Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

The Lonely Apple Repairman?

Filed under
Mac

I'm convinced there will never be a lonely Apple Computer repairman.

What finally persuaded me was my experience last week with the folks Apple calls the "geniuses." Now, let me hasten to add one note. I strongly suspect they are in fact geniuses--especially Charlie at Apple's New York store in SoHo, who may be one of the smartest and most reassuring major electronics repair guys I've every run across.

Still, Charlie and his fellow geniuses made my experience only marginally less maddening. Last Monday evening, my 17-month-old iMac G4 died. When I say "die" I mean it was so dead that not even a flatline appeared on my screen. When I finally got through to an 800-number repair guru, and after I made him understand why I couldn't access their 24-hour online tech help, he confessed that my problem was clearly "hardware related" and was beyond his capabilities.

So shortly after 6 AM Tuesday morning, there I was humping my iMac G4 into Apple's SoHo store--its only physical location in New York City. At the "Genius Bar" on the second floor, an eponymous genius looked at it and conceded that it was broken. "Probably the power supply," he nodded gravely.

I breathed a slight sigh of relief when he quoted me a price that was not much more than dinner for two at the neighboring Mercer Kitchen (attached to the Mercer Hotel where Russell Crowe heaved a telephone at a receptionist, an incident which, had I not known better, I might have thought was touched off by his experience next door at the Apple Store).

As the genius was filling out the repair slip, I spotted a printed notice on a board next to where they performed their miracles. It pledged that computers arriving before 8 AM would be ready the same day. Great, I thought. By Tuesday night I'll be back online, cruising the Web and making sure Forbes.com was everything it should be and more.

Wrong.

By the next morning--28 hours after checking iMac into the Genius Bar, Apple's Web site still had my link with the outside world "in triage." Triage? At any hospital, if a patient were still in triage 28 hours after arriving at the hospital, administers would be flying out the door--sacked. Some of the patients would be dead, others would have cured themselves by then and headed home.

An Apple customer service operator explained patiently that the delay was to order a part and have it shipped in, so it probably wouldn't be ready for another week. Another week? Pretty basic, it seems to me--a power supply for what is arguably one of the most popular desktops from Apple in its history. OK, I understand shipping it in. But another week? I mean, UPS and FedEx have made a pretty good business out of getting just about anything from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere else the next day.

I offered to pay extra for overnight shipping of the part but was told that wouldn't get me my computer any quicker.

Fortunately, I had some phone numbers for some Apple people in Cupertino, Calif., and a couple of phone calls later the wheels were slowly grinding into motion.

"Your experience shouldn't happen to any Apple customer," explained a company spokeswoman. Darn right. Only most people wouldn't have her cell phone number. And indeed, I was by no means alone.

Even at 6:30 that Tuesday morning, there were already several frantic Apple-owners clutching laptops and iPods, waiting to drop them off for repair. Thursday evening, 60 hours after my wife and I first walked up to the Genius Bar, we went back finally to claim our iMac that by this time had been impeccably fixed--they even buffed up the screen thoroughly. And at 6:30 Thursday evening, I counted more than 100 Macniacs queued up, some lugging huge PowerMac G5s, waiting their turn at the Genius Bar.

I'll concede it's probably a little unfair to single out Apple in all this. A Forbes.com colleague pointed out to me that on a recent visit to Best Buy, she saw scores of PC users queuing up at the repair counter clutching their ailing links with the online universe.

So that got me to thinking about the broader question. Twenty-five years after the first PC, the desktop and the laptop are still not nearly as reliable as the most basic automobile, washing machine, refrigerator or, even closer to home, television for that matter. When was the last time you brought your 36-inch color TV into a repair shop? Shouldn't we expect, even demand, better reliability?

I've gone through three computers (a Compaq, Gateway and now iMac) in the ten years since I bought my 36-inch Sony TV. Somehow it just quietly keeps chugging along, anesthetizing me without a single thought.

