Repaired MacBook Pro!

First of all, I have to thank the Lord Jesus.  He takes us through these kinds of trials.   And I learned so much going through the ordeal.  So many things.

Today I was at work, bothered by every technology issue.  These folks I work with have delegated some of the technology help to me.  Five times a day someone’s Windows 8 tablet/computer hangs, doesn’t sync, fails to recognize peripherals, etc.  SpartanNerd that I am, perhaps I am a little bit TOO unafraid of computers!  They keep me hopping, and I am happy to help.  (How often does Mac OSX hang or fail to recognize peripherals….NEVER!  We should have got macs!)

But what bothers me, is that I could not fix my own MacBook Pro, which took a nasty fall in May and hasn’t worked correctly since.  I can fix everyone else’s problem but my own.

Now I’ve opened this machine several, several times.  Stared at it, poked at the wires.  Removed things.    Nothing worked.  It always would go to sleep shortly after showing me the apple screen.  Also in Bootcamp mode with Windows 7.  The only mode that would work was Windows Safe Mode for some reason.  But then the machine is severely stunted, so….

I detailed my workaround in this post.  Basically, I trial-and-error-ed the mac hard reset and PRAM clear over and over, restarting until I heard the fans blow, which apparently prevented the machine from sleeping.  But in this weird, undocumented mode, the keyboard and trackpad do not work.  So I have been using an Apple bluetooth mouse and keyboard that I have laying around for my iMac.  These items didn’t work that great with the iMac, but they have been a lifesaver in my situation.  Furthermore, in this stunted mode the computer is much more sluggish.  And the Superdrive wouldn’t work.

But not now.  After today’s revelation!  How come I never saw it before?

I recently discovered that I could go into this secret mode, and cause the fans to stop blowing after startup, by choosing “Sleep” from the apple menu, and then causing it to wake up.  I discovered this by accident…The bluetooth mouse is very sensitive.  I would choose “sleep,” the screen would darken and fan would stop, but before I could flip the switch on the mouse, the movement would wake it back up….but the fans were not blowing.  This little accident got me thinking about the problem some more.

My thought process was….”Maybe the ribbon cable from the keyboard is loose somehow…That’s why it won’t wake up.”  I thought of this in the past, but when I saw how hard it was to fool with the MacBook Pro Unibody Topcase, I backed off.  You more or less have to disassemble the whole thing.  But today, with newfound courage and “what do I have to lose,” I decided to go ahead with the operation.

But it didn’t come to that!  After I removed the battery, hard drive, DVD drive, some of the cooling system…I realized I could see the enclosure magnets…How come I never noticed them before…I think it had something to do with removing the hard drive.  But as I looked at those, I began to think….The sensor…must be somewhere up here near the magnets?   If it is not in the screen.

So I checked the keyboard cable.  It was fine.

I thought about the sensor some more…and found one for sale on eBay.  Now I didn’t buy it…I just looked at it….It is connected to the battery indicator lights….Those little LEDs that tell you how full the battery is if you press a little nearly invisible button.

So my reasoning was…”Can the machine work if I remove those?  How about if I just disconnect them?”  Guess what…

PROBLEM SOLVED!

What I Learned

Where does Jesus fit in this story?  As I was disassembling the machine, I thought, “If I break it, oh well.  I was planning on replacing it anyway.”  Then I stopped and said a prayer right then and there.

Today it was Jesus who revealed the fix to me.

What have I learned from this three months of torturing?  (To me, that’s what it has been.)

I am too attached to my stuff.  I have had some near depression because of this.  Remember the long blog hiatus?  It’s not that I couldn’t blog.  I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t feel like using my other mac, my iPad mini, or my iPhone to blog.  I didn’t feel like using my work-issued PC (though I probably wouldn’t have anyway) or another laptop I have access too.

Because my favorite machine was broken.

I also only recorded one song this summer….Because of my broken laptop.  Notwithstanding I had the ability to record other ways….(iRig, Guitar to USB, digital monitors, Digitech GNX4, or other mentioned devices.)

