Graphics card failures, angry customers, and a class action lawsuit
If you’re the proud owner of a 15″ or 17″ MacBook Pro, take note; if you purchased your beloved MacBook Pro in 2011, keep an extra careful eye on your precious cargo. We’re over 750 pages into a post on Apple’s own Community Support forums, hundreds of Twitter posts later, and countless cases of defective MacBook Pro logic boards later, it’s become apparent to – well – just about everybody paying attention that there’s something wrong with these machines. Thousands have revealed that their 15″ or 17″ MacBook Pro, purchased in 2011, have suddenly just… stopped working; including my own. The root of the problem apparently lies within these notebook’s graphics cards, which are integrated into the logic board.
The signs vary slightly, but just about every time inevitably lead to a single solution – replacement of the entire logic board. I was working on my three year old notebook like normal yesterday when all of a sudden the screen went white. Thinking it was nothing but a system crash, I held down the power button and turned the machine back on – only to be greeted by the familiar Apple logo distorted, with the entire screen covered in a putrid shade of green. What’s worse, upon booting the operating system my entire notebook crashes nearly every single time; for an entire day now, my only solution has been to run the machine in single user mode… which is hardly a solution at all.
Browsing through Apple’s own support community reveals that others have similar issues ranging in severity. Some notebooks appear to work fine for a couple of minutes, booting up and allowing the user to work without a problem, until the graphics of the machine suddenly gets distorted leading to a lockup. Another common one sees the notebook working when the operating system is forced to only recognize these notebook’s integrated Intel graphics using a tool such as gfxCardStatus, however this solution didn’t work for me. One unlucky MacBook Pro owner has seen four of these 2011 MacBook Pros see logic board failures, suggesting that issues with these models may be more widespread than first believed.
The worst part about all of this isn’t even that Apple sold defective machines to customers for almost an entire year – though, that is pretty bad in and of itself – it’s that the company is now refusing to even acknowledge that there’s an issue. Despite a ton of pressure from customers, the support forum topic, and even an entire event dedicated to raising awareness on social networks by customers bitten by this bad Apple, Apple has remained silent on the issue – refusing to acknowledge a widespread issue nor issuing any sort of recall. Which means that, if you’re like me and the warranty is up on your MacBook Pro, you’re looking at a logic board replacement of around $750 just to get a laptop that, for all you know, could fail in a matter of weeks, months or just a few short years all over again.
In order to force Apple’s hand on the issue, a class action lawsuit has been launched against the company on behalf of owners of the 2011 MacBook Pro models effected, as well as owners of some other Mac models that might suffer similar issues. The lawsuit claims that Apple “had knowledge of the defect, yet willfully and intentionally decided to hide the defect, resulting in continuing damage to the Class.”
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update this post with any response or information we might receive.
Except for that non-Retina one. That's still old and busted.
Just as the interwebs has predicted, Apple has today released a slightly refreshed updated MacBook Pro lineup, bringing some slightly better prices, faster processors, and more memory for nearly all of Apple’s MacBook Pro configurations.
The MacBook Pro with Retina Display has seen updates in both their 13″ size as well as their 15″ size; for $1299, customers can now get their hands on a notebook with a 2.6 GHz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid state drive. Customers can upgrade to 256GB of solid state storage for an additional $200, or for $1799 they’ll upgrade to a 2.8 GHz dual-core i5 processor as well as 512GB of solid state storage.
The 15″ models get similar upgrades, with the base $1999 model seeing a bump to a 2.2 GHz quad-core i7 processor as well as 16GB of memory, twice as much as before at this same price point. The high end 15″ model gets a price drop to $2499, and now carries a 2.5 GHz quad-core i7 processor, the same 16GB of memory, and 512GB of solid state storage. These are all the same Haswell based processors as before, but with slightly faster clock speeds – each option bringing with it about 200 MHz of extra speed.
