|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.
are strictly focused on service.
nCity operates on a time-and-materials basis. Replacement
materials and equipment are treated as incidental to service, passed
along at cost, and we
only charge for services rendered.
Put that outdated Mac to work
diagnostic fee applies if
that's as far as we go, but this is usually waived if shop services are
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 only apply to
extraordinary installations or large-scale operations; aside from such
projects for established clients, we haven't made house calls since '01.
consulting: Bring a
list of questions or issues to be resolved and we'll address as
many as possible in a 2-hour session. Individuals or couples, please
advance to schedule an appointment.
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.
Towers are especially well suited to dedicated use in audio/video
automation or security.
Vintage software is still available if needed, and peripherals designed
for use with older systems can be found at bargain prices. We can help
keep your second-string Macs in operation, too.
nCity is not in the retail business. We're not here to sell you anything, nor do we
have any connection to commercial vendors. But, if
there's a part required to complete service, we'll find it. Complete
systems - assemblies, boards, cards, odds and ends, new or used - it's
all available from a variety of sources. We'll do our best
to find whatever is needed, from a reputable source at a good 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. When a drive fails -
and they all do - everything on your computer can disappear in a flash.
It happens. We
might be able to recover your data, but nothing beats a solid backup
strategy. Take a look at our Backup
page for some options and suggestions.
Wish you could ______? Learn how
nCity offers one-on-one tutoring for
newbies and 'noids alike. We can help you deal with modern technology,
assist with making informed decisions, and explain how to avoid
trouble. Explore this site to find suggestions, answers to common
questions and links to reliable resources.
best, walk-ins welcome
It's usually advisable to schedule an appointment if your
in need of service; 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, but if we're in the middle of something it
might take a few minutes to wrap things up. There's usually
coffee brewing, water and soft drinks available if you like, and we'll
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 - apologies for any inconvenience - payment by cash or check
is gratefully received. We must also reserve the right
to refuse service in certain situations as we see fit.
Service to clients always has priority over "quick
questions" or discussion, and we must bill for our time even if only a
diagnostic is required.
We cannot troubleshoot over the telephone, nor can we offer
advice without running tests or knowing exact situation first hand.
Breaking and entering
Wanting to wring another year out of a ten-year-old machine is seldom
cost effective, nor is trying revive a wet notebook. If servicing a machine will exceed its
current value, we will certainly tell you and will likely recommend
replacement rather than repair. It has become enough of an issue that
we've created an entire page on the subject, the "Upgrade or Repair"
page (under Support Ops in left column).
No, I don't
think so. If you want help with pirate software or hacking into
someone else's computer, forget it. Not gonna happen. 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, serial numbers that come back as
stolen, all kinds of nonsense. If you don't know
the login password, we cannot help you.
We work for private parties only.
Federal, State, County, City, 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 will not wait 90 days or more to
receive payment. Having to spend more time getting paid than it takes
to do the job is 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.
There may be decisions to make which require participation of a
machine's owner, and we are happy to
discuss these with the person whose name appears
on admin account. Trying to work thru a third
party is a non-starter.
Equipment left on premises 30 days or more
after completion of services will be deemed abandoned and disposed of
as appropriate. We 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 expenses (if
possible) when equipment has been abandoned.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) repairs and modifications
The vast majority of Macs that pass thru our shop have
never been tampered with, but every now and then one arrives
that has been opened up and modified, upgraded, or "fixed" - with
various degrees of success.
More often than not, the DIY
approach starts with a questionable diagnosis, turning what might have
been a quick fix into a
morass of multiple problems. No shortage of bad
advice out there.
Computer service requires special
tools and some degree of knowledge and experience. It often requires
your way around specific models, too. Plenty of potential
pitfalls await the unwary that can lead to disaster. Before
you decide to let a friend or acquaintance "take a stab at it,"
you might wanna think twice.
decline to service 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 might be missing when
arrives in a box. Once you start down that DIY road,
you're on your own.
