The Black ‘Screen of Death’

DEBBIE ROGERS

Editor, Writer, Fuelled by Specialty Coffee Drinker

I peered at the black screen with a deep intensity, waiting, then waiting again for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, it showed itself… the white Apple logo shone brightly, the loading bar progressed at speed until finally the words ‘Admin login’ waited patiently for me to take a breath and give them the password. #Phew – my Macbook was back, resurrected from a dark place.

Macbook Failure

When it failed earlier this week, my heart almost stopped.  Not only was I thinking about all of the data that the laptop held, all the programmes and apps which I had installed over time, the bookmarks which held lots of researched information, the images which I hadn’t yet moved to my external drive and so the list goes on, I’m sure you know what I mean. Lingering in my head were two questions “when the hell did I last do a full system backup?” and “what will I do if it can’t be fixed?” Finances are stretched beyond limits at the moment and cost of a new Macbook or Notebook is out of the question.

The answer to question one was quickly resolved, not for a good eight weeks or so, so at worse I would lose eight weeks worth of data if the issue was just a software one and not a hardware one. Why I left it so long in a mystery, my laptop stays on my desk every evening which is right next to the hard drive I use as a backup, next time I vow to be more vigilant.

The answer to question two is more tricky. But I decide to put that thought on hold and see what I can do to fix it myself. Google, as always came to rescue.

Fixing It Myself

Firstly I tried to do a normal restart, nothing but a spinning black and white wheel which looked promising but went nowhere – I went and made a coffee multiple times whilst I watched it spinning energetically but with no result.

Then I tried all sorts of soft and hard reboots – basically, it’s a combination of the Shift Key and a Letter, or the Alt Key and a Letter, or the Command Key and the letter which you hold down in various combinations until you see the Apple Logo.  All looked promising for a bit and then the spinning wheel continued spinning away and I continued to drink coffee. Things took an upturn at one stage, when I reinstalled the Operating System (note to self an Apple 10 minutes is about 2 hours in real time) and again rebooted the laptop, only to be greeted by the spinning wheel again, this time the background seemed more purple than black so off to Google I went again for more research.

Researching computer problems on Google is much like researching a headache, you are either dehydrated or have a brain tumour or are somewhere in between the two extremes, depending on what you read and how you pose the question. In the case of my Macbook, it could be a simple software issue, through to a major broken piece of hardware which could be costly. Some said it was the graphics card and described in long technical detail how they had fixed it, others self-diagnosed the same issue and then couldn’t fix it themselves despite following the meticulous instructions of those before them and then raised a tonne more questions most of which were still answered.

Time to call in the Professionals

Whilst I’ve learnt to do many new things in life myself, initially by talking to friends and trips to the library (remember them?) and of course now by Googling the hell out of something and doing multiple searches, I decided that I had reached the end of my self-learning led PC support skills and instead thought I should reach out to the professionals.

Research

This time I took to Google, Twitter and What’sApp with a new question “Can you recommend someone to fix my Macbook” – time to make another coffee. Twitter came back with one response, my What’sApp with two recommendations and Google with loads.  As expected Google won the race in terms of timing but a few quick calls to some of the top results left me worried, annoyed and exasperated, both companies quoted a hardware failure and a minimum spend of at least 1,000/AED – without seeing the laptop or questionning me that much. Hmmm, not the best of starts.

Action

The next morning, armed with recommendations from my What’sApp request, I headed out to one of the recommended places, close to my apartment by coincidence, only to be greeted with a receptionist gatekeeper much like the receptionist in a UK doctors surgery – she was bravely guarding her technical team, refused to let me talk to them, tried to do some initial investigation herself and then told me it was likely a hardware problem (note I’m not suggesting that UK doctors receptionists make an initial diagnosis, but if you’ve dealt with one, you will know what I mean about their gatekeeper attitude!).  The next piece of her news was that a repair would take a minimum of four days, three of those were just waiting days as the Technician was busy. She then said that when the technician got to my laptop on day 4, it was likely they would need to order in parts, as they don’t stock them (despite being an Authorised Apple Repair Centre) and so I would have to wait for parts so add in a few more days. Not good enough for me as I don’t have a spare laptop and the thought of trying to work on a phone and iPad didn’t do it for me. Call me sceptical if you wish, but I at least expect to meet someone who is a bit more qualified than the receptionist, to make a diagnoses, so I left the shop and went back to the car for another Google search.

Google Delivers!

This time the Google Gods were on my side and Geeks came up in the search bar, conveniently with an office in JLT. A quick call was promising. I described the fault to the receptionist who immediately said “come in and let one of our technical team take a look” – music to my ears! Ten minutes later, sat in the lobby of Geek HQ which comes complete with a sofa and game boy controllers, I was talking to a Geek (don’t you just love that term, in my mind I’m thinking Silicon Valley meets the IT Crowd). The Geek (Mr Geek??) said he would take a look, better still he could take a look whilst I was there and deliver an initial diagnosis #yes!  Within five minutes he was able to tell me that he thought it was a software issue and that he could work on it that day! #Result.  At least I would know what the situation was and move forward.  I pushed him to get some ball park figures in case it was hardware related and he was helpful on this too, no hard sell to get it fixed, just a promise that the initial diagnosis was free to determine the problem.

Less than four hours later, and almost before I had time to brew a nice flat white at home,  I was back in the office collecting my laptop which had been completely wiped and the operating software reinstalled. The cost a very reasonable 250/AED.

Leaving the office, it was hard to contain myself, not only did I have my dear laptop back, I had also found a great company who I am happy to endorse and recommend – (they do repairs on site as well as pick up and delivery). On top of this, with all the work, clutter and crap now removed my laptop is faster than before and gives me an opportunity for a fresh start (always the optimist).  As for the loss of my work etc, well I have only myself to blame, looking on the bright side it could have been so much worse. In actual fact, I realised that the majority of my work was stored in the Cloud so I haven’t lost too much, certainly not as much as I thought I had.

Thanks Geeks ! You can reach Geeks on their Geeks or by calling them 800 7475

Please note this is not a sponsored post, just a personal recommendation of a great service.

 

For your Little Black Book

 

THE GEEKS ROCK!  Two different companies quoted me a minimum price of 1,000 AED & a fix time of 3-4 days to fix my MacBook today – neither had seen it, nor really understood the problem – nor let me speak to a technical person.

I rang the Geeks, was encouraged to chat to one of the team and low and behold my MacBook is fixed & back with me in less than 4 hours at a quarter of the cost the guys quoted. The guys started looking for the cause (software) before recommending the hardware fix the other companies were doing. Awesome.

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