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Please, please help me get my Macbook Pro up and running again!
September 10, 2011 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Help diagnose my ailing Macbook Pro! (VERY long—trying to provide as many details as possible.)

I've been having a lot of problems with my 13" Macbook Pro (purchased last July) and I was hoping somebody here might have some ideas. It's been in and out of my local shop and it is still not working right.

The problems began last Thursday. I was using my computer when I got a spinning beach ball that would not go away. After some time I finally gave up and rebooted the computer and got the little disk with a question mark symbol. I rebooted it again using disk select, and it froze again. I finally rebooted in safe mode, was able to get into it, and backed everything up. The I tried to reset the PRAM. Lo and behold, the computer started up again! Great.

However, after using it for a bit longer, I got the same spinning beach ball. This time when I booted, I didn't even get to the disk with a question mark. It just sat on a gray screen, no Apple logo or anything. Rebooted again and tried to safe mode. That wouldn't work either. Kept freezing during the boot.

I finally took it in to my local authorized repair facility—it is still under AppleCare, thank god—and the guy told me, before looking at it, that he was 90% sure it was the hard drive. I left it there, and they replaced the hard drive. Picked it up on Thursday.

I started to try to restore my computer, but couldn't boot from the Snow Leopard DVDs. I got in once and tried to do a restore from time machine backup, but after it got to the point where it finishes calculating the space needed, it reset back to the select language screen. I took it back to the store. They had it for a little while and said the problem was that Apple is now shipping replacement hard drives with the OS pre-loaded. When I tried to boot from the Snow Leopard DVD, it caused a kernel panic. This didn't make a lot of sense to me, because I was trying to restore to an up-to-date version of Snow Leopard, not reinstall the OS, but I took the computer home to test it myself. I couldn't restore from Time Machine, but instead did a fresh set up of the Snow Leopard that was installed on the hard drive and used Migration Assistant to move my files back over.

It worked okay for a while, but then I got the same, original problem: spinning beach ball. Just sits there. Can't do anything with it. I was able to reboot in safe mode, and made copies of a few new files I had, but before too long I got the spinning beach ball in safe mode, as well.

At this point, I ran the Apple Hardware Test myself. The extended version said there was nothing wrong with the hardware.

It seems to me there's something wrong with the computer, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what, and the computer store doesn't seem to be helping much. I can't get it back in there until Monday (I'm out of town for the weekend). I'm lucky enough to have an old Macbook I can use as a backup, but it doesn't have all the programs I had on my MBP, to say nothing of the fact that it is much slower, louder, and, well, a five-year-old computer at this point.

I am hoping that somebody around here has SOME idea of what's going on. I get the impression the store I'm taking it too doesn't really do all that much in terms of making a good diagnosis, but if it is a hardware thing, maybe somebody here has an idea of something something I can suggest to them. If it might be a software thing, maybe I can fix it myself.

I copied some of the error log from console this morning, but it is huge—4000 items since yesterday, most related to Google Chrome. (I just tried uninstalling Chrome, but got the beach ball again not long afterward while it was repairing disk permissions in Safe Mode). I'll include a sample, though. The first set are from this morning; the second are from last night. I did notice that the error log includes references to WriteRoom, which I uninstalled some time ago using AppCleaner.

