Once more I must praise the Canon company.

Two weeks ago I wrote an entry wherein I raved about Canon’s customer support. Our Canon Powershot A80’s CCD had been slowly dieing over the last year or so and it turns out Canon had a recall on it back in 2005 so I rang them up and they agreed to have the camera shipped to them to verify the problem and fix it at no expense to me. I didn’t get around to actually printing out and using the return UPS form they sent me until last Friday, though, so I thought I wouldn’t see the camera again until after we got back from Iowa.

Well I got a confirmation email on Monday saying they’d gotten the camera and it was indeed covered by the recall and they’d be fixing it and shipping it back within 7 to 10 business days, definitely past our trip to Iowa. So you can imagine my surprise when I got an email today saying that they had shipped it yesterday and, upon checking the FedEx tracking number, that it had been delivered and signed for at 8:43AM this morning!

Holy horse hopping hermaphrodites, that was fast! (I have no idea what the first part of that sentence is supposed to mean) Not only did they fix the CCD, but they also fixed the dented camera housing and cleaned the whole thing up. In fact I’m not entirely sure if it’s the same camera or if it’s a refurbished one sent in its stead. Either way it looks as good as new so I set about trying to locate four AA batteries to try it out. I just know I have some around here someplace. Don’t I?

Well, yes, I do, but they’re all in use in other things. I managed to track down two batteries, but it takes four to make it do its voodoo. Hence why I have a happy and sad picture of me holding my shiny new-old camera over on the left (you can click it for a bigger/scarier version of it). It accurately exemplifies the elation and let down I felt upon realizing that I have only half the batteries I need to make the thing work.

I did find a shitload of AAA batteries though. Wonder what the hell I bought those for…

Wherein I rave about my love for Canon digital products.

I’ve been a big fan of Canon products ever since I purchased a Canon CanoScan N670U flatbed scanner after upgrading to Windows XP. I had an HP scanner prior to that which stopped working after the XP upgrade because HP couldn’t be bothered to make proper drivers for the new OS. After several months of half-assed solutions from HP their tech support suggested I “stop being an asshole and buy a new scanner.” So I did. I bought the Canon. That was in early 2002 and the damned thing still works great some seven years later. When it came time to replace the HP printer we were using we decided to go with the Canon Pixma iP3000 because it had individual ink tanks and a built-in duplexer at a decent price and we were thrilled with it. So when it came time to move up to a decent digital camera we picked up a Canon Powershot A80 back in 2003. Later we added a Canon Pixma MP970 multifunction in part because it had Ethernet networking built-in and we love that too, but that was after the camera.

At the time we bought the camera we allowed the Best Buy sales dude to talk us into one of their four year extended warranties that basically said we could smash the damn thing by accident and bring in the resulting shards for a replacement at no charge. That expired in 2007 without us ever having to make use of it. The camera has worked pretty well over the years even after taking a fairly nasty fall that left the casing near the flash dented, but sometime last year the CCD in the camera started having problems. You’d turn the camera on and the display would look like what you get when you try to watch porn on a scrambled cable channel without a proper decoder box. The image was all distorted and wavy with any resulting pictures looking exactly like the display which told me that it was the CCD and not the LCD display itself. If you turned the camera off and back on again it would sometimes clear up and be usable for awhile, but a couple of months ago it stopped clearing up and is that way all the time now. Six years is a pretty good run for a digital device I’ve used the hell out of so I wasn’t too upset about it and I’ve been looking to replace it with a newer model, probably another Canon, once I see a good deal on one of the bargain hunter websites I prowl.

Then I came across this Consumerist article about someone who got their five year old broken camera replaced by Canon for free that mentioned a recall relating to CCD issues. A little searching found the official Canon website about the recall which listed the A80 as one of the cameras covered by it. They put that out in 2005 so it’s four years old, but I gave the number a call and spoke with a rep who confirmed it’s still in effect. I’ll be getting a prepaid shipping form to send the camera to Canon and they’ll check it out. If it’s definitely the CCD problem listed in the recall it’ll be fixed for free, if it’s something else they’ll tell me how much it would cost to fix it. Can’t ask for much more than that.

We’ve been very happy with the camera as we have been with all the Canon products we’ve bought so far and this will just reinforce my loyalty to the brand. I’ll let you guys know what the verdict is on the camera once they get it and give it a look over, but the fact they’re willing to have it sent to them at no cost to me is pretty cool in itself. Needless to say I recommend the company pretty highly at this point. If you own a Canon camera that is giving you similar trouble you may want to give them a call or check the recall website I listed above to see if it’s something you can get fixed at little to no cost.

Kodak’s EasyShare software ain’t so easy.

My mother-in-law recently purchased a Kodak C613 digital camera and finally got around to trying to pull pictures off of it tonight. Like any dutiful consumer she installed the included software which forgoes the simple act of transferring pictures from the camera to your PC in lieu of the unnecessarily complicated goal of being an everything-in-one digital photo album/printing/art project thingy. Kodak calls their software “EasyShare” because it’s supposedly so easy to use. It is, as they say, to laugh.

The software recognizes the camera when you plug it in, but it steadfastly refuses to actually transfer any of the pictures. Instead it lists off all the pictures which it didn’t transfer and doesn’t tell you why. So I told the software to check for upgrades and lo there was one. A lengthy—even by broadband speeds—download and install later the software asked to reboot the PC. Upon starting back up the software announced that it would have to upgrade all the photo albums on the PC to work with the new software. That is, all one of the photo albums which contained a grand total of zero pictures. Clicking the upgrade button presented us with a Fatal Error requester that suggested we run the “repair” function of the install script. So we did and, after another mandatory reboot, the software once again announced it would need to upgrade the photo albums whereupon it once again crashed and suggested we repair the software.

During this entire period the camera itself, despite being detected by the software, never showed up in the Device Manager for Windows. Fed up with the shitty software Kodak provided I proceeded to yank it out by its teeth. Immediately afterward I plugged in the camera, Windows detected it and added it to its device listing, and the built-in Scanner and Camera wizard kicked in and we were able to successfully download and remove the pictures from her camera. All this after an hour and a half of fighting with Kodak’s “easy” software solution.

Say what you will about Windows XP, but that built-in scanner and camera wizard is just this side of perfect.