Kindle Death

That bad news: When I turned on my Kindle on Sunday to continue reading “I Drink for a Reason“, well, it didn’t turn on. Not at all. It was fully charged. Screen, rather than displaying the screen saver normally seen when it is off, was black with some barely visible “burned in” lines of text from the book.

Not good.

A few minutes of online chat with a Kindle specialist at Amazon.com revealed that yes, it was just fried. Dead.

As longtime readers will know, I love my Kindle. I think the Kindle is a fantastic device for reading. I don’t want it to be a “tablet”. I like it as an e-reader. Easy on the eyes, enlargeable font, just a fantastic reading experience. I love it.

Not sure what fried this one. We have had power issues due to an ice storm. Perhaps a surge got it? Who knows.

The good news: When I bought this Kindle Touch 3G at Best Buy, I broke one of my normal rules and I payed for 2 years of their extended super warranty. It is 1.5 years old. Warranty still good. Took it to Best Buy. They gave me store credit for the full purchase price, and bumped it up by enough to buy the Kindle Paperwhite 3G — which replaced the one I have. So that’s cool.

What’s not cool is that they are out of the Paperwhite 3G.  But what is cool again is that soon a better but pretty much the same price Paperwhite 3G will be available.

So I will wait for the new and improved one.

I was very happy with Best Buy. They did exactly what they needed to do. No bullshit. Good job.

 

Death of a Dell Laptop

My wife’s Dell Inspiron laptop died last week. The fan will run, but nothing boots up. Took it to the repair shop, and they predicted $200 to diagnose the problem, and $700 – $800 to replace whatever electronics were fried. All this on a $1400 computer. I told them to do data recovery on the hard drive (Cost: $100.), as we were about to replace it with a new MacBook anyway.

The machine is 2 years old, has seen extremely light use, and has been well cared for.  Piece of shit.

MacBook update

So far, my MacBook has not experienced the screen-static/flickering screen that the first one I brought home did. So I’m pretty happy about that. Fingers still crossed. I’ve had the computer for about 3 weeks.

Apparently a lot of people are getting bum MacBooks. This WordPress blog includes a “statistics” page that tells me what keyword searches are getting people to this site. Every day I get at least 4 or 5 people coming to bibliosk8 based on the following sort of search strings:

down hill longboarding             1
riding a Longboard                   1
macbook problems 2007         1
macbook screen flickering       1
“Macbook Flickering”              1
macbook flickering screen       1

Pretty interesting. And this is just for today. It is like this every day. With these kind of searches hitting bibliosk8, I’m still a bit worried that my machine might develop a problem.

But aside from that issue, I’m still super happy with the computer.

Enthusiasm returning for MacBook

After a rocky start with my MacBook experience, my enthusiasm is returning.

My previous computer was a 1999 G4, the first one they released, running some version of the 9.X.X operating system. Of course, for at least a couple of years it has been impossible to upgrade any software on it. So its nice to have the new OS.

The MacBook is very fast, and it isn’t even the “Pro” version. I got the 2 GHz, 13″ white machine. Everything runs fast. Connecting to our Canon digital camera, the iPhoto application quickly recognized the camera and downloaded 100 images very, very fast. Faster than our Dell Inspiron laptop, and tons faster than the old G4.

On thing I really love, however, is that it boots up and shuts down really quickly.

There’s a lot of really nice, free software available on the Apple site. One of the first things I needed was a good FTP program, for transferring large files to my various sites. I downloaded and tried Transmit. Like all the other software I’ve checked out, it has a clean and elegant user interface and works like a charm. I’m also going to check out Interarchy 8.5.

For the whole tagging/social-bookmarking thing, there’s an app called Socialist that I’m going to try. There are lots of RSS readers/aggregators available.

A few words about the customer experience: Assuming you get a machine without any little problems, Apple has created a very smoooooooth customer experience with the MacBook. When you boot the machine up for the first time, it gives you a really cool looking and sounding “welcome” message, and then guides you easily through some initial setup functions, where you enter your name and other information, create an account on the computer, etc. At this point the system introduces you to the built-in camera at the top of the screen, allowing you to take your picture for your account profile.

Blended into the process is a pitch for Apple’s online services — called “.mac” .mac provides email accounts, disk backup service, remote storage space, blog/website hosting, and some other stuff. It’s actually really cool, but it does cost about $100 year, so I did not sign up. My point here is that the whole experience of starting with these computers is so warm and cozy that you almost just want to sign up.

Anyway, I’ve really just started to explore the software the system comes with. iPhoto is really cool for managing your digital images. GarageBand looks like it will be fun, but there will be a learning curve.

