An Open Letter of Gratitude to Apple

Marketing shot of MacBookPro
Dear Apple,

Firstly I have to say that I was a reluctant convert to the MacBookPro. My daughter got one for her studies at University, and the run-up to Uni, College. Her, now aging, MacBookPro stood her in good stead during her time learning about the video game industry and still does quite well considering it is now several years old. She talked me into purchasing a Mac when my old PC bit the big one.

Amazingly enough, the big reason I decided upon the MacBookPro was the iMovie editing capability which, having watched my youngster edit her video reviews on game, looked infinitely easier than anything Microsoft had on offer.

I bought my Pro in 2013. I edited quite a number of videos in the UK, before you went and changed the way iMovie works. Still, I do not do videos that much anymore so that is not a real big issue, plus I’ve gotten used to the changes now so I forgive you for making it that bit more difficult.

So far my MacBookPro has survived being taken to South Africa on a whirlwind fact-finding tour where I had to interview several sources who claimed that Nelson Mandela died in June 2013 and not December as official sources insisted. It made a trip across the ocean to Las Vegas unscathed in 2014 and even managed to escape damage at the many conventions attended at Vegas. From The Amazing Comic Con to the Star Trek Convention, my MacBook resisted all my clumsy handling to stay scratch and dent free.

Later on at the start of 2015, while in the Southwest desert of Arizona, my MacBookPro has managed to keep working after being transported via backpack all over the hardpan floor and the local “one-horse” town. It still performs admirably despite it’s carrier falling down a wash while walking across the desert.

MacBookPro 11.4"
My trusty MacBookPro

It has also survived its owner being knocked off his bicycle by a hit and run driver in Love’s Truck Stop car park. An incident that resulted in my going airborne and landing on my back. The backpack with my trusty MacBookPro clunked heavily on the hard ground and 5 weeks later, when I could finally ride my bike again, I fell off the same bike outside the local Burger King and once again my poor MacBook hit the ground hard.

Despite all these tumbles and falls, the only real damage seems to have been on the case itself. A few scratches and dings that are superficial at best. This “cosmetic” damage has not interfered with the workings of my “laptop” and it still labour effortlessly as my only blogging and vlogging device. On top of being the instrument I used to write nearly 2,000 articles for the newspaper I worked for, it still functions as my main source of news from the outside world via the Internet.

MacBookPro
My Survivor, you have to look close to see those scars…

I mention all this because I’ve never felt the need to write any sort of letter to any company, open or otherwise, about any of their products. My MacBookPro has proven to be the best purchase ever made by this consumer. Sadly, my iPhone 5 has not had quite the same track record, for some odd reason the display screens in my phone go off and I’ve had replacements twice now, but I am not complaining, as your customer service is head and shoulders above the competition.

In closing, let me just say thank you Apple for continuing to make such a workhorse of a laptop. I am writing this open letter of gratitude, admiration and praise about my MacBookPro, the one that I call survivor, and the dependable tool that I plan to use for a long, long time.

A most impressed customer,

Michael Knox-Smith

6 May 2015

Life in the Real Desert: And Death

Death of a deer
Riding home last night after having spent hours in the Burger King making use of their wonderful Wi-Fi, I noticed a lot of buzzards in the darkening sky. Oddly, on my way to town much earlier in the day, a lone bird stood in the road just outside the estate. Standing motionless, it was seemed to be staring off into the desert at God knows what. The buzzard only moved when I stopped my bike to take a picture. Very camera shy these carrion eaters.

The first thing that sprang to mind was the scene from Wild Hogs where Woody, Doug, Bobby and Dudley (played with hilarious precision by William H. Macy) are walking their motorcycles along the desert road and a buzzard is patiently following the small group of men. I was not too perturbed as the featured creature was not paying any attention to me at all.

As I rounded a corner of the road, just before a deep wash that reeks of either dog or coyote, off to the right about 25 feet from the pavement lay a deer. Face pointed to the road, long eyelashes still as death and not a mark on him or her, at least not that I could see. It was quickly getting dark and despite the light being strong enough for my old eyes to see everything in stark detail, the iPhone 5 could not compensate for the dwindling sunlight.