I came out of my funk about the time the BIG LOTS MOTUC thing hit.  I bit the bullet, and forced my Macbook Pro to work for me so I could review figures.  But the rituals that I had to do to make it work were killing it for me.

What else did I learn… Nothing as deep.  Now I know how to replace/upgrade the hard drive, remove and replace the SuperDrive, and remove and replace the battery.  All of which I was convinced I would have to go to the genius bar to do.

I was going to grudgingly buy a new mac, probably at around $1300.  Jesus kept me from this by helping me fix it today….Now I have one more blessing to count!

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Technology News from the EDGE OF THE WORLD

I have spoken at length about my Mac woes.  Time for some good news!

Here is how I got my MacBook Pro to work again.

It turns out that there is a part inside called the SMC.  This stands for System Management Controller, or something like that.  The SMC works the low level functions of the Mac.  In fact, of most computerized devices.  It controls the Power switch, the battery charging, etc.

What I think is wrong with my Mac, is that when it took its great fall, the Power Management Unit was damaged.  Also, the keyboard is also apparently damaged.

The Mac will turn on, and sometimes make it to the Login screen, but shortly after goes to sleep and refuses to wake up..  If it DOES get past the Login screen, you MIGHT have five minutes of a workable machine, before the keyboard and trackpad stop working.  Then it will also probably go to sleep.

So here is my work-around, at least until I can get a replacement.  (I’m eyeing those MacBook Airs…Maybe even the 11 inch model!)

My work-around is the result of lots of trial and error, I might add, and that a computer repair guy couldn’t fix it.

To reset the SMC, you use the hotkey combination SHIFT-CONTROL-OPTION-POWER.   I turn on the Mac as usual, and then immediately do this combination.  Then turn it on, then repeat.  Then repeat.  Then repeat.  UNTIL….I hear the fan blow.  That’s right.  There is a fan inside a MACBOOK PRO.  Who knew? You never heard it before!

My theory was that if I could make the fan blow, the machine would not go to sleep.  AND I WAS RIGHT!  And then I could figure out what was wrong, fix it, and all would be cool again.   No so much….

You see, the keyboard still doesn’t work in this strange mode.  Also, the machine doesn’t even see its battery.  Bear in mind that it could be running on that battery, but it still doesn’t acknowledge it.  At any time it could cut out on me.  So I keep it plugged in.

Turns out that the USB ports work just fine.  So I can attach a mouse and keyboard….or even better…use that old Apple BlueTooth keyboard that I have laying around.  I finally got that thing to work again!  (True shouts of joy!)

So my Macbook acts like a desktop model.  That is it in a nutshell.  I won’t lie.  It runs a little slower than it used to.

The light is there, at the end of the tunnel.  But we can enjoy our last days together!

Anyone out there had similar trouble in the past?  Let me know!

LOOOONG HIATUS!

Sorry to keep you all waiting.

Lots has happened since May 16, (My last post.)  And I am rethinking a few things.  One of them is the whole “secret identity” thing……

Should I kill Batman, or Bruce Wayne?  Should I become “Joe Clark, Fireman?”  Should I walk away, SpartanNerd’s back facing the sun?  (All three famous references.  Did you get them?)

Maybe we should co-exist, sort of like Iron Man/ Tony Stark.  This is what I am thinking.

First of all, why the long break from the blog.

I tried a giveaway.  No One Wanted What I Got.  So it seemed.  Serious discouragement.  Were all of the hits that Google showed me really non-traffic?  Next problem?  Handicapped MacBook Pro.  This one is reworking itself, however.  I type this entry on the eight year old iMac that my mother got me eight years ago.  This Beast Machine is pretty slow, but we are old friends.  And it is not handicapped in the way that the MacBook Pro is after the Great Fall.  Still, the iMac is not my favorite way to write. I have an iPhone and an iPad mini, but those are more for play than work.

So this brings me to the question.  Should I publicize this blog to my family and friends?  Pester the folks I know of FaceBook?  Promote myself on places like Pop Culture Network and He-Man.org?

