Whoa, heads up on AppleCare!

So my work trip to Manhattan gets put off another day, and the 15″ PowerBook G4 arrives back home. I met the Airborne Express guy before he could ring the doorbell. Since I have to sit in teleconferences from my home phone for the next few hours, why not go ahead and move everything to the 15 and rock on, right?

I unpack the box, and notice that my power adapter looked a little funny. Upon closer inspection, I see that one of the little arms for coiling the power cable seems damaged. In addition, I see that the clear plastic cap for the end of the power connector is also missing. So, I make a mental note to call AppleCare once my teleconferences are over.

When contacting AppleCare about a power supply for a PowerBook, don’t refer to “arms” or “tabs” when you talk to them; they pretend not to understand you, and then they say “oh, you are referring to the CABLE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM” … give me a break – it’s like those clerks in Charles de Gaulle airport who make you try to say what you are asking in French so they can subsequently correct you and then go on to answer you in English. When my person on the phone understood that I was talking about the “cable management system” he set up a dispatch to replace my power supply – warranty issue #3 on my 15″ PowerBook.

While he is filling out the forms, I also mention that the cap to the power connector was missing. This is the “translucent plastic cover that comes with the power supply when you originally open them” according to AppleCare. The guy proceeds to tell me that quite likely the technicians would not have thought to put that back on when the packed it back up after repair. So now, it’s my problem for asking. If it’s such a vestigial piece, here’s my question: why in the hell did you put it on there in the first place? Fair enough? How come the first PowerBook G4 power supplies didn’t have them, and then they were later added? Was there lots of leftover plastic somewhere?

People at Apple have that skill of deftly trying to make you look like an ass for asking them for something they should have done. It’s amazing, and you have to be quick on your feet to turn it back around on them. I have had some practice with it by now. I don’t mind it too much, now that I am prepared for it when it comes.

So, my new power supply is supposedly en route. But that’s not the real kicker…
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Whew, I think we’re here in one piece…

This entry is the last test of the new home for all of my web hosting. I switched from Hosting Matters to JavaServletHosting.com over the weekend. The move is in preparation for a change to the site architecture I intend to use for my main site, All Things Computed. I have also had repeated DNS issues with Hosting Matters where folks would get “unrouteable domain name” errors when sending email to any of the three domains I host.

Another long day awaits me tomorrow, and the several hours of work on this stuff has drained me. So, this is all for now.

I am still working on that CFMX on JBoss project, but haven’t gotten it to use persistent deployment yet. That will probably be the first official how-to on the All Things Computed site.

Mac OS X package files can become folders…

and it’s not something you want to have happen. I have experienced most of the joy with this phenomenon when moving my Quicken data file between machines. I make heavy use of the Unix ‘cp -Rv [source] [destination]’ command when shoving things back and forth. One of the left-overs from Mac OS Classic are forked files. Unlike most of the desktop computer world, Mac files have a data fork and a resource fork. The other systems like Unix and Windows only deal with a data fork. It’s kind of like dinner at my family’s; think of the resource fork as the entre? fork that nobody bothers to pick up because they’re already using the salad fork they started with, and hey, why dirty another fork?

When you use the normal cp Unix command, only the data fork gets moved. Don’t ask me where the resource fork goes; I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is this: when a package file drops its resource fork, you have happened upon a bad thing. Searches online, in my books, and multiple postings to my local Macintosh User Group have yielded no results.

On a tangential but separate note, my 15″ PowerBook was picked up today, apparently being handled with the same expeditious treatment it received last week. Of course, I would obviously prefer not to be having problems, but since I do have them, having them treated with such attention is adequate consolation – at least the first two times. If number three comes up, that may well change.

PowerBook lid keeps popping open

Well, having only had my 15″ PowerBook back long enough to reinstall everything, you can imagine how upset I am that the latching mechanism on my unit seems to be faulty. It keeps popping open at random. That is particularly annoying when you are working with the PowerBook closed and plugged into an Apple display; suddenly all your applications jump over the popped-open PowerBook screen as if blown off the screen by a hearty gust of wind. Closing the lid sends the unit into sleep, which brings the whole affair to its sitcom-esque, annoying pinnacle.
After several days of this, I am sure that it isn’t just a break-in period for the new LCD. So, I’ll be calling AppleCare again tomorrow. Crap.
Speaking of crap, I was notified of a comment posting on my January 9th entry ColdFusion MX on Mac OS 10.3 with JBoss. The comment is simply, “piss”. I do hope I haven’t seen the onset of those stupid spam-bots that post things like the guy on Servlets.com is seeing. That would suck, and there’s no AppleCare for that. 8^)

Head First Java – yep, reading it and proud of it.

Like many, when I first saw the Head First series by O’Reilly launched, I winced. I thought to myself, “nah, there’s no way to make learning Java that fun and use that degree of levity”. And hey, I am probably one who could be easily labeled as an O’Reilly fanatic.

