Archive for the 'Apple' Category
Recently, I posted a couple of times about AT&T’s poor network in the Reston Town Center area. Well the issue is spreading.
Now the tower by my house is starting to show strain. My house is located 2 miles south of the town center and exactly 2,102 feet from the cell tower at the Fox Mill shopping center (actually in the parking lot of the fire station). I always have 5 bars. And I have never had much issue with my iPhone when I am at my house. But in the last 5 days or maybe a week now, I have noticed dropped calls, the inability to make calls, and missed voice calls (you get a voicemail but nothing in the missed call list). All of this while at my house, stationary.
For example, last night (Tuesday) I was talking to my tax guy at 3:32pm. The call lasted 6 minutes before I got the below CALL FAIL. Sitting in my living room, 5 bars, not moving much at all. I dialed back at 3:39 and we completed our conversation during the next 4 minutes.
On Sunday, I was on the phone with a customer support center getting help installing a new thermostat at 2:46pm. I was on hold for about 7 minutes before I got to a person. I was just beginning to tell the person what the issue was when I got dropped with a CALL FAIL. 9 minutes on the phone. Stationary in my kitchen. 2102 feet from a tower. 5 bars.1 comment
The Reston Town Center in Reston, VA is a very upscale shopping and business area located near Dulles Airport about 20 miles outside of our nation’s capital. The mall is home to a number of high end stores including Apple, Bebe, Banana Republic, and many fine resturaunts. In addition, the area is home to numerous fortune 500 businesses including Microsoft, Oracle, Google Sallie Mae, Fannie Mae, and many more. And the town center is also home to a number of 20+ story high rise condo’s priced in the million dollar and up range.
Certainly the Reston Town Center is not a low population, far out suburb. This is a major metropolitan city on its own.
Yet for a week now AT&T has had zero coverage on its 3G network. No voice. No voicemail. No data. Period. My wife noticed it first (around 11/3) as she works in the area every day. Then I noticed it a couple of days later on Sunday 11/8 when I went to a store in the area. I tried to use data to find the phone number of my dog’s vet. I couldn’t. So I tried calling my wife. Nothing. The phone (an iPhone) showed 5 bars but it had no ability to do anything on the network.
Then I noticed that the bars would drop to zero and come back with the E (edge) symbol. Then it would go to NO SERVICE. And then a minute later back to 3G but still no ability to use the phone. Nothing including turning off the phone would help.
On Tuesday I was at theÂ town center and again having issues so I went to the Apple Store to test one of their phones in the store. Before I could even get to a phone, the Apple Store Greeter guy asked if I needed any help. I explained the issue and he immediately said they were aware of the issue with AT&T. No one in the Apple Store could use the network or was able to make calls at that location! Wow. Bad.
I happen to know someone who works for AT&T and I sent him some info about the issue and he said he escalated it internally. But days have gone by and still no resolution. So today, about a week after it seems to have started (according to the report from AT&T which has notes of first reports on 11/7) I went to the AT&T store at the Reston Town Center. The guy at the counter immediately acknowledged the issue and looked up the problem on an internal status website. He confirmed that it was listed as an issue on his site and had been a problem for over a week even though the status on his site said it was first reported on 11/11 (yesterday). He then told me to contact customer service to report the issue (why did they not report it?).
So I went home and called AT&T customer service (I could not call them from the town center, that was for sure) and found that they had the issue listed as “closed”! They were very nice and promised to re-open the issue. Then the call center person told me to restart my phone and even remove my SIM daily until the problem was fixed. What this hoo haa had to do with the tower at the town center being down I have no idea. Yes, I tried it. No it did nothing.
One interesting thing is that she did mention a new cell tower was going up about 3 miles from that area. Coupled with this report from another site, I wonder if the behavior I am seeing at the town center is equipment failure or simply an overloaded cell. Seems that New York people see this odd switching between 3G and E constantly and it is well known that AT&T is severely overloaded in NYC. Who knows.
But I guess in the end I got $70 out of Ma Bell and that made me feel a little better. But I wonder how long it will take the largest cellular company in the United States of America to be able to provide voice service for their customers who pay them north of $150 a month to place and receive phone calls?
UPDATE 11/13/2009: Was back in the area today in the morning around 9:30am. Everything looked like it was working. Called a few people on the drive up and the call lasted all the way through the trouble area. Data was working too. Went to lunch at the town center around 11:45am and everything still worked great. Maybe AT&T had actually solved the issue. My AT&T contact even said that he had confirmed the issue was solved and they thought he (and I) were crazy to be still reporting the issue.
