Thursday, June 01, 2006

Crabby Apple

I popped into the Apple Store on Regent Street last week, my ailing iPod cradled in my arms. The worst thing is, it doesn't know how ill it is, so its little screen looks perfectly normal, like someone walking away from a carcrash waving and smiling at people while the back of their head gapes open to the world.

The chap at the Genius Bar said he might be able to restore it, and asked if I minded him wiping the hard drive, so I nodded, and he wiped it, and said 'no, it's fecked'. I could have a new hard drive installed for a hundred and sixy quid, or, he said, I could try ukipodrepairs who could do the same job for fifty quid.

Except I've just asked them, and they can't. They can do it for a hundred and fifty quid. There have been some some good articles on the perils of ipoddery of late, and further persual of these has revealed that my make of ipod (the 40G) has even been withdrawn, it went wrong so very often.

For a hundred and fifty quid, I may as well buy a new one, except I can't afford it, so I won't. My love affair with Apple isn't entirely over (OS X is a beautiful, reliable system, and I'm sticking with it), but like many people expounding the simple beauty of the ipod when it all began, I now feel like a complete arse. I'm also still waiting for my Powerbook to be repaired, as it has, hilariously, my copy of Final Draft stuck in the drive, and I've had to restore the software on my ibook (which, if you remember, also went kaput), leaving me without the one tool I could reasonable be said to need to do my job. Yes I can use Word, but it's a pain in the hole to write scripts with. I could probably get the repair people to prise the CD out with a dinnerknife and post it to me, but there are way too many variables in that equation. Phone calls get misunderstood, things go missing in the post, postmen get eaten by tigers. Although my local postie lives four doors down from my mum, so at least we'd find out about that one fairly quickly.

When I get some actual money though (my agent gave me an advance on a sketch show I'm writing for, which as PP pointed out, sounds like something from the fifties: embarrassed agent in office scratching out a cheque for humble impoverished writer who promptly runs to The Gay Hussar and spends it on peacock and champagne. Or my case, Marks and Spencer, blue brie and bournville (no 'e' there, quite right) chocolate), I do need some kind of MP3 player, as five-hour journeys to London are pretty unbearable without Mark Kermode's film reviews or In Our Time. Or Stephin Merrit's back catalogue.

I suppose I could just get another ipod, but sticker it with every warranty going. Still, if any uses a good iTunes compatible player, feel free to recommend it below...


UPDATE: Well, Apple might be rubbish, but John Lewis are great.

The Powerbook is dead, so they're giving me a new one, along with the hard drive from the old one just on the off chance I can get anything out of it. I was going to get it couriered down, but there's stuff to sign for (and I want to make sure I get the memory card and Final Draft CD out of the old one), so I'm going to make a trip to Bristol instead. Ah well, it's a day out I suppose.

Lesson from this: If you're foolish enough to buy Apple products, get them from places that guarantee them for two years, as John Lewis do. Now to find somewhere that might be able to pull the stuff out of the old hard drive...

29 comments:

Loganoc said...

You do know you can get CDs out of drives by sticking a needle in that little hole in the cover, even when the computer is turned off? ALthough I suspect that's no good for you, seeing as your laptop is in Bristol. Want me to go and hassle them?

Pashmina said...

Glad you've seen that Guardian article, had been meaning to send it to you. It does make me terribly angry that you spend a small fortune on these things and they roll over and die 366 days (usually) after you bought them.

I hear there are lots of cheaper, better MP3 players out there, just don't ask me what they are because I too have fallen victim to the shiny white monster.

Still planning to get one of their whizzy new iMac thingys though...

james henry said...

Ah, the Powerbook doesn't seem to have such a hole (annoying, as I knew that trick). Cheers though.

Sal said...

You should have gone with Sony. The old school mp3 player has been serving me well for 18 months now with not so much as a glitch. The only thing I've had to repair or replace has been the headphones which I ran over with the vacuum cleaner.
I did however replace those with some snazzy much-too-good-for-me Sennheiser headphones which block out all sound around you and were designed for use on public transport. I may add that they were the best thing (bar the actual mp3 player) that I ever brought and for the long plane journey I endured to China they were bliss.

patroclus said...

