Archive for the ‘Macs’ Category

Throwaway tech

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

I took my iMac in to the local Genius Bar on Saturday. It no longer boots, and I was having display problems before the “won’t boot” condition occurred. I’d looked into the display problems, and they were apparently caused by overheating damaging the RAM chips on the logic board. Presumably, leaving my system on for long periods (among other things, I used it as the main server on my home network) was what led to the problems.

The RAM can’t be replaced, of course, so I presumed repair would require a new logic board, and I wanted to find out just how much that would cost.

Well, the tech at the Genius Bar did get it to boot a couple of times, and the sensor diagnostics indicated no overheating problems. Trying to run some of his other tests didn’t work, though, and he couldn’t boot/run the more in-depth tests that may have isolated the problems. Therefore, replacing the main logic board is the minimum that seems necessary to get the system running again. Unfortunately, my iMac is a “late 2006” model, and Apple no longer manufactures replacement parts for it. If I want it fixed, I have to go to an aftermarket repair facility. Looking on line, used logic boards run about $500, and labor charges can only add to that.

The tech at the Genius Bar suggested that my best course of action with the old iMac would be to sell it to one of the local aftermarket repair facilities for parts, because there’s still a demand for iMacs like mine. I imagine I’ll end up doing that. Although my company did send me for training in surface-mount soldering last year, I have no way of determining what to replace to solve the problems, and scattershot replacing of parts is likely to be expensive, with no guarantee of success.

For a system with 1GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive, that’s not worth it to me. A new iMac runs about $1100 for the low-end model, which would give me a system with better display, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB of hard disk. I’m not sure I’ll do that, though. I have a “late 2011” MacBook Pro I’ve upgraded to its maximum RAM capacity and a large flash drive that serves most of my needs quite well, so I can get by for the foreseeable future without buying anything new. For file server purposes, I may see how well my Beaglebone Black works.

Tough trip for tech

Monday, November 28th, 2011

I just got back from a trip to New York (NYC and Binghamton/Syracuse). Overall, I had a great time, but I can’t say the same for much of the technology I took with me. My cellphone came through without problems, but my camera and laptop both suffered.

The camera (a Sony DSC-TX5) got turned on my pocket, where I’d started to carry it after I noticed the stitching on the belt strap on the pouch I normally kept it in had come almost completely undone. When this happened, it appears that the touchscreen got recalibrated. I can’t get it back into working order, because, with the touchscreen as far out of calibration as it is, I can’t operate the menus to invoke the touchscreen calibration routine. If there’s a way to do it through the USB connection, Sony won’t admit it, so I’m left with sending it in for service (or buying a replacement). The current more-or-less equivalent camera (the DSC-TX9, I think), has more megapixels, which is likely a point against it in my book. Some years ago, I read a very good article that made the point that most point-and-shoot cameras don’t have lenses that are good enough to make more than 7-8 megapixels worthwhile. My camera has 10 megapixels, and the newer model has 14, IIRC.

The laptop is a different story. It worked through most of the trip without problem, but Friday morning, the screen was totally dead. I tried a number of things, and it appeared that everything was working except the display. Luckily, I have a smartphone with internet access, and a quick search for “MacBook Pro screen dead” revealed that this is a known problem caused by defective video chips that were supplied to Apple. Because of that, Apple decided that repairs of this problem would be free of charge, even if your laptop was no longer covered by warranty, as long as it occurred within 4 years of purchase. I’m probably out of luck – I’m about 3-4 weeks past 4 years. Maybe they’ll be lenient.

As it is, I’m just glad that Apple put the ability to boot into “target disk” mode into the OS – I’m currently moving the contents of my hard drive over to an external USB drive prior to taking the laptop in for evaluation/repair. I’ve read that Apple, like numerous other repair centers, has been known to reformat a hard drive even when it’s not necessary, just because it makes it easier for them. Since the MacBook has been my primary system for a few years now, I’m not willing to let them do that without getting a current backup (my last one is a bit out of date). It took me a while to find a local store that had the correct FireWire cable (even my local Apple Store didn’t), but the process seems to be going smoothly enough.

Miscellany 7

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I’m currently clean-shaven, but, when I have a beard, it’s normally the third from the left on this diagram. I would have thought it would be considered more evil than trustworthy.

I’d seen stories about how bad Detroit is (and heard the jokes, such as the one from Kentucky Fried Movie), but I hadn’t realized that it was this bad.

I don’t care much for cilantro. Although I recognize that it’s a vital component in certain salsa recipes, too much of it makes things acquire a lemony soap flavor to me. I remember at an office Christmas dinner many years ago being offered a spoonful of (read: forced to try) a cilantro soup. Yuck! Well, it seems that there is a genetic component to whether you like the flavor of cilantro. I find that easy to believe; I’ve long thought it myself. Personally, I suspect that it’s sex-linked, because most of the people I know who like cilantro are women, and most of the people I know who dislike it are men.

The iPad is a neat toy. I don’t really want one, but I could certainly have fun with one. One of the major complaints is that you can’t print from it. Well, the user community has taken care of that limitation.

Speaking of Apple products, in this case, the iPhone, this third-party app looks interesting.

This also looks like a fun toy.

Yet another reason not to get personalized license plates.

Chords and words for songs by Tom Waits.

How safe are your passwords?

I think I’ve got some ideas for unproductively sucking up more of my free time.

I’ll finish with a few videos. First, a nice version of Moondance on uke:

Next, a trailer for a movie of obvious class and tone:

Finally, a link to the Nova presentation on fractals.

A learning experience

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I entered a contest recently. I didn’t win, but I had fun.

I had to learn how to use iMovie, which turns out to be a toy I’ll probably use more now that I’ve learned enough to be dangerous.

If you’re interested, you can find all of the contest entries here. I’m #48. The entries that impressed me the most are #3, #19, and #22.

A leopard don’t change his stripes

Monday, November 5th, 2007

But Leopard is spotty in its overall effect, according to Computerworld. As I’m not a Mac power user yet (my Windows background still keeps getting in the way), some of their kudos and critiques don’t mean much to me, but I’ll certainly keep them in mind. There are links in the article to more in-depth articles about some of Leopard’s features.

By the way, the post title is a quote from Oscar.

Starting from scratch

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

I’ve gone all-Mac at home, replacing my broken WinXP laptop with a MacBook Pro (as I mentioned earlier). I’ve also put Leopard on both systems, but I didn’t wipe the iMac before I did that. Maybe I’ll do that next time. However, for the laptop, LifeHacker has a post on what to put on a bare Mac.


Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

My iMac came home one year ago today. Now, I’m thinking about a MacBook or MacBook Pro to replace the laptop I killed recently.