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February 13, 2009

Apple One-Year Warranty = FAIL

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 9:06 pm

Last Friday night, the worst thing that can happen to any home business owner happened to me – my computer, a 2008 (model is listed as “Mid-2007”) Mac Mini froze, displaying a message that the computer needed to be restarted. I restarted the computer… the computer, however, was not so keen on the whole starting portion of the restarting process.

I took it in to my local Apple Store, located in the Biltmore Fashion Park in Scottsdale, Arizona. Purchased in April, 2008, the Mini had 2 months left on its one year warranty. I was told it would take three to five days for the unit to be repaired, and that it was covered under the warranty. I wasn’t happy about the three to five days wait, since I depended on my Mac for my livelihood, but I had no choice.

I received a call the day after taking it in, and was told that the necessary part to repair it had been ordered via Overnight the same day I took the unit in. All well and good, perhaps I would be working again sooner than expected. I borrowed a Windows XP laptop from a friend and made a very unhappy transition back to using XP – what I thought would be temporarily – to meet an urgent customer deadline.

The next day, I was told that the Mac Mini would not be repaired under the warranty because there was “liquid damage.” The representative at the Apple Store sent me the following image:



The liquid in the image is in the black border toward the right of the image, near the fan intakes along the outside edge on the bottom of the machine.

I’m calling foul on this. The machine was never, EVER exposed to any liquid spill. Even had it been, the intake fans on a Mac Mini can’t possibly be powerful enough to suck liquid up into the machine.

The end result? Biltmore Apple Store wanted $550 to repair a $600 machine that was still under warranty. FAIL.

I still love Macs. NOT so happy with the shenannigans that happened either with the design of the Mini, the Geniuses at Biltmore Apple Store, or somewhere between the two.


September 19, 2008

iTunes 8: ALL the love!

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 8:03 pm

You?ve probably seen the screenshots — here?s another one, ?cause I love to show off:


Okay, okay, quit starin? at my albums — and stare at my albums! That?s the new ?Grid? view. Notice that with the buttons top center, I can organize it by Albums, Artists, Genres or Composers. Honestly, I have no idea what Composers is for — maybe soundtracks.Notice too the ?Genius? sidebar on the right. Handy for those of us who like a certain ?sound? but aren?t picky about the artist. I found Celldweller, for example, as a Genius sidebar suggestion derived from the highlighted album ?2 Days or Die? by Atlas Plug (you can see that album highlighted in blue.

Everything Apple did right in iTunes 7.7 — and that was plenty — has been kept in iTunes 8, but one-upped by the new Grid view and Genius functionality. Is it any wonder iTunes dominates the digital media marketplace?

September 11, 2008

iPods and Widescreens and Keyboards — Oh, My!

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 1:44 pm

No need to replay the Big News from Apple?s ?Let?s Rock? event on Tuesday. It?s enough to gloat and act terribly smug about being right on the money with not only the new iPod Nano?s form factor but about the inclusion of the accelerometer for easy portrait-to-landscape display mode switching.

Wow, that sounded really geeky, and not in that hip new way. Hm. Moving on!

Upgraded my display from a bulky old nasty-looking beige Dell CRT to the spiff-tastic beauty you see below:


The Hewlett Packard HP w1707 is (much as the model number suggests) a 17? diagonal LCD monitor boasting a maximum resolution of 1440 x 960 @ 60Hz with an 8ms response rate. What do those numbers mean? Honestly, not much unless you?re an avid gamer or you like your movies action-packed, in which case you want the highest resolution you can get with the lowest response time you can get — and for a budget offering, which the w1707 definitely is at $199 MSRP, these specs are very, very good. Output is through a standard VGA cable (DVI-D on select models).

For the non-geek out there, all those numbers translate into a small monitor with truly excellent brightness and image quality that?s well suited to heavy multimedia use in tight spaces.

One feature that really sets this monitor out from the rest of the ?$200-and-under? pack is the integrated stereo speakers. While they?re not exactly going to compete with a 2.1 system from Bose or Altec Lansing, the integrated speakers do a competent job for the casual listener.

While I have mine mated to my Mac Mini, owners of subcompact PCs like the Dell?s Studio Hybrid and HP?s own Pavilion Slimline series will also find an ideal match with this sleek beastie.

Moving on to the input side of the peripherals world this morning, I also picked up Apple?s Wireless Keyboard.


