My Experience With Apple’s Customer Satisfaction Program

Apple won me as a customer a while ago, they won me when I got my first Apple laptop, an iBook G4. Since then I didn’t have any bad experiences with them, none that would convince me to switch to another brand. Their products just worked and met my expectations.

Unfortunately, about 2 weeks ago, my 2012 MacBook Air’s battery started showing asService Battery. What really made me angry is that the laptop was bought on February 28, 2013, and it was already February 28, 2014, so this means it died just one day after the warranty expired. Totally unacceptable for a portable device, totally unacceptable for a laptop that cost me £1,599.

Reading other articles and forums posts from different people having problems with their batteries just made me think that Apple really screwed this up. After even more searching I also found other saying that Apple wouldn’t replace the battery for them, even if still in warranty for various reasons.

I was getting really pissed off, but at the same time I know that I have to solve this one way or another. After a few minutes of searching who to contact regarding this problem, I found that the only Authorised Apple Service Provider in Romania is iStyle, so I immediately went to them. Fortunately for me, they were very helpful and willing to solve this problem as fast as possible.

After the diagnostic test finished running, I had no surprise when I saw that the battery was indeed faulty. As far as I understand Apple agrees to replace a faulty battery under warranty, but it will refuse to do it for batteries that are just drained due to normal usage. After checking my laptop in their database, I was surprised to hear that it was still in warranty for a few more hours. It seems that Apple takes into consideration the US timezone, so it made sense. I asked them if I can go back home to make some backups and come back in a couple of hours and they agreed.

A couple of hours later, when I got back to iStyle, the laptop was no longer in warranty. Fortunately, the same guy was there and he remembered me. He took my laptop, told me he’ll get back to me in 5 days tops, and reassured me that he’ll do everything possible to solve this problem under warranty, even though it just expired.

Three days later I got an email from them, telling me that I can drop by to pick up my laptop. I was pleased to hear that after they explained the situation to Apple, they agreed to replace my battery for free under they’re Customer Satisfaction Program.

From what I’ve been told, I understand that Apple’s CS Program is a special program focused on providing the best experience for they’re most valued customers, as well as dealing with situations like this. It’s good to know something like this exists and I wonder how much they are covering under this program.

Although it didn’t start as a pleasant experience, it turned out to be one in the end. Applewon me over again by simply being flexible and showing me that they care about their customers. iStyle won me also with their professional and friendly support.

Congrats Apple and iStyle for a job well done and yet another happy customer!

Do you have any experience with Apple’s Customer Satisfaction Program? What was the problem and how did they handle it?

The Land of Stray Dogs

I’ve been in more than 25 countries and never saw a stray dog. Nowhere!

On the other hand, in Romania, not only there are plenty of them, but it also seems like stray dogs have more rights than human beings. Just a few days ago a 4 year old kid was killed by one. Since then everyone takes sides. Some of them say that it’s unacceptable for things like this to happen and that we should do something about this (to which I strongly agree), some others are trying to find somebody else to blame, such as the kid’s grandmother who wasn’t carefully watching her and convince others to leave the “poor” stray dog alone.

For animal lovers

Dear citizens of this educated, modern, European country:

  • Like I already said, I’ve been in more than 25 countries so far and never saw a stray dog. Nobody in those countries feel a need to have them back. If they want pets, they take them home, not leave them on the streets.
  • If you love a stray dog / cat / mice / horse / pig, please take it home. How would you feel if someone would feed you every day, play with you, earn your respect, but let you freeze out in the cold and not give you any shelter?
  • This is one of the many reasons why we will never develop as a country. What do you think foreigners will think about this country when they will read news like this? And believe me, articles about this incident made in the International Press. Educated citizens of other countries are afraid to come to Romania because they think that: we have no streets or electricity, we live in huts, we travel in a chariot, there’s no safety on the streets, nor law enforcement, corruption is everywhere, you will be murdered if you take the wrong taxi. I heard all these reasons and many more, and I have to reasons to judge the persons who told me these things because every time they hear or read something about Romania is a bad thing. And they are all open-minded and educated persons.
  • Last but not least, if that was your kid, would you have the same opinion?

For foreigners

Yes, I know Romania might not be your number one destination and you might’ve read a lot of negative news about it, but why not spend your next holiday or at least one weekend here? I’m far from a being a tour guide, but if you want to see what Romania really has to offer, I’ll be glad to be your guide. There’s a lot to see and to do. Do you want to spend a nice relaxing weekend? Do you want to party hard ‘til 7 AM? Do you to go to do sea-side or maybe do some trekking? We got you covered ;–)

Special thanks

To everyone that has an open mind and actually does something to promote Romania, especially to Yvette Larsson who does a great job through her website (a much better one that the Ministry of Tourism).

30 X 40 X 16

30 hours / week x 40 weeks / year x 16 years = 19200 hours.

This is how much the average person spends in school to get a “not so well” paid job. Do you know anyone happy with their salaries right after they finished their formal education? I don’t! Who’s to blame? The employers? You might be inclined to say yes, but why should you blame them because all those hours spent in school didn’t prepare you for your job?

Yes, you should blame the school system, because almost everything we learn is either way too old, or it just cannot be applied at your new job. Unfortunately every University, regardless of the country the University is in, is facing the same challenges: how to keep their curricula updated? Some Universities are doing a lot better than others. These are the Universities that are always innovating and understood the current market needs and they are trying to prepare their students for the real life experience.

