Buying an Apple the hard way

Apple logo No I’m not talking about the fruit although I do find similarities between the fruit and the people who represent Apple in South Africa. The first thing to note is that Apple products have one authorised distributor in South Africa and they are the Core Group. The same company that distributes the Nintendo products at such a ridiculous mark-up.

However it seems that there are plenty of non-authorised resellers in South Africa, but the Core Group can’t seem to decide who is who. They have a local site addressing the grey product issues and they even provide a form for validating your product serial number, albeit a non-automated process. If you compare the following two pages (page 1 and page 2) you will notice that they don’t agree on who the non-authorised resellers are. I think this is ridiculous, how is the consumer supposed to know which list is correct?

Regardless, I decided I wanted a new 15” MacBook Pro 2.8 Ghz,4GB of RAM and 320GB 7200 RPM drive. Yeah I wanted the fastest processor and hard drive that the Apple store in the US offers. I proceeded to call a few of the local resellers seeing as the local online store called the Za Store provided zero customisation options.

Authorised reseller #1: Questek Broadcast Technology

I started by calling local authorised reseller Questek Broadcast Technology for a quotation on the custom configuration I wanted. After numerous unreturned calls on Wednesday and Thursday, I finally managed to speak to the one person that seems to do quotes. She promised me a quotation on email before the end of Friday. To her credit she did call me later in the day and inform me that her email was down and she’d send it when it was up again. On Tuesday I got an email stating:

I do apologise for the inconvenience, however our systems have not been working.

Please be advised that you will be getting your quote today, I just need to finalise a few prices for you once that has been done you will be getting your quote.

So much for Friday’s excuse about the email being down, she doesn’t even have the pricing on Tuesday. Mind you, I never got the quotation on Tuesday either.

Authorised reseller #2: iStore in Clearwater Mall

I called the iStore in Cresta on Wednesday and was told to email Dimitri and he’d get me a quotation by the end of the day. I’m still waiting.

Authorised reseller #3: Digicape store in The Wedge

A few friends recommended dealing with the company DigiCape. So I called their Johannesburg store on Saturday late afternoon and my details were taken for a quotation on Monday. Once again, no quotation was received.

Non-authorised reseller #1: CAB Platinum Store in Sandton City

On Saturday I visited the slick looking CAB Platinum Store in Sandton City after being advised by friends that they are useless. The first thing I noticed was that all of the standard configurations were priced around R4000 more for the exact same box product. Ridiculous. I approached the so-called Knowledge Bar to find out about a custom configuration and was delegated to a back office woman who proceeded to quote me on a standard configuration machine with an additional 320GB 5400 RPM drive. Hmmm, useful, NOT! After I reiterated my requirements my details were taken down and a quotation was promised on Monday. To date, no quotation has been received.

After much frustration and irritation I realised that in South Africa, if you wish to buy and Apple product, you need to simply accept that the distributor, Core Group, knows what you want and its one of the standard configurations. However a few friends did suggest that I go to the USA and buy one there. My problem with this would be the warranty although I’ve heard that local warranty support has much to be desired.

Determined to get myself a Mac in time for Christmas, I called up Incredible Connection in Sandton City on Sunday afternoon and purchased a new 15” MacBook Pro with 2.53GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and 320GB 5400 RPM hard drive.

My advice to anyone considering buying a Mac, go for it, and hopefully the Core Group sorts their reseller channel out so you have a better experience that I did.

Scott Hanselman to visit South Africa

Scott Hanselman Scott Hanselman is a well known blogger and owns the podcast Hanselminutes. He works for Microsoft as a DevDiv Community Liaison and he has offered to spend some of his vacation time with the SA Developer .NET community.

He will be in Johannesburg on the evening of Monday the 8th of December at the Microsoft offices and in Cape Town midday on the 17th of December. The topic of the events was open to community vote and ASP.NET MVC was the winner, although Silverlight managed to sneak in during the final few hours of the poll.

 

Add the Johannesburg talk to your calendar   8th December 2008 @ 18h30 – Johannesburg – Please RSVP online over here.

 

Add the Cape Town talk to your calendar   17th December 2008 @ 13h00 – Cape Town

 

See you there!

Photos from 27dinner 27-31

Last night a couple of us gathered for the final Johannesburg 27dinner for 2008, namely 27-31 Jozi. I think Garsen’s Cappello restaurant has got to be the best venue for the 27dinner as we have it exclusively to ourselves. No rowdy drunkards to compete with the speaker anymore. The presentation covered web security threats and Dominic White delivered it in a way that I believe most people could fathom – it might have helped that most of us are in fact geeks. 😉

I had a great evening and it was awesome to see some new faces in the crowd. We all got name badges switched and had to find the owner of the name badge which meant for lots of introductions and networking. Great idea guys, but with Super Nana please come forward and claim your name badge. :p

27dinner November 2008 27-31 Jozi

PS. I’ve decided not to post the 27 boobs photos due to the lack of participation, maybe there wasn’t enough liquor flowing, but there is always next time. You can click the collage for the gallery.

