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Painful battery recall

So as we all know, Apple followed Dell in recalling a large number of batteries. Although the number of batteries recalled by Apple is smaller (1.8 million against Dell’s 4+ million), in terms of market share thats a huge number for Apple and virtually every Powerbook 12″ user I know (myself included) is affected.

Now the problem is that Apple estimates 4 – 6 weeks time until new batteries are shipped and here in Singapore, I can’t simply order a replacement online and ship back my old battery. To replace my battery, I had to give in my old battery and now wait for 4 – 6 weeks for a new one to arrive. In the meantime, my notebook is nothing more than a brick. Of course, I can still run it on AC power but that’s pretty useless for two reasons – first, I use the laptop primarily on battery while at the library or while attending a talk or seminar. Second, Powerbooks are weird in that their internal time seems to be kept by the main battery, not a supplementary small battery, as is the case for most other computers. The result? Every time I turn off my Mac now, and fire it up again, I’ve traveled backwards in time to January 1, 1970. One doesn’t realize how much of a problem this is until one encounters it. Calendaring is useless for one thing. For another, SSL-based websites (like GMail) won’t load at all because they have time-limited certificates. So to use the computer reasonably, I have to set the time manually on each startup. There’s an option to automatically adjust time via a server, but I guess that happens only once in a while, and it’s never corrected this problem for me. I tried hunting on the net for a startup script that would sync the time, but couldn’t find one (apparently Mac uses NTP, but I couldn’t find the ntpdate command, or I’d have written one myself).

Anyway, thankfully I have Linux boxes at home and at work, and I’m pretty happy working on them, so I don’t absolutely have to use the Mac. A few people I know, however, are so dependent on the Mac that they’ve decided to risk carrying on with faulty batteries rather than wait for a month or two – and that does not bode well for Apple. I’m pretty sure if the Powerbook were the only computer I could access, I wouldn’t return the battery either. Enough of such cases, and if there are more Apple books spectacularly burnt up like the one in Japan – Apple’s credibility is going to suffer.

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