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back to article Burned by a MacBook

Can you run a business using a MacBook? No, is my answer. My experience with a new MacBook, which turned out to be a complete and utter lemon, and my battle with Apple's derisory customer service nearly sent me bananas, lost me thousands of pounds worth of freelance journalism and consultancy work, and left me with a burn mark …

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11 days WITHOUT YOUR COMPUTER? a true tragedy

Or 55 days, whatever. You're either not very intelligent, or your time is worthless. This has nothing to do with Mac or PC, I work in IT and whenever people who work at home talk about how they're being screwed by X company because they can't work without their precious laptop, I laugh. Let me explain myself with a story.

I have a friend who is a professional photographer. He shoots architecture with a 1DsMkII and canon tilt-shift lenses. His camera cost him something around the order of $8000, with thousands more for lenses. He has a fast desktop computer with two expensive large screens and Photoshop CS3. He processes all his photos himself. If his camera were to break and he had to send it in for repair, it wouldn't affect him greatly.

Do you know why? Because he's a professional. He has a backup body (Canon 5D), and a backup computer to boot. Sure, his backup isn't as powerful as his main camera, but he knows that if he were legitimately to be without work he'd be in serious trouble, and as a real working professional he recognizes the cost of a backup unit is far outweighed by the the lost revenue during time spent having his kit repaired.

Electronics fail. I know this, in the course of my job I see expensive servers, fibre channel arrays, 'reliable' desktops, and even network cables fail all the time. Companies who aren't run by morons buy redundancy, because downtime costs them. They don't live in an imaginary world where they can have their equipment fail and whine about how the vendor should have made a perfect product while they bleed cash from every orifice.

In my experience it is this willingness to pay for redundancy, and the understanding of business that goes along with it, which separates the amateurs from the professionals.

Someone who relies on a £700 computer for their whole business is the opposite of a professional. One day without work pays for a new computer at that price in revenue lost.

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Why is this news?

I'm sorry that you had a poor experience with your MB. I'm sorry that you were injured. But aside from Apple being a popular company right now, this isn't news. If you'd had these problems with Dell/HP/Gateway/etc it never would have made this site. Get off the bandwagon and go back to reporting news.

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If this is journalism, I am Santa Claus.

The Register seems to be sinking into a swamp of writing the most shocking article possible in order to generate comments and doing this at the expense of anything even hinting at balance, and increasingly, at the expense of journalistic ethics.

The author (whom I have never heard of before) has a litany of complaints against Apple for a faulty laptop. These are aired at great length. She is compensated. "While I have got a £1,200 machine instead of a £700 laptop" she goes on... "it is little compensation" ... what were Apple supposed to do? Seriously. What were they supposed to do? Give her an around the world holiday sitting on Prince William's lap?

What a bunch of wankers you lot have become. I think I will remove the "Register" bookmark from my browser and see if my quality of life improves. Goodbye.

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How the mighty have fallen

Apple used to make good, reliable, products. Sadly, this has changed. Today their QA is rubbish. Apple won't get better while they continue to be their own biggest fanbois, since this makes them incapable of recognising that they, not their customers, are the problem.

Sad really.

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No backups, bad optical drive

Or did the writer put a minibusiness card disc in a slot-load drive and destroy it prior to using normal size media -- perhaps part of the story that didn't get written up? Was that cord bent back and forth until the wires shorted and burned out? Did the author use an external hard drive and free software like carbon copy cloner to make backups? Did her friend -- the expert -- tell her that a flashing question mark is just as often a corrupt directory normally repaired with the Disk Utility, Disk Warrior or a dozen other apps?

There's a ton wrong here -- and a lot we might not have been told. Hey, maybe this just runs right up the winteller fanboi club, or the macfanboi club. But this non-professional can easily see a lot that the user here could have done to contribute to her problems. Thankfully, she didn't get really hurt -- but the rest of this screams out for a competent consultant -- not the genius bar, or the winteller 'geniuses here.

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Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

This is just too hysterical, all the MacDweeb FanBoys squirming and sqawking and not a single one answering with facts or addressing he issue.

Here's one - Apple has been and is being sued more often than any other current computer brand by its customers since 1991!

Nice record of customer satisfaction, Apple.

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Jeff

This is very depressing, the complaining in the story the bashing and complaining in the comments, everything. There really is no way to ensure 100% quality on 100% of a product line, the ensuing man hours would shoot the cost of a $1200 product to over $3000, then no one would buy one. I really do not see the point of allowing "reporters" of the Register to complain as a story. This is not a story it is a rant.

I worked for HP as a tech support rep for three years offering service to laptop owners. I can tell you that I was confronted with these same issues all the time. Three to nine times a week I had to explain to someone that it would cost $900 USD to replace either their LCD or Motherboard due to customer damage. And after the price comes out the conversation tends to get nasty. As for the design flaws, which cause customer damage, Apple has minimized these with many of their own innovations. The MagSafe Power connector for one. 80% of all customer damage calls were due to the fact that someone either tripped over the power cord or due to regular use the internal pin or power connection inside the computer had come loose. Apple had this problem mostly solved with it's previous implementation of its power connector, but did not wait for someone to surpass them, they created something 10 times better than anyone else was offering.

