Bad, bad luck

Here is the latest update on the Precious.

Bottom line:
Precious is still pretty broken. I’m wicked frustrated. I raised my voice on the phone, nearly lost my temper. And I’m really glad I purchased a macbook pro.


  1. 02-Nov-2006: Service Requested.
  2. 04-Nov-2006: Repair completed.
  3. 04-Nov-2006: Product shipped via DHL + link to track the shipment.
  4. 06-Nov-2006: DHL tracking page claims delivery was attempted at 9:40 am and intructs to call them.
  5. 07-Nov-2006: DHL had no delivery address (4tf?) so I gave it to them.
  6. 07-Nov-2006: DHL delivered my computer in the late afternoon.

What they did:

632-0282  FLX CKT ASSY,HDD,PB15"

What I did:

  1. Eagerly pressed the start button and crossed fingers and toes. Grey screen. Spinning gear. So far so good. And hmpf, the spinning gear stopped spinning πŸ™
  2. Quickly checked again the documents that were in the box, found nothing suspicious, cringed when reading “We’re pleased we could repair your Apple product.”
  3. Called 800-APL-CARE
  4. Gave the woman on the phone all the case numbers I’ve been given since 18 October, the computer serial number, my name, the 2 repair references (dispatch numbers). She couldn’t find *any* history. This computer suddenly didn’t exist anymore. The case numbers were not in the system. That was insane. I was looking at the numerous notes I had taken over the last few weeks and I was thinking “there’s no way this happened only in my mind. I’m not “that” crazy”.
  5. She said that since the computer had been purchased in France I needed to call the French Apple Care hotline. I told her there was no way I was calling any other number but the one I had been calling for the past *three* weeks.
  6. Amy appeared in my office, I put the phone on speaker phone.
  7. Amy scribbled on a napkin something like “request to speak to a superior”, which I did.
  8. The woman put me on hold for a little bit, then asked me the office address, then typed like mad and said nothing till she put me through to a “product specialist”
  9. The product specialist made me repair the (brand new) disk (no repair needed), then made me boot the Precious in safe mode. We tested the airport card. Then the video card. All seemed to be worky.
  10. He then mentioned that the current situation seemed to be similar to last week’s. I asked him how he knew that and he said it was in the system. I said “oh, you found a history for this computer, eventually”.
  11. Then he made me restart. Woohoo! Precious restarted! They had installed Tiger. I created a user account. Then we restarted again. All good.
  12. He said he couldn’t explain what had been the issue and that he hoped it wouldn’t occur again. He said that if it occurs again, I should boot in safe mode and restart. He gave me a 3rd case number. He also gave me his e-mail address and he gave me his phone extension and explained how to contact him directly by phone.
  13. I put the Precious to sleep and prayed it would wake up.
  14. Once at home, it didn’t wake up πŸ™
  15. And after I turned it off, I got the now familiar kernel panic window.
  16. I restarted in safe mode and tried to restart normally. More kernel panic window.
  17. I e-mailed Edward, the Powerbook product specialist.

He replied today and instructed me to start in safe mode, open the “Untitled” disk, go in the Library, find the Preferences folder and drag onto the desktop the folder named “SystemConfiguration”, and then, restart. He added to let him know if that worked so he could advise of the next steps. He finished with “If that doesn’t work, let me know anyway.”.

That didn’t work. After restarting I soon got the kernel panic screen. Edward will call me at the office tomorrow afternoon.


Meanwhile, Precious, my powerbook G4 is still borken…

Apple sent me a box to send it for repair and the next week it was in a worse state. This is mysterious, really. They changed the main logic board as well and the hard drive (and also the top case and they exchanged the battery). It doesn’t make sens that it wouldn’t boot at all.

More conversation with 800-APL-CARE and I was instructed to install an OS. Well, duh. There was one, said the installer. Anyway, I erased and installed, and did the software updates. The next step was to bring my backup on Precious. That was a mission for later at home, where my backup was. So I put the Precious to sleep.

And once at home, Precious didn’t wake from sleep.

More 800-APL-CARE action. I got to speak with a nice guy named Tim. We proceeded to some basic key-combo tests and as all of these failed, he instructed me to remove the apple-branded RAM and place my non-apple-branded one. No better. Precious wouldn’t boot. Tim made an appointment for me at the Genius Bar of the Cambridgeside Apple Store and gave me his e-mail address. I was to e-mail him if the genius couldn’t fix my computer.

