I figured out what was wrong, but it took longer than it should have. I wonder how regular folk ever keep computers running...
Emily emailed me about the roaring mid-day, though she didn't know it was the fan (why should she?). I figured it was some crummy Adobe Flash code running wild in a child's session. An easy problem to fix when I got home.
That wasn't it. The 1.5 yo MacBook was fine on restart, but as soon as I logged into any user account the fan went wind tunnel.
I'm a bit out of practice, so I forgot the first rule of a berserk fan. Go to Applications:Utility and launch 'Activity Monitor'. Set it to show 'All Processes' and look for one that's out of control. (The default setting shows the Processes for the current user only, so you'll often miss an other user or system process.)
I guess we've just had too much stability for too long. I've gone soft. That never happened in the days I managed multiple PCs at home -- I was always in top debug shape. Never a lack of practice.
So instead of going right to the problem I did a 'safe start' (reboot while hold shift key). That clears up most minor problems, but not this one. The machine was running with a CPU temp of 68 C instead of a more normal 58 C and the fan was racing to cool it down.
Then I did a PRAM refresh -- which never does anything for me on modern Macs. I suspect PRAM zapping is all fake now, like office thermostats that don't connect anywhere.
Still roaring. Finally I ran Activity Monitor. The #!$$! print queue was out of control. I killed it and eventually found a stuck .jpg print job in the #$^@ Canon printer queue. Fan problem solved.
The really annoying thing is that I wrote about the same problem on my G5 iMac years ago. Canon's OS X device drivers for scanner and printer alike are not just bad, they're unspeakably bad. Bad enough that nobody should buy Canon printers or scanners for OS X. It doesn't matter how good the hardware is, the software is barely one step above malware.
Not that Epson is perfect, they just suck less.
Turns out, there's a reason for this.
I really wish Apple would return to the days they branded other people's hardware and wrote their own device drivers. I'd happily pay a premium for an Apple branded version of Canon/Epson hardware with Apple device drivers.
I decided I'd look for a new version of this driver. Maybe there was something better. I found one that's six months old, but it came with some pretty grim warnings. I've bolded one or two ...
Photo Inkjet Printers - Photo Inkjet Printers - PIXMA Pro Professional Inkjet Printers - Photo Printer - PIXMA iP4000 - Canon USA Consumer ProductsReally, this is pathetic. I'll stick with the old driver. At least I know that devil.
... Mac OS X v. 10.3 to 10.4 9. Installation of the printer driver may require a little time to complete, and it takes 3 to 4 (possibly as much as 8 to 9) minutes from when the Continue Installation button is clicked until the Restart button is displayed. 10. In wireless connection, after print head alignment, the operation panel does not become active again, and the utility cannot be used in some instances. 11. Multiple numbers of the same printer name are registered to the Printer Setup Utility in some instances. 12. Even when an error is released, the error message remains in some instances. 13. When attempting to print, the printer does not operate in some instances. 14. In the following environment, even after clicking "About ink" in the Ink Level Information menu of the Canon IJ Printer Utility or "Initial Check Items" in the confirmation dialog for nozzle check pattern printing, nothing is displayed: Security Update 2005-005 or Security Update 2005-006 is installed in Mac OS X Ver. 10.3.9 15. In Mac OS X Ver. 10.4 or later, the number of copies cannot be entered in the Print dialog. 16. When the Print dialog is displayed from IllustratorCS2 or InDesignCS2 in Mac with Intel-made processor, the margins are incorrect and so the message "The entered value cannot be applied to margin" is displayed. Therefore, as "Margin" or "Duplex Printing & Margin" option is not displayed, auto duplex printing cannot be performed. 17. When the following procedures are performed, iPhoto6 crashes. Procedures: 1. Display Page Setup while the print dialog is open. 2. Click OK or Cancel to close Page Setup. 3. Click Advanced in the lower middle of the print dialog. 18. When the following procedures are performed, the following items are not displayed in the print dialog menu of iPhoto6: - Quality & Media - Borderless & Printing - Duplex Printing & Margin Procedures: 1. Display Page Setup while the print dialog is open. 2. Click OK or Cancel to close Page Setup. 3. Click Advanced in the lower middle of the print dialog. Mac OS X v. 10.5 19. When the monitor resolution is 1024 x 768 or less, as the “Print” and “Cancel” buttons are displayed behind DOCK, those buttons cannot be clicked.
The Canon iP4000 is old. The next time it runs short of ink it's junk. I'll buy an Epson, and upgrade to merely crummy quality.
One last question to think about. Why won't Canon invest in better drivers?
Update 5/17/08: nice review of laptop overheating in Mac Fixit.
Update 6/3/08: I just installed 10.5.3 on the MacBook, and had to resinstall printer drivers. With this OS printer installation is very well done; I was offered a driver (CUPS I suspect) from the OS. It's working in limited use, and I haven't had to install Canon's awful drivers.
Update 10/2/08: Came to look at this due to a thank you note (a lot of people find this article). I have since installed 10.5.4 on all my machines, and now they all use Apple provided drivers. No Canon malware. It's not repeated often enough, but whether you use OS X or XP you should strongly resist using drivers provided by hardware vendors. Strive only to use what the OS bundles. If hardware needs more than the OS provides, try not to buy it.