25 May 2006

Excellent customer service

I experienced excellent customer service today. I’d like to think that we all strive to provide the best service we can at all times but reality is, we don’t always do it. So, this day stood out because I had three instances in a row where I was made to feel like a greatly valued customer.

I’ve been shopping for a new bag for the new MacBook Pro. Based on the reviews in apple.com, I decided on the Brenthaven Metro but was dismayed to see that it would take 6-8 weeks to ship. Not to be deterred, I checked out brenthaven.com and found that they, too, have a store. So I picked up the phone to ask if it will take 6 weeks to ship. The lady who helped me assured me that no, it will not take 6 weeks. In fact, she’ll make sure that my bag gets shipped out today! When she found out that I live in Canada, she told me how much the shipping fee was - $21! That’s 30% of the cost of the bag! So she said she’d give me a 10% discount on the bag to offset some of the shipping cost. I didn’t actually complain about the shipping fee. I did say “oh” in a bit of a surprised tone but I accepted it as part of buying something that is not available locally. But she threw in the discount without me asking for it. How wonderful is that? Anyway, we ended the call with me feeling like I’m their favourite customer ever. And confident that their bag will be of excellent quality as well.

When the PowerBook was stolen, I realized that I didn’t write down the serial number for the MacJournal software that I bought. So I emailed them, explained the situation, and asked them to send me the serial number. And they did the very next day.With the arrival of the new MacBook Pro, I went out setting it up for my use. One of the first things I did was install MacJournal from my backup and register it. But I got an error saying the serial number is invalid. So I email them again to ask what’s wrong. That’s when I found out that I got an upgrade for free! I had originally bought version 3. Version 4 came out a couple of months ago but it’s a paid upgrade and I decided to just stay where I was since version 3 was working out just fine. But I found out that the serial number they gave me is for version 4. It doesn’t work with version 3! So I happily download version from their site and install it. I registered it and viola, it worked. And I’m officially upgraded to version 4. For free! How fun!

London Drugs photo
I need to get a passport. Mine was stolen and I may be going on a trip in three weeks. So off I went to London Drugs on Broadway to get my photo taken. I try my best to look pretty without smiling (apparently, the official reason for the non-smiling photos is for the government agencies to be able to do face mapping). The lady took my photo, looked at it, and said that my face it too oily. I was reflecting light like an aluminum foil. So she handed me a tissue, a cotton pad, and some face powder. We try again and this time, it seemed to be okay. So I go and dawdle for about 5 minutes then return to the photo counter. It turns out that my mouth was ever so slightly open so the photo was no good. We try again. She showed me the picture and I thought I looked angry. I wish they’d just let me smile! Another photo. I thought I looked even angrier. So I asked if she can just use the previous one. This whole time, she’s helping me with a smile, not once giving me a hard time for my vanity. She was so nice! I thanked her profusely for being so patient and left London Drugs happy. Not because of my photos where I looked somewhere between puzzled and “please don’t let this be a bad photo” hopeful, but because of how this lady was so nice to me. She rocked!

Photo Booth

One new feature in this MacBook Pro that the PowerBook didn’t have is a built-in iSight camera. I was clicking around earlier and discovered an app called Photo Booth. It allowed me to take a picture with the iSight camera. Here I am, playing around with the new laptop. Do I look thrilled or what???

Speaking of photos, I had my picture taken for my citizenship card (yes, that was stolen too). The thing that really bug me is my photo in my original citizenship card, which I got in 1996, is a really good picture of me. Fresh-faced and smiling happily. I’m a Canadian citizen! Yay!

Ten years later, smiles are no longer permitted when it comes to these government photos. WTF? What’s wrong with smiling in our passports? Why do we all have to look like sad, angry people? I don’t get it. I tried to look happy without actually breaking into a smile. It worked a little bit. At least, I don’t look like I’m just about to be put in a jail cell. But sadly, fresh-faced I am not. Ten years later and it showed. Ouch.

I get to do it all over again for my passport. Sigh... Not looking forward to it.

I'm so happy

Today, the replacement laptop arrived. I am so happy! It’s crazy how much a computer becomes such a part of your life and getting this new MacBook Pro is like making my life whole again. Ok, I’m exaggerating but it’s close. hehehe It’s like losing a limb and now I have it back.

This laptop is beautiful. Check out the details at apple.com. I’m really grateful to Navarik for getting me such an awesome machine. I know it’s not my fault that the PowerBook I had was stolen but I feel bad, nonetheless, for “losing” it. What can I say? Navarik rocks!

So now, I get to play with this latest toy. Set it up the way I want and am used to. How fun!

Next up, getting a new laptop bag. I think I will get the Brenthaven Metro. It’s received really good reviews and at $69.95US, it’s reasonably priced. And it’s not heavy and bulky which are my two main criteria. I want something light and sleek but will still protect the laptop. I want something the will fit into my backpack for when I travel. The Brenthaven Metro seems to fit the bill. The one that was stolen was similar but it was made by Incase and they don’t seem to make that model anymore. So it’s time to try something new.

