Another Fantastic Apple Genius Bar Experience

I have had many experiences with Apple’s Genius Bar over the years since Apple first launched its chain of stores nationwide. I took my PowerMac G5 to the Northpoint Mall Apple Store in Alpharetta, Georgia, because I had to ‘pump’ the power switch three times to get it to boot after installing an nVidia 6800 Ultra video card to drive my 30″ Apple Cinema Display (this was not the best experience, but they did make things better–I will write about this in the future and link back). I had the Shadyside Apple Store in Pittsburgh replace the top plate on my 15″ MacBook Pro after the trackpad died (at least it survived the year in Liverpool). And most recently, the Legacy Village Apple Store in Cleveland replaced my 13″ Aluminum MacBook’s power brick after it developed an unacceptably loud electrical cycle hum. In all of these cases, I had AppleCare, which was particularly useful because I have found technical issues usually occur after one year if the device makes it past the first 30 days problem free.

On Saturday, Y and I drove to Fairlawn to visit the new Apple Store in Summit Mall so that I could visit the Genius Bar about my MacBook (5,1, 13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008). For a few months, my MacBook had developed a nasty habit of shutting itself down hard when the battery reported it still had about 15% power left. I had reset the SMC (System Management Controller), which controls power and temperature regulation, twice. I had also run the Apple Hardware Test on the Applications disc that came with my MacBook, but it reported everything was okay.

I made a late appointment with the Genius Bar so that Y and I could stock up for the current storm at Sam’s Club and grub on sushi and teriyaki shrimp at Sakura. When we arrived at the mall, the Apple Store was hopping with The Beatles playing over the PA and many, many people trying out this season’s sexy technogadgets.

After a waiting about 10 minutes past my appointment time at the Genius Bar, precipitated by an apparently busy repair night, a Genius called my name and we got started on my MacBook. After telling him the things that I had already tried and saying that the battery had over 260 cycles yet it still reported ‘Normal’ in the System Profiler, he used netboot to launch my MacBook from a remote disc that autoloaded a proprietary Apple tech tool that could diagnose different hardware maladies. In my case, he loaded a battery tester that reported everything was okay. Luckily, this Genius was paying attention to something that I had not noticed: the full charge capacity in mAh. My battery was reporting that its maximum capacity was only 3400 mAh, but it should be 4500 mAh. It only had 75% of its normal capacity left, but it was miscalculating how much that amount actually was. This meant that the battery was completely discharged earlier than its on-board microchip was determining, and the computer would slam down in a jolt when there was no more juice to run.

He happily replaced my battery, had me sign a repair form since I’m still covered under AppleCare, and Y and I were on our way home. However, we did have to stop by Williams and Sonoma so that I could get Y a cute soup bowl with handle to replace some bowls that we recently threw out after Y discovered through research that they had unacceptable levels of lead and other heavy metals.

Now, my MacBook works, and Y safely enjoys a bowl of soup–a very good day indeed!

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.