!Ay caramba! MacBook is hot

When I smelled bacon wafting from my new computer, I was thrilled -- until I realized it was the smell of my thighs igniting.

Published May 15, 2006 12:14PM (EDT)

I have figured out why the people in those Apple commercials are always dancing around, and it has nothing to do with listening to cool music on their iPods. I'm pretty sure that, like me, they've used their new MacBook Pro before reading the users guide, and are having the normal human reaction that occurs when receiving second-degree burns to the upper thighs.

Just like a Ferrari owner who privately admits the back window is too small and makes parallel parking a nail-biter, but publicly tells people that, yeah, as a matter of fact he did mean to back into that parking meter, I too hate to admit that my new Intel Core Duo, 1.83 gigahertz MacBook Pro runs hot. Not kinda warm. Not "Jiminy Cricket, that's sort of uncomfortable" but "Holy crud, call 911" hot.

Like any self-respecting techie, I did not read the users manual before unpacking my new MacBook Pro, setting it directly on my lap, turning it on and immediately taking dozens of pictures of myself using the built-in camera and distorting the images with several of the Photo Booth effects, and then assembling them into a hilarious story line using Comic Life. While I busily e-mailed my new comic strip to everyone in my address book, I noticed something that smelled like bacon wafting from my laptop.

At first, I thought those guys at Apple were geniuses for making the built-in DVD burner smell like my favorite low-carb treat. Then I felt a stinging in my thigh muscles, although stinging isn't quite the word I'm looking for to describe the burning sensation. It was more of a scalding, or a scorching, that felt worse than a rug burn but not as bad as, let's say, reentry heat.

I considered calling Apple customer support, but I was already absorbed in making an iMovie from last year's vacation footage. So I checked the users guide to see if something was up with the fan malfunctioning. The appendix directed me to Page 107, which contained a statement so shocking that I immediately posted it on my blog space I had just created using .Mac. The statement said: "Do not leave the bottom of your MacBook Pro in contact with your lap or any surface of your body for extended periods. Prolonged contact with your body could cause discomfort and potentially a burn."

An important statement like that should be brought to the user's attention a bit earlier than Page 107. Being etched on the cover of the laptop in raised neon lettering would be more appropriate. But I could see how that would mess with the sleek, spacecrafty design. So I forgave Apple for this oversight and decided to come up with a few accessories that address the heat issue in a very creative and Mac-like way. My list is broken into three sections: first aid, food and other.

iMedic: A first-aid kit that contains iBand-Aids for light burns. Includes iAloe: Used quickly, it prevents blistered skin from getting too crusty. iSkin: If iAloe application has been delayed, a square yard of lab-grown artificial skin is provided for later grafting procedures.

With the medical intervention out of the way, let's get to the lunch/dinner/snacking section.

iRotisserie: Hooks up to your USB port so you can cook crispy barbecue chicken right under your MacBook Pro. Can be used in tandem with iJerky, a drying rack that allows you to make beef, salmon and turkey jerky, dried sausages and whole smoked hams (can also be used to dry socks in a pinch.) Optional iToast grill pan also available.

iCorn: Two heat 'n' serve bags of frozen corn to be placed between your lap and the MacBook Pro. Keeps thighs cool and breezy underneath, while on top, the bottom of your MacBook Pro broils up a nice side dish for the chicken. For non-veggie lovers or those on a low-carb diet, iDry, in dry ice format, is also available. Business travelers are strongly urged to purchase the optional iFan that blows away all that cool white smoke caused by the dry ice. Especially useful in situations where cool white smoke emanating from electronic equipment might raise eyebrows, such as the business lounge at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

And now those items that didn't really fit into any one category, but would be quite useful nonetheless.

  • iCutter: a pair of wire cutters to disable the blaring smoke/heat detectors in the house so you can work in peace. Also available is iCutter Pro: heavier-gauge pliers to cut bulkier wires used in office building sprinkler systems.

  • iTold-You-So: a button that goes over the 1 key (how often do you really use the 1 key?) After you've scorched your thighs the first time, and have already admitted to Apple customer support that in fact, no, you did not read the users manual first, and the guy then directs you to Page 107 for the potential-burn warning, this button is to be pressed after the second and all subsequent times you use your MacBook Pro on your lap and start to feel that tingling sensation down there. Comes with a free widget that plays the phrase iTold-You-So in 26 celebrity voices. Button has an expected lifetime of 600 presses. Comes with two free replacement buttons.

  • iBounce: for those times you have forgotten to use the above-mentioned iTold-You-So button and you let things get a little prolonged. Consists of a basketball-like, rubberized cover that allows your MacBook Pro to safely bounce off the floor after you leap off your sofa screaming, "(Bad word) that's (badder word)-ing hot."

  • i20: a crisp, new $20 bill. Included as a pre-payout for any future class action suits against Apple for not clearly labeling the MacBook Pro with the words "Caution: This beverage you are about to consume is hot."

    And finally ...

  • iShirt: A white T-shirt featuring the Apple logo and the words "I Luv My Mac," because let's face it, aside from the pesky skin-torching issue, the MacBook Pro is a joy to use and as usual retains that glorious "coolness" factor (like that neat Apple logo on the cover that glows like a teed-off Goa'uld). Shirt is made from a cotton-asbestos blend to facilitate comfortable hugging of your MacBook Pro. Prospective note from Apple legal department: MacBook Pro is not recommended for prolonged hugging. For details, see Page 107 in the users manual.

  • By Gabriella Papic

    Gabriella Papic is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

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