Mmm, blue brie and bourneville chocolate. Unusual, but surprisingly pleasant.

I continue to recommend the modest little iPod Shuffle as the only iPod that never breaks. Also it's (relatively) dead cheap. Have to be quick, though, as they aren't making any more after current stocks run out.

baggiebird said...

I resisted the temptaion of the ipod. I have a few friends who have had the same trouble as you. I went for the Sony Walkman, which has served me pretty well so far. I'm not sure if it's compatible with itunes though.

Jennifer said...

I also have to say that the temptation to buy an Ipod was readily avoided - I bought a PSP instead.

Which I've just got the hang of.

...I wouldn't recommend one.

Anonymous said...

PSP's are great. I'm not going to tempt fate by commenting on my iPod Mini. No-one I know (irl) with one has had problems though.
Is that rubbing salt in anyone's wounds?

James Moran said...

My iPod Mini works fine after a year, but probably because I carry it as if it is a small child with bones made of glass. The trouble with most mp3 players, iPods included, is that you're basically lugging around a hard disk and chucking it in and out of bags, and hard drives are rubbish. When they increase the space on the Nano, I'll be getting one of those - flash memory, no moving parts, no chance of spectacular hard drive wobbliness.

Anonymous said...

The Apple Store in London, for all its promise and potential of coolness, is rubbish. It's full of students and backpackers checking their e-mail and surfing the web ... every computer in there has some mouth-breather standing in fron of it. If you want to actually try out a Mac, you're out of luck. The Apple Stores in New York and Tokyo don't seem to have this problem.

Rose said...

If you're feeling brave you can get very nice discounts on refurbished iPods and whatnot on the Apple website. I don't know how reliable these things are, though.

frangelita said...

I have Creative Zen jukebox, which is pretty good at 18 months and counting.

Cornwall sounds like another world - your postie lives five doors down from your mum? There are tigers there?

mongoosian said...

I have gone through 3 laptops, which always seemed to die when I had a really important essay stored only on the hard drive. Then only two days ago the light of my life, my beautiful shiny 6 month old 20G Creative Zen Sleek has decided that two of it's buttons won't work. There can only be one conclusion. Technology hates me.

Actually it may hate us all, why else should it cause us to suffer so?

Danny Stack said...

It's so good to come across 'Apple: a word of warning' instead of the usual gush-fests about their stuff. I'm increasingly tempted to start using everything they make but will edge my way slowly rather than run in their direction with an open cheque book.

Anonymous said...

James, I'm sorry to hear you're having a bad technology day - guaranteed to send otherwise rational people from calm to homicidal in less time than it takes to make the tea. Good for John Lewis.

faeriequeen said...

I've got a 40G ipod too, except amazingly my first one decided to break within the warranty period so they gave me a replacement. Except that replacement was then only covered for 90 days. Grr.

The London Apple Store are complete pants, they broke my original one even more when I took it there to be fixed so I unleashed the wrath of my mother on their customer services...served them right!

Paul Pennyfeather said...

Just spent the morning with Ruth (James' and my collegue) gushing about her new macbook which is on route from New York. Don't tell her about the problems with the shiny things- they ared too pretty to go wrong.
The nice man in Whitstable is bound to be able to reclaim some of your hard drive- come and stay with me and Ruth and we will retore your faith.

wob said...

john lewis sale just around the corner... hold out for the (2 year warranty) bargains!

Matt said...

i have a Sony 20GB walkman.
its very good, just that the software you get with it is pants (although recent updates have improved it....slightly) and if you walk with it in your pocket for about half an hour on a hot day it has a tendancy to overheat.


WV: WWDXD = What Would Doctor Xavier Do? (i know its Professor but i dont care)

Anonymous said...

Are Zen/Sony compatible with iTunes though? I thought not.

Apple refurbs seem to work well - have bought 2 things that way & neither's any worse than a brand spanking new one.

