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December 12, 2006

Macbook Black 13" replacement; needs replacing!!

Follow-up to Macbook Black 13" – Fan fixed, CPU idle whine worse from Gibo's Reviews

So the build quality on the Apple Macbook isn’t up to much.

My second Macbook, replacing one that had CPU whine noise and a wobbly fan, has a louder CPU noise. To make matters worse, the hard drive makes a loud click noise every 10 seconds.

A hard drive with hiccups

This is really, really annoying. I can’t deal with the laptop literally having hiccups. The noise is apparently the parking of the drive’s head, however this was the exact same noise that came from my other previous 2.5” hard drives days before they died.

Mac are being compliant, and are replacing this one too. And throwing in a free Firewire cable to copy my data over. Apparently when you replace something twice the matter gets escalated to their engineering team for investigation, so this should be where the buck stops.

But seriously, if the third one is no less than perfect then all three are going back and I’ll get another brand. All these problems within a week; imagine after three years! Here’s hoping it’s just a bad batch.

December 11, 2006

Macbook Black 13" – Fan fixed, CPU idle whine worse

Follow-up to Macbook Black 13" – broke before I could finish the review! (broken fan whine) from Gibo's Reviews

The new Mac arrives!

Return of the Mac

The replacement arrived in very good time, ordered on Friday and here on Monday. The new one does not suffer from the fan noise, but interestingly the CPU whine is louder.

Watch the video:

Fix for the CPU whine?

What’s really interesting is that the old one’s whine has almost disappeared over this weekend. And what have I been doing with it differently this weekend? Playing Half Life and briefly HL2 under Crossover beta.

Could it be that giving the system a good blast settles the whine? I shall try it out on the new one and report back…

December 09, 2006

Macbook Black 13" – Intel Core 2 Duo CPU whine on idle

Follow-up to Macbook Black 13" – broke before I could finish the review! (broken fan whine) from Gibo's Reviews

It seems that the condition causing the TV-esque screaming is known on the internet as the ‘cpu whine’, which as I suspected only happens on idle. It is also of note to mention that when I phoned Apple, the support assistant told me that they were aware both of the CPU issue, as well as the fan problem. The gentleman suggested that the brrrrr noise is most likely to be underneath the ‘A’ key – presumably the location where the offending fan is installed. I mention that Apple confirmed these, as other stories on the Internet claim denial from Apple, and that their stance on the issue is that these are ‘features’. Whether this was true in the past is open to speculation, but I can confirm that as of the date on my first post on the matter, Apple UK were acknowledging it and replacing Macbooks without question.

No internet stories about the noisy fan issue that also plagues Macbook Black no.1. Macbook Black no.2 arrives on Monday / Tuesday according to UPS. I’m still impressed that Apple had ordered a new Mac for me on Friday afternoon, and it had been built and shipped by Friday evening. Sounds like at least one high-tech company is ready for the Christmas buying frenzy.

December 08, 2006

Macbook Black 13" – broke before I could finish the review! (broken fan whine)

I buy a Macbook

Since having a desktop replacement type laptop, I’ve always said that the next laptop I buy will have:
  • A decent battery life
  • Be 64bit
  • Have enough RAM to run Eclipse, surf the web, stream music and run an email client all at the same time (ie more than 1GB)
  • Not be a gamer-oriented laptop, as I will get a desktop PC for that.

The new Intel Core 2 Duo chips are 64 bit. Had a look around, and to my surprise the Macbook came in much cheaper than the competiton; and being 64bit and Intel meant that it would – in theory – be able to run Linux x86_64 (and Windows should I lose my mind).
Not being a fan of the whole Apple fashion brand, it took observing friends using these Macbooks that helped me decide.

