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Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Nipponster Widget

February 8th, 2008

I figured I could make one more widget for use on the OS X Dashboard. I promise that it’s the last one. Ha ha. Here’s a widget that will let you search the Swicki-powered search engine customized at Nipponster. They’re also behind the Daily J blog. Dunno if anyone will find this useful, but there it is! Think of it as a thank you to Tori and the gang for trying to stimulate the Japan-related blogging community, and as part of my contribution to that effort. I’m not really big on Wiki type stuff myself, since I’m more of a blogging curmudgeon, but I surely appreciate the enthusiasm that they display. Ha ha. Ok, the week of widget madness is over. Fear not. :-) And, as before, here’s a quick video clip of the widget in action. Back to your regular “Customary Drivel” blogging next week.

Apple, Customary Drivel

JapanSoc Widget

February 5th, 2008

I whipped up an OS X widget to display the five most recent top stories AND allow me to submit new stories to JapanSoc directly from my Dashboard. I tried to keep the colors consistent with the actual site as well. If you are a JapanSoc member, or looking to be one, maybe you’ll find some use for it?

JapanSoc, for those who haven’t discovered it on their own yet, is a socially promoted link aggregation site similar to Digg or Reddit. Users submit links to blog posts, news stories, videos, you name it – as long as it is Japan-related. When an upcoming story gets the appropriate number of “Soc’s” it is placed on the front page as a Top Story. It’s a great way to share quality things*. Sign up! Get on the bandwagon. The site has a lot of promise – but it requires us to do the submission and weeding.

Here’s a quick video clip of the widget in action.

*If the quality is lousy – for instance, someone spams links to their blog a lot, or posts things uninteresting to a broad audience, do as I do and bury them then just don’t promote them! Let the lame stuff settle into the auto-delete queue never-to-be-published abyss. We want high the site to maintain a good reputation. (Edited according to Nick’s comment below.)

Apple, Customary Drivel

Automator Error

February 1st, 2008
***

You may be wondering why the photo content on this blog has been…lacking, lately. Well, part of it has to do with my method for uploading pictures. I made some workflows using Automator so that I basically dropped raw photos in a folder on my desktop, ran the custom application, and uploaded the contents of the output folder to my server space. It automatically resized, duplicated, made thumbnails, renamed everything sequentially, and dropped the extension to lowercase (just a nitpick that I prefer). Well, the RENAME function is now busted on Automator, provided you want to specify the name you are changing the file to at the time you’re changing it…which is sort of the point for me. And that’s a ridiculously simple thing to be broken. It’s an insanely basic function. I thought it was strange…until I ran some searches that turned up two threads (here and here) on Apple’s discussion boards. Sheesh. The best thing? One of the users contributing pointed out that Apple has acknowledged the problem – that they are aware of it. Seriously – go look at the official downloads page for Automator. See that on the right? Yes – it’s the same disclaimer I’ve reproduced here. Unbelievable. The rename function is busted. Sad.

On a positive note, a few minutes of tinkering led to the first Rocking in Hakata Widget! Ha ha. Yay! :-) Click for the full size previews, like normal.

Anyone who has Mac OS X Tiger or Leopard and knows what the dashboard is and how to use it, and who also feels like downloading and installing the widget for use, be my guest! (DOWNLOAD!) I think that simply subscribing to the RSS feed is easier, though. ;-) But it was still cool to make a widget.

Apple, Customary Drivel, Unsolicited Commentary

iMac Returns

October 1st, 2007

So…my iMac is back. With a beat-up bezel and a broken microphone and an operating system 3 versions behind the one it went in with. So here’s my entry.

The two photos in the middle are of the paperwork that came back with the iMac, from the first and second time, respectively. The first time it came back, it came back with OS X 10.4.10 on it. Some people might remember the insanity that upgrading caused a while back. Well, I got to do it all again. Why? This time it came back with 10.4.7. The very first thing I had to do was download a few hundred megabytes worth of updates. Works. Out of the box. After you fix it after it’s been repaired. So, actually, not out of the box. Eh, Apple? You’ll also notice the awful plastic bezel replacement that they decided I needed. I can only assume that the other one got damaged when the delivery guy took it WITHOUT A BOX and put it in the back of a truck despite my protests. Made me nervous, so I’ve got it on film if Apple requires proof. My biggest question, though, is if you didn’t replace my hard drive – which it appears they didn’t – they replaced a CABLE, why did it take THREE WEEKS? And why didn’t you contact me the whole time? I’m really let down. I expected better service after paying top dollar for a computer followed by top dollar for 3 years of Applecare.

For an example of a movie made with the iSight camera and the internal microphone on my iMac before it left, check my entry called Money Where My Mouth Is. You can hear me, no problem. Now, compare that with the short video I’ve got below. It sounds as though they’ve mic’d the inside of my computer, so that you hear mechanical workings and serious feedback the entire time. Useable? No. People tear their headphones off when I attempt to speak with them.

Lastly, since I will be pointing the Apple technicians to this post when I call the support line, here’s a list of the journey so far:
July 25th, 2007
July 26th, 2007
August 12th, 2007
September 5th, 2007
September 12th, 2007
2nd half of September 21st, 2007
And, of course, today. That’s all for now. I’m going to call and find out if it’s worth it to send it back in again. Here goes nothing.

