Alternative for MacBook Air 11”?

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Carrier
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Alternative for MacBook Air 11”?

Post by Carrier » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:45 am

I bought a MacBook Air 11” with 256GB storage, 8GB RAM and UK keyboard for my wife, who is a journalist. Included in the price were Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband and OSX. She started trying to set it up last week. There have been problems with setting it up for secure use, even with the help of her employer’s computer tech. Like many publishers her employer uses Macs, mainly of older vintage. There is no MUG within several hours drive and online help is limited. She has given up and the MacBook Air is being returned to Apple next week. What would readers suggest as an alternative for this computer?

We have no use for iTunes, the Cloud or any other online app other than secure email, some general browsing and searches using anything but Google, such as DuckDuckGo.

Readers who wonder why security is important need only check on the experiences of The Guardian newspaper, its journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and anyone associated with them such as David Miranda. We also noted Obama’s recent statement that he is not allowed to change to an iPhone from his Blackberry for security. Yes, there are security issues with Apple, especially with Snowden disclosing that it is an agency of the NSA and then Apple late last year buying snoop company Topsy.

Here’s the killer reason why it is going back: Apple’s belligerent and anti-security software update system. This MacBook Air was built to order at the end of last month and yet it was delivered with outdated software. According to Fedex tracking it was picked up in Shanghai, China and sent via Memphis. It had not sat on a shelf in a box for several months. Software Update advises updates are available for most of the apps that were included with it. The current versions should have been on it but we thought it would be easy to upgrade. Today my wife hit “Install All” and could not get any further. We had expected the software to be updated just as it has been in the past on our 2008 iMac and old iBook G4. Apple has changed its whole update system. Although these updates are FREE, to correct deficiencies in its software, Apple demanded some sort of ID for App Store and a CREDIT CARD NUMBER. Naturally as a journalist who covers SCAMS my wife refused to give a credit card number when no payment was involved, either now or in future, pointing out that we have no use for App Store, which we have never used with our existing Macs. After several hours of arguing with obstructive and unhelpful support and representatives she gave up and demanded a refund. Apple agreed and we have received the refund email and label.

We are staggered at the stupidity exhibited by Apple, from Tim Cook downwards. Is there no concept of customer service at Apple? Do they have no concern about credit card and other security scams or are they getting too big a bung from their spy bosses or perhaps from the gangs who run credit card scams? No ethical company would demand credit card info when no payment is involved! All Apple had to do was update those apps that came with the computer and which have nothing to do with the unwanted App Store. That would have been the end of the matter and you would not now be reading this. Instead they have poisoned the whole relationship and alienated customers who have bought six previous Macs. Naturally we are now warning others of the problems of dealing with Apple in any capacity. How can Tim Cook preside over such blithering incompetence? Is he a managerial moron?

The MacBook Air 11” looks fine but unless Apple will sensibly and responsibly update its defective software then it is of no use to my wife. Our experience indicates that Apple is a case of “style over substance,” along with a definite shortage of integrity and customer service! It is very sad that our relationship with Apple and its products should end in this way.

Back to the question. What do you suggest as the nearest alternative from another supplier to the MacBook Air 11” specified above? We will appreciate your help.
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CpnCrunch
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Re: Alternative for MacBook Air 11”?

Post by CpnCrunch » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:20 am

Are you sure you need a credit card number? According to articles on apple.com you can set up an itunes account without using a credit card. Just choose 'None' as the payment type:

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2534

As for the security: Microsoft is just as much in bed with the NSA as Apple. I would recommend getting a Mac over a PC laptop for a few reasons:

- Macbooks are incredibly well built and durable with their metal case. Just make sure you get a spill cover, and they are virtually indestructable.

- You are much less likely to get viruses and trojans on Macs, providing you don't download any silly crap that claims to 'speed up your mac', and providing you keep everything updated.

Also just make sure you switch off iCloud if you get a Mac, which is about the only potential security issue on the Mac.

In terms of updates, PCs generally have a huge number of updates when you buy them as well.
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Carrier
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Re: Alternative for MacBook Air 11”?

Post by Carrier » Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:49 am

Quote from my original post: “All Apple had to do was update those apps that came with the computer and which have nothing to do with the unwanted App Store. That would have been the end of the matter and you would not now be reading this.”

I posted on several forums and thank all those who have responded. I have noted the advice regarding various alternatives, both hardware and operating systems such as Linux. This will be handy in future. Some have been upset with my post. I appreciate your loyalty to Apple and assume that you have had good experiences from the company and its products. We did in the past, particularly with the early Power Mac 6100/66 that we used for many years and only parted with when we went overseas to live and work. Yes, there is more to my post than I put in so here is some background and an update.

We are ordinary users. We have used Macs since 1985 and owned several, starting with an LC475 in 1994. The 1985 Mac was a delight compared with the nameless DOS horror at my work. The early Macs proved that one does not have to be a supergeek to use a computer. They were fairly user friendly, relatively intuitive and indeed “for the rest of us!” Our current desktop is a 2008 iMac and I have a 2005 iBook G4. We have been very pleased with both. Software on both has always been updated just by clicking on Software Update and then Install. Very simple! No change was needed to something that worked so well. There have not been any updates for some time and they have not been needed. Both computers work for us but spares for the iBook are becoming scarce.

