boutell: (shave)

My daughter's black Macbook has died. Sort of.

Normally I don't get sentimental about computers, but it had a long life with three owners, all of whom were thrilled when they initially received it and for a long time thereafter.

This thing is most likely the 2006 model, purchased for Rick, the lead designer at P'unk Avenue at the time. It was a robust Photoshop machine then.

When I first came to work at P'unk Avenue I was still rocking the flaming, half-charred remains of a Dell Latitude D520, the model that always ran hot once they decided to push out a firmware "update" that overclocked it at all times. Basically as if Honda said, "every time somebody gets an oil change we chuck in a nitrous oxide injection system. No ifs ands or buts." I ran Linux on it, figuring if you've got to drive an alcohol-fueled funnycar you may as well drive stick.

After less than a year of this the team decided it was time for Rick to get a new Mac, because Photoshop (a very good reason), and for me to get a nearly-new one.

I was resistant to the idea, for about 30 seconds. And then I was a Mac person. Yes, you too can have things that aren't broken and feel good to use! And you'll only pay a $500 premium for the privilege. Sometimes it's worth it.

In 2010 I got a 15" Macbook Pro. I was resistant, again, because I had the best man-bag ever, and I didn't want to switch. Yes, this is the same bag that led me to resist upgrading from a crappy Nokia to an iPhone for a year and a half. Wouldn't fit in the phone compartment, y'know. I got over it.

I was kindly permitted to take the by-now-seemingly-ancient black macbook home for to my daughter, who until then was on a Dell cheapo desktop special of the year. The macbook was a major upgrade.

Come the end of 2012, performance was really getting to be a problem. The machine had "only" 2 gigabytes of RAM and a small, spinning hard drive and operating system and browser upgrades had brought us to a place where just browsing the tumblrwebs was a hassle.

Fortunately 2012 was also the year SSDs (Solid State Drives) came down to a reasonable price. The upgrade to a solid state drive is a night-and-day difference for old laptops; they actually run faster than new laptops that don't have one. We upgraded all of our machines at work, then I popped a 256GB Crucial SSD in the black Macbook, along with 3GB of RAM, the absolute theoretical maximum.

My daughter got another solid year out of the machine, apart from some issues with lazy-ass game vendors who can't be bothered to support more than one Mac. The keyboard's wearing out, the trackpad's wearing out, but it works y'know.

But then the serious complaint arrived: dad, the screen goes black at random when I power it up.

OK, OK, it's time.

So I bought her a Dell Inspiron 15z, reckoning it'll keep her at least until freshman year of college and maybe beyond. (The Ultrabook spec has made it a lot easier to buy a non-Mac laptop that isn't garbage.) And then I sat down to try to repair the Black Macbook.

As it turns out, a number of people have experienced this "flash at power up, then black screen" thing. And I went through all of their suggestions. None of them work. There is no faint picture. Resetting the PRAM does no good. Resetting the SMC does no good. Removing the battery does no good. Counting to ten with my underwear on backwards does no good.

But the machine seems to be working, there in the dark. And I bet you, when I hook it up to an external monitor, I'm gonna see a picture.

And that means I can wipe the hard drive, reinstall MacOS, and put this sucker up on eBay for the highest bidder as the cheapest media server ever.

Here we are in year eight, paging happy owner number four!

September 2014

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