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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I have a mid-2012 MacBook Pro, and the serial number is clearly etched on the bottom half of the case. It also shows the date of manufacture, so those travelers with devices not affected can be waved past the inspection. Even after having cataracts removed from both eyes and replaced with fixed focal length lenses, I can read the serial number wearing reading glasses.
I can just barely read the serial number on the bottom of a 2011 MacBook Pro 13" without any optical aids in just the right kind of light at just the right angle. I can't quite do that with a 2015 MacBook Pro 15" nor a 2017 MacBook Air, and the 2018 MacBook Pro stealth gray text is a joke. But, sure, if you want to unlock and login to your MacBook Pro for TSA, you can display its serial number on the screen.
 



I can just barely read the serial number on the bottom of a 2011 MacBook Pro 13" without any optical aids in just the right kind of light at just the right angle. I can't quite do that with a 2015 MacBook Pro 15" nor a 2017 MacBook Air, and the 2018 MacBook Pro stealth gray text is a joke. But, sure, if you want to unlock and login to your MacBook Pro for TSA, you can display its serial number on the screen.
It wasn't that long ago that we all had to turn on and log into our laptops before boarding, just to prove they weren't full of explosives.
 


The Genius replied that Apple is sharing the serial number database with the TSA. This means MacBook Pro owners should expect random scans of their laptop serial numbers while going through security at the airport, and laptops that are flagged as not having been repaired will not be allowed through.
I am traveling to London on Saturday. I'm debating taking my "Mid 2014" MacBook Pro 15-inch, purchased in 2015. I want to use the computer during the flight and really want it on the other end for photographic work and some research. I do not want to express-ship my MacBook Pro to a hotel I've never visited before. I want it on the plane with me.

Apple's serial-number checker says my computer is okay. But I have no confidence that 1) word of this Apple/TSA collaboration will seep down to street level that quickly; 2) an undertrained, overworked TSA agent facing a loooong line of people is going to take time to validate that I've got a good MacBook Pro, even if that is the TSA rule; 3) that my printout of the results from Apple's Web page will be acceptable documentation; or that 4) my trans-Atlantic flight won't leave without me while I'm explaining documented TSA policy to the local agents.

I'm following this thread with great interest.
 



I can just barely read the serial number on the bottom of a 2011 MacBook Pro 13" without any optical aids in just the right kind of light at just the right angle. I can't quite do that with a 2015 MacBook Pro 15" nor a 2017 MacBook Air, and the 2018 MacBook Pro stealth gray text is a joke. But, sure, if you want to unlock and login to your MacBook Pro for TSA, you can display its serial number on the screen.
I can still read the serial number on my mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15"; however, I had the battery replaced by an Apple Authorized Service Provider and failed to check "About this Mac" when I picked it up. Checking it later showed "Serial Number: Unavailable".

As this computer is now displaying symptoms of graphics issues, turning it on to display the unavailable serial number would not be helpful. Had I opted to purchase a bottom case with the new battery, which would have included 4 plastic feet currently missing from this device, it would have no serial number information that I could display.

I did check the Apple recall link provided here — thanks for that, MacInTouch — and this machine was not affected. I created a PDF of that screen information, so I suppose I would need to have the battery replacement receipt and that PDF in order to travel with this machine if TSA couldn't / wouldn't read the serial number.

One other strange thing with this computer: I called Apple support and asked about the Unavailable serial number and was told that happed when this Vintage computer was repaired and the computer was now deserialized. What on earth gives Apple the right to change information on this purchased, not rented, device?
 


One other strange thing with this computer: I called Apple support and asked about the Unavailable serial number and was told that happed when this Vintage computer was repaired and the computer was now deserialized. What on earth gives Apple the right to change information on this purchased, not rented, device?
This is completely incorrect. Apple doesn't deserialize anything. This is the fault of the person who did the repair. When the computer is repaired, they are supposed to use a specialist tool that only Apple Authorized Service Providers have access to, to reserialize the logic board with the original serial number. If you want to, I'd suggest going back to the original repair location to get this fixed.
 