The first thing you?ll notice about this keyboard is that it?s about 1/3 the size of a Windows hunt?n?pecker — note that I?m not talking about the keys here. The keys of this ?board are comfortably large, even spacious — I?m talking about the deck itself. For some reason unbeknownst to any who aren?t making the things, Windows-centric keyboard manufacturers love to bullseye the keys into the center of something big enough to land a fighter jet on.

Not so with this baby. Never before have I owned a full-sized keyboard I could slip into one of the pockets of my overcoat. (Don?t ask why I know that I can. Trust me, you?re happier leaving that question unanswered.)

Naturally, there is a tradeoff here. As you can see, the wireless version of Apple?s deck omits the heavy numbers-crunching numeric keypad. For those of you who are for some reason both accountants and cool enough to prop your feet up on your desk at work, this keyboard is going to cut into your productivity even while it rockets your nerd-cred skyward.

In future versions of this deck, there are a couple of revisions I?d like to see: The white keys of this keyboard take stains from the oils in human skin pretty easily. Yes, I wash my hands, and no, that doesn?t entirely prevent staining. Fortunately, a clean sponge moistened with warm water — not soaked, you hooligans! — will shine her right up after a couple weeks worth of the sweateh. So what I?d suggest to Apple is a change in color scheme. We already have aluminum Macs with black bezels. Time for an aluminum deck with black keys. And while you?re at it, Mr. Jobs, include backlighting in those keys. Some of us nocturnal types would find that mucho handy.

That?s a wrap for today — time to really put these keys through a pounding.

Comments and email are appreciated, you can reach me at

September 8, 2008

iPod Nano 4G Adds Some “Solid” To The Rumor Mill

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 6:14 pm

Engadget reported today that yet another case fitting the Nano 4G?s ?tall redux? dimensions has been brewed up and is ready to serve up hot for U.K. ?podders to pre-order as of Right This Hot Minute. The pixelicious:


Seems to fit the photo your crazy Uncle Strictly showed ya just a few days ago. While we may get some surprises tomorrow at Apple?s ?Let?s Rock? event, the form factor for the new Nano isn?t on that list anymore. We?ll see how they implement portrait-to-landscape and vice versa transitions, but cross your fingers with me for the acceleromagical menuless variety.

September 6, 2008

iPod Nano 4G: Slimmer, sleeker, sl… omething else that starts with “sl-.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 4:09 am

Rumors of the iPod Nano?s departure from it?s ?fatty? third-generation dimensions seem to be proving out in a maelstrom of leak photos for cases, screen protectors and, most recently, the new bad boy itself:


Is it the real deal? We won?t know for certain until 09/09, of course, but to my eye that snap looks to carry a good percentage of veritas.

Questions about Photochops and model mocks aside, let?s assume for now that that?s the real deal — it seems to carry the same width as the 3G, which means we shouldn?t see a sacrifice of the 3G?s interface in favor of the taller screen. What we would be getting, if that holds true, is a screen that?s actually larger than the 3G?s when flipped to landscape viewing. Not a bad deal if we can get it. Will there be any portrait-to-landscape related goodies like inclusion of an iPod Touch -ish accelerometer to make that flip a no-button-pushing-necessary maneuver? Well, we can hope, can?t we?

September 3, 2008

Google Chrome: Sweetness for Windows, But No Mac Love… Yet.

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 5:04 pm

Google?s recently released ?fox-killer, Chrome, may be a breath of fresh metal for Windows users, but the search giant?s surfalicious browser offering has yet to make its debut ?for the rest of us.?

Fortunately, it [i]is[/i] coming, and while I?ve had my taste of the lip-smackin? goodness thanks to Parallels, I?m itchin? to see what it can do on a stable-and-secure-without-being-sandboxed environment. Looks like we may have quite awhile to wait, as Chrome isn?t merely being buttoned up in a different jacket to run on Leopard and Linux distros, but is instead being coded from the ground up in non-Redmond flavors.

Stay tuned, as I?ll be keeping a sharp eye on all things new and shiny.

September 2, 2008

Firefox 3 in: The Great Update/Downdate Adventure

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 4:05 am

Well, I?ve put it off long enough, people — here?s the weigh-in on Firefox 3.

It?s annoying.

