Friday, November 28, 2008

Re: Caution! Avoid Exploding Notebook Batteries & Geniuses!

An update on this developing story:

It seems that the store manager of Apple on Fifth Avenue found out about my complaint. He called me and left me a voicemail along with his phone number. I called him back and got an automated answering system. The system told me I had to wait because there were three people ahead of me on the phone. After five minutes of waiting, the phone system once again told me that there were still three people ahead of me. Of course, I didn't wait and hung up.

Yesterday I got another voicemail from Apple. This time the phone call came from California. Following the instructions, I called back Sheila, a member of the Customer Relations Department at Apple (she asked me to withhold her last name). She told me she had read my blog because a Voice123 talent sent her the link (small world!). She explained to me that the objective of her department is customer retention and that they are able to do many "exceptions" in order to keep customers happy. She apologized for the bad experience I had with Apple and asked me if there was anything she could do to make me happy. I answered to her: "Many talents of Voice123 use Mac machines. I don't want them to experience the same I did. Is there a way they can contact you directly if they have an issue with Apple, as I did?". She insisted that most Apple managers should be able to handle issues like the one I had, but went ahead and gave me the information listed on the next paragraph. I went on to tell her two other the issues me and wife Tania had had with our Apple computers on top of my battery issue: First, the battery of Tania's laptop died after her computer had ran out of warranty (her battery didn't explode, it just stopped working suddenly). Second, my MacBook Air MagSafe Power Adaptor broke down in my recent flight to China even though it was only the 2nd time I had used it. Sheila offered to replace my damaged battery, Tania's damaged battery, and the damaged power adapter by sending refurbished replacement and recycling the damaged ones back. I said yes.

So, if you ever have an issue with Apple and you want to escalate it, this may be one of your best and quickest alternatives:

  • Call Apple Customer Service during United States business days and business hours. Their phone number in the US is 800 275 2273.
  • From the phone system menu, select Tech Support.
  • When you reach an actual person, ask him/her to put you in touch with the Apple Customer Relations Department
  • The tech support person, Sheila said, will always ask you for the details of the issue before being transferred. Be patient and describe the issue to the person.
  • You should then be transferred to the Customer Relations Department in charge of customer retention. With some luck you will find yourself to be a happy Apple customer.

I decided to share this with you because many voice over talents at Voice123 have Apple computers and, as such, this info may be handy. If you don't have an Apple computer, your computer manufacturer may have a similar department. A Google search may help you find it. I didn't try these instructions myself. Also, I am not sure how much of a "secret" or "back door" this information may actually be. As for me, I had no idea of the existence of this department before I posted this issue.

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
by Alex Torrenegra
President and Co-founder

P.S. If you ever follow these instructions, would you mind letting the rest of the voice community know by posting it in the forums? If they work for at least one of you, I will share them via email with the rest of the Voice123 talent base. Also, if you also have similar tips for other computer manufacturing companies, it would be great if you can share in the forums. Thank you!

P.P.S. I always liked Apple, and would have continued buying their products. Why? Because Mac OS X is very good. It allows me to be more productive than Windows. Having said that, I should clarify that, in my heart, I am not an Apple-guy, nor a PC-guy. I am a geek. I am a Linux guy. Voice123 runs on Linux :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Come to NYC the Weekend of December 5th!

The Holiday Season is always good fun in New York City. For voice over industry folks, there is even more reasons to come to NYC the weekend of December 5th!

On Friday night December 5th, there will be a Voice Over Mixer from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Click here to see more details in the posting provided by Voice123 Talent, Erik Sheppard. The Voice123 gang, Alex, Tania, Juan, and myself will also be there, and we look forward to seeing everyone!

We also heard that on December 6th & 7th, Bob Bergen will be holding a workshop at John Marshall Sound Studios on 9th Avenue at 44th Street. To read about it, check the Voice123 Forum post by Marian Massaro.

We hope to see you December 5th! Be sure to set your Voice123 profiles 'on vacation', too, if you cannot audition during the Holiday Season!

Happy Holidays!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager
My Blog

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Caution! Avoid Exploding Notebook Batteries & Geniuses!

I am sure some of you may have already heard stories about this. I have heard them as well and thought that it would never happen to me. Well, it did. Most voice over talents use laptops. Statistically speaking, it will happen to more than one of you. This is story of my MacBook Pro, of how its battery almost exploded, and how it didn't because of pure luck. It is followed by a list of tips on how to avoid this from happening to you (if you only care about the list, jump to the last paragraph).

