Monday, November 29, 2004


Robert Ruggles, an Apple-certified technician, troubleshoots a computer at MacMouse on South Street.

Tech takes bugs
out of Apples

Robert Ruggles is the main computer tech at MacMouse Club, on South Street, owned by Rolf Nordahl and Michael Palcic. Raised in Michigan, he first lived in Hawaii from 1981 to 1984, just after getting out of the U.S. Navy.

Who: Robert Ruggles

Title: MacIntosh technology specialist

Job: Repair customer software and hardware, and manage the company's computer network and Web site

Then, when his first wife also got out of the Navy, they moved to Illinois. It was there, in 1985, that he lost part of his leg in a car crash, leaving him in a wheelchair. By 1994, Ruggles had divorced and remarried, and he returned to Hawaii, as much for the economic as the physical climate. Ruggles, 45, has two grown daughters by his first wife, and two step-daughters by his second wife, Kathy, with whom he lives in Waikiki.

Question: Are you the only computer tech at Mac Mouse Club?

Answer: Rolf and Mike know a lot, but when you start getting into the guts of the machines, it's a different story, especially on this newer stuff. In fact, I'm one of the few people on this island that will attempt a repair the power connector on a PowerBook G3. Most people would just replace the board. I actually resolder it. It's because of my electronics background that I can do that.

Q: How did you get into computers?

A: I started with computers in 1975, on IBM mainframes. I had gone to a vocational school in Michigan for it, but then when I went into the military, I went in for electronics. Then, just before I came out here, while I was in college, I was working on their computers -- PCs and Macs.

Q: The college's computers?

A: Yeah, at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Q: Who was your first employer in Hawaii?

A: Mac Made Easy. I was with them for almost four years.

Q: How long have you been working at MacMouse Club?

A: Just over two years.

Q: Where did you work before that?

A: A little place called Active Computers in Hawaii Kai. They're out of business now.

The crew at MacMouse on South Street. From left, Rolf Nordahl, head cheese; Ahinahina, security dog; Robert Ruggles, technician; Mike Palcic, big cheese; Trax, director of security; and Julia Allen, consultant.

Q: What's the most common repair job you work on?

A: One I've been getting a lot of lately are the analog boards from the old iMacs. The analog board is what supplies the power and the video to the iMac. I've seen a lot of those go out lately.

Q: Do you fix or replace them?

A: They get replaced.

Q: What's one of the hardest repair jobs to do?

A: Probably one of the most time-intensive is recovering somebody's data on a drive that is really flaky.

Q: Have you ever accidentally wiped out a customer's hard drive?

A: No. I treat data like gold -- literally.

Q: Do you have a favorite computer?

A: A favorite platform or a favorite computer? There's a difference.

Q: Well, both.

A: My favorite platform is Mac, no doubt about it. I've done both (Macs and PCs) for too many years. And the biggest reason for anybody these days for switching over to a Mac is no viruses.

My favorite computer would have to be -- and I don't own it right now -- the 2.5GHZ G5.

Q: The new iMac?

A: No, the new Power Mac. It's actually it's a dual 2.5GHZ G5. It comes in a large tower, it's about three grand, though the new G5 iMacs are absolutely awesome. I'm just a power freak. More power the better.

Q: Have you been to the new Apple Store at Ala Moana Center?

A: Of course. I was 20th in line when they opened.

Q: What did you think of it?

A: It's absolutely awesome. It kind of slowed our business down in the very beginning, but we figured it would, but we actually have a symbiosis going, because we send them business and they send us business.

Q: Was working on computers for you a hobby that became a job?

A: Heck, it's my life. I've got two towers at home, a PowerBook G4 that I carry around, so everything that has to do with Macs and the Web, I pretty much do. I'm Web master for a few sites, I play online video games like you wouldn't believe. I'm into "Halo" and "Medal of Honor" these days.

Q: I was going to ask if you were a gamer.

A: Oh yeah, big time. Most techs I know are.

"Hawaii at Work" features people telling us what they do for a living. Send suggestions to mcoleman@starbulletin.com


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

» A photo caption on Page C1 yesterday incorrectly said computer technician Robert Ruggles was troubleshooting a printer. Ruggles was actually working on a computer. The caption also incorrectly identified Ruggles as an Apple-certified technician. He previously held the certification.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.



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