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Former Farpoint Bath customer? Need help?

We’ve just seen confirmation that Farpoint Developments in Bath are closing at the end of April 2019. If you’re a former Farpoint customer and need someone to provide on-site Mac support, remote Mac support or Apple telephone support or Apple hardware repairs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How does Sweet-Apple know we won’t suffer the same fate as Farpoint?

Sweet-Apple* has been providing Mac support for nearly 20 years now ( we started way back on 1st Jan 2000 ) and we’ll be continuing to help old customers and new for years in the future. How can we be sure?

In all candour, Apple Support has been the smaller part of the business for a long time now, but it’s still extremely satisfying solving people’s computer problems and then getting paid to do so. But we don’t rely on your computer woes paying the bills, so we don’t need to sell you new kit you don’t really need to hit sales targets. You’ll get unbiased, bullsh*t free and sensibly priced assistance.

Despite having the Applestore, Farpoint and Western Computer as the ‘competition’, we’ve got customers who come back time after time. Sometimes we might not hear from them for years, but then they pop back up**. It’s still a matter of some amazement, but I guess it shows we’re doing something right.

Why are Apple Resellers closing?

It’s sad to see any business go under, but in all honesty we’ve wondered for some years how Farpoint and other Resellers would be able to make ends meet when they are competing against an AppleStore in such close proximity. Apple can and does some things at below economic cost because they make a thumping profit per sale and hence the AppleStore can be a loss-leader for some services.

However, the profit a computer reseller makes selling Apple hardware is negligible, so the only place to make money is providing technical support. That’s also problematic to your business model because on the whole, Macs don’t go wrong very much and when they do, if it’s hardware related it’s often within the AppleCare Warranty period. Regardless of whether the repair is in or out of warranty, the cost and availability of new Apple service parts is shockingly high. It might feel like a punch in the guts when you get a hardware repair quote from an Authorised Service Centre, but I promise you they won’t be making much if any profit due to the cost of parts. And when you take into account the non-trivial risk taken on whilst disassembling more modern Macs, there’s very little meat on those bones.

So unless you are based in a metropolitan area that’s not competing with an AppleStore, generally your only form of income is going to be on-site technical support and training. Unless you charge customers silly money, you need a heck of a lot of people with problematic Macs to pay staff, rents, taxes and the like.

All the above is why 10+ years ago we pivoted the business away from focusing on computer support and into web development… It enabled us to be more confident we could keep the lights on, whilst still be able to do the really rewarding job of sorting your technical gremlins out.

Looking for Mac support now Farpoint has closed?

Give us a call on 1380 830224. We’ll give you a candid assessment of whether it’s  something we can help with, and suggest alternatives if it’s not.

* Clive Sweeting – excuse the use of the “royal we”, it’s a writing style thing started years ago and I’ve just never changed it…

** Hi David D. Lovely to see my very first paying customer again after all those years 🙂

Posted in Apple, Troubleshooting | Comments Off on Former Farpoint Bath customer? Need help?

MacBook Air and MacBook Pro keyboard repair

One of the more common problems we encounter is Macbook Airs and Macbook Pros with faulty keyboards, and almost without exception it’s because of liquid getting spilled on the keyboard. This typically means replacing the entire top case assembly, which can be very costly…

What should you do if you spill liquid on your Macbook?

Accidents happen, so as soon as you get any liquid on the keyboard or trackpad, immediately pull out the charger, shut the computer down and flip the computer over so the keyboard is facing downwards. This might stop liquid getting deeper into the computer and destroying the logic board or worse your hard drive.

Run to get some paper towels and then try to soak up the worst of the liquid. Pay particular attention to around the screen hinges and the trackpad. Whilst you’re doing this try to keep the computer upside down. Once the worst of the liquid has been absorbed turn it upside down with the keyboard facing down and place paper towels between a flat surface and keyboard. Leave it like that for 30mins or so. Replace the paper towels if necessary. Finally whack it in a airing cupboard for a couple of days with the displace open to try to evaporate any further moisture. Ideally you’d take the bottom case of and gently heat it from underneath.

If it starts up normally, carefully try all of keys and the trackpad. If every key works, immediately take a Time Machine backup. If the machine doesn’t start up, or some of the keys are faulty, things are unfortunately going to get costly.

How much does it cost to replace a damaged MacBook keyboard?

