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#650: Burning Slideshows To DVD, Repair of the Week, Liquid and Your Laptop


Happy Tuesday,

We welcomed another pup to Waitsfield yesterday—Rebecca adopted a twelve week old black lab named Toby. He’s enormous for his age, and by the size of his paws and thickness of his legs, it’s a sure thing that he’s going to be anything but a small dog. One of the most common things customers tell me about Owen is that he’s not a small dog, and Rebecca will hear this several times a day in just a few week’s time!

We took delivery of hundreds of last-generation MacBooks, MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and 16GB iPod touches. There’s fantastic value across the board: 16GB iPod Touch for the price of an 8GB, 1.6GHz MacBook Airs for less than $1,100, and MacBooks well under $1,000. Check out for all the deals.

Thanks for reading, and keep in touch!


  Burning Slideshows To DVD  

At my morning consult, my client mentioned that she had created a slideshow in iPhoto and she wanted to burn it to DVD but wasn’t sure what the best way to do it was. She took it to a local media shop who said she should export it as a QuickTime file. She was given an additional application to compress it and yet another application to burn it to disk. It was a long drawn-out process that seemed daunting to her. I smiled, knowing that the answer to her question is simple, easy and built right in to her iLife applications.

In iPhoto, after creating a slideshow check out the “Share” menu up in your menu bar. There’s an option under there to “Send to iDVD.” By selecting this option your project will automatically be converted to a file that iDVD understands, the iDVD application will launch and you’ll be asked to select a theme. The “Theme” is the DVD menu, like what you’d see when playing a commercial DVD. It will even allow you to customize the theme with pictures from your iPhoto, music from your iTunes library and you can even add more slideshows or movie files to the DVD to get the most bang for your buck.

Finished playing with the “Theme”? Simply click the Burn icon and you’ll be asked to insert your DVD. Want multiple copies? After the disk is burned just click “Burn” again and keep on going! Yes, it really is that simple.

Note: If you don’t have a SuperDrive or external DVD burner, you can always save the iDVD file and take it to a friend’s Mac who has a DVD burner. Enjoy!!

  Repair of the Week  

Liam, employed by Small Dog for exactly one year today, was tasked with repairing an iMac from the South Burlington showroom floor as fast as possible. This 20” model would restart at random intervals, typically after a minute or two of activity. His first instinct was to replace a cable known to fail with some regularity—the SATA/Inverter/DC/Power Supply cable. This is probably the most complex item to replace in an aluminum iMac, and because we suspect it to be the cause of many different symptoms, we keep a few on hand.

The installation was complete a little while later, and initially it seemed to have resolved the problem. Liam put it back on the floor and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, the problem came back in an hour or so.

His next step was to replace the power supply and power harness. Neither of these parts fixed the issue. To eliminate the operating system as the cause of failure, he plugged in an external FireWire drive with a clean installation of OS X. This is perhaps the single-most important step in diagnosing a machine: by booting the computer off of a known good startup disk and seeing whether the problem remains, you can definitively isolate any symptom to hardware or software.

This time, it seemed we might have a problem with the FireWire drive, as it would not show up in the boot manager when the machine was powered up holding down the option key on the keyboard. As this external drive is bus-powered, it’s powered by the one and only cable connecting it to the iMac. It became evident pretty quickly that the iMac had no FireWire function, so immediately he knew a main logic board replacement would be in order.

When the part arrived the next day, it was installed after the paying customers’ machines were all fixed. Tipped off by the lack of FireWire function, the logic board, once again, turned out to be the culprit.

  From the Archives: So You Spilled in Your Laptop  

Portable computers go everywhere their owner goes—particularly with students attending classes, in dorm rooms, libraries and quite possibly most important of all… the cafes!

Downtown Burlington, VT has (as any college town should) numerous coffee shops and cafes. Each one has its own individual ambiance. Some have Wi-Fi, some don’t. Nonetheless, come night time, college students migrate from the universities to these coffee shops with their books, papers and their computers. In my opinion, caffeine and computers go together like peas and carrots, or beer and nuts.

The above listed combination of caffeine and computers however presents one of the greatest risks to the life of your computer! No, it’s not about getting over-caffeinated and taking out your frustrations over your workload on your computer. It’s the fact that although you may enjoy consuming a caffeinated beverage, your computer will not.

Unfortunately, over the past month, I have seen three computers come through the service department that were victims of liquid spills. One of the greatest risks (and most common mistakes) a user can subject their computer to is to leave a drink too close. Apple’s warranty covers failures that are not related to physical damage. Apple rates a liquid spill in the highest category of physical damage that can be done to a machine. An out-of-warranty physical damage repair performed by Apple can sometimes cost more than the value of the machine!

One of these machines that passed through our service department here at Small Dog was a brand new MacBook. It had lemonade spilled in it about a month after the original purchase. Fortunately, the customer had insurance on their purchase provided by their credit card. After data recovery and dispatch to Apple where nearly 3/4 of the computer parts were replaced, the final bill totaled just under $1,000!

As I am advising all of you reading to take extreme caution with liquids around your computer, I will also give you a few simple steps to follow should you spill liquid into your computer to attempt to minimize or potentially avoid damage.

Should you spill liquid into your computer:

  • Remove All Power Immediately: Hard power down your machine and remove the battery and power cord. If you are working on a project, do not attempt to save it, unless your project is of greater value than the computer itself.
  • Drain the liquid away from the internal components: Keep in mind that the more sensitive and expensive components of your computer are the logic board and the internal components. This means if you have a portable machine open the display to a 90 degree angle and place it upside down. You are better off having the liquid settle in the keyboard or track pad than the logic board. A keyboard may cost around $85 but a logic board will cost about $800 to replace.
  • Let The Unit Drain: Keep your machine in the draining position in a well-ventilated area. Make sure it is left in a place where it does not risk getting knocked over or broken. It is probably best that you do not use a hair dryer as you may be so inclined. Hair dryers create a large amount of static electricity and could potentially cause an electrical discharge onto a computer component.
  • Inspect Before Using: After you have left your computer to drain for a couple days I suggest taking your computer to your local Apple repair agency to have it inspected for standing liquids before attempting to power it on. The battery voltage and PMU should be checked prior to the first boot.
  • Hope For The Best: Though severe damage can occur within a computer, following the above steps can potentially help to minimize the damage. There are repairs that can be performed by a local service provider cheaper than Apple’s flat rate damage repair should the situation come to that.

With all that in mind, when I take my MacBook Pro out for coffee, the MacBook Pro stays on the tabletop and the coffee stays on the floor in my sealed mug.

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