Yes I love apple products, do I think Apple Inc. is infallible? No. For that matter neither is anyone else. And having worked for HP for three years, I can say without a doubt that Apple's quality control is far better. On several fairly frequent occasions I had to calm people down that had not seen their computer since it was picked up, 9 weeks ago, and others still who had been through 4 repairs with each repair cycle reaching toward 2 weeks.

As for setting up a pickup, it is not an exact science, as some "educated" people would have you believe. It is merely a poorly implemented scheduling system. Theoretically if the routs are mapped out on computer and it is known how long it takes to do the run it shouldn't be a problem to postulate approximately when the truck would be by. Thereby giving possibly a 2 hr window as opposed to an 8 hr garage door.

There is no reason that this "article" should be a part of the Register's Hardware section. It should be part of Odds and Sods, under a new section called Reg Rants (RR's). These RR's have become increasingly frequent in past weeks and it is disheartening to say the least. I fear the Reg is in jeopardy of losing more than a few readers, and they are quickly losing my respect with this kind of frivolity. Rants do have a place, but articles should be written with detachment not personal feeling and tainted perspective lest they become an editorial.

When writing an article submitted as news it is prudent to consider more than one viewpoint, thus ensuring an even and well-lit story, which people of many dispositions can enjoy. I must admit that this article is in far better taste than the senseless iPhone rant but I still believe it belongs in RR's.

For your consideration.

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Anonymous Coward

Poor Quality of Goods

I have had a look at the photos of these burned cords and I cant believe they have not made a better cord. To me it looks like the insulation is not entirely capable of doing a proper job. I think this is because its on a laptop, with the cable being manoeuvred a lot it wears down and then suddenly shorts (think of stretching an elastic band over and over again) ... this causes a surge of current to flow through and the cable heats up very quickly .... and yes electricity can go through insulators. They are not 100%, i have seen electrical arcs between two cables that were supplying a neon signage board that ran alongside each other and the sheath width was about 0.5-1cm thick.

This Apple cable on a whole looks barely even 0.5cm thick so how thick is the actual insulation ???

If you feel I am wrong ... then here is a simple test. Plastic being the preferred insulator ... take one sheet of cling wrap(plastic wrap) and take an electrical cord and strip the live and neutral wires. bend them so they form a loop and have no pointing edges of wires sticking out (don't want to peirce the cling wrap) and using the cling wrap over one wire laying down covering it ... lower the other wire onto the covered wire. I am sure you will feel safe and nothing will happen ... or will it? Alternatively consult a fellow electrician on his views on plastic being the 100% insulator ...

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Look at the facts

Apple sell "consumer" and "business" laptops, Emily bought the consumer version. They offer a support contract, she opted not to go for it.

Her laptop failed, and Apple replaced it for her, they were under no obligation to replace it same day or next day. They even eventually upgraded her to the machine she should have bought in the first place.

Emily was burnt? The offer of a more expensive machine was acceptable compensation to her so she took it.

I imagine most of you work in IT, what do you do when you have a system failure and trading/payments/whatever stops? Do you wait for Sun to turn up and fix the hardware, tell your users to wait a bit? No, you have a DR plan, because disasters happen, and you can only rely on yourself to recover from them.

Apple fulfilled their obligations as a supplier, I never would have considered buying Apple but I might now.

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Anonymous Coward

Buy Thinkpad for quality in laptops

Cannot imagine why anyone thinks Mac laptops are quality items. You want quality, buy a Thinkpad. And put PCLinux or Debian on it if you don't want Windows. With the Apple line you are paying more than you need, for products where everything has been subordinated to how things look. Especially the cooling. They would rather have it overheat than have either a big enough case or a loud enough fan. Has been a continual problem with Apple for most of its history. Idiotic.

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Hopeless Apple excuses

It always amuses me that the Apple fanboys blame the victim for the piece of shit they've bought. Regardless of whether she should have backups of data, backups of laptops and all that crap, you're completely missing the fucking point: you're blaming the victim for a terrible quality computer and terrible after sales service. Stop defending Apple like they're a fucking workers co-op who are for the betterment of mankind when they're just a money-grabbing piece of shit company like every other. Like all OEMs they value engineer their hardware to death trying to shave off a cent here and a cent and before you know it they're selling a plastic coated turd.

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Apple pie good, soufflé flat

Apple are good, VERY good at making stylish, good-looking desktops, such as the one I am writing this from now. However, because they are moving into new areas with new technology so fast, the technology is not preforming to the high standards you would expect of a company with such a good previous reputation. Apple appears to be transforming from a 'plucky little garage startup' company, into a 'draconian, Microsoft-minded empire builder.' Until Apple abandons this notion of dominating the world via iTunes and pulls it's head out of the clouds, it will continue to produce sub-standard products, and that is why my next laptop, as my current one is, will be sans-OS X.

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thats not ur hand thats the back of ur neck

ok use idvd to get ur dvds burned , second of all you didnt burn your hand at all , thats a picture of your neck cause i see an earlobe , third theres no way in hell magsafe powercords can burn you in fact i keep mine plugged into my macbook 24/7 . you can pretty much lick the damn thing while its plugged into the wall and it won't catch fire or shock you.

just another idiot proving that you know shit about shit on macs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To the 'First Generation' apologists

"Why is this acceptable? Why do all the (Apple, especially) fanboys gleefully tell everyone that only idiots buy a product when it first comes out? Apple have been making laptops for years- just because they changed from "iBook" to "MacBook" doesn't mean they have carte blanche to roll out a buggy, unfinished product to the public"

Name a first generation technology (and it is first generation when a product is revamped like the Intel range of Macs are) which hasn't had its faults.