So I bought a Macbook 13” from Apple Online Higher Education store. Black, 2GHz, 2GB RAM, 120GB hard drive, two batteries, a rather feminine blue carry case (it looked cool on the internet!) and a free-after-rebate HP 5940 printer.
Macbook Black 13

The good

Lets get the good stuff out the way quickly:
  • The battery lasts ages. I think with the backlight low, it can go for almost 4 hours doing the above programming, music, email and surfing actively. Impressive.
  • Once you shut the lid it sleeps immediately, and wakes just as fast.
  • Once the mac is asleep it has already hibernated – this means without AC you can run Firefox, close the lid, remove the battery, put a fresh one in, open the lid and keep working without losing any data. It’s an outstandingly good feature – I have no idea how it writes potentially 2GB to the hard drive in just over a second, so as a software engineer I am impressed.
  • It’s quite pretty to look at, and the keyboard is not as bad as people make it out to be. Though I have had to adjust my style to get the keypresses every time.
  • I ordered it on Friday, it arrived on Monday. That’s impressive. Oh, and a 13% Warwick uni discount too.

The weird

So great says I. The first day I tried getting Fedora Core 6 64 on it.
  • I read the Bootcamp docs, and saw that I needed to check my firmware. It seems that my firmware is more recent that the most recent one published online. Mine are:
    Boot ROM Version: MB21.00A5.B00
    SMC Version: 1.13f3
  • So I get a copy of Refit on there too, and go about booting up the DVD.
    Fedora FC6 64 installing

It installs fine, everything worked just like a normal PC would.
But then it doesn’t boot Fedora. MacOs is still fine.
So I pop in the rescue CD. It boots it, but then refuses to accept my keystrokes.
I try the original Fedora DVD, and get the same. Weird, because it worked before.
Then I booted up SysRescCD, which would sometimes accept my keystrokes on the boot screen, but then double them once the kernel booted ie pressing a gives aa, and backspace doubles too. The only way to type is to hold down a key for a while, hope you get an odd number of aaaaaaaaa and then use the double back space to leave just one. If you thought parted is a pain to use normally, try using it like that. Annoying is an understatement.

OK so that whole issue didn’t work. I tried again actually, involving scrubbing the hard drive, reinstalling MacOS and going back to default. Yet the system still doesn’t let my type when the Fedora DVD boots. So even returning the laptop to factory settings – and remember I have never altered the firmware – something is now broken; the first time it took the FC6 DVD and let me type boot options, and now after a full wipe it still doesn’t. Bizzare.

So the ‘get rid of MacOS and put on Linux’ extravaganza failed. Once I found ‘You Control Desktops’ plug-in to give virtual desktop switching on the mac it was almost as good anyway. X11 works too under MacOS.

So I forget it for now, and await either a new version of FC6 or a new firmware.

The downright ugly

But then the Macbook breaks. Ordered it on Friday, got here on Monday. On Thursday night it starts screaming. You know how you can sometimes tell if a CRT TV is on in another room, because there’s a high-pitch sound you can kinda hear? It’s making that noise. You can sort-of hear it. It’s annoying when working in a quiet place, and like a TV I can kinda hear that the Macbook is on just before I’m entering my room.
So the screaming is coming from the left hand side, around the CapsLock area. After a little scientific method and induction, it seems that it only happens when the CPU is idle. The backlight, temperature, AC/no AC, etc etc make no difference. So that’s annoying…
Then I notice that when I picked up the Macbook, the sound changed to a brrrrr like when you put a wonky DVD in a reader. Everytime you move the Macbook, you get a brrrrr. This is annoying enough to investigate whether the AppleCare warranty I bought is up to scratch.

I rang Apple up, who linked my telephone number to my Macbook serial number. Nice touch. After some fairly pointless, yet mandatory “now hold down the power button, pad your head and rub your stomach: can you now touch your toes?” style troubleshooting we both agreed the 4 day old Macbook was fubar. It needs to be sent back. And to my complete surprise, Apple were happy to send a replacement before I send this one away, so I could copy over my stuff. And to a different address to boot. Cost to me: nada. Not even time, I just have to put up with the screaming for a while until the new one arrives.

So it didn’t run Linux, and broke after 4 days.

