superdrive madness and other hardware glitches


I’ve noticed some weirdness with my MacBook Pro’s SuperDrive recently, where burning DVDs as backups would be hit or miss. Mostly miss. I would keep getting error messages about how the laser failed to be calibrated, usually at the beginning of the process, sometimes at the end of a failed burn. At one point this past weekend, a DVD-R would not be ejected after a failed burn, and no matter what I did, the disc would not eject. I tried restarting while holding down my mouse button, running the Unix drutil eject command, and even took some online advice and held the Eject button down while tilting my MBP so that the drive bay door was aimed at the floor. Nothing worked.

So I went to the Apple Store in King of Prussia, PA, where the service is really good. The Apple Genius was all set to install a new SuperDrive when we tried booting up from a Netboot drive and to both of our surprises, the MBP was able to burn a disc. So the thinking was that it was an OS issue. I did an archive and install of OS X last night, which meant I had to reinstall some drivers and update some apps like iTunes and Safari (I’m running the beta of Safari 4 and really like it), but that was a pretty rapid process. However, the MBP still can’t burn discs, even if I login as the root user, so it is clearly not an OS or Home Directory issue.

So I’m back to the Apple Store. The drive repair should take an hour and hopefully that will be it. We’ll see how that goes.

And then there’s my external LaCie hard drive issue. Again. This makes three LaCie drives that have failed in less than a year, usually within 1 day-four months. This last one was a replacement for the replacement of a failed drive. The online support folks at LaCie are sending me a replacement AC adapter on the possibility that it is a power issue, but let’s be real, it’s most likely a disk crash or failed hard drive controller, judging from the sounds I’m hearing when the drive spins up but doesn’t mount. I do have a 1-TB Western Digital drive on order from Buy.com (thank goodness for all the gift certificate points I’ve banked—I think this is costing $12 in the end) and that should cover my backup needs just fine. I do have a Western Digital 500 GB portable drive that has a FireWire 800 interface, and it’s very fast and stable so far. I also have a nearly 1-year old LaCie drive that I’ve called back into service, and am just praying it’s stable for the short term. I just can’t trust LaCie drives, even when they’re provided as replacements by the company itself. Hardware is replaceable, data isn’t.

Hoping this ends my weird computer hardware karmic storm for now…

UPDATE: well, it’s not the SuperDrive after all. Or the OS. Might be the logic board…