Saturday, June 21, 2014

My first Mac wore.

Recently I was gifted with an Macbook pro (Mid 2010) model. Needless to say that it didn’t had any warranty. With all the excitement of finally having my own Macbook pro for the first time, I made it my primary system within the week. Stupid, I know. 

Yes, I’ve played around Mac’s before. Just professionally. I’ve never brought myself to actually buy one. I could do the same work, Open source software developing and network security work with a better hardware to the same price of a regular Macbook pro.

However, the battery life of a Macbook pro, beats any regular laptop I had owned in the past. Probably the best selling point for me to stick to this low device just so I can carry it around to college and back with ease without having to find an electric outlet every 1.5 hours.

Three weeks in to the Macbook pro, I’ve started working on my college finals on it.  My final project is an iOS app. Proposal was accepted. A due date was giving. Couples of tasks were completed and a review was conducted, which was good enough for the college to give the final green light on the project.

And on my way back to Maldives for a short vacation, it broke down on me.
The Macbook pro wasn’t charging as it used to. I connected the charger, no lights from the cable either. It worked fine until the battery ran out of juice. I used the precious little time left to backup my college materials as much as I can leaving the rest of the data intact in hopes that I can revive it with a new charger.

In Maldives, there is only one authorised distributor for Apple products. Focus Computers. I brought in my charger and laptop for a check up. Their initial diagnostic confirms that it had nothing to do with the charger. And they can only find out what’s wrong with it in a day or two. Being questioned about what might have gone wrong and how much it would cost me, his reply “About couple of hundreds if it’s minor. Might cost a bit more if it’s a major issue. But I don’t think it’s much of an issue.” The Indian accent has changed at this point to, by the book from a sales pitch, practiced infront of a mirror, near perfect British accent. “Jolly good, keep me informed when you have an idea what’s going on” and I left the place after submitting both the charger at the Mac book pro.

After two days a got a call from the technician. My apple “Macbook pro, had a logic board failure. Which is common due to over heating” WHAT! How in the world did that happened when I had cranked up the fans and had always used it extensively in a place less than 28 degrees.  Hey, I’m not a Mac technician. I wouldn’t know the glory details. I asked how much it’s going to cost me to fix it with a new logic board. The technician replied “MRF 95000 and 7 working days since they have to bring the board from Singapore”

“WHAT THE F***!” “That’s equivalent to $616. I could buy a whole new high range (not apple) laptop for that price!” I asked the technician if they could at least give a discount. He replied that he wasn’t in a position to give out any discounts cause it’s the standard price by the company. Fair enough. I informed the technician that I will call him in a few hours to confirm what I would with it.

Man, $616 just to fix a freaking logic board? Are you for real Apple ? I’m luck to have good friends who have been in working in IT industry. Couple of calls to my friends and my good old buddy tom suggests that he give a call to them. Since he has been a good client to the company for years, the least he was entitled to some level of favor. He managed to get me a good discount. I can still buy an whole new computer even with the price tag with the discount.

Time is of the essence here. My project is due in a few weeks and I can’t go back empty handed. I can’t ask for extensions and get low grade. I need my Macbook pro. Pronto!

After exactly 5 days, my laptop was repaired and ready. I’ve requested to backup my existing data if they can, install a fresh copy of the OS. When I received my laptop, it was as if it was brand new. Not only the logic board was replaced, the even gave it a good clean up service. A fresh install of the OS and couple of other necessary software as well. Focus technicians have done a wonderful job at doing what they do best. Hats off to them.

I’ve later come to know that this is a common case in this model of laptops. Poor ventilation designed in to laptop being the culprit of the problem. A friend of mine who used to work at Apple Genius bar, had also told me that the aluminum casing of the laptop is not for the eyes. It has it purpose. To make the laptop “cool”, as in cooling it down. And later models of the laptop have parts that can be replaced cheaply and easily without having to change the entire logic board. Guess I got the short stick on this one.

Needless to say, there are pros and cons of my dilemma. Macpro’s have a good battery life. Less hassle for a regular user, But more hassles with the OS from a developer’s point of view. It can be daunting to install custom apps and libraries. And the cost is just a bit over the edge for the norm. Kernel_task eats away the memory even on idle. 400MB for kernel_task ? That’s just being too greedy.

Will I ever go back to a Mac after this in the future? Maybe. If I can get a good long hour battery life, lightweight laptop that supports a flavor of Linux very well, without the common ACPI bullshit, yes most definitely I will chose that laptop over any Mac any day. But for now, considering what’s important to me for the time being, I’m sticking to my Macpro. Might even upgrade it to use for few months.

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