There was nothing the genius could do. I was at the Genius Bar for more than an hour, repeatedly spacing out and thinking about the work I wasn’t doing, the frustration that my Precious was in such a bad state, the satisfaction that I purchased a replacement computer.

The genius decided to check-in Precious again for repair. I left the apple store and went on e-mailing Tim. He replied saying he’d call the genius, find out what he thinks the issue is, and get back to me with alternatives. I haven’t heard from him since.

Phoenix felicitas

I had been considering getting a personal MacBook Pro since last June. I made up my mind and purchased it yesterday.

Last June I took the opportunity of being on vacation and sent the Precious to be repaired. They had agreed to replace the DVD drive which has stopped working some time last December. The new MacBook Pros had been out for a little while and the mac people were taking a really long while to repair my computer. I chatted with the technician who was really happy with his 13″ MacBook, but he kind of dissuaded me, saying it would really be expensive if I wanted a MacBook Pro that had a similar configuration as my PowerBook G4.

But yesterday, I reconsidered it. It seemed just like the right thing to do, on several accounts. I had chosen a pretty good configuration (non-glossy 15″, 2.16 GHz, 1 GB RAM, with a 100 GB HD) and the Cambridgeside Galleria Apple Store had it in stock. Oh I get by with a little help from my friends. H^H^H^H^ With a little help from my friend, I got to buy it (dino++). How exciting! Mine!.

A few nights ago, I was entertaining myself with threatening Precious to get a new computer that I would name Precious, and that Precious would not exist anymore. Precious still goes in kernel panic mode after being restarted each time it fails to wake up from sleep (i.e. every time, unless it’s completely off for a long time).

Anyway, I got this new computer and it didn’t feel right to name it Precious. I considered a few names:

  • Tool (because it’s *the* tool)
  • Thing (’cause it’s a thing)
  • Mine (all mine!)
  • PreciousToo (or MorePrecious, or PreciousTwo)
  • Ni (“two” in japanse, it also amused me to think of certain Knights)
  • Felis-Felicitas (the HP happy potion –Amy suggested this– amy++)

Right now it’s called Phoenix. Because it’s grey. Which made me think of Jean Grey who is Phoenix in the XMen comics. I like it but it sounds obviously too serious, not at all the same spirit as the names in the list above. It will do, for now.

kernel panic

Today I learnt what a kernel panic is. In fact my powerbook G4 started to experience it yesterday morning. It’s only today I learnt what it was, and how to fix (and boy do I pray I don’t have to do that again).

It all started when I opened the lid of my computer. Let’s call it Precious, for the sake of simplicity, since it is called Precious. So Precious had been sleeping all night and as I opened the lid, nothing happened. I didn’t hear the friendly rattling of the disk, I didn’t see the screen’s colours came back to life. Only the capslock key gave me an indication that Precious was still on.

After a little while I decided to sacrifice its 74-day uptime on the altar of pride (besides, it’s not really like I did have a choice) and pressed the power button. I pressed it again and after a little while I was greeted by the grey and black screen telling me in four languages I had to restart my computer. Uh oh… That was it. A kernel panic. But I didn’t know that. And it doesn’t matter, come to think of it.

So I fished out the Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger DVD and fed it to Precious. I looked for the Disk Utility in the Utilities menu and checked the disk. It needed repairing and was repaired pretty quickly. At which point I restarted and all was well. Whew. Good, because it was already time to leave the house to commute.

Nothing to report regarding the morning incident after my day at work. When it was go-home-o’clock, I closed the lid. I wasn’t done for the day and once home, I opened the lid. Guess what? Yeah, black screen again. I knew what to do, of course. Except there was nothing to repair on the disk, this time πŸ™

I tried all the key combos on boot that I know of; Zap PRAM, Clear NV RAM, boot into Open Firmware. Then I tried these again *without* the battery. To no avail. Then, and since it was bed o’clock, I thought I would remove the battery and let Precious discharge all night, and see what the next morning had in store.

Nothing new. Today was Precious’ 2nd birthday. I don’t know if that’s ironic.

