The truth about Macbooks


green_apple.jpg'It just works' they said. Sorry lads, but it doesn't. The last 24 hours have been testing me to the very limits of my patience. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I'm a recent convert to the quasi-religious grouping that is 'the mac bore'. I was a hacked-off PC user who jumped on the Apple Macintosh bandwagon. And I'd been a very happy boy. That is, until yesterday, when it started crashing and dying. And, I'm not alone. It appears that I'm one of thousands around the world who have been lied to by Apple's 'It Just Works' marketing crap.

I’ve been working with computers for most of the last ten years. It's my job. And they're important to me. I started on a Windows 3.1 banger and watched the personal computer and the Internet grow from a joke to a useful tool. But almost every day in that ten years, there’s been a moment when I’ve silently, or not so silently, cursed these wretched machines. They freeze, they crash, they get infected with viruses every week, they make no sense: they’re just plain annoying.

But, about six weeks ago, I bought my first mac and I fell in love with it. Two weeks ago, I was joking to a friend at work that if it weren’t for the fact that I already have a girlfriend, and that God’s canon is set against marriage to white plastic boxes, I’d make it my wife.

My shiny new macbook was a revelation. A cleverly designed machine that actually works. That was what they said: it just works. Well, you know what chaps? It doesn't bloody work.

It started two days ago. I was in the middle of a Skype call and the machine simply died. Black screen. No warning. A dead lump of white plastic in my hands. It wouldn't turn on. I removed and re-inserted my battery. Then it worked. Then it died again. And again. And again.

So, this morning, after four attempts to boot up, I did some searching. And I discovered that there seems to be something wrong with the 13 inch White Macbook. It's crashing so often that there's actually a name for it: RSS or Random Shutdown Syndrome.

The following video, posted by a digruntled MacBook owner on YouTube, shows exactly what I'm talking about.

Now look. I know that computers are flaky. I expect them to be flaky. But what galls me is that when I went to the Apple store to discuss the idea of buying a Mac, what struck me was the total confidence with which Apple staff said that this would never happen. Macs don't crash, they told me smugly. Macs just work. Well, sorry lads but this one doesn't.

Now, admit you were talking crap and fix them. And remove the lies from your marketing campaign. And do it before I decide to join these chaps in suing you for false advertisement.


MacBook Random Shutdown

Apple MacBook owners organizing class action lawsuit

Apple Insider


Image by miss w. tod


i stopped using macs once the golden age of System7 stopped. System was my lsat encounter. Me and Steve Hillage knew something most didn't ;)

If you're having the random shut down problem... call Applecare and they'll fix/replace it. A friend of mine had to do that.

Why you think you need to sue is confusing - sometimes computers have hardware problems and need to be fixed. It has a warranty - use it.

But that's a feature :)

Sorry, I hope you discover what it is. I'd recommend going to and talking to the kiddies there. They seem switched on and may know of a cure or whether it's a treatable product fault... or Apple of course.

It looks like you purchased a lemon, so it's time for some technical help. If you haven't got a tech savvy Mac friend handy, then it's time to go to an Apple store.

I wonder if your expectations were a trifle high. Perfection is possible, but is not to be expected. Did you install new ram? That is often a common problem. But, there is no way to find out, unless you ask for help. The Mac is under warranty, after all.

I do not own a MacBook, so cannot reply specifically to your problem. To take out your anger and frustration with snide comments about "the mac bore" won't fix your computer.

If you have worked with computers for the last ten years then you are surely aware that these machines sometimes exhibit inexplicable behavior. I work in a school building servicing PC's and keeping them up and running. Windows causes me a multiude of frustrations everyday. That's a software problem. From my readings on the web it would be safe to state that this is certainly some type of hardware issue. A fellow staff member's daughter has the exact same problem as you. My first thought then was that it had to be some kind of memory or logic/motherboard issue. I am still convinced of that.

I would certainly continue to be vigilant and get Apple to fix your computer. Keep in mind though, that these problems can be vexing. It is entirely possible that even Apple hasn't completely figured out the issue.

It has been my experience with three different Macs from three to ten years old, that Apple has earned its reputation for quality. They do in fact "just work" most of the time. Other than the battery recall for my iBook G4 I have had NO hardware issues. Period.

Ultimately Apple will either honor their committment to fix your computer or suffer relentless and long lasting criticism for not doing so. Good luck.