I took a few pictures and then had to “tweak” them at home in order to make out the details. After remounting my bike, I started again for home. The buzzards who had been circling the deer flew down to the fresh carcass to join the one bold chappy who did not mind me taking his photo. There were roughly 10 of the birds scattered around the deer.

After a couple of strong pumps on the pedal, I was on my way. I looked the the left and broke out into gooseflesh. On two trees, mesquite I believe, there were another 30 buzzards all waiting for their turn. I know it was 30 as I stopped and counted. I was so shaken by this sight that I quite forgot to attempt a photo. It was, by now, a lot darker and most likely would not have come out.

Today on my way into town I watched for the body. I could not remember how far away the poor deceased creature lay from my house. Much further than I thought as it turned out. The huge amount of buzzards had disappeared and only around 5 to 10 were feasting on the creature’s body.

As I approached, using the video on my iPhone, the birds all took off. This enabled me to get a bit closer to inspect the “damage” done.

WARNING: This next bit is not for the squeamish.

Last evening, the deer was pretty much whole. It could have been sleeping as, from what I could see, there was no apparent cause of death. I remember wondering if it had been bitten by a rattlesnake as no wounds were visible. Today, the animal’s remains were dramatically reduced from their full state the day before. Apparently after I left the area a feeding frenzy ensued with not only buzzards eating their fill but coyotes as well?

Here is the uncut video:

I wondered, ever so briefly, whether or not this was the same deer who almost crossed in front of me back in February as I walked back to the estate after dark. It certainly had the same “lack of horn” as that one did, but it is highly unlikely. Just another reminder that the desert is not just full of life but death as well and that both rely upon the other to exist.

27 April 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

An English Village Highstreet – Old and New

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What used to be my favourite place in a village and the hub of activity for village events, the Pub.

In 1990 I came back to England after a four and a half-year stint in Holland. My then wife and I were amazed at how quickly the country had changed in such a short time. She was a “local” girl and we’d moved to a section of country that wasn’t her hometown.

Back then the USAF had a base outside the small village of Woodbridge. The village enjoyed having the “Yanks” here as they funnelled a huge amount of money into the local economy. No one was more upset than ┬álocal commerce about this loss of revenue when the base closed down in 1993.

I came to the village today on personal business. I’d been yesterday and as I did not know where I was going I took a somewhat scenic tour of the village. It had been quite a while since I’d been here and that was on the not very pleasant business of attending a work colleague’s funeral.

A tragic year, I lost three colleagues in the short span of six months. The small community of Prison Officers were reeling with the shock of losing so many friends way too early.

Today’s business was nowhere near as unpleasant and I noticed how much the village had changed from when I first got here in 1990 and how it looked today.

The village Information sign. You are here.
The village information sign. You are here.

The village is still an odd mixture of old and new; foreign and domestic; timely and faded. I took my iPhone 5 and took a slew of shop sign pictures and shop fronts. These images show much better than I could ever describe the dichotomy that is the High Street (main street) of a typical English village.

Sitting here in the ‘village’ Costa Coffee that would not have been here a few short years ago, I’m savouring my coffee while I savour the irony as I write this post on my iPad.

I’ll finish up with a few images of the village called Woodbridge and hopefully you’ll see the old and the new; and how they mix together.

The quaint.
The quaint.
The village shop, if there was ever a shop constant, it would be the Co-operative Store.
The village shop, if there was ever a shop constant, it would be the Co-operative Store.
The european influence.
The european influence.
The traditional.
The traditional.
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The new.
Considering that the word "gob" means your mouth, this is the funniest sign for a real estate agency ever.
Considering that the word “gob” means your mouth, this is the funniest sign for a real estate agency ever.
The ubiquitous Indian food restaurant.
The ubiquitous Indian food restaurant.
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More tradition in the way of lovely fresh baked goods. When I first came to England you could buy two loaves of freshly baked bread for under 20 pence.