Monday, October 31, 2011

How Apple Killed My iPad 1, and Almost Made Me Pay To Replace It

About 15 months ago I bought an original iPad that worked fine until a few days ago.  Then, I connected the device to iTunes on my computer for a periodic, routine sync and check for software updates.  This time there was a new version of the operating system software, and I began the upgrade and sync process. 

Trouble ensued.  The software upgrade wouldn’t complete, and I was prompted to restore.  After a while into that process, I received an error message:  “The iPad could not be restored.  An unknown error occurred (1).”

I went through all the timely troubleshooting steps to no avail.  Finally, I called Apple support and got a very polite support guy.  After taking many steps on my desktop, we tried the upgrade on my laptop, all without success.  Then he handed me off to a “senior advisor”, who told me that “this is a common problem, a hardware issue that the engineers are looking into.”  I was told Apple would replace my device.

I then went to the Apple store.  No way Apple would let me upgrade, even for a charge, to the current iPad model 2.  Apple insisted on replacing my now obsolete iPad 1 version.  The salesman gave me a replacement iPad 1 out of a plain brown shipping box, wrapped in thin plastic and looking new; however, it was not packaged for sale and there is no indication that this is a brand new, as opposed to refurbished or previously returned, device.  The salesman told me that the store keeps a supply of replacement original iPads for this scenario. 

Worse than not allowing me to buy an upgrade to the newer, current model was the fact that, had I not purchased an extended warranty plan for $99 when I bought the device, Apple would have charged me $419 to replace my now dysfunctional iPad, despite the fact that my device was working fine until it encountered Apple’s new software.  So Apple caused my iPad to die, but would have charged me half the cost of my original to replace it. 

I bought the extended warranty for protection against hardware failure, not against active destruction by an Apple software upgrade.  What if I had not bought it?  Had I not, there would have been a disturbance in the Apple store.  Apple is effectively saying to its customers that they would be smart to buy an extended warranty to protect themselves from Apple’s own future malfeasance.   

Hubris.  Arrogance.  When I next purchase a tablet, I may think different.


Monday, October 24, 2011

John Prine at 65

John Prine, the pride and joy of Maywood Illinois, nearby Chicago western suburbs, and the Proviso East High School gymnastics team, leading light, along with friend and fellow postman the late Steve Goodman, of the Chicago music scene of the 1970s, also of Muhlenberg County and Route 41, poet of loss and remembrance, collector of Souvenirs, balladeer extraordinaire of his Hometown, Old Folks, Grandpa and Grandma, and Angels from Montgomery, inter alia, turned 65 years old this month, and is still going strong.  One far away night in Chicago at the Earl of Old Town Goodman brought him up on the little stage and the two played together until my memory fades; I think they enjoyed jamming with each other more than we enjoyed listening, if that's possible.

Image is the cover of Prine's first album, "John Prine", released in 1971.  I've read an interview in which Prine says the photo was shot in San Francisco (of all places), and that he was surprised that bales of hay were brought in for the shoot.  But it all worked out. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Lost Levant

John Derbyshire has an interesting review (link) of Lawrence Durell’s Alexandria Quartet in the October issue of The New Criterion – particularly interesting to me for the window the novels offer into the tragic decline of Egyptian society.

The novels are set both before and during WWII in Alexandria, one of the exotically multicultural cities with which the English fell in love.  The Alexandria of those years, not so long ago, was “chaotically cosmopolitan,” says Derbyshire; “Five races, five languages, and a dozen creeds,” as Durell describes it in one of the novels. 

Then it all changed.  Durell returned to the city in the late 1970s and found a different place indeed.  No longer palpably multicultural, he found the place, per Derbyshire, “a monochrome shadow” of its former self.  By then, most Westerners had left, Christians were repressed, and non-fundamentalist Muslims had fallen in line. 

Derbyshire  says that “The Levant was rather rich in these commercial, cosmopolitan cities until modern nationalisms purged them.”  But I must quibble with him here.  I think Islamic fundamentalism has done it all in -- not pan-Arab nationalism per se but the intolerant, violent anti-Western religious fervor that has taken hold of the Muslim world.  The multiculturalism that thrived under a benign and guiding British hand, in Egypt and elsewhere, was gone. In the post-war decolonization fervor, people all over the Third World thought they could do better for themselves without the Brits.  History, at least up till now, has proven them quite wrong. 

