PowerBook G4 = Still Dead


I really wanted this post to be about how my Powerbook G4 had risen from the dead and how much I’m looking forward to the next year of lounging around on Saturday mornings with it.

Instead, the post is about the realization that at some point you have to stop squeezing the orange for juice. This machine is from 2002. It’s now 2008 – how many people are using the same computers they used 6 years ago?

Besides my hinge breaking a number of other problems started happening with my Powerbook – mainly random kernel panics. My brother, after hearing about my problems, was interested in trying to fix the machine, citing that it’s likely due to clogged fans and overheating. Figuring that a dead Powerbook isn’t any better than an absolutely dead Powerbook due to fraternal intervention, I gave him permission to do whatever he wanted to do to the machine, in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to sit at a desk when teaching myself PHP.

So, in he went, and the above is what he found. Besides some clogged fans, the thermal paste had apparently worn off so much that it became a black goo that wasn’t even on the die. He cleaned off the remainder and applied a new coat of thermal paste. He cleaned out the fans, put the machine back together, and suddenly the machine was functioning again. I was able to put a fresh install of Leopard on it without the machine locking up.

But the other problem, the hinges, weren’t so easily fixed. They were broken, and my brother’s suggestion was to simply glue them back on. To me this made more sense than spending a few hundred dollars an hinges for an obsolete machine.

So he applied some epoxy to the mounting points. We let it dry overnight. It didn’t work the first time around – the trick is apparently gluing the hinges in place, but not actually gluing the hinges. Second time around we put some clamps on to hold the machine in place while the epoxy set. The next morning it was ready for a test. It turned on fine and worked marvelously – for 10 minutes. Then came the kernel panics.

As I write this I have the Powerbook behind me going through a Leopard install. I am not optimistic, since this is maybe the fifth time I’ve installed Leopard on it in 30 days. 20 minutes ago it locked up, and as I just typed that comma it locked up again, so back in the closet it goes. Eventually I’ll need to figure out how to get rid of it.

The idea of bringing the Powerbook back from the dead was exciting. Maybe I could start DJ-ing with it, or use it as a virtual instrument host for live performances (which I haven’t done in years). Just being able to browse the web would’ve been good enough.

But there’s also the fact that it ran today’s apps like crap. Safari was ok. NetNewsWire was ok, but unreliable. How would Live, Reason, or Logic run on it? On a 1ghz G4, not well, obviously. So it wouldn’t have done me any good anyway.

I suppose that if I was really interested in these things I would’ve already bought a new notebook. But I guess that’s why I bought a bass guitar instead.

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