|Macintosh Separation Anxiety (MSA).
to find solutions, improve performance and lend support to all Mac
users, especially those who reside in the Nevada County area. We are
also sensitive to a unique condition which only affects the Macintosh
platform: Mac Separation Anxiety. We operate quickly and efficiently to
help alleviate any undue suffering caused by MSA, and we know that
servicing the machine is only half the job; we'll get you back up and
running, do our best to explain what went wrong (if possible), and
nCity MacShack is not a retail business.
When servicing machines we
quickly obtain proper replacement parts as needed and happily procure
equipment and software as necessary to perform upgrades or enhance
capabilities, but we have no inventory on hand and nothing to sell apart from services
offered. Please feel free to shop our Vendor and Resource links for
Mac-related products you might require.
is strictly service oriented.
We operate on a time-and-materials basis. Replacement parts,
materials and equipment are treated as incidental to service, and we
only charge for services rendered.
Why not put that retired Mac back to work?
- Minimum diagnostic fee applies if
that's as far as we go, but this is usually waived if shop services are
- Per-incident hourly shop rate. Shop
rates are prominently posted - on a post, no less - at the shop.
(Billable time generally excludes most automated processes that do not
- Onsite services are only provided for
extraordinary installations or large-scale operations; aside from such
projects for established clients, we haven't made house calls since '01.
- Personal consulting/training: Bring a
list of questions and/or issues to be resolved and we'll address as
many as possible in a 2-hour session while trying to keep the
technobabble to a minimum. Individuals or couples, please call in
advance to schedule an appointment.
- Specialized Courses: nCity may soon
offer a select few classes suitable for small groups, corporate clients
and local clubs. These courses will be posted in the Tutoring and
Classes subsection under Support Ops heading (left) if and when such
classes are made available. Meanwhile, given a specific topic and
enough lead time we may be able to tailor a presentation to your needs.
- Outsourcing: nCity maintains a roster
of service providers and resources we recommend for situations that may
go beyond in-house scope. These include PC support, web design, and
other specialized areas of expertise that may be of benefit to our
Many older Macs are still powerful
machines, even if they have become obsolete by internet standards. Some
are perfectly suited to dedicated use in audio/video applications, home
automation and security, keeping database records, or most any task you
might assign to a computer. Sometimes it's just a matter of remembering
- and finding - a certain program version from the old days, or maybe
it requires an adapter or gizmo of some sort. We might be able to help
you get the most out of your second-string Macs, too.
Need a replacement part or repair?
nCity is not in the retail business. We
have no product line to peddle, no connection to any particular vendor,
no hidden agenda, and we're not here to sell you anything. But, if
there's a part required to complete a repair, we'll find it. Complete
systems - assemblies, boards, cards, odds and ends, new or used - it's
all available from a surprising variety of sources. We'll do our best
to find what you need, from the best source, at the best price.
"You have a backup, right?"
If you answered no, it's only a matter of
time before you'll face that question for real. Work representing days,
months or years of effort can disappear in a flash. It happens. We
might be able to recover your data, but nothing beats a solid backup
strategy. While you consider your options, take a look at our Backup
Schemes page for some suggestions.
Wish you could ______? Learn how.
nCity offers one-on-one tutoring for
newbies and 'noids alike. We can help you to understand today's
computer technology and expand your horizons, tell you what you need to
know to make informed decisions, and help you avoid trouble. Take a
look around this site for suggestions and resources.
Appointments versus walk-ins.
It is always best to make an appointment if your machine is
in need of service so that we can be prepared to deal with your
specific issue when you arrive. We all have busy lives these days; if
we know you're coming and have some idea of what the problem might be,
we can get right to it. We'll do a diagnostic, plot a solution, and get
you on your way as quickly as possible.
We welcome walk-ins, too, as time permits. We may be working with a
client at any given moment and you might have to wait a bit because
it's first-come, first-serve around here - as you'd probably expect. We
appreciate your patience. We have an overstuffed sofa, usually have
coffee brewing, water and soft drinks on ice if you like, and we'll do
our best to make you comfortable until we can get your Mac to the bench.
Payment in full is due upon
completion and delivery of each job. We do not accept credit cards at
this time - payment by cash or check only, please. We reserve the right
to refuse service as we see fit.
Paying clients always take priority over casual
discussion, and we must bill for our time if diagnostics are required.
We cannot diagnose a machine over the telephone, nor can we offer
advice based on assumptions. We get a lot of "quick questions" which
seldom have quick answers; please understand that we have limited time
for answering questions from the general public.
Breaking and entering?
Something we've noticed recently (as the economy tanks), is a growing
stream of people hoping for a miracle and trying to make something out
of nothing. One guy pulled a 14-year-old notebook out of a dumpster and
wanted to know if we could replace its missing RAM, keyboard and
battery - then "upgrade" it. The answer is NO. We're not here to waste
time or money - yours or ours. If servicing a machine will exceed its
street value, we will certainly tell you and will likely recommend
replacement rather than repair.
