afloat and enable many many awesome surf sessions, as well as handle simple events such as being slid into the back of my car. And just as I don’t want to deal with virus protection software that requires me to approve every move I make on the internet, I don’t want to have to ride a too thick ‘n’ floaty epoxy in order to avoid dings. I want that feeling of security while not being confined by it… or compensating performance. Enjoy the water without overindulging and becominghappy feet waterlogged. Appreciate the comfort in structure as much as I relish absolute freedom. I know I have vulnerability issues – we all do – but I don’t want to let my need for feeling safe and secure keep me from expanding into the unknown or leave me fearful of jumping into the abyss.

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MacBook Battery RecallOkay, say what you will, but I am a devoted Mac user/lover. They may kick me, cajole me, break my piggy bank all they want, but I still come back for more. I started on my dad’s Macintosh Plus (though I did do some initial tinkering on an older Apple with the big floppy drives) and got my first computer, a Mac SE, in 1988. Those were exciting times. Having just returned from an extended trip to Europe, I quit school, moved away from my friends and family to the city and found myself with no social life to speak of (you don’t mind if I end my sentences with a preposition, do you?…thanks). So what would any self-respecting, slightly bored Graphic Design drop-out do? (And note, there weren’t even computer courses for designers at that time; we were spending hours doing freehand typography, cut-and-paste, and a typewriter and Xerox machine were still the most technological elements of our creations). Without any experience, anything to base myself off of really, I decided to start a magazine, designed on my new-fangled 40 megabyte computer. It is said that “The power of the press only goes to those who can afford to own one.” Before 1985, it took hundreds of thousands of dollars for equipment to set up a small publishing company. By then that price dropped to around $10Ben Is Dead Magazine cover Celebrity Issue,000. The Desktop Publishing evolution was upon us, but it was so early on, I didn’t even comprehend what I was about to become a part of.

Even with the idea in one’s mind that people had more patience with slow computers because they had nothing to compare it to, I could have gnawed through my leg waiting for that SE to refresh its screen after making a simple change in Pagemaker (yes kids, we’re talking Pagemaker 1.0 and there were no options). I would make a change, go to the kitchen and prepare a sandwich, check the computer to see if it was finished, and on most occasions could actually eat the sandwich before the thing was done processing. Aldus and Adobe were changing the landscape, and pretty much saving Apple from near doom, by introducing post-script fonts and the publishing software to run them. It was such a headache: from the buggy nature to access of fonts that would print properly (most low-budgeters had to do some serious maneuvering to scam print-quality type faces). I made friendly with my local computer store, hung out there for days on end listening to Apple customers with questions and Apple geeks with solutions, and they’d let me print originals on their snazzy Laser Printer. (I won’t go into detail about how, before I could afford printing on a real printing press, we did covert nighttime missions into the Los Angeles Times offices [with the help of a dutiful employeeBen Is Dead Magazine Retro Hell – all in the name of freedom of the press…mixed with a dash of Abbie Hoffman] and copied thousands of issues on their copy machines – but I’ll simply give a shout out for their support! Mahalo!)

Once I had enough money (after making a bunch by stumbling across work as an Art Director for a top-10 ad agency [they were just getting their first Mac’s in the late ’80s so I had an “in” as a self-taught “expert”]), I bought a Mac IIcx, a gynormous monitor, and a LaserWriter II NT. This set up cost me a bit more than that approximate $10,000. Ouch. It was still slow, precarious, and seemed as if we were paying to be the test dummies for the new (personal) computer age. And yes, I was only happy to participate. It so happens, I would end up paying this amount many times over off the course of my long-term love affair with Apple (IIci, Quadra 950, Power Macintosh G3 Tower, Powerbooks, endless printers and monitors and mice and keyboards…).

