I bought a Mac Mini on Ebay two years ago. I got it on eBay for $120. It has 4gb of RAM and 320GB of storage. It’s not totally perfect but it’ll do. Because I’m distracted easily, I usually play with things until I’m bored than start to disassemble.
So I blanked out the hard drive and tried to work my way backwards up to a new Operating System. Never having installed Arch Linux before on any computer, I decided this Mac was going to be a new playground.
After downloading Arch, and in the process learning about Linux’s *mod* commands, I took a Advanced Linux kernel course to make sure I really understood how to properly load drivers. Some notes are here.
- *mod commands: a way to directly control which device drivers are loaded into the kernel.
So after many failed attempts and mastering module loading basics, I finally found a nice balance and had a stable working version of Arch Linux on my Mac Mini (Mid 2010). About a week into running Arch, I started to reformat the disks with Unix programs like fdisk, gdisk, cgdisk, gnome-disks, etc.
Each new custom ISO I would try out was installed with a different program.
Side Note: Pretty cool command to make bootable USB bypassing a step saving you about 20 minutes.
# curl http://your_linux_distory.iso | dd of=/dev/sda
After about three months of making this pretty much the only thing I did with free time, I was ready to go back to MacOS. Cut to the present, I discovered that was pretty much impossible to do on my own.
There was one specific bug that required me to physically bring it in to a Apple store. It was something to do with the updated version of Internet Recovery not being compatible with Mac OSX Lion.
So now I’m in the Apple Store, in the mall at 5:45 on a Saturday night. The store is packed with easily thirty people there. While waiting, I heard some one was the superintendent of a whole district of schools, others were dressed in three piece suits. It seemed like I found the new spot for those two-am white people Walmart Meetings.
And man, these Apple sales guys were selling hard. They were closing deals, each time going back to their Genius Room and coming out with a 1k bill and a huge smile on their face.
It almost seemed like a political gathering and the caterers were Apple Staff. But instead of champagne, they were serving up massive bills, and getting a large tip in the form of commission.
Like clockwork, I was 15 minutes late for my appointment, so I thought for sure I would be told to come back another day.
“Right this way Simba”, I heard.
I was taken to the far end of the genius bar where I waited. While waiting I took out my dysfunctional Mac Mini and my new Chromebook.
I used the Chromebook to pull up the errors I was receiving and all the methods I used to troubleshoot the issue.
The tech came out from somewhere, *couldve been anywhere its Apple so he probably teleported*
He had all my information pulled up on a massive tablet with a grip. He proceeded to bust out a mini monitor, keyboard, mouse, and hardwired me into their private server.
We started talking, and I told him all the valuable diagnostic information I could think to offer. He booted my machine straight to a screen I had never seen, after he connected to the internet.
“You booted into a server right through the internet?”, I asked.
“Yup, I have a private server that allows me to run diagnostic information just by connecting.”
That’s pretty amazing. Because that means it has to securely allow all incoming connections from Machines that are literally randomly off the street. But sure enough, with a couple clicks, and me signing some bullshit about not caring about the data being lost, we had a progress bar!
Also he said “I have a server”, so if he’s speaking truthfully, that means he set it up. And if he set it up, and he’s spending time with me to trouble shoot issues on a busy Saturday night, he’s either the head tech guy, or he’s one in a million, and every one who works at Apple knows how to set up a server like that.
And if no one knows how to set that up, Apple has this shit rolled out dummy proofed to their stores all easily configurable by anyone with a iPad.
Even the floor woman who was 50 was greeting and signing in customers like she had been doing it for decades, even though the store has just opened.
Once the progress bar was moving, he went somewhere else to sell something. A prompt had shown up, and I hit continue because he was talking to someone.
He came back and said “did you do that??”
“Yea”, I said.
“Well, I needed to do something before you hit continue”, and motioned towards the cancel button.
“Its already formatted in MacOS Journaled System!”, I said before he could cancel the download.
“Oh, ok good. Usually when I see a disk with a random name, it means it was formatted in correctly”.
The process continues and I leave within ten minutes total of the tech’s time.
Also, it was totally free.
If I went anywhere else that did IT support, they would have most likely charged about $50, they’d tell me to come back in three hours, told me they couldn’t do it, or have to leave it overnight.
The staff was responsive, flexible, and technically capable. More importantly, they were patient with all the customers. Usually with stores like this, you kind of get hawked on in the moment you enter to buy things or gtfo.
So to not be treated like that, and have my problem solved, was pretty pleasurable. They rolled out the red carpet basically for a brand new customer who they knew wasn’t there to spend money, but was going to take up time from the sales people.
And they fixed the issue with expertise and effectiveness. It was a pretty amazing operation, and I was ecstatic by the whole experience. Its like Apple retail seems to be the Harvard of retail stores, attracting the best retail workers, as well as recruiting the best.
So now I’m home with a brand new Mac, no money lost, and ready to get busy. For an East Coast branch of a West Coast store to be able to keep performing at that level takes a crazy amount of resources. And that means Apple is willing to shell out the cash just to ensure the customer experience is that good. I’m not sure if I should be blown away, or scared. Either way, it was an experience.