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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Up in smoke

Caw blimey gov it's been one hell of a day. Just got back form the library (2am) where I've spent the last 7 hours trying to finish off this website for my employer. I'm always astonished by how long it takes. It was all working fine in Safari and Firefox, but then I made the mistake of testing it for compatibility with Microsoft Internet Explorer, and it all went horribly wrong...

Still, glad I got it done. Eventually.

It was a funny old day. Started with a chap coming to see my darling 17-year-old Claud Butler mountain bike which I'm selling to hope pay for the move to Japan - every penny counts. He said he'd let me know... Then it was off to uni for a Japanese class. Crikey, my speaking ability really has dived this year. This is through no fault of my course, I don't see my coursemates experiencing the same thing. If I chose to make the time to speak japanese outside class, and if I chose to put the effort into my course that I know i should, then I'd be improving, but I don't, and thus I probably only talk japanese for about 30 minutes a week. I feel a little bad about this as I don't want to let my teacher down, but she knows me well, and I think understands my situation.

My listening is Ok though, and my writing not too hopeless, when I use a keyboard!

It's reached the stage now where I know that I'll be back in Japan soon, so I'm not too concerned about this brief interlude of crapness. In the long term I will be fluent. Now though, it's a matter of just trying to scrape by.

I was delighted yesterday to be presented with three Third Prizes and one First Prize at the Photo Soc Awards ceremony. It almost seemed like one of those Bafta situations where the film of the moment sweeps everything up ... which made me feel a little uncomfortable, as it would have been nicer if the prizes had been spread around a bit. Hmm, I left quite quickly after I'd spoken to the judges about my photos (taken in Mongolia last summer).

i received an email today to let me know that one or some of my photos have gone though to the final or another university photo competition. The awards ceremony is Thursday, but unfortunately I'll be in class at that time.

My Macbook power adapter went up in smoke today, literally! Prolonged wear and tear and over-zealous winding of the cord caused the outer insulation to break, and the thing short-circuited. I didn't realise though until I actually saw this whiff of smoke cross my screen - I thought it was a feather and tried to grab hold of it!

Off to the Apple Store I went, and was shocked by the cost of the replacement - £60! Just as I was about to pay, one of the staff asked me if my Macbook was under warranty. Yes, it was ...and 20 minutes later I was given a new adapter for free. I asked if the battery would have been harmed by the incident - no it should be fine. But how old is the battery? 21 months - Ancient! Did I know that Apple have a free replacement policy for that model? No, i didn't ...but moments later I was delighted to be presented with a brand new battery, which retails at £100!

Oh, then I mentioned the loose screws on the side of my macbook. That prompted the ordering of a new bottom case for it, to be delivered soon.

With this latest incident, in 6 months I would have had the hard drive, optical drive, keyboard, screen, power adapter, battery, bottom case and fan replaced- all 'free of charge'. I say free, but in fact I paid £50 for a 3-year warranty, which I would strongly recommend to anyone buying an Apple product. That's not because they break down more often than any other hardware, it's that the service you get for your money is so superb. Outside of Tokyo, I know of no place where you can just walk in with your computer and get it fixed on the spot, and I've never heard of a warranty covering a battery or power adapter before (both of which were victims of wear-and-tear, although apparently my battery was especially crap, not that I ever noticed, thus the new one).

Anyway, I've got a meeting with a local web design company tomorrow, er, today, in 6 hours time, to discuss getting our publishing site made (again). Best get some sleep!


p.s. Liking Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. The 24 hour audiobook is about £50 from Amazon - only £7.99 on subscription from Audible!

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Blogger Shari said...

How on earth did you get an extended warranty so cheaply? In the U.S., a MacBook 3-year warranty is the equivalent of 175 British pounds and is very much of dubious value. Also, Apple isn't always so accommodating about offering replacements for things like loose screws and old batteries in Japan or the U.S. In fact, there are huge lists of things they won't cover under warranty and I'm guessing your adaptor (which could have been seen as dying from "negligence" would not be covered).

