Sunday, August 19, 2012

Apple Follow-up

Interrupting my viewing of last week's Daily Show to provide a quick update on the Thunderbolt situation.

First of all, it took an exceedingly long time to figure out how to do a clean install of Lion so I could give my system to the Apple contract store here in Korea. It turns out that most of Apple's instructions are incomplete, misleading, or simply incorrect. If you ever want to do a clean install, you need to:

1) Do a complete backup with Time Machine to an external drive (this is actually a great feature of OS X, and is super simple to set up).
2) Disable FileVault and wait for your hard disk to be decrypted. External recovery disks don't work with FileVault.
3) Create an external recovery drive on a USB external drive. Make sure the drive has GUID partition scheme - otherwise, it will appear to succeed, but actually won't.
4) Boot up to the external recovery drive by holding down Option while restarting.
5) Using Disk Utility, wipe the hard disk in the computer.
6) Then reinstall Mac OS X.

When you get the system back, hold down Cmd-R while rebooting, and choose to Restore from a Time  Machine backup. This last step is quite seamless.

Anyway, after three days of waiting, I get a call from the Apple contractor that they've fixed my system. I asked them to explain exactly what they did, and after ten minutes of prodding, they tell me that with an Apple technician's help, they upgraded the firmware for my Thunderbolt. I asked them to show me the version, and after another ten minutes of back and forth, they explained that they upgraded the firmware for the GPU, but OS X doesn't display that version number - it's hidden - and also, you can only get the firmware update from an Apple technician. So I explained that I was going to restore my system via Time Machine, and I was worried that the firmware would be downgraded. They assured me that no, the firmware won't be affected by Time Machine, and they tested my monitor for three days without any problems.

Color me not surprised that five minutes after restoring my system and plugging into the Thunderbolt display, the exact same problem exists.

The sad part of this is that not just does Apple not trust customers with any ability or power to solve problems, but they don't even trust these contractors - the contractors need to get Apple on the line to install these updates.

In other news, since almost all the media coverage of the Apple-Samsung IP dispute focuses on poor Apple and how their world-changing slide-to-unlock was copied, here's the other side of the story: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20120726121512518.

Update: Went back to the fake Apple store. First, they wanted me to leave my Macbook Pro there for another two days. I told them no way. Then, after explaining that the problem still existed, they said, "Yeah, because you restored with Time Machine." Not wanting to go to jail for murdering an idiot, I calmly explained that I wanted them to reinstall whatever firmware update they installed last week. So this time they tell me that they actually installed the firmware update on the display itself, not the laptop. I asked to see the service sheet to find out exactly what they did, and it basically sounds like they watched movies for three days in the background on my monitor and never saw it flash. Eventually, after many consultations with other "engineers" (I'm so offended they call themselves engineers), they email me a 24" Cinema Display update and tell me to run it later with my Macbook connected to the display. I explain that the instructions clearly state to only run it on a 2008 24" Cinema Display, and they assure me that no, it'll work just fine. Of course, the update is smart enough to not even run.

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