Posted by: beansai | July 8, 2008

Bad Apple Blues

UPDATE:

    Well, I am extremely happy to say that I think we have found a solution for my iMac. I mean, that my good friend Skunkie has found a solution for my iMac. It turns out that I was having some overheating issues, although the actual culprit has not been specifically identified. All we know is that it isn’t something by a sensor that would reflect the heat issues in an application like iStatPro. Lucky for me, my computer savvy friends new where to look. Skunkie found a thread where people were discussing having similar issues to the ones I had been having. Random freezes, graphics glitches, etc. They said they had installed this free application called smcFanControl, which allows you to adjust the fans to higher minimum speeds than they are set at by the manufacturer. They reported positive results, so she linked me, I downloaded, installed, and immediately we saw results (once I figured out I had to quit the program and restart it to initiate the fan speed changes I had implemented). I continued to test on Tiger for a little over a day, and then we even turned off the program to see if the old problems returned. Sure enough, those damn glitches and freezes came back pretty quickly as the temperatures in my computer rose. So I started the application back up and it calmed back down, no more glitches or freezes. Now that I knew the problem and Skunkie confessed her own confidence that we had solved my problem with this application, I decided after my Tiger testing, to reinstall Leopard. I did that yesterday and it went rather smoothly. I had left my computer off all night and all day while I was at work, so that when I got home it would be nice and cool for the install. On top of that I kept my computer room nice and cool during the install and even brought a desk fan from work home to blow right onto my computer to help keep it cool. Once the install was finished, I immediately started smcFanControl back up and kept those fans going at the recommended speeds the other people had theirs at. Now I am working on restoring my backups from my Time Capsule and getting back to normal on my computer. I am so thrilled that we found a solution. Frankly, I don’t really have the money at the moment to spend on repairing any hardware. It is frustrating that the Apple Genius hadn’t thought of this, or really even tried to test his theory that it was just software problems. But I don’t care. I am just so happy and thankful that we were able to make my computer functional again. Now I am waiting to get some essential things off Time Machine before I update my iPhone to 2.0. I’ll post any other updates that might come up.

    I love my computer. I have adapted and grown since I bought my 20″ Intel Core Duo iMac back in June of 2006. But we’ve come to a difficult passage these last couple of months. I’ve been having minor graphics glitches since I upgraded to Mac OSX Leopard when it first came out. I originally attributed these minor oddities to the growing pains of an Operating System, especially of a newly released version. It’s part of early adaption….price drops later, fixes for known issues. In fact, Apple even seemed to know that there were some graphics issues with the earlier versions of Leopard. My problem though, has persisted beyond just minor graphics glitches. I started having random bouts of freezing. Sometimes the entire system would freeze, sometimes I could still use the mouse, other times the mouse moved, but was stuck on the beach ball, the pinwheel, leaving me dizzy and frustrated.

    I finally broke down and made an appointment with an Apple Genius at a store that was 2.5 hours from where I live. The closest one to me. It actually wasn’t a difficult choice to opt to take it to the Genius bar, except for the cost of gas and the issue that I have a dog I couldn’t leave home alone for an undecided amount of time. So a friend of mine offered to let me stay at her place (2.5hrs from where I live), which was 30 minutes from the Apple store my appointment was at and I went down the night before (dog in tow) and we settled down for an evening of movie watching, trying not to stress out over the possible damages that would be discovered the next day.

    On the day of my appointment I packed up my Mac, back into it’s original box, and headed to the store in the 100 degree weather of Phoenix. I was daunted by the presence of a store full of people. The Genius Bar was packed with people and their Macs and then the store was having some sort of session for learning cool Mac stuff. I was so nervous about what they would tell me was wrong with my Mac (dreading the diagnosis of Logic Board failure, a costy fix) that my hands were shaking terribly. One of the workers was nice enough to offer me a seat while I waited for my appointment time (I’m an habitually early arriver) and I sat there, my boxed up computer set gently on the floor next to my shaking and weak knees. I don’t think I could have stood the entire time if I had wanted to. Finally though, they called my name and a nice Genius man came to my aid. He unboxed my iMac, hooked it all up, turned it on, listened to my confused, nervous, fearful, spouting of symptoms that I had been experiencing on my computer. He took it quite calmly, hardly seeming concerned.

    It seemed I had hardly finished telling him my tale and showing him my pictures (yes, I had screenshots to show him on my iPhone), when he came back with what seemed like a ludicrously simple solution, and yet they were sweet words of honey (<–too much, right?). His fix was to reinstall the OS at a later version that was supposed to fix known graphics issues and he recommended I upgrade my RAM from 512mb to 1gb. A thirty dollar fix ultimately, once I ordered the RAM and installed it myself (much cheaper than paying them labor to switch it out). So I went back to my friend’s condo ecstatic and sweating from the heat. I quickly packed my car and my dog up to head back home. It was a long weekend of driving, but it was worth it as long as I had a fix.

    Most unfortunately though, my fix was not a fix. I continued to have glitches when I got home, but initially laid the blame on my thin stretched RAM availability. Soon enough my RAM came in the mail and I successfully installed it myself (though nervous enough, seeing as I had never done anything of the sort before). The biggest let down was that it didn’t take long for my problems to make themselves apparent. I continued to have random freezing problems and graphics glitches. Neither fix worked. I struggled with the idea that the Genius man was too quick to assume the source of the problem. 20/20 hindsight told me I should have been more persistent in asking him to run more tests, to be solid in his diagnosis, to test it after he installed the version of the OS. Hindsight is rather obnoxious and sometimes I just wish it would shut its big fat mouth, because I already felt crappy enough with out all the coulda-shoulda-wouldas going through my head.

    What’s done is done though, so I’m trying not to look back, only forward and searching for the solution to my bad Apple blues. I wavered between switching back to the previous version of the OS (Tiger) and seeing if the problems continued, since I hadn’t remembered any of these issues ever being present in Tiger. But first I opted to wait and see if the Leopard update to 10.5.4 would be the fix that .3 was supposed to be at the Apple store. Well that day came and went fairly quickly and so did my hopes of a fix. Another no go. Another persistent barrage of symptoms and freezes. So I downgraded. I chose to give up some of the bells and whistles for what I hoped would be a completely functional computer, like the day I bought it.

    This evening I switched back to Tiger only to learn that the problems had followed me. Though I can’t be entirely certain, my good friends Skunkie, Polyvector and myself are caught on the fence between my problems being software related and hardware related. Ideally they would be software, because then it is more a matter of biding my time and waiting for the right fix to come along. If it’s hardware, well, then I have to hope that it is something simple, something that won’t cost me 6-700 dollars. So now I’m in ‘puter-purgatory…hanging between giving up and hoping that someone will be able to give me answers. I’m going to be calling Apple and discussing my options with them. In the meantime, Skunkie and Polyvector have been kind enough to continue looking up information and seeing if they can learn the source or the solution to my problems. We’re all just crossing our fingers.

    With all this going on lately, and other things as well, I haven’t had much time to be on Lit Bit or even read. In fact, right now, my lids are drooping and I’m ready to head to bed. 54 hour work week means time is limited and sleep is vital. I’ll keep posting as often as I can or when I learn something new.

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