Stream of Controversy
You might not want to hear it, but it really needs to be said.

I Want My Laptop Back

It intrigues me that the iMac G5 that I bought in November 2005 (yes, 2 months before they switched from PowerPC to Intel chips) is still running strong, without any problems whatsoever (except some speed issues resulting from only 512 MB of RAM), while my MacBook Pro, which I bought when I started college last summer, has had to be repaired twice in the past month. And, of course, both times had to be in the week before I go home for break. But let me start from the beginning….


Last month (mid-November), my laptop was sitting open, minding its own business, when my girlfriend decided to accidentally walk into the open water bottle on my desk. This, of course, spilled about 2 mL of water onto the laptop. Now, I’d done this myself a number of times without incident, but because my girlfriend has magic powers, she coerced the water underneath the keyboard and into the circuitry of the keys. This resulted in some strange results when certain keys were pressed. The most notable one, after I had given the keyboard some time to dry, was that pressing any key on the home row caused the output to also contain the output of the corresponding key on the number row (and vice versa). In addition, a couple of keys just flat-out died, including my ever-precious A key. These problems led to sentences that looked like this: Th6e quick8 brown f4ox j7umped3 over th6e l9y d3og5. a1s2d3f4g5h6j7k8l90

So I got the keyboard replaced, for a measly $150. (You might recall I’m a college student—attending a $40,000/year school with financial aid [which, by the way, is code for $38,000/year in loans that I’ll be paying back for the rest of my life].) Nevertheless, they were able to do the replacement rather quickly, and I was only without my computer for a day, and I was able to bring it home with me for Thanksgiving break.

Fast forward to about a week ago. There I was, singing my heart out, making this video on YouTube: However, due to the extensive memory it takes to run 80+ tabs in Firefox, the audio and video were not synced up properly. So Adam Kontras, the author of that song, suggested I set up my real recording equipment and really edit it together. So I set up my camera (which also has something wrong with it, though I’ll save that story for some other time) and recorded a new version, which also included snippets from a number of Beatles songs. By the time I was done recording, though, it was time to go eat dinner. Being the genius that I am, I unplugged my laptop from the power, and shoved it into my backpack, for editing on-the-go!

The problem was, once I got to where I was going, I opened up the laptop and… nothing happened. Well, nothing showed up on the screen, anyway. It still made that sound like it was waking up from sleep… it just never did. And the sleep light would stay solid when the laptop was closed, instead of snoring, like it usually does. So that was the first uh-oh moment. And they kept coming all through the night, as we (a team made up of myself, a couple of non-technical friends, and a little thing called Google) tried anything we could think of to try to bring my baby back to life. No luck, though, as you can probably tell.

So, as per some of the suggestions I found online, I let it sit for a while. I even left it out overnight, with no battery in it. Eventually, it would snore while sleeping. But upon awaking, would go back to its old habits of showing me nothing. So I wrote another e-mail to Small Dog Electronics (the folks that did the keyboard replacement), detailing all of the symptoms and everything I had tried, and asking for pointers I might have missed. When the response came back Monday (despite the fact that their service center is open on Saturdays), it had one sentence: At this time the only this I can say is you need to bring the unit back in. That one got me pretty upset.

But I got up and I brought my baby back to them, detailing the symptoms again to the guy at the desk (who had no previous knowledge of my really long e-mail). When I was finished, he indicated to me that it was definitely a hardware issue (something I had already figured out), but that it might cost me hundreds of dollars because the computer was out of warranty. However, since it was only recently out of warranty, I might be able to call Apple and get them to grant me an exception. I hadn’t realized that was ever an option, but it didn’t matter. He offered to take the computer back and verify the keyboard reinstallation didn’t cause this video problem—free of charge. So, having no use for a computer without a working display, I consented and left.

When I hadn’t heard anything by Wednesday, I decided to make the trek back down there to see what was going on. As it turns out, there was something wrong with either the graphics card or the logic board. I couldn’t figure out which it was (they may even be the same thing in the MBP, for all I know), but know it’s manufactured by NVIDIA, a graphics card manufacturer. They had put in a request to NVIDIA to cover the cost of the replacement part (which would normally cost $500–$600), but they were waiting for the approval. Apparently they had gotten it by the time I went back today, though, because I was told the part was on order and they were awaiting delivery.

And that’d be all well and good if I weren’t heading to the airport about 12 hours after my typing this. But I am. And it will apparently cost me $25 to ship the computer to my house when it’s finished. Now, I have to weigh my options here. I’ll be home for 3 weeks. Both of my Macs will be in Vermont. I’ll be forced to use my custom-built, circa 2002, Windows XP computer that makes a whole lot of noise and uses a CRT monitor that hurts my eyes. Or I can use nothing and be computer-free for all that time. However, if the computer is repaired over this weekend for absolutely no charge, and that $25 fee will get the computer to my house overnight or 2-day delivery, it might be justified. Except, now that I’m thinking about it, they’re quite like to charge me a $50 or $60 repair fee. So I don’t know how worth it it would be to tack over $75 onto my $1500+ computer that has already cost me an additional $150.

Any opinions from those out there in Cyberspace? (Do people still call it that? Imagine how behind I’ll become without a computer for three weeks!)

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2 Responses to “I Want My Laptop Back”

  1. They are fucking you its probably just a video cable unplugged on the motherboard you should get some hex screwdrivers and carefully disassemble your mac and check all the connections are solid those guys who work on your computer seem so unprofessional they dont know what the fuck they are doing and your keyboard on ebay is only $30 and thats already excessive all you had to do is replace the keyboard yourself its very simple it only has 2 screws or plastic clips that slide out and a ribbon connector on the bottom

  2. Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten my computer back, so that doesn’t really apply anymore.


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