If you think this is unacceptable that any long-term technology company would do this where are you criticisms for Vista/XP or XBox/XBox360? All of which were initially released with major faults. And Microsoft has even acknowledged their products haven't initially been complete on release.

Seriously, you can give shit to Apple if you so desire for this, but i've been into computers for over 20 years now, and throughout that time its been a re-occuring theme from the greater majority of manafacturers (Apple, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Sony, etc) on the market to release a product which is initially under-par.

That's why early adopters take a risk when buying a technology which has not had a large period of time to be tested in a wide scale real world environment.

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Any chance of some work?

"When I agreed to the upgrade as my compensation I thought my experience of a melted MagSafe was uncommon. But a quick check in flickr shows a different story, as do reports on AppleDefects.com.

Had I known this while talking to executive relations I would have pushed the issue of health and safety much further. Instead, I've asked Apple why there hasn't been a product recall and what it takes to agree to one. They have said...well, nothing.

So, I'll say this. Until there is a product recall, do not charge up your MacBooks unattended and never near flammable materials"

Apple, I believe should have done a product recall BUT I think the following is worth pointing out:

If Emily had gone through Appledefects.com a bit more carefully, she would have seen that it reported in February that Apple had introduced a new type of magsafe, as O’Grady’s Power Page reported a month earlier. Looking at the photo, she posted, it looks like she had the first-generation magsafe. Although this doesn’t mean there should’t be a recall, there is nothing in the story to reflect that this problem affects a component that is no longer being supplied by Apple - maybe for as long as seven months.

I don’t believe that there is any evidence that the problem is not “uncommon”. Given just how well the MacBooks have sold, I would have expected far more reports to have emerged. I’m not trying to underplay the seriousness of the problem that Emily and others have encountered, but given that Appledefects have had just two reports in the last five months, I don’t think it professional for Emily to suggest a cursory inspection of that site and flickr is all the evidence she needs.

Incidentally, if you check Mac tech sites like Macintouch and Macfixit (these two are great for coverage of all sorts of Mac problems, big and small), you’ll note that the magsafe problem has received very little coverage; I have no reason to suspect that this is anything other to do than the number of reports they have received.

Incidentally, Macintouch did a reader survey at the end of last year that covered about 3,000 Apple laptops, all using magsafes; there were six reports of unsafe magsafe. Personally, I feel that was six cases too many, but as Macintouch pointed out, it had been expecting far more reports if the magsafe was as unsafe as was being suggested by some forum posters.

Speaking as someone who has works now and then as a journalist, I think Emily should have taken a deep breath, step back and did a bit more research first. Certainly, the magsafe issue deserves a serious article, but I’m afraid this wasn’t it and I was put in mind of more than one forum poster than a pro.

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh...

Sorry to hear of your poor experience with Apple. But you don't have my sympathy.

Stuff packs up all the time. Mostly after the warranty has just expired. You get some new stuff. End of. Sometimes the stuff packs up within the warranty. Sometimes that's more of a hassle as you can be back and forth trying to sort it out when you'd rather have some new stuff. (Sh)It happens. No get shakes, your business doesn't depend on your stuff.

But what if your business does depend entirely on your stuff? What is your contingency plan? What does your business plan say for when stuff packs up? If it doesn't have this basic strategy for when stuff goes wrong, it's not a sound business is it?

To extrapolate your experience into 'you can't run a business on a MacBook' is not good journalism.

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don't want to sound insensitive, but...

this is why real work should be done on a PC. I've never liked apple (too much style over substance), but shoddy hardware is just the final nail in the coffin. Its not like you have a choice of alternative hardware manufacturers with apple. and what the hell is a "logic board"!!

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A word from tech support to Emily Turner

<the following extract is lifted from a well-known tech support story, but it applies here I think>

Operator: "Well, turn on the office light then."

Caller: "I can't."

Operator: "No? Why not??"

Caller: "Because there's a power failure."

Operator: "A power......... A power failure? Aha, Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??"

Caller: "Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

Operator: "Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."

Caller: "Really? Is it that bad?"

Operator: "Yes, I'm afraid it is."

Caller: "Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??"

Operator: "Tell them you're too f*cking stupid to own a computer!!!!!"

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This makes me laugh...

Long time reader, first time commenter...

I just had to write something because reading these comments sections make me laugh more and more!!!

Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about what happened to the laptop and your troubles with it, but as many people have said, that happens to everyone with most kit be it Apple, Wintel or even Unix/Linux! (Yes, even they will suffer from hardware failure!)

But i really do have to say something about all the Apple evangelists commenting on this story... All i read is how El Reg hates Apple, El Reg hates the iPhone, El Reg has some vendetta against Lord Jobs...

Come on, the problem is you have been living in this marketing cocoon for so long believing Apple is omnipotent and can do no wrong when in actual fact, they are just human beings, not some kind of saviour of the IT World sent by the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

They make mistakes, they have manufacturing faults, their stuff will fail...

