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I like Macs, that’s not news to anyone.  But only once have I risen to the level of true “fan boy.”

In June 2004, Apple announced brand new PowerMacs at the Worldwide Developers Conference.  They announced three models: a 1.8 GHz, a 2.0 GHz, and the top of the line model then was a dual core 2.5 GHz model with “advanced liquid cooling.”

Not only was the 2.5 GHz machine faster—way faster—than the next model down, it was LIQUID COOLED.  How awesome was that?  I ordered one on the very day it was announced, and it was delivered to me about 7 weeks later.  I had a machine so new that when I went to register it on the Apple Web site and later by phone, I was told the serial number was invalid because they hadn’t updated their systems to handle the new models serial numbers.

Buying a new model on the day it’s announced: That’s “fan boy.” For 3.5 years, though, that system has been my daily work horse, suffering only very occasional crashes, and no major component issues.  I bought the three year AppleCare, but only used it for software issues (ask me some time about the iChat bug I discovered…)  For the past few months, though, I’ve noticed the system starting to feel its age.  Slower, more grinding drives, more pizza box lockups.  But no issues at all… (cue ominous music).

On Sunday, I came upstairs to the sound of a car engine revving in my office.  If you haven’t heard a Mac tower with its fans going full blast as happens during an unattended kernel panic, for instance, you can’t BELIEVE how loud it is.

I rebooted.  Nothing.  grey screen, no grey apple.  Something was w-r-o-n-g with a W.  I turned it off and did what you would have done: went to bed.  This was clearly a Monday morning issue.

Monday morning, I get up early and open up the computer.  Lots of dust, some cat hair, generally looks good, though.  I blow that all out with a little rubber blower I have.  And I notice a strange thing—dust caked on the front of the G5 chip heat sink that won’t come off.  I go to remove it, and it’s sticky.  I look more carefully, and there’s a little, tiny pool of it below the heat sink grid.  And I know what’s wrong.

Yep, it leaked.  The “advanced liquid coolant” had gotten out and now my computer was as cool as an inanimate lump of metal, which it basically was.  The little sign on the inside of the Mac door says “If you see liquid, shut off your machine. Don’t touch it.  Back away slowly.  Don’t show fear; the coolant hates fear.” Or something like that.  I’m wishing now I’d taken a picture of it: the leak and the warning.

I took the computer to Mac Station, and paid the rush diagnosis fee, and they still took about two days to even look at the machine. I called twice and eventually they looked at it and diagnosed the issue as a bad logic board, and hadn’t even noticed the leak.  When I told them on the phone to look for it, though, they saw it and verified that was the problem and told me to call Apple. They also said the repairs cold be as much as $1,500.  Ouch.

(Side note: Though I prefer Mac Station to any other Mac outlet in town, I can’t WAIT for that Apple Store to arrive.  Mac Station: 48 hours is not a “rush” and your $60 rush fee is mislabeled if that’s the best you can do—and not spotting the leak, combined with leaving two screws out of my Mac Book last time I brought it in for repair—these are not things that put my mind at ease when it comes to repair service… On the other hand, the repair folks have been really knowledgeable when I’ve worked with them…)

Next, I called Apple’s Help line and I swear the assistant on the other end of the phone just about had a coronary when i told her it was a coolant leak.  She asked me all sorts of questions (did you see smoke? flames? sparks? smell burning? inhale fumes? did it damage any surrounding equipment? etc.) And they asked me about 11 times if I’d touched the “death fluid” (my words).  I said no, of course, though I had poked it with a finger.  Apparently people sometimes taste it.  People are crazy.

Like I say, I had touched it, but I’d washed after, and I didn’t want to make a bigger deal out of it then was necessary.  I’m not planning to die or sue anyone.  I got escalated to a VIP support person, and they put me on hold for about 10 minutes, and when they came back, they said they’d cover all the repairs necessary to restore the machine.  Everything.  Hooray!  But the chips are on backorder, so I’m looking at not getting my computer back for at least a week, maybe more.

So: I’m totally pleased that a launch-day new computer lasted 3.5 years, and was a great work horse for me.  I bought the fastest computer at the time, and it lasted a good long while, and I have no regrets.

But I’m sad the coolant leaked and that it’s going to be a while before I get it back.  I’m working off my laptop, and that’s nice, but not the same.  I’m about ready to get a new machine, and I’m happy that my old one will be in good selling condition. I had planned to wait until this year’s WDC and see what’s going to be new—and I might still do that.

And I’m really happy at Apple’s response to the problem.  Not just because they’re going to cover it—that’s awesome, but not the point. I’m happy they took me seriously, and asked all sorts of questions that seemed designed to make sure *I* was safe and OK, and that no other equipment was damaged.  Sure, some of it is CYA on their part, but they also seemed to really worry about their customers, and they acted like humans, and when I asked questions, they didn’t try to weasel out of anything.

Specifically, they said that the coolant system wasn’t really supposed to fail, or something sort of like that—namely, that if a hard drive dies out of warranty, that’s kind of expected, or RAM.  But if a power cable sparks,  or the metal case is defective or a coolant leaks and dribbles down over the insides of their nice machine, that’s a failure that shouldn’t occur even outside of warranty, and they’re going to do the right thing.  Go Apple!



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“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

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“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

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“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

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“I play with variables constantly.”

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“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

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