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The night of hardware failure

I have a black MacBook, in case you didn't know. The very first model. Core 1 Duo, GMA 950 graphics. When the MacBook first came out, I fell in love. I got one, and I've been happy with it ever since. Unibody MacBook? No thanks, Nightstalker IV is fine.

(Nightstalker I was a Wallstreet PowerBook, Nightstalker II was a TiBook, and Nightstalker III was an AlBook.)

But then last week, the power brick died. Well, more like the cord died. It had been bulging near the plug, and I knew it was going. And it didn't disappoint. Now that's an $80 adapter, so I started trolling eBay. I bid on a few but didn't win.

And then things started going downhill.

When I opened up my MacBook today, I realized that the trackpad button didn't work. After some experimentation, I found that the switch was dead. I could use an external mouse, but if I grazed the trackpad button just slightly it would switch on. And stay on. Once a trackpad button is stuck on, you're screwed. The buttons on an external mouse don't work, and you might as well just hit the power button. I did.

So I sat down at my Mac mini. When I moved to New York, I brought my work computer from Baseview with me, and bought a Dell 24″ monitor. When I left that job, I shipped the computer back to Baseview and bought a Mac mini as a desktop. Yes, the original PowerPC mini. It's slow, but works fine.

I did some research and found that the trackpad is part of the upper case of the MacBook. The upper case is a standard replacement part available for about $60. Not bad; time to disassemble the MacBook to see what I was up against. That's when I made a disturbing discovery.

When I first bought my Macbook, its main logic board failed, and I had it replaced under warranty. What I didn't realize was that when they fixed it, they stripped three screws on reinsertion. Two have stripped slots, and one has stripped threads.

Great. So I decided that I'd go to the Apple Store tomorrow and complain. But I still had the external case for a SATA hard drive. Just like two years ago, I could swap the hard drive into the external case, boot my work laptop from it, and get stuff done. First, though, I needed to clear off the existing contents of the original hard drive in case I needed to leave it with Apple. I plugged in the drive into the mini, and launched Disk Utility.

Red? Why's the mini's hard drive in red?

Smart failure

Well, the only thing I keep on that hard drive is my music library, but it's all Time Machined. So I immediately stopped Time Machine backups (I don't want to risk touching it) and started a copy of the library onto the NAS.

Now I get to decide on the fate of machines. Do I need a new desktop? It's not like I use the mini for anything big, but then again, it's nice to have a desktop (even if it were to be slow). I don't want a new laptop; do I have a choice? I could always cut the trackpad cable to stop the button problem and rely on an external mouse. It's tough to say.


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