The 1½ Star Apple Product

Okay, I lie. That’s for the 65W one, the 85W one I have actually gets 2 stars.

Introducing the Apple MacBook power adapter, possibly the worst rated Apple product around.

Mine has been slowly breaking near the end that connects to the computer for the past month. I’ve now become skilled at what I have to do to get it to work after it’s plugged in (the very technical approach of jiggling) but touching anything in the vicinity the wrong way will cause the charger to stop working again.

It’s been about one and a half years after I bought the Mac, so it definitely shouldn’t be breaking so soon, but that also means that I’m outside of the one year warranty. I didn’t buy AppleCare, because, you know, I live life on the edge. And also because it’s freakishly expensive at $600. Laptops are probably the only thing that I’d consider buying an extended warranty for, but I wouldn’t have chosen a Mac if I thought it would need $600 worth of repairs before it was three years old. Also, we have the Consumer Guarantees Act.

The 15 minute call

So I called Apple. I’d reMacBook Pro with chargerad on an Instructables post that some people had good experiences calling up Apple and receiving a new charger even outside of their warranty period. Their reasoning being because Apple knows the chargers are poorly designed (but nice to look at) they will replace them.

I called Apple, and I think spoke to someone in Australia. Side note: outsourcing is fine by me if it doesn’t interfere with getting stuff done for the customer, which in Apple’s case it kind of does.

The second person I spoke to, in his defence I think he was foreign to Australia, didn’t know much about the geography of New Zealand.

Their list of Christchurch repairers was outdated and I was given Yoobee’s earthquaked Moorhouse Ave location, prompting a humorous response from the rep: “If they’re listed here they should be open. Otherwise it would defeat the purpose of my list.” I can’t imagine a list of Apple stores being outdated.

And according to an Instructables comment, if I was in the USA this could have all been done by courier, or according to Yoobee’s staff, if we actually had Apple stores here in New Zealand (which the international phone reps often assume) I could have just walked in and got a new charger straight away.

I tell the rep what’s wrong with the charger: it’s broken at the moment, when I plug it in sometimes it works but the majority of time it doesn’t and I have to play around with it to get it to work. We go through my serial number (which today I found out has SWAG in it), whether it’s the original charger, the purchase date, my lack of AppleCare and my email address. I get told it’s outside of warranty and some dubious information about incorrect watt adapters blowing up. I bring up the endless one star reviews, he says he’s read them the other day and most are because of blown up chargers[citation needed]. I drop four magic words: the Consumer Guarantees Act, get told I should contact the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and then talk to Apple’s legal team, which seems like it’s probably said to scare people away. I ask to be transferred to their legal team but get told that’s not possible.

[funky hold music]

His supervisor says that it would be inconsiderate (his words) if they provided an exception for me because it would be unfair for people who bought AppleCare (also his words). Guilt trip. He asks if I’m sure it’s the power adapter and when it started happening. He asks if I can bring it into one of their service providers so they can do a full diagnostic, which basically consists of plugging the charger into a computer and scanning the barcode the computer displays when the charger doesn’t work. Once it’s confirmed they’ll look into the possibility of giving me an exception, but he can’t promise me anything, because it would be unfair.

Scene change – Yoobee store

Apple makes them send in the broken charger before they will send out a new one, “That’s the rule they give us”. Apple won’t just take their word that the charger is broken. Having no charger is worse than having one that works intermittently. Yoobee checked if they had any ones they could loan me, but they didn’t. I didn’t ask why they couldn’t just give me one off the shelf, pick your battles and all, you know?

Unsurprisingly they say about broken chargers that “we do deal with these all the time.”

TO THE CAAAAARRRRR.

