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  • dtoub 9:21 am on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 9:21 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , macbook pro, SuperDrive   

    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…

  • dtoub 10:27 am on Thursday, May 8, 2008, 10:27 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: display glitches, macbook pro   

    pretty, yes… 

    …but it’s a bear when you wake up a MacBook Pro from sleep only to encounter this. Can’t wait for the next OS update.

  • dtoub 2:34 pm on Friday, April 11, 2008, 2:34 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , macbook pro, ,   

    new macbook pro 

    To be perfectly honest, I’ve never purchased a top-of-the-line Mac laptop. My first Mac laptop was an end-of-life’d PowerBook 520c I got through a university discount. Let’s see—33 MHz, 250 MB hard drive and with the expensive RAM upgrade I bought, it went from 4 MB to a whopping 12 MB of RAM. I should also mention its 9.5” passive matrix color screen and its 28k modem. Yes, those were the days.

    I finally was able to get a PowerBook G3 (Wall Street model), which I believe was 256 MHz (or was it 128?), and I maxed out the RAM to 40 MB or so. This was again not the high-end laptop from Apple, but it was more than good enough. Since then, I have had two iBooks, one G3 and a G4, figuring that it wasn’t worth the price differential to get a PowerBook, just as I once looked at my first PowerBook’s crappy passive matrix screen and envisioned five $100 bills next to it, and determined that the $500 looked better than the difference between an active matrix and a passive matrix laptop screen.

    I was provided with a MacBook Pro for my forthcoming new job, and it’s incredible to finally have the best tools available for work. It’s the 2.5 GHz dual-core model with half a GB of graphical memory on a separate chip and 2 GB of RAM. The hard drive is 250 GB in size, which is great since my puny 80 GB iBook’s hard disk was nearly full. While I had a weird glitch with the MIgration Assistant right at the end of transferring stuff from my iBook G4 (each time, with less than a minute to go, the Assistant would lose its FireWire connection with the iBook and the iBook was frozen, so some apps didn’t transfer over), it’s been flawless since. I had to re-input my Keynote 3 and Reason 4.0 serial numbers and for some reason I have no printers anymore, but that’s it for problems I’ve found. 

    It’s an amazing, incredibly fast laptop. The LED display is very sharp, and an ambient light sensor adjusts brightness based on the surrounding lighting. The keys also light up in low-light conditions, which still amazes my daughter Arielle. And it comes with OS 10.5.2, which so far seems to be working just fine for me. And the trackpad does multi-touch, like the iPhone. In all, it has been a pretty painless update, although a bit more intensive than the last time I used the Migration Assistant to go from the iBook G3 to the G4. It’s just nice to finally have the best toys tools at my disposal.

    • checky 7:38 pm on Friday, April 11, 2008, 7:38 pm Permalink

      Grats with your new machine. The mac is great, i’m still a newbie on mine. Have fun!

  • dtoub 7:41 pm on Monday, April 7, 2008, 7:41 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fibroids, macbook pro   

    going to the left coast 

    I had an interesting experience recently. I was asked by a recruiter who contacted me on LinkedIn if I knew of any gynecology colleagues who might be interested in a medical director role at a really cool medical device startup in Redwood City, CA. I couldn’t think of anyone off the top of my head, remarking back that it was a shame the company is in California since what they’re doing is right up my alley,  and anyway, I really wasn’t looking to move from my current position. The recruiter persisted, and to make a long story short, I made it through the interview process, accepted and will be starting in two weeks.

    I’m not moving from Pennsylvania, however, although I will be spending a lot of time traveling to and from the Bay Area as well as a few clinical trial sites. I also get to use a nice new MacBook Pro, which I have yet to set up (Debbie bet me that I couldn’t go 48 hours without opening the box, and I can report that I’m still master of my domain). But this way I get to have the best of both sides of the US, and besides, Debbie and I are really West Coast people living on the East Coast. Still, it will be an interesting challenge since we essentially manage our family and chores 50/50. I’m fortunate in having a spouse who is unselfish and very supportive, and this is also a great opportunity to do something I really feel very strongly about. Now if only I could write music on the plane, I’d be able to get tons of works finished…

    • Richard Friedman 11:18 pm on Monday, April 7, 2008, 11:18 pm Permalink

      EXCELLENT! I knew somehow you’d get here!

      Next trip over give us a call!

    • Celesteh 8:56 am on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 8:56 am Permalink

      I’ve never been able to do any worthwhile composing on a plane. The noise just is too overwhelming. But hopefully, you’ll have better luck.

      Congrats on the new job! And the new mac! There’s a great website for finding good Open Source Software for the mac: http://www.opensourcemac.org/ There’s so much great free software right now for mac. I buy the operating system, iLife and Sibelius, but everything else I’ve been able to find free. There may exist good FOSS notation software, but I haven’t yet found any. But, the good news is that you never need to use M$ w0rd again! Check out NeoOffice and AbiWord.

      I am so jealous of anyone who gets to travel to CA. I hope you take advantage of the vibrant music scene there and take in some shows or play in some. The transbay calendar is a good resource to find out about stuff. I don’t think there’s much in Redwood City (or even San Jose), but if you get the train up to SF or Bart across to the East Bay, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

    • david 11:56 am on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 11:56 am Permalink

      Thanks! I was being wistful about composing on a plane. I’m not that good—I need a keyboard to work with.

      And yes, there is a lot of open-source and free software for OS X. Great stuff!

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