Southampton Apple Store grand opening

Queue 1

Both Andy and myself were present at the opening of the Southampton Apple Store this morning. Having underestimated the popularity of the event and left my departure accordingly late I was glad that Andy managed to secure an impressive place in an even more impressively long queue, which almost reached down to the exit from West Quay onto the High Street.

After some frankly quite embarrassing staff whooping and hand slapping, they opened up the shutters to let in the hordes. With what seemed like a full complement of staff and of course a huge amount of punters the most immediate impression was that the store itself is, well a little small. I was expecting it to have two floors, as with most Apple stores I’ve been to. The DVD shop which was there before certainly did.

Filing in 2

I spent most of my time wandering around taking photos, some of which are now up on flickr (slideshow here) Andy meanwhile had a mission to spend, and came out with a new toy, but I’ll let him tell you about that 😉

24″ iMac – initial random thoughts

24

Wow! Some random thoughts before I collate a more considered post tonight:

  • It comes in a very big box.
  • It is quite disconcerting when the invoice stuck to said box is made out to some guy in France…
  • … though he seems to have gone for the 3GB…
  • … but only the 128MB graphics card.
  • Phew, it is actually mine.
  • Why is Apple packaging so, well, cool.
  • Blimey it’s big.
  • But very, very nice.
  • Lots of system updates to download.
  • Firmware update. Please don’t go wrong…
  • …Phew.
  • 1920×1200 rocks.
  • Wires from the keyboard and mouse are annoying me already.
  • Very easy to transfer stuff over from the iBook via firewire.
  • Did I say it was big?
  • Play with FrontRow. Remote is cool.
  • 1080p trailer of 300 at native res, impressive.
  • Installed Lightroom. Wow, this is what I bought it for!

Lightroom comparison

  • SecondLife and Google Earth are sweet. Might actually tempt me to spend a decent amount of time in SL now.
  • Photoshop Elements runs quick, even under Rosetta.
  • CD drive is very quiet.
  • Very, very happy.

Anticipation

29 Jan 2007 07:00 Southampton Out For Delivery
29 Jan 2007 05:48 Southampton Import Received
27 Jan 2007 22:16 Northampton Hub Consignment Received At Transit Point
26 Jan 2007 17:09 Arnhem Hub Consignment Received At Transit Point
26 Jan 2007 17:09 Arnhem Hub Consignment Passed Through Transit Point
23 Jan 2007 11:42 Shanghai Consignment Received At Transit Point
23 Jan 2007 09:35 Shanghai Consignment Picked Up

The ins and outs of Apple shipment and order tracking

I’ve ordered numerous items from Apple over the years, including two iPods an iBook and now the iMac. As such, and like a lot of other Apple customers, I’ve become quite au-fait with their shipment procedures. In fact, it seems Apple customers are really quite anal when it comes to tracking where their precious delivery is!

When you view any hardware product on the Apple Store, it gives an estimated “ready to ship” date. If this is “within 24 hours” that normally means the product is in stock at a distribution point and you are ordering a standard configuration. If you are customising a product then your order becomes a BTO/CTO (Build-to-order / customize-to-order) order with a typical ready to ship date of 2-3 days. This will be fulfilled from the factory in most cases (iPod engraving being an exception – that is done at the distribution point) Of course, the ready to ship date is the date it is, er, ready to ship from the distribution point or factory, not the date you can expect to receive your shiny new purchase. If you are especially keen to get hold of a standard config, you might be better off heading down to your local reseller (John Lewis are best if you happen to be in the UK)

Once you’ve ordered, your order confirmation will give the RTS date, and an estimated delivery date. You will also have an order number typically beginning with W80 or W81. This is where the fun begins. If your order is CTO hardware then it is most likely going to be built in a factory in China. From there it is possible that it may be shipped directly by courier. You’ll know if this is happening as the shipping method on your order status page will be “Fast Ship (EMEA)” This means that a courier (TNT or UPS in the UK at least) will handle the delivery from factory to your door. Once your item is shipped you’ll receive a dispatch email from Apple which will contain a ten digit delivery reference number beginning with 80.

What happens now is up to the delivery method. If it is a single item through Fast Ship deliver then you are in luck. You should be able to use the delivery reference number to do a track by reference on the courier web site (try both TNT and UPS) though you will have to wait for the courier system to pick up the details after you receive the order shipped email.

Alternatively, if you’ve ordered more than one item, then congratulations, you’ve now entered the world of the fabled distribution centre. In Europe, this is the TNT European Distribution Centre (EDC) located in The Netherlands. No doubt it is surrounded by lovely windmills and tulip fields. It is here that all your items meet up and get packaged together (or merge in transit if you like) for a single delivery to your door. Factory sourced items are shipped here by a company called Kuehne + Nagel. Going through the EDC tends to add time to your order delivery, so think twice before you add that extra piece of software to your hardware order!

So, the net result is that there are various possible ways in which goods ordered from the Apple store might get to your door, so it would be nice to have a single point at which everything could be tracked, right? Well, unfortunately the Apple Store tracking system is not the best. However, help is at hand thanks to a very nice man called Thomas, and his Appletrack site. This collates information from K+N right down to the nitty details such as when your package picked up, booked on a flight, to when it gets handed over to a courier. It also has a helpful forum which contains more information that this post ever could. It is also a fun read to see people fretting about the fate of the plane their new Mac is on as tracking shows it being in the air for 48 hours!

Not that I’ll be laughing if the iMac doesn’t turn up. Now where’s my order reference number…

Useful backup trick for iTunes

I have somewhere in the region of 500 albums in my iTunes library, the vast majority of which are rips from physical CDs. However I tend only to buy music from the iTunes Music Store nowadays and as such make sure I back those tracks up regularly.

iTunes itself offers this facility by an option on the Back up to disc command to back up only purchased music to optical media, however I back up to a NAS device so this doesn’t work for me.

So, the rather neat and geeky method I use is to drop down into Terminal and do the following:

iBook:~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music aspender$ find . -name *.m4p | cpio -pdmv /Volumes/music/backup

This pipes the list of m4p files found in my iTunes library (.m4p being the file suffix used by the DRM protected AAC files you get from iTMS) to the cpio command which archives them whilst preserving the directory structure. The inclusion of the -p option performs a copy-pass function which un-archives the files into the target directory. Alternatively you could omit this and keep a single cpio archive file around.

Easy access to the powerful Unix underpinnings of OS X is one of the reasons I love Macs.

As for the rest of the library, well I’m planning a major exercise to re-rip all my CDs into a lossless format for future proofing, then do conversion into MP3 so I’m not bothered about backing them up for the time being. More on that later though.