For the past year I’ve had a disastrously bad experience as a Mac user, to the point where I had long Facebook discussions on how to select a Windows “ultrabook” – super thin and light, like my current Macbook Air. The final (at last!) happy outcome, just last month, shows the difference between two things that are vital in medicine too:
- Capable wizards vs clueless goons
- A caring approach, listening to the person who has the problem, and honoring his (my) observations and concerns.
Ultimately a friend at Beth Israel Deaconess (a doctor!!), Henry Feldman, and his colleague Eli Kaldany, figured out what my problem was – in August, nine months into the problem. (They saw me bitching on Facebook.) They nailed the problem in less than an hour. And, ironically, when another problem happened in September, I finally found someone capable at Apple – and discovered a bit of news I’ll share in a moment.
Brief recap of disrespectful, bad service:
I won’t recount the whole story of how abysmally I was treated by Apple “Genius Bar” people at my local store – they were, in a few words, ignorant, uninformed, didn’t know how to listen, weren’t interested in my own efforts to measure the problem and troubleshoot, and assumed I knew nothing useful. In short, they were the absolute opposite of “empower the person who has the problem.” In other words, the way they treated me was an exact match for a disempowering doctor, with an attitude of “If I wasn’t trained on it, it doesn’t exist.”
Example: at the time, my backup software was Carbonite, the most widely used backup software in the world. When I brought the machine in because of short battery life, one of the out-front goon-eyed customer people took it out back. He returned a while later he came out and said:
“You have this thing called Kryptonite.
We don’t know what that is.”
When I told them what it is, the guy still brushed it off, saying “We’re not responsible for software.” Yup, if I have a software problem, that’s my problem – all they know how to do is test the physical machine. I pleaded with them on multiple occasions, saying “I bought the most expensive service contract I could get – is this the best support I can get??” After months of this (and more) I gave up and started shopping for Windows machines.
The ultimate resolution:
Eli and Henry figured out that Carbonite was indeed the main problem: when we paused Carbonite, battery life improved instantly. Instantly. (Somehow Carbonite eats huge amounts of battery yet doesn’t show up in the Mac’s “applications using significant energy” tool!) They also pointed out what many articles say: dimming the screen brightness has a huge impact on battery life. Just those two things caused my battery life to improve from 2:45 to over 6 hours.
What Eli and Henry did that made all the difference:
- Trust. They didn’t assume I was an idiot – even when I was clearly under stress.
- Listening and hearing. While Eli worked, he was clearly listening to my concerns, and hearing what I said. For all I know, inside he was quietly thinking “No, that doesn’t sound like it” or “What has this guy been smoking???”, but my experience was that he was hearing my concerns. And I assert that no patient will feel cared for if the care provider doesn’t care what’s on their mind.
- Tools I didn’t know about. This, I think, is part of the magic of medicine: they had tools (“magic”) to measure what’s going on inside.
- In particular, they use iStat Menus, which is far more informative than Apple’s own Activity Monitor. I’m now a licensed user of that thing – I believe in knowing as much as I can understand! And Apple didn’t have the slightest interest in such things.
- Respect for my wants (and my limitations)
- Checking that I saw what I needed to, and understood what I’d need to understand when I got home.
Here’s to professionals – in computers and especially in medicine – who have a ton of knowledge packed in their skull, including knowing what it is to take care of a person who has a problem.
Oh by the way, p.s. –
Just three weeks ago, after a separate problem (not the battery life issue), Apple decided to replace my machine. (Again, this was not related to the above.) In the process, they offered me a Joint Venture service contract, a program they have for small businesses. Oh?? Another level of service contract?? Yes – higher priority service, more knowledgeable support people, and a free loaner machine if mine is out for service. (Do you have any idea what a problem it is for a one-person business to have their computer out for service for a week??) In all the times I’d complained that I’d bought the highest level of service available, nobody had mentioned it. Well, I bought it – for $500 a year – immediately. So, I am a rescued customer.
But that’s primarily because of Dr. Feldman and Dr. Kaldany – without them, the patient wouldn’t have “lived long enough” for the ultimate solution to arrive.
p.p.s. For backup, I now use BackBlaze. Among other things, you can tell it “stop backing up when on battery.” Carbonite doesn’t have that.
===== Update Oct 2015:
Don’t use Backblaze. It works fine for backing up but has no restore software at all, to put lost data back where it was! All they can do is email you a zip file of everything, or of whatever files you specifically request, for you to put back where they need to be.
In my case, last month my computer died, so asked to restore everything on the new computer. With Carbonite the data will start coming back, unattended. It might take 3 days, but it’s automatic and trouble-free. With Backblaze? They created a 200 GIGABYTE zip file of all my data for me to download. THAT took a full day, plus the downloading. When I unzipped it I discovered it was uncompressed – so, to get my data back from Backblaze I needed DOUBLE the free disk space … 400GB.
I’m trying Carbonite again; I may end up using Crash Plan, which several others have recommended.