Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Hate the Mall

So, I've been kind of scarce the last couple months because I have been staying the summer at my parents house, and my laptop would not get a good wireless connection, but maybe 3 days a month. I consulted a friend for help, and he was stumped. I consulted my brother, and HE was stumped. But, it's a known issue with the Macbook Pro, unfortunately. Some people say switching to a different brand of router works, others say it doesn't matter what router you use. The laptop connects to the router, but cannot actually connect to the internet. It's frustrating, because the wireless connection will say it's "connected" with a STRONG signal, and I feel like it's thumbing it's nose at me, because I can't connect to the internet! I don't care that I have a "very strong" connection, it does me NO good if I am stuck disconnecting, then reconnecting, for every post I make on a forum. I'll have a connection for a minute or so,then it will drop. This has made it impossible to IM or skype or anything like that. Or even watch a video on YouTube.

A few months ago I started noticing an occasional overheating issue with my laptop. I know the signs, I've fried my share of motherboards with my previous laptops. Giving credit where credit is due: I do a LOT of cpu-intensive, graphic intensive work, often running the Sims 2, and up to 2 editing programs AT THE SAME TIME. No previous PC laptop would let me do this, and they still fried. My HP (bought before I got into machinima) fried 2 days after its 1 year warranty was up, just a few months after I started doing videos. I replaced that with a Winbook, a relatively unknown model no longer being produced, but was actually a decent gaming rig, for less than $2000. Couldn't play with all settings maxed, but you could play with SOME settings maxed, and others at low or medium (shadows and lighting were both medium, reflections were off, unless I was making a video). But running Adobe Premiere Pro was a challenge, and will wear out your hardware fairly quickly if you don't have a computer designed to handle such power-hungry programs. I had 3 motherboard replacements in less than a year, at $500 a pop. It was a money pit, and obviously couldn't handle me. So I got my Macbook Pro. Although I'm now a die-hard Mac girl, Macs aren't for everyone, and I don't recommend them to people unless you're into video or audio editing, because they are pricey, and you can get a much cheaper PC for everyday usage (and gaming). But for my purposes this thing has been terrific. I can play the game with everything maxed, run my editing programs at the same time, and, although I wore out my graphics processor, again, this is the first repair this machine has needed in over two years. And, because I got the Apple-care program (Apple's extended care plan), it's under full warranty until next mid-June. Yay for that.

So, a few months ago, I was getting the weird spikes, which happen when things start to overheat. Shutting down, and letting the computer cool for a while would be enough to fix that, though I was aware that this was the "beginning of the end", and, eventually, I'd be looking at a repair. But I kept stupidly putting it off because I am a slave to my laptop. My LIFE is on this thing. And, the overheating was just "once in a while". Then it started happening a little more frequently. Ruh rohhhh... still, I put off taking it in, despite the full warranty. I'd just shut down, let it cool, and fire it up again, later.

Over the summer, however, I began getting occasional CTDs, and it became a nightly thing the last month. Sucked. I'd minimize my game, go have dinner or something, and come back to find my game was no longer running. I started thinking about making an appointment at the Genius Bar, but I was still stubborn.

About 3 weeks ago, I couldn't run the game anymore. It would CTD soon after loading. Or it would freeze. Or other fun stuff. I began preparing for back-up. Yet I still put off taking it in. I'M A DUMBASS. So, I kept the laptop with me, though I could no longer play the game, but wasn't ready to part with my "life", and would just come on when I had a lucky break with the wireless connection... I'm telling you. I was insane with the "not taking it in for repair" thing. I can't really explain why. I KNEW I had to do it, but I couldn't part with my laptop.

Right after writing my previous blog entry, the laptop froze, and would not boot back up. It would give the long beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep noise, then I would hear the apple chime, and I could feel something was stuck cycling. It was chiming one right after another, never getting past that stage, the screen wasn't lighting up, there was no apple logo... just the constant looping. So I was stuck. I was forced to take it in to the Genius Bar. I made the appointment first thing that morning.

I got to the Genius Bar, and the guy tried to boot it up, heard the repeated chimes, and said "Well, that's...special", sounding perplexed. Then he said "I'm gonna try a shot-in-the-dark thing" and took the laptop to the back room. He came back, and it was booted up! There was my Bogus desktop! Yay! He said he reseated my memory, and showed me how to do it should it happen again, patted me on the head and sent me on my way. I took it home, happily stuck my Sims 2 game disk in, and halfway through loading, the system froze. Uh oh. That's not good. The only way to shut it off was at the power switch. And then I was not able to boot into OS X. Curiously, I COULD still boot into my Windows partition, though I was now having some serious display issues. I was able to get into my Documents and back up my game files, though my cursor was about an inch long, and my icons took up half the screen. The font was huge and the colors were crazy. Psychedellic.

I backed up what I could onto a flash drive, and made another appointment at the Genius Bar, but at a store across town, since the guy I went to the first time didn't seem to know his stuff. I called tech support as well to get their input, and they had me run through some stuff, and said "Sounds like bad memory".

I got in the car, dreading the long drive, in the pouring rain, out to the mall (which I loathe). But at least it seemed like a quick fix! They'd just have to swap out my memory and I'd be good to go! Too bad someone rearranged metro Atlanta on me and I ended up 30 minutes away from the Genius Bar, and missed my appointment. I pulled over into some out-in-the-boonies shopping center, pulled out my iphone, and made another appointment for the next day (that would be today). Then I scoped the parking lot for a good lightpost to run my car into. I hate the mall THAT MUCH. And I'd have to make yet another trip out, in yet another storm. The weather here has been horrible.

Today, my mom and I went to the mall again, the first one, not the one that seemed to disappear off the map. This time, the guy at the Genius Bar seemed to know his stuff. He pulled out all sorts of gadgets and hooked it up to my machine, until finally he said, without any hint of doubt, "Okay, now I know what the problem is." I had fried my graphics processor. Wow, just like old times! So, though I was disappointed to know I would not have the "quick fix" of the memory-swap, I was relieved to hear the confidence in his voice. I checked in my laptop, and he said to expect a call in about a week.

I miss playing my game, I am dying to do some video work, and I am typing from a 1998 Thinkpad 600E, but at least I finally DID IT. I handed my laptop over to a complete stranger, for several days, but I'm totally patting myself on the back for this.

I feel like playing the Theme From Rocky.

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