MacBook Support

Both my daughter Jenna and I love our MacBooks and are using them constantly.

Although these are undoubtably the best computers we have ever had, there have been some issues.

I wasn’t notified and a recall hasn’t been widely published by Apple but I did find an Apple support notice online for returning my MacBook Pro battery associated with specific Sony battery serial numbers potentially at risk. (Sony batteries have been a problem for other computer suppliers as seen by the massive Dell recall on their Sony laptop batteries). I completed the information online and received a new battery within 2 days. It was a simple swap and return shipping of the replaced battery was included with pickup. Although I hadn’t experienced any battery problems it was reassuring to get a replacement before a problem occurred with the specific batch of batteries that were identified as being susceptible. Job well done to avert a potential risk.

Jenna’s MacBook has been experiencing more problems primarily with power related symptoms. The most troublesome is that the power adapter would gradually become more and more intermittent until it would stop charging. She also experienced some sudden shutdowns. These types of MacBook problems and others have been reported on sites such as
http://www.appledefects.com/wiki/index.php?title=MacBook
or
Google “MacBook random shutdown”
These sites are great to allow users to share information on their experience and provide tips for resolution. It also promotes consumer empowerment if suppliers are tempted to use the old line “You are the only one who has reported this problem. Perhaps you are not using the product correctly.”

What appears to be happening from our experience, is that our particular MacBook (and not the MacBook Pro) is causing the magsafe power connector to have a bad connection over time. In the magsafe connector there are 5 pins which have some kind of “spring loaded” capability to connect with their matching receptacles on the MacBook. With a new power adapter all the pins protrude the same amount but over time the two pins one position over from the outside get pushed in and lose their ability to bounce back enough to make a good connection.

Magsafe Connector Pins

The pins that get pushed in correspond with pins 2 and 4 in the above diagram.

Apple has replaced the power adapters which wouldn’t connect (this problem has happened to all the power adapters we have used to charge the MacBook) but it remains to be seen if the new magsafe connectors will eventually have the same problem since I suspect that the root cause has not yet been corrected.

Hopefully the sudden shutdowns will not reoccur once the power issues are addressed. They both may be associated with power management unit issues on our particular MacBook.

I am looking forward to getting these issues behind us so we can continue to enjoy our MacBooks.

Freaky IPOD Shuffle Economics

I purchased an iPod shuffle for my kids in April 2005 and it worked for awhile for them but it stopped working (won’t charge) before I could even use it. Unfortunately the warranty has expired but I thought I might be able to return it for repair and get some credit for my purchase. I thought wrong.

Apple will take the shuffle back as shown below but it will cost you more to get it repaired than to buy a new one.

iPod Shuffle Repair is $80.95 vs $79.00 for a brand new laser engraved shuffle with accessories.

iPod Shuffle Repair

Notice that the repair cost is slightly more ($80.95 + tax) than buying a new iPod shuffle and you have the further hassle of having to ship the defective shuffle back or risk being charged a further $40 CAD.

The alternative is to just buy a new one ($79.00 + tax) with free shipping and laser engraving and keep the defective one.

iPod Shuffle Purchase

It seems to me that you should be compensated for having to repair a defective shuffle. What justifies the extra cost of repairing a shuffle vs buying a new one? The only difference is the shipping cost of returning the defective one but this is either compensated by the advantage Apple receives by being able to refurbish it or learn about defects. If these are not compensating advantages then why require the defective shuffle be returned? Save the extra shipping costs and give an existing customer a break. If the concern is that customers might be dishonest about shuffle defects (if they don’t have to return it) to get a small discount on a new shuffle think of it as a volume discount. The customer paid full price for the original shuffle. Loyal Apple customers should be compensated not penalized when they have a defective product that needs to be repaired/replaced.