A comment on the Gears of War 2 map codes

Last week some South African gamers were a little disappointed to open up their copies of Gears of War 2 only to find that the expected download codes for the Gears of War Flashback multi-player map pack and the golden Lancer in Limited Collectors Edition were missing.

Our local Product Marketing Manager for Xbox 360 in South Africa, John Press, has issued the following comment:

The Gears of War 2 limited collector’s edition for the South African market does not contain any of the downloadable elements found in the version advertised on international websites & where the Live service is available. Live has not launched in South Africa at this point and as a result downloadable content which relies on users having legitimate access to the service is excluded from the content of the collector’s edition.

Legislation and a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority prevents us from utilizing Live branding on local versions of the game until such time as the service is available in country. The inclusion of Live branding and Live related content would imply that the service is available locally and could be construed as being misleading .

We are in the process of seeking alternative methods of delivering this content as we recognise the value this content to our local customers. In addition we remain committed to bringing Live to SA but unfortunately there is no update with regards to a launch date at this point. We appreciate your understanding at this time as we seek an alternative solution to this issue.

Not the answer we all wanted to hear, however at least we have an official response on the matter. Technically I don’t believe any local retailers advertised the inclusion of the downloadable content codes in the products they sold, it was all an assumption based on what was offered for other regions.

I’ll post as soon as I hear any more with regards to an alternative content delivery method.

Live your very own movie premiere every night

You're In The Movies boxartThere is some awesome value coming to the Xbox 360 platform this festive season with family oriented titles like Lips, Scene It? Box Office Smash and finally the awesome new title You’re in the Movies.

It works with the Xbox LIVE Vision camera accessory that has up until now been unavailable in South Africa due to it being an Xbox LIVE accessory. However its being bundled with You’re in the Movies and dubbed the Xbox LIVE Vision camera. 🙂

Judging by how popular the preview code was we had running at rAge 2008, I think this is going to be a really popular title for the entire family and it comes with an ESRB E (Everyone) rating. You’ll be surprised how much fun the game is and how much exercise you end up doing acting out scenes in front of the camera.

JOHANNESBURG – 04 November 2008 Be the star you’re destined to be with “You’re in the Movies,” hitting South African store shelves on the 28th November.  Premiering exclusively on Xbox 360 in time for Christmas, “You’re in the Movies” is truly the first and only game of its kind.

With a recommended retail price of R699.00 bundled with an Xbox Vision camera, “You’re in the Movies” combines cool with kitsch as you live out your dreams of becoming a scream queen, zombie or kung fu master.  The game transports players into a magical world of cinema and hilarious improvisations.  Using the Xbox Vision camera, players’ minigame actions can be captured and placed into short, riotous films that put the spotlight on the unique and often dubious acting talents of friends and family. With “You’re in the Movies,” you’re about to be a star — if only straight to DVD.

Up to four friends can bask in the spotlight and play starring roles.  But rest assured, even watching from the sidelines is fun!  A top-notch director guides actors through their roles with simple instructions and immediate feedback; in fact, the director even rates actors on their physical performance in mini games. This exciting scoring system will stop you A-listers from getting too lazy.

Or jump into Director Mode and produce your very own blockbuster. Lock yourself in the edit room and get to work filming the next big hit. Choose your music, add your own voice-over and re-edit to your heart’s content.

“You’re in the Movies” is another great part of the Xbox 360 story as it continues to build on the universally captivating entertainment on offer, including the widely anticipated “LIPS” and “Scene It? Box Office Smash”.

For more information please visit http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/games/y/yitm.

Call of Duty: World at War beta key winners

Call of Duty World at War screenshot Congratulations to Ivan Daw and PARANOID365 for being randomly selected from the comments, you each should have received and email from me with a redeem code for the Call of Duty: World at War Xbox 360 multiplayer beta.

Sorry Frank, a moving comment, but unfortunately it was a random choice. Congratulations though on your newborn, hopefully he grows up to be a gamer. 🙂

Call of Duty World at War multiplayer beta keys

Call of Duty World at War screenshot I have two Call of Duty World at War multiplayer beta keys to giveaway. Note that these keys are for the Xbox 360 multiplayer beta and you need a hard drive, bandwidth to download the beta (890 MB) and an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription to play. In my experience I would recommend you have at least a 384 kbps ADSL line. For international play I’d recommend unshaped ADSL bandwidth to reduce the latency however shaped bandwidth is just fine for local play. I’m limiting this giveaway to South African Xbox 360 gamers only.

