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O tech, here is thy sting


The latest ~entertaining~ move in the technofailure game:

My MacBook has started abruptly shutting itself down.

By which I mean turning itself off completely. As if I had removed the power cord and then pulled the battery, only faster. I'll be typing, or opening an application, or letting the computer just sit there on the login screen, and boom--computer, suddenly here, now gone!

And then I restart, and 10-15 minutes later, it does the same thing.

I can't autoreply to subs; I can't really fetch email, much less read it, much less reply to it. I'm effectively computerless until I can get this fixed. Typing this on Mary Anne's computer, which is also having serious problems, though of a different sort.

We're taking both computers in to the local Apple Store tomorrow. I'm hoping that there'll be something they can do to fix both of them in the store; neither of us is really equipped to deal with not having our computers for a week while they get sent off to Apple to be fixed.

I still think that a laptop-rental business could be a huge moneymaker.

I do have another computer at home; if I need to send my MacBook in for repairs, then I'll wait 'til I get home, back it up, and then restore the backup onto my iMac, and just use that for a week or so 'til the MacBook is fixed. But can't do that 'til I get home.

I know that technology is working properly all around us. M's microwave and fridge, for example, are working fine; also the lights. But still, I can't help feeling like I'm surrounded by failing tech--and like the failures are accelerating.

It was a little bit creepy to read one of the Hugo-nominated works of short fiction tonight, on M's computer because mine isn't working, and to get to the bit where technology starts to fail all over the world.

Anyway. Enough of that. I go sleep now.


Jed, my own MacBook did the same thing when it came back from having its logic board replaced - what had happened was that replacing the logic board they knocked off the wire that powered the fan. With the fan not working, the processor overheated and shut the whole thing off, as you say, in a blink.

I doubt the hard drive is involved at all, and if you have an Apple Store nearby, you could try going to the Genius bar and see if they can do anything. Nowadays they do all the repairs in-store and if the cause is a defective fan, they may be able to help you.

Alternatively, you might try placing the MacBook on a bag of ice, or some such heat sink. Hot water bottle filled with iced water, for example. With a towel for condensation.

If you have or can install iStat, you can monitor the temperature of your machine and see if that's what's causing the trouble.

I presume you have already installed the MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 which supposedly fixes shutdown issue(s)? I'd also suggest looking at MacBookRandomShutdown.com, but the damn site is down. >:-(

Anna: Wow, I wish I had seen your note before I went to the Apple Store today. The Genius had no ideas on what the problem could be, and told me I would just have to take my MacBook in to the shop when I get home.

But I bet you're right. The fan on my MacBook is often extra-noisy, but I haven't heard it at all in the past few days; I hadn't noticed that, but it suggests that you've correctly diagnosed the problem. Thank you! I'll try and fix it when I get home (or else take it in to the Apple Store there).

Sarah: Yeah, I had found that page, and yup, I have the firmware update installed. But thanks for the suggestion!

Followup many months later: Anna, you were absolutely correct: the problem was that my fan had failed. Thank you tremendously for suggesting that!

Especially because the Geniuses at two different Apple Stores had absolutely no clue about it.

Also, this information saved me again recently when the same symptoms recurred, and I couldn't remember what the problem had been last time, so I searched through my journal and found your comment.

So you've saved me twice! Very much appreciated.

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