It's about time you realised this and accepted it before berating everyone that writes a (mildly) objective piece on Apple or its products

/rant

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Anonymous Coward

Just be glad you're not here...

The situation is worse if you live in Northern Ireland, there's no Apple Service Centre whatsoever. It all gets couriered to some place in Scotland, which is truely awful for repair turnaround times.

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Anonymous Coward

How come she lost work??

Kit fails, especially if you leave in heating up under a sofa every night but I'm more interested in how come during this hellish time when you "couldn't" work you managed to update your blog every other day?. Was this whilst working part time in the PR office that employs you?, just interested :-)

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You read it here first

And in other news today:

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/07/19/toshiba_japan_recalls_batteries/

There will always be failures. There will always be death. There will always be taxes.

And sometimes the way these things are handled is less than satisfactory. Shit happens.

And people with problems will ALWAYS be more vocal than those without. If you're happy, you get on with your life.

It wouldn't be a very interesting read if 95% of the comments were about how happy people were.

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RE: How come she lost work??

Fair point, also what was she using prior to owning the MacBook? Couldn't she have used her old laptop? Maybe she sold it or it caught fire.

This article has clearly struck a chord with a lot of readers, I think El Reg think that articles that annoy folks have more people coming back for more. This is probably true short term, after which we get bored from lack of content.

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Why in the world are comments moderated...

...if apparently every bit of bull goes through? Everyone expected this to turn into a fanboy-fest. What is to be observed is that there are very, very few Apple fanboys to be observed. Most of the decent commenters focus, correctly, on the blatant ineptness and stupidity of Emily Turner. On the other hand, there are dozens of posts from Apple-hating crapheads, and these especially love to complain about "all the fanboys here", athough there are none to be observed.

Best one so far, Webster Phreaky:

"Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ... [repeated]

This is just too hysterical, all the MacDweeb FanBoys squirming and sqawking and not a single one answering with facts or addressing he issue."

Am I missing something?

El Reg used to be a place where you would happily read letters/comments, but by now the comments section seems to turn into the same kind of cesspit it is elswhere.

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Wow, I'm glad I missed that train wreck!

2 weeks ago I bought a Sony Vaio SZ5. At the time I was thinking shall I get a Macbook instead, because you get a better spec for the money.

The Sony is light, fast and reliable and it sounds like buying one over a Macbook is good advice for everyone.

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What I mean...

I hope you got me the right way. There is no need to OBSERVE comments if you let everything pass.

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FYI Richard Kilpatrick

I am not ill-informed actually.

One of my close friends bought a cute little 12 inch mac a couple of years ago.

He found that there was not any available codecs for playing xvid, divx, ogg, mkv, and many other video codecs. This is now a moot point as things like VLC player have sprung up, but during the time it really pissed him off. He could pay for apples divx crapware, which he did eventually.

I may just be confusing myself with a hardware issue but he also asked me to get him cd-writing because he couldn't do it from the box. In the end I am sure he did get it sorted, I being of little help since my previous mac experience is limited. You seem to be quoting from the most recent lines, I am refering to my experiences which are not as current, but due to those bad exp.'s is why I am not current.

Mostly my point about macs is that they are inaccessible for self repair, even more so than dells.

If you fancy educating me on macs I would appreciate it as I know a LOT about "generic" PC's but little about macs.

P.S. Vista is for Loozers. Even to mention it could bring shame on you and your family. ;^)

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Tim

Couriers, deliveries, etc

Main sympathy you get from me is over the shockingly crap courier service we have in the UK. Nothing to do with Apple, it's just terrible service where they commit to a specific time slot, you wait in (often costing money in time off work), and they fail to turn up, or they arrive outside that time and then blame you for not being in!

Not just couriers either. Engineers too (NTL are the worst).

If there's something that needs sorting out in this country it's this kind of thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Horses for courses...

Having just bought a MacBook I read this article with interest.

I wouldn't describe myself as either a windows or OS X fan, I've always used windows in the past, and found myself trying a few flavours of linux ove the last few years, but never one I've found satisfactory for me, a unix novice, and classic none-techie but tech literate business user.

I guess Apples biggest advantage is also their achillies heel. In the couple of months I've been using it, I've found the Macbook stable and reliable, but I'd expect it to be as Apple control the hardware and software and to a degree restrict my software choices, and by means of this impose an increased cost on me.

On the other hand, Windows allows me fantasic flexibility and hardware options, and as has been said, quick "self fix" potential, but all at the cost that, for me at least, the overall experience is less stable and intuative.

On balance I'm very pleased with the MacBook, but I was equally pleased with the Toshba XP laptop that it replaced. Cracking open the case to repair that was a doddle, opening this MacBook doesn't really appeal ;-)

So what have I learned from this thread? Well, I'll think carefully about taking out some AppleCare I think..!

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Wow, I'm glad I missed that train wreck!

Philip, what Emily is really complaining about here is the customer service she got from Apple.

The early problems Emily had indicate that she got a bad unit – as other posters have mentioned, statistically this will happen, whatever the manufacturer.