My Macbook also had the RSS. Get the heatsink replaced. It is a design defect. You surely must relize that when someone says it just works it is not a guarantee that absolutely nothing will ever go wrong with your purchased product.

thanks lads. no, no new ram. no dodgy software and i've taken great care of it. as for setting my expectations too high, i expect a machine to warn me if it's about to die. i do not expect a machine that is two months old to simply shut down when i'm in the middle of working.

i'll be on to apple care tomorrow morning, first thing.

i suppose i'm simply enormously dissapointed. i work in the e-learning business and spend a large portion of my day obsessing about interface design, instructional design and usability issues. when i discovered the mac I was thrilled: finally, i thought, a solution to all my IT horrors. a secure machine that works and doesn't breakdown. it's a deeply distressing thing when a machine that you have placed all of your intellectual property into, suddenly dies in front of you.

So stop w*nking off and ring up Applecare - mine was collected, fixed and returned inside 48 hours.

i reserve the right to call apple on a shabby, duplicitous advertising campaign. i also reserve the right to call them on the braggartly manner in which they guaranteed me that something like this would never happen.

as bad as pc's were (and i truly hated them) nothing like this ever happened.

i'm still very fond of the mac (as i said i place a high value on good design), but i, like the thousands of others, feel let down. that's all.

paul C.,
i wonder did you read the whole text above? if you do again, i think you'll find that i included myself in that comment and categorisation. if i was being snide, i managed to insult myself.

Hey there, Apple products have always been superior, and and are becoming increasingly so. That's generally speaking, however. One thing's for sure, in the rare instances when Apple does put out problematic products, they turn it around more swiftly and surely than anyone. It seems people are indeed experiencing problems with the new Macbooks--a low point for Apple, but I've known this company for years and years, and on net they will be a far, far superior experience. It's not "hype."

Apple did not guarantee that you wouldn't experience a hardware fault - no-one can guarantee perfection. What they do is warrant that if you do have a problem they will fix it - that's what the warranty is all about. Your expectations of perfection are unrealistic and if you feel let down then you have only yourself to blame - don't blame Apple. All reliability reports indicate that Apple have way better reliability than any other computer company, but that's not the same as 100% reliability, which is simply impossible given the current state of the art in electronic technology.

I am typing this on a White MacBook that had this problem. It is a known defect that they have resolved in manufacturing, it was caused by the use of a faulty heat sensor in the original design. Apple will replace it. This is not technically a crash it is a hardware malfunction. When Apple claims via advertising that they do not crash or "it just works" they are referring to Mac OS X and their applications like iPhoto. When you plug in a digital camera iPhoto launches and "it just works." Just like if you experience a user interface crash in Mac OS X the good chance is the underying UNIX code is still executing just the window server (UI) crashed, therefore the software did not crash. That scenario is possible and has been occasionally happened. It is not a hardware claim. Although as some of the previous commenters have pointed out even with the macbook Apple has one of the lowest electronics failure rates in the industry by percentage, not by units. I only make that distinction because the low percentage has nothing to do with sales volume. Also the iPod boasts a, I believe, 5 percent failure rate. Which is quite low. However if you take 60 million iPods sold and ask the 5 percent of those people how they feel about Apple and the iPod more than a few will say they hate them both. If you ask most of the other millions they would say Apple is great and that the iPod is "so reliable, I do not understand what the fuss is all about." Anyway to put this post to bed I would encourage everyone to have some perspective, look at the whole picture. In America there are a large number of people who do not understand what the rest of the world is like. I think it is important to find the whole truth, and not to get angry like the whole world experiences are the exact same is yours. Go to Apple they will fix the problem in the next 2 weeks and most likely less, and then you can go back to loving your MacBook just like I have gone back to it. Trust me I was angry but now that is has worked for over three times as long as it did before the problem struck I am still pleases with my purchase.

Thanks for reading. Good day.

Yup - I hafta agree - the hype IS (for the most part) . . . true -- they do just 'work'. As for your particular problem - well OOPS, you experienced a computer woe. Not common place with Apple product - but the difference here is that Apple gives REALLY great customer service and AppleCare WILL solve your problem . . . in other words - it just works (including the warrantee!).

thanks chaps. nice to have such an articulate standard of comments on the site - makes a refreshing change...

yeah, this sucks. here's where apple fesses up and provides a solution:

as far as the advertising and attitude of apple workers, they're not absolutely right, but they're pretty close (as demonstrated by surveys by consumer reports, j.d. power, etc.). i don't like smug attitudes in general, and that's why i find windows fans so hypocritical. for years, and even today, many windows fans (who have never really used a mac) made so many claims of wintel superiority and mac inferiority, often with outright lies, that it was just ridiculous that they disliked macs because mac users were so smug.

is that kazman from 709online? if it is i bought a samsung 709 from you, still works, much better than a macbook :)

Interesting how people's stories differ....

