Apple- What Happened – iTunes

For years people, knowing I am an Apple fan, have grumbled about iTunes and how much of a POS it is. And for years, I have responded back that “It’s way better on the Mac”, because the Windows version has been a veritable homeless abortion in all its incarnations. Yes, by the time it was in version 9, it was getting cumbersome to navigate, but at least it was solid and reliable on the Mac.

Version 10 fixed a lot of the navigation, and capabilities, particularly for those of us with 17K songs or more in our collections.

Version 11 was fine too. But then the iOS 7 launch happened, and iTunes was updated to support it. Now it is a crashy, bug ridden, processor hogging program, especially on my Mac’s. Sigh. Now I have to apologize to my Windows friends who I have been telling that iTunes works fine on a Mac to.

Because it fucking sucks even on the mac now. I find myself force-quitting it 2 – 3 times a day it seems. Grrrrrrr.

Another plus for Apple Support

A while back, while we were on a trip, my wife dropped her 13″ MacBook pro. It was not the first time she dropped it, but it was enough to kill it. (it was a short distance on to a carpeted floor in the hotel).

She got home and I did some diagnosis. The hard drive wasn’t recognized. I used all my tools, and assumed that it was just a bad HD, and that we could replace it easily enough. But to be sure, I dropped in a spare I knew to be good. No dice. Still not visible to the system (but it would boot from an external enclosure with the original drive I thought was bad.

So I was stumped. My wife was crushed and sure it would cost a fortune to repair, so she suffered without it for a few weeks. Finally on Monday she scheduled a visit to the Apple store with their Genius bar. I got dragged along, and gave the helpful tech what I tried, and what I suspected next (HD cable (low probability) or logic board (most likely)).

We were informed that it was 163 days out of warranty (the three year AppleCare plan) so the laptop is 3.5 years old.

I got to watch their testing process, and I was impressed. They plug into an ethernet cable and start a network boot. That boots a series of tool to diagnose the system, and confirmed what I told them.  They used a few other tools, and decided to try to replace the HD cable. Told us to give them a phone number and that it would take probably 30 minutes.  Fortunately there is a kick ass Gelato shop about 100 yards away, and a Total Wines so we had Ice Cream and bought some tequila.

Turned out that replacing the cable did the trick and it booted right up. Parts were $17, and a $39 charge for the labor, $56 + tax and we were out on our way home.

Compare that with the broken display on my work HP laptop. It took 3 months to figure out how to order it, then 2 weeks to get it, and when the tech put it in, it didn’t work, so it became a warranty issue. I ended up with a new logic board, new display and new RAM after 3 days of their “next day service” dicking around (to be fair, their tech was helpful and friendly, much better than the shitheads that work for Dell.)

(Another benefit, with their CRM system when I go in with a dead iPhone, even long out of warranty, they look me up, and all the products I have bought from them, and they have always fixed/replaced my iPhones without charge. I went through 3 iPhone 3GS’s in the 6 months before I upgraded to my current iPhone 4s. They do take care of loyal customers.)

Life with the 13″ MacBook Air – Two weeks down

I have always used the time to upgrade computers to buy the biggest, fastest, bestest computer I could get. I typically keep them for 3-4 years (and use them hard) so skimping on the price is not a really a priority.

My macbook pro is getting a little long in the tooth (but by no means giving up the ghost), and I was flirting with the MacBook Pro Retina display. But I took stock of my needs, and realized that I don’t need the biggest and fastest. For Father’s Day, Apple seemed to think that my boys should get me a MacBook Air.  They were just refreshed, with new, low power use CPU’s, and some pretty impressive specifications.

I was piqued. I took a trip to the local Apple store (there are several here in Phoenix, one about 5 minutes away) and did some hands on.

I was smitten. The idea of a very light, very compact package with outstanding battery life was very appealing indeed.

So I took the plunge, bought the 13″ version, and ordered it with the 8G of memory (soldered on the board, it is not upgradable post purchase), and the 256G SSD.

I have blogged about getting it up and running, and figuring out how to live within the space constraints (it is a bit of a shock to go from a TB to 1/4 TB of storage (hint: my music, movies and Aperture photo library didn’t come across. But my MBP will suffice for that!).

I was tempted to buy a second charger when I picked this up, but I refrained. I am getting a real 10 – 12 hours of use between charges. That equates to two – three days of my usual use.

The display is smaller than the 15″, and although it dismayed the Apple watchers that Apple didn’t drop a retina display in this, I am not disappointed. Yep, the retina displays are crisp, and awesome, but they have 4x the pixels, and that does impact battery life.

The build quality is typical Apple. Solid. great screen hinges, and no blemishes.

So far, I love it, and will probably be an ultra portable user for life now.

My first encounter with a Retina MacBook Pro

The other night, after quaffing a couple fine Czech style pilsners at Gordon Birsch (highly recommended, I might add), I wandered the 100 or so feet to the Gilbert Apple Store.  I am usually cautious at an apple store, because sometimes reason evades me and I find myself whipping out my plastic to upgrade to a new computer.

I have studiously avoided getting up close and personal with a retina display MBP, simply because I figured I would “have to have one” and then I would be $2700 poorer (I would want the bigger SSD, and the 16G ram.) Having seen one, and played with it for a little while, I can say that they are really nice. Well put together, and very very snappy.  They had one on display wit the 16G ram and the 512G SSD, loaded out the way I would like.  Applications loaded almost instantly, and it was super responsive.  The Retina display was gorgeous, but not “must have”.  I loved the thin-ness and the lightness of it.  The fact that it has no optical drive is not a detriment (my current MBP has a SSD in the disk bay, and a 750G 7200RPM spinning rust disk where the DVD drive would be).

It was nice, and a fully loaded system would do me well, but alas, I don’t feel the burning need to replace my current MBP.  With the SSD + spinning disk, it has plenty of oomph, and it has been upgraded to 16G ram, so it works pretty nice.

So call it a strong case of the “likes” on the Retina MBP, but not a “gotta have it”. Of course I am talking about the 15″ version.  I just find the 13″ MBP’s to have too little screen real estate.