Although Emily was sold a lemon, the magsafe problem (as I’ve stated above) was an issue identified by Apple, which in its wisdom chose to fix on the quiet, rather than do a product recall. Although this component was phased out (to the best of my knowledge) in January of this year, Emily chose not report this and from her final words on the subject, I’ve inferred that she was not aware of this. This is particularly sloppy as the site (Appledefects) she claims to have looked at, makes it very clear that Apple had replaced the older magsafe with a newer model – there was even a picture comparing the two models.

Similarly, the discoloured plastic palmrest problem she mentions in passing, was another issue affecting older MacBook models, which Apple rectified months ago – not saying this makes it okay, but it doesn’t affect current models.

Not that you could tell that from the article.

To me, this article reads like an impassioned forum post of the type, which is full of emotion and devoid of useful context. The type of post that confuses readers into thinking the technical problems being encountered is a current one – especially, as Emily is displaying the kind of logic that says ‘I have encountered this problem, and so have a small number of people who have said so on the Internet.. ipso facto, it must not be an uncommon problem.’

If Emily thinks not having a MacBook has cost her so much freelance work, does she really think coming up with this kind of article will have the opposite effect. Still, by mentioning her children, she could take over from Polly Filler at Private Eye.

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Not Unusual

...and not just with Macs.

Just to be clear: never had a mac, never want a mac... but I had a very similar problem to Emily with a 'normal' laptop. Nice shiny new Acer one, bought it specifically for 64bit processor and an NVidia GPU. Within about two months of purchase the DVD drive utterly died (and it had hardly been used). I didn't send it for repair as I was too busy to be without it at the time. However, within six months the whole thing was dead, seems that something inside it had melted (looks like they'd not realised that a high spec processor produces more heat, and hadn't tested it properly). As 'twas well within the free support/replacement etc. period I sent it off to them (by courier). Everything seemd OK. Then I heard nothing for a month, contacted them, they said that they were waiting for parts and it would be ready in a couple of weeks. Tried again in a couple of weeks, and they said they no longer had the parts because they didn't make that model any more so they'd send me a new one. Heard nothing for another few weeks, got in touch with them again and they promised to send me another one. The new laptop turned up a week or so later. Took one quick look at it and sent it back. No 64bit processor (the new one was a low-end centrino) and no GPU (onboard intel crap instead). I sent it back as it wasn't fit for purpose and actually worked out nearly £200 cheaper than the original. They then sent me another one about a month later. This one retailed at about the same price as my original machine, but still didn't have the specs I required - 32-bit processor (dual-core though), and a low-end ATI graphics card. So after about a year, two replacement machines & a phone bill I really don't want to think about (bloody premium rate support lines with never-ending hold...) and bought a new laptop from ASUS, who seem to have a much better record on support.

What I'm saying is that Emily's experience seems to be standard practice for a number of major laptop retailers - unlike a standard desktop (or desktop mac), you can't normally take a laptop down to your local family-run computer shop to get it fixed, and are therefore locked in the neverending support battle with a company that really doesn't give a damn about the poor suckers that buy their products. Not that I'm bitter or anything ;)

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Me Too

DVDRW failed - replaced under warrantee

battery failed - replaced under warrantee

HD failed unfortunately just after a year :-(

SuperDuper! is good for backups, saved my skin.

Crashes more in a day than my old Linux/Sony used to in a year (this IS NOT AN EXAGERATION), so I'll be back to another Vaio when I can afford it.

Though for those that can't manage linux, which is most people, then I still recommend apple, as it is more stable and sane than Windoze.

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Brian - Google in the future :D

No Codecs a couple of years ago? Christ. I should have checked my time machine was working when I was playing with VLC on a G4 system in 2004 or so; basically as long as you've had OS X you've had access to tools like ffmpeg. I've never paid for DiVX Crapware; VLC handles it fine, but also, there are a few freely downloadable codecs and always were.

It's hardly like Windows comes swollen with codecs, either - I just had to dig around to make MCE play M4A files and it still won't add them to the library; the first "I'm fairly sure this isn't some crapware/trojan/useless junk" one I tried decided they were video, since it was targeting the MPEG4 video playing market. Say all you like, but out of the box, Apple's media support is VASTLY greater than Windows.

Macs are not necessarily impossible for self-repair. I own about 80 of the damn things from 1984 to present day, and they can be repaired, even the laptops, with a little care. Expensive, yes. Impossible? No. My G5's firewire is dead because I stupidly plugged in a faulty iPod USB/Firewire charger (third party one, killed a 3G iPod too - it caught fire, oddly enough, but that's not Apple's fault, it was a faulty lead) and all the FW400 ports are now fused I presume. To fix it, I either have to spend a LOT on a logic board, or shove a PCI Firewire card in, which I will do having found one.

Anyway, just FYI, Macs since 1999 have had all the productivity stuff, and since 2001, OS X has transformed the way Apples behave OS-wise. The hardware has for the most part improved too; anyone remembering 'Diesel' Spindler's years knows what crap Apple churned out under the Performa/Centris brand.

As for Vista - it's my job to use it in this case, I'm a tech journalist. Reviewing Vista is part of reviewing the hardware since it's the only OS option available in this case, and I am determined to give it a fair showing and not pan it without justification. Coming from daily Mac use, it's a LOT harder to do that than I'd hoped! Thankfully the other PC I'm reviewing right now (which costs more than a MacBook and definitely won't be user-repairable!) is running XP SP2 - doesn't do much more, but at least I expect it not to do it :D

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Hey, wow, a bad Apple!

