"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages."
&mdash: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who knew that Emerson had such insight into the complex relationship between tech support people and the public? This thought came during a recent visit to the "genius bar" in one of Apple's Seattle area computer stores.
In brief, I own a lightweight headset with a built-in boom mic, easily packable in a computer bag, that I want to use with a 13-inch Macbook Pro for recording Skype interviews. My notebook only has a single combined audio/mic port (larger Mac notebooks have separate audio and mic ports).
So I asked my assigned sage, er, genius, there at the Genius Bar, what can I do? Are there accessories, anything that will solve my problem?
His answer, essentially, was that I was out of luck: Only a Bluetooth solution (read: expensive) or a USB headphone set (clunky) would work. Because of his presentation, I assumed he had previously looked it up (he is the genius, after all). But I didn't see him browse any Apple documentation nor do a simple web search, and he didn't ask his colleagues at the bar.
A little morose, I walked from the genius bar . . . and suddenly my own genius clicked in. Why shouldn'êt I check the Internet myself? Even more profoundly, why had I not done so before?
My mythic sense of Apple, that they know these things, shattered like a wine glass smashed on a stone floor. Within a few brief Internet moments, using an in-store computer, I found a solution: the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Amiga II, which cost about $30 and uses a USB port that lets me plug in my two-prong headset. I walked back to the genius to tell him of my discovery: collegial sharing, or so I thought. His answer: A shrug.
Later at home, I found two additional ones, including one carried by Apple that an Apple rep helped me find via phone: the iMic by Griffin which uses the USB port and costs roughly $30. And then, scouting further on my own, I found the Headset Buddy ($14.96 through Amazon), which uses the Macbook Pro audio port and leaves your two USB ports open for other things.
I walked back to the genius to tell him of my discovery: It would be a moment of collegial sharing, or so I thought. His answer: a shrug.
This isn'êt to pick on my genius, nor on Apple. It's hopefully to remind all of us that tech support people are sometimes fallible, even when we want them to be great. The true idea of customer service — making the customer's problem their problem instead of pushing it back on you — may not be everyone's personal credo. Most Apple techs have been great; this one fell a bit below the mark.
I've dropped a note to Apple (on their invitation — a follow-up email to my store visit), told them what happened, and we'll see what they do with my feedback. Meanwhile, I think my personal genius, the one within me, deserves a doggie biscuit. Good boy!
This item has been updated to correct the timing of finding two of the alternatives.