In the war between Mac and PC, I’m like Switzerland. I really love using the word processing that comes on the PC only because it doesn’t crash like mad crazy in the middle of a document you’ve forgotten to save so far. I love the Mac because of its graphics and music production capabilities. The only trouble is that I paid $1000 more for the MacBook Pro that sits at my desk.
Yes. That’s my 2011 MacBook Pro. And yes, that’s painter’s tape on the case… and duct tape on the power cord.
There are some good ways and some bad ways to treat your Mac. Here are the top 7 things you should avoid – and yes, these are all from personal experience.
#1. Liquid Goodness
We were using Skype to call Grandma and Grandpa. Why daughter, who was 2 at the time, got excited when she saw a kitten get into the video feed. In that excitement, I also realized in slow motion non-awesomeness that there was an open glass of pineapple juice that my son, also 2, had brought over. Her hand bumped his cup, juice went flying everywhere, and the Mac turned itself off.
I set it on its side to drain for 2 days and kept a fan on it 24/7. The good news is that it turned on again. The bad news is that the lighted keys didn’t work any more and there has been a particular smell of fruit that enters the air whenever the laptop is on for more than an hour.
#2. Liquid Goodness, Part 2
I’ve actually got 4 kids who are all 5 or under. It makes life fun, but it also presents some unique technology challenges. One of them is trying to work on an overdue project when it is time to make lunch. In a hurry, I quickly fired up some grilled cheese sandwiches so I could get back to work. My youngest, who at the time of this incident was also 2, thought this was fantastic. She raised her hands up to provide a cheer for grilled cheese and promptly knocked a can of cranberry Red Bull onto the laptop.
The whole can.
Needless to say, the computer didn’t like this. It didn’t just shut down. It SPARKED and then shut down. As I flipped it onto its side to drain out again – 8 ounces of fluid, mind you – I bumped the power button. It sparked again. I figured it was dead. Repair estimate from Apple? $775. Why do that when you can get a new one for $899?
Not having $899, $775, or even $20 at that point in time, I did what any desperate father would do. I took the laptop apart. I let it sit for 3 days, dried it out completely… and nothing. I even did a full clean, didn’t see any corrosion, but still nothing. 7 months passed. Our family moved. I packed the MacBook as hobby project to see if I could get it to work. After unpacking it at the new office, I breathed a quick, quiet mumble to no one in particular: “I need a miracle.”
It started. It still works.
#3. The Power Cord of Doom
I use the MacBook for my streaming accounts because the processor/memory combination prevents a lot of lag. This also means that I need to haul my power cord all over the face of creation some days because there just isn’t enough power left in the battery. All of that twisting and turning and kinking plays a role in the reason why there is duct tape on that computer cord in multiple places.
Take care of the connection where the cord plugs into the laptop primarily. Don’t just pull the cord out when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. If you do, the protective covering will quickly start to wear out and develop tears. Over time, the copper wiring [I know its copper because it corroded to green] becomes exposed and there’s a shock problem that can develop.
On the plus side, my middle finger has a pretty awesome scar now.
#4. Itty Bitty Screws Make For Very Large Problems
In my quest to repair the MacBook Pro, I took the itty bitty screws from the case out with my itty bitty screwdriver. I did the same thing with the battery. Then, as we prepared to move, I stuck all of the screws into a plastic bag, which then got placed into a moving box. “I’ll fix it when we get to the new house,” I told my wife. “Trust me. It won’t get lost.”
“Trust me,” my wife said. “In our house, the things we need always get lost.”
Trust me, guys. Always listen to your wife. I haven’t seen those screws since I packed them away into the safest spot possible. It’s probably hanging out with the TV remotes we can’t find either.
In the meantime, the MacBook Pro has resurrected and works. How do you keep a laptop together in a way that makes sense with the tools you have on hand? At the time, I had crafter’s glue and painter’s tape. I chose the tape.
#5. A Brilliant Toddler
I should have known not to let my kids use a learning website while I was trying to clean the house. After all, I’d dealt with one of them changing our Kindle so that it could download anything and only presented text in Japanese, even with password protections in place. “That can’t happen,” the Amazon customer service associate told me.
“Oh it can happen,” I replied. “It just did. Now help me translate…”
It’s not like in Spaceballs where the password to the air shield is 1…2…3…4…5. I use symbols, characters, and weird stuff that only I can remember about 75% of the time. Not only did my brilliant toddler manage to download MacKeeper with password protections in place, but she was able to start it running AND thought it was part of her learning lesson.
Those magic words came while I was arm deep in dish water. “Uh… Daddy? I think I broke the ‘puter.”
App cleaners are not something to put onto a MacBook Pro. Just don’t do it. Don’t even be tempted by it. I’m still trying to remove remnants of the program that have buried itself in a year later [closer to 2 years, but I’m not counting the 7 months of Red Bull nonfunctionality here].
#6. The Magic Dent
In the movie Cars 2, Mater tells Holly that he won’t have his dents repaired because they remind him of his best friend, Lightning McQueen. Dents might be good memories, but they aren’t good things for your MacBook Pro. It didn’t take long for the magic dent to occur either. I’d owned the computer for precisely 3 days.
When I was doing contracting and landscaping work, I used to haul a massive Dell computer with me. It had a reinforced case, impact cushioning, and was a beast. I once dropped that laptop from the 3rd floor of an office building into the parking lot below and it didn’t even phase it. I had an employee drop a 700 pound flagstone onto it and all it did was crack the corner of the display.
I was used to a beast. The MacBook Pro is not a beast. I plunked it down on my desk one day and it dented the laptop. “Oops,” I thought.
The only problem is this: the dents cause cracking in the finish of the case. The cracking causes some corrosion to occur when the computer is exposed to things like pineapple juice. All together, this means that it is virtually impossible to have a pretty laptop. At least it kept working.
#7. It Happened In Reno
I made a 5,300 mile drive to Texas and back a couple years ago for a friend’s wedding and along the way, I spent a couple days in Reno, NV. Up in a $25 suite, I went down to have a meal that cost more than the room. Little did I know that the casino was in such disrepair that not only did the elevator rattle against the walls and make me feel like I was going to die, but the electronic lock for the door didn’t work properly.
Someone, in their fine ability to be a genius, installed a magnetic lock on the door. After a harrowing elevator ride up 14 floors because the stair doors were locked, I breathed a sigh of relief as I leaned against the door. That was a bad, bad move.
The hard drive didn’t get completely wiped, but it wasn’t pretty. Files were completely lost or scrambled, but amazingly the HDD kept on trucking.. I spent an afternoon reinstalling everything, but that was still a better day than what my hotel neighbors in from Sacramento were having. They’d lost $450 playing pai gow down at the tables.
What are the lessons to be learned from these experiences? That the MacBook Pro is a solid computer that will keep running, even with lots of abuse or in environments where computers maybe shouldn’t be going. Sometimes you might need to use some duct tape or a little ingenuity, but in the end, you’ll still have your laptop in a good working condition.