Apple Initiates Repair Program for 2011-2013 MacBook Pros With Video Issues

Apple has launched a repair program to fix MacBook Pro machines sold between February 2011 and February 2013 that have problems with distorted video, no video, or unexpected system restarts.

As of February 20 in the United States and Canada (February 27 in other countries), users with affected machines will be able to visit an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider to receive repairs for their MacBook Pros at no charge. Customers will be able to bring their MacBook Pro to an Apple Store or service provider or send it in via mail for repairs.


An affected MacBook Pro may display one or more of the following symptoms:
-Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
-No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on
-Computer restarts unexpectedly

Affected products include 15 and 17-inch MacBook Pro models manufactured in 2011 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models manufactured between Mid 2012 and Early 2013. Users can see whether their computers are affected by using the “Check Your Coverage” tool on Apple’s site.

Apple is contacting customers who already paid to have their machines repaired either through Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider to arrange a reimbursement. The company asks customers who paid for a repair for the issue and did not receive an email to contact Apple.

Apple will provide repairs until February 27, 2016, or three years from the MacBook’s original date of sale, depending on which coverage period is longer.

Some early and late-2011 MacBook Pro owners with discrete graphics cards have been experiencing GPU failures and crashes for years now, causing screen glitches and image distortion, among other problems.

MacBook owners petitioned Apple to begin a repair program for the machines on and even went as far as filing a class action lawsuit after an extended period of time without a repair program.

The lawsuit asked that Apple acknowledge that an issue exists and repair affected machines, which the company appears to be prepared to do with the launch of today’s repair program covering both repairs and reimbursements for repairs already made. It is unclear how the new program will affect the class-action lawsuit brought against Apple by 2011 MacBook Pro owners.

(Thanks, Philip!)

What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

The human heart is a truly amazing mechanism; so hard working and tough under pressure, but oh so easily damaged.

We all have heartbreaks (I can’t even discuss my 7th grade boyfriend saga. A tragedy of epic proportions). Disappointments and suffering and grief and anguish are all part of life. Hooray for us!

We have all heard bad news and immediately gone to that big Rolodex in our head searching, desperately, for the right thing to say. Or we’ve skipped the search and blurted out something clichéd and trite before quickly excusing ourselves to privately negotiate our own foot into our mouth. Or — the worst crime of all — we’ve been faced with bad news and said absolutely nothing.

Neil Rosenthal writes a stellar column in The Denver Post appropriately titled “Relationships.” His January 29th piece highlights the importance of an empathetic response. As Rosenthal points out, a thoughtful response is certainly needed in times of tragedy, but even the day-to-day frustrations that affect us all would benefit from a kind and compassionate acknowledgement.

When dealing with a loss, phrases like: Time heals all wounds or It was his time to go are common. And sort of a cop out. Why? Because they don’t really mean anything to the person who is suffering. They are just words. Words that can leave the listener feeling worse than when they started. Because only words that “honor your feelings of loss and sorrow,” writes Rosenthal, truly honors the emotions around an issue that causes turmoil.

Rosenthal, referencing How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It
written by Pat Love (not kidding) and Steven Stosny, makes a case for how important it is to “step into the puddle” with others. Stepping into the puddle means offering our “heartfelt presence, caring concern and participation” when others need it most. And even when they don’t. By employing the puddle technique to everyday life, communication and connection are bound to improve.

So, how exactly does one ‘step into the puddle’ without getting drenched? By offering statements with a little more meat and a lot less fluff — like this:

When your spouse walks in after a long day of work, it’s temping to pull out the eye roll or the Ha! You think YOUR day was long, well let me just tell you about MY day… instead try saying:
I am so sorry about your day and I am so glad to have you home safe and sound.

When someone is dealing with a death, resist the He’s in a better place or Call me if you need anything and try This must be really difficult; I can’t imagine what it feels like to lose a sibling. Your brother was one of the funniest men I’ve ever met — I still laugh at the fun we had skiing in Vail. How are you handling everything?

Whatever the situation — death, job loss, hard day at work, tough day at home with children or even the tragedy of a 7th grade break-up, by acknowledging, truly, the heartache of others, we can make a big impact and — just maybe — lessen the blow.

Chipotle Not Worried That Your Burrito Is a Total Calorie Bomb

Chipotle isn’t about to invest in skinny burritos.

A spokesman for the chain of Mexican restaurants on Thursday waved off a recent New York Times feature that examined the nutritional value of a typical meal at the fast-casual mainstay and found a meal can cost up to 1,070 calories.