Scene change – the car park

I ring Apple from the car and get the same supervisor. We have a 36 minute conversation which basically consists of me complaining about the ridiculous policy (Apple says it’s Yoobee’s, Yoobee says it’s Apple’s. I side with Yoobee) of not being able to keep a semi-working charger while waiting for the new one and the rep trying to make me feel bad because he gave me an exception to the out of warranty policy for a charger that isn’t even properly broken (like giving away a charger is such a rare event, if the charger wasn’t so poorly designed I wouldn’t need a new one after 18 months, but battles). Apparently the free charger was because their product lasted 12 months so I didn’t need to get anything fixed during my warranty, and not because of known product flaws.

The conversation ends with me inside the store again having a speakerphone conversation with the rep and a Yoobee Apple tech.

I kept the charger. A new one is coming in on Wednesday for me. Also, Yoobee texts you with updates on your case. Technology.

<3 Yoobee. Not so much <3 for Apple.

Image credit: Marcin Wichary

TEDxEQChCh Salon #1

A week ago, Christchurchians braved the aftermath of the snow and met at the Bush Bar for the first TEDxEQChCh Salon*. Previous TED talks were shown, and people were invited to share what they were involved in post-quake, or something else the audience would be interested in. Someone I talked to summed up the difference between May’s TEDxEQChCh well: this was more about the people than the buildings.

Cathedral made out of #eqnz tweets made by Kunst Buzz on display in the TEDxEQChCh lobby

Kunst Buzz‘s tweet cathedral, the ChristChurch Cathedral made of a random selection of almost 1000 #eqnz tweets (approximately 98,000 characters) which was on display in the TEDxEQChCh lobby, among other TEDxEQChCh memorabilia that has been given to Te Papa.

The talks

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

Brene Brown hacks into lives for a living. She talks about banana nut muffins, worthiness, being imperfect, her office supply addiction and human connection, which led her on a quest that sent her to therapy, but changed the way she lived.

Something she said seemed very relevant post-quake: “they had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others.” Very similar to advice given in a pamphlet dropped in our letterbox yesterday.

Tony Robbins asks why we do what we do

Tony Robbins usually runs 50+ hour coaching seminars over weekends. He talks about patterns, resources, needs and describes what happened in one of his seminars of 2000 people from 45 different countries in Hawaii on the day of 9/11.

Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

Mark Bezos usually fights poverty, but also volunteers as a firefighter. He talks about his first fire, and that we shouldn’t wait for something to happen before we try to make a difference.

Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy

Dave Meslin tries to make local issues engaging. He talks about barriers that keep people from getting involved.

The people

Tim Taylor

Tim Taylor talked about Project Regenerate a subsection on the Rebuild Christchurch site which shares visions for a future Christchurch in video form and lets people vote and comment on them.

Trent Hiles

Trent Hiles talked about the creation of a multi-purpose arts complex in Lyttelton and Lyttelton’s Act of Art, a Gap Filler project whose first installation, a tribute to James K Baxter and the town, is up.

Grace Duyndam

Grace Duyndam talked about the 350.org Moving Planet September 24th worldwide rally against fossil fuels.

* TEDx Salon’s are intended to engage the community between larger events through small recurring events, keeping the spirit of TED alive—ideas worth spreading.

I Am Famous*

I thought I recognized one of the photos in one of the presentations at TEDxEQChCh, and I was right. It turns out that I recognized it because it was my image. Kind of.

The photo

Bob Parker talking to a journalistBob Parker - It's munted

That’s my original photo on the left, which I posted on Flickr. The modified image on the right was used in the talk Tragedy Plus Distance (the other TEDxEQChCh talks are up on YouTube now too, and you should watch them). I’ve looked on Google, Flickr and Facebook and can’t find the modified image anywhere (if you see it let me know). Unfortunately free reverse image search engines like TinEye only index a relatively small number of images.

I don’t know if the site the modified image is on is making money or provided attribution to me. I’m not having a dig at the TEDx speaker—few if any speakers attributed the images used in their presentations and any attribution would likely point to the modified image, not my original one.

The stolen scream

Unlike mine, this is an extreme and interesting case of image plagiarism: Noam Galai‘s photo of himself screaming made it into 30+ countries, on book covers, in magazines and on t-shirts.

