My PowerBook is borked.

It’s a little over three years old, and it’s seen ridiculously hard use; moved around pretty much daily, it’s recently eaten its second battery (down to about 40 mins life), and the keyboard reflects the half-million-or-so words I’ve bashed out on it. It’s been amazingly solid and reliable, having crashed probably less than a dozen times since I bought it – I think it locked on me in late January, when I hadn’t restarted it since early December, but I don’t recall the time before that. The LCD panel is showing the dreaded White Splotches of Doom, but unfortunately it doesn’t fall within the serial number range that’s supposed to be affected. Huh.

However, I fear its days are numbered, for the display has started glitching. Badly. I’ll be working away then it’ll suddenly freak out, displaying an overlay of little blue or red rectangles. When both come together, it looks like a tartan filter. If I whack the right-hand palmrest just right, it goes away again – or I can sometimes correct it by wiggling the lid, or refreshing the screen.

So, my first thought was that the display connection through the hinge is fatiguing, a common problem with heavily-used laptops. But get this – I can take screen captures of the problem. No, really. And it shows up on an external display, hooked up over a DVI->VGA adaptor. Which means the corruption is in the frame buffer, not the screen itself. Also, the problem shows up less when the machine’s running hot.

Loose VRAM, do you think? I’m not even sure it’s socketed on this machine, and I know it’s a bastard to get into, but… there’s hope. Maybe.

When I get back to Glasgow my friendly local Mac repair shop are going to have a new customer, and if I’m very lucky they’ll be able to peel poor Quern apart and wiggle a cable. If I’m unlucky… I’ll be exploring these options, none of which I can really afford. Ouchie.

(Incidentally, the last time there were that many refurb MacBook Pros around, the range was refreshed a couple of weeks later. Not that I want The Daily Grind to turn into a rumours site, you understand.)

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