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“don’t do it, man!!!”

June 13th, 2007


Clint warned me not to let the temptation of unpacking the new Logitech Harmony 1000 remote get to me. And I quote, “Don’t do it, man!!!” You see, it was Friday afternoon when it arrived unexpectedly (I had requested one to review last OCTOBER), and I was very busy getting ready for a 2 1/2 week trip to China. I had no time to play with a new gadget. But as I sat there on the couch Friday night, sitting down and just vegging for the first time all week, there it sat, in it’s cool box just looking at me. Taunting me. Begging me to open it up. This began around 8 pm. My mind began racing (this is a bad thing). I started thinking to myself that it sure would be nice for Dina and the kids to have a simple remote to run everything while I was gone. I had basically reworked my entire system in the last few weeks, and had a new pre/pro and amp in the rig, which meant we were back to using several remotes. Which always means that daddy is the one who turns everything on and off so the family can watch a movie.

I kept thinking, “these Harmony remotes are supposed to be so easy to program…” All the the while I keep hearing Clint in the back of my mind – “Don’t do it, man!”

By 9 PM I couldn’t stand it any longer and I dove in. In no time I had the install disc in my MacBook Pro’s drive spinning up and installing software. As soon as it installed, I launched the app and was registering at Logitech’s site to begin the programming. I was floored at how quick and easy it was, and more so that the site had the remote codes for my brand new Emotiva pre/pro and my Rotel DVD player. But more on that in my full review for Audioholics next month…..

So it is in the middle of the setup process and some friends pull the ‘ole pop-in. Now these are friends from out of town, so I had to get up and visit with them. They ended up hanging for about an hour, and when I returned to my machine and woke it up, the Logitech software was evidently unhappy with being left alone in the middle of setup for so long.

“Don’t do it, man!!!”

In what can best be described as the process timing out, it was crashed. Long story short, it was way crashed. (I do not necessarily think this is indicative of the Harmony software – I let the machine fall asleep during install and setup, etc.) I had never ejected the install disc, so I finally deleted the software and decided to try another install & setup. But I would get to the same point and it would hang up again. After uninstalling and reinstalling about 3 times, I noticed something else going on that really concerned me, and here is where I finally get to the point of the post – that I am freely admitting a problem that occurred with my Apple. (This is for you, Clint and Tom) Of course, it is SO RARE that I have a problem with my Apple, it is newsworthy…. : )

I tried to eject the install CD, and nothing happened. What was weird was, the machine saw the disc, and I was able to use it. I could install from it, open it, etc. It just wouldn’t eject. It would spin down and unmount from the desktop, but then about 10 seconds later it would spin back up and remount, as if I had just popped it in.
Any Mac users out there? (this next part is for you – anyone else might want to skip ahead) Here is what all I tried to get the disc out:

eject button
holding down trackpad button after restart
using terminal to issue the eject command
booting the MacBook Pro in target disk mode attached to another machine, then trying to eject the disk from that machine
disk utility – eject
zapped PRAM
dumped all caches on the machine
uninstalled all Logitech related software, cleaned out plists, etc.
restarted a million times
taken battery out for an hour then restarting
tried burning a disk in iTunes, hoping it would eject the disk
tried creating a disk in Disk Utility, again hoping it would eject and ask for a disk, etc.
Booted in safe mode & then tried to eject
Installed the eject item in the menu bar, tried to use that method
Voodoo doctor came over from the nearest village, put some mojo on the thing….. nothing.

The thing was, my computer was operating fine, it just had a disc in it. My main concern was that on my flights to the west coast and china and back, my battery would be compromised by the disc spinning up and down from time to time, plus it would be nice to rip music and play DVD’s, etc.

By now I was convinced that I was having a hardware failure – that the actual mechanism that ejects the disc had just died. Since I was headed to Phoenix and then Los Angeles for a few days of meetings before my flight to China, I figured I would hit an Apple Store Genius Bar and hope they could fix it. I decided not to call AppleCare, because I was convinced I had tried everything possible and they would just tell me to mail it in for service.

