More Thoughts on the Apple Store

Almost two months ago, my MacBook Pro started exhibiting weird behavior. When I opened the lid, I would see a brief screen of garbled artifacts, similar to when a TV channel was having technical difficulties. I didn’t think much of it until my computer started freezing and wouldn’t recover unless I did a hard restart. This escalated until I wasn’t able to make it past the log in screen without my computer rebooting.

Screen artifacts

The first thing I did was make an appointment at the Apple Store. I described the symptoms and they did the usual and ran some diagnostics. They could not find anything hardware related so they suggested that if I ran into issues again, that I reinstall the OS. And since I was 4 days out of warranty, any hardware repairs would be paid out of pocket. I took their advice and did a clean install. Once I did that, I thought I was in the clear as I was able to make it past the log in screen and started to reinstall some apps. I didn’t get far though as my computer shut down unexpectedly.

I made another appointment at the Apple Store.

This time, another genius had me downgrade to the OS my computer originally came with, Mac OS Sierra. She said that there seems to be a bug with High Sierra that was causing these random reboots. So she downgraded my computer and I left to set up my computer on Mac OS Sierra.

Same thing happened again. Random reboot and I was unable to make it past the log in screen.

At this point, I didn’t want to make another trip to the Apple Store so I called Apple Care. At this point, I was ready to pay whatever it took to repair my laptop. I again described my symptoms to the tech on the phone. Within a few days, a box showed up at my apartment and I sent off my computer.

Almost a week later I received my laptop and was surprised to find out that Apple covered my repair costs even though my computer was technically out of warranty. I could not be more surprised.

A few thoughts:

Apple Stores get a bad rap for being crowded and a terrible experience, which is true. But when I first brought in my computer, I was watching the Genius who was helping me out multitask while he was running tests on my computer. Whatever app they use on their iPads to track and triage their customers is pretty slick. I can’t imagine what it’s like to work Apple Retail nowadays but we had nothing even close to what they use to track customers.

Apple Stores are convenient if you have an issue with your Apple device (if you live near one). But if you want to avoid the mall and the crowds at the Apple Store, call in. The Apple support over the phone is top notch. I don’t think they outsource overseas since they seem to operate around US time zones, although the last guy who helped me had a Scottish accent. Either way, the phone support is excellent and even though I described the exact same symptoms to the Apple Genius at the mall, he said my computer would be covered if any repairs had to be made. He had my model and serial and he would have been able to see that I was technically out of warranty. But I was surprised and delighted to know that the repairs to my computer were covered.

I was afraid I’d be out a couple hundred dollars to repair this computer, but I’m happily typing this on my newly repaired MacBook Pro.

Homescreen 2018

On our forthcoming episode, we talked about tech resolutions we were going to do this new year. One of mine was to clean out and delete apps I no longer or rarely use. I also took this opportunity to clean up my home screen.

For reference here is my home screen from last year.

Homescreen 2017

And here is my updated home screen.

Home screen 2018

This is probably the biggest change I’ve made to my home screen since originally going to a Plus size phone back in 2015. I moved 4 apps from the home screen and the extra row that it freed up makes my phone feel less cluttered. I moved Hangouts, GroupMe, Scanbot, Apple Maps, and Simplenote. I promoted 2 apps to my first home screen. I find myself frequently opening my bank app so I moved that to the home screen. The second app, Oak, is a meditation app. I wanted to try and incorporate meditation and prayer into my daily routine and being a nerd, of course I found an app to help me do that. I also swapped the default Camera app with Halide.

Unsurprisingly, my dock stayed the same. This is a big change but I’m looking forward to see if it affects my daily phone usage for the better.

★ AT&T to allow FaceTime over cellular*

*Only when you move to a mobile shared plan

I understand why AT&T is doing this but I don’t think they understand how this makes their customers feel. Imagine if you paid for Internet service through your ISP but they dictated how you could use your bandwidth. Sucks doesn’t it?

AT&T, I pay you for access to your network. What I do on that network should mean nothing to you. If Verizon, allows FaceTime over cellular on their network with no strings attached, I’ll be there in a heart beat**.

**When my AT&T contract expires.

★ “Are You Getting It?”

When Steve jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, he teased the crowd by initially saying they were announcing three revolutionary products that day: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a mobile phone and a breakthrough Internet communications device. We all now know that he was really talking about one product. The iPhone was all three of these things. When you look back at that keynote, which was arguably Jobs’ best keynote, the thing that got the biggest reaction from the crowd was the phone part of the tease. For years, the tech world was waiting for Apple to make a cell phone.

Looking back at the iPhone introduction, the part of the keynote that got the least cheers (2:06), the Internet communications device, is obviously the feature of the device we use the most. The phone aspect (1:52) got the most reaction. Five years later, we should all have been cheering for the Internet communications device part since that is what we use the iPhone for most.

Gruber wrote a great piece on the iPhone’s disruption of multiple industries. He argues that the iPhone didn’t disrupt the mobile phone industry; it destroyed it by disrupting the computer industry. Its success was not because it was the best cell phone, but because it was the best portable computer. We had no idea that we’d be here today and it’s all because the iPhone was not only a mobile phone, but more importantly, it was the Internet communications device we never knew we needed.

Five years later, we’re finally getting it.

★ Why I’m Not Buying a Verizon iPhone

On Tuesday, Verizon announced they were going to sell the iPhone starting February 3 to existing customers and February 10 for everyone else. As the resident geek to a lot of people, they all have been asking, “Are you going to switch?” Here’s why I’m not going to switch.