Anyway. I took my external HD with me and as soon as I was at the office, I called Apple Care and told them everything!. I learnt of a new key combo: “shift-ctrl-option-power”. It resets the power management unit. I also found out a little while later that it fucks up the clock. It was 31 Dec. 1969.

Where was I? Ah yes. Safe boot mode. I was instructed to trash the StartupItems dir from my Library, and then to visit the System Preferences, look for my account and remove the login items one by one.

Then I was instructed to remove the PCMCIA card reader. For good measure.

The next step was to boot again in safe mode and proceed to a backup and then to boot on the installation DVD and perform an “erase and install”.

I made an appointment at the CGASGB (Cambridgeside Galleria Apple Store Genius Bar) for 2:20 pm. At this stage, I didn’t mind at all to get a second opinion. A friendly genius did a pretty quick “archive and install” and tada! Precious was exactly how I like it! My genius sent me back home but before I left, I wanted to make sure I could close the lid and reopen it and still be happy. And I was. So I left.

The thing is that in the 20 minutes it took to be back at the office, Precious had spaced out. I called the genius and he said I needed to “erase and install”. He said also that if the problem still persisted, I would have to call Apple Care and have them set up a dispatch. All righty!

It was 4:30 pm and by 4:45, I knew my Tiger DVD was not OK πŸ™ No idea why. Scratches, fingerprints? Yeah, sure. I ignored and installed anyway. That was not so smart. Precious was not fully installed. The installation stopped after 25 minutes. And I could no longer boot in safe mode.

It was so tempting to open the window and just drop Precious. Assuredly, I would get a new one.

The next two hours I spent trying to eject my Tiger DVD, and other various things. Then I ran a hardware test (the extended one). Naturellement, no hardware problems had been detected.

I called Apple Care for the 3rd time today, gave a status report and was given my new instructions: Use the retail installation disc that came with Precious when I got it. Lucky me, I have them both with me. I was advised to install Panther and then upgrade to Tiger. At this point I had lost hope that it would ever work.

It was nearly 8 pm, I think, and it was time to go home, that bit was certain, and I was wicked hungry.

[here is the dinner break that was a very enjoyable moment, and that I couldn’t possibly describe, for the sake of not spoiling this entry with happy facts.]

At 9:30 pm I booted on the Panther disc and by 10 pm, the installation was successful.
At 10:15 pm I inserted the Tiger DVD and attempted to upgrade. By 10:50 pm, it was upgraded to Tiger! By 11:25 pm I had the XCode Tools (and I’m not certain that was needed…).

Then, I wasn’t too sure whether to rsync from the external HD to the internal disk or to use the Migration Assistant. Turns out I started to rsync, then changed my mind. I cleaned up and fired the Migration Assistant. But the account I wanted to transfert was 43+ GB and the space remaining was “- 8.5 GB”. Grumble…

At 00:50 am I realised there was a huge .Trash in the account on the external HD. It freed a little less than 4 GB. Almost. I moved a bunch of big directories in the other partition of the external HD and freed enough space that the Migration Assistant eventually announced the after the transfer, the space remaining would be 855 MB. By then, it was 1:10 am, the Migration Assistant was ready to migrate, and it was done at 2:30 am.

The thing now is that the available space on my internal disk is only 1.67 GB and it’s far less than what I had before (around 9). So I suspect I didn’t do the right thing. Also, I’m not sure what happens when I restart. Will I find my settings? I hat to see such a large dock at the bottom of my screen. I prefer when it’s thin and when it appears only when I go fetch it. I don’t like the blue background so much, I prefer the image I had selected. I don’t like that the items on my desktop have icon and name and that the font is so big. I have no idea if my home-made scripts are worky. And I hate the white background in the Terminal. That kind of things.

I’ll find out tomorrow at work what was the right thing to do, and whether I can still do it πŸ™‚

I still love this computer. Go figure.

Update: It turned out that Precious didn’t wake from sleep πŸ™ The Apple Care people told me it looks like a hardware issue and that they will fix it. They’re sending a box for me to ship it to them. It will arrive Monday or Tuesday. They can’t say how long the repair will take.

I had been considering getting a personal MacBook Pro since last June (the last time Precious was being repaired –replacing the DVD drive). I made up my mind and purchased it yesterday. I’ll use it for work while Precious is borken.