Soul Searching….It’s what I have to do.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ll be writing about soon, all things which have happened.

Man of Steel
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe ongoing series
Magic Core Set 2014
Mega Man NT trading card game
Batman: Year Zero
Trinity War
Deadpool
Thoughts on “Batman and …….”
“Aquaman” Snore zzzzzzzz
MonsterCon
Spikor
Thoughts on the failure of Spider-Man
The Wolverine
Excitement for September reveals!
Superman?????

AND MUCH MUCH MORE!

Technology Review…………Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook

CRASH!!!!!

Now that the prelude is over, let’s get down and dirty with the details.

HANG UP!!!!!

I WOULD JUST LIKE TO SAY…………………………………….CTRL….ALT…….DELETE

Can I get a word in here, seriously?

OK.  Joking aside.  Here is my real review.  Yes, it has crashed a few times.  Yes I lost a document or two already.  But that isn’t really a tech review, is it?

I am a man spoiled rotten by Apple and their near flawless products…So I WILL take it hard on this machine.

To begin with, look at that name.  Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook—-They should add a few more words, how about “Tablet Laptop Computer.”  That would do nicely.  And that would almost fully explain the machine.  It’s a Dell, so guess what?  Windows.  Not just any Windows, but shiny new Windows 8!  (Should I use the word Surface, or Pro, or Metro, or Windows Phone Mobile?  I lose track after awhile.)

I am going to start with the machine, then move to a review of the operating system.  You might say, “But SpartanNerd, that ain’t fair!”  Keep yer “buts” down.  This is how I would review a Mac, no?  LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, Hub City Geeks.

To review the machine, just look at these pictures.

Yep.  This machine is a transformer.  It transforms from a laptop into a tablet.

In laptop mode, you can tell that it is clearly inspired by Appl….I mean Intel!  It is an ultrabook, meaning that it is inspired by the MacBook Air, literally, but by saying that it is inspired by Intel, they are skirting the truth that must be mighty uggly to them.  And that has two “g”s.  It has a backlit keyboard, which is cool, but the letters themselves don’t light up.  This takes away from the “jewelry store” effect you get from first turning on a new mac, but it works essentially the same in every other way.  The keys are also “chiclet”style.  As you can see my standard issue model from work that I am reviewing here has a black and grey color scheme.  There is some shinier places on it around the edges, etc.

The trackpad is frustrating.  I am really spoiled with the Macbook Pro’s trackpad.  The one on the XPS 12 isn’t as responsive, seems to want me to actually click it, and doesn’t mimic touchscreen gestures.  In other words, it is a different language than the tablet part of the machine.  Someone might say, “Big deal.  You know it is in laptop mode.”  Well, as you get to using this thing, you start to see that this IS a big deal.  You have to teach yourself two different ways of communicating with the same machine.

One more, sort of minor thing.  Backspace and delete are DIFFERENT BUTTONS.  Has it been like this, and I just forgot?  And the little things count, so here’s another one.  I like to be able to open my screen and the keyboard stay put, because the heavier part doesn’t move.  Any MacBook Pro user knows what I am talking about.  But this don’t happen with almost any other computer, including the XPS 12.

Other things, you turn the machine on via a little switch on the left side.  It has a glowing light, also akin to a Mac.  The USB ports are on the right side of the machine, for when you get frustrated with that trackpad and decide to switch to a mouse.  The USB jacks on mine are very tight.  I have to pull really hard to remove my USB chord from the socket!  There are also battery lights on the right side that activate at the push of a button.  Sound familiar?

So, while you are in laptop mode, you also have the touchscreen that works.  I might sound like someone who writes for Macworld when I say this, but it IS awkward to reach up and touch the screen while you are laptop mode. It just seems wrong.  After awhile, your hand does get tired.  Also, me and every other technology geek out there have trained ourselves…”Don’t touch the screen!”   Now that we can, we feel like, “Why?  I have a mouse attached!”