So here I am today, in Simi Valley, CA, sitting out under the palm trees in the perfect Southern California weather in front of the Apple Store blogging on my machine, to tell you that once again, I am so glad to have an Apple. Last night from my hotel room in Phoenix around 10PM, I logged into the Simi Valley Apple Store site and made a reservation at the Genius Bar for 2PM today. I arrived here a little before 2, and upon entering the store and walking back to the Bar saw my name on the screen as being next in line. Soon Conan came out and said, “are you the guy with the disc stuck in the drive?” He went on to listen to what all I had done before getting the serial number off of the machine. He quickly pulled up my AppleCare info and had me sign something, and said give me 30 minutes or so. (I actually heard another employee in the store refer to Conan as a quadruple Genius, so I felt I was in good hands. He was also an incredibly nice guy, so if you need help in Simi Valley with your Mac, go visit him at the store) I hung around the store and caught up on all the news and reviews over at Audioholics.com, and sure enough, about 30 minutes later, he came out with my machine, with a brand new drive installed. I had to sign the paperwork – labor and parts would have been almost $450, but because of AppleCare it was free. (So my AppleCare just paid for itself)

Now, a few things to note. I am blogging this to show Clint and Tom that yes, indeed, Macs are computers, and they do break (although rarely….). I also want to point out that Apple rocks as far as service and support – you get what you pay for.

It is also important to note that I don’t think the Harmony software had anything to do with the problems with the disk drive. And oh, by the way. That Friday night I sat up until about 2AM deleting plist files and reinstalling the software until I had indeed set up the Harmony 1000, which the next day my wife and daughter both picked up and used without my help to watch TV and movies. Dina is in love with it….

And the biggest reason I am blogging is to tell Clint, you were right, man!!!! I shouldn’t have done it!!! lol.

So there you go. Conan just walked by offered to grab me a coffee while on his break, then insisted I come back to the bar and grab some a/c. But I think I will quit posting now because my battery is about to go, and I know that Tom and Clint have both read this far and are chomping at the bit to comment with some anti-Apple slap…..

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  1. June 14th, 2007 at 00:40 | #1

    SMACK! I love hitting Mac guys when they’re down!

  2. June 14th, 2007 at 10:50 | #2

    How is it that every Mac user suffers from Stockholm Syndrome?

    “I am so glad to have an Apple”

    Beyond paying more for the hardware, Mac users have to buy Apple Care for hundreds of dollars because a problem as simple as retrieving a cd must be done by an Apple “Genius”.

    On my HP notebook, I would have had that CD back in my hands in less than a minute using only a paperclip (Take that McGyver!). Dead drive? I can replace that with a $50 part in 10 minutes using only a screwdriver (philips head, no fancy security screws).

    So when my computer goes down ad I need it ASAP, I can have it back up using only the tools found at any hotel Front Desk. Does that make me a “Genius”

  3. June 14th, 2007 at 12:27 | #3

    no, that makes you happy to be a PC guy. I am glad you like using PC’s, and I still like using my “expensive” macs….
    (I knew I could get you guys started with this!!)

    : )

  4. June 14th, 2007 at 14:44 | #4

    Seriously, though… re-read your post and what you had to go through for a stuck CD. That is totally pathetic and demonstrates Steve Job’s “form over function” motif in full unglamorous action… eugo is right, any PC guy would have been able to stick a paperclip into the hole that are standard on all PC CD/DVD drives and retrieved the disc… if the drive was bad a replacement can be had for as little as $12.99.

    Drive to an Apple Store – talk to an Apple “genius”? And you made it sound like that was something amazing that Apple offered! $450 in parts and labor to swap out a drive???

    PS. I do realize that laptop drives cost more, but even a replacement dual layer CD/DVD burner drive from Dell is less than $200 – out of warranty.

  5. June 14th, 2007 at 14:49 | #5

    Like I said, I am glad you guys have PC’s. Seriously. I am sure they are easy to work with, cheap, and do what you need them to do. Isn’t it great that we have options? I mean, if I want to pay a premium for my suffering, shouldn’t I be able to?

  6. June 14th, 2007 at 14:58 | #6

    No, you should have no freedom to buy and use a Mac. Macs are evil. Macs are stupid. Steve Jobs is a sissy. lol.

  7. June 18th, 2007 at 18:11 | #7

    Oh, and for $450, you probably could have had a new PC laptop, not just a drive. *shrug* It wouldn’t be super fast, or super awesome, but good enough to post your rant on… I wonder if an Apple Genius gets paid more than some random guy working at the Geek Squad for Best Buy. Hmm….

  8. June 19th, 2007 at 22:18 | #8

    They don’t pay him much, but he gets to enter the raffle to park Steve Jobs’ car once a month. Then once a year they auction off his parking space for a week over at Cupertino. It;s really quite gracious of him.

  9. June 20th, 2007 at 04:54 | #9

    You’re right, you know. I COULD have a PC laptop for $450. But why would I want to?

  10. June 20th, 2007 at 10:52 | #10

    Cause they come in six-packs? As one breaks, you just toss it in the landfill with all of Steve Job’s promises.

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