THIS MORNING:
11-09-10 10:36:11 AM com.apple.launchd[1] *** launchd[1] has started up. ***
11-09-10 10:38:02 AM com.apple.fontd[69] FODBCheck: foRec->annexNumber != kInvalidAnnexNumber (0)
11-09-10 10:38:04 AM com.apple.WindowServer[73] Sat Sep 10 10:38:04 Bartleby.local WindowServer[73] : kCGErrorFailure: Set a breakpoint @ CGErrorBreakpoint() to catch errors as they are logged.
11-09-10 10:38:05 AM com.apple.fontd[69] FODBCheck: foRec->annexNumber != kInvalidAnnexNumber (0)
11-09-10 10:38:11 AM com.apple.launchd.peruser.502[89] (com.apple.ReportCrash) Falling back to default Mach exception handler. Could not find: com.apple.ReportCrash.Self
11-09-10 10:38:12 AM com.apple.launchctl.Aqua[91] launchctl: Dubious ownership on file (skipping): /Users/david/Library/LaunchAgents/Safari_Teflon_By_SW.plist
11-09-10 10:38:15 AM SystemUIServer[94] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:38:16 AM fontd[99] Database content version mismatch (stored(15) != expected(14))
11-09-10 10:38:21 AM com.apple.launchd.peruser.502[89] (com.apple.Kerberos.renew.plist[107]) Exited with exit code: 1
11-09-10 10:38:21 AM AirPort Base Station Agent[109] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:38:24 AM Finder[95] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:38:29 AM SystemUIServer[94] Could not load menu extra NSBundle (not yet loaded)
11-09-10 10:38:57 AM Console[116] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:39:14 AM com.apple.coreservicesd[45] ThrottleProcessIO: throttling disk i/o
11-09-10 10:39:15 AM com.apple.coreservicesd[45] ThrottleProcessIO: throttling disk i/o
11-09-10 10:39:38 AM [0x0-0xd00d].com.google.Chrome[124] [0910/103938:INFO:breakpad_mac.mm(89)] Breakpad disabled
11-09-10 10:39:43 AM Google Chrome[124] invalid pixel format
11-09-10 10:39:43 AM Google Chrome[124] invalid context
11-09-10 10:39:43 AM Google Chrome[124] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:40:02 AM Safari[147] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:40:07 AM Safari[147] Evernote Safari Clipper Plugin at your service!
11-09-10 10:40:24 AM WebKitPluginHost[150] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:40:24 AM com.apple.WebKit.PluginAgent[149] 2011-09-10 10:40:24.348 WebKitPluginHost[150:903] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom
11-09-10 10:40:27 AM WebKitPluginHost[150] -[FP_FPCAOpenGLLayer setBuffer:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance 0x189ef0
11-09-10 10:40:27 AM WebKitPluginHost[150] -[FP_FPCAOpenGLLayer setBuffer:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance 0x189ef0
11-09-10 10:40:27 AM com.apple.WebKit.PluginAgent[149] Sat Sep 10 10:40:27 Bartleby.local WebKitPluginHost[150] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-10 10:40:27 AM com.apple.WebKit.PluginAgent[149] Sat Sep 10 10:40:27 Bartleby.local WebKitPluginHost[150] : kCGErrorFailure: Set a breakpoint @ CGErrorBreakpoint() to catch errors as they are logged.
11-09-10 10:40:27 AM com.apple.WebKit.PluginAgent[149] Sat Sep 10 10:40:27 Bartleby.local WebKitPluginHost[150] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-10 10:40:27 AM com.apple.WebKit.PluginAgent[149] 2011-09-10 10:40:27.450 WebKitPluginHost[150:903] -[FP_FPCAOpenGLLayer setBuffer:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance 0x189ef0
11-09-10 10:40:27 AM com.apple.WebKit.PluginAgent[149] 2011-09-10 10:40:27.451 WebKitPlLuginHost[150:903] -[FP_FPCAOpenGLLayer setBuffer:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance 0x189ef0
11-09-10 10:41:21 AM com.apple.launchd.peruser.502[89] ([0x0-0x19019].com.apple.Safari[147]) Exited: Terminated
11-09-10 10:41:21 AM UserNotificationCenter[155] Can't open input server /Users/david/Library/InputManagers/Edit in WriteRoom

LAST NIGHT:
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:09 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid drawable
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1383795168856:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1383795628439:ERROR:gpu_scheduler.cc(160)] Context lost because MakeCurrent failed.
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:09 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:09 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1383838775596:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:09 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:09 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1383843234013:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:09 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:09 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid drawable
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384103497753:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384108728908:ERROR:gpu_scheduler.cc(160)] Context lost because MakeCurrent failed.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384118989998:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384120681262:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid numerical value
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid drawable
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384464810189:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384466181493:ERROR:gpu_scheduler.cc(160)] Context lost because MakeCurrent failed.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384477279095:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] [253:263:1384480306676:ERROR:gl_context_cgl.cc(56)] Error attaching pbuffer to context.
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid context
11-09-09 11:50:10 PM [0x0-0xf00f].com.google.Chrome[158] Fri Sep 9 23:50:10 Bartleby.local Google Chrome Helper[253] : unknown error code: invalid numerical value
posted by synecdoche to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Download OnyX and run all of it.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2011


I would have said the same thing the original technician did: hard drive problem.

And just so you're aware, it's definitely possible that you could have a second bad hard drive (you don't happen to like dropping your computer down on your desk while it's running, do you?). I did a $300 data recovery for a Mac user recently, only to have her call me back less than two weeks later saying her HDD had failed again and she hadn't backed up her data yet.