But why do you blame only the school system and you don’t blame yourself? There are countless opportunities to learn something new on your own, things that can actually help you at your job, and can even help you win some good gigs, earn some experience and pay for the beers in college. The Internet is a huge library where you can find virtually anything you need. You’re not satisfied with your CS class? No problem, go in iTunes U and you’ll find that Stanford University has some really good CS classes, which anyone can freely access? Are you interested in History or Astronomy? Yale University are offering those courses for free. Are you interested in learning Web Design? Head over to Tutsplus.com and start learning today! Can’t afford a Tutsplus subscription? No problem, they have some great free tutorials also on their Tuts+ Hub, just chose your topic.

Kevin Whipps has another great article on the Tutsplus network, and I agree with him: School is not for everyone, and that’s ok!

Would you let your schooling interfere with your education? I surely didn’t!

Screw It, Just Do It!

Stop thinking “how it will be if…”, stop saying you would do things differently, stop procrastinating, stop moaning! Do something!

I keep seeing persons moaning about what they are doing in their day to day life, starting from their jobs, ending with their personal lives. It’s like a plague when nobody is happy, but everyone keeps going, just because they are scared of making changes. Don’t be! I’m not saying taking huge risks without thinking about it, but sit down and relax for 5 minutes, clear your mind, then answer this question: How do I want to spend my life?

There’s no right or wrong answer, so answer as honest as possible. Some will want to live on a beach, far away from civilisation, some will want to own a yacht or an airplane, some will want to change people’s lives in some way. It’s your dream, it’s the kind of future you imagine it will work for yourself. I, for example, when I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut. Things changed in the meantime, but that was my dream back then and I’m still fascinated about space, but being an astronaut is kind of far from how I want to spend my life :–)

When you answered this question, ask yourself another one: What do I have to do to get there? Lay down your path in simple steps. You’ll have to make changes in your life, some of them will feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but if that’s really what you want to do, do it!

How do I want to spend my life? I really love what I’m doing, I’m a Linux Sysadmin, but in 10 years from now (tops) I want to retire on a sunny island (not a touristy one) with crystal clear water, have a small boat, open a scuba diving center and a caffee. I’ll probably continue being a Sysadmin because I like doing it, but most likely I’ll start to shift focus at that point.

What do I have to do to get there? I wasn’t satisfied with my job because most of the time I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do, so I quit. The rest of the steps I’ll take are not be publicly disclosed, but yes, I have a plan :–)

How do you want to spend your life?

Why “the Perfect Server” Is NOT Perfect

Or why not to follow Howtoforge.com’s articles on your production machines.

I suppose everyone heard about “The Perfect Server” series from howtoforge.com. I was looking today at “The Perfect Server – Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon” and I’ve found that it’s the same old story since the beginning of the series.

So what mistakes do they make? First of all, in a production environment, one servers makes one thing. For example, a nameserver is a nameserver. Not also a web server, a mail server, and God knows what other services are running. Defining a single service for your server in your network allows you to have a better management and you are somehow safer in the Internet world.

Think that you have “The Perfect Server” on a machine connected to the Internet. You are running Apache, MySQL, postfix, bind, proftpd, Courier-POP3/IMAP, Webalizer and ISPConfig. That looks like a very busy server. What’s happening if an exploit is out in the wild, about which you have no knowledge, and which is not officially out and the vendor doesn’t have a fix for it? And believe me, there are many. Someone who’s having access to that piece of code, will have the opportunity to hack into your server. And after he’s in, he has access to all your other running services. Think about what impact has this attack if he has access to the e-mails you are exchanging with your business customers. Think about you are running an eCommerce website. The attacker will have access to all your customer database. And that’s the best case scenario. Now imagine what your customers will think if they see a banner on your site “H4ck3d by th3 l33t3st h4x0r 1n th3 w0rld”.

So, if you’re running “The Perfect Server” you are running a lot of services. Every one of these services can have, and will have, trust me, one or several vulnerabilities. Count your total running services, think of a number of ways an attacker could possibly exploit a service, and multiply those 2 values and you’ll find the chances your server will be attacked and successfully exploited. I’ll let you do the math.

On the other side, you will not tell me that your budget is low and you don’t have enough money to spend on hardware. No problem. Use virtualization! You can run all those servers inside a single one. Much better, you can do full backups much easily, just copy/paste the image of your virtual machine.

In my oppinion, the following can be a better setup for your network:

  • 2 nameservers.
  • 1 or 2 mailservers.
  • 1 webserver
  • 1 database server
  • 1 FTP server
  • 1 server for statistics (webalizer, cacti, awstats, SNMP or whatever you want)
  • 1 access server
  • 1 firewall server

One every one of those servers, install your distro of choice as minimal as you can, then install only the needed software for that server’s purpose.

The access server should be the only one accessible from outside your network via SSH or other remote-login protocol. All the other servers should accept remote-login only from t he access server. Also, try to restrict who can access your access server. If you know from which IP’s you will SSH into it, you can restrict the access from your firewall. If you don’t know that, or if you get your IP via DHCP, you use port knockingKnockd can do this job for you.

Finally, take care what you run and how do you setup access to your servers. More services running on a single machine means more chances for an attacker to get into your server