Category Archives: Rant

Mountain Lion Caged–An Apple Tale

MLThumbI stunned a great many people on June 19th by announcing that I had purchased a MacBook Air. I have been a long time voice against Apple but there comes a time when you must stop relying on other people’s opinions and form your own. I began my journey with iPhone, continued along the path with an iPad and jumped full on into the Apple eco-system with a MacBook Air. But this isn’t about that. This is another kind of story.

One of the perks of buying a MacBook Air when I did was there was a promise to upgrade to the latest copy of the OS for free when it released. It wasn’t a huge deal. The OS was priced at $19.99 but it was nice to know that it was one less expense, optional or not, that I’d have to worry about. I read through the features of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and got excited about how they planned on bringing the iOS and Mac experience a little closer together. I know that’s not a popular opinion but it is my own.

On Tuesday’s Earnings Call Apple made the release date for Mountain Lion official. It was to release the following day, Wednesday July 25th. And it did. I went out to the Apple Up-To-Date program page and eagerly filled out the several forms required to request my free copy of the OS. Everything seemed to go without a hitch and several hours later I got a couple emails.

The first included an encryption key. The second included a PDF that required that encryption key to unlock the redemption code to download OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. I copied the key, popped into the Mac App Store and got the message that my code had already been redeemed.

Well crap.

I decided to call Apple Support. I got a very helpful representative that told me that their code generator screwed up and sent out the same code to many folks. I was told I’d get a new code within 24 hours. I sighed. Thanked the rep for the information and hung up the phone to begin the waiting game.

A few hours later I saw a tweet from Cult of Mac that said some folks were getting their new redemption codes. I got excited. But it was not to be. I went to sleep last night with no new redemption code in my Inbox.

I woke up this morning, picked up my iPhone and confirmed that nothing had changed. I waited for the 24 hour mark and called Apple again. I got another extremely nice rep who apologized and told me that unfortunately I should have been quoted 24-72 hours. She said to hold out hope though because it’s still early and there should be another batch of codes coming out. She didn’t say as much but she seemed to indicate that they were staggering code releases due to the demand on their servers.

So I was hopeful but resolved to another up-to 48 hours of waiting for my new code. And then it happened. I got another two emails from Apple. I grabbed my encryption key out of the first email. Used it to open the PDF in the second email. And viola a new redemption code. I hurried into the Mac App Store and pasted my redemption code into the ‘redeem’ box.

Failed. This product requires OS X 10.8. What? Mountain Lion requires Mountain Lion? Wait. What do they have me downloading? OS X Server? What the hell?

I went over to the Mountain Lion app page and the familiar $19.99 prompt is still sitting there. I went back to OS X Server. That button reads “Install.” It’s time to get Apple back on the phone.

I call a third time and get another very friendly rep who asks me to go back to the Up-To-Date program page and fill out the forms again. I get an error message indicating my serial number has already been redeemed. Of course I was already aware. The rep asks to place me on hold and I wait as Taylor Swift’s “Mean” serenades me. A terrible John Mayer song begins next and I am thankful when the rep picks up the phone.

“Dusty, I talked to our level two support and we’re going to reissue you a key. Unfortunately, it’s going to be about 72 hours before you receive it.”

Of course it is. I’m frustrated but I don’t let on. I thank him and he thanks me. We wish each other a good day and I hang up.

And here I am. Waiting.

And my Mountain Lion is still caged.

Update: Apple fixed the issue and sent me a new redemption code. Mountain Lion is downloading as I write this amendment. Gaffes happen. We’re only human. So I can appreciate when a company at least makes going to them for help painless. If I HAD to call Apple Support, I’m happy that the experience was a good one and the resolution was far quicker than I was originally quoted.

Opinions are like a**holes

What is it about technology that makes people so passionate? How many times have you seen PlayStation and Xbox fanboys at each others throats? XBL is l33t. PS3 doesn’t charge for online game play. Back and forth it goes. That same fervor exists for Mac and PC users. Windows has a ton of viruses. Mac is overpriced. Back and forth that goes. Which leads me to the next great fanboy war, iPhone versus Android.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence – or walled garden, if you want to be like that. I think both platforms have their virtues. I love the widgets and customization that Android provides. I love the beauty and simplicity that iPhone provides. They have different things working for and against them. Yet, people are so convinced of their platform of choice’s superiority that they have absolutely no shame in their attempts to shame other people who don’t share their opinion.