That said, you could be looking at a couple of other issues:

RAM - If one of your sticks of RAM is flaky, it could be writing corrupted data back to the HDD. (Same could be true if one of the memory modules or the memory controller on the board is bad.) I would tend to think Apple's hardware test would pick up on this, though. However, if the memory is just ever so slightly flaky, it's possible the hardware test might not pick up on it.

SATA Controller: The part of the motherboard responsible for communicating with the HDD could be bad. I don't think the hardware test would catch this.

Overheating: Does the computer feel hot after it runs for a while? Is there a fan not spinning? Excessive heat can damage a HDD in a very short while and/or cause a processor to lock up.
posted by GnomeChompsky at 10:17 AM on September 10, 2011


I'll give OnyX a try. I do run it periodically on the MBP.

GnomeChompsky, I've never dropped the computer. I can't speak to the RAM besides the hardware test not picking it up. I haven't had any heat issues with this computer.

Do you think it's definitely a hardware thing? Would reinstalling the OS from scratch help?
posted by synecdoche at 10:22 AM on September 10, 2011


I had these symptoms about a month ago, and it turned out to be a SATA controller issue. I started having beachball issues exactly like yours. I could not boot from DVD even after replacing the hard drive. Also, there was nothing wrong with the old drive -- it worked just fine in an external enclosure.

The Apple Store ended up replacing the "Bracket, Front Hard Drive, with IR/Sleep/HD Cable".
posted by jmdodd at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2011


I had a very similar sounding problem with my MacBook Pro 13" purchased around the same time. It turned out not to be a hard drive issue/failure.
They just replaced the SATA cable that connects the hard drive to the logic board. It was only $40. I think this is the same cable as jmdodd's "IR/Sleep/HD Cable". My technician said he had replaced >50 in the past two months.
posted by 2ghouls at 11:24 AM on September 10, 2011


FWIW, MacBook Pro 15", mid-2010 model. And yes, 2ghouls is right, they replaced the cable connecting the hard drive and logic board.
posted by jmdodd at 12:01 PM on September 10, 2011


Any advice on getting the store to check for this? if I tell them that that is what I think is wrong, will they actually listen to me?
posted by synecdoche at 1:59 PM on September 10, 2011


As others have said, it's probably the SATA cable. I manage a 1200 unit one-to-one program at a private school. All mid-2010 13" MacBook Pros. I've seen about five instances from this pool where was the SATA cable and not the HD.

If the shop is an actual AASP, then they should be able to easily order you a different part, having replaced the HD. They won't like it too much because it'll be a 2nd ordered part for the same machine which will affect their repair ratio with Apple, but they should honor the warranty. Print out this page if you wish to back up your suggestion to them that it may be the SATA cable and not the HD.

FWIW, had this machine come to visit me, I'd have done the exact same repair they did: hard drive first, then SATA cable, then logic board (SATA controller).
posted by mrbarrett.com at 3:12 PM on September 10, 2011


By the time I took my laptop into the Apple Store, I had done the following: The employee who took my laptop in for repairs said that I'd pretty much done his job for him. If your problem is the SATA cable, the FrankenMac configuration is pretty convincing, but only if you are comfortable swapping drives yourself and have a spare drive and enclosure around.

On preview, what mrbarrett.com says. I just did the hard drive replacement step myself.
posted by jmdodd at 3:18 PM on September 10, 2011


if I tell them that that is what I think is wrong, will they actually listen to me?

Possibly. However, if you still have AppleCare you might want to jump through some of the diagnostic hoops with the guys on the phone. They are smart and while they're a little bit working from a playbook, it presumes you know a few things and I've found it pretty useful. If I had AppleCare and this situation I would spend zero time figuring it out myself and work my way up the chain of command with the phone support people and only bring it in to the store if the phone people told me to and I had established an open ticket already. In fact, I might even try to get them to send me a box and just mail in the laptop for repair if they'd let me do that [I live over an hour from my nearest store, so they do this for me when I've needed laptop repair]

It's all linked to the serial number of your device, so you won't have to go through all the same blabity bla with the guys at the store that you did over the phone. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 4:07 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


ARGH. So I took it back in. Suggested the SATA cable. Today, I talk to the guy. They're replacing the hard drive. AGAIN. Apparently the new hard drive that they put in was clicking. I just want my computer back!!!
posted by synecdoche at 11:53 AM on September 13, 2011


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