(Same applies to PC techs who have little or no
experience with the Mac.)
Is a new machine necessary or will upgrades get the job
done? Is it even possible? Problems with an outdated OS
usually show up first as internet issues when browser/OS encounter
unrecognized file types or have inadequate security. You may see a
message that your startup disk is almost full, or new printer requires
a newer OS version. Upgrade questions are getting complex, and a lot
depends on intended use and machine's age.
OS updates - versus - OS upgrades:
We can evaluate the situation, determine options, discuss choices and
suggest appropriate solutions, but it doesn't hurt to research some of
the details in advance so that you can make an informed decision. It
helps to know what purpose RAM serves, the difference between hard disk
drives and solid-state drives, your current storage capacity and future
requirements, as well as system requirements for key software you use.
It's important to understand the difference
between an Operating System update
and an OS upgrade.
Apple currently designates OS versions thus:
First number (10) merely indicates OSX
which applies to all Systems.
- 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
- MacOS 10.13.0 thru 10.13.x = High
number is the significant System version of OSX;
of these is considered an upgrade
the previous version.
Third digit denotes updates
for that OS release.
OS Updates are released
periodically and may include new features, bug fixes, and security
patches for your specific OS
version. Updates should be installed as they become available.
OS Upgrades are all-new System
versions (and will have their own updates).
Upgrades are optional, but it's best to stay within three versions of
the latest MacOS release.
BTW: Don't rush to install the latest OS version when it first become
available; wait until a few updates have been applied, or - better yet
- stay one OS version behind. If it works, don't fix it.
Please note: We strongly recommend making a proper and complete volume
backup _before_ applying any
updates, upgrades, major changes and/or software installations.
Looking for a new graphics program, a
replacement for Office, web authoring applications, a point-of-sale
program, or new database solution? Wondering what others are using,
or if there's some defacto standard? By all means, do your homework and
shop around. Some things to consider include:
- System requirements - OS version, RAM
- Product support, updates and future
- Onboard (installed) apps vs. monthly
fee and online access
- Internet bandwidth required for
online apps (and backup)
The #1 software program of any given type isn't
necessarily #1 because it's the best product, easiest to use or best
software may mean a substantial investment of time and money,
stupendous learning curves and expensive updates. A lot of work goes into creating good
software, but sometimes other aspects can crowd out quality.
Selecting appropriate software that you will have to live with for the
duration is not an easy decision. One critical function may overshadow
considerations to become the deciding factor. Shop around and
test-drive candidate apps before buying; examine competing
products, and explore all avenues before spending those hard-earned
dollars and making a commitment to a particular product.
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, perhaps a RAID array. If
you find you are collecting a large
music, photo or video library, perhaps it's time to consider adding
more storage and more backup capacity to your system.
Other hardware additions include PCI
cards, USB hubs, switches and routers, multiple monitors, and various
devices. All sorts of gizmos are available for just about
anything you might imagine.
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 and expense for more
complex backup requirements can increase dramatically, especially when
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. (See
Backup Schemes, 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
countless options available and a whole lot of specs, details,
choices and considerations ahead. nCity can help you navigate technical
details 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 extreme circumstances), files get corrupted, drives
fill up, ports get
damaged, and sometimes components or sub
assemblies fail. There will usually be some kind of
warning before disaster strikes, if you're paying attention; an error
message, strange noise, endless beachballs, distorted video, hangs, freezes and failures. 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, and a replacement display put it back in service. 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 the (short lived) Zip drive held OS, apps
and utilities, too. There was
no internet, no ISPs, no broadband bills. Those days are long gone. As
simple as early computers once were, they've long been replaced with
exotic capabilities that once seemed impossible - with their attendant
Aside from major installations (and a handful of loyal clients with
extenuating circumstances), we just can't do house calls anymore. Much
has changed over the years, and we can make much better use of time these days by using
assets and resources available here at the shop.