When good computers go bad

For the most part my MacBook has been a great machine, but recently it has decided to become evil. It all started when I downloaded and installed the most recent software updates – Front Row, Security Update, iTunes and Quicktime. When I restarted the computer, it failed to get to the Apple loading screen, and instead left me with a blank grey background.

I forced a restart, and it continued to fail. So here I present the other steps I took to resolve my problem, in the hope that it can save someone else some headache.

  1. Downloaded and installed original Mac OS X 10.5.1 updater, along with Front Row and the latest security update. Nothing.
  2. Used the Leopard Install DVD to verify and repair the startup disk. Nadda.
  3. Repaired permissions using Install DVD. Zero.
  4. Admitted defeat and did an Archive and Install from the Install DVD. Sort of.

I say sort of because the computer did not boot immediately after installation, then I realized something I should have done a long time ago. I have a number of items plugged into my computer through a USB hub, and when I unplugged them all, it started.

I had found my problem, and now it is a matter of figuring out which peripheral is the culprit.

So, my suggestion to others with similar problems: when trying to troubleshoot a problem, make sure there are no other pieces of hardware plugged in while you are diagnosing a problem.

[UPDATE]: Turns out it was my iPod. Starting the computer with it plugged in made it stall, and unplugging it immediately causes the computer to start. More details to come.
[tags]MacBook, Mac OS X, Leopard, iPod, hard drive, FireWire[/tags]

3 comments on “When good computers go bad
  1. mvdhoef says:

    Funny how it was the MAC peripheral causing compatibility issues with the MAC computer.

    not HAHAHA funny, rather, HUH funny.

  2. bike mike says:

    Apple has locked responses on the related support forum so I’ll add my two cents here, thanks. I had the exact same problem with my 1st gen MacBook as you and the other Apple poster described, and here’s how I solved it…

    While my new 120GB iPod was unplugged its ‘Do Not Disconnect’ message did NOT go away (and MacBook booted properly, of course).

    After restoring USB to continue iPod charging, I noticed it still didn’t sync nor appeared on the desktop or sidebar (and again MacBook failed to boot).

    The URL I’ve included here is ‘How to reset an iPod’. Once complete, I can now reboot normally with iPod charging, and it syncs and ejects normally.

    This process interrupted iPod’s charge cycle a few times, however. It’s ‘battery full’ icon appeared much sooner than expected, only a couple hours, and I hope the battery life isn’t reduced as a result. I can always retrain it, but there’s diminishing returns I normally prevent by NEVER interrupting a charge for at least 12 hours and ALWAYS letting the iPod battery die when it wants before recharging. This normally gets me 72 hours continuous iPod battery play. We’ll see where it’s at now (and 5 hours MacBook battery use).

    Lesson learned for battery phobes: I should have first tried resetting iPod (see URL) while it was charging.


  3. bike mike says:

    Also, any powered USB hub one never intends to connect to a computer will charge a device without syncing, say, an iPod.