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July 31st, 2021

Adventures In Old Computer Repair

Old in computer years anyway. Old in Apple computer years specifically. Which is to say only a decade old and still perfectly good. Anyway…

Some years ago I bought a nice second hand Macbook Pro laptop. In 2012 it was the very top of the line for fifteen inch Macbook Pros. It has the 256k SSD, and 16gb core ram, and the new and improved “Retina” video display. It was expensive even for a Macbook Pro. But now it’s “old” and I got it for a much more reasonable price. I fell in love with it instantly. New Macs don’t have all the connection ports this one does. You have to buy their adaptors. This one not only has all the connection ports built right in, it has a built-in Superdrive, and an SD card slot, which makes it a nice travel companion for my DSLRs. And lord have mercy that Retina screen is Very Nice. It was everything I wanted in a Mac laptop, though it was admittedly somewhat heavy. Problem with it was it had a couple intermittent keyboard keys. E and D. They worked, but sometimes I had to press more than once to get their attention.

Eventually that became annoying enough that when I saw a Facebook ad for a place in Severna Park that repaired older Macs I took it to them. It was slickly and professionally laid out, not at all like some computer nerd’s basement. They not only repaired but also sold old Macs, and they claimed to be a fully authorized Apple service shop. I had great expectations.

The plague was in full swing then, and I was told when I dropped it off that it might take a while. I was fine with that. I told them if the keyboard needed replacing I would pay for it. The guy behind the counter, who was a bit stand-offish and rude, said it probably only needed cleaning, which would take less time and cost me a lot less. I was skeptical, but willing to be convinced, and I counted it a plus that they were telling me the repair would probably be cheaper than I expected. I asked if just having the Guest account was okay. I didn’t want to give out my admin password. They said Guest was fine. Several weeks later I got a call to come pick it up, it was fixed.

But it wasn’t. The same keys were still intermittent. So I took it back. I had to show the guy behind the counter that the keys were still intermittent, which wasn’t easy when the problem is…you know…intermittent. But I got it across eventually that the repair, whatever their technician had done, hadn’t worked. Fine says the guy behind the counter, still a little standoffish and rude, if it needs a new keyboard after all we’ll deduct the cost from what you paid previously. A day later I got another call that it was fixed and ready to be picked up.

This time I tested it at the counter. Same problem as before, but worse. The keys weren’t even intermittent anymore, they had simply stopped working. I was directed to another counter off to the side, and showed the guy there the problem. He said it might take weeks to get a new keyboard on it because it was a very labor intensive process to remove all the little screws they needed to remove. He really emphasised that. Very labor intensive. Very Very labor intensive. Probably take weeks. Maybe even months. Okay, fine, says I, but I want this fixed. I really want this laptop working because it is everything I want in a travel laptop. 

Two hours later I get a call saying they’d put in a new keyboard. I drive back and brought it home, not even bothering to test it at the counter because I pretty much figured they had done no such thing and it was either fixed now or I was taking it elsewhere. Ah yes…Now the 3, E, D, and C keys weren’t working…the entire vertical row was inoperative. Later I discovered that now the operating system wasn’t detecting the Superdrive. So I was done with them.

I looked around Google some more, and found a place in Parkville that did work on older Macs. It was a much smaller place than the one in Severna Park; basically a basement shop in what used to be a house on the main drag. I explained the problems to the lady behind the counter who, let it be said, was Much nicer to her customers than the guy in Severna Park. I asked again asked if Guest was okay. I couldn’t imagine why it wouldn’t be since all that was needed was to check that the keyboard and Superdrive were working. She said it was fine.

Two days later I get a call from some older man there telling me he couldn’t do the work without my admin password. Oh really? I told him I would take back the laptop instead.

So for nearly a year now the laptop has just sat idle. I could use it with a USB keyboard, but the firmware wouldn’t allow me to plug in another Superdrive. But this was a top of the line Mac not that long ago, and everything I want in a travel laptop. I just loved that big sharp 15 inch screen. A little on the heavy side maybe, but worth carrying it around for that screen, the big fast solid state drive and every port and connector I could ever need right on it. So a couple weeks ago I tried Googling for Mac repair near me, and discovered a new place had opened up in the Rotunda, which is walking distance to my house.

It’s part of a chain called “Juvix The Tech Guy”. They’d just opened shop at the Rotunda. I brought the laptop there and explained the problem. They asked Me right away if I had Guest enabled and I said it was. I told them about the trouble I’d had in Severna Park and the lady behind the counter grinned like she’d heard it before from her other customers. I wondered if it was that specific place or just all of them nearby that people were venting to her about.

First email I got from them a few days later said the Superdrive was working again and all it needed was to be plugged back in. Also that a new keyboard was on order. Apparently the Enter key and one of the shift keys weren’t working now either. A week later I got an email saying they were still waiting for the keyboard to arrive. A couple days later I get another email saying the new keyboard had arrived, and a few hours later another saying it had been installed and everything tested and my laptop was ready for pickup. Total bill was $141.

I bring it home. So nice to live where everything is in walking distance. I get it running and…wow…Everything Works. Just like that. My ideal Mac laptop is ideal again.

Sweet. I can’t speak to all the shops in the chain, but the Juvix The Tech Guy at the Rotunda here is a first rate operation with a good crew and not atrociously expensive. Email me if you need to know who the crappy repair places were.

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