I’m a member of a Facebook group that discussed books, the nook ereader, etc. We go off-topic so it’s not uncommon for technology to come up from time to time. God help the person who mentions owning an Apple product. People come out of the woodwork to bash the product and the owner of the product by proxy. Let me provide an example.

Someone posted a comment yesterday about how she has an iPhone 4S and loves it but she has to vent. She mentions that for the past couple of days it has really been acting up and she’s frustrated. We’ve established that she has a product that she loves that she’s having issues with. Someone pops into the thread to comment:

may be thats why there stock is dropping. junk

Seriously? Would this person feel right commenting on a complete stranger’s relationship status when it changed to “it’s complicated”? This is openly announced as a vent. She is having issues with something she loves. She wants two things. First, she wants to get it off her chest so she doesn’t feel alone. Second, she wants to find out if anyone knows how to resolve the issues she’s having.

Another voice enters the conversation, once the issue has been resolved, with a light hearted:

Sounds like instead of an Apple you got a lemon.

This comment doesn’t irk me as much because this individual is very friendly, jokes with everyone and the issue is already resolved. I may have found it out of place if the problem still existed, since it would still be source of frustration, but the issue is resolved and it’s easier to laugh at the situation now that it’s no longer an issue.

I don’t know. It just bothered me that someone would dare to call someone else’s decision “junk”. I caught all kinds of hell, particularly from that last commenter, when I switched from my OG Droid to the iPhone. I started to get articles posted on my Facebook wall about how horrible Apple was as a company. How they used child labor. Or how they forced 24-hour shifts. Or just any negative press that could be dug up. It bordered on bullying.

Now that isn’t saying I think that person is a bully. I know better. That person is a kind soul who only did it as a good natured jab. He knows I can take the ribbing. I know if it legitimately bothered me that I could ask him to stop and he would. Truth is it doesn’t bother me. I’ve got my big boy pants on and the only opinion that will sway my decision making is my own. I don’t mind swimming against popular opinion from time to time. I don’t mind “joining the dark side”. They have cookies. Internet joke – sorry.

In any event, I just had to vent myself before I popped into that thread and let my own opinion be known. I feel better now. Thanks for being there for me. I’m going to go make a call on my iPhone and browse Flipboard on my iPad.

And if you don’t like that?

iDon’t Care.

image
(Image courtesy of Norebbo)

The Internet is bothering me today

The Internet is so annoying this morning. Folks are waiting for the iPad 3/HD announcement and every article is a troll war. I’m so tired of the whole “Apple just repackages the same technology” argument. It’s idiotic. What does the automotive industry do? What does the PC industry do? What does the appliances industry do? Where is the outrage when GM, Ford or Chrysler release the next years model and it just has a different body style?

Now I understand that mobile technology is moving at a very brisk clip right now but it’s like the PC industry in late 90’s, speed was doubling/quadrupling by the year. 100mhz processor, then 200mhz, then 400mhz. And now it’s the race to see how many cores we can fit onto a piece of silicon. My point is this trend is going to slow. And do these people really think that manufacturers are going to stop making products while waiting for the next big thing? No. They are going to repackage the same thing. It worked for Nintendo. How many different colors of Gameboy and DS are there?

But the real crux of this argument is that Apple ISN’T repackage the same technology. The iPad 3/HD is expected to have an upgraded dual core processor or a quad core processor. It’s expected to have 1GB of Memory, up from iPad 2’s 512mb. It is also expected to have Apple’s beautiful Retina (or Retina-like) display. How is this the same old iPad?

Let me ask you this. How do you interface with a tablet? Its touchscreen. How do you consume the information? Your eyeballs on its screen? If the internal specs are significantly better, and the screen resolution and clarity is MUCH improved, how is this a minor upgrade? What would it take to be a major upgrade? Would the quad core do it? Obviously doubling the memory and resolution doesn’t count.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a preferred mobile OS. There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking Android over iOS or liking iOS over Android. But when you make statements like the iPad 3/HD is just the same old hardware with a new label on the box you end up looking like an idiotic fanboy. This isn’t the video game industry releasing the Gameboy Color.

Ridiculous.

