MacBook Pro 3,1

Purchased a MacBook Pro 3,1 (2008) model via a newsgroup recently that was described as a project machine. It had a habit of shutting down or rebooting unexpectedly. Since it had no battery or power adapter, I acquired aftermarket versions of those as well. When the unit arrived, I found that it still contained a 500 GB drive and had the original 2 GB RAM. I also found that, sure enough, the machine would reboot after a few minutes to a couple of hours. In the process of troubleshooting, I found that both SO-DIMMs were exhibiting faults but a fresh 1 GB installed by itself ran for a couple of days without incident. I went ahead and purchased 2x2GB SO-DIMMs.

While waiting for the new RAM to arrive, I had purchased a second 85 Watt power supply (aftermarket) through eBay. Less than 90 minutes after starting to use that power supply, it popped and took out the MacBook as well. The PS was useless and was severely charred inside; the power/USB/audio board in the MacBook smelled of burnt components, too. I ordered a replacement and installed it when it arrived, only to find that the primary flat connector didn’t seat very well on the logic board, requiring jamming a piece of cardboard on top of it to maintain sufficient pressure at all times.

Lessons learned:

  • Crappy aftermarket PS can kill your MacBook; glad I only had $100 invested in the Mac
  • Green light on cable indicates a complete circuit only to a point; you might still have any number of other problems if the machine won’t boot
  • Three flashes on the white LED on the front of the MacBook generally indicates that there is a RAM fault
  • If green light on cable won’t come on, check that the flat connector from the power board to the logic board is properly seated
  • For some reason, the MacBook won’t run with the keyboard “detached”, although it seems that it should be able to

So far, so good…

OS X hangs on login to iTunes and App Store

I just picked up a MacBook Pro 2008 model and installed Mountain Lion. Everything appeared to be working okay so I upgraded to El Capitan to see how that looked. After the update, trying to login to iTunes or the App Store resulted in the spinning ball of uselessness. However, I was still able to login to Apple’s web site via Safari and Firefox, so I figured networking and firewall were non-issues.

Some research on Google directed and redirected until I ended up at Turns out this can be a common problem with machines that have been serviced, which can apparently wipe out the serial number stored in the firmware. The solution listed on that site worked like a charm. You can verify this is the problem by clicking on About This Mac from the Apple menu; if your serial number is blank or otherwise appears unavailable, you might give the utility a shot.

A couple of additional notes, however. For those that aren’t really Mac savvy or have been away a while, Disk Utility will work fine for this and can create the serial number utility on a USB memory stick. To accomplish this, start Disk Utility from Applications -> Utilities. Insert your memory stick and if any partitions mount, select the in the list and unmount them (don’t eject the memory stick). Once all partitions of the memory stick are unmounted, click on the memory stick itself and then Edit -> Restore. In the window that pops up, click Image and select the .dmg file described in the above article. Once everything is completed, you can reboot and try the serial number utility. Make sure you read the article completely, however, and that you absolutely use the correct serial number. There is no second chance…