Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

Recent pages from the journal

24 December 2007

Apple’s Geniuses Treated Me Right

Genius Bar Logo

It had been awhile since I’d visited the Apple Store Genius Bar until, earlier this month, I had to take my laptop in for repair.

I bought my MacBook Pro over a year and a half ago in anticipation of needing a powerful laptop that could run both Mac and Windows and be a reliable computer for work. It was one of the first Macbook Pros that Apple produced. I hear a lot of people say when new models come out they are a little gun-shy and want to wait a few revisions before purchasing. I ignored that “wisdom” and bought this computer anyway, and it’s run pretty much flawlessly the entire time.

That is, until about a month ago when it started making some weird noises. The noises started fairly quietly and were intermittent, but over a period of a week or two they escalated into this: Fan Racket (mp3). Eek!

Because the noise wasn’t completely constant I broke out the microphone and recorded it. The computer is still under warranty so I knew getting it repaired was no problem, but I still wanted proof. Before I took it in for repair, I purchased a backup computer, a middle-of-the-line MacBook. I had some hard-pressing deadlines and couldn’t afford to be computer-less for a few days.

The next day, new laptop in hand, old laptop ready for repair, I walked into my appointment with the Genius Bar at the Cherry Creek Apple Store. The guy there was very impressed I had recorded the fan noise. Despite the fact that my ailing computer wasn’t making a sound at the moment, he believed me, and checked it in for repair.

Nineteen hours after dropping it off, the store calls and says, “Your computer is repaired and ready to be picked up.” Wow. The guy had told me it would be quick, but I was thinking in days, not hours (especially since this was during their Christmas season rush).

Apple gets a bit of flack about their Genius Bar. I’m sure some of it is warranted. Maybe it’s just that the press doesn’t like them calling it a “Genius” bar. The truth of the matter is that every time I’ve had to visit there over the years they’ve given me top notch support.

Everybody has something to learn from these types of experiences. Kathy Sierra talks a bit about this in a blog post that highlights the difference between the gorgeous marketing materials for products and their dull, white manuals. Why do most companies treat their potential users so much better than their actual users? I suppose we know the answer. It’s more work, it’s harder, and it’s expensive. But it obviously pays off too. From the unboxing experience and the gorgeous manuals to the free training classes and the genius bar, Apple treats their customers very well. Apple’s doing pretty well for themselves and they consistently rank #1 in customer satisfaction among computer companies.

I’m glad to have my MacBook Pro back and hope I’ve learned a bit on the way.

21 December 2007

Band Of Horses Live @ Amoeba Music 

Fantastic live show from Band of Horses. I just left this window open playing while working this morning. Lots of other treats up there too that I’ll have to dig through.

20 December 2007

Subversion is Almost Good Enough

I tread this fine line in my life. I’m just geeky enough to do lots of programming and live in that world a lot. But I’m just enough a designer to choose user experience over low-level pragmatism. This gets me in trouble sometimes and makes for some hard decisions.

I’ve been wanting to use Subversion for more of my digital bits and pieces these days. I use that a lot for projects I’m working on. It’s fantastic, especially when working in a team. I can’t imagine working without it.

The problem: it works only if you use it with text files or binary files. To be fair, pretty much any file you use in programming projects falls under one of these categories. If you want to use SVN for anything else, you’re pretty much out of luck.

This seems to be a growing problem as more and more programs are creating files that fall under the category of “packages”, which are folders that OS X treats a little differently. Anything iWork (Numbers, Pages, & Keynote) products, is a package. So are Garageband files, and even most actual applications themselves are packages, and therefore will break SVN.

SVN should either a) Get over itself and deal with packages in a way that’s not going to cause problems; or b) Never mind, I was going to write something here, but I like “a” better.

I can’t stand the idea of changing everything around just so I can use Subversion. Maybe If I was a just a bit more geeky and cared a little less about the other stuff. Hmm… Outlook not so good.

For a the other side of this argument, check out Alex’s post on the subject.

16 November 2007

Welcome to RCRD LBL 

In a world where many people get their music for free, we wanted to create a site where bands we loved could put their music out there for free AND get paid for it. RCRD LBL is a new model and an experiment, putting great music out there for free and with absolutely no DRM.

Peter Rojas’ (formerly of Engadget) new music blog / record label just debuted. I’m loving it so far. Lots of great indie artists on board with some good music already up for your listening pleasure. Expect to hear a few of these goodies on my mixtapes. This kind of stuff is the future of music and, in my opinion, is destined for success.

12 November 2007

37signals Product Blog: Downtime explanation 

37 Signals did a great job of addressing their recent (and extremely rare) outage: They humbly apologized, explained the problem, and committed to a solution. Well done and a great use of a company blog.

(via Snook on Twitter)

8 November 2007

Foamee 

Foamee is a web application that uses Twitter to help track who you owe beers to (and vice versa). Brilliant! You can see who owes me and who I owe on my page at Foamee.

19 October 2007

My October Mix Tape

October Mix Tape Graphic

It’s Friday - a great day to give you guys and gals a treat. I put together another mix tape for you. Nice!

My first one was generally a success and didn’t get an ounce of bad feedback, so I figured, “Why not do another?”

Brian’s October Mix Tape [30mb / aac]

I listed all the tracks below, along with links to where you can get them. Please buy the music, unless it’s already free. Except where indicated, I linked to the music at the Amazon MP3 store.

  1. Múm - Blessed Brambles
  2. Broken Social Scene - I Slept With Bonhomme At The CBC
  3. Bela Karoli - Prelude 2 (free from their site)
  4. The Archivist - New Years (free from their site)
  5. Over the Rhine - Don’t Wait for Tom
  6. Caribou - Melody Day
  7. Boards of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy - iTunes (Also, here’s that the video I mentioned.)

I enjoy making these, so I plan to keep it up. Let me know if you have any feedback, thoughts, or just if you enjoyed it. I’d appreciate it.

Related: My Summer Mix Tape

9 October 2007

Around America 2.0 Stops by Casa Warren

Matt Danzico

Just a couple months ago, Matt Danzico posted a video on his website asking for the goodwill of people around America to drive house and feed him on an 80 day trip around the U.S. I linked to it then, mentioning that I had offered him lodging and a ride. A few days ago, he showed up and stayed the night.

We had a great time. I showed him dinosaur footprints near my house, fed him lots of food, and he shot some video of our adventures.

Matt’s a great guy, and we got to talk a lot given the short amount of time he was in town. I find it fascinating people’s reactions to his trip. Lots of people cautioned him that it was extremely dangerous to trust people like this. People even cautioned me about letting a stranger into our home. It’s really strange. Despite our culture moving toward a more open, socially connected atmosphere, I don’t think that has tended to make us much more trusting as a society; yet, I didn’t hesitate to offer him our house.

I know Matt needs more people for the latter half of his trip. I’d encourage you, if you live on his route, to send him a note and help him out. You won’t regret it.