Now that’s annoying. But at least I’m impressed with the after-sale support. And you know what, I should be irate with the whole situation. But I’m not because Apple didn’t fight me, and are doing exactly the right things to sort the problem out, without me having to threaten them like every other company I’ve dealt with in the last ten years. Which, frankly, I’m amazed at.

I’m looking forward to the replacement, and also feeling smug about taking out the 3yr warranty. Which makes me a satisfied, new, and converted Apple customer.

November 17, 2006

What TomTom eventually had to say – why writing a letter and taking them to court is easiest

Follow-up to TomTom Mobile 5 Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone from Gibo's Reviews

So TomTom eventually issued me with a key for the product I paid for, though I did have to write them a letter threatening legal action.

Here’s what they said:

Dear Mr. Gibson,

Thank you for your recent letter. Thank you also for including proof of purchase for both your mobile phone and your copy of TomTom MOBILE 5.

We regret to hear that you are disappointed with the service you have received from TomTom Customer Support. We strive always to provide customer satisfaction and to resolve any problems which may arise in an efficient and timely fashion.

We are glad to see that you have been issued with a new Activation Code and we trust that you can now use TomTom MOBILE 5 on your mobile device.

The mobile phone you have purchased, the Vodafone branded Qtek V1240, is, as you are already aware, not currently listed as being compatible for use with TomTom MOBILE 5. It may be that this device will feature on a future, updated compatibility list. Until such time as your mobile device appears on a TomTom compatibilty list, please be aware that you activate TomTom MOBILE 5 software on this device at your own risk. We can offer no further support in the event that it fails to perform as well as you would hope.

Under normal circumstances it is not possible for us to issue more than one Activation Code to customers attempting to use our software on a device not specifically listed as compatible. A special exception has been made in your case and so we have issued you with the latest Activation Code. We regret the length of time that has passed before reaching this decision. Please appreciate that the Customer Support representatives handling your incident thus far were simply performing their job in accordance with the policies of TomTom.

We trust that we have informed you sufficiently.

Kind regards,

Rory Carr,
bq. TomTom Customer Relations Dept.

I replied to this narky response to point out that they aren’t doing me some kind of favour, plus that claiming the software isn’t tested on my phone does not permit them to with-hold the key I have legally purchased. Here’s what I wrote:

You mention you have made a special exception; may I point out that not doing so would be illegal as you have no grounds on which to refuse an Activation Code based on ‘compatibility’, regardless of whatever internal TomTom policy may or may not be.

I have had to incur recorded postage costs to the Netherlands, which I expect you to emend as I consider this expense to purely be derived from TomTom’s inability to deal with my reasonable request; had your Customer Support team acted correctly in the first instance I would not have incurred these costs – thus these can be directly attributed to TomTom.

May I remind you that this is a matter of principal based upon the good reputation of both myself and TomTom; I have had use legal argument to enforce my consumer rights and my time has been diverted towards this issue otherwise unnecessarily. I expect you to offer me a token gesture of goodwill that reflects this time and effort as well as my slight financial loss, as my additional expense does not currently balance with the information I should have had in the first instance.

I await your response and hope to be pleasantly suprised by your chosen recompense.

What did I get for that? No admission that anything was done wrong at all. Outstanding:

Since the Device Code should never change unless the phone is replaced, with each request for a new Activation Code we require you to send a copy proof of purchase or replacement for the device on which you wish to activate our software. Phones not listed as compatible may have unstable Device Codes which can change, as in your case for example, following ROM updates. We cannot repeatedly accept the same proof of purchase document when a customer reports regular Device Code changes.

The correct procedure for issuing new Activation Codes has been followed by the TomTom representatives handling your case. We have made a special exception to provide you with a second activation code for a non-compatible device. Given these circumstances we cannot offer you any further compensation in this case.

So in the end it cost me a good few hours typing replies, a month without my software, and recorded delivery to the Netherlands. TomTom Customer Support will cost you money to deal with – don’t waste time writing on their portal, write them a letter instead threatening to sue.