Oh my, goodness gracious, someone had a problem with an Apple! Perhaps it's because they are almost bulletproof that such a case is unusual enough to warrent rabid publicity. Had this been a Wintel machine the incident would not have raised an eyebrow.

Although I am no longer in the computer retail sector I sold Apple (and PC) computers for over 18 years and have owned an Apple almost as long and never saw anthing remotely like the this case. By contrast, one could expect a fault, hardware problem or incompatablility with at least 1 in 3 PC's. One company who shall be nameless but have been I.n the B.usiness for M.any years once told me to inform a customer that a problem with their new machine was a "feature" and not a fault!

Given a wealth of retail experience you must excuse me for being cynical but reading between the lines it strikes me that perhaps this person was angling for a replacment machine and is dissappointed that she did not get her own way. I experienced it so many times in my days as a salesman I could write a book.

My biggest suspicion is aroused by the power cord picture. The break is so close to the connecter it appears to me there has been some undue stress at the joint. Whilst I am not suggesting deliberate abuse or undue user stressing of the connector, I sold Apple portables of all flavours for many years and have never seen this happen even with the old 'hard wired' PSU's. As for the 'burn', I have had worst looking scratches. Stick some ointment on it for goodness sake.

OK, so the DVD drive broke... it happens. It's an outsourced component (take a look at system profiler) and the odd duff one does crop up. So are hard disks. Even Apple mice are outsourced. The logic board problems were unfortunate but once again, it happens. Anyone with an ounce of nouse would realise there are hundreds of components and it only takes the wrong one to break a machine.

So there were problems and there seems to have been an unfortunate catalogue of errors but such a thing is as rare as hens teeth with Apple and no manufacturer or dealer is perfect (I once saw a broken axle on a Rolls!). As a percentage of market share I doubt if Apple are anywhere near as bad as PC manufacturers.

As for the idiot PC brigade who have posted the most stupid comments I have seen in recent history, I can assure you that having sold and used both flavours of machine and operating system wild horses would not drag me kicking and screaming back to Wintel! Get a Dell? Get lost!

Apple may have the odd issue - occasionaly - but all of my machines and those owned by others of my aquaintance have worked out of the box, 99.9% of the time and without the fear of unexpected failure or the need to upgrade every couple of months. I have yet to have a friend or relative with a faulty Mac wheras one of my work colleagues recently had to return his "bargain" branded PC portable just three weeks after purchase and a friend had the most horrendous battle with HP to get his PDA fixed.

Oh yes, I have seen an Apple crash (shock horror)... it worked fine again as soon as MS Office was uninstalled - need I say more?. One of my PC owning friends upgraded his motherboard (my iMac is 18 months old and works faster without anything more than some extra RAM) and can no longer run a program despite several telephone calls and Windows update downloads. My "expensive and under spec" Mac encodes video for authoring twice as fast as his PC despite his chipset being, on paper, nearly twice as fast as mine. I have lost count of those asking me for help with XP and as for Vista, well, where shall I start?

I doubt many - if any - of those critising Apple have ever touched one of their machines let alone used or bought one. Unlike the Wintel camp, I make considered judgements on practical experience, not on biased comment from unreliable sources which is more often than not based on little more than heresay and rumour.

As for a product recall, please, get real will you?. When the 'never used an Apple because it's too different/PC's are cheaper' camp demand the same from their makers every single time a machine faults then I will demand the same from Apple. Until then, get a life and give it a rest eh?

Am I an Apple snob? You bet I am. My smugness comes from knowing that like the owners of made to measure clothes, Porche cars, Bose sound systems and Omega watches, I have paid for and own some of the best kit there is. If I am sad about anything Apple has done it's releasing iTunes and Safari for Windows. The best analogy I can think of is that it's akin to putting champagne in ring pull cans. Casting pearls to the swine or what!

Is the The Register biased against Apple? Nope. Just don't know any better, that's all.

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me too

i left my macbook pro charging, in a puddle, covered in cling-film, under the sofa, with my pet rats chewing the cable, while my pet dog defecated on the keyboard and my 3 year old son hit it with a hammer he found laying about and it burnt me too!

who would of thought it....

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Customer Service people

I think you need some lessons in Mau Mauing. Check out Tom Wolfe's book. I have found it very useful, use it frequently when needed, and have excellent results when dealing with recalcitrant companies, including a new car after using one for 18 months. Not a bad result.

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Law

Solution!!

Will it blend?? MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAAARRRRRR.....

PS - I'm not an apple fan, so this story and it's comments made me happy! :)

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An ear???

err thats a leg and a foot. How the hell did you see an ear in there?

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wow that sucks!

I always thought Apple computers were reliable! very worries to here about these dangerous power supplies for macbooks! I hope your new Macbook Pro is serving you better than your Macbook did! =)

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So..what company is perfect then?

