Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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MacBook death

559 words on

I haven’t been happy with any Apple hardware I bought this millennium. It may look better than the competition’s but every single Apple product I bought in this millennium has been a disappointment in the long run. Usually the hardware quality, manufacturing or quality control are shoddy and more often than not the design isn’t brilliant either. At least if you take ‘design’ to mean that you take into account what you can actually manufacture in a decent quality. Apple’s designers may get the looks right, but – from broken Titanium Powerbook hinges to breaking MacBook top cases –  they simply seem to lack any understanding of how to design and manufacture things.

The worst problems are of course those which aren’t easy to reproduce and which ‘just happen’ without leaving any traces. I had some of those in the past, like the screen flicker on the Titanium Powerbook which Apple failed to fix or even acknowledge (they exchanged all other parts of the machine instead for unknown reasons) or the ongoing problem of my MacBook losing its wireless network connection. These issues are particularly frustrating as unlike a keyboard that’s falling apart you can’t show it to the service person. By Murphy’s Law the problem will just not be present at that time. As a consequence you will know that the machine has a problem a few months after getting it but you may not be able to have that fixed before the warranty runs out.

Today, I was using my MacBook on the train. And after about half an hour Bang! the screen turned black. I first assumed that I had accidentally invoked the screensaver, but the machine had just decided to turn itself off. Holy friggin’ shit! While the MacBook’s battery life isn’t anything to write home about, it’s still between two and three hours, so I think I can rule battery problems out. In particular as four of the five battery status indicator lamps lit up when I checked the battery status.

Even worse, when I pressed the power button, it seemed that the screen’s backlight turned itself on, as did the sleep light, the DVD drive made its annoying ‘ejecting’ noise and after another second everything was shut down again. Dead. I repeated this a number of times, always to the same result. Then I went into black magic territory, removed and re-inserted the battery, did the SMC-reset dance [a ‘feature’ of which I think that I shouldn’t know the steps by heart because if the machines were good I never needed it] and none of those steps changed a thing.

After arriving home, having dinner and cheese I thought I’d give it another try. And the MacBook powered up just fine. As if nothing had happened. I hadn’t connected it to the power in the meantime, nothing. And obviously there isn’t a single log because the system just died before it could write any at first and later on it didn’t even come up. So I was left with a few trashed preference files and unsaved documents (although TextEdit’s auto-save feature recovered things quite well). I now know that there’s something fishy with the machine, that this could possibly happen again, but I have no idea how to get it fixed. Which is much more frustrating that the machine simply breaking.

Any hints?

January 8, 2008, 0:28

Tagged as apple, apple defect, broken.


Comment by Christian: User icon

Have you been in a fight with your MB recently or otherwise treated unfair? Maybe it had enough of you and just needed a second?

Joking, no idea. Can it be connected to the train? Sudden power fluctuations? Heavy vibrations?

January 8, 2008, 1:19

Comment by ssp: User icon

I strongly doubt that the train has anything to do with it. Not only shouldn’t this make any difference but I used the machine many times on exactly the same train before.

January 8, 2008, 6:39

Comment by Ingo: User icon


January 8, 2008, 10:40

Comment by ssp: User icon


Interessante Idee, halte ich aber für extrem unwahrscheinlich. Das Gerät war draußen wie immer gut verpackt (Tasche + Rucksack). Es war außerdem recht warm. Im Zug gab es keine beschlagenen Scheiben o.ä. Da habe ich schon schlechteres Wetter mitbekommen, was dem Gerät keine Probleme bereitete (und auch keine Probleme bereiten sollte, denke ich).

January 8, 2008, 10:55

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