My advice to people looking to buy TomTom products is this: if you need to deal with their customer support, you will regret buying from them. Given that the TomTom devices seem to have reliability issues, ask yourself whether it’s really worth the hassle. Are there cheaper, better alternatives? Would they value your custom more? It’s your money, you decide.

August 02, 2006

TomTom Mobile 5 Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone

For anyone who is considering spending money with TomTom – this is what to expect. I've reordered it so it reads chronologically – it's an amazing example of appauling customer service. Put your comments at the end; let's have a public record of TomTom's customer service and examples of why they should get their act together. Use the Internet to fight back!

Customer 08/07/2006 12.26 PM

I upgraded my vodafone v1240 (aka SP5 aka qtek 8310) ROM to support A2DP today. Last week, when I got this phone, I created a new product code for my software as I was moving from an Orange C550. However today, the device code is now different and is * *.

Could you please supply me with a new activation code for my updated device, and feel free to remove last week's one as I no longer need it.

Many thanks.

Response 10/07/2006 03.21 PM

Dear Mr Gibson,

Thank you for contacting TomTom Customer Support.

Could you send us a copy of your proof of repair/exchange/purchase?

Fax it to 0031 20 850 1072

include: your product code, device code and email address. and the incident #060708–000579

or attach it to this email with the above information and reply.

to reply to this email:
log onto your account on the tomtom web site
click on the support tab at the top
click on my questions
find this email
click on update

With best regards,

The TomTom Customer Support Team

Auto–response 08/07/2006 12.26 PM
Title: Update May 2006 – TomTom ONE 5.450
Link: link

Title: My activation code no longer works on my repaired PocketPC.
Link: link

Title: How do I install downloadable maps?
Link: link

Title: After installing a map from “Maps of Western Europe” I cannot activate my product.
Link: link

Title: How can I install Maps of Western Europe for TomTom MOBILE 5?
Link: link

Customer 19/07/2006 10.40 AM

What proof exactly are you after? For the phone or tomtom? I can send you a copy of my contract indicating I purchased the v1240 from vodafone, but this does not show that I upgraded the firmware. I cannot see how I can prove (other than the older device code vs the new one, which I thought would be enough) that I've done this.
Please get back to me with further details.

Many thanks

Customer 19/07/2006 11.29 AM

Please find the attached invoice for my purchase of Tomtom mobile [pdf].

Does this help?

Response 19/07/2006 12.47 PM

Dear Mr Gibson,

Thank you for contacting TomTom Customer Support.

My apologies for the misunderstanding and any inconvenience. I was looking for the proof of purchase for your new phone. As the license agreement allows the software to be active on only one device we would ask just to see the receipt and will activate your maps on the new device.

With best regards,

The TomTom Customer Support Team

Customer 24/07/2006 08.08 PM

Please find attached a copy of my purchase receipt, which should be sufficient to demonstrate my ownership.

Response 26/07/2006 04.10 PM

Dear Mr Gibson,

Thank you for contacting TomTom Customer Support.

I sent your incident to my 2nd liine colleague. I have now recieved the reply.

I was told that the device code should not change as you are describing.

Was the update you used the latest updatr for your Mobile?

Did you use an unlock application?

If so if you run the unlock application again it should return the device code to what it was and your activation code should work.

I regret that we are unable to supply a new actvation code.

With best regards,

The TomTom Customer Support Team

Customer 26/07/2006 05.34 PM

I have supplied both my proof of phone purchase AND my receipt for purchasing TomTom. When I got the new phone I requested a new device code for my new phone, installed TomTom and I was happy. Then I upgraded it:

I went to the following vodafone website:
and applied the latest patch.

Now the device code is different. I do not know why this is the case, but you can tell your colleague to try it him/herself to see that it does result in a different code – it is not just a 'patch' but an entire reflash of the phone and is roughly 35MB.

I am annoyed that you have suggested I have attempted to unlock / modify the phone and doubly so with the inference "I was told that the device code should not change as you are describing" is essentially questioning my integrity. The phone is completely vanilla, I haven't even installed any additional programs onto it.

