Posts Tagged ‘MacBook Pro’

In Praise of Old Tech

One bad habit I have (or maybe a good habit) is that I don’t get rid of all of old computers. That’s a problem when there are old machines that don’t work kicking around (maybe waiting to salvage a drive or something), but I have a few that will still boot up and can be useful now and then. Tonight was one of those times.

We’ve been working on college applications, and realized we needed to make a correction on one. The college sent a form that they require you to fax back for security reasons because it has sensitive information. I get that, but who has a fax machine anymore?? Sure, I could perhaps have used an online fax service, but that would be a pain and no more secure than emailing the form. I could take it to a print shop and pay someone to fax it for me, or I could have even gone to the office and used the fax machine there (but this is purely for personal use, so that seemed wrong).

Fortunately, my eye landed on an old laptop I had gotten out when trying to hook up a scanner (I eventually got the scanner to work on my new computer, thankfully, but hadn’t stowed the old G4 Powerbook. Glancing at the ports reminded me that one was a phone port, so I  thought I might see if I could get it to fax for me.

I cranked it up, logged into my network, set the date on the clock to 2018 (why not?), and then transferred my pdf file from my MacBook Pro to the desktop of my Powerbook. Then I had to figure out how to fax again — it’s probably been close to a decade since I’ve done it. Help told me to install the Internal Modem in Printers and Faxes, then I printed the document, chose Internal Modem as my printer, entered the number (after connecting the computer to the phone wall jack, of course), hit print and listened to the good old-fashioned sounds of the modem dialing and connecting to the fax machine on the other end. After what seemed like forever, the fax was done and the print job went away.

That saved me a fair amount of time and possibly money, and while I was at it, I looked at a few photos on my old desktop for nostalgia’s sake. Sure, I could recycle the Powerbook, but now and then it still comes in handy!

MacBook Video Card Repair Conclusion

In my last post, I wrote about how my 2011 MacBook Pro died, due to the common issue with the graphics card. I had been experiencing all the symptoms of weird lines (artifacts) across my screen, random restarts, and finally the inability to boot up the computer at all. That’s what led me to bite the bullet and call Apple, who authorized a local service place to replace my logic board for free.

The Repair

I will say, the whole process has been relatively smooth, and I’ve been impressed with Apple’s willingness to stand behind a 4-year-old computer (now). Exceed Technologies, where I took the MscBook was relatively knowledgable, and had done the repair before. I still knew more than they did about the issue, but they handle more than Macs, and they don’t need to know the cause to know how to replace a logic board, so why should they remember every detail of the issue the way I would. 

The repair was done fairly quickly. It took them a day to get to me (my only minor disappointment), a day to get the part,, and another day to do the repair and test it, do I could get it back the next day. I took it in on Thursday and got it back on Tuesday, so that was a bit faster than Apple’s estimated 5-7 days. And I didn’t have to drive two hours to take it in or wait for Apple to mail it back. For those of us living in the sticks, this is a great option!

Apple Support

Apple support during the whole process has also been fabulous, better than I would have imagined. Not only was I able to call and get this service authorized quickly, but the support tech, Sean (the supervisor of the woman I spoke with first), gave me his contact info and encouraged me to let him know if I decided to go to the Apple Store or have the repair done locally. So I emailed him to say I had gone to Exceed. He wrote back a couple of times to verify whether the repair had been initiated. I wrote when the repair had been completed, thanking him for his help, and he offered to help out more if a I had any related issues. As it turned out, I did, but that is for another post. Let’s just say for now that he was willing give a support call and even spend some time working on my computer to try to resolve an issue I was having with my trackpad after the repair.

The Aftermath

The repaired MacBook Pro appeared to be working well, when I got it back. The only issues I had other than the trackpad scrolling, were with passwords. I had asked the tech if I would need to authorize the computer on iTunes again, due to the new logic board, and he said I wouldn’t because he had put in my serial number when he set up the new logic board. That turned out to be true, but I did have to login with iCloud again to access my keychain, and before I realized this, Mail tried to connect to Google and didn’t have the password. I had to reset that, though once idealized the iCloud issue, my other mail accounts worked. I’ re had to login a few times to Google to get it all straightened out on all my devices. If I didn’t have so many email accounts, including two with Google, this would have been easier. And if I had taken the MacBook to an Apple Store, they probably would have helped me through that process (at least they did when I had an iPad replaced under warranty last year). But if Apple had mailed it back to me, I would have been in the same boat.

I expected to have to reset a few settings and passwords and such after a major repair. In fact since I wasn’t able to secure my computer before I took it in, since I couldn’t even start it anymore, I probably need to reset most of my sensitive passwords, anyway. I basically trust the technicians at Exceed, but I don’t know them personally, and you never know. And it’s good to change passwords now and then , so this will be a good incentive to do that again.

So the only real issue that I faced after the repair was  the fact that my trackpad wouldn’t scroll. That’s what I mentioned to Sean, asking if there was a simple fix or if I should take it back in to be looked at, and that’s what led to a service call and an eventual solution. But more on that in my next post, since it is arguably a different issue that resulted from the repair or the crash. But other people with the issue might get it another way. So I want to go into it in more detail separately.

MacBook Pro Video Repair

Maybe you’ve heard of this story: 2011 MacBook Pros with bad graphics cards that get weird lines on the screen, restart randomly, and then die. I had read about it, fortunately, and I knew it was starting to happen to mine, but yesterday it suddenly went from bad to worse. If you’ve read the stories, then you know how mad some people have been, but you may not have heard that Apple finally did the right thing and extended warranty service for this issue. I had read that, so I was glad to call Apple and arrange for a repair.

First, I spoke with someone who could only offer limited help. She said I needed to take it to an Apple Store to have it checked out. When I explained that the nearest store is two hours away in another state, she eventually put me through to her supervisor who could authorize more options. He not only offered to let me mail in my laptop, but also offered to let me have it repaired locally at an authorized service location. I called them, and opted for that, once I learned that they had done this before and would be replacing the logic board.

Here are a couple of things I learned in the process. I couldn’t start up at all, so I couldn’t do a backup. Starting in Safe mode didn’t work (press the Shift key at startup) and neither did starting in Recovery mode (command R at startup). What did work was starting in single user line mode (command S) at startup. I was able to run a file system check (fsck -f), but that didn’t help. But it did suggest there was hope, even though letting the computer sit all night didn’t magically fix it. So I started in Target mode (press T at startup) and connected to another computer with a FireWire cable to rescue the files that were after my most recent backup. This was successful, but nothing would get it to boot up. Thanks to Zach Clawson for some of these suggestions,

I’ve generally been pleased with the support I’ve received from Apple about this. Both service people were helpful and understanding, and the supervisor who took the case over has been quick to respond when I told him I had taken it to the local service place. We’ll see how it all turns out. 

Of course, I also know that if this had happened a few months ago, my experience could have been very different. So I’m very glad my little MacBook held out until the repair extension went into effect. Now I just hope the repair shop does a good job and it comes back better than ever.