Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Great Computer Saga

Just before Spinning Bunny was born I acquired a lovely  14" iBook G4 laptop.  The one before this was a 12" G3 so the screen felt huge and the speed and memory were delightful.  Of course that was 4 years ago.  In all this time I had no need to add memory or had even a moment's problem with this delightful Apple product.  This sweetie went everywhere with me; to shows and vendings, visits to family, the cottage in the Adirondacks, just about anywhere I went so did it.  I do love laptop computers. And have I mentioned I am a Macophile?  I go way back to when they were called Apples.

A little over a week ago this laptop seemed to be charging more than usual.  The amber light was on a lot.  Then I noticed that the amber light was on all the time.  The battery was at 94% which was  a normal  time for when it would recharge itself so I ignored it.  24 hours later the battery was at 93%.  Uh oh.   

I went online to see if this was a problem mentioned in the Apple Support section.  I read a whole lot about recalibrating batteries, batteries that were dead and where to get replacements but nothing about the amber light never changing back to green.  There was an easy way to ask online which led me to having an Apple Support person scheduled to call me, at my convenience, the very next morning.   I expected the battery to be at 92 by then but it held at 93. Whew!  However I was now nervous about removing the cord.  Hmmmnnnn.... portability just turned into a desk top. Temporary, right?   The person I spoke with said it must be the power adapter so he had Apple send me a brand new one FedEx overnight .

The package arrived by Friday noon.  I quickly shut down the computer, then replaced the adapter, plugged it in and restarted the computer.  3 hours later the battery charge read 92% and the light was still amber.  sigh.

I called Apple again.  This time I spoke with a gentleman in India.  His English could have been better as he kept misinterpreting what I was saying.  However he did make me an appointment at the Genius Bar in the Carousel Center Mall in Syracuse.  I have been avoiding the Apple Store. Really, for a Macophile it is big trouble.  Kinda like a yarn/fiber shop only more expensive.

Cathy suggested the problem might be the actual cord rather than the adapter.  I searched everywhere for that plug that came with the original adapter but just could not find it. (ha ha I did find it a few days ago in a very logical spot, only not obvious.)  I invited Cathy to go to Syracuse with me as I could pick her up on the way there.  The ride up was fun and the mall was not crowded for a Saturday morning. 

  The directory sent us up to the second floor looking for the Apple symbol.  That was not to be seen.   The store has no storefront, just grey walls and lots of products on each side wall and on an island in the middle, plus the Genius Bar in the back.  iPods and iPhones on the right, iMacs on the left and laptops in the middle.  Apple Heaven.  More than enough helpful people everywhere wearing shirts saying "I could talk about this for hours."
 We signed in and then had 20 minutes to get into trouble.  

I asked a few questions which resulted in purchasing a 500GB take-along external hard drive that is smaller than a soft covered book. A nice young man showed me about refurbished iMacs and where to purchase more memory for my laptop so I could upgrade to Leopard.   Then I picked up the Leopard, iWorks, iLife package as it was too good a deal to pass up.  My wad was just about blown.

Meanwhile Cathy, who is not a mac person but loves her iPod, bought several mini shuffles to use while working and knitting and spinning and then got a couple more for her husband.

Our techie showed us that the problem was not the cord at all.  I had not calibrated the battery for a long long time which resulted in it not charging anymore.  I was told to go home, pull the cord and let the battery run down.  Charge it up again and repeat once more.  Then all would be well again.  That seemed easy enough so we found ourselves some lunch after price checking in Best Buy for the memory chip where the cost was way more than online, even with shipping.

Back home I did as instructed.  The battery ran down fast to 0%.   I plugged it back in and waited 10 minutes.  The charge read 0%. OK so I was impatient.  I waited another half hour. The charge read 0%.  Jim suggested letting it charge overnight.  OK.   sigh sigh sigh
Meanwhile I ordered the memory chip.