The lone remaining non-Retina option, the base model 13″ MacBook Pro, remains – unfortunately – completely unchanged. We’ve got the same old, two year-old processor – the same mechanical hard drive based storage options – and the same amount of memory. What is changed their is a new price. Apple has decided that the 13″ MacBook Pro, which the customer sees as a popular machine for “Windows switchers”, gets a price drop to $1,099. Still fairly pricy for what you’re getting, but let’s be honest here – if you’re interested in a Mac, you should really only be looking at the MacBook Air lineup or the MacBook Pro with Retina Display lineup.
But not for the reasons you may think
You’re reading the headline right now and I bet I know what you’re thinking – this guy, he’s an Apple fanboy. He’s gotta be. I’m sitting here writing an article about why my switch to Android didn’t work out, after all. You’re probably betting that I’m sitting here with an iPhone next to me right now – and guess what, you’re absolutely right. But before I even start the meat of this article, I want to clear the air – I’m not back on my iPhone because I dislike Android. I didn’t even particularly dislike the Nexus 5 I was switching to. On the contrary, I quite liked both Android and the Nexus 5. So why am I back on my iPhone?
It turns out, the reason I went back is because at the end of the day – iPhone, Android, whatever – switching to Android just didn’t matter. It made nearly no tangible difference to my daily routines. Sure, there were some minor inconveniences – I missed iMessage terribly, and I couldn’t find an official version of the just fantastic TwoDots game on the Google Play Store. But really, for the most part, I couldn’t find a single tangible difference in the way I used iOS and Android.
Using Android was, to be honest, entirely enjoyable. Android is no longer the poorly designed mess that it was back when I last tried out the platform for real back in the Gingerbread days (over two years ago, for you non-geeky types). There’s an app for just about everything I wanted – Google Chrome is an excellent mobile browser, easily just as good as Safari on iOS 7. The camera on my Nexus 5 was fine – not iPhone 5s good, as I’m accustomed to, but certainly not bad in any sense of the world. Integration with Google Hangouts was beneficial, and I actually really liked the way that Facebook Chat Heads worked on Android – in fact, I wish Apple would let Chat Heads float above running applications and the home screen on iOS as they work on Android. While switching to Android, literally everything was fine or even great.
So why did I switch back to my iPhone? If I found my experience using Android just as good as my iPhone, why switching back? For me, it just turned out to make slightly more sense given my personal situation. The vast majority of my contacts use iPhones, so everyone I’m talking to just about is through iMessage when on my iMessage. Not a huge benefit over SMS in and of itself, but when you factor in the ability to chat with people via Mac and iPad – both of which I have and use regularly – that’s a huge plus on behalf of the iPhone. Then there’s the fact that the iPhone has a slightly better camera, I’ve put a ton of money into purchasing apps on the App Store, most of my music has been bought through iTunes, and even my iCloud calendars.
So that’s why I went back to my iPhone. Not because Android is bad – on the contrary, I enjoyed my time on Android. But just because it didn’t offer me anything significantly good enough to pull me away from my years of iPhone use. Proponents of Android will say that customization and extensibility of Android is a huge plus, but to be honest, I tried a bunch of different keyboards, launchers, etc. etc – and I went back to the stock Android setup every single time.
Oh, but lest I forget – I am super pumped about the thought of a Swype-like keyboard being available on iOS 8.
Ok, maybe stylish is a matter of taste
Fitness tracking has long been considering a huge up and coming business in the tech space, with the sheer number of fitness tracking wearable devices probably more than doubling in just the last year or so. But each and every fitness tracker – and there has been a lot of them, at this point – has had one single thing in common: none of them have worked on Microsoft’s platforms. Got a Windows Phone? Tough luck. How about a Windows RT tablet? Nope. So what’s a fitness fanatic with a love for Windows ecosystems to do? Fitbit, one of the leading manufacturers of tracking devices, has finally got you covered as the company has just brought over their Fitbit application to Windows Phone 8.
