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One man's journey from humiliation to hope

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Comment I was humiliated recently after purchasing a new Apple notebook.

My novelist wife needed a fresh machine to replace her aging iBook. Solid application response times and a smooth web experience will no doubt help her craft a bestseller. In addition, she's not dealing well with the cancellation of Veronica Mars and spent the last couple of days exhausting her hard drive by downloading three seasons of the show.

So, I went off to Apple's web site and shelled out more than $2,000 on a MacBook Pro. Like all of our previous Macs and iPods, the system is making its way from China. That last bit humiliates the American in me, but I'm able to suppress nationalistic urges with remarkable ease.

The real humiliation came last week when I phoned Apple to figure out why it refused to respond to our request to attend the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

"We appreciate your interest but cannot accommodate your request," spokeswoman Teresa Brewer said.

Apple, of course, lets the mainstream set into the show along with pamphleteers like InfoWorld and InformationWeek and bloggers. The Register happens to be the most popular technology publication in Europe and one of the most read publications on the planet, but that's not good enough for Apple.

Why not?

"I'm sorry, but we cannot accommodate your request," Brewer repeated.

I spend enough on Apple products to want to like the company. My desire to like Apple is made stronger by the day dealing with a Vista PC in the office. Vista acts like a lobotomized version of Mac OS X and refuses to work with just about anything crammed into a USB port that requires additional software.

Apple's PR staff, however, makes it near impossible to like the company. That's part of their modus operandi, which is fine. But, in all honesty, I'm concerned about the long-term mental health of the flacks.

Apple corporate has turned these talented PR professionals into little more than call center workers who repeat the same, frustrating phrases over and over again, refusing to activate anything resembling human emotion or intellect. This has to be dehumanizing, and I suspect many of the PR staff seek therapy just so they can drive to Cupertino each morning.

As best as we can tell, Apple blacklisted El Reg because we insisted on pointing out that Steve Jobs cannot pronounce 'Jaguar' - opting instead for Jagwyre.

We've been banned for similar things in the past. I once compared then Veritas CEO Gary Bloom to the Simpsons character Artie Ziff. Veritas canceled a planned dinner on the spot, and the phone stopped ringing. Over the years, the likes of IBM, Sun Microsystems, Dell, HP and a host of others have made it clear that we were not welcome. Remarkably, Microsoft and Intel, despite heaps of abuse, have always taken our calls. (Lovely vendors that they are, all of the above have since welcomed us back with mostly open arms. We salute their good judgment.)

Typically, PRs from the other vendors have the decency to claim that we're not blacklisted and often promise to "keep us in the loop." We still seem to miss the loop afterwards, but the kind words make us feel better - feel wanted.

Apple, by contrast, is indecent. It humiliates reporters by disguising automatons in PR pod people flesh.

I give the company credit for having this same stance in its irrelevant pre-iPod period and during its iPod hey-day. No doubt, Apple will continue to offend reporters after iPod sales start crashing and after the company's share price makes its inevitable trek toward $0.

I do, however, refuse to allow Mr. Jobs to let his verbal insecurities carry on to this day. We're well past Jagwyre now and into Leper country. Can't you let it go?

Buying a $2,000 machine from Apple and then being molested by a impolite robot from the same company is humiliating. Thankfully, I'm afforded space here to deal with my issues.

Here's hoping Apple's health plan includes robust coverage for psychiatric visits. The PR staff need their own form of help.

If not, may I suggest Martin Heidegger's Being and Time? Or as Steve would say, Martin Hehieohklghd's Beeeeen and Tom. ®

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