Schoolhouse

Schoolhouse:

icon

Schoolhouse is a very, very, very nice way to organize your school assignments. And with all the new college students buying Macs for the upcoming year, this is perfectly timed.
Some of the features:

  • Classcasts- publish your assignments to the web automatically
  • Automatic graphing of your grades
  • GPA & Finals calculator (You can also use this GPA Calculator
  • A Great GUI

Show this app to your parents and get them to buy you a new Mac.

Get it here: Schoolhouse.

.Mac in trouble; Darkness before the Dawn?

.Mac in trouble – O'Reilly Mac DevCenter Blog:

.Mac in trouble
Tuesday August 1, 2006 2:36PM
by Giles Turnbull in Opinion
If recent reports are anything to go by, .Mac is in trouble.
Stories of outages and breakages do nothing to improve the already fairly poor reputation of Apple’s online services package. And everyone who has invested money in a .Mac account, and perhaps in third-party apps that take advantage of it, ends up frustrated and locked in to a single machine, since they can’t sync stuff between different Macs as they expected.
Steve Jobs might announce all sorts of things at WWDC next week, and to be honest I don’t expect .Mac to feature among them. But Apple really needs to address .Mac soon (and not just by introducing a whole bunch of .Mac-only new features in iApps and Leopard).
The service needs to be re-thought and re-vamped completely. There’s nothing like it in the Windows world, and .Mac is a superb idea, a wonderful feature to attract new users to Macs; it’s just the the reality of using it offers little other than frustration, disappointment, and bemusement that other online services offer so much more (often for a lot less money).
Even if .Mac gets zero attention next week, I’m hoping that something drastic is done to it before the end of the year. Even if that means simply putting it out of its misery.

There have been a lot of articles about the need for a facelift for .Mac. This is more fundamental than just a better interface for Apple webmail. .Mac could be a tremendous asset for Apple especially in the context of emerging web services, social networking, online publishing, etc. Apple’s legendary ease of use and integration could be that much more effective if it extended beyond the OS to the webOS ala Google. Here is hoping that Google’s participation on the board leads to a meaningful partnership for “think different” network services.

Some Exciting Apple Innovation

Check out the up to the minute reporting of Apple World Wide Developers Conference by Engadget.

http://www.engadget.com/2006/08/07/live-from-wwdc-2006-steve-jobs-keynote/

While what was announced is exciting (see list of highlights below) there are still a few more secret features to also look forward to and speculate about.

Summary of OSX Leopard features:

  1. 64-bit top to bottom
  2. Core animation
  3. Universal access
  4. Enhanced parental controls (which we didn’t talk about)
  5. We didn’t get a chance to talk about iCal but iCal is going multiuser
  6. The complete package (Update: This refers to making Photobooth and Frontrow capabilities generally available as part of the OS)
  7. Enhanced mail
  8. Enhanced spotlight
  9. Dashboard
  10. You saw Web Clip and Dashcode
  11. Today we are announcing Xcode 3 at the afternoon session.
  12. Spaces a whole new way of working with our Macs.
  13. And of course, Time Machine.

What makes it easier to get enthusiastic about these announcements is that Apple’s record for delivering features and shipping on time is reliable.

The most significant features for me are enhanced mail with todos, iCal multiuser, ichat theater, webclip and dashcode, and time machine. Spaces sounds interesting for enhancing productivity. There was a rumour that ichat interworking with MSN and Yahoo would be announced but nothing on that yet. Not all of these features are new innovations and some are quite frankly catch-up but they are still exciting nevertheless because of the promise of ease of use and integration on a services level. There is a lot to look forward to.

One thing I would like to see is confirmed support or even a statement of direction regarding Open Data Format support. This is important to avoid obsolescence and lockin especially for future releases of iWork and iLife. I also hope that the developers conference will have some announcements on plain old support and community development since there have been recent news of forum support being eliminated and Open Darwin folding. More on that in an essay I am writing on switching, obsolescence, and Open Standards.

Update: A new Apple Open source site has been created.
http://www.macosforge.org/