I have been through just under half of both of the Learning Java titles from O’Reilly, and got burned out and lost on each one. I was plodding my way through Sun Microsystems Press Core Java 2: Volumes I and II when I happened upon an article by someone named Kathy Sierra on java.net. It was titled Have your developers seen a real customer in the wild?, and it was a great read.

I read the reviews for both Head First Java and the Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2 Study Guide (Exam 310-035 & 310-027) book by Kathy and Bert Bates. It sounded too appealing to pass up.

I have been going through the book for about a week now, and it is great. Anyone with exposure to programming in at least one language will find this to be an inviting bridge into Java. Well, maybe not anyone, but most people. The approach of the book helps you to internalize Java, to “think” and “speak” in Java.

There is apparently quite a little stir about this being a dumbing down of Java, etc. Kathy even has a weblog entry about it, aptly titled What’s so bad about making it easier to learn Java?. (You go, Kathy!) I can say personally this is the first Java book that approaches the ease-of-use and skill-building content that I first came upon in books of Visual Basic. Is it harder? You bet. Java is a more capable and powerful language, thus the commensurate learning curve to mastering that power is proportionately larger. However, that doesn’t mean that the learning process for the language needs to be dry, turgid tomes that ramble for three or more chapters before having you write an example that shows you in concrete form the esoteric and abstract concepts with which are you are currently being mentally hosed down.

Think about this; did you learn your spoken language that way? No. See the first part of Programming Perl for a wonderful analogy of programming and natural language learning; my copy is at the office so I don’t have it in front of me to give the exact reference.

I don’t really have time these days to pontificate any further, and as late as it is I am not sure how cogent any of this is. Head First Java is a great book if you want to learn Java in a way that will allow you to internalize it and prepare for deeper learning of the language. That’s all for now.

Apple Warranty Service is unparalleled

So I call Apple Monday afternoon with my 15″ PowerBook white spots problem, right? The next day at 10:00 AM, the shipping kit shows up at my house. I come home at lunch and pack the laptop up, then call Airborne Express. It gets in to Apple at noon their time the next day. They ship it out the same day, and it’s back at my house, good as new, on Thursday morning. I almost left work to go home and get it, I was so excited. Man, call with a problem on Monday afternoon and get your restored unit back on Thursday morning. Pretty impressive. Name a PC manufacturer where you get that kind of response without being some corporate powerhouse. And trust me, even the response for corporate customers is not what it claims to be.
Yep, even with my own set of gripes about Apple, there are plenty of reasons that make me stick with them. By far they are the lesser of the many evils in the world of the computer manufacturer. Now if only they would give me a way to use iDVD with an external burner… 8^)

Re-release of the 1984 Apple commercial

For a nice memory jogger, head over to Apple’s site and download the re-released 1984 ad. Do you remember it? I do. I appreciate it even more now, realizing that it was made 20 years ago. That also reminds me that I vividly remember something like a TV ad that aired 20 years ago, which is a separate train of thought altogether. Anyway, it’s pretty neat, and true to form, there’s a little something extra from the gang in Cupertino. See if you catch it.

Man, this 17″ screen really is nice…

I am using my 17″ PowerBook while my 15″ is being repaired. I forgot how nice this huge screen is! That is, at least when I am looking at it. When I am carrying it, I definitely can tell it’s not the 15. That 15″ is really the sweetspot for the geek who hauls his notebook everywhere (me). Getting my data and apps switched over to the 17 was relatively painless, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and JBoss.

White spots on the Aluminum 15″ PowerBook G4

Alas, I have confirmed that my new 15″ PowerBook is among those that have the notorious white spot problem. If you haven’t heard about it, you can check out the equally-melodramatic CNET and ZDNet article archives, or for a more technical, level-headed explanation check MacFixIt. Thanks to the Pillarist for that weblog post that took me to the MacFixIt article.
It sucks, but I am sure that Apple will handle it as well as they did the LCD problem I had in 2001 with my Titanium PowerBook.

ColdFusion MX on Mac OS 10.3 with JBoss

In an effort to reduce the number of application servers running on my PowerBook, I decided to not install JRun and try to use ColdFusion MX Server on JBoss, the open source J2EE server that ships with Panther. Panther ships with 3.2.2 Release Candidate 2. Using the EAR deployment method with ColdFusion MX Server’s install, I was able to deploy CFMX. Woohoo! Copying the cfusion.ear file to the deploy directory enabled CFMX to launch without issue. I then stepped through the 6.1 setup wizard and away I went. However, upon rebooting the machine, I realized the CFMX was redeployed, and I had to step through the configuration process all over again.
I purchased a JBoss book last night that will hopefully unravel this mystery for me. More to follow…