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

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

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

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

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

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.

Comment Re:Stupid conclusions (Score 1) 843

I certainly agree with you on your assessment of Word as a text processor, but Microsoft Word 5.1a on Macintosh was once the gold standard of word processing.

Word had not yet acquired the bloat that would drag it to the bottom. The interface was comfortable, accessible, and unobtrusive. It got out of your way and let you write. "What You See Is What You Get" ceased to be just a Flip Wilson gag line, in large part, because of Word and the Mac. There's still a dwindling cadre of people who use Word 5.1a because it was just that good.

My main problem with Microsoft is that they're willing to look bad themselves if it makes someone else look worse. I'm not buying Microsoft Office 2008 or its successors. It's my chance to help stave off The Redmond Monster's attempt to create yet another craptastic standard.

Comment Re:Wow! (Score 1) 155

Your characterization of Apple employees as "cowed" betrays your lack of knowledge about the company, the culture, or its people.

When Apple leaked like a sieve--when employees eagerly awaited their free issue of MacWeek magazine because it was the best available compendium of the overall status of Apple products, policies, and strategies--it was on a path of steady, inexorable decline. The series of CEO's that led the company in the Jobs interregnum knew nothing about computers and even less about the creation and marketing of innovative, exciting technology.

The only things that kept the company alive were the quality of its products and people, and Microsoft's ineptitude as an opponent. Rival companies actually hired people to lunch at local restaurants, look for people wearing Apple badges, and eavesdrop. Visitors were regularly given tours with little regard to safeguarding intellectual property.

Apple lacked focus internally and externally. And the people and the company suffered for it. Steve Jobs's return brought focus and discipline with it. He pulled together what had become a distracted, dispirited mess and put it on the path to recovery.

Everyone benefited and continues to benefit. The ones who experienced the bad times serve as an institutional memory for those who came after. Secrecy and security have translated *directly* into profit, accomplishment, and success for Apple.

If you were to ask Apple's people, I'll bet you'd find most of them are proud--not cowed. The ones who do feel cowed can quit because they don't belong there.

Comment Re:Other companies (Score 1) 665

I've found SATA drives to be less robust than their IDE precursors, so the hard drive IS the problem more often than not these days. And if the drive's faulty, the PC manufacturer has a warranty on OEM equipment just as you do. If a hard drive is faulty, I ask the customer if they want a data recovery attempted. If not, the drive goes back to the manufacturer.

As for standing there while the technician fixes it? Good luck with that. I'm sure you don't want someone standing over YOUR shoulder while you work. Having to explain or justify each step I take is time-consuming (as in "more expensive") and annoying. If I press a diagnostic key combination, I don't want to "explain who you just did!" (actually happened--the explanation went right over his head).

People's data is of no interest to a professional technician. Frankly, it's of little interest to anyone but the customer most of the time. With economic times as they are, the faster I turn a machine, the faster I get paid. I don't have time to rummage through pictures of someone's trip to Australia in search of pr0n; I can find my own.

Comment Re:Big deal (Score 1) 665

I work on Macs exclusively. If the repair is under warranty, I'm obligated to get things done quickly and correctly, so this attitude carries over and becomes a habit for non-warranty work as well.

Anti-virus work is practically non-existent, so a machine is either broken or a victim of user-error (e.g. lack of maintenance; failure to follow instructions during installations/updates; installing inferior quality, do-it-yourself parts; damage; misbehaving software, etc.).

People depend on me to be fast and fair. I point out to them that Mac OS X's console records a good deal of what happens to their machines and I educate them on how to do a layman's reading so that they're secure in the knowledge that if they brought in a machine for disk maintenance at 11 a.m. and the first restart is at 4:30 p.m., it really did take that long.

I've found that keeping my customers fully-informed and educated helps us both. When I run that credit card for my hourly fee, they know that they got their money's worth.

Comment Re:Deliberately breaking the motherboard? (Score 1) 665

Breaking a customer's property is beyond-the-pale. The "I Thought You Were From A Rival Repair Company" excuse is as idiotic as their act was criminal. I'm *especially* careful when I'm dealing with my colleagues/competition because bad news travels fast, I live on the island of Hawaii, and if my reputation goes, there's no way to get it back--and there are people here who'd like nothing better than for me to fail.

I make a point of doing a quick check of machines that come to me while the customer's filling out paperwork. People are much more impressed with a minimum or no-charge "Here you go! It's fixed!" than they are with anything short of a difficult data recovery. Those people come back and they recommend me to their friends.

And--when I'm going my job--I don't have TIME to snoop on people's computers. We repair techs have a responsibility for protection of privacy that approaches lawyer-client or doctor-patient because our clients may BE doctors or lawyers. I'd be surprised if EvNova didn't lose a majority of that business.

Juvenile and criminal...

Comment Concentrate On C... (Score 1) 569

Learning C thoroughly is like learning your scales in music--you can't create the most complex without knowing the simplest (I started with Pascal and have never regretted its influence on my C).

A good grounding in Standard C will help you spot errors and sketchy constructions more quickly, even as you come into contact with the object-oriented languages.

As you're getting familiar with the basics, make sure you also observe best practices regarding structuring, unit testing, commenting, and style.

If you're taken on as a new programmer in an organization of any size, you'll probably be assigned maintenance tasks fixing bugs. That means you'll also have the whole code base to study, if you need it. And don't think that you have to re-invent the wheel. You can find the algorithm for a bubble sort just by Googling. Look for programs that have solved a problem you face already. That's not cheating; that's programming.

Good luck and HTH.

Comment Re:Needless loss (Score 1) 450

I don't have mod points, so I'll just say "amen." The toughest job I have is getting users to back up their data. People casting this as an operating system problem are obscuring the point.

ANY system should have a current, verifiable, off-site backup. I sell my customers external LaCie Rugged drives, teach them the proper way to back up (I insist on them doing it by hand) and I tell them to put the drive in the trunk of their car or in a safe deposit box--anywhere but with the machine.

There's no excuse for something like this.

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