Had yet another bad experience with Apple last week that has got me shaking my head in disbelief.
My wife re-booted her iMac after installing some updates. I should say she tried to re-boot because it wouldn’t restart fully, just went to a blue screen then eventually just restarts itself. She schedules an appointment with one of the ‘geniuses’ at the Apple store in Kenwood and shows up at the appointed time.
The kid behind the counter looks up the model number of the Mac and proclaims “I can’t help you, this system is too old!” My wife, after recovering from stunned disbelief asks “what are you talking about, the system isn’t that old”. No, he insists, if the system is older than 5 years, they won’t touch it. That is right, Apple refuses to service their own products. Won’t even run a diagnostic on it to determine what the problem is. Nothing. His advice is to buy a new Mac (naturally) or take it to MicroCenter to see if they will work on it. Tremendous customer service.
“Besides”, he goes on to tell her, “that disk drive is so old it probably won’t format – formatting is really stressful to the disk drives”. Wow, now there is some epic ignorance straight from an Apple ‘Genius’.
This weekend, I booted the Mac off an installation CD, attempted to run Disk Utility on it but DU barfed because of ‘invalid node structure’. Fortunately, the system gets backed up with Crashplan so all of the critical files were safe. Reformatted the drive (twice, because it is so stressful to the drives). Clean bill of health and Snow Leopard is installing as I type this.
Makes me think back to when I had PC hardware that ran without issue for over a decade and was always able to get parts and service for them. And now this load of BS from Apple.
So the next time you are thinking about buying one of those overpriced Apple products because they have such wonderful customer service and fantastic build quality, think again. If you hang on to the device for more than 5 years Apple has nothing more for you than an extended middle finger.
I think I am in favor of pro-active laws against wearing/using something like Google Glass while driving. It is a form of distracted driving and aligns with the current laws regarding texting and driving.
I finally had a chance this weekend to take a look at what Amazon’s much touted ‘AutoRip’ offering is all about. Turns out, not a lot. Of the several thousand CDs I have bought from them in the last 7-8 years, a little over four hundred of them are available via AutoRip – sort of. When I drill into the details some of the ‘CD’s that are available are really just one or two tracks from the CD, not the entire CD. How they managed this, I don’t know. And these aren’t compilation CDs where there might be understandable variations in licensing based on artist, label etc. Nope, these are single artist CDs.
So when Amazon claims that they are offering you CDs that you have purchased online – what they mean is some of the tracks from some of your CDs sometimes. Not all of them, not most of them, some of them. Is renaming it Amazon AutoGip too real?
Yes, it is that time of year, when people go shopping, because, well, they are supposed to shop. New York magazine has a great article that explores just how crazy this is Why Black Friday Is A Behavioral Economist’s Nightmare:
The big problem with Black Friday, from a behavioral economist’s perspective, is that every incentive a consumer could possibly have to participate — the promise of “doorbuster” deals on big-ticket items like TVs and computers, the opportunity to get all your holiday shopping done at once — is either largely illusory or outweighed by a disincentive on the other side. It’s a nationwide experiment in consumer irrationality, dressed up as a cheerful holiday add-on.
It then goes on to explore the retailing ‘tricks’ that are employed:
The doorbuster: The doorbuster is a big-ticket item (typically, a TV or other consumer electronics item) that retailers advertise at an extremely low cost. (At Best Buy this year, it’s this $179.99 Toshiba TV.) We call these things “loss-leaders,” but rarely are the items actually sold at a loss. More often, they’re sold at or slightly above cost in order to get you in the store, where you’ll buy more stuff that is priced at normal, high-margin levels.
That’s the retailer’s Black Friday secret: You never just buy the TV. You buy the gold-plated HDMI cables, the fancy wall-mount kit (with the installation fee), the expensive power strip, and the Xbox game that catches your eye across the aisle. And by the time you’re checking out, any gains you might have made on the TV itself have vanished.
Implied scarcity: This is when a store attempts to drum up interest in an item by claiming “limited quantity” or “maximum two per customer,” which makes us think we’re getting something valuable when we may not be. It’s a staple of deceptive marketing, and at no time in the calendar year is it in wider use than on Black Friday. (There is also actual scarcity on Black Friday — when stores carry only a 50 or 100 of an advertised doorbuster item — which also introduces a risk that you’ll be 51st or 101th in line and waste your time entirety. Both are bad.)
I spent Black Friday at home, with my family, working through my to-do list. Aside from lunch, we didn’t venture out to buy a thing.
