AppleCare, how I love thee, let me count the ways…


It is a word that will convert, or scare away just about every user of an Apple product.   How a department that provides basic customer care and product service can inspire such divisive feelings is a mystery and a half to me.

That said, I just had an occasion to use my AppleCare coverage on the new Macbook Pro 15″ (glass) unit that I custom ordered from Apple.   Being a custom machine, they cannot provide service for it directly at an Apple Store, or do an in-store exchange.  I know my Macbook Pro has some pretty anomalous build issues:

  • Loose Screen Hinge (I mean ‘fall down’ kind of floppy)
  • Top row of keys on the keyboard all tilt up to the right at an angle
  • the keys are a bit tilted in the F-key row

  • There is a loose screw somewhere in the battery bay area

So, I called it in, and they -instantly- offered to replace the laptop with a new one.  They are arranging for and paying for the shipping of the original one back to Apple, and the whole process should only take a week or so.  No huff, no fuss, and they are even going to be looking at the laptop I bought to see what the build issues are so that it won’t happen to other people.

Apple, thank you.  That’s service with a capital “S” that is very hard to find in a modern company.  I’ll update with more as the process goes on (and try to get some photos of the issues I have on here.)

Documenting the HP Touchsmart IQ770 and Ubuntu

Thanks to the compUSA out-of-business clearance sale, I managed to pick up an HP Touchsmart IQ770. This machine was expressly built to run Vista, and to say the least the official HP linux support is poor does not exist.

TouchSmart PC IQ770

However! I’ve managed to get the most important bits working, and figured I would document the process of getting Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon (7.10) installed and working.

The wireless lan adapter in the machine hangs off the USB bus, and while not expressly supported by the zd1211rw driver, CAN be made to work. The proper way is to edit the zd_usb.c driver to include the vendor/product id code. I went ahead and just hex-edited the driver directly and once “sudo modprobe zd1211rw” was run, it came directly up.

The Vendor ID – 0x0ace The Product ID – 0xb215

Unboxing the Chumby (Updated live)

So, after months of waiting, my black first-run Chumby has arrived. Like Apple, Chumby has chosen to drop-ship directly from their manufacturer in Shenzen, China. Only took five days to arrive .. impressive!

Okay .. okay .. on with the unboxing!

This is the box as it was, directly from Shenzen. I put an apple next to it as a size comparison.

The box the Chumby came in

Chumby in the box, in the wrapper

This is the chumby out of the box, with an apple beside it to compare sizes.

Chumby wrapped up out of the box w/ apple

Being a geek .. of course I chose Basic Black as the color. The tag from the bag inside sticks out of the packaging so you can tell what you ordered is right, even without opening it. I’m showing both sides for the hell of it.


You have to hand it to the people at Chumby. Just like Apple, they REALLY REALLY know how to package something up in an exciting and cool way. Inside the outer wrapping .. is a burlap bag, full of Chumby goodness!

Chumby burlap bag

Now, it’s a shell game. Inside the burlap bag are two -more- bags, and the Chumby itself. The first bag is a soft, blue, suede leather bag, that has a faded Chumby logo on it. Inside are the Chumby charms. Collect ’em all, I guess! You get three of them.

Charms bagThe chumby charms in the bag

Okay, time to get to the fun bit .. the CHUMBY! Here’s a peek into the bag, and the other accessory .. the power adapter.

Chumby in the bag, in a sewn pocket.Power adapter in a separate bagPower adapter out of the bag

And now .. the guest of honor at this unboxing .. the Chumby itself.

Chumby : FrontChumby : Back

Well .. all that’s left now is to insert Power Adapter (A) .. into Chumby (B) and see what the little thing does. Oh, and read the manual of course. Here is is, in a nice plastic sleeve that was behind the Chumby in the bag.

The instruction manual

After taking off the protective plastic (on front bezel, screen, and on the back covering the USB ports). The power button is just below and beside the jack where the adapter plugs in. After pressing it, the chumby brought up a screen calibration and then began a cute and very long “introduction to the Chumby.”

Chumby Intro Video

Once that finished, it scanned for WiFi, and shows a network configuration screen. It found my local WEP2 encrypted network. The character-keyboard interface is weird and not very easy to use .. they need to learn from the iPhone and other similar touch based devices.

After startup, configuration panelTime to activate the ChumbyControl Panel

This is a close-up of the screen.   It’s very bright, crisp, and the antialiasing makes the text look wonderful and easy to read.

Antialiasing and screen clarity

DIGG this Article

Welcome Digg-ers – Holy Tortilla Backstory

So, if you haven’t figured it out by now … the image on that tortilla is the famous self portrait by Leonardo DaVinci. The holy tortilla was produced at the TechShop ( ) on their wonderful Epilog Helix 45 laser cutter, set to low power and out of focus.

Hope you enjoyed it. If interest continues, I’ll create an step-by-step so you too .. can make a holy tortilla.

The Pirate Bay — Down?


The website returned back into service quickly after this posting.   The site may have been down for maintentance or due to a glitch.

There’s no word from Anakata, but from visiting the official Pirate Bay channel on IRC:

* Now talking on
* Topic for is: Site is down. We’re working on it.
* Topic for set by neotic! at Wed Jun 6 12:03:19 2007

No word as to why the site has gone down, yet. There were no comments other than the terse one line topic.

Problems in Paradise (Fort Lauderdale Laptop Thieves)

So, over in sunny Fort Lauderdale there has been a recent spate of laptop thefts.   The way the crime works is:

  • Find a mark at a cafe/restaurant/wherever
  • Wait for the mark to walk away from the laptop to get something (coffee, paper, whatever)
  • Saunter in wearing a hoodie, put the laptop in a satchel, and walk out in 10 seconds or less
  • Step into a waiting car at the sidewalk

That’s it.  While not generally reported in the news, hundreds of laptops are being stolen every day, and very few of them are being recovered. Why aren’t these thefts more widely reported?  Why hasn’t this come to the general attention of the local, state, or national news?  Given that the average laptop is over $1000, this means that every day hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of laptops are stolen!

If there was a crime ring stealing TV’s, you can bet it would be on the news.

Spent time at, working on scaling issues

So, (a week-old streaming 24/7 videolog) is having some teething issues related to scaling.   Spent a wonderful couple hours at the apartment talking with Emmett, Michael, Justin and eventually Kyle too.   The overall conclusion is that the current AJAX+proxy chat has to go, to be replaced by an XMPP based flash chat (which is nice since it will be embeddable).   For now, until something better comes along, the website will be balanced via Pound, and continue to run on lighty+Rails.  The Amazon EC2 grid is holding strong for hosting, and S3 is ideal for storing the archive of FLV movies.

So, a productive evening!   Thanks guys, and I’ll see you tomorrow at 8pm for poker .. woot!