The Most Dramatic and Heartbreaking Powerbook Death.. Ever.

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by zahque, Jun 24, 2006.

  1. zahque macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    So.. a little background before I get into this whole ordeal. I have an AlBook 1.5Ghz, circa August 2004. Running OSX 10.3.9.

    About a month ago, I started noticing funny noises coming from my stock 80gig hard drive; these noises would only occur when picking up or shifting the computer, and sounded similar to the dull hum of a lightsaber (while this is a bit of a nerdy reference, a lightsaber hum is actually the most accurate sound I can think of that describes the noise my hard drive would make, and particularly since it occurred during movement, it seemed appropos of the analogy.)

    Now, this should have raised huge red flags, and if I was a more diligent user, I would have backed up my entire disk right there and then.. but I didn't. Instead, I ignored the issue, since it didn't seem to affect the performance of the laptop. I almost thought it was funny. I would pick my Powerbook up, and it would make noises at me - "methinks the laptop doth protest too much."

    Well, this morning, it all went to hell. I found the computer beachballing in the Finder, couldn't get it to respond, and forced a restart. I tried restarting it several times, but the screen would just hang on the grey apple. I tried rebooting from my OSX cd, using safe mode, etc. Nothing worked. Finally, I booted in verbose mode, and found the culprit. Lines and lines and lines of the following:

    IOATAController blocking bus.
    IOATAController blocking bus.
    IOATAController blocking bus.

    My hard drive was in bad shape, and after an hour of futily trying to get the thing to boot, I got nowhere. So this is it, I thought. It's totally died on me. Finally, out of anger and frustration, I lifted the thing off of my desk and gave it an angry shake, when to my surprise, verbose mode burped out the following lines:

    Jettisoning kernel linker.
    Resetting IOCatalogue.

    It paused for a moment, then spit out a few more "IOATAController blocking bus." After fiddling around with it, I realized that I could get it to boot normally if I held the Powerbook at around a 30 degree angle. Alright - no harm, no foul. I successfully got into my desktop, but if I tried to lay the thing level, it would beachball. I knew I needed to back up as much as I could while the drive was still responsive, but I didn't have any other computers available, nor any external hard drives. Enter the savior: my 20 gig 3rd gen iPod.

    Here's where things get harrowing. I hooked up the iPod, set it to firewire disk mode, and started copying as many essential and irreplaceable files as fast as I could - virtually my entire documents folder, chat logs, etc. All of this worked, but with a caveat - the files would only transfer as long as I held the Powerbook aloft, and constantly shifted the tilt and angle at which I held it.

    So far, so good, until I got to my iPhoto library.. the data stream slowed down considerably. As soon as it seemed like I had found a comfortable position to hold the damn thing, it would beachball, as if God wanted me to be as uncomfortable as possible during the whole ordeal. And it kept getting slower, and slower.. Data was now literally trickling in. I lay on my back, on the floor, with my Powerbook swinging in the air, for almost TWO HOURS. This is not an exaggeration. It took from about 3pm to 5pm for my entire iPhoto library to transfer over to my iPod, and I was supine the entire time. When the transfer finished, I breathed a sigh of relief.

    I realized there were a few more essential items, and tried to squeeze them in when my Powerbook started squealing. It sounded like there were little dust mites inside the hard drive with chainsaws, tearing it apart. Data transfer stopped entirely. My laptop went silent. I shifted it around a few times, trying to jostle it back into working order (as had worked earlier), when all of a sudden, it made the most startling noise I've ever heard a computer make.

    It sounded, literally, like the final death throes of some terminally ill mallard. One loud HONK, then nothing for a moment. Then another HONK. HONK. HONK HONK HONK! It was really something else. After a few minutes of HONKing and pausing, it let out one last impressively loud HOOOOOOOOONK.. as if millions of bad sectors cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

    My computer now longer makes any noise or does much of anything. I ordered a replacement hard drive from OWC and I'm hoping the problem was contained to the hard drive. So, the moral of the story is.. when your laptop starts honking at you, back up your data. Of course, anyone who isn't a moron would have realized that in the first place.
  2. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
  3. benthewraith macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Miami, FL
    That is the most dramatic death of a computer I've ever heard. Indeed. It actually sounded more like a person dying rather than a flipping computer. Indeed, you are very poetic. I hope things work when you get the new hard drive. Give it a ceremony. The fact that it stayed with you long enough for you to get your data off is an incredible feat. Your hard drive did it's best. It deserves a memorial. :)
  4. Passante macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2004
    on the sofa
    Had to replace my 80 gig HD due to the light saber noise. MacresQ did a good job and they cloned my old drive to the new one. Took less than 3 days.

