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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Fanboy wars aside

There seem to be three primary issues being addressed here.

First, the author claims to have had crap customer service from Apple. That's a legitimate concern, and should be dealt with as such. Whether we've seen worse, personally, or prefer $PLATFORM, shoddy customer service is just that: Shoddy.

Second, there is the question of how much the author contributed to her own problems with the machine, and with customer service. Leaving a notebook to charge, unattended, in a poorly ventilated area (in this case atop carpet and under a sofa) is likely to cause problems for the machine at best, a house fire at worst. Claiming that she does so as an argument to the manufacturer that their products are dodgy strikes me as appallingly ignorant. This is not blaming the victim for manufacturers' defects. It's acknowledgment that all machines, computers included, can be dangerous if not operated in an intelligent manner.

Along with that, it would appear that the author hasn't done much planning for contingencies such as equipment failure and disaster recovery. This, also, is not the manufacturer's fault. Having made my living as a free-lance writer and consultant, I would never run my business as a single-threaded environment - depending upon one computer which, regardless of platform, would be likely to fail at a potentially critical moment. The idea of turning away days' worth of work because of a laptop failure strikes me as amateurish and stupid. (FWIW, I used two computers for work - a Windows notebook and a Linux desktop, with the bulk of work being done on the Linux box. Each had its strengths and its drawbacks.)

Third and finally, there's the issue of professionalism. The parent article is obviously an opinion piece, and is presented as one. However, even op-ed pieces, when written by journalists, are commonly expected to adhere to minimal standards of professionalism. The idea that the parent article somehow establishes, or presents an informed opinion that one cannot run a business using a MacBook is ludicrous. Op-ed piece or not, anyone who presents herself as a journalist should, at a minimum, demonstrate enough objectivity to separate their own errors and culpability from that of the company they're harranguing. In this case, her article read like something written by a child at school rather than by a professional journalist.


Response to 'Too Complicated'

Please show me where my post makes fun of my granny? I explain what she did and say that it was dumb luck that she wasn't electrocuted, as she had no idea that rubber and wood were insulators. She could just as easily have stood on a metal chair, and changed the bulb with her bare wet hands. That is dumb luck. And that's my comparison to the article writer. She left her laptop charging on a carpet, under a sofa. It's dumb luck that she got burned by the cable, and not the house. It's a lot harder for a human to catch fire than a carpet/sofa.

In no way am I supporting dangerous/poorly designed equipment, but I've always taken pains to charge my laptops while they sit on a non-burning hard surface, like a marble floor or a glass shelf. You see the difference? The writer is wailing a sob story, and almost everyone here is pointing out that if you want to run a business, you should know a thing or two first. She has claimed thousands of dollars of lost work. Well, I can imagine that she would be one of those employees who costs a lot for a company to maintain, always asking IT why the coffee holder on her desktop computer isn't more stable. I've been there. I've seen it. This writer has only one point to make, and that is that computers (and electrical equipment in general) are still not id10t proof.

As for my granny, she should have known better. She lived in a house with an electrical engineering husband (who made the first portable walkman, if you count having to carry around the old 12 volt batteries as portable), and engineer/CS sons. Yet she just copied what she saw someone else do, without knowing anything about electricity, ignoring what they had told her. Now, she's still my granny, and I love her, but she did something very silly, and is still here today because of dumb luck.

Now the writer got paid for this article, which is just an opinionated comment, and I'm not getting paid for this opinionated comment. As one commentator said earlier, the Reg should start a new section called 'rants and raves', because that's what it's turning into. The Sun of Technology. Opinion, not Fact. Silly Innuendos.

I'm off to arstechnica. I only read the reg now for the BOFH.



I don't understand people who argue that macs rubbish because they're not user serviceable. If you want a user serviceable machine then build one, If you can service one your self then you can build one yourself.

It seems that people go soft when they try and get h/w repaired, push for same day repair, if they don't have an item in stock then push for a free rental of a new machine. Work your way up to the manager, kick up a fuss and they'll give you what you want just to get rid of you!

Its not just apple that will attempt to fob you off with slow repair times it seems every manufacturer does it dell wanted 8 weeks to repair a new inspiron


Apple Airheads / Fanboys / blah blah

"It is only fashion concious airheads that like apple because they dumb everything down for them and look "different"."

Oh I wish I was fashion conscious, or had air in my head rather than 2 computing degrees (BSc + PhD) ... instead I buy Apple computers for Mac OS X as I've been using/administrating/programming with Unix (BSD+SysV) for more than 20 years and its nice to have the best of both GUI and command line worlds. I also prefer BSD based Unix to Linux's SysV roots.

The hardware looks good yes and generally the build quality is excellent. I've had the occasional problem over the years but Apple directly, or my local independent Apple service centre, has always come up trumps. I have a 4 year old iBook G3 which suffered from a motherboard + case issue and was covered by an extended repair programme and had its board replaced 3 times [almost a lemon then], no problem. It still works a treat and gets used regularly for various things including as a backup for when my MacBook needs charging 8-)

I had an iMac G5 suffer from an LCD screen issue in the first two weeks of having it, Apple sent me a completely new one under their DOA part of the one year warranty, years latter it still runs with no more hardware issues.

The battery in my 16 month old (out of warranty) MacBook refused to charge and Apple just replaced it no questions asked under its battery replacement programme. I don't bother with paid-for extended warranties as I personally don't have a need for them and I'd rather put the extra £200 towards a new laptop or server when I need it in a few years time.

My G3 "clamshell" ibook that is over 5 years old still works fine (the battery is long dead but the yoyo main adapter powers it) and so is the equally old and beautiful G4 Cube used in another room, which has only needed one replacement hard drive. The G3 iMac I bought from eBay came with a few months of its original warranty which Apple honoured when the analogue video board went phut but 5+ years later still works with no probs and still gets software updates for 10.3. Finally the G4 MacMini sits under the TV as a PVR and just works for years on end. Oh and yes the G4 Powermac is still quite happy as another server in the garage and has been for 4 years.

All computers go wrong, whether you build them yourself or someone puts them together on a far-eastern production line. You should allow for failures and have a DR plan regardless of whether the computer is for your business or for personal use. I have 2TB of RAID 5 and RAID 1 on my file-server and DVD, CD, zip-drive and tape backup plus stuff stored in "cyberspace" ... and all that is just for personal data, not business use!



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