All to say that from the early beginnings I’ve been there; I’ve stood by Apple. When Steve got the boot, when Steve made the great return. When quality lacked and before the revolution resumed with full-force. I felt the twinge, when in it’s slow decline and with people jumping ship, that I should make a serious investment in Apple stock, show my commitment and make a few bucks off the comeback I felt sure to come (unfortunately all my monies were eaten up by publishing debt [access to publish didn’t seem to increase the profit margin for small press].) IBM and Microsoft were tech-geeks who weren’t social enough to relate to human beings. Windows was trying to be Mac OS, and didn’t do it all that well. Microsoft jealously grasping at creativity, could only mimic the visionary user-ability of Apple (as it does to this day [those are some pretty bad reviews of Vista, eh, and whoosh, we’re already moving on to Leopard!]). Even when Apple capitalized on the ideas and technologies of others, ehem, it always repackaged with an innovative, friendly functionality and smart design that brought people and their machines closer together.

applelogoSo sure, nothing’s perfect. Perhaps us fanatics put too much of our hopes and dreams on one company and one man. But it was like we were a team. So when Mac seemingly became too big for their britches, when they left the illusion of personal relationship to post-iPod monstrosity, how were the old-school devotees supposed to feel?

Times have been hard. I admittedly strayed, regrettably purchasing a Sony Vaio Picturebook (only for the convenience of it’s compact size for travel writing…no, really), which ended up wiping out all of my writing –and much inspiration– due to some faulty hard drive issues. And I essentially had my quirky G3 stolen by an incompetent computer repair man here in Hawaii and it was years before I could even presume to afford another machine (the only thing I could count on was my eMate and though I love that thing it’s not the same as a real laptop – plus I can’t get it to download onto my MacBook [any tips?]). Even the borrowed clamshell iBook went belly up suddenly, one fine day. As a Licensed Massage Therapist I worked overtime massaging many rich so-and-so’s, who come here to buy land, increase housing costs and traffic congestion, and build their water-consuming, ocean-polluting golf courses. Hell, I even massaged Michael Dell and wife in order to afford a new Mac! I waited patiently, getting an inside tip on the upcoming release of the new MacBook Pro, got in on the first early 2006 shipment, and voilá, I was back in the world of computers. My old passion returning with zest. Might I actually write again? Design a new web site? Podcasting and blogs as the new ‘zine revolution. There was a lot of catching up to do!

I spent what in my current debt-lovin’ situation is a lot of money, and admittedly expected perfection (or at least some caring assistance with any problems). And there were problems. What were those weird annoying sounds buzzing from my new MacBook? And the laptop seemed so hot; sometimes the area around the keyboard felt almost electrified when I touched it. When the metal seemed to be peeling off the back of the machine I emailed Apple. There was only a computer generated response. Then my battery was barely holding a charge. I contacted Apple and they said there was nothing wrong with the battery. When after another few months I realized it wasn’t just metal peeling off the back, but that it was the battery expanding and that it was holding no charge, I called again. “Oh, we have a recall for that battery.” Huh? And no one bothered to tell me because…. “And you better take the battery out of the machine. You should only use it plugged in.” What? With a (nice as it is) magnetic power cord, how awful is that when it accidentally -easily- unplugs while you’re working? (I can tell you! 🙂 )

So it only takes a few days for the new battery to arrive. And wow, I can actually type for more than 15 minutes before it shuts itself down – nice change. The peeling metal isn’t cutting me anymore. Sure, there are operating quirks, which upgrades seem to repair, but despite ignoring the heat/noise/electric issues the machine is an absolute blast. And all is well, that is until two new problems arise. Not big problems, but problems none-the-less. One is my power cord, the other is sleep mode. I put off doing anything about these because I have major events in my life, and soon will be making a trip to the mainland, where (instead of mailing my machine, which I’m disinclined to do) I can enjoy the ability to walk into a Mac store and meet geniuses at the Genius Bar who will immediately comprehend everything that is wrong with me, my life, and my computer and make it all better. That’s the kind of faith I have….