Fans of Fitbit with other platforms should be right at home here; Fitbit for Windows Phone looks and feels almost exactly like Fitbit running on either iOS or Android. Sure, it’s got a bit of a “modern” flair to it – that weird Windows Phone navbar at the bottom of the application, solid colors with no gradients and really simple typography, but really at the end of the day there’s nothing of any surprise to be seen here.
Also similar to the company’s Fitbit client for iOS and Android, there’s a limited subset of devices that application currently supports due to the requirement of Bluetooth LE both in the hardware and in the phone’s firmware. As of right now 17 existing smartphones are supported, and you’ll need to make sure your device is upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 (the newest version) to get access to all the goodies Fitbit has to offer.
Fitbit for Windows Phone is available on the Windows Store starting today, so if you’re excited to start wearing a computer-like-thing on your risk capable of tracking your every move, hit it up back in the source link. I won’t blame you.
Good news, fellow laptop connoisseurs. If you’re looking to get your hand on a MacBook Pro but have been feeling a little lukewarm about purchasing a 13″ or 15″ Retina model given that they haven’t been upgraded for a whopping 279 days, your wait is finally over – maybe. According to both sources at Apple Retail Stores as well as a Chinese Apple rumor site MacG.co, Apple will finally be updating both their 13-inch and their 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros tomorrow, stuffing a faster processor and more RAM into the familiar chassis.
According to the rumors, the low-end 15-inch model will be getting a boost to a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with a standard of 16GB of RAM, while two higher end 15″ MacBook Pro models will also be getting processor boosts of 200 MHz each.
If that doesn’t sound like much, that’s because it’s not; Apple is likely using this as a stopgap solution to bring some fresh air into the lineup as they await for Intel to ready the real next course meal, the company’s Intel “Broadwell” processor family. Broadwell represents a significant architectural improvement over the company’s current “Haswell” based offerings, however Intel has delayed release of those particular chips for quite some time now, seriously limiting what Apple’s able to provide with an updated MacBook Pro.
At the end of the day, if you’re waiting for a real update – this might not be enough for you. But if you’re happy with some extra RAM and a little bit of extra wiggle room in terms of raw processing power, the MacBook Pro lineup is still one of the best in class.
It turns out the internet is good for a lot
The internet has done a lot for the world – it has revolutionized the way we consume information, its revolutionized the way we express ourselves, and even revolutionized the way we communicate with one another. But this week, it’s helped bring about yet another revolution – one for the heart and soul of a regional supermarket chain.
If that sounds even a little crazy, then you absolutely won’t believe the specifics. First, the Board of Directors at Market Basket – a family operated supermarket chain located throughout the North East of the company – voted to oust beloved CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas from the company following a long running family dispute with Arthur S. DeMoulas, who control of Market Basket’s Board of Directors recently. Then, the company employees (all of which aren’t unionized, by the way) decided to take matters into their own hands. Using social media, supporters of Arthur T. DeMoulas, known also as “Artie T.”, decided to encourage like-minded fellow employees and customers alike to boycott the company, refusing to work and encouraged patrons to shop at other supermarkets until Arthur T. is reinstated as CEO.
“This is a movement to stop the avarice of Arthur S. and his board of directors who have stopped caring about the company, the associates, and the customers.” said Sean Brown, an employee at Market Basket Store #09 in Haverhill, MA regarding the protestors’ motives. Joseph Medici, another longtime Market Basket employee in Haverhill, believes that former CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas was key to the success of the once growing chain, saying that Mr. DeMoulas “kept the prices low” while “still [having] one of the largest profit margins in the grocery industry.”
The movement has been historic; supporters of the movement have flocked to various groups on Facebook to get the word out; one such group, “SAVE ARTIE T. & SAVE MARKET BASKET” has amassed 17,918 members as of this writing; another, “Save Market Basket”, a whopping 62,760 members.
Likewise on Twitter, hundreds of people have been expressing their support by tweeting with the hashtag #SaveMarketBasket, getting their message out to a total of over 85,000 Twitter users in all. Protestors are even using Instagram to get the word out, posting around a thousand images in all with similar hashtags.
