Hardware woes

Volume 11, Issue 66; 26 Nov 2008; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Into every life, … some hardware failures must fall.

I worked on XML Calabash last night. Everything was fine. I opened my laptop this morning and…my LCD panel remained black. I couldn't get a picture on an external monitor either.

A visit to the Apple Store this morning confirmed my fears: the video subsystem on my MacBookPro failed diagnostics. It'll have to be repaired. Before they took it away, I booted my Mac as a drive (a very nice Mac feature that's apparently been removed in recent releases) and copied a big slug of data that I thought I might either have touched last night or really couldn't live without. (I have the extremely good fortune to have two essentially identical laptops at my disposal.)

When I got home, I resolved to test Time Machine’s ability to restore from backup.

It took almost three hours, but seems to have worked. The first, immediately obvious problem I encountered was that it forgot that I had mapped “caps lock” to be “ctrl”.

Much more troubling, but luckily without consequence, was the fact that Time Machine did not backup /home. This despite the fact that I'd explicilty edited /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd.bundle/Contents/Resources/StdExclusions.plist to remove the exclusion on /home. Apparently, when I upgraded to some point release of OSX 10.5, it “restored” the default StdExclusion.plist file. Bastards.

It was without consequence because I'd taken the time to copy those files when I was at the Apple Store this morning. If I had not, there would be much cursing in this essay.

Next week, I'll have to decide how best to migrate back to my “regular” laptop.


How many bad experiences is that with Mac hardware Norm? Are you still 'trusting' of it?

Perhaps the smarter question. Is it any more or less relibable than the Dell or whatever you used to use with Linux?

—Posted by Dave Pawson on 27 Nov 2008 @ 10:42 UTC #

I had the exact same problem. (I purchased my 15" MBP in July 2007.) And it looks like Apple has now admitted there's a problem.

The only difference in my story is that I still hadn't set up Time Machine (oops), I purchased a hard drive at the store and had them back everything up, and then I waited a week for it to get shipped back to me.

I read about this problem reoccurring for some people (even after the motherboard was replaced). So now I'm a little nervous about it failing during a presentation or something.

—Posted by Evan Lenz on 27 Nov 2008 @ 09:15 UTC #

I think this is the first real problem I've had, Dave. I did blame an earlier problem on bad hardware, but I was wrong. It was a software problem. Reinstalling fixed it.

I also had hideous problems with the drivers for a 3G card, but drivers are often troublesome and bad software abounds.

In fairness, I've shipped every laptop I've ever owned out for warranty repair once or twice. I treat them gently, but they still get bumped and bounced across land and sea.

I'm not less confident in my Mac than I have been in other laptops. Which isn't to say I wouldn't be more confident if OS X was open source and there was a community of developers working on it in public.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 27 Nov 2008 @ 09:29 UTC #