The case against watermarking

“[A] watermark breaks the image.”

Watermarking photographs is an option. But an ugly one. The lesser evil of watermarking on the edge of an image rather than in the middle presents the option to someone who is determined of just cropping it off. Is a casual sharer going to go out of their way to crop an image? Unlikely. Let’s assume they would provide attribution either way. Are they going to want to share the image at all? Unlikely. The comments on this post about watermarking  are worthwhile reading.

In a survey of professional photo buyers, PhotoShelter found that “an overwhelming majority of them stated that an image with a prominent watermark is less likely to be licensed than an image without any watermark at all.” Co-founder Grover Sanschagrin agrees that watermarks result in people being less likely to pass your images on to others and says that prominent watermarks send a subtle signal to buyers that you’re a difficult person to work with.

The Internet copyright conundrum

I think the interesting thing for me is that the person who modified and posted the image is probably a content creator too. They likely have at least some content they place usage restrictions on.

What does All Rights Reserved mean to an Internet user? Is personal and noncommercial use (like blogging, Tumblring etc.) of a reasonable amount of a person’s content with attribution accepted practice? Some Flickr users don’t want their photographs being shared at all. I disagree—the more people who see my photos the better. A large side goal of that is to promote my other content, which requires attribution.

Should I put my photos under a Creative Commons licence then? I’m hesitant. Among other things: some of my photos have made me money—would buyers be put off if the same photo was available for ‘free’ under a noncommercial licence? Creative Commons is essentially irrevocable and the format of the original content can be changed under any licence—attribution is not linkable offline.

I think I’m happy with the status quo. All Rights Reserved with the knowledge that because of the nature of the Internet the image will be shared noncommercially no matter the licence, but that hopefully a link back will be shared too.

If you share content off the Internet please link back to the original creator. It’s extremely easy to find good quality ‘free’ images on the Internet, I’ve posted before about finding images responsibly on Flickr. When I was trying to track down the modified image I saw that Google provides options for searching for Creative Commons labeled content too.

Even if imitation is the greatest form of flattery it can still leave a bad taste behind.

What does copyright in the context of the Internet mean to you?

Let’s Try To Be Nice To Everyone, Not Just The Cleaners

Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity (Amazon, Book Depository), published a post last week worth reading titled Be Nice to the Cleaners. While interviewing entrepreneurs for his next book, someone gave the advice “be sure you are nice to the cleaners”.

SoapPerhaps he/she was meaning that you shouldn’t give people who have access to sensitive information reason to abuse it, but digging deeper, maybe the message is: treat everyone with respect no matter their position, your mood or how they treat you.

Chris says “you can learn a lot about someone by watching how they treat the people in supportive roles around them”, which reminded me of this. One of the Kardashians’ boyfriends gets a new assistant and ends up berating him in front of the crew for a photo shoot. Apart from generally just being a dicky thing to do, it’s unlikely to impress anyone he planned to continue a professional relationship with. The assistant quits and calls him an “egotistical pompous asshole”.

A handful of recruiters commented on the post saying that they often check with reception and admin staff and base hiring decisions on the candidate’s treatment of them. In one case the boss was actually sitting behind the reception desk. The guy got the job because he was the only one who actually treated the “receptionist” well.

This is another reason to take better care of ourselves.

When you’re at your worst, tired, stressed and worn out… that’s when people find out who you really are, that’s what people will judge you on. That’s when you have a chance to really show who you are. Do you take it out on someone else? Or do you dig deeper and show compassion anyway?

I tweeted yesterday about an email I sent to multiple recipients, of which a few took offense to the wording of, which wasn’t intended. Flipping the above quote around, I can’t change how I worded the email, or change how it was interpreted, but I can choose how to reply to their reaction.

The Do Not Call List could be a good idea if calls from telemarketers are annoying.

Let’s try to be nice to everyone, not just the cleaners.

Image credit: B.G. – Oodwin