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1 January 2007
The Virginian-Pilot notes that the problem of drivers hitting deer is getting worse.
Glad we’re not alone in this, then.
It’s now been 19 days since my PowerBook G4 Hithlum’s LCD failed. Let’s recap.
- Times I have called Apple: 8
- Times I have spoken to an Apple rep over the phone: 3
- Times I have emailed Apple: 1
- Emails I have received from Apple: 1
- Times I have visited an Apple store, 160 miles away: 1
- Status updates received from Apple via website: 1
- Hours spent waiting for Genius Bar Appointment: 1
- Escalations through customer service: 3
- ETA: still pending.
- Approximate time spent dealing with support-related issues: 20 hours
- Days primary personal computer unavailable: 19
Let’s compare and contrast with Merrystar’s experience with Panasonic and her Toughbook Tsiolkovsky, shall we?
- Total calls to support: 1
- Total calls to Fedex: 1
- Total emails: 2, both status updates from Panasonic’s logistics company
- Total website visits: 2 (1 to look up phone number for inital call, 1 to FedEx to confirm delivery)
- Approximate time spent dealing with support-related issues: 1.5 hours, including packaging (excludes backup time.)
- Days primary personal computer unavailable: 2.5
The Panasonic support rep was knowledgable, efficient, and thorough. The Apple reps — with the execption at the Genius Bar, to be fair — have not.
What’s worse is that I’m paying $350 to Apple for this service for 3 years. Panasonic’s cost? $0 for the same period of time. I’ve used it three times and each time has been this easy.
This is seriously leading me to question my next laptop purchase. Perhaps it’ll be time to switch back to Linux?
2 January 2007
Well, isn’t that interesting?
This morning I emailed Apple to let them know that they hadn’t called me back as promised in their support email.
I just got off the phone with Frank at Apple in Austin, TX, who let me know they’d escalated the problem and expected repairs to be complete by tomorrow (as long as the unit passed QA, of course.)
Dare I hope that I’ll have Hithlum back by Thursday?
3 January 2007
Sometimes, it’s good to know how to repair an .ost or .pst file in Outlook .
Autoblog Green: VW to start UK sales of Polo BlueMotion in mid 2007:
VW’s cleanest, greenest model - the Polo BlueMotion - will be launched in Britain in the middle of this year. The BlueMotion model is a special variant of the mini Polo model that has a range of over 700 miles from a mere 11.9 gallon fuel tank thanks to fuel economy of 60 mpg. The 1.4L three cylinder diesel cranks out only 78 hp but still manages a 0-62 mph run of 12.8 sec. The five seater has been tweaked with goodies like low rolling resistance tires, taller gear rations and smaller rear-view mirrors. The down stream side of the engine is equipped with exhaust gas recirculation, a particulate filter and oxidation catalyst. Most impressively it has lower CO2 emissions than a Toyota Prius at only 102g/km, 2g less than the Japanese hybrid.
Looks good, too:
It’s safe to say that I wasn’t expecting this when I woke up this morning.
A venue of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) roosted up in the trees in my backyard this morning. There were 8 in my yard, and perhaps a dozen more scattered throughout the trees across the road.
As the sun came up, the crowd thinned out:
But still, it was nice having company for breakfast.
(Wikipedia trivia: a group of vultures is a “Venue”, when circling they are a “Kettle”.)
4 January 2007
I knew I was a fool to hope that I’d get Hithlum back by tomorrow, no matter what Frank From Austin, TX told me.
Tonight I received the following email from Apple:
…Thank you for your email.
We are sorry for the delay in servicing your PowerBook G4 and apologize for the inconvenience it may cause.
Your PowerBook G4 is currently at our repair facility. We are waiting on a part to complete the repair. This part (17” Display) is scheduled to arrive on Jan 4, 2007. We expect the repair to be completed in the coming days. Once the repair is completed, your product will be going through a series of final tests, and should these tests be successful, the computer will be
shipped back to you.
Your patience is greatly appreciated.
What I find most frustrating is that, in all the time my PowerBook was awaiting a part, no one could tell me what that part was. Knowing that the problem requires a new LCD screen actually eases my mind, because it validates the original AppleCare purchase. $350 for AppleCare or $800 (or more) for a new screen? Easy math. I may not be happy about the delay, but at least I don’t feel like I’m getting no value out of the extended warranty.
But it took over two weeks for Apple (and 3 escalations from me) to tell me which part they were waiting on to get to this point.
Perhaps my next laptop really will be a Panasonic Toughbook. (Pity I can’t run OS X on it.)
I got a call from my old friend Katie tonight at dinner. I haven’t spoken with Katie in maybe nine or ten years, but I was in the middle of having my son smear sweet potatoes and cheese on my sleeve so I took her number and called her back after we’d finished and cleaned up.
She was calling for a reason, of course. Gracie is dead, she said, and my heart skipped a beat. She was killed in a traffic accident: a car ran a red light and hit a cab with her and her coworkers. It was over a month ago.
