Under the Warranty Wire

As of today, the iMac I’m writing this on is 1 year old. At least to me as that’s when I bought it. Anyone who has purchased Apple kit will know that you get a 1 year warranty with new Macs. I’ve used this once previously to get the Superdrive in my iMac G4 replaced just before it ran out some seven years ago.

My second experiance with Apple repairs came with my current iMac. I had been noticing some dark spots on my display in the past month or so and they started to get worse. A look on the Apple discussion site showed that lots of people were having this same problem and getting the displays replaced. I thought I better get on that before my 1 year passes by.

I called Apple and got an appointment booked for very early last Saturday morning to drop my machine off at the Apple Store in Westfield Stratford (no, I’m not going to call it ‘Stratford City’). Now I had to work out the logistics of getting it there. I brought my iMac home last year during a Tube strike. I was just that determined to have it for the weekend. It took some time for my arms to forgive me for that.

Not wanting a repeat of the arm pain and headache of lugging around a large box, I picked up a wheelie hand cart and some bungie ropes. This time I was going pro. It paid off. The trip to drop off the iMac was a breeze!

Ready to Roll
Ready to roll.
Waiting for the Bus
Waiting for the bus.
On the Bus
Squeezed onto the bus.
On the Tube
On the Tube
Bracing for Westfield Stratford
Bracing for Westfield Stratford

The gal at the Genius Bar booted it up off the network to run some diagnostics on it (I always reckoned that used some NetBoot stuff at the Stores), had a look at the screen and marked it down for replacement. Nice! And the staff were impressed with my pro setup to transport it. All in a usual day’s job for me.

Empty Box on a Nearly Empty Tube
Empty box on a nearly empty Tube.

I got the call a few days ago that the work was all done and it was ready to collect. I didn’t have the time to pick it up until Sunday afternoon and/or evening. There’s no way it was going to be as quiet at that behemoth temple to shopping at that time of day. I braced myself and headed out today at 4pm, empty box and hand cart in tow.

The bus ride and tube journey were fine. However, Westfield itself was teeming with people. People not watching where they are going. People walking into the box I’m trying to politely wheel about. Then there was the queues for the lifts. Oh lord. You’d think people never used a lift before. The one going up would fill up, and people would keep pushing the up call button, which of course then just made the doors open of the one that’s already full. I snapped and said ‘someone has to stop pushing the call button’. The message got through.

The service at the Apple Store wasn’t as top notch as last week. Too many 19-year-olds manning the Genius Bar. And by manning I mean, standing behind the bar talking amongst themselves, giving me and the large box beside me the odd glance and ignoring my ‘hello’s. I finally got served by a guy just passing who went and got my iMac and tested it for me. Huzah! But bless him, he had no idea how to lift one back into the box. I showed him a better way to do it. He said ‘wow you must do this a lot’. Yes, yes I do.

Right! Back through the masses to Stratford station to get on the Jubilee line. But what’s this? The platform gates are being shut and guarded by British Transport Police. Arse. A power failure meant Jubilee line trains weren’t going anywhere. Decision time: do I hang about and see if it will get sorted soon or chance wheeling my cargo to the DLR to Greenwich and then on an overland train home. I figured I’d give the DLR a go. No trains to Lewisham. Arse. Canary Wharf and a change of trains it was. When we got to Canary Wharf there was an announcement that the Jubilee Line was running again. D’oh!

All in all, I got home a couple of hours later. It was a hassle, but to get a £299 screen replacement for £0 I think it was worth it. Here’s to many more years of reliable service from my favourite lil’ iMac.

The iMac Comes Home
It's home!

Riding Trains Under The Ground

My first day in New York City included my first trip on the subway system. So first impression? It’s a bit dingy, makes me think of a dirtier version of the Berlin U-Bahn because of the squareness of the tunnels and that the Tube is far superior. That last one surely shouldn’t surprise anyone.

We took a number 1 train from 14th Street and 6th Avenue to Columbus Circle (I keep wanting to call it ‘circus’).  Well, we started at 14th and 6th but to get to the 1 platforms we had to walk to 7th Avenue. It was a bit like Bank for the tourist confusion factor. Along the journey there were several trash cans, some of them overflowing. Something you never see on the Underground for various reasons.

North-bound

Once at platform level the ambiance didn’t improve much. The thing we really noticed was how filthy the tracks are. Sure it’s a bit sooty and mucky along the tracks but these look like they are never cleaned and are used as make shift garbage bins. The platforms in some cases can be quite narrow. I found the whole experience a bit claustrophobic.

