12 Sep

Three days without laptop / Repair of damaged Macbook Pro screen

In Hong Kong and right on the day when I was leaving for Hong Kong – I noticed a bug in my Macbook Pro’s screen. A real insect yes!




This was irritating. Hard to know how it actually got inside but may be from bottom side of laptop which was missing two screws for a while which I recently bought from UK and added. Apple support couldn’t answer on how it got there. Furthermore I was facing a problem of screen showing pink/green lines after turning on for almost 1.8 years now. They used to show up when laptop was turned on and used to go away after 15-20mins. Over time the issue increased and now it was taking as much as 40-50mins for lines to go away. Since I was visiting Hong Kong for HKNOG 3.0, I booked an appointment with Apple store. Fixing time went quick (over phone call with Apple support) and I was at Apple store in HK right on next day after an overnight flight to Hong Kong.

They dropped bill bomb by quoting me $5600 HKD / $720 USD / 48k INR !!!


While they told me of the amount they kept on running built in diagnostic tests to see if something else had any issue. I was there trying to count whether it makes sense to spend $720 USD on repair or rather just buy a new one. New one was 3x price of that and in current config I quite existing one. There wasn’t any other major reason to buy new one except screen issue. Furthermore re-sell value would be just zero for a laptop with insect inside screen. This is my three years old laptop and I used it almost for 12-16hrs every day on each day in last 3 years.

In meantime Apple store advisor told me (as part of regular diagnostic) they would check my screen for any issues with top coating and if they found any issue they would replace screen for free as Apple covers screen replacement for damaged coating even for devices outside warranty program and I was lucky it was. 🙂



So the good news for me was free replacement of screen and that would get me rid of bug inside screen beside green/pink lines but sad part was 3-5 days time they quoted for replacement. In real it took just 3 days and they were read with device by 3rd evening (a few hours ago – when I got my device back). You can read more about free screen replacement / Apple screen coating issues in this post and I can very much confirm that this is applicable. That saved me a hell lot of money and the hard choice of putting $720 on three year old device Vs new one.

Also I realised this was first time in three years when I was without laptop.


Day 0 – This was day when I deposited laptop. This day just went as I was deadly sleepy after a 9hrs non-sleepy flight and bit of travel inside HK.

Day 1 – This was HKNOG 3.0 conference day. I was on way in HK MTR (metro rail) to conference venue. I checked and edited my slides on my Nexus 5 smartphone in Google Sheets. It was OKish experience. Worked but definitely not fun. I very much missed laptop at that time. Did not miss laptop in daytime as was busy with conference. I could surely have worked during event and email replies could have been bit faster! But not much beyond that. Conference day usually goes busy in meeting people, and discussing about various things.

Day 2 – This was day when I checked out of hotel and checkin to hostel and terribly missed laptop. I did strained my eyes a bit while waiting for rain to stop outside by watching Suits Season 3 on my Android phone on Netflix. I even thought to download wordpress app on Android and post on my blog but realised I have done bit of fencing on blog to make it hard to connect! I did roamed around nearby in electronics market and even explored option of cheap laptop to run Linux and have it as backup laptop but I usually prefer single device and that stays very well customised and personalised.

Day 3 – It was Sunday and I roamed around a bit and had some serious plans while I cancelled as soon as I read email from Apple store with subject: “Your product is ready for pickup” and I just rushed to Apple store (which happens to be open on Sunday as well here). Collected laptop and started working on restoring OS (an hour of task via Time Machine backup).


For now laptop seems fixed and has got a new screen.

Here’s what bill says:



With that being said time to look at BGP routing table 🙂

11 Apr

Creating a cable for fast USB charging

When I was in US last time, I picked a nice charger with it’s own backup from Amazon. It’s PowerGen charger with a storage capacity of 8400mAh with two USB ports for output (one with 2Amps output and other with 600mA with 5V standard USB).


This is a amazing product since 8400mAh is really huge amount power. My phone’s battery has a capacity of 1750mAh and theoretically speaking this can charge battery from 0 to full around 4 times. In practical experience I have tried for around 3 times during long flights. Never really needed to go beyond that point.

The charging cable which came with this charger has something special – It’s a “charging only” cable without any data connection capability. The charging only cable carries only “electrical connectivity” via + and – wires without any data pins (D+ and D- shorted). The advantage is that charging speed with this cable was really fast and I really enjoyed using it with external charger as well as my iPad’s charger which has a 2A output (which brings 2A x 5V = 10W power).

In theory these charging only cables give very fast charging because they don’t put USB data connection. A standard USB port on computer has power limits and device is signaled to pull more power via “shorted data pins”. Usually device is connected to 600mA or even less in data+charging mode, while such shorting brings power to max of port which is usually 1A for most of ports (and 2Amps for iPad charger).

Unfortunately connector of cable which came with my powergen charger went pretty loose.

Tonight I decided to make an extra data cable which was lying around into “charging only” cable by shorting it’s D+ and D- mins. It was pretty easy except that actual wires are really thin and I had slightly hard time in removing insulation without breaking them off.



Steps for creating a “charging only” cable


Step 1 – Pick a standard USB data cable

Cable before starting:


Step 2 – Cut it right from middle and peal off outer insulation

It will have 4 wires – Red & black (for electrical current flow), white & green (for data connection)


Step 3 – Now idea is to short the data pins (green and white) going towards phone while just leave white and green going towards USB port/charger side disconnected. Red and black should be connected as normal for electrical connectivity.


Step 4– That’s pretty much it. Just insulate final red and black connection in a way to make sure they never short.

This is how cable looks like in my case after shorting data pins and insulting it back.


That’s about it.

Back to work for now! 🙂