Archive for August, 2007

Web Sites for Switchers

Switchers — I know this topic sounds kinkier than it should, but if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a Mac switcher. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. When your PC friends start talking about Vista or their latest Microsoft applications, maybe you can play a little sabotage by bringing up the topic of which anti-virus software they are using now (obviously to lead to the end point where you get to say how you don’t need any anti-virus software). However, regardless of how much we may love our Macs (again, nothing worthy of naughtiness or shame), we are in the minority. You can probably spit in any direction and hit a PC user, but don’t look for a Mac user in your line-of-fire. So we probably overcompensate whenever we represent ourselves in a PC crowd by stating emphatically how great our Macs are. Unfortunately, we may preserve our pride, but sometimes it ends up feeling a little lonely. There’s something to be said for the commiseration of being afraid of the same new trojan viruses or being able to share each other’s blue-screen-of-death stories or tips on how to best re-install one’s Windows system again. Very recently, another switcher asked me if I had any recommendations for where to get information about Macs. Of course there are plenty of Mac news sites (lately plagued by endless news and non-news about the iPhone) however, I found a few web sites with potentially useful information for us switchers.

The first site is a work-in-progress from the guy who also brings us new Mac tips every day: The Ultimate Guide for switching from a PC to a Mac only has one chapter so far, but it looks like it will be great source of basic and essential info for anyone switching to Mac from PC.

Another even more comprehensive switcher web site is My First Mac. The name sounds rudimentary and pre-school, but don’t let that put you off. This site has tons of useful information for switchers and Mac lovers alike. Their tag line is: “Help Buying and Getting Started With Your New Mac”, but this site has so much more. Everything from basics to tweaks, tips to testimonials, even an analysis of the newest Mac news in very everyday language makes this a comfortable site for the not-so-technical. It’s also full of pictures and has an eye-catching style that makes it a fun site to check out. (If you know how, you can even subscribe to its RSS feed).

Plus, don’t forget about the page I mentioned before on lifehacker.com

I know there are probably tons of other sites like these (and I’ll add more when I find them). It’s a great little community of shared, quiet pride for us switchers. Let’s all get informed about our beloved Macs so we can really show those PC users a thing or two.

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iMac is back

Just in time for Apple to announce a new, cooler iMac, my own white, non-aluminum iMac has finally returned from the shop. I’m very happy to have my computer back. I’ve been using my work PC laptop at home in the interim and I have to say that it’s been a bit odd. I definitely felt less eager to use the PC to do stuff than the Mac. The Mac just made everything feel slightly more fun. Using the PC full time again felt a bit like going into the past for me (granted, I don’t have Vista on my PC, it’s still XP so maybe it is kind of like going into the past).

Sadly, my faith in Apple has been shaken a bit. Don’t get me wrong. I still think Apple is awesome and I’ll recommend them to whoever wants to hear me, but the fact that such a major hardware problem happened to me less than a year after getting the computer is a bit of a shock. Again, I never had this kind of problem on any of my PCs (even the clones). I know it’s a bit unfair because Apple has such a pristine reputation for reliability that I might be reacting more harshly to a problem with my Mac than I would have to a PC problem, but that’s what makes it kind of worrisome. When I picked up my iMac, there was actually someone else’s iMac also waiting to be picked up — and this isn’t even a Mac-only repair shop. All I’ll say is that I used to look at my iMac (perhaps naively) without any concern that it might let me down. After having that very thing happen (at a really inopportune time no less), my attitude has definitely changed. I’m at least a bit more realistic about things now. I guess the honeymoon is truly over.

As far as Apple and me, I have to say that their support and customer relations people were very nice. When I explained the situation they were helpful (as much as they could be), but there was still a problem because it took so long to get my part. I would have expected that a logic board (which sounds pretty essential to me) would have been in constant supply. How do they build the new iMacs without them? So despite having nice people answering the phones and talking to me, in the end the problem is still the problem. Without a good supply of parts, the problem doesn’t get solved and the customer is still unhappy. Maybe because of the new iMacs, mine was obsolete and they didn’t really put a high priority on parts for those older models (older being less than one year old). Let’s hope that’s not true. I mean, the new iMacs look great, but I’m not quite ready to upgrade yet.

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The saga continues

So it’s been a week and a half since my own Black Tuesday. My iMac is still in the shop. Apparently there was something wrong with the logic board. (Which is ironic because I’m such a logical person myself.) The shop told me last Wednesday that they’d ordered the part and that it would arrive in 2-3 business days, so like a good little boy I waited until Monday to phone (at least I think I waited; it’s all becoming a needy, desperate blur in my memory). As you may recall from my last post, I was about to hand in a crucial assignment for my Advanced Flash class and now I couldn’t touch any of my work (why didn’t I just pull an all-nighter on Monday to get it done… I guess I need a good crystal ball to help me avoid such pitfalls, eh?)

When the part didn’t come even the next day (one week after Black Tuesday), I got antsy. I called the shop and they still hadn’t gotten the part. I explained how desperate I was and how my entire grade depended on this assignment. The shop was sympathetic, but there was nothing that they could do. I then (at someone’s suggestion) called Apple again. They didn’t see that the part was shipped yet, but I explained my situation and my case got transferred to Customer Service instead. The customer service rep told me that there was some demand for this part and that it might take until the middle of August for me to get it. Again I told my tale of woe and pleaded with him whether there was a way to make this happen sooner. He took pity on me and had me escalated to the top of the list to get the part (I felt like I was on the kidney waiting list or something), I think he even mentioned that I was top in Canada and US.

Sadly, my kidney… I mean logic board, has still not arrived today (two days later). I couldn’t wait any longer because tonight’s my last Flash class. Now keep in mind, I’m not an all-eggs-one-basket kind of guy. Meanwhile I’d been emailing my teacher, telling him my tale of woe and he was really understanding and willing to do what he could to give me extensions, etc. Nice guy. Finally, I had the idea that since my hard drive was OK, why couldn’t the shop hook it up to another computer and get my files onto a CD. When I called them up, they were very accommodating and nice (they’d already become familiar with my tale of woe) about it. They set things up for me (for a non-warranty fee) and I was able to get my files onto a CD to hand into my teacher.

It’s been an interesting ride so far (it’s interesting now because I had something to hand in tonight. If not, I think it would still be in the “frustrating” domain) because I don’t think I’ve ever really taken any of my PCs to the shop. My Dell never had any problems. Ironic, no? So my point is, I don’t know whether the service I’ve been getting has been on the nice and helpful side, or just normal. Either way, I’ve appreciated everyone’s understanding — if only they could make the parts move faster. Bottom line is still bottom line, isn’t it? I still don’t have my computer back. Another funny thing is that every time I call Apple, they send me an email for feedback on the call. Part of me feels like saying: the call was great, but I can’t email you back the frickin’ survey without my computer. But I don’t want to hurt their feelings when they’ve been so considerate of mine.

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