Late last fall, I got a brand new Mac Book Pro. It was my first Intel machine, and a newer industrial design, and wicked fast and I was quite happy with it. For a while.
Sometime in the new year, it started exhibiting problems. First, there was random bitshit on the screen, sporadic redraw problems, pixel smearing. Sometimes it was really minor and subtle, sometimes it was pretty dramatic. But always, I could force a window redraw and it was fixed. The second problem was much more serious. On occasion, with no rhyme or reason I could discern, the UI layer would lock up tight. I could still move the cursor, but otherwise the graphics layer just stopped responding. I could SSH into the computer, kill apps, launch apps, but nothing would update on the screen. The only way to “recover” was a hard restart. Gack!
I was pretty convinced both problems were due to a hardware failure with the graphics board. But my laptop is absolutely essential to my work, and it’s not like I could bear to send the computer into repair for a couple of weeks. And really, if the worst that happened was that I had to reboot every once in a while, I could stand that. Right?
But it gradually got worse. Sometimes the UI-lockups would happen as infrequently as every three days, but sometimes I would have several happen times in a half hour, one right after the other. Two weeks ago, it finally got bad enough that I snapped. I ordered a brand spankin’ new, top of the line Mac Book Pro. The idea was to get it before I made my trip to the mothership in CA the following week.
Of course, the laptop got delivered to PDX on the exact same day I landed in CA. Sigh. I spent all week twitching with anticipation at the shiny new toy waiting for me at home. Then, the problem got even worse. I was working late one night, trying to produce screen shots for a proposed HI design for a pair of presentations the next day. Running Xcode, Interface Builder and Photoshop, and having the computer lock up on me multiple times in a row. A chore that I should have been able to wrap up in a couple of evening hours took me until about 2 am.
Later that week, I tried to make a workout routine from the problem. I started one morning, doing a single pushup at the first seizure. The next one, I did two pushups. And so on. (What do you call a factorial, only done with addition? My GoogleFu is failing me.) Before noon, I had done 45 pushups and was about to snap. Finally, a sainted co-worker loaned me a tower box. I was able to carefully move my Data partition and home dir to an external hard drive and connected that to the tower box to get some work done for the remaining day in the office. After a couple of hours of using it, I realized I was still flinching with every action I took. “Is this gonna lock up the computer? Or this? Can I afford to close this window?” It’s as if I had PTSD because of an accursed laptop possessed by daemon spawn. Every time I saw a rainbow cursor, my sphincter would clench and I’d hold my breath.
Finally, I’m home again, with all my data safely transferred to the shiny new Mac Book Pro. It is running just like a new computer should, with a battery that seemingly lasts forever, a display that is blindingly bright, and most importantly, without any crashes whatsoever.
Next week I’ll wipe the hard drive on the EvilLaptop and take it in for service. Once it is back and proven to be working well, I suppose it’ll be time to eBay it.
Oh yeah, and my pecs still have some lingering soreness from the pushups. Time for me to restore those (in moderation) to my morning routine.