Not too sure about this birthday

I’m usually a big kid when it comes to my birthday. I don’t need a big party but I do like ice cream cake and having a sort of big deal made about me. Why not? Usually when it’s three days before my birthday my excitement is practically at fever pitch. Not so much this year.

I think it’s to be expected given the circumstances of this past week, but it’s officially been the worst October I can remember. I mean come on, Steve Jobs – like him or hate him – was the mind behind so many devices that at least changed the way we interface with technology. Then there was the Samsung Nexus Galaxy that I was hoping I’d have in my hands this month. That isn’t going to happen. And then, of course, is the passing of my Dad.

The latter is, of course, the worst of all. For me at least, I’m sure the Jobs family would respectfully disagree and I’ll grant them that. We’re all entitled to prioritize our losses.

And while it’s been a week now, I’m already tired of the pain in my stomach that comes and goes. I’m sick of the tears (no matter how minor) that come at the dumbest times. We watched The Proposal tonight and when Betty White faked the heart attack and was on the stretcher my jaw started to tremble and tears start falling. I’m tired of hearing the word death and wondering if people are thinking about my Dad. I’m tired of saying the word death myself and wondering if people are listening extra close. There’s only been one, but I’m tired of the nightmare. I’m tired of sleeping like crap and spending the entire day tired and I’m tired of feeling like I slept great and spending the entire day tired. I guess I’m also a little tired of wondering if the rest of that stuff goes away, or if only some of it does.

Am I always going to hear the word death and think of Dad? Am I always going to get sick to my stomach when I think about this stuff? Are people already getting tired of reading me whine? How much worse is this for my brother? How much worse is this for my sisters? When will the girls stop pretending that someone else we love has died? When will I stop being bothered by the fact that people I consoled when they lost their parent haven’t told me that they are sorry for my loss? Why does this hurt so much more than when I lost my Nana despite the fact that I would have traded her for him nine times out of ten?

I think I should have titled this post bitching and moaning. I think I’m going to call it a night. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to wake up tired, but I hope not. At any rate I’m going to enjoy the hell out of tomorrow. I can’t wait to see my brother and sister. I can’t wait to see my niece and nephew. And God willing I’ll get to watch Michigan beat MSU. Go Blue.

A promotion and a pay decrease

I’ve been debating whether or not to post something regarding my recent promotion. I wasn’t sure how to address it without sounding like a completely ungrateful prick. I’m sure I’ve already lost you but let me explain. Last week I was promoted from support staff to my rightful position of consultant. I’ve been acting as a consultant since I started this job four years ago but they never fixed my job code. I finally have a boss who is competent and able to get things done. So I got my promotion and that is a huge win. BUT there is a downside.

When I started at my current employer it was a result of a massive company merging with another big company. We all got new job codes and new salaries. We’ll pretend I got paid with coconuts. Mostly because I like coconuts but also because I’m not dumb enough to talk about my salary in a public forum like this. So we’ll say when I started at this company I was making 5,000 coconuts a year. And they said times are tough, we need to take some of everyone’s coconuts. “Dusty, you coconut loving ape,” they said. “Your new salary is 4,500 coconuts a year”.

I was irritated because my coconut adjustment was based, in part, on job code and I was in the wrong one. You see, the job I do was created especially for me and two others. Our client said they wanted some guys to help guide technology, support what was in the field, and generally explore whatever new technology the director takes an interest in. So they gave me this new job, but still considered me a run of the mill support dude. To give you some idea of how wrong that is consider this. I develop, maintain and sustain an environment deployed to 13,000 PC’s. The other people who share my job code support anywhere maybe 75-250 of these in any given place.

The one benefit to being in the wrong job code was overtime. They took away 500 coconuts but I could earn maybe 300 of them back in over time. Despite that fact, I knew I deserved to be in the right job code. I deserved to be recognized as more than a site support person. I deserved the ability to make more coconuts, and that just wasn’t happening where I was. My old manager was worthless when it came to this. I mean maybe he tried, but I doubt it. Then we recently got a new guy and he went to bat for me. I was rejected. He went back up the chain and finally made it happen.