That?s really the most notable feature of Firefox 3. Other than that one change, it?s really not that different from Firefox 2.x in any meaningful way. What?s the annoyance? It likes to ?update? back to Firefox 2 at random and for no discernible reason whatsoever. I thought this was a Windows-only issue when I first began my trip down the foxhole — but no, the same bizarre behavior appears on OS X Leopard as well, from 10.5.0 through 10.5.4 — it?s not the OS, it?s Mozilla?s golden child. Apparently, Mozilla?s golden child needs a good spanking.

And who better to deliver that spanking than Safari 4?

August 28, 2008

Facebook: Big Book Is Watching YOU.

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 4:23 am

No reason was given for the deletion of my Facebook account registered to I could only guess that it had to do with an image from Second Life which showed my (virtual) self and a friend in a tavern, she with one breast showing. Yes, a pixelated nipple got me kicked off Facebook… I think. Maybe. No reason was given. No warning. No request to remove the (potentially) offending image or anything else. Just BLAM — account?s gone.

So I figured, lesson learrned… I guess. I created a new account — after all, I have dozens of good friends on Facebook, the majority of whom I don?t have a point of contact for anywhere else. I was also marketing my web site and freelance writing and editing services there. So I created another Facebook account. Facebook?s Terms of Service say you can?t have multiple accounts — well, I don?t. I have one. Then I had none… now I have one. Right?

Wrong. BLAM. Gone again.

The word from Facebook is… you can only have one account…

EVER. And if they decide, no matter how arbitrarily, to delete you? That?s it. You can never have another Facebook account, and their decision is final.

Well, fellas, say hello to proxies. In fact, I have a whole BBS full of friends who have whole BBSs full of friends who have whole armadas of proxy servers. You want a war? I guarantee you?re about to see something new. 🙂

August 25, 2008

Safari 4 Developer Preview: Jumpin’ Hot

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 11:02 am

Aw, poor Firefox 3, pushed off again… we?ll get to ya, little buddy! But right how, the BIG HOT on my system is the Safari 4 Developer Preview.

Safari 4 is simply flat HOT. There are very few new ?whizbang? features, but the best feature is one you won?t access through a menu — Safari 4 is fast. Just screaming, smoking, insane fast. My MobileMe account ( loads up in a snap, up from a crawl under Safari 3.1 and our poor neglected child Firefox 3. But unless you?ve got the Apple Developer Center hookup like I do, you?re going to have to wait a while. Just think of me as your drunken Uncle Strictly, giving you a peak at what your dear ol? Daddy Apple left ya under the Christmas tree. Except… eh, not quite as creepy as that might?ve sounded.

New features!

There are a couple, most notable among them is the ability to save a web page as a stand-alone web application. I?ll show you how this works using my favorite online word processing app, BuzzWord. Here?s BuzzWord in Safari 4:

Now I love Safari, but when I fire up BuzzWord, it?s easy — too easy — for me to get distracted and run over to Facebook to check for messages, chat, notifications or whatever. Well in Safari 4… I can lose Safari 4 and keep BuzzWord. Just like this:


After clicking the above, Safari 4 saves the web page to a folder in Documents (on a Mac, at least) titled Safari 4 Web Applications. From there, I can drag it to my Writing Apps stack:


Yes, yes, hottie on my desktop — but that?s not what you?re looking at. You?re looking at the lower right. There?s StoryMill at the top, Save The Cat underneath, Montage, Celtx — and hey, look, there?s BuzzWord! To denote that it?s a Web App, naturally, there?s a Safari 4 badge attached. Well, when we click that, we get:


And there it is — just as it appears in Safari 4, except without Safari 4.

What else has it got? The options for tabs have now expanded: opening a new tab can now mean Safari 3?s default blank page, your home page, your bookmarks or the link folder of your choice. An excellent feature.

Well, that wraps up this quick scoop on the Safari 4 Developer Preview. I?m stoked — and when the finished product hits Leopard and Windows, you?re gonna love it, too. Because i say so.

Facebook Chat: Not Quite Ready For Prime Time?

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 4:32 am

This entry was going to be about Firefox 3, and we?ll get there, but events of the past few days have shown me the error of Facebook?s ways, so for now, you can just settle for a little rant about Facebook (again) — AND LIKE IT!

Take a look at this:

Yep! One friend available for chat — and since I only have 1 friend on this Facebook account, that?s exactly the right number of people. Simple binary — 1 or 0. Question is… is it 1, or is it 0? Click on the ?Online Friends? box to select that one friend and start chatting, and I get this:


Obviously, something?s not kosher here. What?s up, Facebook?

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