• A bit of a backlog at the Apple store

    Over the past couple or so weeks my Macbook air has started to develop a minor, but irritating, hardware problem. Simply put, the left shift key fails now and again. I can press it and it does nothing. It’s irritating because it messes with the flow of typing (especially when writing code) and the key also feels like it’s sticking or clicking in a way that’s different from all the other keys.

    Macbook Keyboard

    Given that I pass through Edinburgh on a pretty regular basis I thought I’d drop in and have a quick chat with someone about it. While I didn’t expect a fix there and then (although finding out it was a trivial issue would have been nice) I was hoping someone could take a quick look and let me know what might be going on.

    So, this morning, on the way to Waverley Station, I dropped in to the Apple store on Princes Street.

    I walked in and looked for a member of staff, all seemed to be busy to start with but one soon noticed that I looked a little lost and asked me if they could help. I explained the issue and she said I needed to pop upstairs to chat with the staff up there.

    So far so good.

    So, I headed up to the first floor and caught the attention of another member of staff. Having explained the exact same thing to them I was told I needed to speak with yet another staff member. The chap I needed to speak to had a queue (yes, a physical queue of people) waiting to speak to him.

    I joined the queue.

    About five minutes later I got to speak with him. I, again, explained the problem and was told that looking at it would be no problem and they could do so at around 4pm. This was at about 10am. Having gone through 3 people and spent 10 minutes doing so I found out that there was a six hour queue to have someone actually take a quick look at the issue.

    By that time I wouldn’t even be in the same country, let alone the same city. So I had to say thanks but no thanks.

    So now it looks like I have to make an appointment for some point in the future and make a special trip into Edinburgh just so someone can check out a sticky key on my Macbook.

    Remind me again how the nice thing with Apple gear is that it “just works”…

  • Virgin East Coast 21

    Yesterday I got the call about the Virgin East Coast Ticket Wallet app that I was promised last week (well, actually, promised a couple of months back). It didn’t go well.

    Well, I say “didn’t go well”, the conversation itself went very well, the chap I spoke to was polite and apologetic and helpful, but the outcome wasn’t really very brilliant.

    It didn’t get off to a brilliant start when I was first told that the solution to my problem was that I needed to uninstall and then reinstall the app (something I’ve done more than once while trying to get to the bottom of the problem). I asked if that was really necessary and I was informed that it was the only way to fix the problem of the tickets not showing. Problem is… that wasn’t my problem. So I then had to explain the exact nature of the fault I was experiencing (and also explained my guess as to what the cause of the problem was).

    After that, much of the content of the conversation involved vaguely confidential information (nothing too terrible or that big a secret – just stuff that isn’t generally known yet) which I’m not going to repeat here. The upshot of the chat though is this: they can’t do anything for me.

    Simply put: they acknowledge there’s a problem with the app, the problem is at their end, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed and there’s nothing they can do to fix it any time soon.

    The causes of this will sound familiar to anyone with experience of large companies who outsource much of their development and get involved in areas that they might not have much experience with.

    I also found out the cause of some of the delay in actually getting back to me: the person who was supposed to originally call me went on maternity leave just after they’d first tried to call and, it seems, nobody thought to pick up their workload. This left me in the bizarre position of trying to call someone who was off work for an extended period of time, and whose phone wasn’t being answered in any way.

    Of course, it doesn’t explain why that person’s boss, who I was promised a call from a short while after, never bothered to call.

    So, I think, to some degree, that’s the end of this silly saga. Their software is buggy, they can’t fix it any time soon, and I’m out of luck.

    As for the extra free tickets I was promised a couple of weeks back now… they’ve still not appeared. Time for me to chase that up again.

  • Evernote's confusing menu

    The other day I stumbled on a tip about Evernote. It was a snippet of information in a bigger post on the Evernote blog so I saved it to Evernote (obviously) to take a look at later.

    The tip was that Ctrl-Cmd-B in Evernote (on the Mac) will format a body of text as source code. While I’m not in the habit of using Evernote to store code, not even snippets of code (that’s something far better served by Gist), it seemed like something worth committing to memory.

