Macintosh Separation Anxiety (MSA)
We're here 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 suggest improvements.

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.

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. Shop rates are prominently posted - on a post, no less - at the shop. (Billable time generally excludes most automated processes that do not require supervision.)
  • Limited 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.
  • Personal 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 call in advance to schedule an appointment.
  • 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 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Put that outdated Mac to work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, home 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.

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 - 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.

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 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 - 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.

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).

Breaking and entering
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.

Abandoned equipment:
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 knowing 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.

We usually 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 it 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.)

Hardware upgrades
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.

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.

OS updates - versus - OS upgrades:
It's important to understand the difference between an Operating System update and an OS upgrade. Apple currently designates OS versions thus:
  • MacOS 10.6.0 thru 10.6.8 = Snow Leopard
  • MacOS 10.7.0 thru 10.7.5 = Lion
  • MacOS 10.8.0 thru 10.8.5 = Mountain Lion
  • 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 Capitan
  • MacOS 10.12.0 thru 10.12.x = Sierra
  • MacOS 10.13.0 thru 10.13.x = High Sierra
First number (10) merely indicates OSX which applies to all Systems.
Second number is the significant System version of OSX; each of these is considered an upgrade from 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.

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 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 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 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 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, 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 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 (under Support Ops) for other examples of Macs gone wild.

Was 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 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 available here at the shop.