I can just barely read the serial number on the bottom of a 2011 MacBook Pro 13" without any optical aids in just the right kind of light at just the right angle. I can't quite do that with a 2015 MacBook Pro 15" nor a 2017 MacBook Air, and the 2018 MacBook Pro stealth gray text is a joke. But, sure, if you want to unlock and login to your MacBook Pro for TSA, you can display its serial number on the screen.
As another data point, I have also had cataracts in both eyes removed and fixed focal length lenses implanted. I can read the text on the bottom case of my grey 15" MacBook Pro Retina 2012 perfectly well in normal light with no auxiliary glasses or magnifying lens. My grey 11" MacBook Air (early 2015) has smaller text, but I can still read it with my regular reading glasses. The MacBook Pro has the date as well as the SN; the MacBook Air does not show the date.
 


That's a DIY project and a lot of tricky work. I had it done by this firm:
Cost was $215 plus shipping to them (they covered the return). Worth it, machine (2011 MacBook Pro 15") is flawless now.
When did you have this done? This vendor used to be on eBay and was doing great until they suddenly started racking up negative feedback and left. Did you have any problems? Did they seem reliable? I have a PS3 that needs to be fixed and am looking for a quality repair service to do more than just re-flow the mainboard.
 


When did you have this done? This vendor used to be on eBay and was doing great until they suddenly started racking up negative feedback and left. Did you have any problems? Did they seem reliable? I have a PS3 that needs to be fixed and am looking for a quality repair service to do more than just re-flow the mainboard.
If I recall correctly, reflowing the "ball" issue on GPUs is a temporary fix: the problem will come back. Unless a newer GPU is introduced, the balls underneath don't magically heal. It's a design/thermal flaw. Might buy a few years, but it will come back. I had this with several 2010-2011 MacBook Pro models, along with 2010 GPU cards and even two HDTVs (also made during those years).
 


Yes, the typical reflow job usually doesn't last long. This "Reballing Genius" claimed to have specialized soldering equipment and basically did a complete redo of the soldering - GPU removal, cleaning and new leaded solder (supposedly high tolerance of the heat generated by the GPU).
 


I remember that in Louis Rossmann's original rant about reballing being BS, he claimed that it's not the solder balls that are the problem but the chip itself - that you could heat the chip to some temperature lower than the melting point of the solder (I don't remember what that temperature was at the moment) and that the chip would work again for a while, until it failed again.
 


I've seen enough YouTube videos to know that a skilled repair tech with the right equipment can remove a BGA chip, remove the old underfill and the original solder, create new solder balls and reattach it. Conceptually, it's not hard, but in practice I wouldn't trust someone who doesn't have years of experience doing this sort of thing because it is really easy to screw it up in a way that causes permanent damage.

And, of course, this will only work if the problem really is the BGA connection to the board. If the chip itself is bad, or if the problem is somewhere else, you'll risk causing damage for no good reason.
 




I remember that in Louis Rossmann's original rant about reballing being BS, he claimed that it's not the solder balls that are the problem but the chip itself - that you could heat the chip to some temperature lower than the melting point of the solder (I don't remember what that temperature was at the moment) and that the chip would work again for a while, until it failed again.
Yup - I remember the video that Louis did on the issue. I have a 2011 MacBook Pro with the GPU problem, and I found a "hack" which involved un-soldering a SM resistor to basically "turn off" the GPU. That worked, and now I've been using the machine without any issue - however, I can't do any SMU/NVRAM reset, or I'll blow it up.

There's a more permanent solution that YouTuber "dosdude1" put together, in which you actually re-program the firmware of one of the support chips to "turn off" the GPU. I have the programmer and software ($40 for both) but haven't had a chance to do the work. There's a YouTube video by "dosdude1" which shows the entire process.
 


I am still using the Early 2011 MacBook Pro, which was repaired by Apple, then I had the AMD graphics chip replaced with a newer, compatible, version when the Apple repair failed again a year later after the repair program ended. So far, it’s still running fine with an external monitor (so the AMD chip is always engaged), albeit hotter than it did before the replacement.
 


