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09/08/06 09:05 PM
Sick Macbooks - Apple MacBook Problems and Solutions

Although the MacBook is a great laptop and one of the fastest you'll ever come across, it has had its share of problems since its release in May. After having a few minor problems with mine, I thought I'd take a moment to go through some of the more common problems and let you in on a few of the solutions I've found, both on the internet and over the telephone with an Apple Technician.

The rainbow lines of doom - If you?ve fire up your MacBook only to be met with a large array of multi-colored vertical lines, you have a problem that is associated with the 10.4.7 OS X upgrade. The Apple Technician gave me two solutions that should fix the problem. The first trick is to zap your MacBook?s parameter RAM. To do this, press and hold COMMAND + OPTION + P + R keys all at the same time as you boot up your MacBook. Continue to hold the keys until you hear the MacBook chime 4 times and then release these 4 keys. Once you get the MacBook to actually boot up, go in to the SYSTEM PREFERENCES and select the DISPLAY preference. Change your MacBook display resolution to something other than what you currently have it set on and after it changes go ahead and set it back to where you had it originally, which is normally 1280 x 800. This is supposed to stop the vertical line problem at bootup.

My screen dims and tells me to hold the power button to shut down - Now this is normally associated with a kernel panic of some kind. Chances are, if you have this problem occur, you?ve just installed some new RAM and your MacBook doesn?t care for it too much. Apple computers have always been a bit finicky when it comes to third party RAM, but it seems the MacBook is even more picky than usual. The first thing you should try is to take out your new RAM chips and replace them with your stock factory RAM chips that came with your MacBook. If this remedies your problem, then you know the RAM you have isn?t going to work and you need to return it. So far, Kingston, Crucial, Edge, Viking, and Apple RAM have all been cleared as good RAM alternatives to your stock chips. I went with a very cheap RAM chip and I had this very problem rear its ugly head. I?ve since installed 2GB of Edge RAM and it?s worked like a charm since.

Some of my programs will no longer launch and my MacBook just randomly shuts down - If this is happening to you and you?ve had the above forced shutdown problem, then you likely have a hard drive problem now. By having to force shut down, you run the risk of messing up your hard drive?s Binary Tree or Disk Permissions. They have to be repaired or a complete system re-install is necessary. Go to your APPLICATIONS folder and locate the UTILITIES program near the bottom. You?ll see several options to VERIFY or REPAIR your hard drive and disk permissions. Try running the VERIFY portions first to check for errors on your hard drive and then if there are problems, run the REPAIR programs to try to fix them. You may even have to boot up from your Install Disc in order to fully repair your hard drive. This process is basically the same although you boot up your MacBook with your Install Disc 1 in the CD drive and hold down the ?C? key while booting up. If you can?t get them fixed via these methods, you?re most likely going to have to do a complete reinstall if you want to get your hard drive back on track.

I installed new RAM and now all I get it a blue screen at startup! - If you just installed new RAM and you can?t get past the blue bootup screen, you likely didn?t get the RAM chips seated properly inside your MacBook. You have to really push hard to get the RAM chips seated into the MacBook?s memory slots. A good rule of thumb is, if you don?t have some deep indentions in the tips of your fingers after you?ve inserted a RAM chip, you?re not pushing hard enough. Another thing to check for is that the silver ?L? bracket that you have to take off to reach the memory slots of the MacBook should go back on easily and flush if you have the RAM chips inserted correctly. Try pushing the RAM chips all the way in and your MacBook should boot right up.

My MacBook is getting really hot on the bottom and near the LCD. Is this safe? - Apple laptops have always ran fairly warm, and the MacBook is no exception. You need to make sure you have the newest SMC firmware update, as this has helped keep temperatures down a little by activating the internal MacBook fans more often. Go to the APPLE menu at the top left of your screen and select ABOUT THIS MAC. Click on MORE INFO and then look at the SMC VERSION which should be 1.4f10. If you don?t have this update, go back to the APPLE menu and select SOFTWARE UPDATE to get it.