No, I don't
think so. If you want help with stealing software or breaking into
someone else's computer, forget it. Don't call us, we'll only send you
packing. Strange as it may sound, we actually get calls from people
trying to do just that; guys with an ex-wife's machine, former
employees with company equipment, not gonna happen. If you don't know
the login password to that machine, you're outta luck.
We work for private parties only.
Federal, State, County, City and Special
Districts - including fire districts and school districts - must provide full payment of
estimated service costs in advance.
We are not here to fill out paperwork, we do not operate as
subcontractors, and we cannot - will not - wait 90 days or more to
receive payment. When one has to spend more time getting paid than it
took to do the job, it's a loser in anybody's book. This is a policy
born of experience and is not open to discussion.
We cannot accept work thru other shops, consultants, or agents. We only work for private parties.
There may be many decisions to make along the way which require the
active participation of the machine's owner, and we are happy to
discuss options and provide services to the person whose name appears
on machine's admin account. Trying to sort out details thru a third
party is seldom necessary and is usually problematic.
Equipment left on premises 30 days or more
after completion of services will be deemed abandoned and disposed of
as appropriate. We will allow 90 days to resolve insurance estimates,
as arranged when equipment arrives. We make every effort to complete
jobs in a timely fashion and contact responsible parties upon
completion, but we must reclaim shop space and recoup our expenses (if
possible) when equipment has been abandoned.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) repairs and user-modified machines.
While the vast majority of Macs that pass thru our shop have
never been tampered with internally, every now and then one arrives
that has been opened up and modified, upgraded, or "fixed" - with
various degrees of success. Computer service requires special tools and
some degree of experience with printed circuit boards, components,
connectors, troubleshooting techniques, and it often requires knowing
your way around specific machines. There are plenty of potential
pitfalls awaiting the unwary. Towers are pretty indestructible, but
laptops and most desktop models require a bit more expertise. Before
you decide to let a friend, neighbor, or relative "take a stab at it,"
you might wanna think twice.
We usually decline to service or repair a machine that has
received DIY treatment since we have no way of knowing how much
damage was done, what condition it is in or what may be missing when it
arrives in a box. More often than not, the DIY approach starts with an
incorrect "diagnosis" turning what might have been a quick fix into a
morass of multiple problems. This applies to software issues, too. We
see it all the time. A minor adjustment or change might have solved the
problem, but now the OS has been hosed or data lost due to bad advice
and blind trial-and-error. Once you start down that DIY road - sorry -
you're on your own. Please don't expect any guidance or advice after
(By the way, same applies to PC techs who have little or no
experience with the Mac. Some will gleefully go where they've never
been before. Not good. We're not here to save their bacon, either.)
Is a new machine necessary, or will an Operating System (OS)
upgrade get the job done? Sometimes, OS and processor upgrades go
hand-in-hand; an OS designed to run on multi-core processors might seem
somewhat sluggish on a lesser machine that can't take advantage of all
that power. On the other hand, suffering with a long-outdated OS
installed on a machine with processing power to spare is a waste of
potential. Matching OS to CPU is not as clear-cut as it once was, but a
little investigation will sort things out and present a variety of
options. There's more about matching OS to CPU on the Technical Support
page (going back to the first Mac) along with port drawings, RAM info
and reference materials.
OS updates - versus - OS upgrades:
Use nCity's Link pages to shop
around, gather as much info as you can using our list of Apple links
and other resources, and we will be happy to discuss various options
and possibilities with you.
It's important to understand the difference
between an Operating System update
- usually a free download - and an OS upgrade.
Apple currently designates OS versions thus:
First number (10) merely indicates OSX (all
OS versions since Y2K).
- MacOS 10.6.0 thru 10.6.8 = Snow
- MacOS 10.7.0 thru 10.7.5 = Lion
- MacOS 10.8.0 thru 10.8.5 = Mountain
- MacOS 10.9.0 thru 10.9.5 = Mavericks
- MacOS 10.10.0 thru 10.10.5 = Yosemite
- MacOS 10.11.0 thru 10.11.x = El
- MacOS 10.12.0 thru 10.12.x = Sierra
number is the significant System version of OSX.
considered an upgrade from
Third digit denotes updates
for that OS release.
Application program selection:
OS Updates are free
downloads released periodically and may include new or enhanced System
features, bug fixes, and/or security patches for your specific OS
version. All Operating Systems should be kept reasonably current by
downloading and installing OS updates as they become available.
Please note: We strongly recommend making a proper and complete volume
backup _before_ applying any
updates, upgrades or software installations.
