Why I Love Apple

It could be because of the elegant and daring industrial design.
It could be because of the legends surrounding the development of the little Mac that changed everything.
It could be the culture of “thinking differently.”
It could be because of the tight integration of software and hardware that ensures that everything “just works” the way you expect it.

Or it could be because of the insanely great customer service.

I’ve been having a few troubles with my iPhone lately. The headphone sensor got really confused, and the built-in speaker wouldn’t work anymore — for calls, or for music. Along with that, I had a couple other small complaints that could have been firmware glitches (from my adventures in hacking) or could have been genuine defects.
Whatever the cause, by 6:15 this evening, I had enough. I hopped online and made an appointment at the Apple Store’s “Genius Bar” for 7:15. By 7:25 I had a brand new iPhone.

Of course I restored my original handset to the non-hacked Apple firmware — although they could have proved I’d hacked it if they’d taken more than a cursory look. But they didn’t hassle me with that. I explained my problems while the “Genius” nodded along. He started to clean the headphone port with compressed air, then seem to think better of that, given my explanations, and instead opened a drawer full of iPhones. He pulled out a box, opened it, and swapped out my SIM card, and handed me a new phone.

He didn’t ask for my receipt. He didn’t give me the third degree. He didn’t examine it for signs of “abuse” (typically retailers look for any excuse to refuse warranty service). He didn’t ask me about my usage habits, or if I’d installed “unsupported software.” He didn’t even send it away for 3 weeks for servicing. Instead, he heard my issues and resolved them immediately, in a way that was beyond expectations.

The best part? A friend of mine managed to scratch my iPhone the week after I bought it, and that scratch, although tiny, had always bugged me. Now I have a brand-new, scratch-free handset, which I will never let Tara touch.

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I Hate Christmas, 2007 Edition

For the last few years, around this time, I’ve ranted about how much I hate the Christmas season — not Christmas itself, just the season surrounding it. This year, I think I’ve finally pinpointed why.

Of course there’s the gaudy lights, and monotonous Christmas carols.
And obviously Christmas usually brings with it snow and slush and generally stressful road conditions, which, given the amount of traveling we do by car, certainly adds to my dislike of this time of year.

But today I figured out that the real reason I hate Christmas is the traffic.
Car traffic, foot traffic, whatever. Christmas brings out the worst in drivers — and it brings out the worst drivers.

I noticed on my way to lunch today (for which I have to drive around the biggest mall in the area) that there was an unusually high number of white-haired drivers, drifting between lanes, stopping for nearly a full minute at every four-way-stop or yield sign, and driving at half the speed limit or less. See, these folks don’t usually drive. The only reason they’re on the roads at all is their obligation to buy gifts for their grandchildren. For some of them, this may be the only time of year that they get into a car. And they’re scared, and confused.

And on top of that there’s the “herd factor.” Here’s my theory: the stupidity of a crowd is directly proportional to its size. A couple hundred people in a mall at once is a manageable level of stupidity. But jam a few thousand in there, and suddenly everyone becomes cattle. They bump into each other, they wander aimlessly, and they generally frustrate anyone who has an idea what they’re doing.

See if you want to go to lunch, or do some shopping at Christmas time, you have to get through the herd of stupid people milling around — on the roads or in the stores. Your best bet is to maintain your focus on your mission: get in and get out. But most of the crowd has been there long enough that their intelligence has dropped sharply to herd levels, and they will inexplicably cut you off, run you over, bump into you, or stop dead in front of you, at the worst times.

Panic ensues as your own intelligence begins to wane, and if it doesn’t get replaced with aimlessness, it becomes rage. Rage that your 5-minute jog out for lunch is now up to 25 minutes — and you’re not even at the restaurant yet. Rage that running into the mall to buy a pack of CDs or something else equally simple is now a 2-3 hour trip. Rage that it takes twice as long to get to work at 7:30 in the morning, and three times as long to get home in the afternoon.

How is this conducive to Christmas-cheer? How does this make anyone happy?
Give me a quiet, reverent two-day celebration of the birth of Christ, restrict any gift-buying to online purchases, and ban all crowds and all people who can’t drive, and I’ll stop being a Scrooge…

PS: Just for the record, Nicole loves Christmas, and I am the only Grinch in the family.