Dead PowerBook

The dead hardware saga continues, my PowerBook died. This is getting ridiculous, I’ve never had such a streak of bad luck. Even worse, it’s embarrassing. It’s like the old proverb of the cobbler whose children go barefoot. I’m the guy people call for help when their computers go bad, to have my own computer go bad is pitiful. It is especially pitiful considering the machine died due to an upgrade. This upgrade was supposed to improve performance, but now I have no performance, it won’t even boot.

My PowerBook has been acting cranky ever since I installed a new 1Gb memory stick a few days ago. It ran much faster with the extra memory, but then suddenly, I saw the dreaded “kernel panic,” and now my PowerBook won’t boot.


Diagnostics said the hard drive is corrupted, most of the data is irretrievable. I used every technique I knew to repair the disk directory (and I know a lot of them, it used to be my job to recover damaged disks) but nothing worked. My disk is hosed, the data lost. Fortunately I don’t use my PowerBook for anything really critical, it’s my backup machine for light web surfing and email, so it’s not a major disaster. But it is a major waste of time, having to reinstall and reconfigure it from scratch.

After wasting a whole day trying to resurrect my hard drive, I finally realized it might be a memory problem, so I ran the Apple Hardware Test disk, it proved the new memory stick is defective. I thought it might be the infamous Upper Memory Slot problem but my PowerBook isn’t in the affected range of serial numbers. I tried installing the RAM in the lower slot, but it tests as defective in that slot as well. The memory module is definitely dead.

Curses to Other World Computing for shipping me a bad memory module that hosed my hard disk! They promised a lifetime advance replacement warranty, but that hardly compensates for hosing my hard disk. My machine will probably be OK now that I’ve removed the bad RAM, the hard drive is probably not permanently damaged, but I’ll have to reformat my hard disk and reinstall the OS. And in a couple days I’ll get a replacement module from OWC. But you can be damn sure I’m going to run hardware diagnostics to test the new RAM as soon as it’s installed.

Update: I got the replacement RAM, it works properly this time. I reformatted the hard drive, installed everything from scratch, and my PowerBook is working well again. But it was a lot of wasted time and work that I didn’t really need to go through at all.

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