We realised Macs had moved forward so looked for some help. We are several hours drive from the nearest MUG or Apple store. The Mac administrator at my wife’s work set up the MBA. However because he deals with ancient Macs several of the set up options on the MBA were missed, including getting upgrades. This has caused some problems! However it should not have been so difficult to set up. For security background refer to articles such as those by (paranoid?) Rich Mogull in MacUser and Macworld and the (paranoid?) NSA’s own “Hardening Tips for Mac OSX Snow Leopard.”

A week ago, soon after receiving the MBA, our unfamiliarity with it caused the deletion of all emails on our Yahoo email account. Fortunately Yahoo recovered them all, very quickly to give them credit. We realised we would have to put some time into getting the MBA set up as best we could. Mogull’s first instruction in Macworld December 2013 is “Don’t Surf or Read Mail as Admin” and his second is “Use Software Update.” Now it gets interesting.

Yesterday my wife set out to work through the set up. Software Update indicated several updates were available so she clicked Install All. She was asked to create an Apple ID and went though the whole process, which apparently gave the option of no credit card. As we were not expecting to pay anything for updates that were to fix problems in existing features as against adding new features this had no significance to her, particularly as we had never needed a card for these updates on our other Macs. Unfortunately she made a small mistake in our email address, putting .com instead of .ca. She was advised that an email would be sent to our email address. None was there, which was when she realised her mistake. She tried to correct this without success so called Apple Support. Over nearly four hours she spoke to FIVE different persons in Support and made numerous attempts to get a working Apple ID set up, both on her own between calls and with Support. They tried to talk her through the process but each time the screens brought up on the instructions of Apple’s own Support personnel did not offer the option of no credit card. All FIVE Apple Support people insisted that a credit card was needed.

A side issue was that I already had an Apple ID for our iMac using our email address. Apple Support does not understand that some married couples share the same email address, same mailing address, surname, etc. and that some households own more than one Mac. Apparently my password was changed a couple of times during this process.

Over the years I have several times had to change VISA and M/C because crooks had used them, by intercepting replacement cards in the mail, at restaurants, etc. Each time the banks did not charge me but it was a hassle to sort out the resulting mess. We pay cash for just about everything, just like the Germans. Companies and individuals who do not possess our information are unable to lose it or have it stolen or sold by crooked employees. As several posters have pointed out, nothing is 100% secure but that should not stop us all from making the best effort to keep things secure!

I came in at one stage and my wife asked me to speak to a Support woman who was telling her that Pages, Numbers, etc. were not included with the MBA. Fortunately I had saved screen shots at each stage of the order and delivery process. I pulled up the order on the iMac and quoted to her the full list, with Pages, etc., of what was included but this bimbo refused to accept it. I eventually hung up the phone. I resent being called a liar by an incompetent and untruthful so-called Support employee. My wife called again after we had cooled down but suffered the same experience. She then asked Apple to give a refund and take the MBA back. This was agreed to without query, with no concern about losing us as customers. After never previously being asked for a credit card for updates and then being told by FIVE Apple Support staff, including a supervisor/manager, that a card number had to be given we did not bother to search online. I just started writing my original post.

If it is so well known that an Apple ID can be created without a credit card perhaps someone can explain our experience. Why did FIVE Apple Support personnel not know of this option? Why did they not know what software comes with the MBA? Are they really that stupid at Apple or is there some hidden agenda? FIVE Apple personnel had the opportunity to sort this out and save Apple from being publicly exposed. Those considering buying a product from Apple deserve to know of our experience.

Before retiring I checked the forums for info on alternatives. There were several helpful posts on ehMac.ca, one of which provided a link to the Apple.com Support page showing the no credit card option for a new Apple ID. As the MBA could not be handed to Fedex for return until Monday we decided to try one last time on Sunday with another email address, this time Gmail.com. It worked. The no credit card option that FIVE Apple Support personnel lied about came up and after a little time the new ID was created. Why did FIVE Apple Support personnel, including a supervisor/manager, fail to solve this yesterday?

What is going on at Apple? The buck stops with the accountable executive, Tim Cook. How can he permit such blithering incompetence and lying to be inflicted upon customers? Does this reflect his personal ethics and moral standards? How can such behaviour by Apple generate repeat business and referrals? Apple’s unscrupulous behaviour has given it some bad publicity. Will Apple learn anything from it and mend its ways?

With the new Apple ID in place the updates proceeded, taking a couple of hours to do. The MBA will stay for now but the whole experience has been soured by Apple’s shifty and dishonest behaviour. None of this should have happened!

It will be interesting to read your comments now that you have a fuller understanding of Apple’s corporate ethics and moral standards and of what Apple has put us through, particularly my wife, since the MBA arrived. How do you explain FIVE Apple Support stooges lying about the credit card requirement and then about what software is included? Do you think our recent Apple experience is acceptable?

Again, thanks to all who have gone to the trouble to compose and submit a post.
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