J'adore l'Apple.

James Moran said...

All electronicky devices are going to have some failures, a certain percentage of any batch will be knackered. I know I'm a raving Apple fanboy, and I'm not saying their stuff never ever breaks - but the horror stories are very much weighted towards the PC side. I've owned a lot of PCs in my time, and every single one has had problems, both with Windows and the hardware side, and been pretty much useless after a year. I've had package ones, expensive ones, built my own, all were as bad. The two Apple Macs we own have not given us any trouble at all - the hardware is superb, the OS is a joy to use, you don't have to fight it to get work done. My iPod mini is fine, Jo's iPod 20GB has died and been replaced.

So yeah, Apple stuff isn't made of magical spacefairy spunk, but it's incredibly stable and reliable, and better than anything else I've used.

james henry said...

Mostly agree, Other James. I think Apple users get so used to smugging it over PC types that when things go wrong, it's hard not to feel utterly betrayed.

That said, when my powebook, my ipod and my ibook all had hard drive problems within ten days of each other, leading to the loss of at least half of everything I've ever written, it's hard not to take these things personally...

My old powerbook had a five year warranty for £250, which seemed overpriced at the time, but as nothing I;ve ever bought from Apple has lasted longer than 16 months, it now seems cheap at the price.

What I've learnt from this (and what I'd say to Danny) is: buy Apple stuff, it's beautiful, and better-designed than anything out there. But also, buy every fricken' warranty going..

James Moran said...

Definitely - even now, if the slightest, teeniest thing goes wrong, even a software wibble, it throws me into a panic. If I'd gone through what you have, I'd probably burn the Apple Store down (after getting a replacement, of course). Warranties good. Burning bad.

Hang on, I thought you were Other James - should I be in Cornwall? Who is my mum? What's going on?

ellie said...

My theory with technology?
Go Neanderthal.
I still make compilation tapes for my reliable old sony walkman that I had for my birthday in 1994.
Having said that it does have several elastic bands around it, and you have to hold it upright, and the radio only seems to pick up Welsh language stations,
and it looks rubbish.

I also have a toploader video player (donated by parents) that they bought in the late seventies and that still works.

The fact that the remote control is on an eight foot wire does scare me a bit though.

Terri (TheTalespinner) said...

Ah, I agree with Patroclus - I've had my sweet little iPod Shuffle for well over a year now and it gets used daily. Wrapped up in the earplug wires and the lanyard strap, it lives in my coat pocket and gets treated like crap, and yet still it provides me with the escape I'm seeking when I'm mowing the lawn, walking to work or coaching it somewhere vile.
Good luck with the Apple gadgetry, mate!

love's child said...

Argh. Technology, can't live with it and can't live without it.

I have a 20GB iPod, and it's about a year old. Gets stuck sometimes but it works pretty well most of the time, and I've grown really dependent upon it. Feels strange if I'm on the train/bus without sweet melodies pouring into my ears out of my chugging little white piece of magic.

I need a laptop now... thinking about the MacBook Pro, but dang it's expensive and I am just a poor lowly student.

Anonymous said...

Hi, got directed over here from the Livejournal Green Wing community and I have enjoyed your ramblings.

However, I have to point out that Bournville is spelt without the first e. Something which highly annoys me as I'm from the actual place (although now living in Cornwall too!)

Keep up the good work. And good luck with the gadgetry!

Caskared said...

It's late and my addled head thinks it is fine to comment on a journal entry posted 2 months ago. Can i reccomend the world of iRiver, they're better than iPods as they have inbuilt radio and digital dictaphone that can also record directly from the radio within and thru input analogue cables/microphones which is superhandy. They're not so pretty, but I use it with my iBook iTunes easily. Only glitch is it creates shaddow track of each play list, but they can be erased easily, and it doesn't have a suffle mode, but that means that you might actually listen to a whole album again, imagine!

...and oh, I just read further up that you already got a new iPod, like I said it's late and I'm woozy tired...

james henry said...

iRiver sounds interesting though, thanks for that...