I remember that in Louis Rossmann's original rant ... claimed that it's not the solder balls that are the problem but the chip itself...
Somewhere, I read that the problem was that the chip itself was getting hot enough that its contacts to the outside pins - whether wires inside the package or chip contacts to the package - were opening. Seems possible, given that internal chip temperatures are likely to be higher than externally measured temperatures; e.g. if the external temp is lower than the solder melting point, the internal temp. could be higher than that.

The implication is that the only solution was chip replacement, and if heat were still a problem, due to poor external heat dissipation design or poor internal chip heat resistance design, the problem would only recur.
 


Somewhere, I read that the problem was that the chip itself was getting hot enough that its contacts to the outside pins - whether wires inside the package or chip contacts to the package - were opening. Seems possible, given that internal chip temperatures are likely to be higher than externally measured temperatures; e.g. if the external temp is lower than the solder melting point, the internal temp. could be higher than that.
The lowest melting point for solder used in electronics (63/37 tin-lead alloy) is 183 degrees C (361 degrees F). Lead-free solders (as used by all manufacturers, because it is required in California and the EU) have melting points between 211 and 227 degrees C (430 to 441 degrees F).

If a chip got that hot for a non-trivial amount of time, it wouldn't just misbehave, it would completely and permanently fail. And would probably take out everything near it on the board as well. And any chip with the potential to get that hot would certainly include thermal throttling - it would slow down or shut down before ever coming close to those temperatures.

That having been said, if there is a bad solder joint on the board, either on or near the chip, then that joint could easily fail over time. The normal heating and cooling cycles can cause such a joint to crack, resulting in intermittent loss of electrical continuity, which will cause random failures.

If that is the actual cause of the problem, then reflowing the bad connection (which may or may not be on the chip itself) will help. But, as Louis Rossmann points out, there are many other reasons why you could experience failures, and reflowing won't do a thing about any of those. And someone without sufficient experience (like a consumer) is not likely to have the requisite skills to properly reflow a connection. Simply blasting a chip with a heat gun or sticking a board in an oven could easily destroy the part you're trying to fix.
 


Running Linux Mint on a late 2010 MacBook Pro 15-inch, I do not have a driver for my Nvidia GPU, so it gets turned off in software by GRUB at startup.
 


I have no confidence that 1) word of this Apple/TSA collaboration will seep down to street level that quickly; 2) an undertrained, overworked TSA agent facing a loooong line of people is going to take time to validate that I've got a good MacBook Pro, even if that is the TSA rule; 3) that my printout of the results from Apple's Web page will be acceptable documentation; or that 4) my trans-Atlantic flight won't leave without me while I'm explaining documented TSA policy to the local agents.
As a followup, my MacBook Pro went right through security. They never asked to see the printout. The snacks I was bringing on board brought more interest than the laptop...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
As a followup, my MacBook Pro went right through security. They never asked to see the printout. The snacks I was bringing on board brought more interest than the laptop...
Meanwhile...
Virgin Australia said:
Dangerous Goods
! Important information for passengers travelling with Apple MacBooks:
Due to a worldwide recall by Apple of a number of Apple MacBook batteries, ALL Apple MacBooks must be placed in carry-on baggage only. No Apple MacBooks are permitted in checked in baggage until further notice.
 




Who would ever be dumb enough to put a computer in checked baggage? That's almost begging somebody on the baggage handling staff to steal it. Ditto for camera, jewelry and any other expensive item you might travel with.
I've held many public-facing jobs during my career, and, believe me, there are plenty of people who would put valuable or irreplaceable items in checked baggage! A lot of things that seem obvious or simple are not, for significant groups of people. For example, when I was a retailer, it was scarily common for shoppers to need help calculating the discount on 25% off of a $100 sale price.

As well, some airports are notorious for forcing people they want to harass or who are deemed to have a "negative" profile to check everything... or not be allowed to fly at all. It's not clear what a MacBook owner could do in this case, other than to somehow ship the computer via a freight or courier service.
 