Any Macbook with an aluminium body and black keys are complete nightmare to replace just the keyboard mechanism. The keyboard  is riveted into the top case with dozens of tiny rivets. Some of the Macbook Pros even have the battery glued into place, making things worse. So the only practical thing to do is replace the topcase assembly as a whole. But this as a new part costs at minimum £250+VAT. However buying a refurbished or recycled part can be hugely cheaper, so even with labour costs it can still be an economic repair to make.

I’ve found that you might also need to budget for a replacement microphone when replacing the top case. They are very delicate and glued to the top case with very strong adhesive. Even when gently heating them to soften the glue before removal, sometimes the microphone quality leaves something to desire when refitted.

Where can I get my Macbook repaired?

Have a damaged Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro that needs repairing? Want an honest opinion on whether it’s actually economic to repair your Macbook, or if you’d be better off taking a punt on a comparable 2nd hand machine and flogging your dead one for parts? Give us a call on 01380 830224 to talk through your options.

Posted in Apple hardware repairs, MacBook | Comments Off on MacBook Air and MacBook Pro keyboard repair

Macbook trackpad won’t click, respond or is broken? Beware…

A customer from Devizes recently gave me a MacBook Pro with a broken trackpad that now wouldn’t start up. Alarms bells immediately go off when I see a trackpad that won’t click, or is becoming increasingly hard to click…

When Li-ion batteries get old and knackered, some have a habit of swelling up, putting pressure on the trackpad and the bottom case – in this case shattering the trackpad.

The trackpad repair cost can vary quite considerably depending on the model. The 2012 and earlier MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are the easiest to do and cheapest to source parts for. Later Apple laptops have the battery glued into them, which make the repair much more time consuming and expensive. There’s a very high price to pay for that thinness…

If you find your trackpad won’t click down, tracks your finger erratically or has just stopped working completely, replacing it is a sensible option, but checking whether it’s caused by a failing battery is a must. Failing Li-Ion batteries can cause varying degrees of collateral damage when they fail, in rare cases catching fire.

So if you find your MacBook’s  trackpad is behaving strangely or you’ve noticed your battery life has gone to pot recently, you really should get someone to look at it.

Need an out-of-warranty repair your Apple iMac, MacBook, Macmini or MacPro and are in Bath, Wiltshire or Somerset? Give us a call on 1380 830224. We’ll give you a candid assessment of whether it’s an economic repair, and suggest alternatives if it’s not.

 

Posted in Apple, Apple hardware repairs, MacBook | Comments Off on Macbook trackpad won’t click, respond or is broken? Beware…

Moving and copying Magento product reviews

When running an ecommerce business, you’ll often find yourself having to create a new product when an essentially identical product is released with an updated SKU, or when switching from a Grouped to Configurable product. But what happens to the reviews you have accumulated on the old product? They’ll get lost, unless you move the reviews from the old product to the new, or you duplicate them…

Magento provides no easy way of doing this within the Admin UI, and as per usual the review’s data is strewn across multiple tables. However it’s not too painful to brew some custom SQL to do the job…

Move all Magento Product reviews from one product to another product

SET @old_id = 1694;
SET @new_id = 1751;
UPDATE m4g3_review SET `entity_pk_value` = @new_id WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id;
UPDATE m4g3_review_entity_summary SET `entity_pk_value` = @new_id WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id;
UPDATE m4g3_rating_option_vote SET entity_pk_value = @new_id WHERE entity_pk_value = @old_id;
UPDATE m4g3_rating_option_vote_aggregated SET entity_pk_value = @new_id WHERE entity_pk_value = @old_id;

Copy all Magento Product reviews from one product to another product

START TRANSACTION;
SET @old_id = 1634;
SET @new_id = 1637;
INSERT INTO m4g3_review ( `created_at`, `entity_id`, `entity_pk_value`, `status_id` ) (
SELECT `created_at`, `entity_id`, @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `status_id` FROM `m4g3_review` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id
);

INSERT INTO m4g3_review_entity_summary ( `entity_pk_value`, `entity_type`, `reviews_count`, `rating_summary`, `store_id` ) (
SELECT @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `entity_type`, `reviews_count`, `rating_summary`, `store_id` FROM `m4g3_review_entity_summary` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id
);

