Thursday, September 07, 2006

Another hilarious tale of Indian tech support

Just had (yet another experience) with an Indian tech support house.

I decided to get the AppleCare Protection Plan for my iPod nano, since I've had to return my old iPod mini once (disk died), return my nano once (screen died), and return my in-ear headphones twice (just died). Also I was getting a little paranoid, since my screen seemed to have a funny tinge to it the other day. I really don't want to risk losing my nano it was a real pain last time I got it replaced, but at least I didn't have to pay for it.

So yeah, despite their nice design, Apple products really are quite fragile in my opinion. Either way, I paid up $100 for what essentially amounts to an extended warranty, which is probably a bit of a ripoff, but hey. I like my iPod.

So today I get one of those 'you missed a delivery' courier cards saying that I missed a delivery from "Apple Computors". I'm kinda used to this procedure, since my parents are both nearly always out of the home, and my sister and I are at school, from 9 - 5 most days. Usually, whenever I order something online, I have to call the courier to reschedule delivery for the next day (leaving a card with my signature on it to 'authorize them to leave the package'). A bit of a pain but I can deal with it.

However, I don't remember ordering anything that comes in "1 carton" from Apple recently. Anyway, in the hopes that I'd accidentally received a MacBook or something, I called up the courier to reschedule delivery.

"Yes, we can redeliver tomorrow between 9am and 5pm, but there will need to be someone there to accept the package." They don't do the 'authorized-to-leave' thing. Okay.. that kinda sucks, but my mum says I can have it delivered to her workplace. No can do. "You'll have to call Apple."

So I do, and after waiting ten minutes or so (there's actually no appropriate option on the menu for 'Delivery Fuck-ups', so I chose the 'AppleCare' one), I get through to a friendly Indian woman. Well, not so friendly. She basically asks me what I ordered ("I don't know, I just ordered the extended warranty, why are you sending me a carton of shit?") and I discover that apparently (this was not explained to me when I ordered), Apple's sent me an 'enrolment form' for AppleCare. You see, you can't just order the 'protection plan' and be done with it; Apple needs to send you an enrolment form, which you then fill out or something (not exactly sure), and then send back to them so that they can enroll you in AppleCare. Hurray! Surely this could come through the mail though? Not to mention the fact that it took 10 minutes to get the information out of the woman because I had to quote a "web-order number", which was in one of the PDFs Apple sent me to confirm my 'order'. Just one of them though. They sent me about five. Good thing I keep my mail on Gmail I suppose.

Anyway, I explain that I need to reschedule the delivery, since the courier company sucks. "Sorry, delivery department's closed, please call back between 9 and 5pm tomorrow." "It is 5pm. You mean Sydney time?" "Yes." "Well I can't do that, I will be busy during the day. Why can't you reschedule it?"

After about 5 minutes of complaining (you know, "ARE YOU EVEN IN AUSTRALIA?", that sort of thing that makes you feel good about yourself) she finally agreed to send it to another address. WELL THANKS, WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE DONE THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE? I then proceeded to tell the woman the address (again, another 5 minute process).. apparently, she wasn't familiar with the use of a person's name as the name of a company.. ie. "John Brown Real Estate" "OK so you want me to send it to John Brown, on Real Estate Street".. what the fuck.

So hopefully I'll be getting my enrolment form tomorrow. Fuck yeah!

I never had these problems when receiving other deliveries from Apple (new iPod, fixed iPod). Why is it that it's so hard to send me an 'enrolment form'? And why do you have to send it to me in a carton?

If only there were other mp3 players that didn't suck - or better yet, another company made the iPod. Or maybe I just shouldn't deal with the 'AppleCare division'. Sort your shit out, and get a courier company that doesn't suck balls (ie. pretty much every other courier company I've ever dealt with).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Blogger Beta, SLI setup, PSP