EDIT: Just spoke to a very kind Apple tech support employee who is going to make some calls and get back to me. The front bezel was apparently damaged by the Fukuyama shipping company (like I supposed), and it took 3 weeks to confirm the situation with the company. They had to know it was covered under the Applecare terms and conditions. That makes sense – still, I would have appreciated a heads-up. (And I would have appreciated it if they’d used a different shipping company when they sent my iMac back, for heavens sake.)

EDIT 2: My iMac will be picked up on Thursday – October 4th. I will be without a computer for a further 2 weeks, but the computer is being replaced. Thanks very much to my Apple tech support guy, Mr. H. I was very impressed with your thorough, careful, patient, and kind approach to the matter. I really appreciate you taking the time to make this right. (And thank you to Mr. H’s boss, too. You helped start to fix a bad situation.) We’ll see how this goes. Until then, I’m going to try and make a ton of stuff to upload over the absence. Dunno how far I’ll get. I’ve only got 2 afternoons. Here goes nothing.

EDIT 3: If anyone else is looking for the contact information, here it is.

Apple Japan English STORE Line: 0077-78673-6
(webpage that gives this number)

Apple Japan English TECH SUPPORT Line: 0120-27753-5 (Extension 4)

Apple, Customary Drivel, Unsolicited Commentary

Sabotage

September 21st, 2007

Here’s a double-tap to close out the week. I’ll be back posting on Wednesday, since I’ll be out of town over the long weekend, which I’ve artificially extended using a bit of leave. Anyway, I learned an interesting thing. Apparently, the Japanese verb サボる comes from the katakana version of the word “sabotage.” That is cool. Here are my dictionary’s definitions for both.

サボる
(仕事を)loaf 《on the job》; go slow; (学校を) play truant 《from school》; skip 《school》; cut 《classes》

例文:仕事をサボっているところを見つかって首になった。 He was fired because he was caught loafing on the job.

*****

sabotage
noun, verb
- noun [U]
the act of doing deliberate damage to equipment, transport, machines, etc. to prevent an enemy from using them or to protest about something:
- verb [VN]
1) to damage, destroy or spoil something deliberately to prevent an enemy from using it or to protest about something:
2) to make something no longer possible or successful

That’s an intriguing way to link words. After all, if you skip school you make a full class no longer possible. If you skip work or goof off, you make success for your company or business a lot harder. It’s a fascinating way to imply responsibility to the group.

Speaking of sabotage (I feel like I’ve been sabotaged, afterall), I thought I’d pass on another anecdote to continue the craptastical Applecare in rural Japan experience. I called Apple’s support line this week and to my astonishment the ineptitude escalated another ten levels. Apple’s support line can’t do jack. They can’t tell me anything that I couldn’t find out on the website – which is really lousy, too. Not only could the man not tell me what was wrong with my computer or an estimated ship date, he asked me what “service request” meant and did not know what Apple’s website URL was. Hello. HELLO. Apple? When I have to walk your tech support people through getting onto your own website to see the screen that I see when I check my repair status, something is horribly wrong. Doesn’t matter anyway, since he couldn’t give me any information other than “the repair is in progress.” So, let me tell you – don’t bother calling them. Just don’t. It’ll only make you really sad inside.

Apple, Customary Drivel, Unsolicited Commentary

Applecare Play-by-Play Mini Update

September 12th, 2007

Being a compulsive person when it comes to computer stuff, I find myself checking up on my repair status on the Apple website every other 30 seconds when I’m sitting at a computer. I thought I’d write a quick note to update the record. This time around some things have gone differently from the first time.

September 4th, 2007

1 – I called Apple to report that my computer died again and request service.

September 7th, 2007

2 – I received no Case / Repair ID number from Apple by phone or email.

3 – The delivery guy came and picked up my computer with his bare hands and left with it. He didn’t bring a box. When I stopped him to ask him where the box was he told me that it hadn’t arrived yet. Being nervous about the situation, I filmed him put my iMac into the back of a truck unprotected and drive off slowly (to stop it from falling over?). I received no receipt for the pickup.

4 – Considering the level of sketchiness of item number 3, I put my camera down and called the Applecare support line. I told them about the box-less / receipt-less delivery man. They said that they would contact the distribution center. I said cool, I just wanted them to be aware of the situation.

5 – An hour after my phone call, at around 7 PM, I heard the doorbell go off. It was the delivery man again. He brought me a receipt. How thoughtful of him.

6 – At 9:40 PM I got another ring on the doorbell. I didn’t answer it immediately because I’d already changed into bedclothes, but when I heard the man answer his cellphone and say “I’m at a customer’s place” to whoever was on the line, I threw on some jeans and answered. I have no idea who he was, but he obviously was involved with the delivery. He had a form with him that he wanted me to sign. It appeared to be a declaration of the state of goods, with check boxes for the kind of computer, any additional parts mailed, etc. He handed it to me and asked me to sign it. I handed it back to him and said I’m not signing jack until you check some boxes. I’m not cool with him filling it in later, you know? He didn’t even know what kind of computer I had mailed. Sheesh. I filled the form in for him and signed. I tacked the copy of the form with the late receipt to the calendar. I can only assume that this was the result of my call to Apple.

September 10th, 2007

7 – My computer’s status is changed to “Product received by repair center.”

September 11th, 2007

8 – My computer’s status is changed to “Repair in progress.”

Now all I can do is wait. One more thing that I’m interested in is that there is an open case on my repairs list from July 25th. The status is still “Service requested.” What is that all about? The other listed repair from July 25th was completed. (Hence, I got my computer back and it broke again.) The case numbers are different, so I’m intrigued. I guess we’ll see.

Apple, Customary Drivel, Unsolicited Commentary