Photo is of King Farouk (ruled 1936-1952) of Egypt, a Westernized, non-fundamentalist Muslim; like the late Shah of Iran, just the kind of Muslim ruler the West thought everyone could do without.  The West was wrong.  It's been all downhill since American complicity in Farouk's overthrow and its fecklessness during the Suez crisis.

Richard Balsamo

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Annals of Inanities -- 10/20/2011

Well, it's my job to prepare my Texas students for a Mexican future --
A Texas teacher named Reyna Santos, a Mexican native, "required her public high school students... to memorize the Mexican anthem and pledge and stand up and recite them in individually in front of the class.... but the school district maintains there was nothing wrong with the lesson." (link) Recital day took place on Mexico’s Independence Day.  The teacher told a father who called to object that "she loves Mexico."  Why she ever left Mexico is not disclosed in the news article.

Will this hurt our chances as lesbians to adopt more children?
A lesbian couple, in California of course, is giving their adopted pubescent boy medically risky hormone therapy to delay puberty in case he continues to want to become a girl (link), just like his two moms.  "Obviously, when two females adopt a male child, then assert that the child is not actually male, but is, instead, actually a female -- like both of them, everyone in the family should be psychologically evaluated in a comprehensive way before a step like gender reassignment is considered,” said [psychiatrist] Ablow.

As I've said before, only a racist would object to anything I do or say -- 
President Barack Obama gave a partisan-tinged speech to dedicate a new memorial to Martin Luther King Jr., likening the battle for racial equality to his political struggles in a divided Washington.

We don't care much for their culture or their laws, but their welfare is great --
Well-off Muslim residents, most of whom practice polygamy and don't even speak French, on the French colony Mayotte, an island off the coast of Africa near Madagascar, have been rioting (link) to preserve and expand their special colonial status that entitles them to generous French welfare benefits.  The death throes of Western welfare statism, now that it's run out of "other people's money", can be heard and seen everywhere, not just on the streets of lower Manhattan or Chicago's Loop. 

It's the people who have failed me --
Barack Obama has just said "all the choices we’ve made have been the right ones" (link).  Remember when George W Bush was asked whether he had made any mistakes and he was ridiculed as a fool and a jerk by the media for an admission insufficient in quantity and quality? 

Maybe one day its business model won't include actually delivering mail --
The Wall Street Journal reports (link):  Will the U.S. Postal Service start issuing driver's licenses and deer-hunting permits? Selling country-music CDs? How about strapping weather or air-quality monitors on mail trucks?  Plummeting demand for traditional mail delivery, which funds the postal service, has created a looming fiscal crisis that has Congress, postal employees and government officials weighing a venture into non-mail business as a way to stay afloat.

John M Greco

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ryerson Physical Laboratory – “The Most Beautiful University Building in the World”

I previously mentioned (link) the Kent Chemical Laboratory building at the University of Chicago, and now I get around to posting the picture of its next door neighbor and close cousin, Ryerson Physical Laboratory.  I had just one class here as an undergraduate, physics of course, and a tough one it was.  Rambling around inside and peering into the nooks and crannies of the beautiful, old, storied building was I think the most enjoyable part of that particular experience.   

The young University’s main architect Henry Ives Cobb designed the building, which opened in 1894 and was named after Chicago lumber businessman Martin Ryerson.

At its dedication, according to Jay Pridmore’s U of C architectural Campus Guide, then university President William Rainey Harper called Ryerson “the most beautiful university building in the world,” and I’m not here to dispute that.  Pridmore writes that the building “exhibits a dreamy Gothic fantasy: complicated solids and voids on the surface, with balconies, gables, and a crocketed roof line.  As usual in Cobb’s buildings, the main entrance is the most elaborate part…”  An annex was added in 1913, by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, “sympathetic” to Cobb’s design but “with noticeably richer ornamentation.”  

Pridmore tells us that “one of the earliest denizens was physicist Albert Michelson, the first Nobel laureate among many at this university,” who was honored in 1907 for his measurement of the speed of light. 

In the second post card image, the pre-annex building rear is seen from the north, with Botany Pond just to the left foreground and Hull Gate to the right, and the original Law School building in the distance.  

