Saturday, September 30, 2006

Macbook Returned!

Finally finally finally! I sent my macbook to Apple on August 27 and it was returned on September 22. For those you that have not been following my saga - the black macbook that I purchased this past May had been suffering from random shutdown syndrome. Actually, it was not "random" - it could be replicated consistently by bringing the computer out of sleep mode.

Apple replaced the main logic board and the heat sink. So far, so good - no shutdowns whatsoever. I'll be confident if it stays this way for several months. The repair itself was well done, but keeping my computer for almost a month is unbelievable! What's even more upsetting is that the random shutdown problem appears to be prevalent in a non-trivial number of the macbooks that have been sold.

Oh Apple. How could your customer support be so slow?

I have one more issue with the machine in that the down arrow key does not always respond. I took it in to the Apple store yesterday and I was told that it would be a week to fix the computer! The genius at the store explained to me that the new keyboard design requires a fix or replacement of the entire top casing. Unlike previous Apple laptop designs, you can't just replace a single key! I was told that if the problem wasn't too much of an issue that I should hold off on the repair until I need another repair on the machine. Hmmm... was the genius implying that they expect me to perform more repairs on this machine? I agree with the genius, I'll wait to do the repair. It's a very minor issue, considering that the problem rarely occurs (though it is annoying). Apple, you're getting your hands on my macbook again this soon. For now I'll live with this "minor" issue (i.e., it's not the logic board or heat sink).

AOL Privacy Lawsuits Brewing

As expected, AOL members are suing AOL over the publication of their search queries back in August . Currently, it's three members, but I smell a class action lawsuit brewing. Personally, I can not stress the importance of this story enough. This may be one of the most egregious privacy violations of recent times. The prosecution claims AOL instituted false advertising, and several other violations, and is seeking monetary releif.

In addition, the prosecution is seeking to have AOL change their policy on data retention and disclosure. This is interesting and much more challenging than simple remuneration. They want AOL to do two things:

1) Destroy all of its records on current users, and
2) To neither store, nor maintain, records on future search records.

If such a request were to be upheld, it would significantly affect the future of web personalization, Web 2.0., and the business plans of many companies - including Google.

Call Record Terrorism Detection

Is it possible to detect terrorist activity in call data records and continue to satisfy the EU Data Directive? I believe it's possible in certain scenarios, provided the problem statement and model are properly specified. I recently came across this press release, which suggests that certain corporations are assisting in call record analysis.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

And the Saga Continues

It's now 3 weeks since Apple took my macbook and I finally threw in the towel and called Apple on Friday. I waited on hold for 30 minutes before speaking with someone (which I hear makes me lucky). To summarize my experience with the customer care representative - my computer is sitting on the shelf somewhere (though they couldn't tell me where). It looks as though it will get a new heatsink and logic board.

I was told that normal repairs take about 5 business days. I'm now sitting at almost 15. The reason for the long delay? They had to have the parts manufactured! There weren't any spare parts for repairs! Wonderful. My confidence in Apple soars to new heights.

Every day there are more blogs from the growing list of disgruntled macbook users at . Come on Apple! You should have told us to send our machines in when you had a solution - or parts - ready. Keeping our machines for this long is simply sad.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More on the Macbook

Fotinakis basically sums up my experiences so far with Apple repairs. The main difference - they actually put new parts in his machine. I'm still waiting for "parts on order".

To make matters worse, I've been scouring the online forums and it appears that Apple may or or may not know what the problem is. And if they do, they may or may not know how to fix it. Many people say they get their macbooks back, but the random shutdowns restart after several weeks (and some as soon as several days - gasp!). Even more chilling is that other people are in the same situation as me: they sent their macbook in several weeks ago and received little or no response. And on Friday, this post was made to MacFixIt. I harbor very dark hopes indeed.

Regardless, I'm sitting at 2.5 weeks - no laptop - and nothing has changed on the Apple repair site regarding my macbook since August 29. There are several words that best represent my current feelings towards Apple, but I believe that "disappointed" will do.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Macbook Scmacbook

It's officially over 2 weeks since I sent my new macbook 13" in to Apple for repairs. It's also over 6 weeks since my computer was rendered virtually (in the abstract not literal sense) unusable due to the random shut down problem that it picked up.

For those of you that didn't hear the story. About 6 weeks ago, my 1.5 month old laptop began shutting off when coming out of sleep. I'll write more on the story later - but this follows after my cd/dvd drive died on day 2.

So, for the past month or so, I've moved over to a Dell latitude laptop (ok ok, it's Sara's). No problems with it - just like I didn't have any problems with my previous latitude. I'm thinking about bailing on Apple and switching back. My original move was to get the Dual Core in an ultraslim laptop, but the new latitudes may fit the bill.

Regardless, it's been a sad sad experience with Apple.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Steel Nation Alive and Well

Living in Nashville has given us the opportunity to experience the Steel Nation first hand. We learned about a 'burgh bar in Nashville from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It was in the heart of the downtown party scene, about 4 miles from us, so we decided to check it out for the first Steelers game of the season.

Garbed in Steelers gear and with our trusty terrible towel in hand, we made our way to watch the second half of the game. As we're walking towards the bar, Sara turns to me and says, "If we're the only people at this place wearing Steelers gear, I'm going to be so pissed off."

Well, the bar (Pirhana's) was not only packed with Steelers fans, but it was like having a slice of the 'burgh in Nashville. Just about everyone there was from a different part of Pittsburgh or western PA and learned about the bar the same way as us. We met people from the South Side, Shadyside, Washington, and everywhere else. So much more to say, but I have to run. Hopefully, this picture is worth a thousand words.