Macbook Dead Part 1: Ike Mourning is Not a Good Sign

In Toy Story 3, Bonnie’s toys had learned how to use her computer. In fact, Trixie, the toy triceratops, was carrying out some sort of IM conversation with a dinosaur toy down the street. ((“Just a dinosaur!“)) I suspect this is why my laptop was dead in the morning. ((Heh, just joking, of course. But this morning I kind of wonder; after all, in the dream this morning, the Klingon I fell in love with reminded me of Large Round Cow. Maybe the cows did some research into geekly interests on my laptop and discovered that I was in the middle of reading the Star Trek: Voyager Wall Bangers at TVTropes. And then they chose not to eat that dream, or maybe influenced the dream, invoking the whole “Years of Zorn and Tharn, But This Time As a Klingon,” which turned out to be cathartic in multiple ways.))

Anyways! Moving on….

So when I woke up, the second thing I did (after checking Twitter on my iPhone) was open up my laptop. And while it was obviously alive, the screen was dead.

My poor laptop. It’s a Macbook Pro from 2007, so it did last just about three years (I bought it for my birthday, you see, as I always try to treat myself and cheer myself up during this time of year, which only works a little bit). Just long enough for AppleCare to expire, naturally.

I tried numerous things:

  • Shut down computer (had to hold the power button down to do that, since I couldn’t see the screen). Reboot. Repeat. No good.
  • Connect an external monitor, and repeat the above, disconnecting and reconnecting the monitor as I did so.
  • Reset the PRAM. (Reboot computer, and then hold down Option-Command-P-R.)
  • Discovered that the soft reboot worked as well (Control-Command-Power Button), and repeated all of the above with soft reboots.
  • Reset the SMC. (Shut down computer, remove power cable, remove battery, push power button down for five full seconds, reconnect battery and power, boot up computer.)
  • All of the above in multiple variations.
  • Still a dead screen.

Unfortunately, I’d long since turned off the SSH daemon and VNC, so there was no way of logging onto the thing remotely. Also a stupid thing I did was to shut off Time Machine, even though I bought a ginormous FreeAgent drive for it; so even if I did plug in the drive, nothing would get backed up automatically.

Damn it.

And then I remembered: I had an iBook G4 lying around. It hadn’t been turned on for three years, but any port in a storm.

I booted it up successfully, with its antiquated non-maglite power cord, and set the date to a reasonable time again before letting it connect to Apple’s NTP server to figure out the real correct time. Amazingly, the network card was also in good shape, but like I said, no SSH and no VNC (e.g., remote desktop sharing) meant I couldn’t do anything interactively with the 2007 MacBook Pro.

So I rebooted the MacBook Pro in “Target Disk” mode (reboot and hold down “T” until you see the FireWire icon on a blue screen; as I couldn’t see anything, I just kept holding down “T” for 30 seconds). This mode lets another Mac connect to it via FireWire and use it as a drive. And I’d bought a FireWire cable (overpriced, but is there any other kind?) to transfer files from the iBook to the MacBook Pro years ago.

Of course, it didn’t help that the iBook’s disk space was, like, 30GB, and the MacBook Pro had 170GB.

This just meant that I connected up both the MacBook Pro and the FreeAgent disk to the iBook, and now am using it purely to transfer files from one drive to the other.

It should be done a little while after the shiny, new MacBook Pro arrives.

In the meantime, I can use my work laptop (sigh, which I don’t want to, but the other computers are kind of busy right now).

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