Food is “something to be enjoyed,” spokesman Chris Arnold said. “Not a science experiment aimed at engineering away calories or grams of fat.”

“People can pick and choose exactly what―and how much―they eat,” Arnold added. “We let them put those ingredients together in whatever way makes sense to them.”


JNCO Jeans Are About To Make A Comeback (Seriously)

Remember these?


Well, they’re back. Sort of.

JNCO, the clothing brand best known for its many varieties of extremely baggy jeans that looked like giant wearable tree trunks made of denim, is prepping for a relaunch.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, the Los Angeles-based brand whose pants were wildly popular in the ’90s announced its plans for a comeback this week at a fashion trade show in Las Vegas.

The brand will reportedly, thanks to the help of a Chinese investor, relaunch in the fall with a range of styles including slouchy “knit jeans” and joggers, in addition to its signature jeans featuring leg openings ranging from 20-23 inches. (Yes, these are still baggy, though less obnoxious than the leg openings approaching 50 inches the brand sold at the height of its popularity.)

In conjunction with its relaunch, the company has a shiny new website offering a peek at what (presumably) are some of its new looks as well as what it calls its guiding principle: “Challenge conventionalism. Explore the unfamiliar. Honor individuality.”

The brand acknowledged the news on Facebook Thursday, writing, “Articles popping up everywhere… I guess the word is getting out there! Thanks everyone for your part in helping our return.”

What’s next on the ’90s fashion comeback trail? Butterfly clips? This might all just be Rihanna’s fault.


H/T HypeBeast

Startups Like to Tango

Can a startup ecosystem grow in an adverse environment? Developments in a far corner of the world show that much can be achieved just about anywhere.

Today Argentina seems an extreme test track for startups. It has a sluggish economy based on natural resources. It is far from global markets and innovation centers. It presents some of the worse levels of inflation, country risk, market efficiency and economic freedom in the world.

In the midst of this toxic soup, the porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) are building below the radar a startup rainforest. Earlier this month their city won the Cities Challenge of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress organized by the Kauffman Foundation.

Buenos Aires is the birthplace of three internet companies worth over a billion dollars: MercadoLibre, OLX and Despegar. MercadoLibre is the only Internet company from Latin America listed in NASDAQ. With over 100 million users and a valuation of US$6 billion, it is the leading e-commerce platform in the region. OLX is the Craigslist of emerging markets, serving over 100 countries in 40 languages, publishing in India more classifieds than all local printed media. Despegar is the leading online travel player in Latam. It is present in 21 countries, has 4,500 employees, served 25 million travelers in 2013 and is rumored to be an IPO candidate.

A startup ecosystem is flourishing, inspired by the success of these and other players and with the support of their founders. It features hundreds of startups concentrated on consumer internet, mobile, social media and gaming. There is also activity in artificial intelligence, biotech, nano-satellites, smart devices and renewable energy. For example, Satellogic already put three nano-satellites in space, and recently raised around US$20 million to build a constellation of imaging satellites. Aivo is developing virtual artificial intelligence customer service agents, serving over one million people and growing 20 percent every month.

The investor community is beginning to take shape. New accelerators are building large portfolios, company builders are emerging and the angel investor community is growing. NXTP Labs, an accelerator born in Buenos Aires in 2011, built a portfolio of over 150 regional and global startups from eight countries. Some venture capital funds are also using the city as a home base, most prominently Kaszek Ventures, which raised over US$200 million since it was founded in 2011 and is today a leading VC in Latin America.

World-class technology service providers are also flourishing. Globant, for example, is a local technology service provider listed in NYSE and focused on creative innovative software solutions was born and is managed from Buenos Aires. It has over 3,500 professionals with operations in New York, London, San Francisco, Austin, Boston and 13 Latin American cities, serving clients like Google and Coca-Cola.

Several structural factors favor the city despite the adverse economic conditions of Argentina. Buenos Aires is the core of an urban corridor with over 20 million people ranging from Montevideo to Rosario. It is a melting pot of people and cultures from every corner of the globe. It has the rich human capital legacy of what once was one of the best public education systems in the world. The cultural and intellectual scene is vibrant and cosmopolitan, with thriving fashion and design studios and hundreds of theaters. It is an amazing city to live in, with magnificent architecture, excellent weather and fascinating people.

The challenging economy and a new mindset are pushing youth to create startups and leverage regional and global opportunities. Cloud services and the use of foreign legal jurisdictions enable startups to be born global and attract capital. A sizable cadre of successful entrepreneurs is financing and coaching new startups and connecting them to international hubs. Business schools such as IAE, and NGOs such as Endeavor have been actively nurturing startups for years now.

