My Top 15 iPad Apps

Getting an iPad?

Here’s my TOP 15 apps you should definitely check out.

Zinio: the iPad is great for reading magazines and although the Zinio app is (at present) a little clunky, it does the job.

Sketchbook: draw everything from simple diagrams and flowcharts to works of art.

Word Monkey: awesome game to work your brain.

Lifelike Clock: the app that wakes me up in the morning.

Analytics: check your site stats on the fly.

GoodReader: read PDFs with ease, great integration with Dropbox.

1Password: never forget your passwords again.

ABC (as in Australian Broadcasting Corporation): Watch TV, listen to the radio, read the news.

Reeder: Amazing RSS reader that integrates with Google Reader.

Dropbox: Get access to all of your files from your iPad.

Evernote: Take notes, retrieve notes, anywhere, anytime. I live in this app.

Twitterific: Very slick Twitter app.

Remote: Control your music collection from your iPad. Will be nicer when they come out with a true iPad version.

Stanza: Read the latest books and the classics. Unlike Apple’s iBooks app, you can actually buy books to read outside the USA. And they are usually a quarter of the price.

Osmos: AMAZING game, probably the most beautiful iPad app I’ve seen. Mesmerizing.

Open Letter To Apple Australia

Dear Apple Australia,

I would like to complain about your product quality and customer support.

I’m an Apple convert. I worked at Microsoft for a long time and so my conversion to Apple was a bit like a religious conversion. I remember buying my first Apple product, an iPod, in 2004 just after I left Microsoft. I felt guilty even buying it, like I was doing something dirty. By the time I bought my first Mac in 2007, I owned a couple of iPods, and an iPod touch and my conversion was well and truly complete.

But the last couple of months have really tested my faith in Apple.

It started on Jan 2 this year when my barely-two-year-old Macbook Pro 17″ died on me. When I took it into the Apple store at Chermside (Brisbane), they told me that the logic board had died and would need a replacement – at the cost of $2500. I had evidence to show that it wasn’t the logic board, it was the Nvidia chip, but the Apple folks disagreed with my analysis. I left it with them for two weeks to examine it but all I heard back was “it’s the logic board”.

Unfortunately I had bought this Mac at a Myer Store in Melbourne and they hadn’t sold me on Applecare, so I was screwed. A two-year-old $4000 Macbook Pro, dead in the water. I wasn’t happy.

Anyway, as I’m an Apple convert, I ended up buying a brand new Macbook Pro 17″ towards the end of January. I bought it via Apple Finance and it cost me something like $5000 including Applecare. It’s tricked out with 8Gb RAM, a 500GB drive, the anti-glare screen, etc. And I love it.

UNTIL… about two weeks after I bought it, the logic board DIED. So, I took it into the Apple Store at Chermside. The “Genius” there confirmed that diagnosis and said they’d put a new logic board in – but it would take 3 – 5 days. Why? Because they didn’t carry any logic boards that fit my machine in stock and would have to order one in, which would take 3 days, then would take them another couple of days to swap them over. I explained to the Genius, whose name was Joel, that I was traveling overseas at the end of the week and I *really* needed may laptop to be fixed before I left. He said he’s try to get it done for me quickly, but this still means I’d have to live without my MBP for a few days – which means a few days of no productivity, a few days of not getting my work done. I edit video and audio on my Macbook and without it, I’m screwed. TOUGH SHIT.

When I told Joel about the problem I’d had with my old MBP, he suggested I bring it back in so he could look at it.

So about three days later, when the new logic board came in, I went all the way back to the Apple Store and Joel said if I could stick around an hour, he’d get one of the engineers out the back to put in the new logic board so I could take it with me on my trip that evening. Great.

He also looked at the OLD MBP and confirmed the logic board was FINE, it was the graphic chip – GRRRR. So he said he’d get it fixed for me also. That’s great but WHY DIDN’T THEY TELL ME THAT A MONTH AGO SO I DIDN’T HAVE TO SPEND $5000 ON A NEW MBP???

Anyway… I leave the old MBP with Joel and take the new one, with the new logic board, home with me. Later that night, just as I’m packing to go to Nicaragua for a week, I turn on my fixed, less-than-a-month-old MBP and discover:
1) it won’t sleep
2) it won’t shutdown
3) the left fan isn’t working
4) the microphone isn’t working
5) the right speaker isn’t working

As I was leaving the next morning, I couldn’t take it back to the Apple Store until after my 8-day trip. So I jumped on the Apple site to try to book a Genius appointment for my return. AHA! The Apple store only accepts booking for five days in advance. So it’s IMPOSSIBLE to book an appointment for 8 days in advance.