Dingy

Our silver train approached and we hopped on. The trains themselves are a bit like those airstream caravans on the outside. But with more American flags. Inside is quite minimalistic but at least was pretty well clean. As we made our way North you could see that there are stations in much better nick then the one we started at but they still all basically look the same. I’m keen to check out more stations to get a better feel for it all. For all the dingyness it still has a certainly quality to it. Not everything can be the same as London I suppose 😉

Like A Silverstream Trailer

Going For a Walk Under the Thames

IMG_4044
Well today was a big day – I got to walk through the Thames Tunnel. It’s the first tunnel ever to be constructed under water and was done so by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  You may of heard of him.

After the mess that was trying to get tickets over the phone and the website, I got a ticket for this afternoon. But not before getting the wrong ticket type and being charged three times.

There’s been lots written about these tours by other Londony types here, here and here. So rather than re-hashing what they have already said I’ll just link to my photo set over on Flickr.

Odds & Ends

I haven’t had anything really big lately to post about, so I thought I’d do a collection of odds and ends; new acquisitions and places I’ve been.

Vitches of Inkland
Vitches of Inkland

This past Sunday, not having much else to do, I thought what the heck, let’s go to London. There’s always something to do there.  The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green has an exhibit of Quentin Blake illustrations from Roal Dahl books.  Seeing the original water colour of The Witches cover was pretty amazing.  Roald Dahl (and shortly thereafter C. S. Lewis) got me into reading, and The Witches was really the book that did it for me.  I still love Quentin Blake’s drawings.  There’s loads of them covering some of the scaffolding at King’s Cross and seeing it always makes me smile.  After that I had one of my clothes horse moments and did some shopping for new trousers, shirts and sweaters in Oxford Street. The thing I had last  year for jackets seems to be back.  I wanted to buy nearly every one I saw at UniQlo.  Not the big puffy ones though.

Roundels R Us
Roundels R Us

The Saturday before last I had a ticket to go on a behind the scenes tour at the London Transport Museum Depot in Acton. It’s a bit like their open days, but with only a handful of other people there and a museum volunteer giving plenty of info and stories about the items. I really liked seeing all this stuff in more of a working than a staged environment, which prompted me to think that more museums should be like that.  Just a big jumble of lovely things to discover.  I filled a 2GB memory card with photos and managed to prune that down to a selection of 87 to post on Flickr.  Of particular interest was the collection of station signage and maps.  I didn’t even have time to see it all before our group had to move on to let the next group have a look.

They’re going to have another open day in October and I reckon I’ll probably go back.  If nothing else just to see the rest of the signs.

Speaking of transport, National Express have been on strike lately.  What does this matter to me?  Well their strike involves zero service on Thursdays and Fridays, making it a bit tricky to get to and from work.  It started last week and looks like it’s going ahead again this week.  On Friday there were loads of National Express East Anglia trains (the ones I take to work and London Liverpool Street) parked at Cambridge station:

The row of trains in the foreground went on for ages - I think it was at least 24 carriages.
The row of trains in the foreground went on for ages - I think it was at least 24 carriages.

And even more transport!  I got myself a bike last Saturday.  I’ve been thinking of it since moving at the end of June (did I mention that?  I don’t think I did).  I was looking at classified ads, but weary of them as the majority are probably stolen.  I ended up going to Station Cycles which is pretty handy as it’s in the rail station car park.  They had a nice second hand mountain bike there that was an agreeable price with a 3 month warranty and they even had a look at the gears ticking a bit before I even said I’d take it.  I’m pretty happy with it and my rediscovery of how aces cycling is.  I was one stop short of going “wheeee!” when I took it for a test spin around the station car park.

Not stolen.
Not stolen.

For the past two years I’ve been using a great little Canon camera, a Powershot A550 to be exact.  I’ve had an itch to upgrade to one of the Powershot G models.  First the G9, then the G10 came out.  I’ve saved up and  bought a Canon Powershot G10. From Canada.  Yes, they do sell cameras in England, but it was a decent sale price so I went for it.  It went through customs today and should hopefully be arriving before the end of this week.  I’m really looking forward to it.  It shoots in RAW format, so my poor ol’ MacBook’s (upgraded) 320GB hard drive is going to take a hit and I’m going to have to get better at archiving stuff off.  Still, it’s going to be neat to learn all about how it works.  Any votes on what my first shooting spree with it should be?

Lastly, I’m digging Street Fighter IV on the XBox Triple60.  Oh and I haven’t had broadband at home for nearly three weeks.  A mixture of mobile broadband an a neighbor’s iffy open wireless network to the rescue.  Right I think that’s about it, or at least all I can think of for now.