Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Serious Computer Problems

OK, I am partly offline for a while.  At least a week, probably 2, maybe 3.  It is a comedy of errors.  I'm only online using my OLDER Mac Mini (which will make sense soon).

Here's the situation...

A.  I have 3 Mac-Mini computers and a Mac LAPTOP.  One is an OLDER one I used until about 3 years ago.  One is the CURRENT one.  One is the NEWEST one I bought last month to migrate to (thinking the CURRENT one was obsolete).  I will using those as names for reference

B.  While setting up the NEWEST computer, there were 2 accidents.  The first was that I left one cable connected to the CURRENT one (which was working perfectly well), and as I removed it from the desk, the cable snagged my wine bottle and pulled it over onto the NEWEST one sitting on the floor below.

C.  The 2nd was that, trying to catch the wine bottle, I dropped the CURRENT Mac Mini onto the floor.

D.  The CURRENT one will no longer start.

E.  The NEWEST one will start but not display to the monitor.

F.  The consequences are that neither of the 2 newer computers work AT ALL!  And the LAPTOP is not set up for much other than visiting websites.

That's the summary.  Now here are the gory details.  If you don't like to read about details, I completely understand.  I'm partly writing further for anyone who wants to know more, partly, so I have the events documented (details fade), and partly so I can organize my thoughts on solutions.  So read on if you want...

1.  The OLDER Mac Mini was retired in March 2017.  It was about 6-7 years old and was struggling to adapt to new Mac OS and newer programs.

2.  I bought the NEWEST Mac Mini last month or 2 and hadn't gotten around to using it.  It was still in the box. 

3.  I bought the NEWEST one because I misunderstood what the disc scanner was telling me about the CURRENT and available memory and processing capability (32 bit vs 64 bit).  After receiving the NEWEST one, I realized the CURRENT one was just fine.

4.  I decided to download the newest version of Mac OS ("Catrina") on the CURRENT one, expecting that if I didn't like it, I could revert to the previous Mac OS (which I have done before without difficulty).

5.  Immediately, half my programs failed or demanded upgrades.  My iPhoto program was changed to Photos and it started reorganizing my existing photos.  I may have authorized it do, I don't remember.  Probably did.  It kept doing so for 3 days until I finally stopped it; no program needs 3 days.  I discovered I had lost half my full-size photos from 2008-about 2011.  My Windows Office For Mac (Word and Excel) programs failed completely and the updated versions are only available for an annual fee and I couldn't download them anyway.  Firefox and email kept working.

6.  When I tried to revert to the previous Mac OS (Mohave or High Sierra, I forget which) I couldn't.  Not even the Time Machine restore program would work.  After several days of trying online suggestions, I started finding sites that said "You can't, Apple won't permit it".   And those were independent sites that help users with this sort of thing.

7.  So I surrendered.  I posted about that twice in frustration and actual rage.  I decided I would unbox the NEWEST Mac Mini and set it up and migrate the CURRENT one to it.  It IS more powerful (like any newer version is).  I would tolerate the annual subscription for MS Office For Mac (now called MS Office 365 for Mac) because MS Word and Excel have features I like that Mac's version (Pages and Numbers) do not. 

8.  I couldn't.  The NEWEST Mac Mini would turn on, but not communicate with the monitor.  Total blank screen.  Well, I have 2 monitors and a 24" HDTV (bought that for temporary use when my 60" HDTV failed 2 years ago).  None would recognize the NEWEST Mac Mini.  So I went to reconnect the CURRENT Mac Mini.  Somewhere in that process, the 2 accidents I mentioned in the summary occurred.

9.  I tried every combination of connections I could think of.  No matter what I did, the NEWEST Mac Mini would not communicate with any monitor.  I tried VGA to USB connections, VGA to HDMI connections, and HDMI to HDMI connections.  No luck. 

10.  So I decided to hook up the CURRENT Mac Mini again.  It wouldn't even turn on!  I assume it is because I dropped it trying to upright the wine bottle and something broke in the power connection (I even tried 2 different power cords - I keep stuff).  I also tried different electric outlets in case my backup battery had gone bad.  No luck.

11.  So I tried my OLDEST Mac Mini.  It came right on.  I tried it with the 2 monitors and the 24" HDTV.  They all worked (I did have to figure out how to tell the HDTV it was connected to a computer using the 60" HDTV remote control, but it actually DID work too).  I tried out the 2 Mac power cords and they worked.  I tried out the battery backup.  It does have a problem with the non-surge-protected outlets, but the protected ones work fine.  I will replace the unit.

12.  So I'm on the OLDEST Mac Mini.  It works, sort of.  I can't access email.  Weird story - Verizon dropped email service a couple years ago and sold it to AOL.  AOL had agreed to make old Verizon email addresses continue to work (and they do) but it was a long convoluted process that took several tries over successive nights and consider mental struggle,  I dare not touch it.  If fact, I can't.  All the details are on the CURRENT Mac Mini and I can't get it to start.

13.  Apple used to refuse to license anyone else to repair their equipment.  But I saw some ads that said a chain store "Best Buy" had gotten a license.  There is one nearby, so I brought the CURRENT Mac Mini to them last evening.  They work by appointment only.  I didn't know that, so I just showed up (expecting to just leave the CURRENT one for them to call later with a repair estimate.  No such luck.

14.  Best Buy (aka The Geek Squad) is really only licensed to do software fixes.  They aren't allowed to open a Mac for hardware fixes.  For hardware fixes, they ship the unit to an Apple store for repair.  For person did take the CURRENT Mac Mini in the back and confirmed that it wouldn't start.  That may seem like nothing, but it confirmed that I was correct and that it also wasn't some monitor/power problem at my end.

15.  So I mentioned that I have the NEWEST Mac Mini that would start but not communicate with a monitor.  Ooh, that's something they might be able to fix!  But I needed a reservation (which, if I understand things correctly) merely means they take a person off-floor to do repair work.  I made one.  Next Tuesday 1-29 at 7:40 PM!  A full week before they can even look at it...

16.  So I'll wait and bring it back to them them.  Meanwhile, I do not have email.  I REPEAT, I DO NOT HAVE EMAIL.  But I can post on my blogs and I can comment on yours.  And if it is anything sensitive, I have a secret one.  Vishus Deer...  You can post there and I will move it to Word and delete from the blog...

17.  I can add new photos to the LAPTOP, if I download the old iphotos program.  But the OLDEST Mac Mini just started making some noise and I better get this posted!

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