Macintosh Separation Anxiety (MSA)
We're here to find solutions, improve performance and make repairs for Mac users here in the Nevada County area. We are also sensitive to a unique condition affecting the Macintosh community: 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 suggest improvements.

nCity MacShack is not a retail business.
When servicing machines we obtain proper replacement parts as needed and happily procure equipment and software as necessary, at cost. 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.

We are strictly focused on service.
nCity operates on a time-and-materials basis. Replacement parts, materials and equipment are treated as incidental to service, passed along at cost, and we only charge for services rendered.
  • Minimum diagnostic fee applies if that's as far as we go, but this is usually waived if shop services are retained.
  • Per-incident hourly shop rate. Billable time generally excludes automated processes that do not require supervision.
  • In-shop services only. Aside from extraordinary installations or large-scale projects for established clients, all service is provided at the shop.
  • 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 and specialized areas of expertise that may benefit our clients.
Put that outdated Mac to work
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 applications, other Macs may serve as home automation, security, bookkeeping or other dedicated function.
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.

Replacement parts
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, even SSDs - your data can disappear in a flash. It happens. We might be able to recover lost 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 can help you deal with modern technology, assist with making informed decisions, and explain how to avoid trouble. Explore this site for helpful suggestions, answers to common questions and useful links to reliable resources.

Appointments best, walk-ins welcome
It's usually advisable to schedule an appointment if your machine is 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, 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 - 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 takes 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 bench tests or diagnostics.

Trying to wring another year out of a ten-year-old machine or
revive a wet notebook is seldom cost effective. 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).

Breaking and entering
No, I don't think so. If you want help with pirate software or hacking into someone else's computer, no, 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. Policy is born of experience and 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.

Abandoned equipment:
Equipment left on premises 60 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. Every effort is made to complete jobs in a timely fashion, but we must reclaim shop space and recoup expenses (if possible) when equipment sits here unclaimed for months.

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 knowing your way around specific models, too. Plenty of potential pitfalls await the unwary that can lead to disaster, so before you decide to let a friend or acquaintance "take a stab at it," you might wanna think twice.

We may decline to service a machine that has received DIY treatment since we have no way of knowing what was done, what condition it is in, or what might be missing when it arrives. These jobs are evaluated accordingly.

Hardware upgrades
Is a new machine necessary or will upgrades get the job done? Problems with an outdated OS usually show up first as internet issues with unrecognized file types or inadequate security. You may see a message that your startup disk is full, or a new printer requires a newer OS version. Upgrade questions are getting complex, and a lot depends on intended use and machine's age.

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 informed decisions.

OS updates - versus - OS upgrades:
It's important to understand the difference between an Operating System update and an OS upgrade:

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 upgrade. 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.

Application/Program selection:
Looking for a new graphics program, a replacement for Office, web authoring applications, a point-of-sale (POS) 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 and storage
  • Product support, updates and future expenses
  • Onboard (installed) apps vs. monthly subscription fee
  • 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 choice. Selecting 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 other 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 higher capacity, 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 cards, hubs, switches and routers, multiple monitors, and various output 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 and ease-of-use. 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 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. (See Backup Schemes, under Shop Services.)

Enhancing system capabilities:
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.

Misbehaving Macs.
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 better.

Damage happens.
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 for examples of Macs gone wild.

Was a time when a briefcase held all the answers.
It was a time before internet, ISPs and 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 complications.

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 only available here at the shop.