One bad Apple

Although I love technology, I’ve never been to run out and buy the latest toy. I was one of the last adults I know to get a cell phone. I still have to ask my daughter what my number is, since I hardly ever use it.

The computers we’ve bought over the years — usually from Dell or Gateway — have deteriorated at an alarming rate. And while I could try and fix the dozens of annoying problems that crop up weekly, including reduced speed, I fear digging a deeper whole from which I can never crawl out.

Until this past holiday, I didn’t own an iPod, either. My daughter saved up and worked for hers; my wife is on her second. I was happy enough with my old CD player.

So when I set up my iPod shuffle, I was not especially perturbed when it didn’t work, despite having followed the directions to the letter. There is a lack of documentation that accompanies tech products these days. I guess consumers are expected to do heir own research on the companies’ Web sites, as Joseph Nocera’s disheartening story in the Feb. 4 issue of the Times on the benign neglect with which Apple treats its clientele.

To the extent that Apple is using the iPod to drive sales of other Apple products, the Nocera family is proof that the strategy works; we’ve probably spent more than $10,000 on Apple hardware since the iPod first came out. Alas, at least three of the iPods were replacements for ones that broke.

My own daughter’s unit, barely more than one year old, was unable to link up with iTunes. On its little screen was a terrifying message: the folder icon with the website for support, indicating the iPod needed to be either “refreshed” or “restored.” Both have the effect of deleting all information.

Apple is going to charge you $250, plus tax, to fix your iPod. There is no mistaking the message: Apple has zero interest in fixing a machine it was quite happy to sell you not so long ago.

Not to mention that songs purchased at iTunes are virtually useless on other brands of MP3 players.

This disregard harkens back to my previous entry on supermarket cashiers (“Paper or Plastic?”). More and more companies don’t seem to give a damn about their customers (see also, cable operators). They feel they have the monopoly, so what are you gonna do about it?

You know what this man would say:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy.

It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot — I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know
is that first you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, I’m AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell — ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

Phew. Excuse me; I have to go lie down now.

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