I recently switched to Apple. I used to be a "PC" guy. I have enjoyed using my new Mac laptop for many months already. Most of the time, I used it at one of my two desks (at home and at the office). I am into ergonomics. As such, I always place my laptop in a metallic base that raises the screen to my eye level (more on this later on). The only complaint I had with my laptop is that, sometimes, it used to get very, very hot. This only happened, though, when I would put the notebook on my lap (I use it while in bed). It would get so hot that I couldn't stand it, even though there were several sheets between the notebook and my lap. I used to solve this issue by placing a pillow underneath it. Also, every now and then, when overheated, the laptop would shut down and I would lose my work. Those issues were not a big deal to me, though. That was until last week...

Last Friday, the trackpad of the notebook suddenly stopped working. It wouldn't click. I didn't care too much as I commonly use a regular mouse. Yesterday, while in a meeting and not at my desk, I noticed that my laptop wouldn't sit stable on the table. I checked the bottom of the laptop and I was very surprised to see the battery had swollen and it was popping out of the notebook... significantly. I shut down the computer. I then tried to remove the battery. I could not do so.

It was so hot that I burned my fingertips. I jumped to another computer and did some research. I found that, in fact, Apple is known for having issues with notebook batteries. I also found out that the trackpad of my notebook wasn't really damaged. What actually happened is that the battery, as it swelled from the heat, pushed its way into the laptop and pushed away other components, causing a malfunction (picture below). There is more. I also discovered that the laptop battery had swollen so much that, by now, it should have exploded or caught fire. This picture shows the faulty battery (foreground) and a battery in good shape (background).

All this time, all these months, I had a faulty battery. It could have caught fire, toasted my laptop, and burned who-knows-what in my home or office along with it. But, why didn't it fail before? After some brainstorming, I figured it out.

It didn't fail thanks to the metallic bases I use to rise the computer. They were actually absorbing the heat, in turn, helping the battery cool off! How? Imagine you have a car that has a faulty radiator, no water in it, and doesn't tell you that it is overheating. You have been able to use it for many months just because you always drive at 100 MPH and the wind is enough to cool the engine. Well, that was my notebook... a fire waiting for its 15 minutes of fame. Anyway, that is the reason why my laptop would work great while on the desks, but it would overheat almost anywhere else.

What comes next surprised me even more.

I wanted a new battery quick and I knew that Apple had issued many battery recalls. Fortunately, I live in the city that never sleeps. I decided to go the 24-hour Apple Store in Fifth Avenue to talk to one of their "Geniuses" (that is the name they use for their tech support team), and get my battery replaced. I went online to book the appointment. To my disgrace, I found out that the only available slots at any given time were for four days later. I decided to go to the store anyway. After all, switching the battery wouldn't take them too much time and it was, obviously, kind of an emergency. I arrived there yesterday, right before midnight... (Before I continue, I must clarify that going to an Apple store in Manhattan is not like going to any other store from any other company. Going to an Apple store in Manhattan is like 'the Studio 54 of Geek Stores', the trendiest club in town where most of the times you have to make a line to get in, and you can only skip the line if "you know someone", and once you are inside the attention you get from their personnel is directly proportional to how cool and hip you look. I just came from seeing the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall...maybe I did not look trendy enough?)

So, I got to the Apple store right before midnight. I showed the battery to the Apple "Concierge". He looked at it with certain level of amazement (it is swollen more than others right before exploding). I asked him if they would replace it. He said "Sure, but you may have to wait around an hour before you can be helped by a 'Genius'". So I waited....and waited. I was later assigned to 'Genius' Sean. I asked Sean why there are so many battery recalls. He explained to me that, for my laptop, the batteries were being recalled because they would overheat and eventually become a fire hazard. I was happy. My research findings were right on the spot - I was now 'Genius' Alex! Sean also checked my computer, typed in some numbers and then said something along these lines of, "Unfortunately, the serial number of your battery shows that it is not one of the batteries that was recalled" (even though my battery was also swollen and, obviously, a fire hazard. "As such, we cannot exchange it for you." He then smiled and said "You can buy a new one for $129 plus tax right away if you want, but keep in mind that Apple doesn't offer any type of warranty on batteries". My jaw dropped. I had never heard a genius speak before and this was beyond any of my expectations. I know I am being sarcastic as I write this, but I am sure you can understand how I felt. I am not a genius and, as such, it is out of my capabilities to understand their complex levels of reasoning. I felt like a five year-old in a quantum physics class. As I didn't want to show how inferior my reasoning was compared to them, I quietly went on to buy the new battery. But wait! It gets worse. As I purchased the new battery I asked them if they would take the old battery and recycle it. The answer, "No. We don't recycle batteries in here."