At 12:30pm everything came to a halt just like it has everyday for the last week+. My phone said NO SERVICE. I could not make calls. No data. Nothing. I switched to EDGE and was able to make a call and leave a vmail for about 45 seconds before I was dropped. And this call was made while sitting in the Barnes and Noble parking lot in my Jeep Wrangler with the engine off. No reception issues there, right?
Some screenshots below if it could possibly get AT&T to admit that maybe, just maybe, the problem may not yet be solved. One could only hope. Check out the one shot with the small circle instead of 3G or E (edge)…that is the GPRS network symbol. Man, that is grim. Makes me wonder why AT&T is so upset with Verizon that they are suing them about their latest TV ads. If Verizon has that much larger of a 3G network and if it even works half as good as the small footprint of 3G that AT&T has, Verizon should be tooting their own horn. You betcha.
I bought a 3GS iPhone back in June. It had an issue with the power on/off button in August and I took it in. They replaced the phone on the spot. I resync’d with iTunes when I got home and everything was back to normal. All data, apps, etc restored. Even wifi preferences and passwords.
Compare that my Motorola RAZR phone which had a problem when I was with Sprint. There was no way to take it to a Sprint Store and have it serviced even though it was under warranty (just 3-4 months old at that point). Instead I had to wade through Motorola’s support phone system tree, get an RMA, and send it in on my own dime. Four weeks later I got a new phone. During that period I would have been without a phone which is (for me) my only phone except that I stole my son’s phone and had Sprint transfer the number to it for that period.
But when the new phone arrived, I had another issue. Although I had backed up my address book using bluetooth sync to my Mac, I had to restore that data. Not a huge problem, but it was a lot of manual techie work to get it to happen. A normal person would have given up and re-typed it. But I eventually got it done.
But even after getting the address book back on the RAZR, all the settings, ringtones, wall paper, icons and more all needed to be set again to how I liked it. There was no way to just back-up the phone initially and then restore all settings to a new one. Did the RAZR have a setting file which contained all that stuff? Sure. But it was not something they would give to the consumer.
So fast forward another month. I again have an issue with my iPhone. This time it is a problem with the screen (a small crack under the glass). The issue was not due to a drop or anything. So I took it in. They replaced the screen in the store in about 10 minutes while I waited. Free.
Yes, I had two issues with the iPhone physically, but I think this is fairly unusual. The other units we have in the house have all worked flawlessly from a hardware perspective. But my real point is that Apple gives you something the other guys don’t (can’t?). SERVICE! And I am more than happy to pay a little more for Apple’s products in order to get service like this. It is so worth the small premium.
And of course this applies to their computer products as well. Why save $400 on a cheapo Dell or HP laptop when you can have a much nicer machine with local service for just a little more. I know my answer.
Now for the really funny part to the story. I read on the intertubes that Apple Store employees have been slipping up on info that AT&T has been a very poor performer. The first I personally heard this was when I bought my 3GS back in June. I was actually asked how I liked my 3G phone (which I had previously) and specifically how AT&T was working out. Not a formal survey, but definitely a question they were asking people. But lately AT&T’s network has been much worse. In fact, in New York one employee at a genius bar specifically wrote on a work order that typical call drop rates in NYC were 30% and that this guy’s iphone was only showing 20% or so and that was not enough to replace the hardware itself.
So I asked the employee to check my drop rate. The apple employee immediately told me that they had been having a “ton of people coming in during the last 3-4 weeks” since AT&T had been making changes perhaps to support MMS messaging. It got so bad that “they had a line out the door” of people complaining of the “inability to make calls”. He went further to say that many Apple store employees had the same problem. The issue was likely not my phone but he would check the drop logs anyway.
He would not give me a screen shot, but I can tell you that the call drop percentages for my phone since around Sept 9th were between 17% and 22% daily pretty much every day. He thinks (and so do I) that now that AT&T got their changes completed for MMS, that things might settle down. I hope.
AT&T: Your World Delivered (sometimes? on occassion?)
So in conclusion, I still love the iPhone and what I can do with it. And I absolutely love Apple’s service and support. All of this in spite of AT&T’s totally lackluster service.
AT&T service poor and expensive. Apple service excellent and free.
