Buy AppleCare, Always

I’ve bought six Macintosh computers over the last five years and have paid for AppleCare on every one of them. I’ll tell anyone who asks, “Yes, you want AppleCare.” At the Genius Bar, you’ll be treated like someone of above-average intelligence rather than being left to feel that you are inadequate and unworthy.

I once accosted someone in line at the Apple Store, a Mom, buying her daughter a laptop for college: “You know, you really *do* want the AppleCare.” She didn’t care that she was buying into 3-years of guaranteed utility, or seem concerned that all things (even great things like Macs) can sometimes break. She just didn’t want to spend the stinking 200 bucks. She has my pity.

Just last Friday afternoon, I trundled into my office/studio and found it ominously quiet. The trusty G5 PowerMac, nearing its 3-year mark, was not making its usual jet-engine sound and the screen was dark. No power light. Odd. After checking the power switch, cables, power outlet and everything else I could think of, I made an appointment for the Genius Bar. While I was waiting, I ogled a bit over the new Mac Pro systems. Dang! Why do they have to be *so* much faster than my (now relatively impotent) dual G5?

With only 37 days left on my 3-year AppleCare contract, the technician informed me that the liquid cooling system had leaked all over the inside of the computer, corroding and destroying the motherboard, one of the processors, the power supply and the case. It was a total loss. It would have to be replaced by a new system with approximately the same configuration.

“You mean… are you saying… I get a new Mac Pro?”

“Yeah, do you want the base 2.66Ghz model or do you want to pay the $1500 difference for the 3Ghz model?”

“Huh? Uh, the 2.66Ghz model will be fine.” (I’m thinking 6 times faster than my G5 is more than adequate.)

Aside from now fully understanding why Apple abandoned the G5 for Intel chips, I am again completely sold on AppleCare. I don’t know whether my experience is common or not, but this is not the first time that AppleCare has saved me a ton of cash. I recommend it.

Life is good.

“Turn that thing off! You’ll Crash the Plane!”

The woman next to me was looking at me as if I was some kind of terrorist. I was finishing up an SMS message and I might as well have been feeding cyanide to her baby.

The persistence of this urban myth about cell phones being able to cause a plane crash is unbelievable. No planes have ever crashed due to WiFi or cellular interference and I challenge anyone to produce one confirmed instance.

From David Pogue’s blog: “Cellphones were initially banned from aircraft in the U.S. at the request of the cell carriers and the FCC. Navigation issues were not the real reason for the ban; it was cellphone companies who asked for the ban, based on technological interference issues. The public wasn’t told the truth because many people would not care if they caused interference to wireless networks, but most everyone cares if an aircraft’s navigation might be affected.”

Basically, the cellular system does not deal effectively with a cell phone moving at 500 miles per hour. It can’t handle the handoff from tower to tower that quickly, and then there is the problem of determining the nearest tower when you are 5 miles up in the sky. The skipping around from tower to tower also runs down your cell phone battery in a hurry.

There are actually plane manufacturers and carriers who have piloted WiFi service on planes for travelers. Personally, I’m more concerned about solar radiation and microwaves than cellular signals.

There are many reasons to not allow cell phone use on planes — like the sound of 200 people all yacking away on a 5 hour flight — but crashing the plane is not one of them.