While there is a long way to go, some leaders of the public sector are also nourishing the ecosystem. Two years ago, building upon years of efforts, I worked closely with the city government to articulate a vision and a roadmap to turn the city into a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and the creative economy. Mayor Macri, who is now running for President, is personally leading a cross-ministerial effort to turn the vision into a reality.

The government is working on multiple fronts to build a better future by empowering their citizens to succeed in the new economy: educating for the 21st century, promoting entrepreneurship and the creative economy, innovating for inclusion and becoming a smart city with innovative infrastructure and services.

Education is a cornerstone of the city’s efforts. Public school students have laptops with wireless access to Internet and study English. The city is redesigning the curriculum to develop skills for the 21st century, for example by turning programming mandatory for high school students and striking a partnership with Codecademy. They are also deploying educational robots, Arduino tablets, electric car kits, 3D printers, hydroponic greenhouses and other paraphernalia.

The city also launched an entrepreneurship academy with free live and online courses on lean startup methodologies, design thinking and soft skills and already trained over 5,000 people and received rave reviews. It launched a matching fund program for accelerators inspired by Israel. It is sponsoring major events with Singularity University and other partners as well as regular trips with entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley. And there are dozens of other ongoing initiatives (some under wraps) such as an open data program, hackathons, free Wi-Fi in hundreds of public spaces and community centers with focus on social innovation in shanty towns.

The national government is also actively fostering science, technology and innovation, generating the conditions for further progress. It created a ministry focused on these issues which boosted the R&D budget, created innovation prizes, built new labs, launched international cooperation and tech transfer programs, attracted scientists living abroad and created innovation prizes.

It is hard to tell whether Argentina will build upon these foundations or stubbornly continue to sabotage itself. But the story of Buenos Aires shows the power and resiliency of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Wal-Mart’s Problems Go Beyond Underpaid Workers

Wal-Mart’s announcement on Thursday that it would start paying its employees more and training them better, and would invest more heavily in online operations, almost seems like it could have been a reaction to a survey released a day before, ranking the company as “the most hated retailer in America,” as several news outlets have put it.

It wasn’t, of course. Wal-Mart’s plans had clearly been in the works for quite a while. But those plans, announced as the retail giant issued fairly weak quarterly results, address some of the biggest reasons for Wal-Mart’s ranking at the very bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index for 2014: poor service; messy or understocked shelves; and higher prices than many consumers expect.

The survey polled 8,700 consumers. It found overall satisfaction with retailers down by 1.4% over last year, mainly due to higher prices—a sudden reversal after three straight years of rising satisfaction. Wal-Mart’s score of 68 (on a scale of 100) was its worst since 2007, and continues a trend. In four of the past five years, it has scored the lowest of all department and discount stores. This year, it scored the lowest among all retailers. Just a decade or so ago, it regularly scored near the top.

On Thursday, Wal-Mart announced it would boost employee pay to a minimum of $9 an hour, which will put Wal-Mart’s lowest salaries 24% above than the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Some 500,000 workers, or about a third of Wal-Mart’s U.S. work force (including at the Sam’s Club warehouse-store chain) will be affected. It will, of course, eat into profits. Wal-Mart said the short-term hit would yield longer-term benefits down the road, as happier, better-trained, longer-tenured employees will translate into more customer traffic. The wage hikes and improved training will cost Wal-Mart about $1 billion this year.

The action will result in average hourly full-time wages at Wal-Mart rising to $13 an hour from below $12 an hour. That’s still below the $15 per hour demanded by pressure groups, some including Wal-Mart workers, that have been seeking pay hikes from big retailers and fast-food chains.

Wal-Mart also pledged to invest more in its e-commerce operations. The ACSI report noted that even as overall satisfaction with retailers fell by 1.7%, satisfaction with online retailers rose by 5.1%, to 82 out of 100.

That was due in part to a dip in satisfaction the previous year due to a spate of delivery problems, particularly during the holiday season. Still, it points to a big problem brick-and-mortar retailers — even those, like Wal-Mart, with substantial investments in e-commerce: the convenience of online shopping is tough to beat. There’s no such thing as a surly employee or a messy shelf. And what you’re looking for is generally in stock.

Hence Amazon’s place at the top of the list, with a score of 86. In the discount and department store category that Wal-Mart belongs to, Nordstrom was tops, also with an 86. Target tied with Kohl’s at No. 3, each scoring an 80.