Current Essays

Footloose, but Not Necessarily Fancy Free On:2003-11-17 11:22:56

I love Macintosh computers, I bought my first one back in 1984 (and not just to prove that I’d read Eric Blair), back when portability meant that they did have a big (rather nicely designed) shoulder-and-two-strong-arms bag for the thing: so I have quite a track record, and of course just as soon as they had a Portable (as they called it) I had to get it, even though in common parlance it was notoriously called “The Luggable” and was quite likely the cause of that famous New Yorker cartoon about the airport full of struggling commuters listening to this announcement “At this time we will be pre-boarding passengers with portable computers”. And I have bought (or at least been provided with) most of the varieties of Mac portable (or as we should now say PowerBooks) since that noble and weighty beginning.

Apple designs great computers--wonderful design... but. But... (and as a certified Mac bigot it makes me sick to bring this up) but they have all shared one tiny, tiny design flaw---it’s their Achilles Heel, and though it pains me to say it: this Achilles Heel of the PowerBooks has always been... in their feet (and now I’m sure that it pains you too).

The situation is this: PowerBooks seem to have four little rubber cushiony bits that protect the bottom of the computer and the top of the desk (or lap if you have a particularly hard and shiny one) from scuffing. Since the eighties every single Mac that I’ve had has had these feet, and since the eighties every single Mac that I’ve had has lost at least one of these feet (though to be honest I should add that they have generally not lost many more than one). I don’t know who the chap is who designs all the feet for Apple, but I have considered asking them for his home address and for the loan of a baseball bat. Now you may consider this a footling little trifle, and in the past I admit that you may have been right.


However of late, of late, I have entered a world of epic footlessness, a struggle that future generations of major poets will write vast thrilling sagas about---WITH HOLLYWOOD OPTIONS! You see my current main computer is an, Oh! I don’t know, $4,000 seventeen-inch-diagonal-screen-sized, one-gigahertz-and-gigabyte-of-RAM-ed, brushed-Aluminium-that-does-catch-the-dirt-a-bit-clad beauty of a PowerBook with a backlit keyboard and four cute little rubber feet...

Well therein lies the quadrupedal rub because actually at the moment, and for quite some time past now, it has NO cute little rubber feet. This time I’m afraid that the chap who designs all the feet for Apple has outdone himself and set a personal best and maybe I should ask Apple for an airgun to shoot out his porch light along with the baseball bat and the home address. Yes, this time three of the little buggers fell off and (over the course of the last several months) went missing and I’ve only had the bloody thing since March this year. But Apple Service is legendarily good, so when I was down two feet I called in at one of the two (north of Dallas we are used to being spoilt rotten so it’s one of the TWO) local Apple Stores, where they said “You could send your computer in for a weektoten days, but you could do it yourself, and we are supposed to be getting some in soon, so check back”.

This went on through the loss of the third foot, and some of my hair, at which point I phoned 800 APL CARE who kindly sent me a remarkably big and well padded box containing an instruction sheet complete with pictures of the bottom of my sort of computer and of my sort of feet and a little Ziplock bag with eight little rubber specimens of... the wrong feet---they just don’t fit. A second call: I’m shunted up the food chain to the next support level: they request, and get, emails of photos of my actual computer’s bottom and of the feet they sent and, once I’ve removed the one remaining foot, of the type of foot they should have sent. An amazingly short time later they (I think overnight) sent another big package, identical to the first---identical down to the last little wrong foot. I call again. This time after rather a lot of shunting and holding and shunting and holding I get to an actual Apple Engineer (though not, I discover, the actual chap who designs all the feet for Apple) but still an ENGINEER and this is for sticking some bits of rubber to the bottom of a computer?!?! Anyway we talk and we email and investigations take place.

Weeks pass.

Out of the blue another package arrives from Apple. Oh joy!! But, by historical (if not narrative) necessity it is of course... completely identical to the others.

I called again the other day they said “You could send your computer in for a weektoten days or you could do it yourself”
To this day the fourth foot sits forlornly in one of the little Ziplock bags.

By the way Apple is headquartered at 1 Infinite Loop---and I used to think that address was supposed to be a joke

Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton


Eventually they did come up with a solution, sort of.
They changed the manual: Below are a pair of before and after images from the pre-solution manual and its brilliant successor

Before the solution

The solution



Of course there is still the slight problem that the replacements don't really fit.

But Hey! This is Apple man!! Their service is legendary.

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