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The Northern Spy
September 2018

Off Balance

Rick Sutcliffe

Last month

The Spy detailed issues with his university-owned mid-2015 MacBook Pro. He had thought nothing of the fact that the keys were beginning to imprint on the screen (it could be wiped clean), but when he realized that the machine would no longer stand on its own four feet, but was wobbling unsteadily on a bump in the lower case, he realize it had the dreaded swollen battery condition.

So in some trepidation (a first timer in the Apple repair system after four decades of successful use), he contacted Apple's service unit and arranged for a return phone call. A senior service rep, on hearing the problem, and the Spy's opining that, given its policy on the same issue for 13 inch machines, Apple ought to swallow the repair on this one too, despite it being out of warranty when the problem was first noticed, she agreed, and made him an appointment to have the work done at the Surrey B.C. Apple Store.

So the Spy erased his files partition for security's sake, and bundled the machine to the repair shop, whose technicians readily ascertained that all four battery cells were indeed swollen, and that both the top and bottom case (though not the monitor) had to be replaced--two separate repair orders, the parts being on hand only for the top case/battery unit. Told that the repair would take 4-5 days, The Spy protested that the rep in Austin had said 4-5 hours. Apparently service reps don't actually talk to the technicians.

However, the repair was indeed done in four days, though the store had to await The Spy's return from a faculty retreat in the land to the frozen North's South to get the hardware password in order to test the components for the repair warranty. The zeroed out invoices were over $950.

The bottom line: The Spy gives Apple an A for acknowledging the problem and performing the fix without charging the university. It would be an A+ but for two things: First, this should have been on recall, like the 13 inch machines with the same problem, and second, there ought to be some way of communicating between the service reps and the store technicians. Still, in all, a satisfactory experience, and all is working well.

His comments last month on Apple's quality slippage notwithstanding, The Spy is willing to write this of as a one-of incident after many years's experience with high quality and long lasting hardware. After all, his Apple //gs still works just fine, thank you very much. Last comments on the issue: battery technology has some distance to go to become reliable, and Apple needs to bolster its QA regimen before committing to the purchase of components.

More on life as a Dean

The Spy noted here last month that he has recently become the accidental dean of the TWU Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences, in addition to his ongoing role of Senate Chair. Oh, joy. Research and writing must take a back seat to alligators, and responding to an extra sixty e-mails a(all urgent) every morning.

The Spy is half time teacher, full time administrator, half time researcher, half time writer, half time Church chair and treasurer (just finished a merger) and full time husband and grandfather. Good thing there are only thirty hours in the day. Or is that forty? Well, he recently has been delighted to attend birthday parties for a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. For the latter, Gregory asked for the same cake as Joycelyn had, but with butterscotch icing. Why? "Grandma, that icing look like mud, and I can park my trucks in it on the cake"--which he did. Inquiring minds.

Canadian politics

is also off balance in the wake of a Federal Appeals Court decision overturning the government's approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion on the grounds that the National Energy Board had only listened to Aboriginal input, not grappled with it, and that inadequate consideration had been given to the effect of increased tanker traffic on whales.

When the pipeline was built in the late forties to early fifties, room was left on the right of way for a second pipe, which the company, then owned by Kinder-Morgan, proposed to build several years ago. Stalled by numerous reviews and re-reviews, but victor in many court cases attempting to block construction on environmental and other grounds, and over concerns from some aboriginal groups (mostly claiming land not on the route itself; others whose claims were on the route had partnered with K-M) the company was recently purchased by the Federal government.

Whatever the merits (or not) of the decision, it is a major black eye for Canada's Federal government. Also, the lack of access to world market transportation routes is costing the economy some $15B a year, mostly in Alberta, which now faces more years of recession. It also drives the divides between regions and between interest groups even deeper than they were. Ah well, Canada has always secretly longed to become just like the U.S. in many respects, just a little later. Perhaps after he leaves office down there, Mr. trump could be hired on as Prime Minister up here.

But the mischievous part of the court ruling is that it shifts the obligation of governments from "consultation" with aboriginal groups (which was apparently done) to "grappling" with the issues they raise, but without defining what is meant by that term--opening up the possibility for the courts to shift the goalposts once more the next time they hear a suit opposing the project. Needless to say, the Kinder-Morgan shareholders voted 99% in favour of ratifying the sale of what has now become a white elephant.


The pipeline right-of-way misses the corner pin of the Spy's family property by only a few centimetres. The pipe has never leaked, and Trans Mountain has been a good neighbour. OTOH, the Spy once worked in a rail yard and knows first hand the daily hazards of that (now growing) means of transporting oil and its products. OTTH, is more technology really the solution to the problems technology has caused? Hmmm.

--The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics, Dean of Science and Chair of the University Senate at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His articles, columns, and papers have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals (dead-tree and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick's SF? Check out the Arjay blog at http://www.arjay.bc.ca/blog/

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com

opundo : http: //opundo. com

Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org

WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net

WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net

nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:

Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca

Publisher's Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html

The Fourth Civilization--Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

*** Paladin on Amazon ***

Author Site: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07FXML8ZW?tag=geolinkerca-20

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Last Updated: 2018 09 01