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Hurricane Preparedness for Electronics


With Irma barreling towards Florida we’ve been getting calls from clients on what they should do. Here are our professional tips and tricks to best prepare anyone. Hurricane preparedness for electronics shouldn’t ever be placed before your own safety. However, protecting your assets and thinking ahead can help in the aftermath. Here are our suggestions:

  • Make a plan to power down and unplug your electronic assets before the storm.
  • Check your backups and consider Backblaze for offsite backups in case your local ones get damaged.
  • Move equipment to a safe place away from windows.
  • Consider covering electronics with plastic after they are powered down.
  • Charge all battery packs while the power is still on.
  • Move any battery backups to higher ground and unplug if not needed.
  • Copy critical data to an external drive and take it with you if evacuating.
  • Customize your phone system to forward to cell phones.
  • Consider having a walkie-talkie app in case cell towers go down.
  • Seal important physical documents in a waterproof case.
  • Get a battery-powered radio for updates during the storm.
  • Don’t return until given the all clear and be safe.

Hopefully these tips can help you stay prepared. Have a disaster plan in place and never risk your personal safety to save your devices.

Our office will be closed September 7th and 8th in addition to the weekend. We’ll remain closed until given the all clear by authorities. We’ll be fielding calls as long as possible and once reopened we can help get you running again.

Stay safe!

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Keyboard Shortcuts

Have you ever seen someone use a computer with such speed that you wonder, “What the heck are they doing?” Things just seem to happen magically, as the windows open and close, text automatically appears, and text becomes formatted. All without using the mouse or trackpad, for your MacBook wielders.

Today’s blog post is here to pull back the veil and reveal the truth: keyboard shortcuts.

Example A:

CommandDoes the above symbol look familiar? If you’re a Mac user, you can see the “Command” key, along with its clover-like emblem, on either side of the space bar. Most keyboard shortcuts start by pressing this key and then pressing — while continuing to hold “Command” — another key. For those of you coming from the world of Microsoft’s Windows platform, “Control” was the key that performed this function.

Think you might of seen this symbol somewhere else? If you’ve ever clicked any section in your Mac’s menu bar, which is hard not to do, it’s been hiding in plain sight in one of the drop down menus.

Example B:

Screenshot 2015-04-02 11.25.21

Each one of the options shown in this screenshot is supplemented by keyboard shortcut, shown to the right. Once your done looking at the “File” section, move on to the “Edit” section to see its shortcuts as well. There are some additional symbols that you likely won’t recognize, as they aren’t given an overt description, nor do they have their symbols printed on the keys.

Example C:



Some of the keyboard shortcuts are universal, meaning that they can be used and relied upon no matter which app you’re doing. The app-specific keyboard shortcuts is where the convenience of CheatSheet really comes into play. Here’s a quick list of universal shortcuts:

  • Command Q = quit app (only exception is the Finder)
  • Command W = close window
  • Command A = select all
  • Command S = save current document/page
  • Command Z = undo (Shift Command Z = redo)
  • Command X = cut
  • Command C = copy
  • Command V = paste
  • Command P = print
  • Command B = bold
  • Command I = italics
  • Command U = underline

Try some of them out for yourself! We recommend compiling a best-of list and keeping it close at hand for reference. After some time of use, you may be surprised to see that you need to reference your cheat sheet less and less as muscle memory takes over.

You can customize and see what shortcuts are available by navigating to System Preferences and looking under the Keyboard section.

If after reading this you’re pumped up about really optimizing your workflow but still need some assistance, we offer Personal Mac Training. We can train remotely, as well as onsite (if you’re located in South Florida).

Now take those keyboard shortcuts and start on streamlining your workflow!

Apple, Apple Store, and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Mac Spring Cleaning


Spring is here! Celebrate the vernal equinox with us by taking some time to clean up your Mac. Our guide will provide some places to start your Mac spring cleaning along with some great, free and paid tools. Typically the Mac handles optimization on-the-fly and most maintenance is done in the background. You have probably noticed during installation of new software a point where it is “Optimizing” during the end of the installation. Still from time to time Applications can not operate as expected, so try some quick solutions first.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

The ol’ trusty restart can in some cases be a good place to start when an application isn’t performing up-to-par. Sometimes it’s as easy as quitting and re-opening the problem application. It’s always a good idea to do a backup and save work before trying any troubleshooting. Rarely but in some circumstances, shutting down or restarting can make matters worse, especially if you’re not prepared with a backup. Typically this only emerges when your Mac is running slow as molasses signaling a possible drive failure or file system problem.