If you meet the requirements above, leave a comment on this post including your email address and I’ll announce the winners on the 23rd of October through random selection. Creative comments might stand out. 🙂

South African Xbox 360 Troubleshooting Guidance

I can see flashing red lights on my console

Seeing flashing red lights on your console’s Ring of Light is not always a bad thing. A lot of people see flashing red lights and think the dreaded Red Ring of Death (RRoD) has struck and often its just a case of a loose video cable. Here is a quick guide as to what you see courtesy of ZeroDesolation:

/ \
\ / One red light flashes on the Ring of Light and you receive an error message: Hardware failure. Restart the console. Contact Xbox Customer Service if the problem is not resolved. If the agent cannot help you resolve this issue, you will have to return the console to Microsoft for repair.

/ \
\ / Two red lights flash on the Ring of Light: This behaviour occurs when the console is too hot. Power down for a while. Check sufficient ventilation. Verify the cooling fan is working. If the two lights continue to flash red after you tried the solutions, contact Xbox Customer Service. If the agent cannot help you resolve this issue, you will have to return the console to Microsoft for repair.

/ \
\ / Three red lights flash on the Ring of Light: Hardware failure. Restart the console. Contact Xbox Customer Service if the problem is not resolved. If the agent cannot help you resolve this issue, you will have to return the console to Microsoft for repair.

/ \
\ / Four lights flash red on the Ring of Light: The A/V cable is not correctly connected to the Xbox 360 console. The cable is not being detected by the console. Verify proper installation of the A/V Cable. This error will not occur if the cable is improperly plugged into a TV or VCR. Try another cable. If the four red lights continue to flash after you follow these troubleshooting steps, the Xbox 360 console may have to be repaired.
Contact Xbox Customer Service.

What is covered by warranty?

Your console comes with a one (1) year warranty for manufacturing defects and faulty parts. Microsoft has stated that each console will be covered by a three (3) year warranty only for the 3 flashing red lights (RRoD) issue. Both warranties run from the day of purchase.

What isn’t covered by warranty?

The following items are not covered by warranty:

  • If the console has been opened, tampered with in anyway or any of the seals on your Xbox360 are broken.
  • Lightening strikes and power surges.
  • Power Supplies.

International consoles and out-of-warranty claims are chargeable.

Warranty Repair & Swapout

South African Xbox 360 owners that have encountered a problem with their Xbox 360 consoles can either download a copy of the Warranty Procedure Claim Form (522 KB), complete it and fax the form including proof of purchase to MiDigital or complete the online Xbox 360 Claim Form. The relevant telephone numbers are contained in the document.

After changing consoles you can use the License Transfer Tool to transfer licenses from your old Xbox 360 console to your new console. Note that this can only be done once per year, so make sure you are happy with your new console hardware before doing the transfer.

South African Xbox 360 search engine

Thanks to the new Google Custom Search functionality I’ve setup a search engine for South African Xbox 360 sites and blogs. Its currently in testing and will improve in time. If you run a South African Xbox 360 related site, get in touch with me and I’ll add your content into the search engine configuration.

To make it easier to access I’ve created a shortened URL for it http://tinyurl.com/za360search and if it proves popular I’ll register a cool domain name for it.

I welcome the community feedback on the idea.

South African NXE Storage Solution confirmed

The New Xbox Experience (NXE) update which has been confirmed for release worldwide on the 18th of November 2008 has gotten a few of the local South African users a bit concerned. This follows the news last week that the NXE will require about 128 MB of storage on either an Xbox 360 Memory Unit or an Xbox 360 Hard Drive.

Microsoft have since revealed their proposed storage solution whereby qualifying Core and Arcade owners can receive either a free Xbox 360 Memory Unit or Xbox 360 Hard Drive. Unfortunately this seems to only apply to Xbox 360 owners in the US and Europe. More details on the international Xbox 360 Memory Upgrade program can be found on that over here.

I’ve just gotten off the phone and I’d like to let the South African Xbox 360 users know, Microsoft Xbox South Africa is working on a similar program for South African users. So don’t stress you will still be able to get to experience the New Xbox Experience when it releases even though we don’t officially have Xbox LIVE yet. Remember that firmware updates for the Xbox 360 console ship on the retail game discs so even if you aren’t an Xbox LIVE user you will be able to get the update from new game releases as well as through download from the support site.