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March 24th, 2000

[3:00 PM] Observers Respond To AirPort & Cable Issues
by Staff

We ran a piece yesterday about a negative review of AirPort in the Washington Times. That article talked about problems the writer had working with AirPort and a cable service. Our own mail box was flooded with responses from AirPort supporters and critics alike. We are publishing 4 of the letters:

Rohin Writes: First I have to say that I do agree with Mr. Kellner regarding the fact that airport does NOT work right out of the box.

There are still a lot of unnecessary technicalities, procedures, and workarounds which still remain to be addressed by Apple in it's next software upgrade of airport.

HOWEVER... I would also like to mention that I AM using airport with Time Warner Road Runner Cable Modem service... NYC Manhattan. And after a lot of fiddling twitching, and tweaking.. it works beautifully..

One just needs to go through the bulletin boards, etc. - especially the powerbook ones as there are a lot of technical articles which really helped me in setting it up.

Once it is up and running - the thing is rock solid - it has not crashed once.. despite repeated "sleeping" and "waking" of my powerbook (Lombard), shutting off of my powerbook etc. etc.

It would be fair to say that Apple's documentation sent with the airport (original which I have...) is absolutely pathetic. They may as well have sent some scented tissue paper, it would have been just as helpful!! The documentation needs a LOT OF WORK.

Airport is a GREAT idea... and it is very affordable in comparison to everything else out there. Apple just needs to work out the kinks so that ALL Mac users switch to it.. if they boost the bandwidth even more I see know reason why ethernet cabling would be needed?

- Rohin

Dave Schultz writes: Dave Schultz here from and I just read the article on AirPort you posted. Just wanted you to know that we just got a Pismo and put cards in the G4 and the Pismo; I was running airPort within five minutes (we have @Home cable service). Worked out of the box for us anyway.

Daniel A. Shockley writes: I'm a little irritated at the way the article was slanted, given the admission near the end.

He admits that it turned out the incompatibility was between AirPort and the roadrunner cable service. Cable modems are also new and somewhat buggy hardware, but his complaint is only about Apple's product. Why doesn't he complain that the cable modem doesn't meet certain standard networking conventions that cause other hardware to have problems. Because he doesn't know which product is at fault? If so, he should say that, not just pick one randomly.

Most reports about the new AirPort software have been positive and it seems ot be working well, barring any known incompatibilities with other new products.

Bill Hennan: I read your article. My own dismal experience with Airport and and the iBook is something that Apple probably wouldn't be proud of. The fact is they really can't support this device because of the many vagaries of remote networking. I spent over 20 hours on the phone with Apple Tech support. I made three different base stations and one card "brain dead", with Apple Tech support's help, I only managed to get my partially working Airport network "upgraded" via firmware uploads to the base station to totally non-working. Then, finally with 1.01 on the scene, the WWW connections only working as a direct connection to my cable modem. I was unable to use an ethernet hub to connect my other two hard wired computers. While this may seem like I was expecting quite a bit from Airport I don't think three computer households are that uncommon these days. Apple is trying to use this in education right? Certainly educators will want to network more than one Mac to the internet.

I had three static IP's, so I wasn't trying to fox AT&T out of their money. I all fairness to Apple I have to say that @home offers no support on networked computers. In fact they couldn't/wouldn't even answer basic questions on the topic that Apple hoped might fix the problem.

The fact is out of the box my setup worked as long as I didn't mind getting thrown of the network every half hour to an hour. I was in "computer geek heaven" being able to do almost all of my Christmas shopping while my spouse and kids happily surfed the net elsewhere in the house. The moment I started getting help from Apple technical support the worse it got. The two or three people that assisted me were very nice indeed, but in the end we could not get the Airport system to work in a small home network.

I sent the iBook back to Apple because Apple Technical Support and Apple customer service left me with nowhere to go to salvage the situation (I also had a complaint about dead pixels on the screen but technical support wouldn't let me speak with customer service. I gave up on that one until the Airport problem came up.

Eventually I got to return the iBook. But that offer from Apple was a long time in coming. I got stuck with the Airport card and base station because I didn't buy it from Apple directly. Somehow I didn't see much hope in going back to CompUSA for a refund six or more weeks after I purchased it. I also had to eat most of the cost of the extra RAM (I sold the RAM for half price) I had purchased, and several other accessories and peripherals. Lets just say that I ate about $800.00 in accessories and peripherals to be the first in my neighborhood to have a non-working iBook and Airport network. Ouch! I haven't tried selling the Airport basestation and card via Amazon auctions, because unlike Apple I care about my reputation in the computing community. I'm having a hard time envisioning an auction add that suggests that "maybe the next buyer can get my Airport basestation and card to work".

The loss of the money, in what turned out to be a poor investment, isn't everything I am truly disappointed that I will not have the benefit of a wireless network using the iBook. I wrote to Apple's complaint taking WWW site after I got permission to return the iBook. All I got was a call from a concerned employee "that didn't want to lose me as a customer". He repeated that over and over as I asked him what was Apple actually going to do for me to keep me as a customer. He had no answer and he had no authority, except to issue the chant. It dawned on me that he pretty much had a script he could read from and that was it. He did suggest that I call "sales", and see if they were able to do anything. Nothing like checking off your call list a moving on. There was never ever any continuity between Apple's various departments regarding my problems. That is where I really, really have to fault Apple. Certainly tech. support problems that can't be fixe should be sent to Customer Relations. From their someone should have the authority to take the faulty equipment back for a full refund, and offer some "parting gift" to customers that have had to claw their way up from the abyss to get their attention (like me).

Why would someone from Apple with no power to mediate call and waste even more of my time? By the way the pixel issue came first, and they stonewalled me for weeks on that. Apple Tech. Support would not let me contact them directly. I finally had to resort to getting American Express involved. It took weeks to even get a reply from Apple once I added American Express into my dealings with Apple.

My Apple loving credentials are as follows. I am big Mac fan. My love affair with Apple products began with the //+ and //e. I've owned the original Mac in the first 90 days it was sold, and I currently use a G3 Beige, and a 7500 at home. All told I've owned seven Apples. I've got an XL somewhere stored in the basement. If I could get that beast to work you'd think the iBook, Airport thing would have been easy. As one of the last fervent Mac supporters where I work I have managed to help get seven iMacs on the desks of co-workers where Dells were going to appear. That was one long ugly fight with the the NT loving tech. support guy and his cronies on the Technology Committee. I am mystified as to why I couldn't do better with Apple. I won the battle, but lost the war at home on this one.

Do me a favor pass this on to Apple. They've probably got my e-mail address filtered out by now ;)

The Mac Observer Spin: Certainly there are some mitigating factors with AirPort support, but we still look forward to Apple being able to iron out all the difficulties. Thanks to those who wrote in!


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