(1) 10 years ago most people were into their second year of using Windows 95. I personally begann using that version with their preview back in 1994 - 12 years ago.

(2) 10 years ago the PC 'network' might still have been a joke, but the PC was pretty well established in the business world. Office 4 was overtaking WordPerfect/Lotus.

(3) "I’ve been working with computers for most of the last ten years. It's my job. And they're important to me."

Why some people like the make claims like this, then complain about the PR campaign instead of, urm, something like calling the OEM (in this case Apple) I have no clue. But it really hurts your credibility.

(4) You are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. At this point in the Apple/Intel transition you have virtually no choice but to purchase a rev 1 product. Particularly if it's a laptop.

And what you are eperienceing is a well known rev 1 issue that crept up last June - about the time you were purchasing it.

(5) My advice to you is this: since you purchased a rev 1 Mac with "thousands" of buyers experiencing the same problem... get of your soapbox, quit your bitching, and call AppleCare annd have them fix it.

Hi, yes, this is a syndrom that makes you wonder "What tha f*ck"??
I have to return two MacBooks in my network to replace the heatsinck (that's the problem actually).
Now they just work.

You'll fall in love again, I guarantee yah. They will just work!

I must say, I find some of the vitriol here very interesting. I've been discussing this issue with a few lads in the office and I've noticed a pattern: the same one I can see here.

For some reason, there seems to be a great deal of Mac users out there who take any slight of an Apple product almost as a personal affront. As though to criticise Apple, or even point to a flaw in an Apple product, constitutes some kind of treasonous behaviour. I'm at quite a loss to understand this. I've noticed that there are occasions when the debate between Mac and pc users takes on all the passion of a screaming match between Islamic Fundamentalists and the Westboro Baptist Church.

As for my whining, I'd simply say this: in excess of 1700 people have read this piece in the last 24 hours. I assume that some of them are potential buyers. If so, they might think twice about buying something which is now known to have a serious flaw. I would have appreciated that knowledge myself, prior to shelling out a significant lump of money for this thing.

I asked in the Apple store if any problems were known of concerning these machines. They rhapsodically told me no and actually smirked in patronising glee that I could be so naive to think that there could have been anything wrong with a Mac. According to the commenter above (Dave) this issue has been known about since June. If that's the case, then Apple knowingly sold me something that could break and lied to me when I asked if it was secure. Forgive me, but I'll reserve the right to express my disappointment about that.

I think you disappointment should in part be directed at yourself. A quick use of the internet would have shown you that some Macbooks were having RSS due to the heatsink. I knew this before I bought mine. i quickly had it replaced and got back to enjoying this new black beauty.

perhaps paul. no matter, i shan't be accepting apple promises at face value again.

Well I'm using a MacBook and I have not had this problem but I have heard of it. My advice is if you computer is in warranty don't bother trying to tech it out yourself make it Apples problem and have them fix it for you. I would say the same for any and all manufacturers. Only spend your valuable time if it's not under warranty or youi know you've been bad and done things to your system that are not recommended.

Me..I use Parallels and run both Mac OSX and Windows on my little MacBook with no problems. So far so good!!!

Pagan jim

I'm a huge Apple fan, and I'm sorry you're running into some problems with your new Macbook. I'm using the Powerbook (the final PowerPC one) right now, and I'm in love with this machine. I wanted to get the new intel-macs, but I was afraid that the first generation intel macs were going to have problems, and well... Seems like it's true. I can say though that Apple's Customer Service is incredible, and i did have some power problems with my Powerbook (and it had physical damage done by me) and when I had it sent to Apple for getting the power fixed, they also fixed all the physical damages for free, and I was so happy about it. I would never expect this from companies like Sony and such. Well I hope you won't judge Apple for a few errors, they're working on fixing it, and I believe Customer Service is a very important part of a product, that Apple excells in. Good Luck!

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This page contains a single entry by birdbath published on October 15, 2006 10:07 AM.

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