Saturday, July 01, 2006


Flaky iMac G5

I've described problems with my iMac G5 before. A new problem appeared last night: the machine suddenly turned itself off, and would not turn back on. I tried pressing the power button several times, but nothing happened; it was as if the power was not plugged in.

I figured the power supply died. I have a first-generation iMac G5, and they have known power issues. So I figured I'd be without my Mac for a couple of weeks while waiting for Apple to fix it. And unfortunately, I'm going out of town this week, so I wouldn't be able to attend to this until I got back.

Using my Windows laptop, I went to Apple's support site, and found an article about troubleshooting when the Mac won't turn on. I removed the back cover as directed, then spent a few minutes trying to find the four LEDs pictured in the article. The inside of my iMac doesn't match the pictures in the article. It would have been nice if they had a picture or diagram showing where in the Mac those four LEDs are. I didn't find the LEDs until I plugged in the power cable.

One of the LEDs turned on, which was a good sign—it meant that the power supply was getting power from the outlet. The next instruction in the article directed me to press the internal power switch. Again, I spent a long time trying to find that switch. I finally found one that looked like it might be the right one, so I pressed it, and the iMac turned on. Another good sign.

At that point, I thought my problems were solved. I replaced the back cover, and pressed the external power switch. It wouldn't turn on. The article said that if that happened, then I needed to order a new back cover. Buying a whole new back cover seems like overkill, when the problem is probably just a flaky switch.

After rechecking the back cover to ensure everything was seated properly, I tried the external power switch again, and this time it turned on. Great! Problem solved, right? Not quite: after a couple of minutes, the Mac turned itself off for no apparent reason.

I turned it on again. It has stayed on during the time I've typed this entry. I hope it stays that way.

Every time I start seriously thinking about buying a MacBook, something flaky happens with my iMac, and so I decide to hold off on the MacBook purchase until the second generation appears.

(While typing that last sentence, my iMac lost connection to the Bluetooth keyboard. I turned the keyboard off and back on, and now it is fine. Maybe it just needs new batteries, but it's spooky how everything always seems to go wrong at once.)

Update: It's still shutting itself down. The shutdowns happen most often in these two cases:

Another update: I chatted with an Apple support agent, and was told it seems like a hardware issue, so I need to take the Mac to an Apple Authorized Service Provider. My choices are the local Apple Store, or the local CompUSA. I think I'll give the Apple Store a try.


Are you using iTunes when it happens??

Believe it or not, my G5 (much newer than yours) did the same exact thing yesterday morning -- twice!

I could get it to turn back on though...

Both times I was running iTunes and it asked if I wanted to upgrade to the new version. I said no and played some music. After about 1-2 minutes, blammo, blackout time.

Who knows if I fixed it, but this is what I did and I haven't had any problems:

* I said no thanks to the update,
* I checked the box telling it to never bother me again with this update.
* I quit iTunes.
* I restarted iTunes.

No more problems. Finger's crossed.
That's funny: I was starting to suspect iTunes myself. However, I'm not running it any more, and the problem still happens.

My theory right now is that some component is getting too hot, leading to a shutdown. However, it is very inconsistent--sometimes it dies right after a boot; sometimes it will run for hours before it quits.
Oh geez, it's stuff like this I don't need (Want?) to hear only 4 weeks after diving into the world of Mac myself.

I bought an older G3 iBook, which I now know has issues in itself...but made a good platform for an introduction to the world of Mac, at a reasonable cost.

(Crosses fingers...)
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