Posted on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 18:22.

Lots of bad luck, lately. Three problems with my MacBook on one day:

  1. In the afternoon, while running a CPU-intensive job, my MacBook suddenly turned off. Poof. I tried to turn it back on, but it turned right off again. A few seconds later I tried again and it booted normally, and things seemed to be okay again. After a bit of searching online it seems that some MacBooks suffer from random shutdowns, a problem that only becomes apparent after several months’ use when the heat has finally caused some isolation material inside to melt. When this happens and the MacBook then becomes too hot, it short-circuits and powers down without warning to avoid damage. Indeed, after running yes, a CPU-intensive process, for about one minute, the computer shut off again. It seems that if I make sure the CPUs don’t have a lot to do, it survives.
  2. At night in Portuguese class I tried to burn a music CD for a friend, but two minutes or so after inserting the CD, it didn’t recognise the CD anymore, and pressing the eject button had no effect. I decided to reboot, but to my horror the white screen that shows up just after turning the computer on stayed! I tried all I could think of, pressing the trackpad button while booting to force it to eject, holding Option-Command-F-O to enter prompt mode, all to no avail. At home at night I turned it on again and heard it was trying to read the CD that was stuck inside, something I hadn’t heard before because of the noise in school, so I decided to try the last thing my dad suggested: just leave it on for a while. And behold, after seven minutes or so, it gave up on trying to boot from the CD and booted normally. When logged back in, I could eject the CD, and all worked properly again.
  3. Later that night I tried to install GHC, but couldn’t compile cos of some missing library, and read somewhere online that the Essentials package on the Mac Install DVD is supposed to install that library, so I ran that package on itself — remind me to never do that again. Afterwards I couldn’t sudo anymore (missing file /etc/private/sudoers). Repaired permissions several times (there were many, apparently caused by the package, and more showed up the second and third time I ran Repair Permissions). Then rebooted, but right when the login window was supposed to pop up, the twirling wait thingy stopped twirling and just stayed. Also, my mouse pointer appeared, and I could move it around, but no login window visible. Also, when moving the pointer to where the login window was supposed to be, the pointer disappeared. Oddness.

Kind of curious that this all happened on the same day. I expect that reinstalling Mac OS X will fix the problem, but since that will erase my hard drive, I need to create a backup first. Fortunately, a friendly random (!) informaticá professor is going to lend me an external hard drive tomorrow, so I can create the backup. Perhaps I should buy one myself. My computer still boots fine from the installation DVD, and currently I’ve booted from my Windows partition, which still works fine as well. It’s just inconvenient that I don’t have the right VPN software, so I’m back to where I was: a physical network cable and restrictive proxy servers.

After the random shutdowns but before the next two problems, I went to visit the Apple Store in Braga (yeah, they have one here too, fortunately!) and the lady recognised the problem and said I should send it out to have the logic board replaced, and that they will send it to Lisboa and that it will take three weeks. :-( Or, alternatively, I can take my MacBook to Porto myself, and then it will probably take only around three days. If they have a logic board in stock. I will probably do the latter — once I have the backup, that is. The professor said he’d store the backup for pretty much as long as I wanted, so I can keep it until I have my MacBook back, which is comforting. At least I still have all my data.

Then this morning about an hour after waking up it seemed I was suffering from what the Portuguese call prisão de ventre — obstination. Highly unpleasant. I spent most of the morning in the bathroom, until finally in the afternoon… ah well, I’m sure you don’t wanna know the details. Most important thing is that I’m feeling a lot better now, which I’m extremely happy about.

There’s also been some good things: people have been very nice to me. The cleaning lady in the residence for example was very attentive and caring for me this morning, suggesting I drank some hot tea to feel better, and eat cereals, and so on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m very glad I speak a bit of French, since she speaks no English. Also, Sara, my Portuguese teacher, gave me some arroz doce, as she promised she would, as well as a pot of jam (perhaps confusingly called just doce), based on marmelo. The jam tastes unlike anything I’ve tasted before, but I must say I quite like it, as well as the arroz. So, Sara, thank you, and your mother for making it. It’s much appreciated. :-)

I cancelled this morning’s meeting with Creissac and João, but I think I’m feeling good enough now to go to Portuguese tonight. And after many days of much rain there’s been some sun again today! Despite the bad weather, the temperature is really nice, but still I prefer cold, dry weather over medium-temperature WET weather.

Take care, everyone.


By Martien on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 00:02:

Hey Martijn, what a bad luck these days with your health and Mac. Try and check the Google Zeitgeist. Perhaps there are some bad spirits spoiling the day for many people… ;-)

Wish you and your iBook good health.

Love, dad.

By Martijn on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 02:53:

Ah, the Zeitgeist, hadn’t looked at that in a long while.

And my iBook? My MacBook feels deeply insulted. ;-)

Check out this Apple article — maybe I won’t have to go to Porto after all! Have to download and install the 300 MB combo update from 10.4.6 -> 10.4.8 first, though… this is the third attempt on an unreliable connection.

By Martien on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 09:27:

Please accept my sincerest apologies, oh mighty MacBook, for not having referred to you as named. How can I ever undo this mistake. For sure, I cannot. So, I ask your eternal forgiveness, oh MacBook, master of bits.

And 300MB is quite a lot to fix a short-circuit. It also strikes me as funny that software can fix a short-circuit. Nanobots perhaps?

By Martijn on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 12:49:

My MacBook forgives!

No, the short-circuit fix is <1 MB. The 300 MB is a combined update from 10.4.6 -> 10.4.8. But I have to upgrade to 10.4.8 before I can install the short-circuit fix.

Yeah, possibly nanobots…

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