So, is it a workhorse?  Hardly.  Read the first couple of sentences.  I don’t know how much RAM it has, or anything, but I guarantee it isn’t enough.  MICROSOFT WORD HANGS UP!  Keep in mind nothing else is running besides Outlook.  I hate to think I was playing an intense game on this machine ….shudder…..

I told the SpartanMrs. I would try and be nice, so here goes….It is light.  It is kind of cool looking in laptop mode.  I already like it better than my Desktop Windows machine.  How’s that?  I can sit in my comfy office chair and check my e-mail.  And not walk 10 feet to the uncomfy plastic chair.

Now, let’s transform it.  The transformation is spiffy!  But I have to wonder how long this mechanism will last.  My boss assured me that it was tested hundreds or thousands of times by a sweatshop worker robot.  We’ll see.  I have my doubts, mostly because the springs that make it click in place are made of plastic.  You flip the screen around, and collapse it over the keyboard.  Now you have a tablet computer.

This tablet is supposed to use the ol’ “metro” screen.  But it can switch to regular Windows.  See above for how well this works out.  The tablet stuff feels right here, but the desktop applications don’t so much.

This screen is NOT “oleo-phobic.”  It will pick up your fingerprints, streaks of oil and grime and dirt.  And because it is sort of big……much bigger than an iPad Mini (my preferred tablet,) you can’t easily wipe it on your pants legs.  So keep a hanky handy!  And did I mention elbow grease?

You press the “Windows” button at the bottom, to get a Home Screen effect like you would on an iPod or iPhone.  Other than that, I don’t know what to say, except that sometimes it gets stuck in an orientation that you don’t want, and it doesn’t readily switch the way you want it like an iPad would.  You have to exaggerate motions in the directions to get the re-orientation to trigger.

So what about this Windows 8 Operating System?  I would like to say a few nice things first.  I am glad it isn’t an IOS clone, like Android is apparently.  “Stolen product,” anyone?  The Windows Home Screen (formerly known as Metro, to techies out there) is kind of pretty.  I like how the “live tiles” update stuff.  This is arguably better than what an iPhone or iPad can do.  And the tiles don’t work like IOS icons.  BUT, they aren’t as easy to learn….not as intuitive.

I said a few nice things, but, it has the “I am going to make you work for it” philosophy that Windows has always had.  It isn’t an intuitive system.  I am afraid Apple took the easy ideas already, and patented them.  Not that I believe MicroSoft would have chosen the easiest stuff if they were first to the party.  Remember, they were the first people to market “tablet computers,” and were never able to bust the market open the way Apple did with their trained and groomed crowd of iPhone users.

Here is an example.  I was working in Microsoft Word.  I decided to switch and browse for some clip art with Internet Explorer.  I used the tablet version of the browser.  Then, I was like….”how do I get back to the desktop?  Well, the way this works, is you swipe from the top of the screen to the bottom to close a program.  I did that, which brought me to the Windows Home screen.  But I wanted to see the desktop….and I started to get frustrated, then I remembered.  Swipe from left to right to browse screens.

See what I mean?  If someone hadn’t told me how to do that, I wouldn’t have got it.

How about this, How do you make it sleep?  You flick the right side to make a menu appear, choose, “settings,” then hit the power button graphic, and choose sleep from the menu.  Isn’t that too much work FOR A BASIC FUNCTION?  I could transform it and close it clamshell style.  But that is too much work, too.

So what is my rating for this machine?

I give it a 5/10.  It is better than my old desktop (3/10.)  It isn’t a 9/10 like my MacBook Pro  (I mark down the MB Pro because the rubber pads on bottom come off too easily.)  What computer is a 10/10?  My desktop iMac.  (2006 model)  Maybe I’m going too easy on that one, the SpartanMrs. and I spent a long night replacing the hard drive in that one.

Maybe after awhile this tablet computer will become like “an old friend,”  But I have yet to really bond with it.

“Silly Rabbi,” said George, “Tricks are for Kids!”             (Nerdy quote from Captain Underpants #5)

I like putting these Nerdy quotes.  Comment people!