From Dad’s I went back to Amherst, MA. I’d setup a new iMac for a former Ojai client that moved to Amherst when I left VT. It was running a bit slow, but was syncing a lot of data to iCloud and decrypting the hard drive. It was going to be days for them to complete. I was pretty sure it would be ok when these processes were complete.
So, I left to do Thanksgiving with my family. As I previously shared, the logistics for that didn’t workout and I got to dad’s the day after Thanksgiving.
About a week after I departed Amherst the decrypt and sync were done and the iMac was still slow. I worked on it remotely a number of times. I wanted to reinstall the macOS, but she was getting ready to lead a workshop for a week. I was heading to NM. So, we said we’d reconnect after she was done.
I went to NM. Mom died and I went back to MI. She finished her workshop. We reinstalled the OS remotely. Still slow. So, now I have an integrity issue. She paid me to setup the iMac and have it working well. It isn’t. I’m now one day drive from her again. Do I go back and take care of it? Or, do I have her take it to someone else? If I tell her to have someone else resolve the issue, do I owe her a refund? My answer to that is yes. So, I’m headed beck to Amherst.

I was there for two weeks. I reinstalled the OS twice. The last time I manually copied all the data and manually reconfigured the settings. That resolved the beach balling, but it was still feels slow. I’m suspicious that the issue is now one of perception. Her Laptop has a solid state drive that is at least 10 times faster than the mechanical hard drive in the iMac. So, I called Apple support. It took 2 days to go through all of their steps. I’d done most of them, but they needed to verify that I’d done them before agreeing to have it checked for a drive problem.
Some scenes from Amherst:

The earlier Apple Store Genius Bar appointment was in 5 days. So I called an Apple Certified Service Center close by and tell the service manager what’s happening. I tell him I suspect a hard drive issue. That one of my tools is saying that 2 of the SMART drive parameters have experienced failures. One is 3 of 5. The other is 2of 8. The drive hasn’t “failed” until the upper threshold has been reached. They check the drive and say it passes all of their tests. It’s also running at the expected speed of 40-50Mbps. As a comparison, the solid state drive runs at over 400Mbps. She agrees to upgrade the hard drive with a solid state drive.
When all the data is back on the iMac, it now feels right. It’s operating at the speed she wants and expects. After it’s done with its data sync, I do some work organizing her data. Somehow she has multiple copies of former Desktops and Documents folders. I merge them all into one of each. Then I sync the MacBook Pro data and in an hour the same data is on both of them and they respond in sync to document editing and deleting. Excellent!
What’s the final post mortem?
There were three breakdowns in this chain.
1. Not asking my input before buying a new computer. She didn’t think of this. She expected Apple provide this service. I’m good at pointing you at what will serve your current needs and have the juice to support the normal technology changes over the next few years. Many people keep their computers for 4-6 years. That’s usually 2 generations of change.
2. Apple salesperson. I worked in an Apple Store for 2 years. The training includes asking these kinds of questions. What computer do you currently have? What do you use your computer for? How comfortable are you with these tasks? Are you comfortable using multiple programs at the same time and moving data between them? What would you like to use it for that you aren’t currently? How often do you usually replace / update your computer?
The Apple person didn’t ask any questions. The big conversation that was missed is “What is your current computer. “ She has a 2 year old 15” MacBook Pro. This has a Solid State Drive (SSD). Once you are used to working with an SSD, any hard drive is very slow. Apple has a hybrid drive available in iMacs called a Fusion Drive. It’s much better, but still slow compared to an SSD. Knowing this, the rep should have taken her to iMacs on the floor and had her use them. Open applications. Open multiple applications. Try creating documents, editing photos, etc. And see how they feel.
This person sold her a piece of technology, not an experience. The point of Apple’s training is to gather information and recommend the technology that matches the desired and expected experience. It’s the experience that’s being sold. It’s that match that makes for happy clients.
3. Me leaving before everything was complete the first time. The computer was slow. It was syncing lots of data to iCloud and decrypting 600gb of data on the hard drive. I thought all would be well when it was done. And, I was feeling the need to leave to make it to Michigan for Thanksgiving. I “should” have stayed until the processes were complete and the experience matched the expectations. I didn’t. So, I returned and made it right. None of this would have been an issue if either of #1 or #2 had occurred.
So, now all is well and we’re headed to CA. We’re in-between snow storms, but it’s quite cold. Much to cold to hang out outdoors. So, it’s long driving days for us until we get below the cold fronts. We’re behind a Walmart outside of Columbus, OH. Just a place to sleep.