Who would ever be dumb enough to put a computer in checked baggage? That's almost begging somebody on the baggage handling staff to steal it. Ditto for camera, jewelry and any other expensive item you might travel with.
You don't always get to choose. If you travel enough, you'll certainly find yourself in situations where an airline or security official offers you a choice:
  1. Do what I say with your luggage.
  2. Don't board the place.
 


You don't always get to choose. If you travel enough, you'll certainly find yourself in situations where an airline or security official offers you a choice:
  1. Do what I say with your luggage.
  2. Don't board the place.
No you always get a chance to choose if you pack it into a backpack or in its own case. Then it is considered a personal item and you can fit under a seat. If you pack it into a big carry on then you would run that risk. Again you could pull it out of your carryon and bring it on as a personal item. Just saw someone do that on the last flight I took.
 


You don't always get to choose. If you travel enough, you'll certainly find yourself in situations where an airline or security official offers you a choice:
  1. Do what I say with your luggage.
  2. Don't board the place.
TSA won't make you check anything unless it's an item prohibited by law (like knives).

The airline staff (who don't have the authority to arrest anyone) may make you check a carry-on bag if there isn't enough room in the overhead compartments, but even then you can always carry on something small enough to fit under the seat on in the seat-back pouch.
 


Who would ever be dumb enough to put a computer in checked baggage?
Me. :)

I did pack a laptop in a checked suitcase some years back. I do recall having a good reason to do so, but don't remember what it was.

What a mistake.

The laptop was well padded when I packed it. When I arrived at my hotel, the laptop was damaged. Instead of being in the center of the case, it had been moved to the top, with only a "TSA inspected" paper between it and the outer wall of the suitcase. Some minor damage was done. Lesson learned.

I have since had suitcase interiors ruined by TSA inspections (they seem to prefer cutting things open rather than using the zipper). I also no longer place neatly folded and ironed shirts in checked bags. TSA likes to pull everything out and jam it back in.

Amazing how the old Samsonite "gorilla" commercial holds true after all these years. The only difference is that they do the the inside of the case what the commercial showed for the outside.

If it's valuable, you either carry it on or ship it to the destination.
 



$759 is the best price I've ever seen for this MacBook Air (with all its compatibility, ports, MagSafe, etc.).
The 128GB SSD is awfully small, but you should be able to upgrade that (especially, if you're running macOS 10.13 or later, which support NVMe SSDs). And you can always use SATA SSDs via USB 3.0.
I can't determine whether this model has the crappy keyboard. You happen to know? MacTracker says it has regular function keys (not the silly replacement).
Originally sold for $1K.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I can't determine whether this model has the crappy keyboard. You happen to know?
It has the good, old keyboard, just like earlier MacBook Airs and pre-2016 MacBook Pros.

For the record, it also drives a 4K external monitor without any problem.
Intel HD Graphics 6000
Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 3840 by 2160 resolution at 60Hz on an external display, both at millions of colors
(It's not quite as powerful as your slam-dunk iMac 5K, though. :-)
 


Thank you for pointing out the availability of these MacBook Air laptops. I'm sorely tempted to get one; my biggest concern is how well they will be supported with security fixes as the relentless march of microarchitectural data sampling vulnerabilities come to light. The Broadwell processor is the die shrink of Haswell; Haswell was the architecture that came after Sandy Lake processors, and Sandy Lake processors didn't make the cut for getting microcode updates. Put another way, Haswell/Broadwell were the oldest architectures to get Spectre/Meltdown/MDS security updates via microcode, and they'll be the first ones kicked to the curb when Intel decides they aren't worth the trouble to patch in the future.
 


My friend's 2018 MacBook Pro stopped doing anything at all. An Apple repair guy said some chip on the logic board that involved power control was dead, so they replaced the logic board... and, of course, her SSD, which she hadn't backed up in months....

The replacement came back last night with a fresh install of High Sierra instead of Mojave, so the first thing I did today was install Mojave and fix a lot of system preferences. I didn't use the computer for anything other than updates. I soon noticed that if I didn't touch the computer for 5-10 minutes, the wireless connection dropped.

I live in the woods, there are no neighbor networks. The computer is in the same room as my wireless router. It reconnects immediately when I select the network again.

