April 7th, 2006

Shuffle 1

LJ as alternative to paid Macintosh tech support

Ok, I know a thing or two about computers, but I'm having difficulty here.

  • short version - when I turn on my PowerMac G5, I get a black screen - no video signal. I've tried unplugging things, waiting for 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 6 hours, rebooting, no help.

  • narrative version with boring, irrelevant, details - last night, I was all the way down the hall, in the kitchen, and I realized that there was an awful lot of fan noise coming from my office. I come in, and locate the G5 as the source. It's been on all day, I think that I recently got an update of my OS, and maybe also iTunes. There's no signal on the monitor, so I try to wake it by wiggling the mouse, punching randomly at the keyboard. No joy.

    I press the power button, and the system turns off. I press it again, I get a beep that's different from the normal system beep. It's a little hazy now, so I'm not sure the sequence of the following experiences. I reboot a bunch of times:

    • sometimes, I boot to the OpenFirmware screen. I type 'boot-mac', and I get to the 'broken folder' screen.
    • sometimes, I think, I go straight to the broken folder screen.
    • mostly, though, I get no video signal
    • grasping at straws, I try booting with my Tiger disk in the drive, and 'C' pressed. Sometimes this takes me to a grey screen with an apple and a progress spinner. Never gets past the spinner.
    • I try unplugging all devices, including AC, waiting for 15 seconds, and rebooting, no benefit.
    • I try booting with command-option-P-R pressed. No benefit.
    • I try booting with command-option-O-F pressed. No benefit.
    • I try opening up the case to look at diagnostic LEDs - none lit, if I'm even looking in the right place.
    • I remove the metal door, the plastic airguard, the fans, and locate the PMU reset button (you didn't want me to kick it accidentally, did you? Thanks!) I pressed it and rebooted, no benefit.
    • I tried swapping out monitors - at one point, I manage to get to one of the screens (broken folder? apple with spinner? I forget), so I doubt that the video card is completely dead.

    Now, I haven't been replacing RAM or trying to install Windows XP on my (non-Intel) machine or anything else "high-risk". It was up and running as recently as yesterday afternoon - the first symptom of something weird was that it woke up from being asleep at one point yesterday afternoon. Maybe I bumped the mouse. Then it went back to screensaver mode, and at 10 or 11 at night, I noticed the fans going much louder than I've ever heard before.

I've already made myself an appointment with a "Genius" for 3 1/2 hours from now, so your window to fix this problem's somewhat tight.


mac followup

The guy behind the desk repeated my diagnostic steps, and went on to remove the video card and the RAM. His best guess was that the motherboard's dead.

"Tycho" from Penny Arcade was talking about how pleased he is to be able to run his choice (or all three) of the popular OSes on a single box, and I entirely agree. Having options is a good thing; it keeps the vendors honest - nobody likes a monopoly (nobody likes somebody else's monopoly, I mean). So, kudos to Apple for having a laptop that doesn't chain you to a single OS vendor. If only you could go back in time and have a tower workstation where there are a variety of motherboard manufacturers, providing market pressure and lowering the price.

Donations to the "Dave needs a heavy piece of machinery for his iTunes fix" fund can be made at the door. They're tax-deductable if your accoutant's not ethical.