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Comment: Re:Object lesson from the stock market (Score 1) 198

by MacDaffy (#44601703) Attached to: The Decline of '20% Time' at Google

Cancer is a tough disease and, sometimes, the treatments are rougher on the patient than the cure. Chemotherapy impairs your ability to think coherently. You're like the dog in the movie "Up!" ('Next quarter we'll release the Uber Widget to prepare out markets for... SQUIRREL!!!'), I don't know if Steve Jobs availed himself of chemotherapy toward the end, but you can rest assured that he laid out his vision for the management team before he shuffled off this mortal coil; he was too much of a control freak (in the great sense) not to.

Comment: Some Simple Rules (Score 1) 1127

by MacDaffy (#40786355) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preempting Sexual Harassment In the Workplace?

I worked at Apple as a contractor and as an employee for thirteen years, and it was--hands-down--THE BEST at administering diversity. And I say that as one of the few black people who worked there. The top-to-bottom attitude that over-arched everything was that if you're not thinking about our customers, you aren't doing your job. Management decided that it wanted a diverse, welcoming, vibrant workplace and put policies in place that made the goal attainable. If you were there, it was because you had something to contribute and sexuality, gender, race, religion, and physical or emotional challenges were secondary to your ability to get the job done the way Apple's customers expected it to be done. The policy was enforced strictly. Orientation and performance review targets reinforced the culture. As with the secrecy policy after Steve Jobs's return, all an employee had to do was stick with the guidelines, and they could expect an exciting, fulfilling experience.

That's not to say that things at Apple were perfect. One manager decided to release a pictorial chart of his organization. His diversity problems were apparent to everyone but him. Workplace romances are not unheard of. Still, the things I learned from the experience of working at Apple have stood me in good stead.

  Your co-worker as a fellow human being ALWAYS comes first;
  If you're thinking about anything other than doing your job while you're at work, you might be setting yourself up for a fall;
  Don't do anything that might distract your co-workers from achieving their goals and objectives.

Comment: Re:observing a lack is not proof (Score 5, Informative) 645

by MacDaffy (#38038982) Attached to: Is There an Institutional Bias Against Black Tech Entrepreneurs?

I grew up in Silicon Valley. I will be 59 at the end of this month. I'm an African-American male who has worked his way up in the tech industry from a computer operator to the owner/operator of his own tech consulting firm and "beyond"...

The industry here is the closest thing to a meritocracy I've ever experienced. If you're an entrepreneur worth exploiting here, you will be exploited. Anyone with a good idea can get a hearing as long as they know how to present it to the right people in the right way. I can honestly say that the stakes here are too high for racism to interfere.

My experience was that I was competing against kids whose parents were among the pioneers in the industry. Most black kids were excluded from college by economic circumstance as well as bias when I was growing up. Kids whose parents worked for nascent enterprises like Intel and HP and Fairchild and Apple had--and still have--a leg up on everyone else. The children of BSEE's have more of a chance to become BSEE's than the children of carpenters or dock workers. That's just the way of the world. But I had a knack for the industry, and I got in on merit... and luck.

My son is one of the few kids in our area--black or white--who had an internet connection in his home by the late-eighties. He was one of the few kids in our neighborhood who had a personal computer at his disposal. He didn't nerd out, but he had the opportunity if he'd wanted to pursue it. That's the biggest factor in this; if your parents are nerdy, it's likely you'll be nerdy, too. The lack of access to college among Black Americans before the Civil Rights Movement was probably the single most formidable impediment to the fostering of significant numbers of Black Tech Entrepreneurs. If your parents don't know Avogadro from an avocado, it's unlikely you will either--no matter what color you are.

The current political attitude toward funding education makes it likely that things will stay that way unless people demand change.

Comment: Re:They're not the only ones... (Score 1) 272

by MacDaffy (#34294828) Attached to: Lawsuit Shows Dell Hid Extent of Computer Flaws

Your experience with the AirPort base station is unique, AFAIK. However, your charge that the "only times Apple admit(ted) something outright" is flat-out false. The iBook G3 logic board, certain iMac power supplies, and iMac/eMac problems directly analogous to the Dell situation were all acknowledged and addressed aggressively by Apple.

I've been an Apple Authorized Service provider since 2005. Apple had the "capacitor plague" problem with certain iMac and eMac models. Apple acknowledged the problem, and customers were authorized to come to me for a free repair for as long as three years after date-of-purchase if the warranty had run out. Those repairs constituted a good part of my work from 2005 through the middle of 2008. Every customer--especially the ones out-of-warranty, were grateful. I made a point of telling them that the problem wasn't restricted to Apple machines, and I directed them to the Wikipedia entry on "capacitor plague."

I was on the AirPort team from 1999-2001. I heard not one word about thermal problems with graphite base stations. I did the build acceptance and functional testing on AirPort in the first version of Mac OS X. I also performed automated and manual usability testing with dial-up, my own Earthlink account, and a Graphite base station. That base station worked constantly--day and night--for over a year. It was still working when I left.

Comment: This Is Convenient... (Score 1) 367

by MacDaffy (#30946956) Attached to: Fujitsu Readies Lawsuit Over "iPad" Name

Fujitsu is doing Apple a great big favor. Losing this suit would be the best thing to happen to the company in this historic product stumble:

There's a five year-old MadTV skit touting a mythical cross between an iPod and a feminine sanitary product--and it's called iPad. The Colbert Report just joked about calling it the "TamPod." The obligatory Downfall/Hitler mash-up is as devastating a critique of the product's capabilities as you could find in an industry magazine.

