Friday, January 28, 2011

Off Topic: A Thank-You Note to Apple Computer

Dear Apple Computer:

I am a computer geek, and I have been for 30 years. My mother, by contrast, is not. She called me yesterday to tell me that her late 2005 G5 iMac/iSight was showing blue horizontal bands instead of booting. I have to say I cringed when she said it. It's never good to have severe video distortion on a computer, but particularly on an all-in-one machine like an iMac.

Worse, she was trying to power the machine up to write a paper for a class she's taking. The paper is due monday. This is the lady who gave me such grief for leaving things to the last minute. I suppose she could have waited until Sunday afternoon. I suggested, without much hope, that she call the Apple store nearest her for a genius bar appointment and take the iMac in to see what could be done.

I suggested she take her time machine disk to the store with her, just in case.

She went to the Apple store in Albuquerque, NM, and there her old iMac was indeed pronounced dead of a logic board failure. Pretty much what I expected from her description, and from the age of the machine. The G5 macs just didn't last as well as previous generations, and her imac outlasted all the other powerMacs in the family.

This was, however, the Apple store. The folks there are not inclined to throw up their hands and say "Sorry." No. The genius bar employee handed her off to a salesman. I suggested that she think about laptops, mac minis, and iMacs if she had to get a new machine. With the salesman's help, she did. Together they reached the conclusion that for her needs, a new iMac was the best deal in terms of performance per dollar and that it best suited her computing habits.

The machine she selected was the 21.5 inch iMac 3.0ghz core i3 with 4gb of RAM. In terms of raw clock speed, it's the fastest mac in the family. I'm trying hard to keep the lyrics from "Little Old Lady from Pasadena" out of my head. My mother would /not/ appreciate the comparison.

Looking at the specs, it's a hell of a computer. It probably doesn't really have enough video RAM for a hardcore gamer, but then my mother really isn't into EverQuest, World of Warcraft, or Eve Online anyway. Don't laugh too hard. I know some people's moms who are.

What she did not do was have the folks at the store restore her system from time machine. There was an extra charge for this, and more classes she didn't really want to attend anyway. She took the new machine home, set it up on her desk, marveled at the wireless keyboard and mouse, and then called me again.

She was at the part of the automatic setup process where Setup Assistant asked her if she'd like to recover data from another mac or a time machine backup. Yes, I assured her, that's what we wanted to do. Did she want to select everything? Again, yes, I assured her that's what she wanted to do.

18 minutes later, she went through the registration pages, and after that, her desktop was back, and everything was where she expected it to be. I suggested we probably should make sure time machine was set up on the new computer, so she opened time machine, threw the switch, and it asked if she wanted to use the existing time machine drive for the new computer. We heartily agreed.

And that was it. When we hung up the phone, the computer was busily creating its new time machine backup, she was busily reading email and checking her bank account. Oh, and thinking about starting her paper, since it is due Monday and all.

Now, I have nerd friends who have other brands of computers, and when they have a total hardware failure, or a total reload situation, they're down for a day, at least, and there's some tinkering involved to set the new machine up with all their accounts and all that. For my mother, buying the computer took longer than getting it up and running with all her data and applications. The longest part of that process was copying the data off of the time machine drive. It took maybe a dozen mouse clicks to make it all happen, and frankly if I'd been out of the house, she probably could have done it herself.

Thank you, Apple Computer, for putting the thought and the care into your hardware and software to make the recovery from such a catastrophic failure such a non-event, and for making her shopping experience at the Apple Store such a positive one.

There's only one thing missing. Someplace to email this to. So I'm posting this as an open letter to my blog.

-James R. Strickland

No comments:

Blog Archive