I was recognized as a consultant. Finally, a job code that I could be proud of. Of course the new job code meant I couldn’t earn overtime anymore. But we had a plan. We would request something called an out-of-band salary adjustment. I made less than my new job codes base salary, so we figured that a rejection was unlikely. My boss said, the new job has a base salary of 4,600 coconuts. My ape friend, Dusty here, is making 4,500 coconuts. So the request was made. The bottom of my pay scale was 4,600 coconuts but it could go all the way up to like 8,000 coconuts. So I was excited. I really had my fingers crossed for like 5,500 or 6,000 coconuts.

They took the request, considered it and granted me an increase. They bumped me up to 4,600 coconuts. The bare minimum for my job code. Let’s review. I started the company making 5,000 coconuts. Then they dropped me to 4,500 coconuts. But I could make 300 coconuts in overtime making my salary at least someone better. 4,800 coconuts is at least somewhat closer to 5,000 coconuts. But now I’m locked in at 4,600 coconuts. The good news, my boss tells me, is that I’m still eligible for a raise in December. But what can I realistically hope for? A raise to 4,650 coconuts? 4,700 coconuts?

I understand that I should just be grateful that I am employed. And I am. 4,600 coconuts still provides my family with a pretty good way of life. In a country where the middle class is dying, we’re still alive. We have so much to be grateful for. Believe me. I am well aware. And I can’t find it in my heart to be angry or blame my boss. I sincerely believe he’s gone to bat for me. But it’s frustrating, to know that if you were in the right job code to begin with they may have left your salary alone. It’s a big whine festival here, but this is my place to vent and I needed too.

Congratulations to me on my promotion and pay decrease!

A 1-star review…

Have you ever been in business for yourself? Or maybe were competing for a job? Would you sink so low as to sabotage a competitor because your work wasn’t on par with theirs? This exact situation is one we’re dealing with right now. Well, if you want to be technical my wife is dealing with it. It’s her business but it affects me too because this business supplements our livelihood.

So Cynthia was looking at her Google Business Profile. She does a lot of work on her search engine optimization (SEO) so she’s constantly looking at what is bringing traffic to her site, and what she can do to maximize her exposure. The other day though she found that she got two business reviews. Both 1-star. Naturally she was devastated. She takes a lot of pride in her craft and she should, she’s really damn good.

But then we looked closer at the reviews. One was from an individual named Amanda, the other from a guy named John. Cynthia then looked at their other reviews. Amanda (or someone logged in as her) reviewed 21 businesses. All 1-star except for a photography business called Photos By Amanda. We looked at John’s reviews and he (or someone logged in as him) reviewed 129 businesses! All 1-star except for a single business, want to guess what it’s name was? Yep, that’s right.. Photos By Amanda.

amanda-reviews John Review

Sources: http://maps.google.com/maps/user?uid=207958929873510861380&hl=en&gl=US&ptab=1
Sources: http://maps.google.com/maps/user?uid=211446568920650624582&hl=en&gl=US&ptab=1

I knew if I acted in the moment then the email I sent in reply would be all sorts of ugly so I resolved myself to sleep on it. When I awoke the next morning there was actually an email sent to my wife from some guy who took it upon himself to contact them. Cynthia forwarded me Mark’s email and I read it over. Wow. The guy said it a lot nicer than I would have but he seemed to cover all the important things so I decided to leave well enough alone.

This is what Mark wrote:

Amanda,

I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not but when you negatively review other Linden photographers and then review yourself positively it is easily traced back to you. Your activities have been reported to Google who will remove your negative feedback and the negative feedback of John.

Most reputable photographers acknowledge the fact that other photographers are not necessarily your competition. People like different styles and each photographer has their own style, their own post-production and to some extent pricing. I think you’ll notice that no other Linden photographers took it upon themselves to rate your service, because they’ve never done business with you.

Instead of drawing attention to your business for the quality of work you do, you’ve drawn attention to the fact that you don’t feel your work is strong enough to speak for you. You’ve resorted to sabotaging your competition, if it’s fair to call them that. It shows a lack of respect. It shows a lack of class.

Furthermore, you’ve sabotaged any chances you had of forming a relationship with these photographers. I know how expensive this hobby/business is and there is a considerable amount of sharing, mentoring, swapping lenses, and even referrals among the professionals in this area. There is a considerable upside to “playing fair”.

Despite it all, I hope you enjoy your art. I hope you succeed. And I hope you take my words to heart. There is room for you here as well as all of the people you “reviewed”.