My friend said permission repairs fix everything.

Another great thing about your Mac is it comes with tools built-in called Utilities to help you out. Seasoned Mac users know about these tools found under the Go menu in Finder. One gem application in particular is Disk Utility.

It gives you details about the health and space of your hard drives and allows you to fix application access issues and check your file structure. Sometimes an application doesn’t work correctly because it’s trying to access something that the operating system (OS) is prohibiting due to access issues. That’s what choosing your boot drive, typically named “Macintosh HD,” on the left side and choosing Repair Permissions can do. It only really helps when your apps aren’t working as expected. It’s far from a magic fix-all, but it can help troubleshoot an issue. Don’t be surprised if running the permission repair multiple times yields the same messages. It’s almost never something to be alarmed about, but informative to developers to update their app. Verification of the Disk can warn you about a more serious issue, and it will take a chunk of time suspending use of the Mac.

Some others worth checking out in the utility folder are Console, Activity Monitor, and Keychain. Activity Monitor and Console can give you insight into what is happening in the moment. Sometimes you can see what app is messing up, but often it’s hard for even professionals to decode. The Keychain can help with password issues, but be warned you could end up resetting a ton of passwords if you mess up the keychain. It’s better to check it’s health in preferences and make a backup before touching the individual items listed.

I’ll try a PRAM reset after I clear Cache. That always seems to fix it.

Cache lives on your Mac to help speed things up. Sometimes an application is reading the cache instead of what you want it to do. Clearing this forces everything from the application down to the kernel (lowest-level) to stop relying on bad information found in the cache. Clearing your cache folder found in ~/Library/ and /Library/ can help ( The “~” means your home folder in which the hidden Library lives). The system folder also has it’s own version, but wiping any of  these out can cause problems (This is why it’s hidden). There are programs that can help out which you can read about in the next section.

Another classic recommendation is resetting the PRAM. Typically this does nothing more than make your Mac chime twice during boot, but even seasoned professionals try this one almost immediately out of habit. However, newer Macs don’t rely on this as heavily as before. You could lose important log files and make unintended changes by doing this action and clearing your NVRAM (non-volatile RAM). This only seems to help with booting issues and devices plugged into your post, so please learn more about this on Apple’s support site before jumping the gun:

Automate it with the __________ application.

These days most home users and professionals have an endless amount of Mac apps available via the App Store or online, which is where the uneducated user can fubar everything with only a few clicks and a password. Anytime you give your password while installing or running an application you better either know what the app is or why it needs that password. Otherwise you could be willingly installing malware (bad stuff that can spy on you and/or infect your Mac). You may be thinking your saving yourself a trip to the Apple Store or to your local Apple Consultant or Apple Service Provider, but you could end up shooting yourself in the foot. That’s why when my tooth hurts I don’t get a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers to fix it myself, but instead I call my Dental Professional. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying some floss in this example couldn’t save me a trip, but I need to exhaust what I know to do before getting help. Below are some great free applications to help give you ideas, but use with caution and understand these programs can wreck everything and ruin your day if not used properly (like using a knife incorrectly):

  • Time Machine (built-in) can help create a backup for you beforehand. If you proceed in life without a backup, you will loose data at some point in life I promise. Alternatively you can pay us for a great inexpensive, easy solution called Backblaze.  Not bad to have two backups running just in case.
  • Disk Inventory X can give you a nice graph showing how much data you filled up on your Mac. Always good to keep at a minimum 10% of your total space free and available.
  • Onyx can help force maintenance and automate some of the items we discussed. It’s important to get the correct version and use a beta version with caution.
  • Hazel can help you manage your downloads folder if it’s out of control.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment your own suggestions or contact us for help.