You also need to make sure that you?re using the MacBook on a solid flat surface, as using it on a soft or cloth surface might be blocking the ventilation holes too much. Another good solution is some of the lap desks on the market. I bought an X-Pad cooling pad and it works great for keeping the bottom of the laptop much cooler, even after really long sessions. It?s not the most comfortable thing to sit in your lap for hours at a time, but if you normally use your MacBook at a desk, it?s a great purchase for keeping the temperatures down and since it has no additional fans, it won?t disrupt your MacBooks normal internal airflow.

Should I get that Core Duo Temp program to monitor my MacBook?s internal temperature? - The MacBook doesn?t have any software that can read the temperature sensors inside the laptop so you have to use a kernel extension called ?Speed It? in order to see your internal temps. I?ve read that a lot of MacBook users have had some trouble running ?Speed It? and many have complained about it causing kernel panics on their MacBooks. My advice is, try it if you want to, but if you notice any problems with your computer acting funny or wanting to shut down, uninstall the Speed It asap. I had some trouble with it so I go rid of it. And keep in mind, every temperature program I?ve seen so far for the MacBook uses Speed It, and many will install this kernel extension without your knowing about it so use caution with these programs.

I was working and my MacBook just went off completely! - I?ve had this happen once so far and my MacBook was really hot at the time. Many times, the system just reaches an unsafe temperature and shuts itself down. I was editing some video clips at the time and I could feel the heat off of the keyboard and knew the system was beginning to get hot so I should have shut it down myself. If you?re computer starts to randomly shut itself down and it?s not because of heat issues or these shutdowns begin to happen often, you need to contact Apple as your logic board may need replacing. If you think it might be because of heat issues, try getting one of those X-Pads or operating your MacBook in a cooler area. If the shut down problem persists, you need to have your MacBook sent in for repairs.

People keep talking about what week their MacBook was built. How do I find out? - You can find out from your MacBook?s serial number. Locate the serial number either on the bottom of your MacBook or on your MacBook box. (4H629EMXX9X) The numbers after the 4H, which in this case are ?629? tell you that this MacBook was built during the 29th week of 2006. The number just after the ?H? is the year, and then the following number is the week. Most MacBooks built after week 30 have been relatively problem-free, but many built before that have had some problems at least at one time or another.

I have these shiny spots all over my palm rest and trackpad and I?ve only had my MacBook a few weeks! - If you notice the spots becoming yellow or orange and really standing out, you need to have your MacBook sent in to Apple to replace these components. Some earlier MacBooks from week 28 and earlier had this problem. If you?re just noticing the shiny spots with no discoloration, then welcome to the white MacBook. Mine already has them and I?ve only had mine about a month. You can wipe most of the oils from your hands off with a damp cloth, but it?s really just a fact of life. These plastics are still a bit porous and will sometimes catch the excess oils on your hands no matter how many times you?ve washed your hands. Avoid using any types of lotions or hand cremes when using your MacBook unless you want to make the problem even worse.

My screen flashes brightly the instance I touch the power button sometimes! - I have this happen every once in awhile, and I?ve noticed it?s generally if I shut down and then immediately try to boot up again. The Apple Technician told me on the phone that this happens sometimes when a tiny charge is built up inside the computer. He told me it was nothing to be concerned about (although he didn?t say that with a lot of conviction) so I pretty much ignore it when it does happen as it doesn?t seem to cause any problems. He advised that if i noticed it happening repeatedly to simply remove the battery and power cord and then press the power button to displace this tiny charge. It tends to stop it from happening for a long time after that so it must do something.

I can?t seem to get my Apple Remote to work with my MacBook! - Make sure you have line-of-sight as that?s the only way the Apple Remote will function. You may also need to install a new battery in the remote, as even my remote brand new out of the box was almost dead. I popped in a new CR2032 battery (which you can find at just about any store that carries batteries) and it?s worked perfectly ever since. Also keep in mind that when FrontRow has to boot up the program you want to use, such as itunes or iMovie, it takes a second or two to load them before the action you selected on the Apple Remote will occur onscreen.

Above all, if you do add a new hard drive or more RAM to your MacBook, do yourself a favor and keep your old hard drive or RAM chips that came with your MacBook around. Generally if you have to get on the phone with Apple to fix a MacBook problem, they?ll ask you to make sure that you have the factory-installed equipment in your computer for troubleshooting purposes.

If you have any other MacBook problems or questions, feel free to post them and I?ll answer them as quickly as possible.

-- Corbie Dillard

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