I’m currently locked into a 2 year contract with AT&T. I don’t know what the Early Termination Fee is for AT&T, but it simply isn’t worth it for me to cancel my current service, pay a fee, and then jump to another carrier for the same exact phone.

GSM vs. CDMA. In layman’s terms, Verizon uses CDMA cellular technology for their phones while AT&T uses the GSM standard. Aside from Verizon and Sprint in the US and China Telecom in China, the vast majority of the world uses GSM for their cellphones. Why does this matter? When it’s time for me to upgrade to my next phone, I can easily unlock a GSM iPhone and sell it on eBay to almost anyone else in the world. When I broke my original iPhone, it was unlocked and I sold it on eBay for $150. One hundred and fifty dollars for a broken iPhone. I don’t think it’s quite as easy to sell a CDMA phone to use on another network.

Another limitation of CDMA is that it can’t transfer voice and data at the same time. What does this mean? It means that if you’re talking to a friend and trying to meet up at a restaurant or a bar, you can’t open up the Maps application, search for the name of the bar and get directions while talking on the phone with them. It means, I can’t receive a phone call from a customer, open up Dropbox to retrieve a job quote and email it to him so we can both look at it at the same time. I can do this now on AT&T but not on Verizon (This will change once 4G and LTE come around).

And finally, I don’t need to. You hear a lot of negative press on AT&T and how their coverage is horrible. I think it really depends on your experience. In the places where I spend most of my day, my coverage is above average. Sure I have calls that drop but that mostly only happens when I’m driving and that’s to be expected (Verizon people, chime in on this and prove me otherwise). I have friends who have consistently horrible reception in their homes and routinely drop calls or have texts come in hours later. For instances like that, I’m glad they now have a choice of carrier if the iPhone is their phone of choice.

★ Essential iPhone Apps

With the release of the iPhone 4, a lot of people are making the leap and purchasing an iPhone. After they get it set up and are finished admiring it, now what? What makes the iPhone so great are the thousands of different apps available on the App Store. Here are a couple of apps that I think are must downloads when you first unwrap your shiny new toy.

Facebook

This one is obvious. Not only is it everyone’s favorite social network, it’s actually a very well designed app. It’s logically laid out and it makes it easy to post pictures, look at your news feed and stalk your friends.

Cost: Free

Twitter for iPhone

After Facebook, this is probably the next social network everyone wastes their time on. This app actually started out as Tweetie and I thought it was the best Twitter client on the iPhone by far. Apparently the guys over at Twitter thought so as well and bought atebits, the company that developed the app, to use as their official app on the iPhone. What makes this app so great is that it’s simple enough for the casual Twitterer to understand but has the features a power user needs. It can handle multiple accounts and it supports retweets, geolocation, Twitter lists and uploading pictures and videos to the service of your choice.

Cost: Free

BeejiveIM

It’s a shame Apple doesn’t ship an IM client with the iPhone. Luckily developers have stepped up to fill this void. The best IM client on the iPhone by FAR is BeejiveIM. I’ve tried plenty of solutions, even jailbreak apps from back in the day such as Palringo and ApolloIM, but none of them have the simplicity combined with the options of BeejiveIM. It supports practically all the IM services out there. Of course it keeps you online after you’ve quit the app and pushes new messages to you as you receive them. At $10, it’s not the cheapest app but this is truly a case of “you get what you pay for”. Easily the best app I’ve purchased so far. If you’d like a free client, Meebo is a respectable alternative.

Cost: $9.99

Remote

This Apple developed app is very underrated and I always use it to demo what you can do with an iPhone, iTunes and/or an Apple TV. Once you link up the app to your iTunes library, you have an iPod like interface to control your music library. It’s even more impressive when you have your computer connected to speakers or have an Apple TV with a home theater system. It’s dead simple but still impresses people whenever I show them for the first time.

Cost: Free

Pandora

Everyone has heard of Pandora but it reaches its full potential on the iPhone with the arrival of background audio and multitasking in iOS4. You can, of course, load your own music and listen to it through the iPod app but sometimes I don’t want to search through my library to find something to listen to. When I’m feeling lazy, I launch Pandora and just choose a station I’ve created. What’s great about Pandora is that it will play music from an artist you choose but also plays music from similar artists. I’ve discovered new artists and rediscovered old favorites via Pandora.

Cost: Free

★ My Day Yesterday

My contribution to the My Day, Yesterday pool.

I actually picked a good day to do this. I did this Thursday, Oct. 15 which is still a work day but unofficially the start of my weekend. I made my rounds to clients in the morning, worked at a coffee shop in the afternoon, the world was captivated by Balloon Boy and barhopped around Orange County at night.

I shot it with my iPhone 3GS and screen capture with Quicktime X.

"Yesterday, in video. Shot throughout the day, put together and uploaded today. You should do the same. And when you do, put it in the My Day, Yesterday group. Don’t add any music or anything, only what’s recorded via the camera."

★ The Best Camera

There’s a saying that the best camera is the one you have with you. That means the best camera I have is my iPhone. And with the 3GS, the camera has a decent megapixel count, records video and can upload to the Internet immediately because of my 3G signal. Every once in awhile, I run across stuff in my daily life that actually inspires me to take a picture. Here are a couple of my favorites from the past few months.

Fourth and Broadway

Sunset

IMG_0728

Crosby

PCH

Beads of Light

Santa Ana