Apple, Apple Store, and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Updating vs Upgrading

update vs upgrade

We get this question a lot as these two similar words can be easily confused: Updating vs Upgrading. A lot of people feel these words are even interchangeable when they are not at all. Let’s start by looking at the key differences:

  • Updates are usually free. Upgrades can sometimes cost money.
  • Updates are more frequent “bug” fixes or security related fixes. Upgrades are less frequent major releases with new design, features, or whatever major changes the developer wants to make.
  • Updates are usually shown as a point release (e.g. 8.5.1). Upgrades are usually shown as a major release (e.g. 8.0).

Now that we have that down, let’s look at when we should be doing this updates and upgrades. Just because you got a notification doesn’t mean now is the best time. I know many of you are eager to get issues fixed or enjoy new features which is a totally normal feeling. It still doesn’t excuse you from taking proper precautions:

  • Backup everything! The database, the documents, the media, and all that is near and dear to your business or your heart. You should already be doing this regularly or you risk losing it all. We offer data recovery and as you see it can be a very expensive ordeal.
  • Check your other software updates. For instance if I was about to upgrade to Yosemite I’d check all the software I use for compatibility and for updates specifically for enhancing it for Yosemite. The hard way to check this is to look at every piece of software you use and review their release notes or contact their support. The easy way is to check out a site such as Roaring Apps to see if others reported issues.
  • Check your devices. Is that old scanner or printer still supported? Best to check with the manufacture for updated drivers and software.
  • Check your specs. Make sure you have the required amounts of memory (RAM), free space, and processing power. If you don’t or you cut it close the overall performance of your computer will suffer. It may be time to consider a hardware upgrade such as installing a SSD or even upgrading to a new model. If you have a Mac and not sure what you can do feel free to reach out.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this a production machine and would I lose money every hour it was down?” If you answered, “Yes,” then consider hiring a professional.

Finally it’s time to consider any costs associated. Be wary of demo upgrades forcing you into the next paid version, but keep in mind good software should cost money. Have a budget in mind and use it. Don’t cut corners by staying on the original version to save money thinking you won’t eventually be phased out. Think back to Netscape Navigator and reflect on your decision to stay with your software forever while the rest of us plow forward.

Now that we covered the bases it’s time to update or upgrade. Safe downloading and updating out there!

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What is a SSD upgrade and why should I do it?

SSD upgrade


What’s SSD?

SSD is short for Solid State Drive which is very different to the conventional hard drives we have used for decades. Built from flash memory the major difference between the two technologies that makes upgrading worthwhile is that by definition solid state means no moving parts. This isn’t exactly new technology but until recent years prices were very expensive for very little storage. Even new Macs come with SSD technology already installed these days, but for the savvy consumer it’s a simple trick to really speed up an older Mac. Let’s look at why you should consider a SSD upgrade.

Why do a SSD upgrade?

  • Since there are no moving parts SSDs are more shock resistive and durable than their predecessor.
  • Avoid data loss from mechanical failures.
  • Conventional hard drives are one the bottlenecks of modern computers.
  • Better performance and multitasking because they don’t have to spin up and seek to read data.
  • Better battery life with no need to waste energy on spinning disks.
  • Cooler system because SSDs don’t create as much heat.
  • Faster boot and load times that feel almost instant.
  • They are light weight for those of us traveling around with our Macs.

What to consider before doing an SSD upgrade?

Be sure to look at how much data you currently have used up now. It’s a good idea to give yourself some space for future downloads and installations. It’s always a good idea to have at least 10% free space, so plan on 35% to protect your investment. As always before any upgrade or repair it’s important to have a current backup. If you need help installing or moving your data to the new drive order a drive from us and we will install it for only $50.

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Two Factor Authentication

The days of using simple passwords and expecting security and is over. With security issues like the heartbleed vulnerability that has challenged the foundations of security on the internet more recently. Computer security issues can crush any size business in the matter of minutes, yet we allow ourselves to use the same password for everything. Then we get email blasts about hacked accounts, stolen laptops, and resetting passwords more often than anyone cares to ever to get in their inbox. Two Factor Authentication can help you maintain access to your online account by verifying you are really who you say you are in the vast outreaches of the internet.

What is two-factor authentication?