(Confused yet? ;-)
Looking for a new graphics program, a
replacement for Office, web authoring applications, point-of-sale (POS)
program, or a new database solution? Wondering what others are using,
or if there's some defacto standard? By all means, do your homework and
shop around! Does one company provide better support than another? How
often do they release updates, and at what cost? Does it have the
features you require, are there compatibility issues, does it have a
future? Are there monthly charges involved? All these questions come
into play when selecting software, and making an informed decision can
save a great deal of time and trouble in the long run.
Sadly, the #1 software program of any given type isn't
necessarily #1 because it's the best product and best choice. Selecting
software may mean a substantial investment of both time and money,
between stupendous learning curves and expensive updates (Adobe comes
to mind). A lot of work goes into creating good
software, but sometimes other aspects can crowd out quality as the
first concern. Perhaps one critical function will overshadow all other
considerations and become the deciding factor. Shop around and
test-drive candidate applications before buying; examine competing
products, and explore all avenues before spending those hard-earned
dollars and making a commitment to a particular software product.
to upgrade? It's relentless...
If you need Thunderbolt, Optical Audio or the brand-new
[insert acronym] ports, it's probably time for a new Mac. If you do
large file transfers, audio/video editing, or have massive storage and
access requirements, you want huge, fast and powerful. If your needs
are more modest, the expense of upgrading can be quite modest as well.
We can help sort through all the technicalities and options, discuss
alternatives and make suggestions, sometimes we can even suggest ways
to save money without sacrificing quality or capability. How much
storage will be enough, and for how long? How much memory? Which type
of media is best suited for your purposes? Is speed a big factor or a
minor concern? The number of choices can be overwhelming, as can the
endless list of technical details. It's really not so much a mystery as
it is a matter of balance; balancing need versus budget, present
capabilities versus future standards.
Adding additional storage, new hardware and backup solutions:
Storage solutions include adding internal drives (to
available bays), replacing drives with larger capacity models, and
adding external drives using Firewire, USB, eSATA, Thunderbolt,
ethernet or wireless. (If you don't have a backup, now might be a good
time to consider adding one, too.) Or, you might want to add a PCI
card, USB hub, switches, routers, multiple monitors, or some new output
device. All sorts of gadgets and goodies are available for just about
anything you might imagine. If you find you are collecting a large
music, photo and/or video library, perhaps it's time to consider adding
a dedicated storage drive and (more) backup to your system. There's no
shortage of equipment options available, and we can help tailor a
configuration to suit your needs.
When it comes to designing a backup system, the most
important aspects are reliability, ease-of-use (automation), and security. If you primarily
deal with text files and internet, backup options are the least exotic
and most cost-effective. Hardware requirements for more complex and
sophisticated backup operations can increase dramatically, as can
planning, security and execution costs, especially when adding margins
for future expansion. If you can bring yourself to apply a dollar
amount to your data and work, you'll have some idea what a backup
system is worth to you. In any case, we'll do whatever we can to help
you put a secure and dependable backup system in place. (Also see
Backup Schemes, left, under Shop Services.)
Whether it's a wireless network, audio/video recording and
editing, or some other specialized project you have in mind, there are
always countless options available and a whole lot of specs, details,
choices and considerations ahead. nCity can help you navigate thru the
technical details and recommend products and vendors while keeping your
budget in mind.
Is your machine slowing down, producing error messages, or
just acting strange? We can track down the problem, give your Mac a
tuneup, and correct the situation, as needed. Disk fragmentation can
still happen (under certain circumstances), files get corrupted, PRAM
and/or SMU might need to be reset, hard disks fill up, ports get
damaged, unprotected modems get fried, and sometimes components or sub
assemblies fail. More often than not, there will be some kind of
warning before damage or data loss occurs, if you're paying attention.
This might be a dialog box telling you your startup disk is almost full
or some other problem needs to be addressed, or it might be a strange,
new noise emanating from your computer. The sooner we get to it, the
Ever wonder what a smashed LCD screen looks
like? Well, here ya go. This display took a hard
hit (nobody knows how) almost as though it got shot. Even with a
demolished display, this Mac continued to
function perfectly. Connecting an external display allowed complete
diagnostics, and a replacement display put it back in service, good as
new. Most computer problems are a bit more subtle than this one was,
but it's a good example of the Mac's durability; see TechTales and
Disasters page (under Support Ops) for other examples of Macs gone wild.
a time when a briefcase held all the answers.
Was a time when a 400K floppy held both OS and apps with
enough room left over for a few docs, too. There were no hard drives,
no internet, no ISPs, no broadband bills. Those days are long gone, but
as spectacular in their simplicity as they once were, they've been
surpassed by exotic capabilities which once seemed impossible.
Aside from major installations (and a handful of loyal clients with
extenuating circumstances), we just don't do house calls anymore. But - we might be able to recommend someone who does. A lot of things have changed over the years, and we can make much better use of time these days with all the
assets and resources available here at the shop.