The Random Griffith

Apple’s big design flaw: the stupid optical disc slot

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 15/03/2010

Let’s talk about one of the more glaring design defects on the Apple MacBook. Whatever Apple’s designers were smoking when they decided to simplify by replacing a sliding tray for the optical DVD-CD drive with a slot in the side of their computers, one can reasonably deduce that it was some enormously bunk weed. Basically, this thing flat out doesn’t work. Paging Ralph Nader.

I know I’m not alone in this, having talked to other Mac owners in person and in various online forums. But let’s talk about my experience. My drive started getting jinky two years to the day that I bought the computer. A friend, infamous for “foisting” music projects he was working on, gave me a disc to listen to on my Mac at another friend’s New Year’s Eve party. Actually, it was a foisting quid pro quo, as he pushed the disc on me after I asked him to listen to me play a few songs on my guitar.

Nevertheless, if it hadn’t been this disc, it would have been another. The computer ate my friend’s CD and wouldn’t spit it back out. It made noises like it was ejecting, but the disc would then return to the drive and start playing again. After another friend with Mac expertise tried to cajole the computer into giving up the CD, to no avail, I took it home the next day and poked around on Mac forums, finally coming up with this effective ploy: Turn the Mac off, restart it while holding down a mouse button (or trackpad button), then slide a piece of cardboard into the slot to stop the spinning disc while hitting the eject button.

That worked with the CD, but then I wanted to watch a DVD version of Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and stupidly inserted that. It stayed. It did not want to be ejected. I tried the power off, then on while holding down the button and sliding in the cardboard while hitting the eject button trick, but no go this time. After about a week of this nonsense, I hit eject one time and the disc popped out.

But I was loathe to use the drive again. But after my second hard drive in the computer’s life began failing, I installed a friend’s old drive, which was loaded to capacity, and after trying to use that, I really wanted to wipe his old programs and stuff off by performing a fresh install of the operating system. Apple’s OS X 10.5 Install Disk 1, however, wouldn’t load; it would slide into the drive, whir and stop three times, then eject. Another friend told me to turn the computer upside down, keyboard facing the floor, and try again. Success!

However, the installation required me to insert Apple’s OS X 10.5 Install Disk w after Disk 1 was finished, and the MacBook ate the disc, and it’s still in the drive.

Look, Mr. Jobs or any Apple engineer or Cupertino Kool-Aid drinker who may be reading this: This is a design flaw, plain and simple. How hard is it to own that? How hard is it to train your Apple Store “geniuses” to treat customers like me with a modicum of dignity, instead of with the condescending transaction the putative genius with idiotic advice at your Apple Store “Genius Bar” gave me last week, when I was told that my optical drive needed replacing, and that would cost me somewhere around $300, and it would cost me north of $80 just for your technicians to open my computer and have a look-see.

I apologize for sounding like a broken record, but my Mac is only two years old, and I shouldn’t have gone through two hard drives and have an inoperative optical drive at this point in my ownership experience, so I am quite understandably a bit pissed off.

You do understand that, right, Mr. Jobs? So fix your computers’ goddamn design flaw already. —Jackson Griffith


4 Responses

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  1. Warren Bishop said, on 15/03/2010 at 21:56

    Just for the record, how do you define “foisting” music projects?

    • jaxong said, on 16/03/2010 at 00:22

      The friend who was hosting the party used to love in Laurel Canyon; the guy who gave me the disc that got stuck in my drive was the bass player, who also worked (and still does) as a recording engineer and producer. He would show up at the Laurel Canyon house with tapes or burned discs from whatever sessions he was working on, and hold whoever was there hostage with whatever he wanted people to hear. Apparently it got so bad and out of control that there was a big sign on my friend’s refrigerator that read: “NO FOISTING!”

      Hope that definition suffices.

      • Warren Bishop said, on 16/03/2010 at 00:50

        Ha! Yeah, that works; I thought it was more of a local angle. I’m terribly paranoid of playing stuff that I’m working on for other people because I don’t want to feel like I’m imposing. After all this time I still don’t know where the line is between reasonable self promotion and just obnoxious is.

  2. jaxong said, on 16/03/2010 at 02:01

    I’m the same way. But this particular chap abused those boundaries the more sensitive among us detect in our target audiences to the point where my other friend was forced to post a big sign on his fridge, visible from every point in the open front room-kitchen in his place. Do you have any idea how much foistage it would take to drive a person to do that? My guess: a lot. An awful lot.

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