What if we reviewed movies that same way that we review tablets? That is, don’t rate them based on their own merits but always relative to some other popular movie, allow lots of subjective, unsupported assertions and conclude that popularity equals quality. So if we assume that Spiderman was the benchmark du jour, it might go something like this:
Avengers had quite a few popular characters in it, but the fatal flaw was that there was no Spiderman. However, everyone noted that many of the characters closely copied Spiderman in having an alternate identity, special powers and a snazzy costume, it was clear that these were to make the characters more like Spiderman, who is the leader in the super hero space. While the movie was entertaining, it just didn’t have the same flow and ‘ease of watching’ that Spiderman did. And while we paid less to see the Avengers at a matinee, the quality of Spiderman clearly made it worth the extra ticket expense because everyone knows that Spiderman is just a higher quality product. We are sure that the Avengers might appeal to some people; we still believe that Spiderman is the best movie there is.
I’ve written before about mobile application privacy over-reach. Now there seems to be a whole genre of mobile applications that want *all* of your personal data in order to ‘help’ you through your day. You know, you are right, I think the number one thing that people want is someone (or something) to tell them what they should be doing all day and all night long. No, not really.
One of these apps that has been around a while is reqall’s Rover. As is typical of the genre, it wants to suck in your contact info, keep fine grained GPS trails of your movements, harvest your info from social media sites like Facebook and twitter, etc. About the only useful feature I found that it provided was traffic conditions for commuting (but you can easily get that from any number of sites). One of the most annoying ‘helpful’ features it provided was trolling through the phone call logs an send alerts that I should call personX because I haven’t talked to them in a while. More often than not it was a number for AAA roadside assistance or some such thing that I wouldn’t have a need to call often.
Friday is another app that a co-worker pointed out to me. A quick visit to their web site had me scratching my head as to why I would ever want to run this app. This app sucks *all* of the information off of your phone into ‘the cloud’ and does so on a continuous basis throughout the day. It does this so it can ‘help you remember’ what you were doing at a particular moment. Right, or use all of that information to sell to marketing types or know when to rob you.
Saga is the latest of these apps I have seen. Whoo, I can see a list of places I have been during the week (like I couldn’t do that with Google Latitude). Same tired ‘check in’ gambit – pooh and I get to earn ‘experience points’ for doing it. And restaurant recommendations based on what I always do! (as if I couldn’t figure that out on my own. Same claims, same huge privacy issues. Do I really want some third party tracking my every move at all, let alone for the claimed ‘benefits’ to me?
Will Google Now be the one that gets this right? Privacy issues remain, but in many cases they probably have this information already so the issue of providing it to yet another third party is somewhat minimized. Also, some of the touted features don’t make a lot of practical sense, like translation and currency. Works great if you have an unlocked phone AND can get roaming data at a less than rapacious rate; otherwise ‘benefits’ that won’t see a lot of use. And then there is the fact that Google Now is only available on the very newest version of the Android OS that is on very, very few devices in the wild.
I recently came across a self-published book that I was interested in on Amazon. I noticed that it claimed that if I was an Amazon Prime member (I am) that I could get it ‘for free’. I thought, great, a no risk way to satisfy my curiosity about the book. So I sign in so that Amazon can confirm that I am a Prime member. But, now it is telling me that I can get the book for ‘free’ if I buy a Kindle device – WTF? Sounds like good ole bait and switch to me.
So I started looking into magazines that I might be able to download and take on an upcoming trip. My Galaxy Tab 10.1 came pre-loaded with the Kindle viewer, so why not? Besides, I have been looking for a replacement for the brain-dead Zinio application. Many of the magazines that I wanted to buy were only available for the Kindle devices, not for the viewers on the other platforms. Again, WTF? Poking around on the site, I came across a lame excuse that ‘not all of the content is licensed or optimized for all platforms’ – great, so you are admitting that your reader software is a joke and you are really just trying to get people to buy your sub-par reader devices. Outstanding.
Apparently, Barnes & Noble’s Nook doesn’t have this ignorant limitation. If I buy a magazine for the Nook, I can view it on my wife’s Nook, my Samsung S2 phone, my Galaxy Tab 10.1 or on the iPad and have pretty much the same user experience on all of them. So what is your excuse, Amazon? It doesn’t appear to be a technical limitation if you competition can make it work. Just sounds like some ham-handed strong arming to try to push devices. Fix your content model, Amazon. The reality is, you have no motivation to do that at all, do you?