Sorry you had problems, but what company is supposed to be better? Dell? IBM? HP? EVERY company has it's share of problems, and after you complained to Apple on the phone you got upgraded to a MUCH more expensive computer for free. The time you lost because of the problem is part of the price of doing business...if you NEED a tool for your business to operate then it's up to you to have a backup solution in case of emergencies, instead of bitching about your lost productivity. I also own a business and if any of my critical business tools fail, I arrange a replacement and life goes on. ALSO, when I purchase my Apple computers that I need for my business, I purchase the Applecare so I don't have to worry about it....it's the price of doing business. If this had been another computer manufacturer how do you think it would have been different? Dell would have kissed your ass and given you a bunch of free crap to make you feel better? Get real. Yes, you unfortunately ended up with a LEMON laptop, but sometimes that kind of stuff happens REGARDLESS of manufacturer...deal with it and get on with your life..or if you HATE Apple so much now, sell someone your new Mac PRO at a HUGE profit over what you originally paid for the Macbook and buy a Windows laptop...somehow I kind of doubt that you will do that though.......

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Replacement parts

I've had a similar experience, but with Dell. Four motherboards within a month.

It's pretty plain to me that the replacement parts used for servicing are *reconditioned* parts. That is, they have been removed on suspicion of being faulty, but no fault could be verified. Unfortunately, this often means that the part is actually faulty but inadequately tested before being added to the stock of spares.

This means that once you have a fault your odds of getting a on-going lemon are massively increased.

The only way out of this ongoing pain is to hassle the vendor for a factory-new machine. I made the mistake the first time of settling for a "as-new" (ie, returned with a fault, inadequately tested, added to pile of "reconditioned, as-new" machines). Of course, it was actually faulty.

Two final observations.

1. Vendors don't know how these things work anymore. I rejected a machine because it's ethernet port didn't work. To make this more than a assertion I ran the standard logic analyser measurements from the ethernet standard and it showed a under-voltage when loaded. That sent the vendor alternatingly confused and ballistic (thinking that I'd opened the cover).

2. You need the cooperation of your government consumer agency to force a refund. Most suppliers of electronic kit allow 3% for refunds, I suspect computer manufacturers allow for 0%. Computer manufacturers don't want to hear that a unrepairably faulty machine leads to a right of refund (at least here in Oz) and don't have any procedure for this in any case.

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I’m sorry and I hope you’re all right

I’m shocked what I’m hearing. A lady gets burned, physically burned (with photos to show it), and all many people can say is, “Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.” Didn’t anybody here think to say "I'm so sorry. I hope you’re all right?" Instead the subject quickly became “Apple is under attack and which side are you on.” Who cares! This a human being we're talking about and it shouldn’t have happened with any machine—even a can opener. As one anonymous commentator wrote, “Getting an electric shock and being burnt is simply not acceptable. If you had a heart condition or suffer from epilepsy, it could have been serious." And as Ally, another commentator questioned, "Why is this acceptable?"

I didn’t post to take sides or to defend issues. As Emily wrote about leaving the laptop under the couch, “I told them it doesn't take a genius to work out the risk and added that I have two children under four in the house.” It was a bad idea plain and simple. Additionally, not having a backup computer when your business is journalism is also indefensible. In fact, to tell you the honest truth, I don’t know of any company, where computers are mission-critical, that would allow an employee to be without one for more than two days and, as one commentator pointed out, “how come during this hellish time when you ‘couldn't’ work you managed to update your blog every other day?” Everyone can afford even a used computer and to go 55 days without one and still keep her job? I’m not sure how she did it.

The point I’m trying to get to is let’s remember to be respectful when it comes to posting. Nobody likes to be shouted at, made fun of, called “stupid.” In fact, one of the most frightening things that I ever read was from another commentator who wrote, "silly silly silly...you're like my granny. one time she had to change the light bulb in the kitchen. she stopped doing the washing up, climbed on a wooden stool and replaced the light bulb with her wet rubber gloves dripping water. dumb luck can't always be depended on." I’d hate to be his grandmother.

Here’s just a sampling of some of the comments. I’ve left the names out because of the point that I just made:

"A word from tech support to Emily Turner...'Tell them you're too f*cking stupid to own a computer!!!!!'"

"Most of the decent commenters focus, correctly, on the blatant ineptness and stupidity of Emily Turner."

"She's a woman, of course this article is melodramatic. Of course she did everything wrong; like baking it every night under the sofa or not calling Applecare when her screen started flickering and logging a ticket before total failure or RTFM. I wonder if her "check engine" light is on right now...When she finally called during her "emergency", I'm sure she was a bitch on the phone making the customer service person keep her on hold a little longer. Guys, she is a woman. This is how they are. Even in the end, she gets a much better computer and she still isn't happy. Just like a woman, there is nothing anyone can do to make her happy, including a multi-billion dollar company that occasionally may have a lemon or two slip by QC. I can only imagine what she is like when her significant other doesn't put down the toilet seat! This is not journalism, it is a bitchfest. I wonder it El Reg had to pay for this article?"

"you are a sucker. P.T. Barnum only wishes he had met you...Women! they can be soo lame sometimes."

"Boo Hoo...So you got a lemon. Boo Hoo"

"El Reg: Emily, when Apple PR ask you if you are a *God*, you say "YES""

"the machine the writer ended up with was a far superior machine by comparison, and will be a much greater investment, so in some respects the writer is lucky to have such issues in terms of short term hassle, but long term gain."

