Recently however, my desktop developed a curious problem - I kept getting an error message about a USB port drawing too much current, even though all my ports worked fine. Normally in my earlier avatar, I would have called the local vendor who supplies us the CPU boxes (on which we install Linux or occasionally Windows) and asked him to figure out what was wrong under pain of being blacklisted for ever if he didn't! With Apple, life, I discovered, is different! Apple vendors and service centres do not attend to problems unless their mother ship (i.e the Apple call centre) instructs them to. So, hating the thought of interacting with a call centre, I called Apple Care (that's 1-800-425-0744 if anyone is interested). After the usual mandatory wait of a few minutes during which I was assured numerous times that my call was important for them, I got a human with an American accent. Even though the call centre is in India, Apple still feels the need to employ people who are trained to speak with a fake American accent. The human took me through a procedure to flush the PRAM (boot using Command-Option-P-R) which I did and which seemed to solve the problem.
Unfortunately it did not last. The problem recurred in a couple of days and I had to call the call centre again. Fortunately Apple keeps a full record of each case, so even though I got a fresh new human with a fresh new fake accent (this gentleman had enormous trouble keeping up the accent - I really felt for him and wanted to tell him to let go - I wouldn't think poorly of him, at least not on that count!) who, after consulting a faceless product engineer, declared that I had to do a) a Hardware Test (1 hour) and b) an Archive-Install which essentially boils down to reinstalling the O/S from the original DVD though it preserves the working environment (1 1/2 hours).
Having spent the better part of two hours on this, I found that the problem had not gone away and I was already dreading the next step. This, as I found out on my next call and next conversation with another American accented man, was to do an Erase-Install (you see I had already peeked at the appropriate 'Support' section of the manual). This, as you will have guessed, actually erases everything and re-installs the bare O/S - it other words you are returned to the factory-level defaults. Not a pleasant thought, when you think of all the work you would have to do to set up the system again including accounts, files, environment etc.
Mercifully, I have been using 'Time Machine' ever since I had Leopard and everything I read on the net indicated that Time Machine would restore the system to the state I had just before the 'Erase-Install' and what's more, do it automatically.
And that's exactly how it happened - after cleaning up the machine, and booting with the newly installed pristine version of the O/S it asked me whether I wanted to restore my files from Time Machine (which was an external hard disk which it detected while booting), and it did precisely that. It took a long time (I have no idea how long - I went home and came back the next day but probably something like 3 hours or more) but the machine seems back precisely at the point at which I killed it by erasing it's life-force :) .
So here is what I would tell those who want to use a Mac. You won't regret it -- however be warned that if anytime something goes wrong, you will have to fix it yourself, following instructions from the call centre (and they appear quite reliable though completely mechanical - any question out of the ordinary, like asking which directories would be affected foxes them completely - I don't think they even know what a directory is). Of course this is the system which is followed in the US and most other Western countries, but in India we are used to calling our friendly neighbourhood service centre and hand over the problem to them. This will not happen here, unless the system has totally died or is inoperable and actually needs opening up. You are expected to do things yourself, which other than the time involved is hardly a bad thing - it allows you to get to know your machine better!
As of now, the problem has vanished. However, I have been (finally!) promised a visit by a service engineer next week if the problem recurs.