Just opened up the new version of Blogger Beta, and I'm having a muck around with it now. The login interface wasn't very counterintuitive - it took me a while to work out how to convert my old blog to the new format. :-/ Also, I still don't know how to get AdSense to come up on the new layout. Guess I'll have to edit the template manually or something. :-( The WYSIWYG editor seems to have improved (although maybe that's just me). I think I'll stick with it for the time being, editing raw HTML gets annoying after a while (and I think the markup produced by this editor is relatively clean). I don't have time to muck around with the code to the template and stuff like that anymore, anyway - so I'll just stick with the automatic configuration options. I recently bought 2 XFX 7600GTs, with 256MB of RAM, via Nindeals. Basically, they're a subsidiary of Nintek - which, by the way is an excellent computer parts distributor if you're living in Perth (I've ordered heaps from them lately). Nindeals is basically a forum where Nintek buyers group together and agree to buy things in bulk (to put it simply). I ended up getting the cards for A$200 each which was quite a good deal at the time. :D (By the way, this new photo upload tool is pretty nice.) The cards run surprisingly cool (around 50°C) considering that there's two of them right next to each other. Since I got the cards I've been running some benchmarks and stuff to increase my e-peen (and Ben has been trying to sell shit so that he can get an X1800XT or something, possibly spiralling into even more debt with his mum over e-penis enlargement). I think I got around 5800 in 3dMark06, 8500 in 3dMark05, and 20000 in 3dMark03. Didn't save the reports or anything though. Here are some sexy pics. I think I need to clean my case. Hurrah. I also got a PSP recently. It's the white version. Nice toy and all - here's my initial impression. Good things
  • The firmware updating and all that is really slick. Overall the OS is really nice (as I'm sure millions of people have already expressed). The photo viewing, music-listening and video-watching controls and features are great.. once you actually get the media on to the PSP.
  • Built-in WiFi and a web-browser is a great idea. Though I'll have more to say about this.
  • Support for RSS is also really cool.
  • The screen is dead sexy. It's almost the perfect thing to watch movies on, much better than any other dedicated portable movie player IMO (and definitely a cut above the video iPod).
  • The 'analog nub' is a great way of dealing with the problem of analog control on a portable device. It's not anywhere near as difficult to use as you'd expect.
Bad things
  • Why the fuck is Sony so insistent on keeping this machine locked down? There are so many features that are available through homebrew software that I'd really like to use - for example, the IR remote. That's just a fun gimmick, why can't I use it? :-(
  • On that point, I think that 'support' for emulation software could only improve the popularity of the PSP. If it were easier to install an emulator (ie. not impossible once you've upgraded past 2.0 firmware, or whatever it was), then Sony could just turn a blind eye to the fact that heaps of people are buying their console to play illegal Nintendo 64 ROMs and such.
  • ..But the reason they're doing this is probably to protect their 'interests'.. ie. UMD. I have no idea why they decided to go for a disc format. It's slow(ish) and so everything takes ages to load. Apparently it's what kills the battery life on the console. UMD movies are frankly, a stupid idea. If I wanted to buy movies and watch them, I'd buy a (cheaper) portable DVD player and buy (far more ubiquitous) DVDs to watch on it. Video on PSP is better suited to things like video podcasts and TV shows, in my opinion.
  • For some reason, the WiFi is incredibly slow (much slower than you'd expect from "11 Mbps". It took around 2 hours to download a 50MB podcast. I think that's on par with dialup speed internet. Not to mention the fact that browsing the internet seems significantly slower than doing so on dialup. My PC is browsing fine all through this.
  • Uploading movies, music and photos is still not very reliable. Apparently, you initially couldn't load movies on unless you put them in a certain directory with a certain naming scheme. Now you can just dump any old thing in the VIDEO folder in the PSP's root - but for some reason, photos have to go in \PSP\PHOTO, while music can go in \MUSIC..
  • Is AVI support that difficult? Re-encoding everything is something of a pain in the ass.
  • The "LocationFree Player" could be developed into an awesome feature. Imagine if you could just have some sort of HTTP streaming on your computer (provided by VLC, or a tool provided by Sony or something), which the PSP could then tune into via LocationFree - or the ability to act as a remote control for the PC via WiFi. Unfortunately it just seems to be an interface to some device that Sony sells in some parts of the world. And you can't even remove the option, which is useless until you buy a "LocationFree Player", from the menu.
That's about it. I'm hoping that something will come of the current 2.0 - 2.8 firmware exploit which is currently just a "Hello World" proof-of-concept; it does run on my PSP, but unfortunately, I think you'll lose the photo-viewing feature of the PSP if you install it once it's able to do.. useful stuff. I'll probably post another update later, trying to get back into it now that I don't have to bother with the whole "redesigning the CSS" thing.