It usually dropped at just under 7 minutes. Didn't matter if the display blanked out or not, in safe mode without any applications running, tried Wake For Network Access (that made it drop at 3 min 45 seconds) and several other variations, tried Reconnect Automatically, reset NVRAM and SMC, and more things I don't remember.

After 3-4 hours with Apple Support, they decided it must be a hardware issue. The plan is to FedEx it to Apple and let them examine it. I deleted the accounts I created. I may try re-installing Mojave again while I wait for the FedEx box to arrive.

Is there some setting I might have missed that could have this effect? I tried nvram -xp and there were very few items listed (well, I had just reset NVRAM).
 


I soon noticed that if I didn't touch the computer for 5-10 minutes, the wireless connection dropped.
I have had this problem with a 2013 MacBook Pro, 2016 MacBook, and a 2018 MacBook Pro. Now I have a 2019 MacBook Air that does not have this problem.

I have been through various hardware replacements, looking at which apps might be running, system load, etc. I ended up writing a small program that reset the WiFi whenever it saw the network down or prophylactically when the machine was idle. What a pain in the neck.
 


I didn't use the computer for anything other than updates. I soon noticed that if I didn't touch the computer for 5-10 minutes, the wireless connection dropped. I live in the woods, there are no neighbor networks. The computer is in the same room as my wireless router. It reconnects immediately when I select the network again.
If your router supports connecting at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, you might try connecting at 5 GHz only. A lot of household devices, not just network devices, can interfere with the 2.4 GHz band. I've even seen microwave ovens take out entire network segments. Traditional cordless phones are also major culprits.

Also check the router/WAP [wireless access point] logs, if your wireless router/WAP will let you. I have a Netgear router that decides to block connections on its 2.4 GHz band every now and then. After around ten minutes or so, it allows 2.4 GHz connections again. When it happens, the log shows the router blocking connections from specific MAC addresses for vague security reasons, though the 5 GHz band continues to work normally and allows all connections. The last time I tried to troubleshoot it, I saw posts on the Netgear user forum describing similar behavior with other Netgear router models. (I didn't have the impression this particular issue with Netgear routers is widespread, but it did happen to a handful of people.)
 


If your router supports connecting at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, you might try connecting at 5 GHz only. A lot of household devices, not just network devices, can interfere with the 2.4 GHz band. I've even seen microwave ovens take out entire network segments. Traditional cordless phones are also major culprits. Also check the router/WAP [wireless access point] logs, if your wireless router/WAP will let you. I have a Netgear router that decides to block connections on its 2.4 GHz band every now and then.
My router (Netgear) does only 2.4 GHz. The drops happen the same whether I use the phone (1.9 GHz) or not (I have no idea how much radio traffic cordless phones generate when not in use, but it must be some), and I don't use a microwave. I don't have a very electronic house, even my stereo receiver is from the 1980's. The other Apple devices never drop their connections. The router logs don't show anything helpful, just DHCP being handed out, nothing when the connection drops.

Today the drops are happening much less often than yesterday.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
My router (Netgear) does only 2.4 GHz. The drops happen the same whether I use the phone (1.9 GHz) or not (I have no idea how much radio traffic cordless phones generate when not in use, but it must be some), and I don't use a microwave. I don't have a very electronic house
As far as radio interference goes, USB 3 can be a big problem. (Display cables and Thunderbolt might also interfere.)
 


As far as radio interference goes, USB 3 can be a big problem. (Display cables and Thunderbolt might also interfere.)
The only cables are the power cable and the mouse. No other electronic device within 20 feet, and they don't have any USB 3 devices attached anyway. I erased the disk and did another internet install, and wireless still drops out. Apple support is sending me a FedEx box tomorrow.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The only cables are the power cable and the mouse. No other electronic device within 20 feet, and they don't have any USB 3 devices attached anyway. I erased the disk and did another internet install, and wireless still drops out. Apple support is sending me a FedEx box tomorrow.
It sure sounds like a lemon Mac, but if you haven't experimented with sleep settings, that might be one more experiment to run (e.g. try setting everything to prevent sleep, nap, etc.)
 


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