By David A. Andelman
Forbes

More in Tux Machines

France Proposes Software Security Liability For Manufacturers, Open Source As Support Ends

It sometimes seems as though barely a week can go by without yet another major software-related hardware vulnerability story. As manufacturers grapple with the demands of no longer building simple appliances but instead supplying them containing software that may expose itself to the world over the Internet, we see devices shipped with insecure firmware and little care for its support or updating after the sale. The French government have a proposal to address this problem that may be of interest to our community, to make manufacturers liable for the security of a product while it is on the market, and with the possibility of requiring its software to be made open-source at end-of-life. In the first instance it can only be a good thing for device security to be put at the top of a manufacturer’s agenda, and in the second the ready availability of source code would present reverse engineers with a bonanza. Read more

today's howtos

Security: Updates, Word and More

Mozilla Development and News

  • Removing Support for Unpacked Extensions
    With the release of Firefox 62 (currently scheduled for August 21, 2018) Mozilla will discontinue support for unpacked sideloaded extensions. You will no longer be able to load an extension via the Windows registry by creating an entry with an extension’s directory (i.e. unpacked) after Firefox 61. Starting with Firefox 62, extensions sideloaded via the Windows registry must be complete XPI files (i.e. packed).
  • Making a Clap-Sensing Web Thing
    The Project Things Gateway exists as a platform to bring all of your IoT devices together under a unified umbrella, using a standardized HTTP-based API. We recently announced the Things Gateway and we’ve started a series of hands-on project posts for people who want to set up a Gateway and start playing around with the Web of Things. Earlier this month we began with a high-level overview of how to build a Gateway add-on.
  • Trying Mozilla's Things Gateway
    I have an old Raspberry Pi 1 Model B with a RaZberry Z-Wave Daughterboard which I had soldered a larger external antenna on to last year. I used to run OpenHAB on it to control some z-wave devices before I moved last year and since then it's just been in a box. Let's fire it up! This original Raspberry Pi is a single core 700mhz CPU, so I'm planning on running it headless and doing everything remotely over SSH to save on GUI resources.
  • Lando Demo
    Lando is so close now that I can practically smell the tibanna. Israel put together a quick demo of Phabricator/BMO/Lando/hg running on his local system, which is only a few patches away from being a deployed reality.
  • Snips Uses Rust to Build an Embedded Voice Assistant
    The team at Paris-based Snips has created a voice assistant that can be embedded in a single device or used in a home network to control lights, thermostat, music, and more. You can build a home hub on a Raspberry Pi and ask it for a weather report, to play your favorite song, or to brew up a double espresso. Manufacturers like Keecker are adding Snips’ technology to products like multimedia home robots. And Snips works closely with leaders across the value chain, like NVIDIA, EBV, and Analog Devices, in order to voice-enable an increasingly wider range of device types, from speakers to home automation systems to cars.
  • Mozilla v FCC: Mozilla Re-files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality
    This morning, the Federal Communications Commission officially published its order overturning net neutrality rules in the Federal Register. We had originally filed suit early while simultaneously urging the court that the correct date was after this publication. We did this in an abundance of caution because we’re not taking any chances with an issue of this importance. That is why today, immediately after the order was published, Mozilla re-filed our suit challenging the FCC net neutrality order. We won’t waste a minute in our fight to protect net neutrality because it’s our mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.
  • The Death Of Net Neutrality Will Be Official In April (Cue The Lawsuits)
    Of course that's really just the beginning of an entirely new chapter in the fight to prevent broadband monopolies from abusing a lack of competition in the broadband space (remember: net neutrality violations are just a symptom of a lack of competition, a problem nobody wants to seriously address for fear of upsetting campaign contributors). The publication in the Federal Register opens the door to the myriad lawsuits that will be filed against the agency. Those lawsuits range from suits by Mozilla and consumer groups, to the 22 state attorneys general who say they're also suing the agency for ignoring the public interest. These lawsuits must be filed within the next 60 days. Expect the court battle to quickly begin heating up in March.