The next morning I eagerly opened the laptop to find the charge at,  you guessed it, 0%.  hmmnnnn.  So we decided it must be the battery.  I ordered a new one online to be delivered Tuesday.  I could keep it plugged in until then with no problems.  Meanwhile the entire machine was backed up to that tiny looking but enormous portable hard drive.  This is not my first backup, it is the second but only portable one.  I already had one up in the shop that did this every evening.  But since I should not unplug the computer to take it up there it might as well have not been.

About 11 am the battery package arrived.  It was very cold but I thought it would warm up faster in the computer than just in the room.  I installed it and waited.  And waited, and waited.  3 hours later the battery charge read 0%.   sigh.  This was getting old.

Yup, another call to Apple.  They had quite a file going for my laptop by now. The woman I spoke with listened carefully, then asked me to hold while she spoke to someone.   When she returned she said she had spoken with 3 someones and the consensus was that the Power Chip was malfunctioning.  The computer needed to go back to Apple.  They would overnight a special box.  
"Wait", I said, "how long will you have the machine?"
"Oh, anywhere from a week to 10 days."
"Ummm, but I run an internet business.   Can you send me a loaner in that box?
"No, sorry.  We don't have loaner computers."
"But I can't be without a computer for that long."
"That is all we can do at this point.  Do you want us to send you the box?"
" Sigh.  Yes."

During that visit to the Apple store I had decided to buy an iMac in 6 months.  I thought that if I leap frogged my technology I could purchase a machine every 2-3 years and keep up just fine. This last bit of news kinda put a kink in that plan.  I needed a computer now, yesterday if possible.  First I checked on Craigs List and found a couple of iBooks similar to mine that could be shipped in a few days.  Jim reminded me that getting another iBook G4 would be against my leap frog tech plan.  So I looked for something newer.  I found them but they had been snapped up already.  Plan Q called for getting that iMac now.  big breath.

I checked the online computer stores but none had as good a deal on a new refurbished iMac as Apple did.  So I called to talk to someone about it.   Brandy spoke with me at length and then transferred me to my very own business support rep.  Kary also gave me a lot of his time.  Once those conversations were done I felt more confident about going ahead.  Cathy also provided encouragement.
After all that discussion, we neglected to have it shipped faster so this brand new iMac arrived yesterday at 2pm in this nondescript box.  

Apple computer thinks of everything.   Once the new machine was set up, which took no time, I then plugged in the firewire linking both computers, restarted the laptop and waited for everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, to migrate over to the new one. 
That orange firewire symbol moves around the whole time the info is tranferring.

This morning I reluctantly pulled the plug on the laptop, wrapped it up in its supplied blankie, put it into its well padded traveling case and sent it for its R&R to California.

Now the new 20" iMac resides in the shop.
Notice the same page as above squeezed onto the iBook in the pic near the beginning.  I keep exclaiming over the size of the screen and the ease with which I can work in DreamWeaver.  I got Jim to come in and look. He has this indulgent expression on his face though.   I know he is not into computers very much but he is so supportive.
I feel as thought I have been running some kind of race, maybe a digital one, and am now ready for a nap.



Have only ever owned a Mac, and feel so spoiled!

I have the iMac that you just got, (one year old), after having both the first iMac,(1999) and a G4 with tower, 2001)

Jasmin said...

This is so funny- my 5 year old Powerbook (which is working fine, but can't really handle the heavy demands of podcasting)had me worried that it would die before I could replace it.

So, I got a bonus at work, which turned into a new laptop, due to arrive... soon. Btw, if you're looking for a place to upgrade memory/RAM/etc, try . I have had excellent luck with them.

Deborah said...

I had to send my MacBook to California when it seemed to be dead, and it arrived back at my door 48 hours later, all better!! I hope yours doesn't take the "week to ten days" that they have to tell you. In any case, congratulations on your new iMac. I'm sure you'll love it.

Sherrie Y said...

You'll love your iMac... I do. The laptop battery charging thing... my significant other had a battery fail, went online and found it was a known problem. Our closest Apple store is 125 miles away, but when we knew we were headed that way we made an appointment and they swapped it out under warranty. 10 minutes, no problem. Peachy.