INSERT INTO m4g3_rating_option_vote ( `option_id`, `remote_ip`, `remote_ip_long`, `customer_id`, `entity_pk_value`, `rating_id`, `review_id`, `percent`, `value` ) (
SELECT `option_id`, `remote_ip`, `remote_ip_long`, `customer_id`, @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `rating_id`, `review_id`, `percent`, `value` FROM `m4g3_rating_option_vote` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id
);

INSERT INTO m4g3_rating_option_vote_aggregated ( `rating_id`, `entity_pk_value`, `vote_count`, `vote_value_sum`, `percent`, `percent_approved`, `store_id` ) (
SELECT `rating_id`, @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `vote_count`, `vote_value_sum`, `percent`, `percent_approved`, `store_id` FROM `m4g3_rating_option_vote_aggregated` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id
);
ROLLBACK;
COMMIT;

Need some help managing your Magento ecommerce store? Give us a call on 01380 830224 and we’ll see what we can do to ease your pain… 

Posted in Magento, Web Development | Comments Off on Moving and copying Magento product reviews

Can a Hackintosh really replace an Apple Mac?

You’re probably aware that Apple computers are built using the same standard parts that are used to create Windows PCs. You might not be aware that a standard PC can run the macOS, a so called ‘Hackintosh‘. An increasingly popular option for video editors, musicians and the somewhat geeky is to create a custom macOS compatible computer, tailored exactly to their needs.

What are the pros and cons of a Hackintosh?

The main pros are cost and choice. You can often built a dirt cheap Hackintosh for significantly less than Apple’s cheapest option, or built a more powerful and expandable computer than Apple currently offers. With a Hackintosh, everything is modular, so you can easily upgrade the RAM, hard drive, video card and processor.

The main con is the time you will spend specifying the components, building the computer and getting a working and stable Mac OS installed. A Hackintosh will work best when you carefully select the parts you are going to use so that they mirror the parts Apple use. Out of the box pretty much everything will just work as expected with minimal effort. However there are still significant pain points getting Sleep, WiFi, Bluetooth, NVMe SSDs, Thunderbolt and video cards to work cleanly. I’ve lost track of the time spent trying to get Sleep working on my Hackintosh, to the extend I’ve basically stopped bothering and just shut it down at night.

Who should consider a Hackintosh?

If you’re a bit of a masochist, an experienced computer builder, a video or music professional it might be worth considering. When you factor in buying good quality components, your own time and the software niggles, the sums generally don’t add up for everyone else.  If you need a laptop I wouldn’t even dream of it.

But for a small (and growing) number of professional Mac users, the frustration with Apple’s increasingly locked down and sealed designs is sufficient for them to go down the Hackintosh route. Even the newly announced iMac Pro, whilst on paper a monstrously powerful machine, is a completely sealed unit!

I personally cannot bring myself to buy a computer that I cannot upgrade the RAM or the hard drive. My 2011 MacBook Pro is still going strong, but sadly might be the last Apple laptop I buy from new, simply because I can’t bring myself to spend that amount of money on what I considered to be deliberately hobbled machinery.

Could a Hackintosh replace my Apple Mac?

Short answer –  yes, without question. Longer answer – once you have your initial hardware built, configured and tested, there’s very little difference in day to day use between a Hackintosh and an Apple Mac. Fundamentally what makes a Mac a Mac is the software, not the hardware. However getting to that point where you have a stable, cleanly running machine, and keeping it there after software updates can be a challenge.

Why do Hackintoshes  exist?

Until such time as Apple reintroduce computers aimed at high end or experienced creative professionals, with upgradable RAM, hard drives and ideally video cards, the slow haemorrhaging of creative users over to Windows or Hackintoshes will continue. Computers, unlike phones, are not short lived and disposable assets. In my experience, most people replace a computer every 4-6 years. During that time they may need more RAM, larger and faster hard drives, or want a more powerful video card. Apple have explicitly denied owners any upgrading opportunities, thus massively reducing the useful lifespan of the Apple computers they buy, whilst simultaneously increasingly the asking price. It’s this “double whammy” that’s driving people towards non-Apple solutions, be it Windows or a Hackintosh.

Here’s hoping that the mythical 2018 modular Mac Pro starts the reversal of the ( sadly industry-wide ) trend towards sealed, disposable computing than Apple themselves started…

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