Problems Opening an Apple Store In D.C.

According to the Georgetown Current, Apple has been trying to open a new store in Georgetown since 2007 but has been having problems getting its designs through local review.

Apple Inc. claims design geeks as well as computer snobs among its fans, and the company’s storefronts are hallowed ground for those who worship form as much as function.

But Apple’s design credentials seem to hold little sway in Georgetown. Although the company has owned a Georgetown location at 1229 Wisconsin Ave. for more than a year and has approval to demolish the existing structure there, D.C. has yet to get its first Apple store. Moreover, recent delays suggest the wait is far from over.

At its Dec. 2 meeting, the Georgetown advisory neighborhood commission rejected the third consecutive proposal from the California-based store, and the Old Georgetown Board did the same at its meeting two days later.

Planners had hoped the third time would be the charm: “Steve saw this design and really loves it,” said project manager Carrie Johnson, referring to Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Commissioners disagreed with Jobs and claimed the design – a glass first story with a solid-stone upper facade punctuated by a large window shaped like Apple’s logo – would not fit into Georgetown.

Old Georgetown Board members agreed, said board spokesperson Tom Luebke. “The board felt that the design turned the building into a billboard,” he said.

Other board criticisms have been constants since September 2007, when Apple presented its first design, a glass lower story and an upper story that featured punched windows.

“That first time, like every time after, it was a question of scale,” said Luebke. The board wanted something to break up the unrelieved expanse of glass, but Apple returned in the summer of 2008 with an all-glass facade.

“The board wanted something less autonomous, something that supports the historic district,” said Luebke. And again, there was the question of scale.

Although the complaint that the most recent iteration was “too modern” did surface at the neighborhood commission meeting, the moreauthoritative Old Georgetown Board told Apple that a “modern treatment is possible,” according to Luebke.

“They’re not against modern design,” he said of the board.

Another worry has been the one-story approach to the building, formerly the site of a French Connection UK store.

“It didn’t seem that one-story occupancy is an enlightened idea for smart growth in Georgetown,” said Luebke.

Apple Inc. did not return calls for comment.

The brand has had success placing stores in historic and culturally important spots other than Georgetown. A brief survey of existing storefronts, however, shows that Apple’s proposals for the D.C. site more closely echo newer, suburban Apple stores than, for example, the company’s stores on Regent Street in London or in SoHo in New York City.

Those latter stores’ facades, however, were historically protected and therefore retained, while the Wisconsin Avenue site will be demolished.

But Apple will somehow have to adjust its design to its surroundings if it wants to proceed, said Luebke. “So far,” he said, “there has been very little context of the historic district.”

While we wait for the first Washington D.C. store to open, there are many other Apple stores in the D.C. metro area in nearby Virginia (two stores in Arlington, one in Fairfax, and one in McLean, VA) and Maryland (two stores in Bethesda and one in Columbia, MD).

Macworld 2009 Preview

Macworld, the expo for new Apple and 3rd party products, will be January 5-9th. As usual, everyone is speculating about what new products might be coming.


The new 13.3″ MacBooks and 15″ MacBook Pros arrived September 2008, leaving the 17″ MacBook Pro still to be upgraded.

The iMac is expected to get a big upgrade with the new Intel chips announced today. The Mac Mini should be updated as well.

There have not been many rumors about a new Mac desktop, but it is possible that the Mac Mini could be redesigned to better fit some standard desktop components and reduce costs. This could be a return of the Mac Cube.

Also not expected, an Apple netbook (small and relatively cheap) is a possible new product that has been speculated about. But with a MacBook Air already being so thin, the role of a small Apple laptop is taken. Apple does not typically try to compete on price in the low end of the market. Perhaps a small touch screen laptop (an iPod Touch-like device) could be on offer.

Operating System

The computer updates should be adding new dedicated GPUs (graphics cards) so that Apple’s entire line can take better advantage of the upcoming Snow Leopard OS X 10.6 which will allow applications to use GPUs for non-graphics tasks. Snow Leopard’s new capabilities, mainly under-the-hood improvements for stability and speed, are expected to be a big part of Macworld.


The iPod Nano, Touch, and Classic were updated in September 2008, so no updates are due. The Shuffle has received several color lineup changes, but has not really changed since September 2006. With many new small and cheap competitors, Apple could update the Shuffle or just continue to slowly lower its price.


There are rumors from case manufacturers that a new iPhone Nano with a smaller body will be coming out. This is a heavily debated topic, as many Apple fans believe this doesn’t make sense. But Wall Street analysts expect an iPhone Nano to be arriving soon.

The iPhone 3G has been at 8 and 16GB models since its July 2008 introduction.  A jump to 32GB would be logical in early 2009, especially since the iPod Touch can have 32GB. The sale of 8GB refubished models currently at $99 also supports the move to higher capacity models.

