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Cryogenics? try the basement

It’s a mystery. Something that wasn’t, started working again.

Sometime in the early months of 2006, my iBook finally completely and utterly fritzed on me: the hard drive died. It wouldn’t, nay: it couldn’t boot up. Nothing but odd click-click-click sounds emanated from the machine. I had already had lots and lots of problems with this computer – it needed a new motherboard, and from thence it developed several other disgusting issues. Totally and utterly infuriating.

In early 2006, then, the iBook finally went for burial in the basement. I switched to a Windows laptop – after first using a Windows-based desktop (aka “hell”). Then, at the end of last December (2009), I got a MacBook Pro for my birthday. Meanwhile, the iBook remained in the basement, useless and a bad feng shui drain on the general clutter that is our electronics graveyard.

And yeah, we’re trying to fix that, so the spouse called around to ask about electronics recycling depots – because of course we never ever just throw anything away. Our goddamn green consciences prevent such easy solutions. We decided on one in Esquimalt, and dragged the old printer, speakers, stereo, keyboard, and what-nots from the basement to the car. Before consigning the iBook, I thought, “hey, plug it in and see if it boots up,” and fuck me, it did.

It makes a funny smell, it won’t load the latest Skype update, the battery seems worth shit-all, but heck, it runs.


On our way to the recycling depot with the rest of the stuff, we drove by Rob Randall who was working on something outside his condo. His iMac “died” recently and he was advised to put the hard drive in the freezer – apparently, cold can work wonders (he hasn’t tested the theory yet – perhaps our tale of rejuvenation-by-cold-basement will inspire him to try it). It seems all those years in that freezing basement knocked some sense into my iBook.

Now consider this: The son recently visited The Hackery, from whence he learned that hard drives have a gel coating (which keeps them cool or something). The gel eventually breaks down or deteriorates, the hard drive gets too hot, the computer dies. According to what the offspring remembers, The Hackery fixes stuff like that – and preferably without years of consignment to a cold basement?

Anyway, my iBook smells funny. I guess if I plan to use it again, I’ll have to make sure it gets refrigerated on a regular basis. Rotting motherboard has quite the whiff.


  1. Wow. Good to know about reviving dead drives. Maybe my fridge in the garage can house more than the overflow food stuff from the kitchen.

    Comment by maria — August 6, 2010 #

  2. Well, I’ll let you know if Rob tries the freezer technique, and whether it does anything for his fritzed machine! Also interesting, re. The Hackery – from what Adam recalled, the substance (a gel?) that protects the hard drive to keep it cool can break down, and once it does, your computer will overheat and shut itself down (or not boot up at all?) after a short while. Presumably one of The Hackery’s offerings is to replace/replenish the gel. Not sure I want to use my iBook anyway (because it does smell weird now, and who knows whether toxins contribute to the smell?), but if I did I’d call this place (they’re in Vancouver) and ask about how they fix the overheating problem.
    Or just stick the damn thing in the freezer for a while! 😉

    Comment by Yule — August 6, 2010 #

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