So I rang Applecare and explained to the guy on the phone my problem. He said that he too could only book an appointment five days and so “you’ll need to call back in a few days”. I explained I was going to be in the jungles of Nicaragua WITHOUT A PHONE OR INTERNET for the next week and I wouldn’t be able to call back. “Well.. I can’t help you”, he said.

I lost my temper then and said “listen, LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR THE APPLE STORE IN CHERMSIDE AND TELL THEM I’LL BE COMING IN AT 11AM ON SATURDAY FEB 6.” Jesus. What a moron this guy was.

Okay so… I go to Nicaragua, taking my half-working-less-than-a-month-old-$5000-Macbook-Pro with me. I come back, go straight to the Apple Store in Chermside again. This time I see a new “Genius” called Marc. Marc checks my new laptop and confirms – the logic board needs to be replaced – AGAIN.

Oh and guess what – they don’t have any of them in the store, so, yep, I’ll have to wait another three days for them to order a new logic board in. Then I’ll need to COME BACK to Chermside again, leave it with them while they fix it, then come back to pick it up. That will make five trips to the Apple Store in two weeks to get a less-than-a-month-old Macbook Pro working like it should.

I tell Marc I’m not happy about all this and I want to speak with the manager. So that’s when I meet JARROD.

Jarrod’s a scruffy looking guy, probably about 25 or 26. I explain to Jarrod my problem. I started by asking why they don’t have replacement logic boards in stock and he replied “well we only carry the older ones, because the new ones don’t fail”. Well that hasn’t been MY experience,

I went on to tell Jarrod: “I’m not happy. I paid $5000 for a top of the line Macbook and it’s still not working and I don’t want to keep coming back here.” He said they’d fix it. I said “Well I know you will, but that’s not the point. I’m not happy about having to keep coming back here. What are you going to do to make me happy?”, I asked.

Jarrod said they’d make me happy by fixing my laptop. I explained “That’s not going to make me happy. That’s the very LEAST you’re can do. That’s what you should have done THE FIRST TIME. I want you to make me happy.”

Jarrod asked what that would take and I told him I didn’t know. “Be creative,” I told him. But Jarrod didn’t want to be creative. All Jarrod could offer was to fix my Macbook. Again.

When I told him that’s fixing my Macbook isn’t really good enough, that’s just the basic level of what they SHOULD do, he replied “I think you’ll find our service is better than you’d get anywhere else.”


I think if I bought a top-of-the-line laptop from Dell or HP and it failed TWICE IN THE FIRST MONTH, they would at least send a courier to pick it up from my office and then deliver a new one or a fixed one back to me. I wouldn’t have to visit their office FIVE TIMES IN A MONTH.

But Jarrod didn’t want to help. Jarrod didn’t want to make me happy. Jarrod let me leave the store MAJORLY pissed off that I’ll have to come back TWICE again in the next week just to get this problem resolved.

And all the while I was having this conversation with Jarrod, he was SMIRKING, like this was all some kind of big joke. I was NOT laughing. This is wasting my TIME and my ENERGY. And it means downtime, which costs me MONEY. And Jarrod seemed to think this was some huge joke.

One good note (kind of) – the old Macbook Pro that I took in on Jan 2? Fixed. It was the graphics chip after all. So I didn’t really need to buy the new one anyway.

As someone who extols the virtues of Apple all the time to friends and family and who has converted a few people to the Apple world, I have to say – while I love the products and the company, the Australian operation leaves a LOT to be desired. The quality control and customer support that I’ve experienced in the last couple of months has been terrible. Except for Joel. Joel’s a keeper. I think I might hire him.

Anyway Apple, you haven’t lost me as a customer – yet. I can’t go back to Windows. I guess I’ll wait to see what Google’s Chrome OS looks like.

I just thought you’d like feedback from a VERY unhappy customer. For what it’s worth.

Cameron Reilly

Macbook Disaster!!!! Need A New Mac!

Tech disasters are like being attacked by a Great White – you never see the danger coming until it’s too late.

Yesterday morning I shut the lid on my two-year old Macbook Pro 17″ to take a shower. Fifteen minutes later, when I opened up the screen again, nothing happened. I tried re-booting it, taking the battery out, etc, but it still wouldn’t boot.

So I dropped it into the Apple Store at Chermside. They called me today to inform me that the logic board is dead and that it will cost $2100 to replace it. An entirely new Macbook Pro only costs about $3500.

Luckily everything was backed up, but my only other machine is a 3 year-old Vista desktop, so it’s not compatible, even in this day of “cloud computing”. Chrissy is also letting me borrow her baby Macbook for urgent Mac-related stuff. But I really need to replace my Macbook Pro asap.

So I’m in the market for a new Macbook. My last one was kindly sponsored by a Canadian company in return for advertising for a year on this podcast. I’m hoping to find someone else willing to do a similar deal. If you’re interested, please email me.