A couple of weeks ago we had yet more kit failure at the Apple Harvest. I'd been staying at my girlfriend's house for a couple of days, and had taken my MBP with me as I had some work to do while I was there. It was also a chance to check out some new software I'd purchased - ShareTool - allowing me to access my home office iMac from anywhere in the world via the internet. More on that later...
On the second morning, disaster struck. The MBP had been asleep during the night; an oversight on my part as I wouldn't normally leave a laptop plugged in and turned on. When I went to wake it up there was a blank screen and no light in the Apple logo on the lid. However, a quick check using the iStat app on my iPhone showed that the machine was actually booted and working normally, apart from the rather significant lack of video. More bizarrely, when I tried to screen share from my girlfriend's iMac (yup I've made a convert of her too!), everything was fine and dandy. So the good news was that it wasn't a complete system failure. iStat, by the way, is an essential and cheap diagnostic tool for anyone with an iPhone and Mac hardware.
Some research on the internet into the problem suggested that there were other folk suffering similar problems, some of which were traced back to a faulty graphics chip, and that Apple were offering free fixes, but it was difficult to tell if this was the same problem I was experiencing. Whilst the internet is a great place for getting ideas on how to resolve certain problems, more esoteric issues are much more difficult to track down. I guess it's similar to using witness descriptions of police suspects where no two individuals will provide an identical description of the baddy (unless it's a stitch up!).
Having had a new display fitted earlier in the year, I decided to check with the supplier to see if they could throw any light on the matter and more importantly whether the display was still under warranty. All credit to the guys at the Square Group in Derby who answered my email very promptly. They suggested bringing in the machine for inspection (£56.00) but gave me some hope that it may be a simple fix. The bad news was that the display was now out of warranty, but if it was a display issue there may be some grounds to pursue Apple.
Last week, I finally managed to get into Derby and dropped the machine off. I hadn't realised how much of an extension to my life the MBP had become as I seemed quite bereft without it. I duly paid my £56.00 inspection fee, and anxiously waited for a phone call, which came three days later.
In short, yes, it was bad news: complete logic board failure. My mind started racing, replace the board at horrendous cost, or ditch the MBP and buy a new one - neither really affordable options at the current time. The service manager went on..."but Apple have recognised a problem with that particular model and have provided a replacement free of charge which we have now fitted, and we have decided to refund your inspection fee". Good job it was a phone call otherwise I'd have probably tried to kiss the guy. (I've not had much in the way of good news recently!). Faith is also restored in Apple, as it was beginning to fade quite dramatically.
So I should be able to pick up the machine tomorrow morning, and that not so little void in my life will be filled again. It doesn't quite end there though, as while I was in the shop I asked for a quote for putting a replacement hard drive in the iMac (see blog entry from 28-10-09). I was quoted £56.00 for the inspection fee and the cost of the new drive, which was considerably less than I had anticipated. My only issue is how to get a whopping great 24inch iMac into Derby from where I live using public transport, and not damaging it even further.
Regular readers of this blog will know how much I value good service, so this month's service award goes to the Square Group in both Derby and the service centre in Alfreton. No actual prizes I'm afraid but a bit of free advertising won't go amiss I hope, and I might use the refund to buy a Magic Mouse. Just for the record, I used to use "the other" Apple supplier in Derby, but gave up with them because of their dire customer service.
By the way, ShareTool worked like a dream, and allowed me access not only my iMac but also the NAS device attached to the network, and the USB drives attached. Simple to set up and use, although I had some firewall issues with Integro's NetBarrier X5 which I managed to resolve reasonably quickly through trial and error and probably more luck than judgment. Recommended.