I have been very co–operative with TomTom, I have gone to great trouble to supply more information than you have requested to conclusively prove that I own both my phone and your software. You have then come back to me, after requesting this information, to tell me that actually you won't help me on the basis you do not believe me.

May I suggest your colleague checks his/her facts before suggesting the consumer is at fault – the TomTom team would not benefit from alienating its paying customers.

Frankly I expect better customer service than this. You should escalate this message to your colleague and your colleague's manager, as I certainly do not consider this matter resolved or closed.

Response 28/07/2006 03.58 PM

Dear Mr Gibson,

Thank you for contacting TomTom Customer Support.

I regret to inform you as your phone is not on our compatibility list we will be unable to reactivate your product. If you were to purchase a phone from the belo list and send us a copy of the proof of purchase we can actiavte your product. I hope this anseres your question.

With best regards,

The TomTom Customer Support Team

Customer 28/07/2006 06.33 PM

The vodafone V1240 is identical to the QTEC 8310 / sp5m:

It is literally a rebranded vodafone version. Vodafone in switzerland are swisscom. They call this phone the v1240 also for this reason. If you looked at my receipt it clearly states QTEK V1240 on it. This is the same phone.

The list below (which you didn't attach for me) mentions them ALL:
Microsoft Smartphone

* Imate

SP3, SP3i, SP5, SP5m <—–

* Motorola

MPX 220

* O2

XDA Phone

* Orange

SPV C500, SPV C550, SPV C600, SPV E200

* Qtek

8010, 8020, 8060, 8080, 8100, 8300, 8310 <—–

* Swisscom

Mobile Assistant XPA v1240 <—–

* T–Mobile

SDA, SDA Music, SDA2

Please reactivate my product, I have demonstrated for you that I own a TomTom supported device and have proof of ownership.

Response 31/07/2006 01.49 PM

Dear Mr Gibson,

Thank you for contacting TomTom Customer Support.

I sent your query to my colleague. Your phone and the other phones listed have different ROM/firmware and have been tested and approved. I regret that your phone is not compatible. I hope this answers your question.


With best regards,

The TomTom Customer Support Team

Customer 31/07/2006 03.50 PM

I'm afraid it doesn't. I am not after technical support, I simply wish to use the software I have purchased from you with my new device. Had I not requested a new device activation code before I flashed my device there would have been no problem; all I am asking for is a new device activation code. I have not been bound by any Terms and Conditions which allow you to refuse me access to my own purchase on the basis you do not support my device (which is frankly a tenuous suggestion on the basis I have upgraded my supported phone with an official firmware upgrade), merely that you claim to reserve the right to refuse me access to support regarding the operation of the software on it; I am not seeking a device specific resolution but simply a new device activation code. You would not be able to demonstrate any good reason to prevent me receiving this information.

All I am asking for is a new code. If you allow me another chance to enter one on the website this problem would be resolved (you can remove the old one I don't need it). If you still insist on refusing me assistance I have no further avenue but to notify you that I have given you reasonable opportunity to resolve my complaint and if this matter is not satisfactorily resolved within 7 days I will have no alternative but to escalate this issue to my local Small Claims Court via Trading Standards.

Please print this thread out and forward it to:
TomTom Sales BV
Customer Support – customer relations department
Rembrandtplein 35
1017 CT Amsterdam
The Netherlands

as I wish to instigate your Complaint Procedures.

Martin Gibson

Customer 31/07/2006 04.36 PM

May I also add that you have not provided any information as to the firmwares you support but merely the devices. Suggesting that my device is unsupported on the basis of unpublished firmware/ROM information (as of the date of writing) is unacceptable. You have no enforceable reason not to supply me with a new activation code.

Response 31/07/2006 05.46 PM

Dear Mr Gibson,

Thank you for contacting TomTom Customer Support.

