For three years, this Powerbook has been my daily companion. I bought it in January 2002, with the hope that OS X’s UNIX underbelly combined with OS X’s typical Apple desktop friendliness would finally help me get over initial hurdles of learning Radiance. I was not disappointed.

Over the years, I have perhaps outgrown the speed of this one, at least for Radiance simulations. But I have grown to love OS X and of course Apple’s product design is rarely hard to look at, and for pretty much everything else besides serious lighting simulation this thing is a dream, so I’ve kept it close by my side at all times, for three years, which is some kind of record for me as far as gadgets are concerned. But my little companion has grown long in the tooth: the “titanium” finish on the side rails and the lid hinges had long since flaked off; there is a shiny spot in the middle of the trackpad from god knows how many miles worth of fingertip swipes; lately my Airport bandwidth has sucked; the power supply has two weak spots in the cords so the power cuts in and out depending on how the cable is laying; and worst of all, it has developed an annoying quirk where every once in a while the display is all wonky when you open the lid and wake it from sleep. Usually a wiggle of the lid fixes the problem, but still.

I have been living with these various maladies because it seems like too much trouble to send it back for service, but as the clock wound down on my three year warranty—a warranty I paid extra for—I decided to see if I could actually get something for my extended warranty coverage.

Today I got it back. Here’s the deal:

  • Power Supply – Brand new one, no questions asked. Great.
  • Finish problems – They replaced the entire center section of the case as well as the top part, trackpad and all. It actually looks like a brand new computer! Wow.
  • Airport bandwidth – still sucks. Like, it really, really sucks.
  • Display problem – this was an intermittent problem, so I guess I really don’t know for sure if it’s fixed yet.

Now, here’s the rub. Apple claims that all my non-cosmetic problems were caused by the extra 256MB 3rd party RAM I installed. Once the techs removed that from the system, supposedly all tests passed. The extra RAM was slipped in a anti-static bag and stapled to the repair report, and I was told to not reinstall it or the 90 day warranty on this repair would be void.

Let’s see, the RAM in question was installed by yours truly about three minutes after I liberated this thing from its box three years ago. I realize RAM sometimes just goes bad. Thing is, the RAM they took out and looked down their noses at, is made by the EXACT SAME MANUFACTURER as the RAM that came with the system!

So now I only have 256MB of RAM in this computer, which is enough to boot the OS and load my web browser, but not much else. Do I believe them about this RAM? I dunno. Maybe I’ll try and see if Crucial will replace the memory module that Apple claims is the source of all my problems.

That still leaves the network bandwidth problem, as well as a new

problem: the keyboard now seems to be too big for its home. That is to say, there’s a little flex to the thing now, it’s in compression the whole time, so whenever I hit anything in the vicinity of the ‘d’ key there’s a “thump” as the keyboard settles down onto the surface it’s supposed to be resting firmly upon normally.

So, at the moment, Apple scores, like, I dunno, like a fifty. Non-pass. I’m thrilled they processed the repair so fast (Airborne picked it up on Wednesday, and it was sitting on my desk when I came to work this morning), thrilled they fixed all the cosmetic shit, happy about the new power supply. But that’s kinda what is supposed to happen with a warranty. Besides, the real problem(s) remain, and a new one has come to call, and I have less RAM in my system to boot, goddammit.

It’s a mixed bag, and as I type this, I’m growing increasingly pissed off at this keyboard thing. So you can bet there will be a few phone calls next week between Apple, and Crucial, and whoever else gets fingerpointed.

Dammit. Screw this. I'm going to the beach.