• No news, good news? NOT!

    by  • 2 September, 2004 • Uncategorized • 5 Comments

    It looks like the Greek lifestyle doesn’t agree with a lot of electronic gear. I didn’t mention it before, but I haven’t had a lot of luck lately, electronically speaking. There was the defective battery in my Macintosh Powerbook back in spring. Small problem you would say, and it would be, except in Greece. The end of the story is that I waited 2 months, that is cost me 2,5 times as much as anywhere else in the world, and that I only got it thanks to Tom, who appropriately nicknamed the battery “Marco Polo”. There was also the seemingly endless stream of defective mice. I’m now on my 6th specimen since I moved here. I like the “mini”-mice type with a scroll wheel and USB connector. The first I bought was in the “Regenboog” in Maastricht in 2001, made by Trust. It served me for 2 years without a glitch. Just before we returned to the Great Wet North at the end of 2003 it gave up on me. While we were in the Netherlands I bought a new one at Dixons, again in Maastricht. That one gave up after 2 months. The left button stopped functioning. After a lot of email exchanges with the manufacturer and with Dixons, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of having it replaced “free of charge”. I bought a new one in a local computer shop in Iraklio. Since then I’ve been back to the shop for more mice, practically every 3 months. They like my seemingly insatiable appetite for rodents there!

    Since last week my internal harddisk caused me a lot of problems. It would start with programs doing lot of disk accesses being frozen, and the disk making intermittent shrieking noises. Then on Friday my TiBook refused to boot from the internal disk. I inserted the diagnostics CD-ROM disk supplied by Apple, which reported no error. Yet the machine refused to boot. I switched it off for an hour or so and started it again. It booted all right and worked for about 2 hours. Then the same problems occurred. The whole process was repeated a couple of times. By then it dawned on me that it was about time I started thinking of backing up my data. Back home I connected my external Firewire drive and made a bootable clone of my internal drive. Against all odds, the cloning completed with success and then the machine died on me. I left it like that on Saturday morning, when we went for a weekend of camping, nekkit sun bathing and swimming in a little bay in a god-forlorn hamlet in the south, the name of which I’m not allowed to reveal lest I’d be killed.

    On Monday I started looking for a replacement disk. In the meantime I was using my external disk as the boot device. It worked, in a sense, as it kind of challenges the whole concept of portability if you have to drag a 4 kilo external drive along with your laptop. But the system would still freeze at regular intervals, upon which only a hard reboot would bring temporary relieve. This went on for 3 days, during which I tried every trick I found on the internet to get my system cured. Nothing would help. Yesterday I finally found a new internal harddisk (Hitachi Travelstar 2,5″, 5400RPM, 60GB, for the technically inquisitive) and at a reasonable price too, only €150. The micro surgery I needed to perform had me shaking on my legs for at least an hour after I closed the system again. And yet you could call me an “pro”, what with all the expertise I had built up as a kid, taking apart and “fixing” all kinds of gear, ranging from alarm clocks (mechanical in those days), to radios to vacuum cleaners. (No, Eric, no need to comment on this). Anyway, it was with great trepidation that I pushed the power-on button after the system was re-assembled. Lo-and behold! It worked! The sytem recognized the new disk and offered to format it for me. I thankfully accepted the offer and 15 minutes later (60GB is a lot of formatting to perform) I had a pristine formatted internal harddisk. Or so I thought…

    The problems re-emerged when I wanted to perform the cloning operation in the other direction, from my bootable harddisk to my new internal disk. About 15% into the operation everything stopped moving. I tried reformatting and diagnosing the disk with the Apple-supplied disk utility. Everything went fine. No problems reported. Then I decided to boot from the Mac OS X installation disk and do a clean install of the operating system. It worked! Until the last step called “cleaning up”, which usually lasts a couple of minutes. In this case it took forever. I patiently waited for an hour and then I rebooted once more. The disk was no longer recognized by the boot loader. Fortunately my external disk was still connected and took over. I phoned a friend who can “fix things” even better that I can (hard to believe, I know, but there I am, bowing before a greater man). He offered to come over with a couple of “industry-strength” diagnostic tools. DiskWarrior, TechTool Pro, Drive X, you name it, he has it. They all reported that there was nothing wrong with the disk. We went into the low-level Open Firmware (kind of like the BIOS for the rest of you) boot loader and reset about everything that could be reset to default values. It didn’t help. My system freezes regularly, even when booted from the external hard disk. I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish this message. I save it every 5 words. Eventually I will complete it and send it over.

    There is no such thing as an Apple Service Centre in this region, I doubt in this country. The thought of trusting it into the hands of a “standard” PC technician makes me shiver. If you have an old, pre-2003, Powerbook lying around gathering dust, you know where to ship it to…

    5 Responses to No news, good news? NOT!

    1. Tom Hoffman
      4 September, 2004 at 16:25


      Well, it seems MacHeaven has some seams.

      You know I don’t like gloating (that, of course, is a goddamn lie, but I like to write that I don’t like gloating), but I just purchased my SECOND Dell Wintell 4600C, the Smart Car of PCs, based upon the advice of our buddy Paul Mannix. It’s small. It’s chic. It runs XP like a Ferrari.

      That said when I made my second (remote) ISP connection, I was notified by MSN that I was to register with them (gatekeepers?) BEFORE gaining access to my third party ISP. This I tried to avoid to no avail. After giving up and registering with MSN, I still couldn’t access my e-mail.

      The problem with computers is that there are not enough baseball bats to deal with them.


    2. luc
      5 September, 2004 at 20:11

      Héhé, in that last sentence replace “computers” with “Microsoft” and I’m all with you again. B.t.w. I have nothing against Dell (okay I do, but I like to write that I don’t), but it’s the damn operating system that I don’t like. You, on the other hand, seem to not have any problems by getting hi-jacked by what should be a simple and straight-forward procedure to connect to your ISP. Me, I’m probably too much a control freak to let Micorosft decide what’s good for me…

    3. Eric
      11 September, 2004 at 10:48

      As I ‘m invited not to do some comments…
      I can’t resist to do so…
      I must congratulate Luc for his technical skills that improved over the years.
      I think that those radios and other hardware he is talking about still are somewhere in a box – still not working.

      Little brother is watching you !!!

    4. Lucien
      11 September, 2004 at 15:42

      That’s it!
      Start an Apple Center in Crete with special
      spiritual pleasures, you always served the first.
      And I thought you never get problems with a Mac.
      So I ordered last week the new Imac G5, maybe it
      was a mistake and I had to be a Dell.

    5. luc
      12 September, 2004 at 10:17


      Buying that new iMac G5 was definitely a BIG mistake! Pack it up immediately and send it to me at once. I will get rid of it for you…

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