    This morning, while finally in front of a suitable machine, I took a look. Sure enough, there’s the menu option.

    Code formatting menu option

    Handy! So I created a test note with some code in it so that I could see how it formatted it. I was curious to see if it just did simple fixed text or if it offered options to highlight various languages (I didn’t hold out much hope for the latter, but it was worth a look).

    That’s when it got odd.

    After I created a note and went to format some code, the menu option disappeared!

    Lack of code formatting menu option

    From what I can tell, once it’s gone, there’s no way to get it back. At least, not until you actually close down Evernote and start it up again.

    Frustratingly, none of this is the case in the Windows version. While the key combination is different there, the menu option is available and stays available.

    The version of Evernote I have (on my iMac and my Macbook) is 6.9.2. The version number on Windows is 6.4.2 (after checking for updates – I’m going to guess that the Mac and Windows version numbers don’t match on purpose).

    Goodness knows what’s going on here. All I can imagine is that it has something to do with a thread I found on Evernote’s support forum that suggests that code block formatting is some sort of test/beta feature and can only be enabled via a settings option that isn’t available via the version downloaded from the Apple App Store.

    So, at some point, I guess I’m going to have to uninstall Evernote from the Macbook and the iMac, reinstall from the Evernote website itself, and try this again. All of which seems a bit silly when the menu option is there and visible when I run Evernote up!


    Edit to add: Sure enough, removing the App Store version and installing the version from Evernote’s own website, and then going into preferences and enabling the option, sorted it. It’s still really odd they’d promote the facility via the blog and not mention it, and also very odd that the option would always show until the first time you’re in a position to use it, and then it’d disappear.

  • Virgin East Coast 20

    After my last post I sent off an email to chase up what was happening with the promised phone calls about the Ticket Wallet app and the general delays with getting things sorted. Here’s what I wrote:

    Hi again Mike.

    It’s now a week since you replied and, I think it’s fair to note, it’s no longer “early” this week. I’ve had no call – neither form yourself nor from anyone related to the Ticket Wall App – and I’ve not received the promised tickets either. While I do try to be patient I have to admit that it’s starting to get very frustrating, being made lots of promises about progress that simply never happen. This has been going on for months now and I’m always having to chase things up.

    I’d very much appreciate it if you could explain to me what’s going on, and why.

    A while later I got a reply. He said he’d be getting the tickets in the post the following day (so a Friday, which I think I can safely say isn’t the start of the week) and would also phone me.

    The following day he did keep his promise. He called (I managed to miss him the first time, but when I was finally free I called back and we got to chat). He promised I’d get some more tickets early next week and also that someone with technical knowledge would finally call about the app problem.

    I have, of course, been here before. This is exactly the promise that was made a couple of months ago. It’s easy to make the promise, apparently not so easy to deliver on it (or address the issue of not delivering on it).

    So now I wait. Again. I’ll be sure to update when something happens (or doesn’t).

  • Virgin East Coast 19

    I think I need to rethink the meaning of the word “certainly”. Anyone still bothering to read this blog will recall that, last week, the Customer Relations Manager at Virgin East Coast said:

    If you can leave this with me I will certainly be in contact early next week to try and get this resolved once and for all. In the meantime I will pop a further couple of tickets in the post for you, just so you have them incase you need to travel urgently.

    That email was received last Thursday evening. It’s now the following Thursday. Personally I’d take “certainly”, in the above, to mean that there’s little to no chance that I won’t be contacted in the early part of this week, and that there’s little to no chance that the tickets won’t arrive in the early part of this week.

    I’d have thought that “certainly” would be used to create a huge contrast between what has gone on before, and what will follow.

    But, like I say, it’s Thursday the following week and I’ve had no call from anyone about the Ticket Wallet app, I’ve had no call or email from Mike (the Customer Relations Manager) and the tickets haven’t tumbled through the door.

    I’m not surprised. I’m not in the least bit surprised. I am, however, rather disappointed.

    And, of course, I’m now going to have to chase things up again.

subscribe via RSS