I go to the SimiValley store which is crowded (though much less so than others in Los Angeles) and ask for help. Well actually, it’s not made perfectly clear upon entering that one must type a reservation onto a computer so that you’re actually in line but after a while I stop one of the buzzing employees long enough to ask and am informed (as are others wistfully waiting) of the rules – seems you gotta be in the know. They ask what I need help with and I pull out the power cord. The end where the cord connects with the actual MagSafe power adapter is separating and fraying. I tell the young woman that I read a number of comments, some posted on forums on the Apple site actually, of people who this has happened to with some saying their computer started smoking because of it. (Upon looking right now, even the Wikipedia entry includes “…complaints about the MagSafe adapter focus on its tendency to fray at the connector head, and in some cases melt or catch fire in this area…”). I ask if there has been any recall similar to the battery that perhaps I’m unaware of. She glares at me as if I’m an idiot. Takes my power cord, looks it over, then with a ’tisk’ declares, “We haven’t had any problems with this. We use tons of adapters here. This only happens when people don’t handle it properly.” Oh!, I’m thinkin’, no she di’nt!!! “How do you take out your plug?” she then asks. I’m trying to restrain myself. “How do you wrap it?” like I need a lesson. I actually have to show her how I wrap the power cord properly. “I assure you,” I insist, “I haven’t abused my power cord, it started separating and there was no way to stop it. I’ve been very careful.” “How often do you leave the computer plugged in? How often do you take it somewhere to work on it?…” She continues with a laundry list of idiotic questions as if trying to break me down ’til I would admit, You’re right, it was me! I did it! As if somehow it was my fault that a power cord which seemingly should last more than a year was now disintegrating. It was exactly how I felt when I inquired about the battery before they were forced to fess-up that there was a problem. To keep a long story from getting too much longer, 🙂 I waited over half an hour while she first went through the rigamarole of deciding whether or not I was even covered, and then (at my request) while she called stores in the surrounding area to see if there were any power cords available (apparently no store in or around Los Angeles had any in stock – huh?!). Despite all that time I spent with her I would have to do it all over again over the phone with Apple Customer Service and hope they could ship one out next week (Monday was a holiday). Then, to add insult to injury, she coldly informed me that she was going to have to “confiscate” my power cord because “it’s too dangerous for you to have this…the metal is showing”. Okay, so I was not going to be able to use my computer for almost a week? I don’t think so! I told her I wanted my power cord. She said she was going to have to put it in the database that I insisted on taking it, and that if anything happened it would not be covered. Could it get any worse? Suffice to say, I was not feeling the love portion of this love/hate thing.

Swallowing my pride I now had to tell her my problem with sleep mode. I explain that when I shut the lid (and hoping to avoid her banal inquiries I inform her that indeed I make certain it is shut all the way) half the time it doesn’t automatically go into sleep mode as it is supposed to (another common post on the Mac Forums). I explained that I would close it, put it in its case, only to find the computer burning hot with no battery power left when I took it out to work on. She takes the machine, does the P-Ram reset, and tells me it’s all fixed. Well, at least something good to come out of this little visit. I thank her and am happy to go. I run across the way to Brooks Brothers and sit in their massage chair ’til the store closes. That feels better. Unfortunately the feeling doesn’t last too long, as I will soon discover that her P-Ram reset did not resolve my problem, except to leave me without time to leave my computer in the store for repair, since my trip is almost over. And now I will have to spend $250 to renew my AppleCare which is to end that month, just so I can deal with that repair (and whatever new dilemma may arise) the next time I travel to a place with an Apple Store.

I’m not even going to get into my refurbished iPod Nano, purchased 23 days before the new more inexpensively priced and increased battery life Nanos were released (it’s 21 days to be able to return the product). The fact they didn’t discount the old Nanos before the release, so we didn’t feel so duped….I’ll just leave it at that.

I don’t know what the solution is? Perhaps, like AAA or Costco, we should have cards that show how many years we’ve been a member. And then add discounts the longer we’ve participated, the more we’ve purchased. My g-d, my card will show over 20 years of devotion. Surely I should have some priority? At least a hint of respect from the newbie “Geniuses” – especially snooty girls who don’t have battle scars from living through the days of one megabyte of RAM! Or didn’t pay their whole college tuition to essentially be beta testers of these early personal computers and, in a sense, help create the awesome computers we see today. And just because I can’t currently afford ProCare, why not offer me something even better, like Family Member perks? Because that’s what you do for family, Steve. And you’re always looking for new customers but maybe it’s time to reward the old ones. How many people have us first generation Mac geeks personally converted? How many conversations about why Macs are better than PCs have we had over the past 20 years?! We have been your street level ad campaign managers; your tireless cheerleaders. We have supported you during the worst of times and the best of times and gave you a foundation to improve and grow (as yes, you have done with us). But we have never faltered. We have been your rock. Steve, I still love you, but I need some real Apple Support right now. Don’tcha think it’s time to give back? That personal, clandestine relationship we’ve had all these years…I want it again…Steve…I miss you…I’ll be waiting for your call.

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