This type of security is already in use in our daily lives. Our debit card is a basic example of two-factor authentication. When you physically run your card the number and CVV code are transmitted for your first authentication then your second authentication is done with your personal pin. Yet another example we see in finance is using RSA tokens for wire transfers. The bank sends you an RSA token generator keychain and gives you a login for their wire transfer interface. Without the login and token the bank won’t process the wire transfer. So lets see how we can better protect all our online accounts not just the financial ones.

Use the tools developers give us.

We are creatures of habit when it comes to passwords, and that habit has a pattern that repeats and it easy for someone to catch on. I recommend using password tools like 1Password to generate new passwords for you and store them and secure them with only one password for you to remember. This behavior along with two factor authentication will better secure your online presence.

If setting up two factor authentication is an option, which I recommend, just make sure you read and keep any backup passwords, your email updated, and your mobile number up-to-date. Without the code via text message or use of an app you will lock yourself out of the account, so you need to make sure you have some options for recovery.

Learn more about Two Factor Authentication has a very organized list of sites offering Two Factor Authentication.

Wikipedia has a lengthy article on multi-factor authentication that includes how one might be hacked.

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IceFloor Configuration for OS X Server VPN

One of the most important and most requested service for our clients has been secure remote access to their office or server. With more and more contractors and employees working remotely VPN has become a staple service of OS X Server. The alternative to VPN is far quicker and easier solution of opening up access into your office network by poking holes in your firewall or router. The quicker and easier path comes at the price of security not something worth compromising. Unfortunately many small business owners take their chances because they never had reason for concern before, or they feel that larger companies are the focus not the small ones. They couldn’t be more wrong as hackers simply exploit weakness, and they have more recently focused more to attacking small businesses because it’s easier. In fact PC World and Entrepreneur Magazines both have articles out explaining the shift in focus. Before diving into VPN setup let’s first review what should be done.

In order to help protect you and your business online Start On Technology recommends the follow:

  1. Ensure you are using a hardware firewall to protect your network on your router. For those unsure, looking for an extra layer, or interested in this tutorial should install Ice Floor a software firewall for free on their Mac. Please remember this tool is from a donation funded project, so please do as we have and donate to ensure it will stay available for everyone.
  2. Use two factor authentication when possible. An example is for users of Google Apps downloading the Google Authenticator app on their device and enabling two factor authentication to their Google Account. This can prevent unauthorized access by requiring a secondary code or pin to gain access just like the PIN on your debit card.
  3. Don’t use the same password for everything and consider using a password generator and storage solution to make this easier to manage. Changing passwords often places the odds back in your favor at the very least.
  4. Be aware of odd emails alerting you to login to your account. Make sure the address bar makes sense to the company contacting you. It’s very easy for anyone to replicate a site and capture your username and password by using misdirection.
  5. Be aware what information is being put in the cloud or on your devices and the level of security provided. Features such as passcodes, remote wipe, and encryption can help reduce the risk of theft.
  6. Contact us for a full network evaluation and explanation of your current setup.

Using Haynet’s IceFloor v2.0.1 software helps us manage the software firewalls on a server that helps prevents unauthorized access and allows VPN on OS X Server to work in many different environments by using NAT. In this example we will setup the server in a colocation environment or data center hosted with our friends at a typical situation where you would want to manage remote access and setup a VPN.

  1. Create a VLAN in the Network pane of System Preferences ( > System Preferences > Network) by clicking on the gear next to the plus and minus symbols and selecting “Manage Virtual Interfaces…” then + add a New VLAN. Give it a name, ID, and make sure the interface is Ethernet.
  2. Go to your newly created VLAN and select manual IPv4 Configuration then assign an IP address, subnet, and Router (same as IP address). See graphic below and make sure to click Apply to save. vlan
  3. Launch IceFloor 2.0.1 and navigate to the NAT section. Select to share your Internet connection from your WAN port (i.e. Ethernet en0) to computers using the VLAN (vlan0). Also check the Redirect DNS box as shown below. NAT_IceFloor
  4. Now you can set up your VPN service. Be sure to set up your client addresses to match your new VLAN. In this example we would set the VPN to start at and add as many addresses as we need. Then move to DNS settings and make sure your machine’s IP is one of the DNS servers. Be sure to set your host name and type then you are all set to switch the service on. vpn-settings-os-x-server

Now you should be able to set up clients to use your VPN service to your colocated or office Mac Mini. Of course you will need adjust your firewall to allow the VPN traffic into the network from the outside. Otherwise have smooth secure surfing my friend and give us a ring or shoot us an email if you need our services in setting up this IceFloor configuration for OS X Server VPN.