Word of warning, though. Apple is at its best when it's fallen flat on its face. The Apple ///c was followed by the Mac. iTools was followed by .Mac. The Mac Portable was followed by the PowerBook 100. The Cube was followed by the Power Macintosh G4 (Quicksilver).

Wait a year...

Comment: I'll Take Door Number One, Monte... (Score 1) 945

by MacDaffy (#30901078) Attached to: The Apple Paradox, Closed Culture & Free-Thinking Fans

Apple used to leak like a sieve. We employees used to read MacWeek to find out what the agenda for new projects were. There's a reason you can date PC laptops within six months of the release of Apple ones and I think we can guess why that is.

The engine of Apple's economic success is innovation. Unfortunately, there are companies sitting on pins-and-needles waiting for that next idea so it can be copied and capitalized upon. Secrecy maximizes Apple's advantage when their products come to market. That's not an opinion; it's an observable phenomenon--Stock Price Pre-Jobs vs. Stock-Price Post-Jobs.

And part of that success is keeping their mouth's shut until it's time.

Comment: Re:R you all out of your minds? (Score 1) 1078

by MacDaffy (#30200104) Attached to: Apple Voiding Smokers' Warranties?

Nicotine is a bio-hazard. According to the Wikipedia entry for nicotine, "spilling an extremely high concentration of nicotine onto the skin can result in intoxication or even death since nicotine readily passes into the bloodstream from dermal contact."

That's why cleaning a contaminated machine involves a lot of time, effort, material, and preparation. Isopropyl alcohol is the most effective agent for removing it, and it takes a lot of alcohol. You end up with a poisonous mess, not to mention the filth that's attracted to it.

It is a nasty job, and it has the potential to make the technician performing it ill.

The decision to void a covered machine is on a literal case-by-case basis. If I can attribute a machine's failure to something other than the smoke, I'll do it. And I'd definitely charge the customer for the cleaning. And if I refuse to repair a covered machine because it's filthy, maybe another technician would agree to do it. But Apple doesn't require anyone to jeopardize their health and well-being to clean a filthy machine.

Comment: Re:might decrease the value of the warranty, thoug (Score 1) 539

by MacDaffy (#29001323) Attached to: Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse"

Inferior RAM is the leading cause of kernel panics. And drives are rated by Mean-Time-Between-Failure (MTBF). Buy a cheaply-made drive and it's going to fail more quickly than a better-quality drive. Bad RAM can cause enough data corruption to scramble a hard drive. Parts installed incorrectly can lead to shorts or physical damage.

For instance, if you install a 7200-RPM SATA drive in a machine that came with a 5400-RPM drive, you've exceeded the specs of the machine as sold. If the faster drive isn't supported and something goes wrong, you're out of luck.

Comment: Re:might decrease the value of the warranty, thoug (Score 2, Interesting) 539

by MacDaffy (#28982733) Attached to: Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse"

Do you use the Nintendo policy of "if it's there it's at fault" or do you actually check if it was at fault?

I'd be stupid not to check. I always ask if any modifications have been made to the machine. If the original parts are available, I swap them in and test. If you don't have the original parts, you're out of luck. If you do have them and the original parts work, you're out of luck. If the machine doesn't work with the original parts replaced, then the problem is attributable to something else and is covered.

As Apple's representative to the customer, I owe the company and the customer my best effort

Comment: Re:might decrease the value of the warranty, thoug (Score 1) 539

by MacDaffy (#28982709) Attached to: Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse"

And this one of several reasons I'd hesitate to ever buy AppleCare. I have always assumed that any failure would be attributed to third party parts (which I'm bound to install, based on the insane upcharge for getting RAM from Apple), and it's not like I'd have any very reasonable recourse. The value of extended warranties is always dubious, but in this case the policy is far too vague to be worth the money.

Think about it this way: Apple has a warranty on that part just like you do. If you've modified a machine and Apple replaced your cheap-o RAM or bargain-basement hard drive if it's found to be at fault, they'd be Major League Chumps. Although, you'd get screwed, too, because if you upgraded with a non-Apple part, Apple would replace what they sold you. You buy a five-hundred gigabyte hard drive? You get back the three-fifty that was originally installed. You upgrade two gigs of RAM to four? You get back two.

The AppleCare Warranty is actually VERY clear: Any defective part that Apple sold you is fully warranted for three years as long as the defect isn't traceable to customer abuse or accident.

That's it.

And you'd be surprised at the number of people who think that AppleCare covers the disappearance of their iPhoto Library into the trash...

Comment: Re:might decrease the value of the warranty, thoug (Score 5, Informative) 539

by MacDaffy (#28977461) Attached to: Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse"

I provide AppleCare service and normal wear-and-tear don't even catch my attention. I don't kick a repair for scuffs, scratches, dents, or dings. But I've been brought:

--A MacBook that was "dropped a little." The hard drive had impacted so hard that you can hear the parts rattling around in it (I still have it);

--An iMac (Aluminum) with display problems. I opened it, found evidence of a liquid spill, and the customer's daughter confessed that her boyfriend threw a beer at it;

--A MacBook whose "case had cracked"... someone to remove the top case without referring to a manual and ripped the bottom case from its fasteners on the frame;

--A wireless keyboard that "wouldn't work." Turned it in for testing and, as it heated, water came oozing out of the battery bay.

All these people expected these incidents to be covered under the AppleCare warranty. If I'm brought a machine that isn't working due to a defect in manufacturing or the failure of an Apple- covered part, I'll do everything that needs to be done to get it fixed and the customer doesn't pay a dime (but if you've installed third-party drives or memory to which a problem is attributable, tough luck, Chuck).

But if it's drowned, dropped, or ripped apart, Apple is under no obligation to pay for user carelessness. Period.

When all else fails, read the instructions.

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