Decline and fall of an iBook


in Daily updates, Geek stuff, Internet matters

Alexandra Bridge, Ottawa

After more than two years of faithful service, my laptop is now having serious problems. It takes upwards of ten minutes to boot, frequently forgets important preferences (like to ask for a password before letting you log in), and has distinct trouble connecting to wireless networks. In general, performance has become spotty and unreliable. Things have reached the point where I would ordinarily suspect that a virus has been generating minor havoc, though scans have not supported that hypothesis.

I am tempted to make a full backup, format my hard drive, and start from a clean install. That said, I think the inevitable physical breakdown of hardware is reasonably likely to be the cause of my woe. The constant ambient heat here – enough to keep the fan running constantly, which almost never started in Oxford – will certainly contribute to breakdown. The machine is still subject to the AppleCare plan I purchased, so perhaps it is worthwhile to send it on a potentially refreshing trip to the Apple store before such a lobotomy is carried out.

Once the IKEA bills have been paid off and some sort of a bike has been acquired, it may be time to start thinking about a new Mac.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Antonia August 6, 2007 at 6:58 am

Of course, letting everything about you fall into the hands of a corporation should be fine…

Milan August 6, 2007 at 8:02 am

Naturally, anything of a sensitive character has been treated with either whole disk (FileVault) or ad hoc (PGP) encryption.

In any case, the only reason to send it to Apple would be concern about physical hardware failures. I am quite capable of replacing a corrupted OS on my own.

Tom August 6, 2007 at 8:37 am

Great photo today

Anonymous August 6, 2007 at 10:50 am

We were wrong, but we had in our minds a mindset that led to that action. And it carried such heavy costs. We see incorrectly or we see only half of the story at times.

Iggy pulls a McNamara.

Anonymous August 6, 2007 at 10:53 am

“Having taught political science myself, I have to say the discipline promises more than it can deliver. In practical politics, there is no science of decision-making. The vital judgments a politician makes every day are about people: whom to trust, whom to believe and whom to avoid. The question of loyalty arises daily: Who will betray and who will stay true? Having good judgment in these matters, having a sound sense of reality, requires trusting some very unscientific intuitions about people.”

tristan August 6, 2007 at 6:41 pm

My mac is having speed problems aswell. I assume it must be a software issue. My mac is on a 5 year plan – I want it to last 5 years. The first 3 should be easy since I also bought the enormously expensive, but seemingly prudent applecare plan.

When I get to Toronto I will ask Astrid to have a look at it, she’s quite lite when it comes to mac software issues. I’m open to a reformat, but embarrasingly, I don’t know where all my disks are. I would need my original OSX disks, plus the upgrade disk.

Milan August 6, 2007 at 7:07 pm


I think five years is over-ambitious for a laptop, even if you only use it for minimal web browsing and word processing. It is less an issue of insufficient processing power to deal with new applications and more a matter of the simple breakdown of components – particularly hard drives.

Tristan Laing August 6, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Why does a failed hard drive require a replacement machine?

I suppose there are 2 broad camps on how to deal with things as they age. I’m in the “replace parts as they wear out until the repair cost is greater than the value of the total object to me” (the value of an object to me is quite possibly much higher than it’s market value, not because of sentimental value, but because of assymetrical information, see the not so recent nobel prize on used car economics).

However, others prefer to replace their cars after 5 years because if you drive a car less than 5 years old the amount of time you spend running into difficulties is much less. I can certainly understand why for someone who is a high wage earner, the cost of a new object is much less than the cost of their time dealing with an older one breaking down. I’m not in this camp.

I am, however, seriously considering getting a desktop when I get to toronto to run linux. It would also serve as a backup computer if this one needs to go in for repairs. I think I could put one together for less than 30$.

Milan August 6, 2007 at 9:16 pm


If it were just the hard drive, starting an Ubuntu Live CD would not take dramatically longer than normal. The issue is really a series of general disintegrations: network spottiness (even in Linux), USB ports having to be jiggled and jangled before they recognize devices, etc.

Replacing parts makes sense for desktop computers, but much less so for laptops. One rather nice thing about the new MacBooks is that it is a snap to replace the hard drives. Doing so with an iBook requires sending it in or voiding the warranty.

I am also considering a backup machine, if only to leave in a closet and use as a server. Perhaps I can get an old G4 tower somewhere, as I would rather have both machines running OS X.

tristan August 8, 2007 at 9:29 am

It would be nice to get a second machine running OSX, but I think the cost would be much higher. The advantage of a linux box is that the computer could be relatively new and cheap. Also, I could pick a build that does recognize HFSplus.

Meaghan used UBUNTO all year and was quite happy with it. I think this is a glowing recommendation, that someone not too computer savy was able to learn it and get by and not miss windows.

Milan August 8, 2007 at 10:58 am

Given that there is now OS X for Intel processors, might it not be possible to get a cheap x86 box and figure out a way to install the OS on it? I am pretty sure this has been done.

Milan October 6, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Note to self: I bought my iBook on 21 February 2005.

The warranty expires 21 February 2008.

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