Monday, February 4, 2013

I Can't Date Apple

This is really hard, Apple. I don't know how else to say it so I'm just going to put it out there. It will never work between us. And yes, I'm sure it's you and not me.

On the day after my birthday last week, there was a crisis in my house. My son's Apple Macbook Pro would not boot. The seizure-causing light on the front of the case flashed and I could feel vibrations on the case surface, but nothing was on the display. Even the bottom of it got hot enough to keep burgers warm but the old girl seemed to be in a coma.

When I say old girl, it kind of is an old girl. This laptop belonged to my wife. She had it since 2007. It was her work provided computer and when it was time to get a new one, she had the chance to buy it cheap. I convinced her it was a good deal, even if we just re-sold it. After all, it's an Apple Laptop (said with the voice of Zeus). We purchased it at what I still consider was a bargain, less than half the price of what they were going for on Ebay. In the end, we sold it to my son at another greatly decreased price.

I am a PC from back in the day when a 20mb (not gb) hard drive was the size of a loaf of bread and the C\:> was the only icon you had. You need something done to a Windows based PC, I'm there. Purchasing an Apple computer was new territory for me. Like being the one who suggests we get a dog means you are the one who cleans up after it, likewise I would be the one maintaining the Macbook.

Right off the bat, there was a problem. My son started High School and with enrollment came the requirement to have the ability to access three separate websites for grades, assignments, and on-line work. Even my DELL desktop PC I bought in 2002, still running it's original version of Microsoft XP Home, could get to all three websites. The Macbook Pro could not. It needed an operating system upgrade.

Why? Simple. It would not run the required browser versions without a newer OS. WTF? Any Windows  PC made in the last ten years could do it. Why can't the mighty fruit of Steve Jobs loins? It made no sense to me. Still, I told myself exactly what the Apple website online adviser would have. The Macbook is an elegant and refined machine. Just like a performance automobile, maintenance is necessary but the results would be worth it.

A new OS meant more memory required than what was already installed. Time to chip-it-up! No problem. A tiny screwdriver and new memory chip and we were off and running. Then I was off to Ebay to purchase an operating system upgrade. Why Ebay and not Apple? Well, Apple no longer sold the upgrade. They only were able to sell a full version of their newest feline inspired OS (anyone whose ever owned a cat and had to clean a little box might wonder why they would name their OS versions after the most temperamental animals in the world). No problem for my PC with old operating system. A few days later it arrived. Installation went fine and the Macbook was ready to go to high school.

Anyone here speak Apple? Luckily my wife is well versed in the Davinci Code of key-stroke combinations needed to navigate the applications of the Mac OS. She's a Mac, after all. "Apple-Key This," and "Apple-Key That," echoed through the house. It didn't seem too intuitive. I have a right mouse button that displays a menu of options available. No need to remember nuclear launch codes here. Just one hand, and one finger, no game of five finger Twister on the keyboard for me.

Websites accessed. Mission accomplished. Aside from the heat caused by what must be a tiny pannini-maker inside the case, all was going well. Then after 8 months, right after my birthday, my son stood before me, disapointed, dead laptop cradled in his arms. I had no idea where to start. It's not like I'm an "Apple Genius" or something. My wife consulted her work IT person. Possibilities; it overheated and protectively shut down, or, the logic board failed. That last one didn't sound good. Letting it cool off didn't work. Oh shit, must be the logic board.

Off to the Apple Store! A "Genius" will know what's up. After all, they have to pass a "test" or "something" to be a "Genius," right? "Diagnosis," failed logic board. The "Genius" (the quotes are intentional so you don't think that's a title I would give them) says Apple can't fix it but we might find a third party source that could do it for $500. "Sorry dude."

My wife hit me in the Apple Store after I said, in a way too loud voice, "This is why I don't like Apple products!" I get the strategy. Estimate the repair to be too much to stomach and the sheep will just belly up for a new one. Little known fact, that's what did in the Donner Party. They got stuck with a busted-ass Conestoga wagon and decided not to fix it because a new one didn't cost that much more. Look what that got them.

I felt bad, my son felt bad, my wife hit me, we went to dinner, we went home.

Undaunted as PC folks are, I went online with my scabby old PC which I now called Quasimoto as a way to mock the lifeless Macbook next to it. Research began into getting it repaired. Apparently the "logic board failure" is a common diagnosis in the Apple kingdom and based on the message boards, it is not always correct. I found a ton of procedures to correct the situation. Various home remedies to correct what was wrong with my son's Macbook. The most extreme measure was placing chunks of Sterno in a foil cup on top of the logic board's various chips, then lighting the fuel on fire. The hope was the heat from the Sterno would re-solder the connections. Why in the world wouldn't the excessive heat from the laptop have taken care of that already, I wondered. Not wanting that to be my first fix, I tried the simplest one listed, re-configuring the memory chips.

I pulled out one memory chip, the one I had installed eight months before. The Macbook booted without a problem. Perhaps the OS didn't need that extra memory after all? Next, after a clean shutdown, I put the chip back in, and re-started. The Macbook booted without a problem. There was nothing wrong in the first place except for a slightly jarred memory chip seat?

That little rat who claimed to be a "Genius," was wrong! He never suggested anything as simple as memory chip reconfiguration! He just wanted to discourage me from fixing what was, in all honesty, a working computer so I would buy a new one!

And so, Apple, this is why we can't date. It's cultural. Your friends are sycophantic liars, you always need me to buy new things for you, you're pretty and every one wants to be your friend, but they don't know you like I do. I'll tolerate you because you're dating my son for now, but it's over between us. 

I do have one thing to ask. Even though it didn't work out between us, is it still okay if I hang out with your little sister, iPod?