"How much will you pay me to whinge about my experiences to your readers? Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you."

"So you bought a lemon, its regrettable...What result exactly would have made you happy? Oh, heres a £1500 laptop and your money back? Come on."

"you manage to make yourself sound like an ass, to such an extent I can't feel any pity for you."

"You can't blame your poor planning on apple - they didn't help the situation but since you were whining about having to act as their personnel manager it seems a tad hypocritical to expect them to be your contingency for free."

"I'm impressed you weren't tempted to play the "I'm a tech journalist, so sort this out sharpish or I'll write you up" card. If you did, and this was the result, heaven help us non-journo types."

"Pardon me while I wipe away these crocodile tears...Here's a clue"

"somehow I kind of doubt that you will do that though......."

"Sorry to hear of your poor experience with Apple. But you don't have my sympathy."

"Main sympathy you get from me is over the shockingly crap courier service we have in the UK. Nothing to do with Apple, it's just terrible service where they commit to a specific time slot"

“As for a product recall, please, get real will you?. When the 'never used an Apple because it's too different/PC's are cheaper' camp demand the same from their makers every single time a machine faults then I will demand the same from Apple. Until then, get a life and give it a rest eh?”

And this one that I just plain didn’t understand:

"What are you doing trying to burn DVDs and CDs? The feature is clearly just unimplemented"

The world’s mean enough right now and we don’t need any more mean. Although several of Emily's actions are open to question, the fact remains that her computer should not have done the things it did, much less catch on fire and almost electrocute her. Let’s not forget that. And no one has the right to be publicly abusive. I don’t care what the reason is. If you’ve got something to say, say it respectfully—as one human being to another. There’s enough aggression in the world lately. Let’s keep it civil and to borrow the words of the last commentator, “give it a rest eh?”

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Are you MAD????

"The next day, 21 May, I called Apple. I stressed that I often leave my laptop charging overnight under the sofa on the carpet."

What....?

I cannot believe anyone would do this. Laptops require plenty of ventilation - leaving one charging overnight on a carpet is simply asking for trouble. If the lapop does not have sufficient ventilation (which in your case it doesnt) the components inside will fry - whether its an Apple, IBM or Dell laptop.

Never place your laptop on a carpet or even your duvet.

Your lucky you got any money back at all.

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@ Too Complicated

Your post was the most boring, stupid, silly post I have ever read, ever.

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Response to Tom Peach

Why?

Because I don't have a tolerance for a vicious gang mentality that gets off on and enjoys publically ripping apart a human being because that's the kind of great specticle that it takes to impress thousands of people that the commentator will never meet;

Because I don't accept when a woman is aggressively, knowingly and chauvinistically debased in a very public forum that's known to be dominated by men so that they can feel good about themselves through male bonding;

That I can't accept someone who thinks that their grandma almost being electricuted when she climbs up on a stool in midair to change a light bulb with wet gloves on is funny.

But most of all, that I can't understand why, when a person gets electricuted and physically burned, that I can't understand why some people have to respond with "continued" emotional burning instead of saying, "I'm so sorry" for that person. As I say, I have yet to hear anyone else say it here.

Tom, if feeling for another human being is somehow "boring, stupid" and "silly" and that's what you're defending here in your post, then I really "do" feel sorry.

I said in my posting that I found many of Emily's decisions to be questionable. But I also said that wasn't the point of my posting: To treat a person the way some people have done in this forum is just plain mean and inhuman, but to write such vulgar epithets intending it specifically for a forum that everyone knows that thousands read is even more reprehensible. I only wanted to remind people, for the sake of human civility, to keep their comments responsible and civil. You know, the "do unto others" thing?--lest the same sort of thing happen to them? I mean, let's not forget that a person was electrocuted here.

I believe in what I said and that's why I wanted to put it in print. Apparently you have done the same. I can say publicly that I can feel for another person in pain. Can you say that Tom?

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Anonymous Coward

on charge under sofa?

leaving your laptop under the sofa overnight on charge? you're lucky your house didnt burn down and kill you and your family as well! what an idiot! i

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@ Too Complicated

You contribution to human civility is duly noted.

I can only assume you post is satirical, in which case it's hilarious. If it's not, well, it's hilarious.

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Powerbook

Woah, the sheer feeling of brilliance I have at owning the last model Powerbook G5... woot (and yes, i am a fan boy - music tech student =D)

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Magunsafe

Yup, my Magsafe started to melt a few weeks back. At the other end to yours, where it comes out of the 'brick'. Other than that it looked very similar to your photo.

When I rang up the AppleCare number, they were quite helpful and sounded concerned about the safety implications. They dispatched a replacement same day and I picked it up from the UPS depot a couple of days later (of course they deliver it to my house only when I'm at work). I sent the bad one back to them by return and that's the last I've heard of it.

Fingers crossed this one will be ok, but a bit of Internet trawling suggests the fault might be with the laptop itself drawing too much current due to a faulty SMC. I guess I'll see how it goes.

I noticed they've just launched new 'extra portable' 65W and 85W power supplies, so I wonder if any potential problem has been fixed with these.

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There's no such thing...

...as a Powerbook G5. Sadly. Also, the Powerbook mains adaptors have the same design flaw as the Magsafe- insufficient strain relief.

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