Poor Little Old Laptop...
May 20, 2013 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Is my PowerBook G4 officially dead?

My PowerBook G4 (purchased in 2007) spontaneously stopped working this morning. It is a sad day in the 'dactyl house. It's old, it's not worth much money, but it's my favorite out of the laptops I have and it's been my primary machine for six years.

When I open it up, the machine seems to start processing, but the monitor stays black. Then there are three beeps (sounds like a weather alert thing), and then the sleep/indicator light starts to blink. I took the battery out and let it cool down, I tried again and got the exact same thing.

I can accept that it might be dead for good -- I have absolutely gotten my money's worth out of this machine. I'm wondering if the beeps/blinks are a known thing (code?) Later today I can try hooking it up to a monitor but in the mean time I guess I was hoping you smart people might have seen/heard of this before.

There was no trauma, and it was working fine last night. The original battery just died around Christmas and I replaced it. I'm pretty sad right now, even though I knew this day was coming...
posted by polly_dactyl to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Remove and re-insert your RAM.
The three beeps is usually an indication of RAM not being recognized. The LED blinking is just a continuation of the alert (the beeps only sound once).
posted by Thorzdad at 7:47 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

see this document to try and reset the PMU (Power Management Unit)
posted by Gungho at 7:58 AM on May 20, 2013

Thorzad has it right as far as the beeping is concerned. if removing and re-installing doesn't work, there are two main things that might have happened: either the RAM has gone bad (does happen, though it's pretty rare) or the slots the RAM go in have gone bad.

a decent computer shop ought to be able to test the RAM for you. if you're not familiar with how to transport bare electronics and stuff, the best idea is to leave the RAM installed and take the whole machine down there. or, you can skip that entirely and just get new RAM. you can look up what model you have specifically here and then go buy memory that matches the spec from somewhere (I prefer NewEgg or Other World Computing). if you haven't upgraded the machine to the maximum 2GB that it'll take, now's a good time to do that.

if replacing the RAM doesn't work, there were reports of the slots themselves actually failing (though not both - usually just one would fail, which would allow the machine to boot successfully usually). if this is the case, you'll have to find a reputable Mac repair shop to deal with it. some places may be able to fix the slots but most will want you to replace the logic board as a whole which will probably be fairly costly. I think it's probably more likely that the RAM is either bad or needs to be reseated, though.
posted by mrg at 9:47 AM on May 20, 2013

Have you taken it to an Apple Store? I don't know if there's a limit to their kindness in terms of age of computer but I took my 2008 Macbook in and they fixed the hell out of it for free. Worth a shot before junking it?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:32 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think the limit to the Apple Store's kindness in terms of age is if it's in their list of obsolete products. Some PowerBook G4s aren't yet in the obsolete list.
posted by zsazsa at 10:52 AM on May 20, 2013

Re Apple store limitations of kindness -- a year ago, they worked out a kink in a 1st gen iPod mini, which is probably a thousand years old; I think it's pretty much determined by the person(s) you run into there.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:04 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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