- 1 dead, 3 hurt in SF hit and run
- Hit-run kills woman in cab and injures 3 — suspect held
- S.F. District Attorney’s Office Files Charges In Taxi Crash
I couldn’t say anything. Gracie, dead? What? That couldn’t be.
Gracie and I worked together at Aromas Coffee in Dallas ten years ago. We worked together Tuesdays and Thursdays and were a great team. We had flow.
But Gracie’s dead. There’s a hole in my life now.
Gracie had a list of things that she wanted to do by the time she was 30. Katie asked me if I remembered it, which I did. It was a gutsy list, one that made Gracie strecth and grow and live her life.
“She did it,” Katie told me. “Every single one.”
I didn’t doubt it for a second.
Gracie was 31 when she died. There were memorial services and a benefit at Bar Crudo (where she worked) to aid Carina Lampkin and Mike Selvera, Gracie’s fellow co-workers and passengers in the taxi.
I had lost touch — I hadn’t seen Gracie since I lived in Houston, and talked to her only occasionally since then — and Katie couldn’t find me until after the memorial services were all done and the holidays had begun. So she waited until after the holidays to call. I appreciate that.
I’m not surprised by any of it. It helps, a little.
Goodbye, Gracie. Rest in peace.
5 January 2007
The Amateur Gourmet: We Begin In Bellingham.
15 January 2007
16 January 2007
19 January 2007
Merrystar upgraded Tsiolkovsky to Ubuntu today from SuSE 10.0. Normally, I wouldn’t phrase a distro change as an upgrade, but this one qualified. Even though my first experience with SuSE was positive, the honeymoon was soon over, and recent events have been less than satisfactory. (Then there’s that whole Novell-Microsoft deal that still makes me go Whaaaa?)
Initial impressions of Ubuntu are very, very good. Wireless works out of the box, power management is great, and “Gnome doesn’t suck,” to quote the primary user. More details once we resolve the hissing backup disk drive issues (note to self: why did I not get out my noise cancelling headphones today?) and AIPS is functioning again; Tsiolkovsky’s Linux writeup could use some refreshing, especially considering how many hits it receives every day.
Did I forget to mention that Hithlum is back from Apple? I guess I did. Well, she’s back, but can’t read any data from the hissy drive, and if you think I’m letting Tsiolkovsky anywhere near that thing? Steve Jobs is more likely to use a stylus.
I know enough to not tempt computer karma: copy the data off the hissy drive as fast as the network will carry it, but don’t mess with the settings.
One small victory today is enough.
22 January 2007
Well done, Ronnie!
Ronnie O’Sullivan knocked in four century breaks as he beat Ding Junhui 10-3 to win his third Masters title in front of a raucous Wembley Arena crowd.
O’Sullivan lost the first two frames to the 19-year-old Chinese star but roared back to lead 5-3 at the interval.
The unstoppable Rocket raced through the next four frames to move 9-3 ahead, prompting Ding to offer his hand in resignation before leaving the arena.
… O’Sullivan put his arm around a visibly distraught Ding just before the players walked off for the first interval of the session after the teenager offered his hand.
25 January 2007
So my first birdfeeders were nestled in amongst the trees of my backyard, the better to provide shelter and protection from predators for the songbirds in my area. They were somewhat spread out, with the finch feeder hanging from a tree and the two seed feeders hanging from hooks on a pole.
The biggest drawback to this configuration, of course, is that we couldn’t see the birds very easily. And then the squirrels came, and so I bought a baffle, another hook, and moved the feeders to a new location, out towards the lawn but still close enough for flight when the hawks come.
What a difference a few feet of placement make.
(Click to see full size, with identifying notes.)
I snapped the above shot a few mornings ago during a quiet period at the feeder. Ten birds would have been a maximum in the previous position - now I’ve counted over 30 at one time. Goldfinches, house finches, dark-eyed juncos, chickadees, red-bellied woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves - all are regular guests for meals.
I went in to buy thistle seed last weekend and remarked how well the finches seemed to be doing this year. The guy behind the counter raised an eyebrow and said that most people were having trouble attracting them. “They must all be in my backyard, then,” I laughed. Dozens of well-fed finches, all keeping me company as I work.
It’s not just the backyard, either. I’ve got about a half-dozen eastern bluebirds who rotate through the trees in my front yard. Williamsburg is really wonderful for seeing colorful birds.
What’s really interesting to me is how much my son likes watching birds, too. He may be a rambunctious toddler most of the time, but he’ll sit and watch the birds during breakfast and lunch very quietly. He also insists that the feeders must be full at all times, which is cute when it’s a mild day but not nearly as funny when the temperatures plummet.
Still: it’s nice to be able to share it with him.
28 January 2007
Saturday morning in Colonial Williamsburg.
January is very quiet in this town.
Still, everyone goes about their morning routine:
Looking for the telltale sign that someone is open for business:
But I think everyone secretly hopes for spring.
(Some folks aren’t very good at keeping secrets, though.)