On top of the now countless social media posts, protestors are also making their voices heard – and helping touch lives – using some of the web’s most popular crowdsourcing applications. A petition regarding the Market Basket on Care2 has grown to become one of the largest ones active on the site, reaching 23,824 signatures with many leaving messages of support: “I fully support all these hard working people in their pursuit of what is right and true.” GoFundMe is also being used to help support truck drivers and warehouse workers involved in the strike, who have stopped receiving pay from the company. That’s managed to raise an impressive (and growing) $3,520.
So for all of this excitement, all of this talk, and all of this effort on the behalf of the employees, how effective has the strike been thus far? Incredibly, an absolutely massive one. According to unconfirmed reports, Market Basket suffered a 90% profit loss on July 22nd, and an even greater 91% loss on July 23rd. Market Basket parking lots are virtually empty – aisles are deserted, and food is seldom longer being restocked; even the back rooms are empty, as you can see in the photo above. And how about those nearby competitor supermarkets? Well, let’s just say that bread is flying off the shelves.
What does Market Basket’s new management have to say about all this? Why, “no comment”, of course; hardly any surprise for the likes of new co-CEOs James Gooch of Radio Shack and Felicia Thornton, formerly of Albertsons, who Sean pointed out to us has a “terrible track records where they have destroyed their previous companies and lined their own pockets.” Of course, I’ll be sure to update you on how the Market Basket saga plays out once all is said and done. The Board of Directors is scheduled to have a meeting regarding the issues tomorrow, the same day that the protestors are planning their biggest demonstration yet. Stay tuned as this continues to develop.
Photographs provided for use courtesy of Katie Langlois, Johanni Manon.
Hath Hell frozen over?
Steve Jobs didn’t quite care for IBM back in the 1980s, but that means nothing today as both Apple and IBM have announced a new global partnership to “transform enterprise mobility”. According to a joint press release published just a few minutes ago, the companies claims that the new partnership aims to “redefine” the way businesses get work done, as well as address key challenges in the mobile enterprise category.
The centerpiece of the deal appears to be a new lineup of enterprise mobility applications powered by IBM’s “big data and analytics capabilities” coming soon to the iPhone and the iPad, as well as bringing IBM’s cloud services to the platform allowing for device management and security. Apple will also be beefing up their AppleCare service and support to meet “the needs of the enterprise.”
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook had the following to say about the news, “iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and over 92 percent of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today… for the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”
The two companies are calling all of this IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions, and it will “totally transform how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad, allowing companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and consumer satisfaction” – all according to the press release, of course.
No word yet when we’ll see all of this in action, however Apple does note in the press release that iOS 8 will improve enterprise support over previous releases of the software by “improving of the way users are informed of how their devices are configured, managed, or restricted, with expanded security management and productivity features.” iOS 8 was, of course, announced at Apple’s WWDC conference in San Francisco just a few short weeks ago.
We have published to Apple and IBM’s full press release after the break.
Well, there goes one defining feature
It was almost a year ago that Microsoft announced that every Xbox One would double as a developer kit for inexpensive game development for independent game developers and hardcore professionals alike, but it seems as though today that dream – or, promise, rather – has died. Microsoft’s Xbox Advanced Technology Group’s Martin Fuller has, unfortunately, confirmed to popular UK technology magazine DigitalSpy that “there are no plans” at the moment to implement the promised functionality.
Fuller continued, “We were in the early stages of Xbox One looking at the idea of a retail kit that could be turned into a development kit, and vice versa… in the end, although that was a very admirable goal, it hasn’t happened unfortunately. Can’t tell you the specifics of exactly why not.”
So there you have it, one stand out feature of the Xbox One dead before it even got off the ground. We should have known there was trouble in paradise when there hadn’t been a single word on the functionality for almost a year, but there were some of us who had held out hope. As developer Steven Troughton-Smith put it on Twitter this afternoon, “…that settles the ‘will I get an Xbox One?’ question.”
