A New Year Without the PowerBook? NEVER!

Who needs the lower quarter? It's just wasted space, right? Right?

Who needs the lower quarter? It’s just wasted space, right? Right?

New year, new beginnings. And it was almost so when I powered up the PowerBook this morning. The lower quarter of the screen displayed visual artifacts and flickered constantly, rendering it almost unusable. It hadn’t been on since coming back from our cross-country holiday visit back east, and the time off didn’t seem to agree with it.

Undeterred, I began to troubleshoot. PowerBooks of this vintage were known to have issues with the display cable getting pinched in the hinge. I’d run into a similar problem back in 2004 while at grad school in Australia. Just before I sent it in for Applecare, it magically started working again. I also got a slight display glitch when we arrived in Montreal before Christmas, but got it working by moving the lid back and forth a few times. That solution didn’t work this time. Neither did a reboot.

I took a screen capture and noticed the artifacts weren’t reproduced in the image, so it wasn’t the graphics chip, it was the display or the connector. My next step was to plug in an external monitor to make sure that was working. If I couldn’t work with the PowerBook’s screen, at least I could work, right? Thankfully my newly upgraded Mac Pro is right next to the laptop. I unplugged its screen and gave it a shot.

The screen snapshot couldn't reproduce the glitch, so it wasn't the GPU...

The screen snapshot couldn’t reproduce the glitch, so it wasn’t the GPU…

When you plug an external display into a PowerBook (or any Mac laptop for that matter), it will automatically refresh the displays. I’m not sure if Windows-based notebooks do it these days, the ones I’ve used didn’t (there might be a setting for it, but usually in Windows I’d have to hit Fn + F5). I looked at the second display and I couldn’t see any artifacts. Great, I can work. I moved to the PowerBook.

No artifacts.

The refresh cured it, which is strange as the reboot didn’t. I know the PowerBook is well past its prime and one day it will give up the ghost. But today’s not that day.

Happy New Year.

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About Ryan

I'm a writer-performer originally from Montreal, Canada where I performed stand-up and sketch comedy. These days I'm an Instructor in the New Media Department at the University of Lethbridge where I indulge in my fascination with creative media and technology. I've written and directed two web series and always seem to have a new project lined up. Busy is good.

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