Right now, I have my MacJournal back, I have a kickass laptop to write this in, and my two cats are curled up on my lap (Neo is) and beside me (Bob). Just perfect!

Oh ok, Ed... You make it perfect, too. :)

18 May 2006

I feel lost without my laptop

Only when the laptop was stolen did it become so evident how much I rely on it at work and at home. I didn't really have any downtime at work because there was a Mac mini in the office but although I had a computer, it was not set up the way I'm used to. It was the little things - the order of the icons on the desktop, the little utility that minimizes all open windows at once, the backup routine I had set up, etc. They are all gone and it's distracting as hell.

Then there's the interim aspect of it. The replacement laptop has been ordered so I don't really want to invest the time into setting up this Mac mini exactly how I want it. So I chose to do without my little gadgets and set up for now.

I am very excited about getting the replacement laptop. I'm nervous about taking it out of the office in the future. I don't want to lose another machine! But I will be getting a MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Intel Core Duo w/ 1GB RAM, 100GB HD, + 256MB VRAM). Sweet!

So for now, until the MacBook Pro arrives, my Mac experience is stripped down to the basics. I hope that laptop gets here soon!

15 May 2006

I feel lost without my journal

Since the PowerBook I use was stolen, I've had to use an interim machine (not a laptop) while a replacement PowerBook is being ordered. So I don't have my usual setup, my photos, music, and most importantly, my journal software. I use a product called MacJournal and I use it quite a bit. From time to time, I publish to this blog what I write in my MacJournal journal and that's what you get to read here. But since April 29, when those SOBs took my laptop, I've had to do without my journal. I did backup my files so I didn't lose any data but the whole setup - I can write just before I go to sleep, on the couch, as my cats snuggle with me - that was just made it so comfortable for me to write my thoughts down is not there. But I am starting to feel antzy - I now realize just how much a part of my life my journal is. And how much I rely on a laptop! Ugh. I can't wait to get the replacement laptop!

6 May 2006

Happy birthday, Edmund!

My hubby is a very social guy. He loves being with his friends so I organized a birthday dinner for him last weekend and invited close friends. Ed loved it and had a great time being the guest of honour.

Unfortunately, the events of the past week have been very distracting and I realized yesterday that I haven't gotten a gift for Ed. Oops. Sorry babe! It'll be a few days late but I have some cool things in mind.

But Ed's birthday this year is eventful. On his birthday, his good friend Mark is getting married and Ed's sister, Christine, who lives in NY is in town for a few days.

Ed, have a wonderful birthday! I volunteer to be the designated driver for Mark's wedding reception so you can enjoy the rum and the scotch. :)

Love you mucho!

Break and enter

A week ago, burglars broke into our home and invaded our privacy. They stole not only our possessions but also our sense of safety. I felt violated and trampled upon. And angry. How can people have no conscience? How can they just take our things and not feel so terrible that they would swear never to do it again? What kind of people would do this to others? How can people be so evil? I just don't understand how they can live with themselves. I'm an ethical person and I always treat others (and their property) with respect. So it makes me angry when others don't extend the same consideration to me. And to be frank, I don't really understand how they can be that way.

In any case, our peace at home was shattered. With the breaking of a patio sliding door, these thieves have turned our lives upside down, at least for the days and weeks to come. It took a couple of days for it to sink in; Monday was a very bad day for me. I was an emotional basket case, bursting into tears when a caring friend asked how I was doing or when phoning my coach to tell him I was in no state to attend our dragon boat practice or when speaking with the insurance claims guy about the things stolen from our house. I was lamenting our loss and I decided I was allowed one day of feeling sorry for myself.

Almost a week have passed and I am in a better state now. I am not looking forward to all the legwork we need to do to replace our stolen possessions. Of course, the insurance company doesn't make it super easy. But so far, our dealings with our claims adjuster have been positive. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it remains that way.

I feel worst about the jewelry they stole. They were not super fancy but each earring, bracelet, necklace, and ring had a story that made them mine. My high school ring is gone. The bracelet my mom gave me for my graduation is gone. The earrings Ed's grandmother gave me for our wedding are gone. Pawned off somewhere, to people who don't care that these jewelry were part of someone's life story. My life story!

Second worst, the digital photos that are forever gone. Now, I'm going to be a backup fanatic especially when photo and music files are concerned. And now I realize, too, that I need to document our possessions - in case we ever need to replace them. Having photos catalogued and documented proof of ownership makes it easier to make the insurance claim. Unfortunately, we are basically starting from scratch in this area. The next few weeks are going to be painful.

But life goes on. I refuse to live in fear and anger. I have to let it go. So I dust myself off and trudge on with a few lessons learned.