When should I expect that service credit from Ma Bell? ;-)1 comment
Whether you have a corded or wireless version, sometimes the trackball will get gummed up with oil/dirt. Since the mouse does not come apart very easily and the parts inside the trackball are very tiny anyway, taking it apart is not a very good option. The best approach I learned today (at the Apple store in Reston) is to simply take a piece of paper and turn the mouse upside down and roll the trackball around on the paper. The oils and some of the dirt come off on the “rough” paper. My experience using this method restored my track ball to 100%.
This may also be a good approach to cleaning blackberry trackballs. They are very similar mechanisms inside.
The latest OS install brings very little in the way of new features. I am not complaining, it just is what it is. But there are a couple of little nuggets that I have found which I believe are new and which are very nice to see.
1) In 10.5 when you had a folder open, there was a nice search bar at the top. When you typed something to search for, the search would revert to searching the entire Mac instead of the folder you were in. You then had to click on the folder again in the list to search the folder you had been in. Annoying. Now there is a preference in the Finder preferences to fix that and have the search just search that folder. This is very handy for searching system folders and library folders which Spotlight does not automatically provide results for….trying to find that hidden preference file that you want to blow away for troubleshooting, etc.
2) You can now add a file server (Apple Share, etc) to your Login Items under System Preferences/Accounts. This will automatically open up that file share when you login! There were ways to do this under 10.5, but I believe this is now new and very easy under 10.6. Perhaps I am wrong and it existed before…but it is new to me :-)
Make it three features….
3) In an Open/Save dialog box, you can press APPLE (command) + SHIFT + “.” (period) and you can toggle seeing hidden files (those with a prefixed dot/period). This is great for editing unix .profiles, .htaccess files and more. No more having to use the terminal and vi or toggling the hidden file preference in the file for everything. Smart.No comments
1) It’s not perfect.
2) It’s better than Entourage in many ways.
3a) Address Book (Contacts) seem to sync really well. The updates work both ways (Mac, PC, and I assume Blackberry). But Groups are NOT respected if you use them in Outlook. This is not a huge issue for most people, but I do have a client who uses these groups to segregate his contacts into what is approaching a relational database of sorts!
3b) Everything else also seems to work fairly well for syncing – Calendar, Mail, and more. Overall it is a good experience and mostly for the better compared to the dreaded Entourage.
5a) Delegate access to Calendar and Tasks can not be set-up from the Mac side. Well it can to some extent, but at least for me working with a Rackspace hosted EX07 environment, delegate set-up barely works for READ ONLY access. If I do read only, someone can get view my calendar and task info from their Mac. But if I try to set a higher permission for a delegate (e.g., read/write), I get an error “Unknown Error from Exchange Server. CalExchangeErrorDomain 239.” Is this a Rackspace issue or an Apple issue? Who knows. I have tickets with each to find a solution.
5b) So I can’t set-up a delegate on a Mac, but I know I can on the Windows side in Outlook. If the delegate permission is set-up in Windows, then other people on a Mac can subscribe to the delegatee’s Calendar and Tasks from their native Mac Apps (iCal and Mail). BUT there are some glaring omissions…there are no options to subscribe to their address book/contacts, mail or anything else! There is simply no option. Apple reps sort of confirmed this is a lack of feature and I got the sense it is coming in the near future.6) One strangeness to report in addition to the bugs. When you use the Mac apps to access your personal mailbox, contacts, calendar, tasks, etc, there is a strange thing with Tasks/Todo. The Tasks show up under Todo in Mail.app. But iCal is the program actually doing the syncing. So you have to open iCal to get the tasks up to date in Mail’s Todo list! And if you want to instantly refresh the Todo list, right clicking on the todo list in Mail and selecting “Synchonize” will NOT do it. You must currently open iCal and/or hit refresh (command-R).
I think I understand why Todo items (tasks) are sync’d through iCal. But what I can’t understand is why the Synchronize command is broken in Mail.app. Nor can I understand why in iCal if a Todo item has a DUE DATE assigned, why it never shows up in the actualy iCal Calendar somewhere (the due date would make sense).
Oh, and the To Do items (tasks) are available in iCal although they do not show by default. You have to tell it to show your To Do list in iCal which is under the VIEW menu.
