Mac Update: Episode IV?

Continuing the PowerBook Saga from last week, I am currently without a PowerBook and working off my old Sony 505VE. I have, however, made a good deal of progress over the last nine days, so let me bring all of my Mac-aware friends up to date on my pilgrimage to aluminum covered happiness.

By the end of last Tuesday night, my first CSR from Customer Relations hadn’t called me back yet, so I placed another call into them. After dodging the first level of support – ok, so I muscled my way through them again – I got a new CSR on the line. After talking to her for a long while, we came to an agreement. I told her about the techs not getting the problem and returning the still-broken machine that I would be picking up that night; I was without the machine for a week now and it still wasn’t fixed. Worse than that, it wasn’t even properly looked at since I sent it in with a complaint of heat running on AC power and the techs tested it for heat while asleep for three hours! She countered by admitting that they are getting some reports about a problem with the first batch of 12″ pBooks that shipped; that there is sometimes a higher level of heat being produced by these models. She also told me that Apple was trying to address the problem – newer produced machines don’t have the same problem – but they are having problems retro-fitting the older models.

OK, so at least we now know there was a problem with some models. This told me that not only was I not being oversensitive – people on the Apple boards are constantly telling people like me that “I don’t know what hot is” or that “It’s supposed to get hot” – and that some pBooks could run too hot. It also told me that there would eventually be a solution for it. My CSR continued to tell me that I would have to send it back in when they had a solution. [!!] I went to explain to her that that was unacceptable: I would get back this machine, spend hours loading it with the understanding that I would have to unload it and send it back in and then wait another week? I wouldn’t bother to load it at all, which means that in a couple of weeks I would have used the pBook less than 50% of the time that I had it in the first place. I then told her about it melting the CoolPad I had been using; I was afraid of it warping the desk because yes it did get that hot. This is where we came to an agreement: I would send in the pBook again and they would replace it if they couldn’t fix it.

So that night, picked up the old pBook, when it came back from repair. When I took it out of the box, the battery was half falling out of it which I thought was weird – I mean the techs couldn’t put the battery on right? I re-seated the battery and it caused the pBook to wobble more than when I sent it in the first time. The battery gap also got larger as well, so two of the problems that caused me to send it in for repair were now worse than before. I also noticed a new scratch on the corner of the case that I don’t remember being there, before I shipped it. Thankfully, this was all moot because I was sending it back to them for another round of repairs and/or replacement; I didn’t bother to get upset. In fact, I burst out laughing when I read the tech’s repair notes:


Dear Apple Customer, blah blah blah …for the repair of your *iBook*. Apple Service technicians were unable to duplicate one or more reported symbolms listed below…blah blah blah

SYMPOTOMS: Machine freeze when playing DVDs. — Classic case of how great customer service can fix an otherwise nightmare experience with technical problems.


I even double checked the case and serial numbers; they were all correct, but the tech thought this was an iBook, I guess. This just put a nice layer of frosting on this entire debacle that I hope will soon be finished.

And so I am without the pBook yet again, but I’m hoping that this will finally be the end of the issue in one of three ways: 1 – there’s no heat problem with the new pBook and I’m happy, 2 – there’s just as much heat as the last time and I live with it, or 3 – there’s just as much heat as the last time and I sell it and go buy a Z1 from Sony or a new Al-15 (when Apple decides to make one).

On a heat related note, there has been a workaround that seems to have worked for a user on the Apple boards. The reported steps are:

  1. Delete the power management preference file located in /private/var/db/SystemConfiguration/ (this will need to be done via Terminal, since the file is hidden in Finder)
  2. Turn the PowerBook off.
  3. Reset the power manager by simultaneously pressing Shift-Control-Option-power on the keyboard. Do not press the fn (Function) key while using this combination of keystrokes.
  4. Wait 5 seconds.
  5. Press the power button to restart the computer. If the PMU reset worked, your system date will now be either 1970 or 1969.
  6. Also make sure to calibrate your battery a few times (charge it all the way up, unplug it and run it all the way down – playing iTunes with the visualizer running is a fast way).

Not sure how well it works but it’s reported to have helped. I calibrated the battery at least three times, so that never helped me out, but I also never knew about the preference file so I didn’t delete that. It might help some of you out there, though.

Also, I found this “solution” from Japan for the heat issues people have been having. I mentioned it to Steve last week and forgot to put it up here – while it does look like it would help with airflow and keep the PowerBook cool, I’m wondering why it would be required in the first place. Go figure.

In any event, I’m just hoping that this site is again Made by a Mac by next week – I miss my bouncing icons!

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