I begin this posting with a declaration.
|Commodore 64. Great in 1983 and still great in its way|
I've used computers for more than thirty years, from Commodore 64s to today's range. PCs and Macs, you name it. A good computer, optimally set up for its capability, is a good computer.
I know instantly that anyone who starts a fight between people who are dedicated to their computer type, and those who take the bait, don't know much about computer systems as a whole. They might know their computer system thoroughly, but start prodding and you realise they know very little about the one they're rubbishing.
This is a way of saying that although I have a preference, I don't buy into debates about computers by people who are usually comparing apples with oranges. Or, as in most cases, Apples with some sort of PC, with no allowance for variables.
When we began what was for us serious video production in 2007, I bought a computer that by today's standards was fabulously expensive, but was far and away the best for the job. It was a MacPro, with a processor speed as fast or faster than that in many new computers today.
That computer worked virtually non-stop for six years. Its original startup drive still operates it. It didn't miss a beat.
So it was a bit of a shock one day a few weeks ago that it went on the blink. Literally. The startup light which had come on so faithfully every time a restart was needed was flashing.
"No problem," said I to myself, "I'll just work through it with my series of tried and true steps."
These started with the very basic but important step of making sure all the plugs were in securely. That's something that is often not checked before a computer is sent off to the repairers, but when plugged in down there works perfectly. The owner is lucky if they just get hit with a basic fee of $70 or something. A disreputable repairer will charge for phantom parts and a couple of hours labour.
Not I. I don't get caught like that. So I went through every trick I know.
|MacPro. A box full of goodies|
Have no fear, I'm not going to bore you any further with details, though what I'm leaving out is a gripping narrative for utter geeks and freaks. The point is, my computer seemed to be pining for the fjords.
After a lot of tinkering, Malcolm rightly suggested it was a job for a repair expert. In these days of cheaper computers, repairs on older systems can often cost as much as a whole new one and you might still end up with a computer that will break down at any time. But we decided on a diagnosis by the expert at least so we might know what we could be up for.
In the meantime, I had whined on Twitter about the fact that my trusty old computer seemed to have let me down at this very late stage in my writing career, making access to terabytes of data almost impossible. On Twitter, you may make friends that you will never meet personally, particularly if you live away from a big city as I do. But these friendships, based on mutual interests, can produce unexpected results.
One of these friends, Rod Hagen, is very knowledgeable about Macs, and has good connections with user groups in Australia. Knowing my personal circumstances, he got in touch with a terrific guy called Matthew, and through this connection made contact with Masako Ojima, from the Apple Executive Relations in Asia/Pac division based in Singapore.
I left Malcolm acting as go-between to sort out the technical side with the repairer, Paul, who had been delving into possible causes for the problem. Again, I'll spare you the details, but the simple fact was that there was no clear diagnosis. Without testing using replacement parts, there was no way of knowing, and cost of parts and labour was likely to be prohibitive. And it's pointless dwelling on how much you paid for an item six years ago when at today's second hand rate it's worth probably about 5%, at best, of the buying price six years ago.
This was not looking good.
That's where Masako Ojima stepped in. She'd asked me by email to supply details of the MacPro, which was with Malcolm at the time, so I asked her to contact him. This was all due to Rod's willingness to see what was possible.
Masako had a discussion with Malcolm and Paul. Then she did something that makes you realise gigantic companies employ people who are not just about profits.
Apple would allow Paul to get the computer into running order absolutely free of charge. Parts and labour. This is a computer a good five years out of warranty and way past their responsibility.
As I said, the geeky part isn't included, which is just as well because it turned out to be not a simple matter and would have cost me a fearful amount in parts and labour. I was finally able to report to Masako that the MacPro was, and is, running like a charm.
Nothing was asked of me in return. To write about it here was my idea. In fact, I was careful to ask Masako if she minded my mentioning her name. After all, I'm sure Apple doesn't want people with a sob story and broken old computers to hope to have them kept going for no cost. It's not a good business model.
I now have my No 1 computer back, and it seems to be running as well as ever. Of course, if it breaks down again, I will not be asking for further help from the makers, but will take on the decision about its future in the way I expected to in the first place.
What all this shows is that communities of disparate types, biggest to smallest, can get together to achieve (almost) random acts of kindness, if they contain even a small number of individuals with compassion. Usually I don't like to be the subject of such acts, but ego shouldn't be allowed to get in the way. My deep thanks to all concerned.