Friday, February 11, 2011

training for the sweatshops

Oh boy, well pretty much all week last week and a little of this week (lol) I decided to wrassle with my Macbook.  This pretty little device has been giving me grief for a good while, as an unknown affliction plagued the poor little plastic piece of 'puting, yielding it worthless as a laptop.  The issue was from what I could tell at the time was something inside was causing the computer to freak out, or more specifically it would crash into a kernel panic or would all together short out.

The first thing that I pondered it could be was perhaps there was a piece of the metal chasis inside not playing nice with the logic board, perhaps had bent and was making a connection to the board and causing the computer to beg for death.  The reason I though this was because the only time this issue showed up was if it was held in a way it allegedly did not like.  At first I said screw it, I'll just not use it as a laptop anymore since I had my netbook and would just use the Macbook as a nice little media server for the TV in the living room.  And that did work nicely for a while, but soon the issue came up once again!  Perplexed as to how this could be happening beyond my first assessment, I decided that it was time to get down and dirty with the Mac.

The only Apple laptops I had dismantled previously was the first generation Macbook Pro, the old white iBooks (the famously awful-to-take-apart ones, it is truly a fool's task), and older Powerbooks.  This meant my first generation white Macbook was new territory, so I first took a gander at what iFixit had to offer in terms of guides, as I didn't want to just dive in and start tossing little screws around everywhere like I generally do with lesser electronics, as I still had hope in rescuing the laptop.  Besides having to gouge out a stripped screw on the battery slot wall, I had little trouble in dismembering and gutting the portable computer.  After removing the external screws, I lifted up the keyboard/mouse plate, I beheld the tasty design of Apple's engineers of squeezing lots of stuff in little spaces.  However, it was spoiled a little by the dust and cat hairs that were scattered about inside.

After having my fun with compressed air and paint brushes to dust the logic board, I went to work trying to sniff out (sometimes literally) what could be the problem.  Everything seemed to be in order, didn't smell or see any electronic burns and screws were secure as well as everything else.  The DVD drive had been long dead for a while so I decided to rip that sucker out gently, and decided to put it back together to see if either the dust or the defunct optical drive were what ailed my laptop.  No dice, it was still crippled and worthless.  But I could not give up just yet, so I grabbed the magnetic screwdriver and went in for round two.

The first time I took it apart I only went so far as to be able to see the top of the logic board.  That was only one side of the sheet though, and since there was nothing I could see on the top then I obviously had to go deeper.  This is where I started to be annoyed at how Apple goes for the ultra-compact electronics set up, as wires connecting different peripherals and components were very precise, and many screws to keep it all secure.  I had to be very careful not to tear any of the wires, or slip my tool and scrape a lead or injure a microchip.  Eventually, I more or less got the board free (there was still a wire connecting the fan, but it was too complicated to go and remove the mess of things hiding the end of it on the top right of the computer) and so I gazed upon the other side of the logic board.

Alas, there was nothing visibly or smellibly awry, and just as well there was nothing that seemed out of the ordinary or wrong where it usually sat.  So from all this playing around with the innards of my laptop, the issue was still hiding.  I put it all back together after mixing up some of the screws, and was bummed to find that I still had the same problem.

However, from being caught up in the fun of destructing and reconstructing my computer, I forgot one of the few first things you go and check for when your computer is having hardware issues; the memory.  So I flipped that sucker over and went in for the RAM modules.  I took them out, then put each one in the first slot one after the other, and they both checked out okay so I put them both back in.  But then it did not want to start up, almost as usual.  Finding this strange, I then took them both back out again and then tried the second slot, and my discovery was definitely worthy of a face-palm.  So it seems my second memory bay had gone bunk.  What a tragedy, although now it works perfectly I am stuck with only 1GB of memory.  The option of getting a 2GB stick is available, however I don't think this thing is worth it, despite my bitter love for it.


  1. kissing the computer was going to be my next idea of fixing its boo-boo