No Steve Jobs

A big concern among Apple fans is that MacWorld will not have a keynote by Steve Jobs. Instead VP of Marketing Phil Schiller will be keynoting on Tuesday January 6th at 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. PST. The unfounded speculation is that this is because Steve Jobs is having health problems, perhaps related to his pancreatic cancerous tumor which he had removed in 2004. This story was revived again today with a new “reliable source” saying that Steve’s health is a bigger problem than we realize.

Even if this is the case, we should remember that Steve’s personality and views are now a part of Apple. He made his return to Apple in 1996, when Apple purchased his company NeXT to use in their new OS X operating system. Steve Jobs setup an executive team that includes award winning designer Jonathan Ive, who created the iMac, aluminum PowerBook G4, MacBook Pro, iPod and iPhone. The executives share Steve’s vision and would be able to carry it out even if he had to step down as CEO.

Apple says that this will be their last Macworld. They appear to be trying to tamp down the fanfare and anticipation of new products, replacing it by regular new product introductions that better fit their schedule.

Common Computer Problems and Fixes has an article on how to Help Clueless Relatives with Their Computer Problems. These are common problems that come up with most PCs. By following this advice, you can fix your computer or the computer of those who consider you the computer expert in the family.

“It takes forever to start up.”

If your loved one has installed any software on the computer—especially ISP-specific packages that automatically include bundled add-ons—there’s no doubt unnecessary items have planted themselves into its startup. Use our complete guide to speeding up your startup to get rid of the stuff they don’t need, and save CPU cycles and time on boot-up.

“I keep getting a pop-up saying I need to pay for my antivirus software.”

If the default trialware antivirus software that came pre-installed is now bugging your clueless relative to pay for a subscription, uninstall it. Then, check out Lifehacker readers’ five favorite—and FREE—AV packages ready for download and installation. To fast-track to a free replacement, grab the free edition of AVG.

“When I get on the internet things look weird” or “I keep getting these annoying popup ads.”

Thoroughly check your relative’s PC for evidence of malware: like a hijacked web browser that redirects to an Asian porn site, unsolicited pop-up ads, or suspicious programs named things like “Keypress Watcher.” If you suspect nefarious software has glommed onto Windows, get to scrubbing. Back in 2006, we ran down how to fix Mom and Dad’s malware-laden computer and the advice still stands. Go straight for a copy of Ad-Aware Free and Spybot Search & Destroy to get started.

Then, download and install Firefox, set it as the default browser, and replace all the IE shortcuts labeled “Internet” with the fox.

“I can’t find the digital photos I downloaded last month.”

If Aunt Bertha never gets the photos and videos she took with her digicam onto her computer—or she does, but they get lost in the abyss of her hard drive—make sure she has the right software to preview and find ’em. Install Picasa 3 and scan your loved one’s entire hard drive for digital photos to add them to the library.

Relatives who take digital home videos should also get a free copy of VLC installed to insure that they’ll be able to play any clip they’ve got.
“I’m running out of hard drive space.”

If Uncle Marty thinks he needs a new computer because he keeps getting a “low disk space” message, tell him all is not lost. Find out where all that gigabytage is going by visualizing his hard drive usage with free tools that will map what files are taking up what space. Then, declutter his hard drive of the bits and bytes he doesn’t need (and didn’t know he had).

“The internet stopped working.”

The worst family tech support situation to get in is one that involves no (or a very slow) internet connection. Before you head over to Cousin Bob’s house, load up a USB drive with the software you’ll need to troubleshoot things without a connection (or without a broadband connection). TechRadar compiles a list of fix-it tools you can take with you to the family holiday get-together.

Macs Solve These Problems

This list is for PCs only. Macs typically do not have any of these problems, so you might suggest that your relatives buy a Mac if they can afford it and they are regularly having trouble.

Remote Access

Another idea is to install LogMeIn (PC and Mac) on their computer and add their computer to your list so that you can fix problems when you aren’t there. iChat (on Mac) and VNC also work well to remotely control a computer and fix problems.

Speed Up and Slim Down Windows

Other advice for improving computer performance is in our articles on speeding up Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Online Charity Resources

Over the holidays, it’s good to consider the less fortunate. Now it’s easier than ever to make donations or find a volunteer opportunity from your computer.

NPR has a story called:
How To Use Technology To Donate To Charities

It covers how charities are using technology, from the Salvation Army accepting donations by text messages to giving charity gift cards that allow the recipient to choose their favorite charity.

Although there’s the impression that it can be less personal to give online, Gallaga says he found the opposite to be true when he gave money to, a company that connects students and teachers to people who would like to donate. Gallaga says he got an e-mail from a teacher thanking him and telling him that the money was being used to buy AV equipment at a low-income school in Wisconsin.

