You see, now this is what I mean. When I uploaded my top ten tips for buying a computer a few weeks ago I mentioned Apple as a brand to avoid and this is *exactly* why.

This particular MacBook Pro belongs to Hairy Dean (my sisters bloke) and he has inserted an audio CD into the slot loading drive. When he tried to eject it however, despite much whirring and clicking, that Hannah Montana CD just wasn't coming out.

Hairy Dean
Hairy Dean

Now, most normal manufacturers have a mechanical release for just such occasions - but not Apple's MacBook. He took it to the AppleCentre Genius Bar who, presumably, tried to eject the disk by holding down the mouse button at startup, but other than that they told him it was out of warranty by six months and a repair would consist of a new optical drive at £125, with labour at £45 and VAT at £28.88.

£193.88 ??!!

That's my problem with Apple. Expensive to buy, non standard parts, over engineered components, stupid things to go wrong and because a lot of computer repair companies don't touch 'em you're left with the ridiculous pricing of their support centres. As for Hairy Dean's CD, the only way to get that sucker out was to disassemble the MacBook AND the optical drive as there is no 'emergency' mechanical ejection to override the electromechanical mechanism when it screws up.

Other tricks that work for some people, depending on how the disc has become stuck, are to place the end of a business card into the upper middle of the CD slot to try and push down the top of the disc so it will eject, or to hold the unit at a 45 degree angle while ejecting so that gravity lends a hand and the disc is spat out. These solutions may work if the disc is jamming against the top of the housing. In Hairy Deans case, the CD was stuck on the spindle.

The ejection mechanism works by lowering the spindle with attached CD down past a rounded metal bolt which comes in to contact with the CD as it lowers, popping it off the spindle. A mechanical arm then sweeps the loose CD out of the drive. In this case, and for some reason, the spindle was lowering and the bolt was pushing against the CD however it stubbornly remained attached to the spindle and simply deformed as the spindle continued to lower.

This could perhaps be chalked up as one stubborn CD which maybe has a spindle hole that is just a fraction of a millimetre too narrow and is gripping the spindle too tightly. Indeed, after reassembly other CD's/DVD's worked fine. The trouble is though, every time Hairy Dean inserts a CD into this thing he's always going to be wondering if it's going to come back out again or if the whole thing is going to have to come apart so his girlband tunes can be rescued.

For those who want to get hands-on because they're in a similar situation....

1. On the underside of the unit, flip the battery release catches then lift out and remove the battery.


2. Use a small jewelers screwdriver to remove the four screws down the right hand side.


3. Similarly, remove the four screws down the left hand side.


4. Remove the two screws from the rear of the unit. These are very slightly shorter than the others so keep them separate for reassembly later.


5. Flip the Macbook over and remove the four long screws from the underside.


6. Inside the battery bay, remove the two case screws (arrowed red) and the three memory cover screws (arrowed green). The memory cover screws have a flatter head.


7. Lift off the memory cover to reveal the two SoDIMM slots. If memory upgrading is your game, here's the place to do it. If you want to delve deeper into into the guts of the thing, undo the two arrowed Torx screws. If you don't have a suitable Torx driver, you may be able to coax these screws out with a flat blade jewelers screwdriver.


8. With the MacBook upright and open, begin lifting off the upper casing. Start at the back and work around both sides before easing out the front. It gets tricky around the trackpad but don't force it. The keyboard remains attached via a ribbon cable so don't yank it off too enthusiastically!


9. Once all the catches are released, lift off the upper panel - but remember the ribbon cable is still attached!


10. Peel off the yellow tape and gently pull the connector at the end of the ribbon cable to disconnect it from the motherboard.


11. With the ribbon disconnected, the upper panel can be put to one side leaving the motherboard and other fun gubbins exposed.


12. If removing the optical drive is your particular cup of tea, undo the four arrowed screws and lift off the connector (A). If you're playing with a stuck CD like I was, you can undo the screws on the removed optical drive, pop off the top and then remove the disc.


13. The P-RAM battery (B) is located under the optical drive. Should it need replacing, disconnect the plug (arrowed).


14. At the other end of the laptop is the hard drive (C). To upgrade/replace, remove its retaining screws and disconnect it.


Reassembly is the reversal. I'm sure I'll be seeing the inside of this thing again.