I screwed up

When I use gear that I think may be helpful for other photographers, I like to review it. I’ve always thought I’d been very thoughtful by trying to convey that information in a way that was unbiased and clear for my readers so that they could make informed decisions. If I’ve endorsed a product and subsequently had some significant experience with it that I think others would want to know, I’ve felt responsible to update my readers to keep them informed and allow them to make their decisions with all the relevant information I have. But this week I screwed up.

Last year I wrote an article about the 2018 MacBook Pro. It is a great laptop for photographers and I recommended it. Then I ran into a series of issues where I could not get the computer to boot and provided updates on this blog as I progressed through repairs (which turned out to be unnecessary). The final resolution was that there was no issue with the Apple computer hardware or software. The screen brightness was stuck at pure black due to my use and third party (not Apple) software I installed. I ultimately just needed to type my password as a workaround to login blind in order to restore the screen brightness.

I made the mistake of assuming that if my computer’s screen was black and could not be adjusted before logging in, that must be how this computer operates in general. I was excited to have some resolution and posted an update before trying to replicate the issue on other computers. Shortly after, I was able to confirm that the issue is not repeatable on other computers and I posted an update.

I never intended for my story to be shared with people to whom I hadn’t been recommending this computer. It was something I updated on a year-old blog post and shared with my followers. Unfortunately, my update was picked up and shared in the media and the story that has been shared is incorrect. I have contacted the authors of articles which I am aware of to clarify the story, however, I can only control is what I share.


So here’s the full story as simply as I can put it:

  • The issues with my computer are isolated to my machine only and were created by 3rd-party software I have installed. Neither the laptop hardware nor Apple software  have the issues related to brightness controls as I had previously believed.
  • I did not think to let Apple tech support know about some things I had done with my computer that wouldn’t commonly done by other users and are related to the screen or boot process, including the installation of third-party software that may have deep interactions with the control of the screen.
  • The installation of third-party software made it impossible for Apple Geniuses and tech support to diagnose the problem. When the issue could not be diagnosed, Apple made good faith efforts to repair my computer by replacing hardware at their expense under warranty. These repairs were now clearly not necessary.  Apple does not support third party software and cannot be expected to have been able to identify this issue.  I cannot overstate how impressed I’ve been with every Apple Genius with whom I’ve interacted, and so it’s important to me to stress that this issue was no fault of anyone at Apple but, rather, of my own.
  • The 2018 MacBook Pro is an excellent computer. It’s very fast and is a critical tool in my photography business. I stand by my recommendation of it for other photographers, as I have continuously since I bought it.


I hope others may learn from my experience. I think the following are good lessons I’ve learned here:

  • When troubleshooting issues, pay special attention to anything you do which may be unique. Think very hard. I didn’t think about the fact that I turned the screen off because it was something I had done typically days before I ended up restarting and running into issues. Most importantly, though, I failed to recognize that third party software could be to blame for issues that Apple, understandably, could not fix.
  • It is important to challenge assumptions which seem obvious to you. I thought that if the computer keys and screen are completely black, it was not responding. Then a Genius challenged my assumption that the back light would automatically turn on during boot and proved me wrong by simply pointing a flashlight at the screen.
  • Be very careful what you assume. I assumed when my computer did something, others with the same hardware and operating system would do the same. I did not consider that I may have done something to alter the way the machine boots up.


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