Fix It Right The First Time

Sometimes things work, but are neverthelesss not the right solution. This is a philosophical problem of approach to problem solving that has come up repeatedly at work over the past few weeks. Group A wants to do things the most effective way. Wants solutions. Now. Likes to do a lot with a little. Likes simpler solutions. Likes not putting energy where it will be wasted. Group B wants to do things the right way. Never mind the cost. Straight to the top. All the time, no matter what. Assumes that amount of money spent always equates to amount of quality in the solution. There’s a lot to be said for that, but note that Group B even has trouble believing that open source / free software products can be high quality too.

One might think that questions of technology have right answers, but in the end, neither approach is necessarily more correct. One is more idealistic, one more realistic. One is only more right than the other depending on assumptions, contexts, budgets (time and money), immediacy, difficulty, etc.

Results count too. Related but unrelated: My SuperDrive has been failing intermittently — not recognizing CDs in iTunes. Burning coasters or having buffer underruns. Finally took machine in to the Apple store. I have AppleCare, but they won’t replace the drive until they’ve tried alt.solutions in the store. One of the Apple Geniuses recommended running Repair Permissions from Disk Utility. This made no intuitive sense to me — it’s an intermittent failure, how can perms on a kernel extension make the difference? (Note: You must boot from CD or external FW if you want Repair Permissions to be fully effective – some perms must be skipped on the boot drive).

And yet… we repaired permissions and sure enough, a test disc I brought that previously would not mount now mounted, and we were able to burn a test CD. Freaky deaky. And yet… something inside me told me this was not the right solution, that there was some fluke involved. Sure enough, days later I’m experiencing the same difficulties and need to bring the box back for a drive replacement. Ultimately, they wasted my time and theirs with a “solution” that I knew was not the correct solution and now I have to go spend more of my time and theirs to get it done right for reals.

Music: Link Wray :: Rumble

6 Replies to “Fix It Right The First Time”

  1. I hate when (other) IT people make me go through fix steps that I know aren’t going to work. I’ve wanted to leap across that Genius Bar and throttle the pimply dude with both hands, screaming, “YES I TRIED BOOTING FROM A CD, I’VE BEEN DOING THIS SINCE YOU WERE STILL INTO TELETUBBIES!” And then I’m all like, whoa, dude, I need to consider a different line of work. Like professional wrestler or something.

    And did you see this? Seemed possibly relevant.
    http://www.macobserver.com/columns/devilsadvocate/2003/20031007.shtml

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  3. My only experience with the Genius Bar occurred when I bought my Mac (used). The day I picked up the machine from my old job I drove straight to the mall in Cambridge and visited the Apple Store to get Jaguar. The machine only came with OSX 10.0, which I knew ran ass-slow.

    I get there, and I walked back to the Genius Bar, and I verified that the machine I had would be sufficient to run Jaguar. He quickly confirmed that and I made a statement to the effect of “Good, because I can’t imagine installing the abomination known as OS9 on a machine I own”.

    He went off on this diatribe about how I needed to install OS9 because I would need to use classic all the time due to the lack of software available for OSX. I argued with him that if an application needed OS9 I simply wouldn’t use it. He *lectured* me for another five minutes on why I needed to install OS9. I lashed out at him explaining that the ONLY reason I am considering using a Mac is because of OSX, and that I reserved boundless animosity for OS9 and it’s predecessors.

    I never installed OS9, and my G4 is my primary machine. I have no idea why that “Genius” got such a bug up his ass about this topic, but he really pissed me off.

  4. Is Apple just having more quality control problems these days, or is it just a matter of new hardware, added complexity, and more vocal complainers when the machines break?

    I’m concerned, since I’ve got the mad desire to get my hands on a G5 in the forseeable future, but I’m used to my blue and white G3’s rock-of-gibralter reliability.

    -Jim

  5. My only hesitation on the G5 would be that the first rev of any new hardware is a bit of a dodgy prospect. You’d probably be fine, but if there are hidden glitches and gotchas that don’t come out before field-testing, you’ll be the pioneer with the arrow in the back…

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