iBook flash

I’ve been predicting the end of my 12″ iBook G4 ever since the announcement that Snow Leopard would be Intel-only, but here I am, still typing on it almost six years after I bought it. This can’t go on much longer, though.

In addition to its inability to run Snow Leopard—and all the applications that require Snow Leopard—it’s become absolutely useless for Flash videos. The sound usually plays fine, but the picture jumps and skips.1 The funny thing is that it played Flash videos just fine a few years ago; it’s the more recent versions of Flash that have demanded more than it can give.

A more disturbing sort of flash problem has popped up in the last few weeks. The power port has some internal fault, and every once in a while it will not recognize that it’s plugged in. Worse, it sometimes goes into a state where jumps back and forth between knowing and not knowing that it’s plugged in. Here’s what that looks like.

That can go on for five minutes or more: on, off, on, off, on, off.

You might think “So what? it’s just an icon in the menu bar,” but normally I have the Energy Saving preference set to dim the backlight when on battery. So in addition to the icon changing, the entire screen has been flashing bright, dark, bright, dark, bright, dark. I’ve had to uncheck that preference to preserve my sanity.

Of more concern than my sanity is the fire hazard posed by the internal fault. I suspect the problem is a loose internal connection, and although the area near the power port doesn’t feel any hotter than it ever did, a loose connection is almost always a source of higher resistance and higher heat. Since the power problem started, I never leave my iBook plugged in when I’m not using it.

A new computer solves everything, of course, but I do like this machine, and I’m loath to give up the 4:3 aspect ratio of its screen. Vertical space is a precious commodity,2 and this screen packs a lot of it in a small package.

  1. HTML 5 videos usually play without trouble, but even they can stutter a bit. 

  2. I will never understand people who keep their Dock at the bottom of the screen.