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Google Apps | Gmail | Apple Mail

For many Mac users the setup of any email account is pretty easy, but with our steps, tips, and tricks you can get the most out of your Google Apps or Gmail account. Before you begin make sure you enable IMAP (or POP but not recommended) in your account.

Enable IMAP in your settings

  1. Sign into your Google Apps or Gmail account (
  2. Click the  gear in the top right.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Click Forwarding and POP/IMAP.
  5. Select Enable IMAP.
  6. Click Save Changes.

For those running 10.10 Yosemite:


  1. Open System Preferences (Located in the  Menu Bar) and choose Internet Accounts.
  2. Click the + button and/or select Google for your new account. Sign in using your email and password. Enter your name for personalization. Select the services you want to automatically setup (contacts, calendars, messages, and notes).
  3. Open Mail and go to Preferences located under the Mail menu then select the Accounts tab to confirm your new account is available. Skip the next section for our tweaks to ensure you get the best results. If you still have trouble review the steps for older versions.


For those running 10.7 Lion, 10.8 Mountain Lion, and 10.9 Mavericks:

  1. Open System Preferences (Located in the  Menu Bar) and choose Mail, Contacts, and Calendars (Internet Accounts in 10.9 Mavericks).
  2. Click the + button and/or select Gmail or Google for your new account. Sign in using your email and password. Enter your name for personalization. Select the services you want to automatically setup (calendar, messages, and reminders).
  3. Open Mail and go to Preferences located under the Mail menu then select the Accounts tab to confirm your new account is available. Skip the next section for our tweaks to ensure you get the best results. If you still have trouble review the steps for older versions.

For those running 10.6 Snow Leopard or earlier:

  1. Open Mail. If this is the first time opening Mail a setup assistant will open. You can use the assistant or if you have existing accounts go to File menu then select Add Account…
  2. Enter your name for personalization, email address, and password. Deselect automatically setup your account and click continue.
  3. Choose IMAP (POP can be used but not recommended) and write a handy description to help quickly see what account you are working in.
  4. Use for the incoming mail server then enter your email address for username and enter your password.
  5. Make sure to select SSL and use port 993 for incoming mail (if prompted).
  6. For outgoing mail settings use a handy description to tell which account you are sending out from.
  7. Enter for outgoing mail server, check use authentication, and enter your email for username and password. Use port 465 or 587 and click continue.
  8. Select use SSL (if prompted).
  9. Verify your email settings and finally choose create.

If you need help setting up other accounts or want to confirm your settings then click for Mail Setup Assistant available online from Apple.

Useful Settings for Google Apps / Gmail for 10.8, 10.7, 10.6, or earlier:

This settings are a matter of debate and this is our opinion of optimal settings for those still running prior to 10.9 Mavericks which upgrades Mail for a better integration with Gmail. For recommended setting see Google’s Gmail Help Forum.

  1. Open Mail and navigate to the Mail menu and select Preferences. Once the window opens select Accounts then Mailbox Behavior tab as shown
  2. Selecting to store Drafts, Sent, Junk, or Trash on the server can have very differing results based on other apps or multiple accounts. An example is seeing multiple Drafts in your Trash because of versioning after a message was sent. Our future steps will help mitigate problems if you decide to enable these options, but Google does not recommend enabling any storage except Junk for storage on their servers. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No matter what decisions you make sure all dropdowns are set to ‘Never’ to avoid missing messages in the future because Mail automatically cleaned them up.
  3. Select the Advanced tab and enter “[Gmail]” for IMAP Prefix. If you use other apps such as Mailbox or use custom labels this is not recommended. Custom labels will need to be renamed to include the prefix and it is recommended that you disable auto-expunge.  Advanced
  4. Close and save your settings then restart Mail. If you have a lot of emails this may be a very slow process as it updates or restarts.
  5. After Mail restarts you will need to assign your mailboxes. This is done by highlighting the folder you want to use then using the Mailbox > Use this Mailbox for menu action. Assign those you have selected to store on Gmail’s servers. You will need to repeat as necessary.
  6. After completed restart Mail again and test out your new configuration.

