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Invincible Igor: The Story of a Mac That Couldn’t Die


Have you ever unboxed a MacBook?

It’s a magical experience.

The geniuses at Apple have you open a matte white box — pizza style, so your saliva glands can’t help themselves.

Inside, nestled in a bed of dark grey foam, is your Mac. Its brushed aluminum gleams mutely and you catch your breath.

Peeling off the protective clear plastic feels like Christmas morning.

Heart pounding, you place it gently on the desk. Lifting its screen is a sublime thing.

You press the power button and the C major chord of life raises every hair on your arms. 

I met Igor in January 2012.

His dusty box had a boot print on it. I cut through three layers of courier tape and lifted him out of the foam.

His brushed aluminum was spotty with fingerprints.

Three of his screws were missing.

And there was a dent in his side. A big dent. The kind you get from dropping something heavy on something hard.

Preparing for a Saturday iBooks Author workshop.

Igor second from right, delivering content through AirDrop

Heart sinking, I lifted his screen.

A post it note inside said that he was called Demo Model 2011.

Now, you don’t look a gift Mac in the specs, but looking at him, you’d think there would be something wrong with Igor’s brain. Only, there wasn’t. 

He resounded his barbaric C major yawp upon startup, just like every other Mac in the office.

He was ready to go right out of his filthy box.

And though he’d spent the first six months of his life in an iStore, permanently hooked up to a power cord, he still had 6 hours of battery life.

Igor's only physical handicap was a broken audio jack, which was deemed too expensive to replace.

Igor was never going to have a life of polite emails from the comfort and safety of an office with IT support.

We worked for Think Ahead Education Solutions, which basically meant schools and traveling. Lots of schools and traveling.

This is where I ran into my first issue and only with the MacBook Pro: at 2.54 kg (5.6 lb.), it sits in a commuter backpack like five bricks.

In the training seat.

Igor POV on a Saturday morning. Yes, I had no life.

After one week of carrying this bulk around in a standard laptop bag, I wised up and got a Thule Crossover backpack.

Which may be the best money I’ve ever spent on luggage.

It fit Igor’s 15inch frame just fine, and it became my desk away from the office.

Better yet, its simplicity made airport security checks a no-brainer.

Igor logged more frequent flyer miles than the average carrier pigeon.

The furthest corners of South Africa got to know us very well. We also visited Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. 

During our time together, Igor and I facilitated training sessions for hundreds — if not thousands — of teachers.

We expanded their knowledge of and confidence in iPad integration.

We taught them how to create iBooks for their classrooms.

We broke the spell of MS Office with our free iWork workshops on Saturdays.

We planted the seed of possibility in many a doubtful heart.

If you’re thinking you could have done this with any other laptop, think again.

There are many places in Southern Africa without electricity and Igor’s 6 hour battery life made going there easy.

Sometimes we would go weeks without seeing the office, and a lot of the time we had sketchy connectivity.

Internet access in most parts of Africa is limited — not only in bandwidth, but also in data.

So, whatever internet access I had needed to be used on pressing issues. 

Being a MacBook Pro, Igor’s chances of having a system failure was so slim that I never bothered to back him up.

Nor did I lose any sleep over it.

Speaking of sleep — there’s nothing that knows how to do it better than a Mac. I’d often close Igor’s lid in the middle of something without hitting ‘save’, only to open it again and immediately carry on working.

I did this so often that I no longer though about it, and so closed someone’s Dell before saving their PowerPoint in progress.

Needless to say, that did not end well.

Igor loved saving the day.

Even though he had that issue with his audio jack, his other parts worked just fine.

At many a conference, I connected an iPad and Apple TV to Igor's private hotspot, then plugged the Apple TV into the PR system, and used the iPad to control the Keynote slides on the Mac.

This sounds complicated, but it was a simple, reliable hack with a mute MacBook at its heart.

At a conference way out of town, the boss’s MacBook took a nosedive out of her bag.

Suffice it to say, it got more than just dented. While she picked up the pieces, I got her a coffee and sat down to create a new user profile on Igor.

Within 30 minutes he was a clone of the sadly departed.

When I got him back a week later, he was none the worse for wear, except for the crumbs in his keyboard.

iBooks Author training with my trusty  sidekick.

Igor was also the Mac in my personal life.

Long nights we spent together, instant messaging across the Atlantic with the other half in my very long distance relationship.

Although it was not Igor who first keyboarded ‘I love you,' it was he who purchased the plane ticket to the US to meet the love of my life.

In then end, I gave him up for this love.

Igor facilitated many FaceTime conversations between midnight and 4am.

He witnessed tears of joy, but also many of frustration over the time zones, missed opportunities andmiscommunication that make up an intercontinental relationship.

So he bought me another ticket across the ocean.

I got married on a whim in New York City, and sent word that I would not be back for him.

Igor said nothing in return.

He was too busy sowing seeds of possibility in the hands of a colleague.

When Igor met a Powerbook.

In Zambia of all places!

He carried on without me.

He’s still carrying on today.

At five years old, he’s a MacBook Pro in its prime — and I fully expect him to carry on for another four. 

My heart swells when I think of all thing things we'd accomplished together — curriculums designed, fires put out, presentations animated, images and text copied and pasted and saved and edited and aligned and tweaked for hours on end.

Only to receive emails that say, 'please revise’.

Did Igor ever let me down? Oh, yes.

Sometimes he wouldn’t play nice with Windows networks.

Sometimes he would seize up if I tried to run MS Office for Mac and other apps together (updating the memory to 16GB sorted that out).

When I updated him to OS X Mavericks, he developed a superiority complex and wouldn’t talk to anyone in the office.

That lasted all of 10 minutes.

But he never failed me. Not once.

I never stopped believing in the heart beating within his unibody.

I now own an iMac, whose name is Carl. He is splendid in every way, as long as you don’t try to pick him up.

I've also acquired a MacBook Pro with Retina, called Tony. It makes my breath catch to see its slender perfection sitting on my desk.

But I still miss Igor — my dented, mute and immortal MacBook Pro.




Amateur carpenter. Keynote junkie. Won't shut up about Squarespace and South Africa.