Perfectly Imperfect

The goal is not to be perfect; the goal is to be accepted for the imperfections.

Crippled by a Broken Machine | Tech Stuffs

I blogged about the Vertical Lines of Death a while ago. These are the photos of what crippled the today’s high-tech people, at least to people like myself who practically lead a virtual life.

I know I know, go out more often, meet the real people. See, internet is what I am eternally grateful for. For an Aspie, life in the virtual world is safer and enjoyable. We are ‘vocal’ in the so-called ‘void’ in the world-wide-web. We are not expected to react immediately in the politically right manner – a skill that we lack of. We are able to understand text better than spoken words – which are often knitted in with unspoken ‘universally understood’ meaning – sadly, that ‘universe’ doesn’t include us.

I have never been happier. Sorry, friends, I enjoyed your company, but I can never truly enjoy with ease. I was always worried that I may slip up at some point. You know, it’s like living in the old palace of ancient times, a harmless and careless remark may land me on the guillotine. If I were born in those days, I must have died so many times! You may never be able to imagine how I have to keep myself on my toes whenever I am not alone. At some point, I am just so exhausted in explaining myself.

In the past, I believed that I will not mind going through the trouble to explain myself to the people I care about, of what I had not done, but epically misunderstood for. I now know that explanation should not be required, if people care about me as much as I do about them.

So, back to the fact that I am highly dependent on the computer to function as ‘normally’ as I can get. My life vastly exists in the virtual world. My primary basic needs are met only because I design, craft, and sell behind the computer, on the online shop. I derive joy from living in a ‘protected’ world, where physical human interaction is minimized or interacted only on my terms.

Routine makes me feel in control. I wake and sleep at similar time, I do similar tasks everyday. Mundanity might bore you, it brings me peace and joy.

Imagine the chaos when my world crumbled with a broken machine! On one regular day, while I was doing a regular thing on my regular iMac, the screen flickered – I swear my heart skipped a beat! – and the screen turned into a full screen of visually dizzying vertical lines. I call it the ‘Vertical Lines of Death’!

The computer failed to start normally since. Even when it did, some strange foreign particles appeared on the screen. Other times, the screen bizarrely split into two! The right on the left, and the left on the right!

It was crippling. There was so much work to do! I am not kidding, I felt paralyzed, and panic set in. The only reason that hyperventilation didn’t kick in was because I have a ‘safety net’ to catch me during the free fall – iPad and back up machines at home. Still, it disrupted the day’s activities for a bit.

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The 27″ iMac is less than a year’s old, even if it exceeds the standard 1 year warranty, I wouldn’t worry until it crosses the 3 years’ mark. Right, we always buy the extended warranty for all the computers that we buy. Apple Care is not cheap, but in my opinion, it is well worth the premium if you had to send the machine for even just one repair. See, Apple, long before when it was still the Macintosh OS to present, it enjoys the proprietary rights of its parts. Unlike the regular windows operating system, apple machines are mostly serviced by a smaller pool of trained technicians; even if you are able to get uncertified ‘expert’ to help you fix the machine for free, ordering the parts is another challenge.

I arranged with the senior customer care personnel on the phone to have the authorized Apple repair representative come pick up the machine at my place – 27″ machine is kind if bulky, even though we have a car to send the machine to the repair center, and possibly faster that way, I am unwilling to take the risk of scratching and damaging the machine before it was even sent for repair.

We were told that they will run tests on the machine and phone me about the outcome. 3 days passed, and no phone call. I phoned the service center and was told that they had replaced the display panel, but the problem persisted, so they  had ordered the video card from Apple for replacement. Another day passed, the service center phoned to say that the machine will be delivered to me the day after.

It took a week, but all is well now. During the week, I resorted to use the older and smaller iMac that I had passed to the husband as secondary machine which he rarely used. That older iMac is now passed to my mum, who was using Mac mini before. My niece is relocated to Orlando, USA for her internship. We gave her the older Mac so that she could video call through skype with the granddaughter.

I have read that this video card problem has become less uncommon now. When the vertical lines appear, it usually has to do with a damaged video card or logic board (aka motherboard).

The overall experience with Apple Care was average. Perhaps I had higher expectation, but not an unreasonable one. The time spent on the phone to conduct several tests and explaining in details of what happened to the machine, I would expect the same information to pass through an effective and efficient channel to the next person – senior care consultant – who took over the phone call; then, the same relevant information to be passed to the authorized representative that they assigned to the customer.

I had to repeat the same story over again to the senior consultant, then to the repair representative. See, the problem is that when you have to repeat – possibly with increasing frustration, with the fact that behind your head, you know that work is being disrupted – the same lengthy problem over and over again, you tend to miss out some important information.

The old iMac served me well – still serving the mother well – for nearly 5 years without problem; I will not let this isolate (hopefully) incident tarnish my faith in Apple though. They just need to step up on the phone call handling.

Now, aside from the Apple Care, the next only security to your data is to always backup your data. The husband bought me a WD My Studio II – 2TB external HDD, which works beautifully with the Time Machine. Will blog and review other time.

 

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