“It made me feel more connected to that charity, and it made me feel like I had helped some people,” he says.

The Washington Post covers D.C. area charity issues in their article:
A Season For Giving

Washington area nonprofits, which provide a safety net for those suffering the most, are reeling from the recession. A recent survey found that four in 10 area nonprofits expect to close down programs or reduce staff in 2009. Four in five philanthropic entities reported a drop in assets from 2007 to 2008. (Regional nonprofits may also have lost as much as $1 billion to Bernard L. Madoff’s alleged fraud.) Meanwhile, 44 percent of area nonprofits anticipate an increase in demand for their services in the coming year. In other words, demand for charitable services is greater than ever, while resources are increasingly hard to come by.

Individuals who are interested in giving, but who are not sure where to start, should look through “The Catalogue for Philanthropy: A Guide to Giving, Greater Washington.” The catalogue highlights some of the smaller but more effective nonprofits in the region. Donors who want to help charities that provide essential services, including food and shelter, should consider giving to the Community Foundation’s Neighbors in Need Fund, established in response to the economic crisis. Those who want to volunteer can find ample opportunities through Greater D.C. Cares organization.

Computer Repair Flowcharts

Sept 5 2009 UPDATE TO POST: The author of these flowcharts, Morris Rosenthal, expressed concern about having his copyrighted material shown here. Therefore the links from the thumbnail images below were removed. Please see his Computer Repair with Diagnostic Flowcharts site for the full examples of his flowcharts or purchase his Computer Repair with Diagnostic Flowcharts book from Amazon.

Many DC area consultants use flowcharts and work flows in their jobs. If you’re interested in following the diagnostic process of computer repair specialists, take a look at these flowcharts by Morris Rosenthal. They illustrate many of my thought processes when fixing a computer problem.

Boot Failure Troubleshooting

The most comprehensive of these flowcharts is the Boot Failure Troubleshooting Flowchart which encompasses several smaller flowcharts. You can see that it is PC focused, asking you to run scandisk and FDISK on your hard drive. Still, the principles apply to any computer.

Many of these troubleshooting repair processes are illustrated individually in an easier to read and print format:

Power Supply Diagnostics

Power Supplies commonly break, especially if they are hit by a power surge (too much power, such as when hit by lightning), blackout (no power), or brownout (lower voltage power).

A power supply can die over time (booting occasionally) making it trickier to diagnose. Be sure to get a high enough wattage power supply, especially if you have a power hungry graphics card.

CPU, RAM and Motherboard Troubleshooting

RAM problems can be vexing because they might only appear when a particular part of the RAM is accessed. This can manifest itself through strange computer behaviors that are often mistaken for viruses.

Motherboards, known as Logic Boards in the Mac world, hold the RAM and CPU. Without replacement parts, it can be difficult to determine where the problem lies between these three components.

Hard Drive Failure

With spinning disks and moving heads, hard drives will eventually fail. Many of today’s laptop hard drives have accelerometers built-in so that they can protect the hard drive when you are moving the laptop. But the moving parts will eventually break. Studies show annual hard drive failure rates to be 2-13%, depending on usage and particular model used. Over the next 5 years there is expected to be a transition to primarily using solid state drives (SSDs) that can potentially last longer and use less energy.

This flowchart assumes the use of IDE hard drives, which are older than the standard SATA drives in today’s computers.

CD and DVD Troubleshooting

Again, this chart assumes that you are using an IDE connector, not today’s standard of SATA drives.

Other steps in drive diagnosis include:

  1. Listening to the drive. Bad hard drives and CD drives might actually sound bad, with grinding, straining, or clicking noises.
  2. Looking in the Windows Device Manager for driver issues. These may be fixed with new drivers, or might (for older IDE drives) require you to remove or change the setup of other devices.

Video Card Diagnostics

These video card diagnostics assume that you are using a discrete video card, not a motherboard with integrated video which are common in today’s lower cost computers.

Network Troubleshooting

This is another case where it is useful to have other computers available to determine if the problem is related to the network (cables, router, switch) or the computer.

Fixing Computers

These and other flowcharts are in Morris Rosenthal’s book:
Computer Repair with Diagnostic Flowcharts Revised Edition: Troubleshooting PC Hardware Problems from Boot Failure to Poor Performance

These flowcharts can give helpful hints to fixing computer problems. Unfortunately, they can’t cover all the latest technologies as they come out.

A couple of things that I do to diagnose and repair computers include:

  1. Testing with replacement parts. If the monitor doesn’t show video, you can hook up another monitor with another video cable to see if it’s the computer or monitor that is malfunctioning. If you suspect a bad power supply, you can try a working one.
  2. Perform a quick Google search. New computers often ship with a driver problem or needed updates that are easily fixed by searching Google or the knowledge database of the computer manufacturer.