The tomtom license agreement states that you can load your software on one device only, we at tomtom are willing to transfer your product from one device to any other compatibable device with the reception of a copy of the proof of purchase dated after the last activation.

Tomtom complies with all EU trading rules and regulations.

Mobile 5 compatibility list

If you are not satisfied by this please consult the below link;

With best regards,

The TomTom Customer Support Team

Customer 31/07/2006 06.45 PM

"The tomtom license agreement states that you can load your software on one device only, we at tomtom are willing to transfer your product from one device to any other compatibable device with the reception of a copy of the proof of purchase dated after the last activation."

I have given you this proof. I have explained quite clearly why I require a new activation code. I have demonstrated to you that my device is compatible. If you read that EULA (which doesn't apply to me as I did not purchase after '1st January 2006' nor 'before 1st January 2005' and thus cannot be bound by an invalid document especially as it doesn't even enforce what you are talking about) you shall see there is no mention of compatible devices as a restriction on reissue anywhere. You have no legal grounds on which to refuse me a device code; regardless of compatible or not as this restriction is not even mentioned.

Furthermore there is no mention on the firmware affecting the compatability of a device. READ the information here, READ the links you sent me so you can see that a) they don't apply to me and b) I've already pasted that list of devices below to demonstrate the fact you do not talk of the firmware/ROM but only the device (of which I own a Swisscom v1240 and have a receipt for, which you have)

"Tomtom complies with all EU trading rules and regulations.
Does not apply; look at the link and READ it.

"Mobile 5 compatibility list
We've been here before. See below thread.

"If you are not satisfied by this please consult the below link;
I have asked you to do this for me. Instead you chose not to.

You have gone round and round in circles. I have in writing here that you will activate my new device. Then I have in writing that you cannot, on spurious grounds. I am amazed that as a paying customer you didn't simply give me the benefit of the doubt but you are seemingly determined to fail to assist me.

I am tired of this argument. I am a busy person and as TomTom have absolutely no legal grounds on which to be treating me this way I shall quite simply take you to court for a) the cost of a new device code b) the cost of wasting my time; I work for an Investment Bank c) distress caused.

This matter is not closed.

July 05, 2006

v1240 and Vodafone Live!

OK so you got yourself a sexy new v1240 / SP5 / qtec 8310? But those muppets at Vodafone give you free access to Vodafone live! but don't bother setting up the brand new, cutting edge phone for you to use, right?

Well luckily some people aren't quite so lame :)

Here's what you need to do to get it working:

1. Change your Vodafone WAP Proxy to (ie NOT .012)
2. Set Pocket IE's Connection to the WAP Network
3. Get a copy of a Smartphone registry editor. I used regeditSTG.exe – google is your friend.
4. Use it to change the Default Reg Key at HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Internet Settings/5.0/User Agent to
5. Anything you want to try from this page: link (I'm using the S55 string, works perfectly).

No warranty blah blah, hope this helps you guys out. Feel free to comment on this page.

May 01, 2006


In Coventry, even the computers are chavs!

April 19, 2006

Infuriating technology!

As a Comp Sci (aka X-Comp aka XxXtreme cool guys) I know when certain things can and can't be done with technology. The two technology problems that really piss me off:

  • Why can't I have a way of taking a picture on my phone and sharing it easily? Currently I have to bluetooth sync with my Windows laptop, VNC in to it from my main Linux laptop, upload the file to my webserver, and then link it before it becomes available! If my phone ran Linux I could easily write a script. Grr. And the 'shareware' (crippleware) FTP client for smartphone is worse than useless.
  • Why does Windows XP do a better job than Linux at using a VPN? I've got a VPN server set up in Linux on my server, and I can use it just fine from Windows – but using the same software on my Linux laptop – openswan – I just can't get it to do anything. It sets up a connection then looks blankly back at me. All I want is a PSK client!!! No bastard certificates…

ARGH! Infuriating

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  • Hey! Did the whine return? I'm also suffering from the cpu whine. I'm thinking about playing HL2 to … by Vincent on this entry
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