Computer Support 101

I’ve been hanging on to my six-year-old iMac, a PowerPC G5, for as long as possible, but it’s so slow that it’s like an old terminal, with visible lags between each letter as I type. Partly that’s because there are only six gigs free on the hard-disk at the moment, but I clear out a chunk every now and then and it doesn’t make much difference. I could put up with it until upgrading my work machine a year ago, but dissatisfaction with relative levels of performance gets me every time. Maybe I need to downgrade the work Mac to a Performa.

If I can last another couple of months, I should be able to upgrade to a speed-bumped version, but the G5 isn’t making it easy. Its internal DVD drive died some time ago, so I’ve been using externals for those. (A Region 2 and a Region 4. Region-hacking on the Mac is far from straightforward and only possible with certain models of DVD drive. Externals are now so cheap that it’s easier just to buy a spare to cover an extra region.) A couple of days ago, one of the externals stopped working, and trial and error revealed that one of the USB ports on the iMac had died. That almost triggered a visit to the online Apple Store right there and then, until I googled and found that it could be cured by switching it off and back on again.

Yes, really. You also have to pull the plug out for a couple of minutes to let the electrons dissipate into the ether or something, but still.

On my model, you actually have two choices: switching it off and back on again; or switching it off, removing an outer door, an inner air deflector and a fan assembly, pressing a button behind all of those, reassembling everything, and then switching it back on again.

After a careful assessment of both options, I chose to switch it off and back on again. Which did the trick.

5 April 2012 · Infotech