    Sorry about your HD.
  5. celebrian23 macrumors 65816


    Mar 12, 2006
    Under the sun
    I've never read of death portrayed so beautifully.

    And I wouldn't have backed up either, so don't feel so bad!
  6. count chocula macrumors 6502a

    count chocula

    Apr 7, 2006
    noun. a particular place or position
    my mac makes lightsaber noises to.... good thing its because of macsaber. sorry bout the computer, hopefully its just the hard drive.
  7. zahque thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    Yeah, I was thinking about taking a picture of myself holding up the laptop in a ridiculously awkward position, but I kind of had my hands full at the time and was more worried about copying as many files over as quickly as possible.
  8. batman123 macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2006
    Some Place Only You Know...
    and why was my post deleted? :mad:

    o, it wasnt, i posted it in the duplicate thread before it was deleted...what i said was...

    "Bloody hell. That was a long story lol
    Sorry mate, at least you backed up most of your data before though. Even if it took hours lol.
    I understand most of the noises you decribed...but i cant quite imagine the "honk"...

  9. FullmetalZ26 macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2006
    Reminds me of an old Compaq laptop I had years ago... One day, I turned the machine on, and the hard drive just started beeping very loudly. Like someone was pressing the same button on a telephone over and over, except it was loud enough to echo through the entire house. I was fortunate that nothing important was on the drive, but disappointingly, after that one occasion the drive refused to make the sounds again. I figured it'd make an interesting conversation piece or something.
  10. xPismo macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    LOL & Yikes! My replacement 5400/80 from OWC has done that since it was new?! I always thought it was due to the rpm, but then my 7200/60 in my old Pismo didn't.

    Crud. I think I may watch this one very very closely.

    May the force be with you on the next one.
  11. Apple Corps macrumors 68030

    Apr 26, 2003
    My perspective is that your hard drive died - NOT your PB. If your cpu or logic board fried - than might be a PB "death".

    HDs fail - not that expensive to replace.

    Interesting write up though :)
  12. njmac macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    My powerbook was making light saber noises too! Then it died... but I was backed up :)
  13. regre7 macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Nice parallel.

    " if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."
    -Obi-Wan Kenobi
  14. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    mine too did the lightsabor sound, They replaced the HD and logic board and a new case on the screen where the apple is. I sent it back out because the AL was bent around the cd rom drive and they replaced all the AL on it....
  15. wako macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2005

    ROFL... sounded like it was trying to play you :D
  16. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    Sorry to hear about your problem zahque. :eek:

    But your post made for some great reading- quite the dramatic PowerBook death indeed. :eek: :)
  17. yoda13 macrumors 65816


    Sep 26, 2003
    as big a star wars fan as I am, I wish I had something star wars worthy to post here. I don't at the moment. My memory escapes me. Oh well, I hope the new hard drive solves your problems and your powerbook no longer thinks its a dying duck with jedi skills...:D
  18. Koodauw macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2003
    I think the 17'' PB "falling" off the balcony was more dramatic ;) Wish I could of heard the honking.
  19. neocell macrumors 65816


    May 23, 2005
    Great White North
    Well it appears that my 12" PB is strong with the force.
    Ever since the first day I got it the saber noises have been there when I've moved it. Couple years later, still there and still working.
    Always just thought that it was normal.
    Maybe I'll make another backup tomorrow.
  20. paleck macrumors 6502a


    Apr 11, 2005
    with the Tequila!
    I'm making a note to have you write my obituary notice for the newspapers. :D
  21. zahque thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    yeah, that's kind of what i was going for. ;)
  22. SheriffParker macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2006
    The land of love
  23. aricher macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2004
    Nicely described and quite funny to picture. Thanks for the story - now I'm off to back up my HD!
  24. gloss macrumors 601


    May 9, 2006

    I'm sorry for your loss. At least it made an excellent story!
  25. zahque thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    i'm glad something entertaining came out of it. it's sitting so sadly in a corner of my room, quiet, dark, and waiting for a new brain, like frankenstein pre-lightning.

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