A Visit With A Genius

Smirking MacBook

Yesterday, I made the final determination that there was no hope for fixing my MacBook short of a logic board replacement, and so I began the long, slow process of backing up my data, settings, applications, e-mails and all the other little things you never remember until you’ve formatted the hard drive.

.Mac accounts are overpriced, but the integration with OSX did make for for convenient backup options. Obviously, I couldn’t backup a full 120GB computer to a 1GB .Mac account, but you can use backup to store all your application settings (normally stored in .plist files), plus all my e-mail, bookmarks, calendar items, etc.

As part of my diagnostic process, I’d made a bootable clone of my drive on an external firewire device, and that acts as my “ultimate” backup – at least I know everything is there.

And then it came time to format the drive and re-install. The computer had been behaving pretty well all day Sunday, but as soon as I started to try to boot the install CD, the system started playing shut down tag with me. Every time I’d try to boot the CD it would drop before I’d even get to the Apple screen.

This continued about 20 times and then it loaded and installed normally.

Once loaded, I installed my purchased programs that I regularly use (Ecto, Parallels, etc) and I decided to test the .mac backup and loaded everything down from .mac. It worked flawlessly. All the settings were intact once done. It really worked great.

I ran my re-loaded computer long enough for it to power off a couple more times and decided that there was nothing for it but to contact Apple.

My choices were two: Contact Apple by phone, or try out the Genius Bar at the Apple store.

I was still dreaming of the possibility that they’d just replace my MacBook on the spot rather than sending off for repair, so I decided to try the Genius Bar. I’d never used the Genius Bar and online discussion seemed mixed about it. I’ve seen them in action and my impression was mixed also.

I decided to go in as armed as possible, and prepared a detailed list of everything I’d done by way of diagnostics. When I got up this morning I logged on the store’s website and booked the first available “Mac” support opening, 12:20PM.

I arrived at 12:00, prepared to wait. Their support ticket system, which shows who’s next was busted, so they had to deal with every person that wanted help by taking their name and manually assigning a slot. At first I was concerned that, perhaps they didn’t have my name, but the ticker came up briefly and my name was there on the list.

At about 12:30 they called me up.

I talked with the Genius for a few minutes, described what I had done, showed him my documentation and he completely agreed that it was a bad logic board and off my MacBook went to the service depot.

One thing of interest, I saw one of the bulging Macbook Pro batteries returned while I was there. The guy showed it to the Genius and, although they had no “spare” batteries in stock, the removed one from a boxed MacBook Pro and sent the guy on his way in minutes. No muss, no fuss, no hassle. I must say, my experience was almost as painless as it could get. My wait wasn’t much passed my scheduled time, the tech seemed to know what he was doing – more importantly, he recognized that I knew what I was talking about.

Despite the massive uprising of people on the net who are supposedly experiencing this same problem, the Genius had never seen one before.

When I got home, I pulled out the old iBook (Not that old, actually) used my .mac backup to bring it up to speed and everything is working normally. Hopefully, my MacBook will be back this week or early next.

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