Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,

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The Fubar Genius Bar (and Other Fun Ways To Elevate Blood Pressure)

What an odd idea. There was this guy in texas watching a Beatles related web-cam focussed on a street in Britain who foiled a robbery -- apparently he spotted a bunch of guys breaking into a store, so he called the police local to that area in Britain (again, thanks to the 'Net), and all three perpetrators were busted.

But that's not what I want to talk about today. Today's tale is one of frustration, annoyance, and sudden unexpected validation.

I was deliberately trying to keep a low profile this weekend as I continued recovering from this stupid Flu. A chat with my mom restored my faith in my usually stellar immune system -- it seems that a lot of people catching this go down for several weeks, which makes my 5 day rough patch seem relatively light. Still feeling some tail end effect (mostly stuff being cleared out of me lungs), so I wanted to get more rest.

I had two main goals: Get the newly re-built desktop Mac back in my desk/hutch so I could back up my narcoleptic MacBook in preparation for sending it in. I managed to accomplish step one by Friday night, with a solid 24 hour burn-in* I was ready to start the back-up Saturday night. However, since that would require that I give up using the portable sooner than I was ready to, I decided to wait until Sunday.

ROni went out early to do the laundry, so I cleaned the kitchen and began backing up the portable. After an hour and a half of chores and trimming/shaving the various bits of excess hair from my body (I LOOKED like I had been sick for a week), I went to check the back-up...

And it was only 5% done.

I soon realized my mistake -- the compression option had been left on, and the desktop (running at 500Mhz) was not up to that kind of overhead. So I turned it off... and soon realized that it would take 3 hours to beck up 70 Gb of data.

I decided to skip imaging and moved over only the most vital material (mostly my docs and preferences). Otherwise the backup wouldn't have finished until 7PM... or about an hour after the store was scheduled to close.

Roni, Kim and I went to Bay Street in Emeryville and chowed down at Fuddruckers. Afterwards, the plan was for me to wander over tot he Apple Store, drop off my portable, and head in to catch "Snakes on a Plane".

Best laid plans, and all that...

At 3:30 PM there was 2 and a half hours until closing. However, when I went to sign up for a Genius to check in the Book, I was informed that there weren't any geniuses available, and that I would have to come back tomorrow.

Well, screw THAT.

FOr one thing, I was stunned at how slow the geniuses were working. I saw one iPod problem that took enough time That he could have checked in two portables during the process. Except that the old approach of multi-tasking to the extreme has swung in the opposite direction of refusing to even LOOK at another problem until the current one was resolved. Or not, as it seemed to be the case.

I interjected between customers that I just needed to drop off a portable for depot repair (the fact that I CALLED it a depot repair should have set alarm bells ringing in their heads), and was basically ignored for about a minute (they didn't even establish eye contact with me to admit they even knew I was there) until I was told, flat out, that they wouldn't do it. Apparently they don't take "drop-offs" any more -- unless you drop the 100 bucks for pro-care.

Fuck THAT.

For one thing, pro-care is a stone cold rip-off -- you can learn anything you would have learned from a one on one with a genius on the net for free, and the "privilege" to schedule a time in advance to drop of a defective lap-top under warranty is not worth the cost. Attempting to deal with the situation with the manager had me stunned and shocked (as opposed to surprised and delighted) -- I left after I forced her to admit that they wouldn't take in a defective MacBook less than three months old without me purchasing Procto-Care** first.

I stomped out of their fuming, barely keeping my temper in check. After tracking Roni and Kim down at the Barnes and Noble (and re-counting my irritation) I muttered something about it being too late to try Burlingame (as weird as that would be). Roni looks at me and says "Why not!?", and suddenly we're all piling back into the Vue to head over to the peninsula.

This was my first return to that store in over a year, and to be honest I had no idea what to expect, especially after the dismissive attitude at Bay Street.

Despite the late start we were able to get there shortly after 5. I didn't want to be one of these people who show up 5 minutes before closing with a repair (which is why I wanted to get to Bay Street by 3ish). As it turned out, one of the locals was keeping the single genius (my replacement, it looked like) tied up with Sherrie (still assistant manager!) as she kept insisting that there was no way her little darling teenage son could have dropped the laptop and then lied to her about it (obviously I'm paraphrasing here). Mind you, I saw that one corner of the Powerbook was pushed in, and the entire side was malformed.

While I waited I said "hey!" to Will, Danielle, and Francis, and noted some the more interesting changes. Notable was the security guy -- I guess they finally had enough of the assholes wandering in with empty shopping bags and out with whatever they could stuff into said bags.

The conversation with the New Guy was... odd. For one thing, he said I had a "legacy" -- something about all those command line tricks I had written up. At first I thought he meant I still had some repairs back there, which is not the kind of impression one wants to make.

180 degrees of difference from Bay St. It took five minutes, and that only because you can only fill a form out so quickly. I had already backed things up, so I initialed the "declined data backup" box***, signed it... and it was in.

The hardest part of the whole episode was NOT helping customers. I literally forced myself to walk away, as I was no longer on that side of the counter.

In a way, Bay Street did me a huge favor -- discovering that I made a difference, combined with all of the positive changes (I even view the stricter scheduling as a plus, except when it's obviously being used as an excuse to remain in first gear for the duration of a shift) mellows my Apple store experience, at least now that's it's comfortably in retrospect. Of course, it meant that we also missed out on SoaP, but there's always labor day weekend.

We got back, Roni and I did our bike ride -- during which we revealed to Kim that we had gotten three tickets for the November 5th Vikings/Niner game (she was appropriately delighted) -- and I went home to deal with life without a portable.

More on that later.

* Which reminds me... big props out to "24" and Kiefer Sutherland for their Emmy pickups. Well deserved kudos for a show that totally rules your life while it runs, and doesn't go for the easy plotting. Still ticked that I have to wait until January to find out how Jack Bauer gets off -- without exaggeration -- a slow boat to China. Oh, and Tony Shaloub won for Monk again! Nice to see the shows *I* like getting recognized for a change.

** George Carlin's description of customer "service" just came to mind...

*** Another change, and a darn good one... no more "I lost my data, and I was never told I had the option to have it backed up!" from the idiots who, to be blunt, were too cheap to pay the 50 bucks for the backup at the store and refused to believe us when we told them it could be wiped.

Tags: geeky rant
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