Even worse, evidently there are sync issues way beyond the small issues I listed above. We have been seeing tasks and other info more or less corrupted by Apple 10.6 Snow Leopard users that are delegates on other people’s accounts. Basically when you are a delegate and have not signed in for a while as a delegate to that person you are a delegate of, old data can be sync’d into the account you are a delegate for even though that data was removed/deleted long ago by the account owner! This happened twice with TASK data. I suggest staying away from Apple’s implementation of Exchange 2007 for a long while (until they fix their shit).
Not that this is huge news as it has been known for quite a while. But today I noticed that the wraps were more or less “off” the package. Reston Town Center has grown up even more.
UPDATE: I walked by the store today around lunchtime and they had a black curtain up to prevent you from looking inside. But you could see around it a bit and clearly they were setting up a ton of hardware. I suspected that they might open before Sept. But I just got an email that the grand opening is this weekend.5 comments
I set-up Time Machine successfully to backup to a network attach storage device (ReadyNAS 1100) twice now and have had great reliability. But for some reason, I have been trying to do it a third time at a client site and it will not work. I have been getting errors like:
Backup failed with error: 19
Network mountpoint not owned by backupd… remounting
I looked all over the ReadyNas.com site and followed their instructions perfectly. And I searched all over the blogs and other folks are having the same issue. Some think it is permission problems and I have no doubt some people have a lack of write access to their network share. But this was not the case for me.
What I found worked was after choosing the Time Machine volume in Time Machine preferences, you have to EJECT the time machine afp share (and sparse disk image if you had it mounted) BEFORE time machine will be happy and start backing up. I think it is because initially you had the share mounted as “you”, a normal user. And when time machine runs it wants to mount the share AS THE OWNER (backupd) in some way. If the share is already mounted as “you the user”, time machine can’t mount it as itself.
So when you choose the time machine volume for backups and the time machine preference says “backup starting in 120 seconds…119 seconds…118 seconds”, just eject the time machine AFP share and it just might work for you.1 comment
When I initially upgraded from 10.4 to 10.5 I had no trouble continuing to use my Motorola V3m (Sprint) as a modem via bluetooth. But due to a hardware failure on my old MacBook Pro, I had a different experience the second time around.
This time, I had a brand new machine. It shipped with 10.4 and an upgrade disk to take you to 10.5. I did the 10.5 upgrade as a fresh install and then used the Migration Assistant to move my user directory, applications, network settings, etc from my old drive.
All seemed fine until I tried to pair my Motorola V3m again and set up my Mac to use the phone as a modem. After pairing, I tried the connection and kept getting connected to Sprint but then immediately disconnected with an error. The messages in my console were similar to this:
pppd MPPE required, but MS-CHAP[v2] auth not performed.
I scoured the web and found a few people having similar issues when the upgraded to 10.5. I also saw a number of people saying they were doing just fine. I tried a few changes that people suggested to this modem script and that, but nothing seemed to work. The curious thing for me was that I knew I had used my phone as a modem under 10.5 with my old machine…..hmmm.
So I plugged my old hard drive (from the old machine) into my Mac via USB and told the Mac to boot from this drive. Even though the operating system was technically for a previous version of HW (Core Duo instead of Core2 Duo and a different graphics card), the drive booted the new machine just fine. I tried the dial-up connection to my phone and it worked just fine! So under 10.5 (actually 10.5.1 in this case) the dial-up worked without a problem So just to be sure I wasn’t crazy, I took screen shots of the bluetooth networking set-up and I booted back on the laptop’s internal drive and again tested the dial-up and it failed with the MPPE error. I compared the settins to my old drive and they all looked identical. I even compared the modem scripts and they were the same. Hmmm.
So I decided to completely re-install Leopard on the internal HDD of my new MBP. Once it was installed, I did not migrate any data and instead tried the bluetooth pairing to the phone and the dial-up modem to Sprint. It worked! I migrated my user data again from my old HDD but this time I made sure I did NOT migrate my network preferences. This time I would only migrate my data and applications.
My bluetooth as modem continues to work reliably under 10.5. Although I have not extensively tested the issue further, I believe the Migration Assistant has a small bug where in if you migrate network settings, it will somehow make your bluetooth as modem not work 100% of the time. One way to maybe prove this is if you are having this MPEE error, try creating another user account and setting up bluetooth dial-up modem under that account. I bet it will work. Not sure how to fix your primary account other than starting over with 10.5 and being careful with the migration assistant. But perhaps someone smarter will figure that out.1 comment