Okay. I have now made public my frustration. I now feel better and I can give you my tips in how to protect yourself from, potentially, exploding batteries:
  • Never leave your laptop unattended in surfaces that are highly combustible.
  • Configure your laptop so that it goes into sleep mode automatically after a few minutes of inactivity. Theory says that sleep-mode consumes less power. Less power equals less battery heat.
  • When you feel the laptop is getting too hot, plug it into the wall. Most laptops don't use the battery while they are plugged to the wall.
  • If your laptop is getting very, very hot, call the tech support of the manufacturer. Something may be wrong with it or its battery.
  • Regularly check the physical appearance of your battery to make sure it looks okay.
  • Optionally, get a base for your laptop (it may help you ergonomically as well).

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
by Alex Torrenegra
Leader and Co-founder

Disclaimer: Alex Torrenegra is a college drop-out that studied engineering but never graduated. His tips, and burned fingertips, are not 'Genius' -certified tips. Always follow the instructions of your local fire department, manufacturer of your laptop, physician, skincare specialist, and avoid 'Genius' Sean, if possible.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How Voice Talents Find Work on Voice123!

There are many ways in which one can find work on Voice123.

First, there are your typical SmartCast-'Enabled' projects. You knew about these, didn't you? Did you know that you can find all SmartCast-Enabled projects on the Project Directory?

You can also be directly invited to SmartCast-Enabled projects by the voice seeker, even after they use SmartCast technology to receive auditions. Still, there are some ways you may not be so familiar with:

  • SmartCast-Disabled Projects:
    Some voice seekers use the Voice123 system to directly invite voice over talents, only, using the search talent feature.

  • Direct Invite & Private Messages & Google Search:
    Voice seekers sometimes skip the whole process of creating a project and just go straight for the talent they need! This is a benefit of belonging to Voice123, the most popular voice over casting website. If you offer something unique, make sure your profile shows it, as voice seekers commonly find talent through Voice123 on Google searches.

  • Contracts/Long-lasting Business Relationships:
    Voice123 can honestly say this is where the 'real money' comes from. After working with clients met through Voice123, you will find some want to sign voice talents to contracts to keep doing business in the future. Most of our long-time voice over talents currently benefit from this! Voice123 talents have signed contract with such great companies as ESPN, Disney, History Channel, and even NASA!
Working with Voice123 provides you with incredible exposure, and work opportunities!

We certainly wish you the best of luck and thank you for being a part of Voice123!

Thank you always!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager
My Blog

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Faster Audio Players: Audition Inbox Upgrade!

We are excited to announce that Voice123 has upgraded the audio players on your audition/proposal inbox!

Please try it out for yourself to hear auditions from over 50 experienced Voice123 voiceover talents, located world-wide. This new audio player allows for faster demo & page loading, and is easy to use, so you will have time to hear all auditions received in a timely manner!

We quickly mention that the inbox is provided via link using a feature called the 'shared audition/proposal inbox', created in July 2008. We hope you can post a voice casting project on Voice123, and see for yourself!

Thank you always!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager
My Blog

Thursday, November 06, 2008

More Voice Jobs Than Ever Before on Voice123!

We are happy to announce that last month over 950 SmartCast projects were posted on Voice123, not including the hundreds of private projects and SmartCast-disabled projects for voice over talents! This is the second straight month in which a record was set! It is good to know that in a troubled economy, Voice123 is still growing as the best place to find voice over work, and voice over talent!

Finally, Voice123 is proud to say that ALL of the entries from the recent political impersonation contest on the Voice123 Forums, were listened to by thousands of voice seekers in Voice123. We have heard quite a positive reaction from them, and we enjoyed being able to showcase your abilities. Jonathan Grey won the full-year subscription for his impersonation of President-Elect Barack Obama.

We hope to do more contests like this through the Voice123 Forums. If you have any ideas regarding how the forums can be used to benefit all members of Voice123 through coaching, contests, or online marketing, please post them! We would love to know what you think!

Thank you so much for being a part of Voice123!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager
My Blog