23/4/08 17:01  
Blogger Joseph said...

Hi Shari,

I too was surprised when they gave me a new adapter, considering the problem was caused by wear and tear and no design flaw as such (flaws in design were apparently the reason I was given a new battery, keyboard & replacement screen).

I don't know why they did this. Was it perhaps connected with the fact that they remembered me, and I had sent some very positive feedback to management after my last repair job?! I doubt it, but you never know.

Regarding the three-year AppleCare program, I paid exactly £50 in 2006 for my macbook, and £47 for mum and dad's in January this year.

The secret is to enrol at an educational establishment before you buy one! I just checked the Apple Store (UK site), and with the educational discount, a three year Applecare plan drops in price from £199 to £47.

I must admit, when writing this post I'd forgotten that AppleCare was usually so pricey.

Having said that, I would still buy it at the regular price. I've called them countless times for help (and they are in a way open 24 hours, as one can call any of their regional offices - I use Australia when in Japan, and the UK or America when in England).

It may not be worth it for people who don't give their computer a real hammering though. Mine has suffered a lot of abuse, and thus I'm not surprised it's needed so many repairs.

One reason I speak so highly of Applecare is because I had an expensive care program for my old Toshiba, and the service was just appalling. Incredibly long wait times on the premium rate helpdesk number, repairs taking over a month.

(Mind you, in Japan it's a different matter. I know that Toshiba have a walk-in clinic in Akihabara which I have used in the past).

23/4/08 19:47  
Blogger Joseph said...

Coincidentally, my friend today mentioned to me Adobe's educational discounts. They have some fantastic discounts, such as Photoshop LightRoom for $99 as opposed to $299.

Not that that's of much interest for anyone except students (but worth knowing in case one were to go back to HE)

Oh, and about that adapter, my friend mentioned that it could be connected with the costly lawsuits they've seen in the US and associated battery recalls.

24/4/08 02:39  
Blogger Shari said...

While I anticipate a future of nothing but Mac purchases now that Windows can run on the same machine concurrently (mainly for gaming that is PC compatible only), I'd never purchase Applecare. If you look at the cost, it's about 1/4 the cost of a new MacBook (not a Pro). Since most components with defects fail in the first year if they're going to fail and you're under warranty for that year, the chances that anything will fail which is not your fault are pretty low. If the MacBook lasts 3 years (which is the duration of the warranty), the first year was covered anyway and it's better to buy a new machine after that much time has passed anyway.

If you had paid "full price" but not had Apple supply the parts (their prices are insanely inflated), you'd not even be getting your money's worth out of your 50 pounds, let alone full price. Extended warranties are the biggest cash cows for all companies.

If I thought Apple would cover wear and tear, I'd consider buying Applecare, but I don't believe they do under normal circumstances. T. and I are pondering a new Mac purchase (for his use) now and he's incredibly hard on his machines so it'd be nice, but I know they'd put up a fight on any claim we made.

24/4/08 09:30  
Blogger Joseph said...

Apple certainly do overcharge for their components (£200 for RAM that can get from £35 from Cruicial?!). I noted also that whilst the power adapter retails at £60, AppleCare were only billed £37 by the store. That's a pretty hefty mark-up.

I suppose my case is exceptional in that they have now replaced almost everything except the motherboard, without hesitation, including stuff which was damaged through wear-and-tear. Its tended to be a case of just pointing out the problem, and them saying "we'll get a new one in", which does seem pretty exceptional in these days of small print.

I've had no repair-connected dealings with any other store other than the one in Sheffield - it'll be interesting to see if / how my experience of AppleCare changes when I need to get parts replaced elsewhere.

Your experiences show that what I'm reporting is not necessarily the norm. I'm inclined to agree with you as I've never heard anyone else shout about AppleCare.

The Apple store in Shibuya has got a lot to live up to. I'll let you know how they compare!

24/4/08 17:02  

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