Mac Scare

I lost my Mac for a few days!

Last Tuesday I came home and smelled a funny burning scent laden with ozone. It has to be a motor or voltage coil, it just had that scent. I know the scent well from the Arcade restorations. So we set about finding which of the thousands of electric and electronic device might be the source.

Given the age of the dishwasher I was sure it was there. Alas it was not so. I still have my crappy (but working) dishwasher. It wasn't the new fridge. It wasn’t anything in the stereo stacks. It was so weird, we could not locate the scent. I didn't check the video games, they have not been on in months.

So I sat down at the Mac to catch up on email. The scent didn't seem any stronger there, so I caught up on email and went to bed.

Next morning the scent was still there. Went to check email and definitely got a stronger sniff at the Mac. I nose checked the vent on the back and decided it was the Mac!

I do not understand how a computer with an ailing power supply continues to function normally, but the Mac was working fine! Very perplexing, but ultimately not good. I decide to shut down the Mac and consider my options for cleaning the vents. I hoped that something (like hair of GIzmo) had lodged in there and I could swab it out and remove the burning possibility.

I checked, no hair, no nothing blocking the vent or intake. For those who do not have the pleasure of owning a Mac, there is really little else that can be done. This is a sealed box. I mean it, one solid piece of acrylic encases the computer behind the screen. No screws to unscrew! There are the ports for USB, FireWire, power, headphones, network, telephone, the intake on the bottom where the air comes (and the sound comes out) in and the vent on the top where the warmed air comes out.

Having nothing else to check I tried turning it back on to see if the smell had stopped by power of good design (I was searching for a blessing here!). The Mac power light just blinked at me. It would not start. Apparently the blinking power light indicates the Mac is not happy with the voltage coming out of the power supply. Well, now what?

Chandler Fashion Center

Chandler Fashion Center is a mall in the style of the old King of Prussia. It is several older malls and "retail concepts" strung together by Westcor. It gives the shopper that maze quality. Chandler is largely a flat land. No rolling hills there. Yet somehow the CFC has two levels (2.5 really, but that is another posting). At some points the ground level is the first floor and other it is the second floor.

It turns out there is an Apple store in the CFC. I am working 2 blocks from the edge of this mall-sprawl complex. I went in on Wednesday and checked it out. The Apple store in CFC is on the first floor. Deep in the part of the first floor that is underground. Perhaps I lack some internal Retail Positioning System that most teenage girls seem to have in abundance, but I cannot seem to locate the shortest distance from the Apple store to a parking space. So this first trip I was way off.

You need an appointment with a Genius at the Genius Bar to get a Mac or iPod examined. Geniuses are apparently the gateway to spare Apple parts. The theory goes they can fix most problems and not need to ship your device "out for parts" which is so inconvenient. Well, I did not have an appointment. So I had to make one.

You can only make an appointment for the same day. The concierge system that handles Genius bookings allow only same day appointments. By the time I got to the store through the maze that is CFC I was too late. The Geniuses were booked for the day! Which was fine, I didn't bring the Mac with me for the Genius to examine.

Thursday didn't go much better. I managed to not get the Mac into the truck in the morning. There would be no Genius that day.

For convenience, you can book a genius online. You go to and find your store and use the same friendly concierge system to book a genius. This sounds great! Get up in the morning, book your appointment over the web to beat all those pesky customers in the store to the Genius. Now if I could only start my Mac and use the web...

OK. Friday. Pack the Mac in the truck. Go to work. Work for a few hours and book the Genius at lunch. By lunch the Geniuses are booked.

Saturday. Explain to your wife why you can't do the thousands of hours of home projects work you keep putting off until the weekend because you have to drive to Chandler to see the Concierge to book a Genius to tell you what you already know, your nice new Mac that you are so proud of is slowly burning inside.

Yep, that went well. Off to Chandler. Remember this is my third trip to the CFC, one would think by now I could find a short walk to the first floor store from the parking lot. It was not meant to be. So I lug the Mac across the parking lot, through the Kids Zone, into the depths of CFC. Get to the Apple store and book a Genius. No problem, someone can see you in about an hour. We are hosting a class on iLife now. You can attend it while you wait. Well, hey free classes in the waiting area sounds good.

The Genius checks out my Mac and determines it is the power supply. I am (of course) just outside my 1 year warranty. This version of the Mac is having problems with the power supplies, so Apple has extended the warranty for the power supply, no charge. (I thought that was very nice) I drop it off on Saturday. They called Monday night. The power supply was replaced and the Mac was working fine, no data loss or damage to any other components. They even found my SimCity CD and had it in an envelope for me when I picked it up.

So, we have quick service, for free and they didn't lose my CD? Wow. I am about as happy as I can be for losing a power supply!

Yes, this bLog is posted from a Mac.