Mark

He’s right on all of those counts. There is a strong photographer community out there. I know Cynthia has met with a photographer or two and swapped lenses and did a bit of shooting with their equipment. They’ve also swapped props (those damned things are not cheap) and even shared constructive criticism. I have a feeling Mark is the husband of a photographer himself. He didn’t indicate that anywhere in his correspondence with my wife, but like I said, he hit that nail right on the head.

It would have been enough to know that Mark thought enough of the people wronged by this to say something but he also forwarded us a copy of Amanda’s reply.

Thank you for the email.. I’m handeling the situation.. it seems as though I have an adamire of sorts.  I’ve gotten Several emails regarding the same concern.. I am sorry for any problems this may have caused you and your business. I am doing my best to find the person responsible for the negative feedback you all have received.

Once again I am sorry for any troubles this may have caused you.

Amanda

The spelling and grammatical errors are all hers.

Here are my issues with her response. The “Amanda” account that left the 1-star feedback is also the account that left her business a shining 5-star review. Additionally, that Amanda account is also the registered owner of the Photos By Amanda business. It’s so ridiculously easy to track these things on Google but maybe she didn’t know that. Or maybe John didn’t know it. Or both.

But then came another email from Mark. He followed up on the whole Google Business reviews thing.

Amanda,

I’m an optimist. I believe people are genuinely good. I believe this wasn’t malicious. Did you know that you can change the rating? You can revisit these people’s Google Business pages and give them a better rating, or perhaps even remove your review all together. If you can’t remove your review, at the very least it might be nice if you make it up to everyone by giving them 5 stars.

I know you are capable of doing this because the account that gave everyone 1-star is the same account that created your Google Business Page which confirms the entry was added by the Business Owner. So it may be a case of your admirer sitting down at your computer but it was your account and your account can undo half of the damage.

I would appreciate if you’d ask John to do the same. It’ll go a long way to restoring everyone’s good faith. Mistakes happen. Even in a weak moment we might think something is a good idea and then realize later it was boneheaded.

So would you do that for us, Amanda? Will go back through your review history and change or remove the negative reviews?

http://maps.google.com/maps/user?uid=207958929873510861380&hl=en&gl=US&ved=0CC0QhQo&ei=gkawTbq5IJSQNqOT7NgP&ptab=1

There is a link to your reviews.

Thank you Amanda in advance, for doing the right thing.

Mark

As of this writing, a whole 4 days after the email was sent according to the time stamps, Amanda and John haven’t undone the reviews they left. It would seem that they stand behind them. Walgreen’s probably won’t care about the 1-star review but I’m sure some of the other 129 businesses might.

But no, not us. We would like the integrity of the reviews to stand. If we did business with them, we’d review. And despite the fact that I really feel as if one good turn deserves another, we’re bigger than that. We reported it to Google and hopefully they’ll act on the report. It’s Google policy that you can’t review businesses you’ve never dealt with and you especially can’t review businesses you’ve never dealt with in an attempt to bring your business to attention.

Besides frustrating I guess this has also been good for a little humor. Cynthia is a member of several professional photographer communities and shared this story with them. Many of the photographers went out to our 1-star reviewers page and laughed themselves silly. Not only do the pictures look as if they were taken with an iPhone app (black vignette, anyone?) but there is also a donations button asking for money for equipment. How desperate could you be?

So while I’m still a little steamed it’s hard to be mad for too long. It’s not like Cynthia and this Amanda girl even do comparable work. It’s not like they photograph the same events. Cynthia refuses to do weddings because she understands the risks of photographing once in a lifetime moments. If your equipment breaks down midway through the event do you think the bride and groom are going to “aw shucks" and tell you not to worry about it? Not likely.

But anyway, I guess I’ve had my cool down period. In one regard, I hope she enjoys what she does and continues to improve and perhaps succeed. But another part of me wants to see her reputation destroyed beyond more than just her peers. But I’m done, unless something else happens. This event was entertaining but mostly tiresome. How does that saying go? “It’s been real. It’s been fun. But it hasn’t been real fun.”

One last thing before I tie up these loose ends. I feel bad about Amanda having to beg for camera equipment. If you’d like to make a donation to my PayPal account just get ahold of me. I plan on helping her upgrade her camera. I’m thinking Hipstamatic from the iTunes Store. It’s $1.99 so if you could spare even a nickel, we may be able to get her into something better by this summer. =)