So as long as the MacBook keeps working correctly, I think I’m going to like it.

More on my MacBook

So far, so good. A couple of days and no flickering. Very cool software and nice machine.

Funny. Yesterday I wrote about no really getting a sincere “We’re sorry” from the Apple Store. That same day, Seth Godin wrote this blog entry about the failure of companies to apologize for screwups. Maybe I’m not that unreasonable.

 To be fair, I think the first person I talked to at the Apple Store may have said “sorry about that” or somesuch thing. The manager, however, did not. Weird.

My new MacBook – problem – solution?

As I wrote in a previous post and then deleted, I just got a new MacBook. Why did I delete that part of the post?

Well, I as soon as I fired the MacBook up, I noticed that the screen had a weird flicker to it. Sort of a horizontal static that would show up. It didn’t render the computer unusable, but it was very noticeable. In fact, it was the first thing I noticed. Not good.

Being a librarian, I quickly researched the problem with a very complicated search string on Yahoo! — “macbook flickering screen“. It seems that lots of MacBooks have come down with this problem. It may be some kind of issue related to the logic board or something. Whatever. I was disappointed and pissed, and considered just going and getting a refund.  But, I really wanted a laptop. And I wanted a Mac. So my choices were limited. I decided to try an exchange, and see how a different machine worked out.

The next day I went back to the store and was there when they opened the doors. I’m sure they love to see a guy with a box and a frown on his face waiting for them to open the doors.

The Apple Store is at Northpark Mall, in Dallas. Northpark is the rich, snooty mall with the high-end stores, and lots of plastic surgery victims walking around. The Apple Store is located near the Nordstrom department store, if that means anything to you. To me it means that they probably get a lot of wealthy but computer-illiterate people coming in to get Macs and iPods, and they have no way of knowing (other than my Independent Trucks tshirt, beat-up jeans,  and worn out skate shoes) that I’m not one of those people. Maybe my wife’s stylish leather jacket confused their social-class identifier program, or maybe I don’t look as young, hip, and cool as I think I do.

So I walked in and was greeted by a friendly 20-something. I said “I bought this yesterday, and I’m very disappointed and dissatisfied.” I explained the flickering screen. I could see in his body language that “Oh boy, an old guy who thinks his computer is broken” look. It may also have been, to some extent, the “It’s Sunday, we just opened, and my first customer is mad. Maybe I should go home sick” look. Anyway, he got the manager on duty, and she assigned another employee to examine the computer with me to see what was going on.

Now of course, the flickering wasn’t constant. The light in the store is really weird. Sort of a low, warm light, probably designed to make the giant Apple monitors look just fricking amazing — which they do — but it made it hard to see my little MacBook screen’s problem. I stood there with this young guy, activating applications and putting a load on the CPU, trying to get the effect. Nothing. I started feeling like an idiot. But my wife and I both new, for sure, that there was serious defect. A couple of minutes passed, then I could see him react. Yes — he saw it. Something was not right. The manager walked by and he gave her a subtle nod to indicate that yes, it was in fact fucked-up.

I talked to the manager, and agreed that I’d like to just exchange the machine and try a new one. The operating system is cool. The user interface is elegant. It is fast. I want the machine — but I want one that works correctly.

They quickly did the exchange. I appreciate their help. I guess my only gripe about the service was that there was really no “We’re really sorry you had a problem” acknowledgement that I had gotten a bum computer and my stoke had been harshed. They did the exchange quietly, efficiently, but I guess as a customer I didn’t feel quite like my ass had been kissed enough. It was efficient customer service, but it didn’t leave me feeling like I was king. What would make me feel better? I think if you buy an expensive piece of equipment and have to bring it back the next day because it is clearly defective, the retailer/manufacturer should, as a sign of goodwill and confidence in their product, throw in an extra year of warranty. In this case, “Apple Care”. Or how about even “Sorry for your trouble, here’s a laptop case. We hope you enjoy the machine”.

It was kind of a strange experience. After doing my online research on the flickering screen phenomenon, I knew it is pretty wide-spread. Apple has to know about it. I understand the need to control the image of your brand. But when something like this happens, why not just recall the affected computers before they are purchased, fix them, and send them on their merry way again. Oh well.

The new machine, so far, seems fine. No flickering screen thus far. I will be putting it through hell in the next two weeks to really test it before the “return by” date is reached. I’m really hopeful that it will work out. It is a nice machine.

I have to say, however, that my initial huge and enthusiastic stoke for the machine was really beat-down by this experience. I still like the machine, but the stoke has been replaced by feeling of apprehension — wondering if the problem will happen to this machine. At this point I couldn’t recommend to a friend that they buy a MacBook — not with total enthusiasm.