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BROWN: Computer ghostbuster spares the life of yet another sick Mac

• Oct 23, 2018 at 3:00 PM

There are so many great things about the fall season. The changing colors, cider and doughnuts, football and Halloween — the spookiest of all days.

If you’re a Mac user, chances are you may have encountered the spinning ball of death at some point. Last week my number was up. My laptop died. Like the protagonist in any good horror movie, I screamed, and no one could hear me.

I desperately tried to revive it — doing a series of hard restarts. But it never got past the start-up screen. So, right after work, I headed to the Apple Store at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids with my MacBook Pro cradled in my arms.

The place was packed, as usual. The guy at the door sized me up and asked if I had an appointment. I said no. He listened to my plea and then left to consult with another associate. The verdict: If I waited right there in the store without leaving, they might be able to work me in.

Relieved and hopeful, I took a seat on the cubes arranged in the back of the store as a large screen flashed images of art projects people had created on their iPads from Italy.

Colorful patterns and cool designs lit up the waiting area. I took my seat, and I noticed everyone waiting looked slightly forlorn and worried — clutching their iPhones, laptops and tablets. I smiled and said, “This is just like a doctor’s office waiting room,” and a few people chuckled.

When Jared, who was assigned to look at my computer, talked to me, I felt like I was talking to a doctor in the ER. I said, “My computer needs the defibrillator.”

He shows me how they assess computers — plugging them in and running diagnostics on them. We wait together as the lights start flashing. To our relief, the hard drive, which is like the heart of the computer, works. However, a software glitch caused the problem, so he runs triage on it, resets it and reinstalls the OS.

“It’s alive,” I proclaim, like Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein.”

Jared tells me he’s seen cases that were much worse than mine. He tells me horror stories of spilled drinks on laptops and machines being shipped out to California for data recovery that can run in the thousands of dollars. Lost wedding photos. Baby photos. Work computers with irreplaceable documents.

I ask Jared what he loves most about fixing computers. He says, “Sometimes it can make the world of difference for people. It can literally change their entire world.”

Before I leave, he smiles and says, “Tell them you’ve been to Jared.”

My computer is now healthy and ghost-free.

— By Carrie Brown, Tribune community columnist

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