R Balsamo

Friday, October 14, 2011

Annals of Inanities -- 10/14/11 Edition

You mean, people like Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, and Herman Cain?

Maybe if you called them beige potatoes --
Team Obama about to ban white potatoes (link) in school breakfasts in favor of green and orange foods.

But we've got so many more friends and supporters to help --
Even after the Solyndra scandal has broke, some prominent Democrats want (link) a "national infrastructure bank" to "invest" billions of tax dollars with "special interests favored by Democrats".   And, "More solar companies led by Democratic donors received federal loan guarantees."

Maybe if they bombed the Statue of Liberty and declared grievances against white America, Obama would stick up for them --
In Egypt, Obama's Muslim compatriots, whom he addressed so warmly soon after taking office, telling them "you represent the harmony between tradition and progress" (link), continue to slaughter (link) the Christian minority there.

We don't think it's relevant --
Lots of liberal media coverage of scandals omit mentioning that the malfactors are major Democrat donors -- and often major beneficiaries of Democrat corruption or forbearance -- for example, George Kaiser (Solyndra) (link), Warren Buffet (huge fed income tax liabilities; link), Bernie Madoff, Raj Rajaratnam (recent conviction for insider trading; link).

How stupid -- everybody knows only Republicans can be compared to Hitler --
Hank Williams Jr. Compares Obama to Hitler. [Also here.] And for that his music is dropped from NFL football TV shows. Meanwhile, the NFL is considering the singer Madonna for the half-time entertainment show at the next Super Bowl; in one of her videos she compared former President GW Bush to Hitler, but he's a Republican, so it's OK.

John M Greco

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Writer Jan Morris Turns 85

Jan Morris, the great Welsh-English poetic storyteller of our age, celebrates her 85th birthday today.  What a treasure trove she has given us, writings so capturing of time and place, so atmospheric, we can close our eyes and almost feel we’ve been there.

Her works are varied and many, but her masterpiece (writing as James Morris), in the true meaning of that now-trite word, is her trilogy on the history, ethos, and meaning of the British Empire, the “Pax Britannica” trilogy: Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress (1973); Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire (1968); and Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat (1978).  Run don’t walk, to get copies if you have not experienced them yet.

She writes of times and places that recede in memory, but the themes are eternal.  As I wrote before (link), “sensual and rhythmic, her narrative evokes the sounds and smells of empire about you as you drift through the pages”:

"In one of the lonely cemeteries in which, buried where they died, the Anzacs lay lost among the Gallipoli ravines, the parents of one young soldier wrote their own epitaph to their son, killed so far away, so bravely we need not doubt, in so obscure a purpose: 'God Took Our Norman, It Was His Will, Forget Him, No, We Never Will' ... for all too often the sacrifices of the Great War, as its contemporaries called it, were given to a cause that was already receding into history, like those discredited grey battleships, their smoke-pall filling the sky, hull-down on the Aegean horizon."

As I wrote before:  Her narrative has all the stories, the wars (some obscure, like the British invasion of Tibet), the adventures, and of course all the characters (Curzon, once Viceroy of India, "died in 1925 after a career full of irony and vicissitude."). And humour abounds, subtle and dry” -- Writing of the Fashoda Incident and the death of “Chinese” Gordon, the ‘noblest man who ever lived', and of the subsequent invasion of Sudan by Gen. Kitchener and the last cavalry charge of the British Empire (in which Churchill took part), as James Morris she wrote:

For years the Sudan had been in a state of rebellion under a fiery Sufi mystic who called himself the Mahdi, ‘the Leader’, and who formally announced the End of  Time, a conception particularly unwelcome to the British just then.”

And don’t by any means skip the footnotes; describing a salute to Kitchener:

With live shot, there being no blank: the gunners aimed high over the river into the desert beyond, where nobody who mattered was likely to be.”

In her last book, Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, she writes:
“I write of exiles in Trieste, but I have generally felt myself an exile too.  For years I felt myself an exile from normality, and now I feel myself one of those exiles from time.  The past is a foreign country, but so is old age, and as you enter it you feel you are treading an unknown territory, leaving your own land behind….”

The immortal, in her native Welsh, Trefan Morys, born 85 years ago today.

R Balsamo 

Related Link:
Writer Jan Morris is 83 Years Old Today, Author of the Masterpiece Pax Britannica Trilogy
Wikipedia article - link