We can only guess the decision has just been made for more than just a couple of people, Steven.
Yes, we said earholes, and that's kind of funny
I’ve got a small problem with earbuds – though I love their small size and the convenience that goes along with them, they just don’t seem to fit my ears all that well. I usually throw out the pair that comes with every smartphone or MP3 player, even the EarPods that came with my iPhone 5s – because, well, they just don’t fit my earholes. I’ve taken to buying in-ear earbuds to circumvent the problem and continue my love of music listening on the go, but to be honest, in-ear earbuds aren’t perfect. Luckily for me and anyone else who shares in my earhole frustration, Nikki Kaufman of the awesome online store Quirky has come up with a potential solution – a new line of earbuds called Normal, earbuds that are specifically designed for your – yes, your – earholes.
How can that be? Through the magic of 3D printing, of course. To begin, download the new Normal app on your iPhone or Android smartphone and take a photo of your earhole next to a quarter. That way, Normals knows exactly what shape – and, thanks to the quarter, what size – your earholes are, the dimensions of which will be used to custom design and 3D print earbuds that are literally perfect fits for your earholes.
Normals will begin shipping soon, and each pair will sell for $199. While that may seem pricy for earbuds from what essentially amounts to a no-name company, Kaufman promises that these earbuds will be worth the price – not only will they be a perfect fit for your earholes, they’ll also be awesome sounding. Kaufman revealed to The Verge that the team behind Normals has worked with contractors and engineers behind some of Sonos, Harman, Skullcandy, Bose, Beats, and Shure’s earbuds, all of which are known for their high quality sound.
Sound good? Head to Normal’s website to download the app and get started. Oh, and, one last thing. Earholes.
A great, sanely sized Android phone
Good news, fellow fans of sanely sized Android smartphones – Sony is bringing the already excellent Xperia Z1 Compact smartphone, which was announced in international markets over half a year ago now, to the United States. With its 4.3 inch screen size, starting now you’ll be able to wonder over to Sony’s online store and order your very own for the not-too-awful price of $550 for an unlocked GSM model. That way you’ll be able to run it on your carrier of choice – as long as that carrier is called either T-Mobile or AT&T, of course.
The real question is why aren’t any of America’s carriers actually embracing the Xperia Z1? That might have something to do with market trends, as it turns out. If the likes of the Moto X and other “mini” versions of popular smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and the HTC One mini, are any indication – American consumers just aren’t that into smartphones will screens smaller than ~5 inches anymore.
Though accurate specific sales numbers are difficult to come by, we can use the likes of WhistleOut to determine which smartphones on each US carrier are most popular. On Verizon, only one of the top 5 most popular non-Apple smartphones has a screen size smaller than 5 inches – and that’s the Samsung Galaxy S3, with its still large 4.8 inch display – which was actually on the larger size of large at the time of its release back in 2012.
A similar story unfolds when you take a look at the nation’s other three top carriers. Four out of the top 5 non-Apple smartphones on AT&T have screen sizes larger than 5 inches, as well as four out of five on Sprint. All of the top 5 smartphones on T-Mobile have screen sizes larger than 5 inches. Basically, what this tells is is this – carriers will offer smaller Android smartphones to consumers when consumers show a desire to own one. At the moment, that desire just doesn’t seem to be there… unless you’re buying from a certain manufacturer named Apple, that is.
Things aren't perfect, but they're getting better, faster
For centuries now, mankind has been using technology to benefit nearly every corner of civilization. Since the early days of applied sciences, we have been using technology to grow more crops, faster, with less waste and more product. Technology has been used to extend the human lifespan far beyond what human kind has ever seen before; modern medicine and increasingly advanced surgical procedures saves countless lives every year. Horse drawn carriages, roads, and boats stretch the possibilities of human migration and transport – trains, cars, and planes shatter any preconceived notions of limitations in their entirety. The abacus made number crunching easier – the calculator made it faster, the computer so powerful, it was nigh magic.
Read more after the break.