Saturday, April 23, 2011

Being the bug: Things I learned upgrading my mother's Mac Mini

...Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug...

Mary Chapin Carpenter

I followed the iFixt directions to Install a Mac mini Model A1176 Hard Drive; now my Mother's Mini has more capacity and is clunk-free too.. I boosted the memory to 2GB as well; that's easy to do on the way to a drive replacement.. Blew out a tone of dust when I had the top off.

The last was probably my downfall ...

"seemed to succeed - until I discovered my optical drive had broken. Disks do not mount, after some tries they eject. There was a LOT of dust inside my Mini, I think some got in the optical drive. A cleaning DVD and compressed gas didn't fix it. I wonder if it would be wise to seal the opening to the optical drive -- certainly before cleaning...

The Super Drives in this model of Mini have a high failure rate. I'm not sure how to replace it, but I'll find out.

I wanted to get my mother's machine to 10.6 so I could try auto-answer Facetime with her, so I persisted. Along the way I learned ...

  1. DVD sharing didn't work. I have no idea why. The 10.5.8 Mini couldn't see the Snow Leopard disk in my MacBook.
  2. Putting the MacBook into Target Mode (firewire link) let the Mini see the drive, but Snowie wouldn't install.
  3. Putting the Mini into Target Mode with 10.6 in the MacBook DVD worked ... until it froze. I have a hunch a locked user 'Applications' folder on my mother's mini [1] caused the installer to hang when it was all but done. This locked up both machines. I had to power cycle the Mini -- to my surprise it came up ok. I hand repaired the locked folder issue. My MacBook was stuck with a white screen; I had to restart it and hold down the mouse key to force eject the Snowie install disk (install disks are special - they don't pop out on restart).
  4. iFixIt understates repair difficulty (I knew that from my iPhone repair).
  5. At least if you're using MobileMe as your Facetime "address" you don't need Facetime running for it to answer.
  6. Facetime is less reliable than I'd thought; at her home it failed frequently in testing.

[1] So she couldn't accidentally edit the folder.

Update 4/23/11: The replacement for this drive is ... nothing. Nobody sells replacements at anything like a reasonable price. Bugger.

Update 4/27/11: Mayer of iFixit provided a list of substitute drives:

Just about any 12.7 mm ATA/IDE/PATA drive will work. So before you spend the bucks decide what capabilities will meet your needs. Here's one that iFixit has: 12.7 mm PATA 8x SuperDrive (UJ-85J)

Here are some that will work:

  • 661-3887 24x combo
  • 661-3888 4x super drive
  • 661-4442 24x combo
  • 661-4421 8x super drive

As of April 2011 the $90 iFixit drive is one of the few I can find, they have 1 left. SATA has replaced IDE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just updated my Macbook internal drive from 500GB to 1GB and restored from SuperDuper. It worked without a hitch. First time I had done on a unibody MBP. I just had to re-enter MSWord 2011 license code again. A 5200RPM is a little slower then 5400RPM. I was surprised to notice that. I am a data hog with iTunes, iPhoto and some video. I dislike connecting an external drive and having it fall out without being ejected properly.