After everything is said and done always test it out. An easy way to test your settings in any version of Mail is to go to the Window menu and select Connection Doctor. After getting the green light on your settings try customizing the toolbar (View Menu > Customize Toolbar) and using drag and drop to organize your folders (you may need to show/hide the sidebar). If you get stuck or need assistance with your Google Apps | Gmail | Apple Mail Setup feel free to contact us.

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Surviving the Genius Bar

Genius Bar by Randy Le’Moine Photography, on Flickr

Scenario 1

You got the new iPad to stay current while on the go. It’s your second day of using it heavily, so you take a break from the hours spent customizing it for your upcoming trip to London, and your three-year-old daughter grabs it from the coffee table. You walk back from the kitchen and nearly drop your fresh mug of coffee at the sight of the shattered high resolution screen. Luckily, you smartly purchased AppleCare+ for accidents like these, but unsure of how you to get it replaced before your trip. Your first thought is driving to the Apple Store, but you only have a few. How can you get it fixed in time?

Scenario 2

Your friend gave you his white iMac as a way to convince you to switch from your PC since he got a Retina Macbook Pro. You’re skeptical, but willing to give it a try. It’s day three of playing around and you are really getting the hang of it. Then, suddenly, your fear of Mac machines is justified as itlets out piercing shriek. Reacting quickly, you decide topull the plug in fear of severely damaging your friend’s computer. The noise stops, but now what?

Scenario 3

You have had your Macbook Air for three months now and are finishing an iMovie project due on Monday. It’s bad enough you are stuck working on a Saturday morning, but now iMovie won’t stop crashing. Your first thought is to take it back to Best Buy for help. What should you do next?

In all three scenarios your Apple product needs some serious help, but it’s not always clear how to resolve your issue. Most people react by returning to the place of purchase for help, which can be a waste of time, or calling AppleCare support. You can easily see why AppleCare has such high praise while on the phone with them, but unfortunately not everything can be fixed over the phone. So, they direct you to an Apple Store or offer to ship you a box to send it back in. You may have purchased your product at another reseller to avoid the Apple Store crowds, but now your hand is forced so you grab your keys and start to head to your local Apple Store’s Genius Bar. Did you remember to make an appointment?


  • Always make an appointment to ensure the employees can see you and make your experience as simple and quick as possible. These stores can be overwhelming at times, so getting yourself on a list regardless of what times are available is a huge win. Appointments can be made online, from the Apple Store app, or over the phone.
  • Always make sure you have a current backup. If you are not sure how to backup or how current yours might be bring an external hard drive along for the ride.
  • Plan on spending time at the store; bring a book or your iOS device to kill time. Some issues take longer to address than others, so be open-minded. If you have to reinstall something and it’s taking too long ask to be shown how to install it yourself at home. Trust me, the store employees know you’re frustrated and want in and out as badly as everyone else.
  • Always check in when arriving to the store so they know you are there and waiting. They can always point you in the direction or help find you a place to sit and wait.


  • Be kind, calm, and prepared. Keep in mind this is a free service that Apple doesn’t have to provide, but chooses to as a perk for you, the customer.
  • If things are not going well or you feel the employee doesn’t understand your needs then ask for a manager. Sometimes you may have come in for service, but really needed a business team member or creative trainer’s expertise instead.
  • If you hit a dead end with the store entirely and can feel the blank look from your assigned Genius than ask for a case number. Building a case history will ensure that your basis for frustration is well documented. You can always go home and call AppleCare to plead your case if it’s in their system.
  • Be flexible! Come early and be prepared to wait off the lunchtime rush of people coming in for service.

 Apple, Genius Bar, iMovie, MacBook Pro, Retina, iPad, AppleCare, iOS are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.