Posts Tagged ‘Trouble 101’

My Trackpad button is Freaking out.

Written by jeff on . Posted in Fixes 4 Comments

Problem:  My 17″ MacBook Pro has recently contracted a sticky mouse button. The button will stick in the depressed state and not let go.  Or, it will be half way stuck so that when I type, the cursor will automatically jump to another spot.  This is incredibly frustrating as text would be inserted in the wrong places.  It would even highlight entire phrases then delete them if I happen to hit the space bar.

Solution Attempt#1: First, I took apart the macbook.  There are some very helpful guides at  You can also buy parts.  I’ve used this company in the past and  highly recommend them.  Once I had the top plate separated from the body, I tried cleaning the trackpad button with some non-conductive, plastic safe contact spray. This did not help nor hurt the problem.

Being that I don’t want to live without a computer and by the fact that a replacement upper case is $300, I thought of a temporary solution.  I had already turned on the trackpad feature of tapping instead of using the mouse, but with the mouse in a crazy state it would still mess up even though I had stopped using it. Very, very frustrating.

Solution Attempt#2: Unplug the button.  Here’s how: Shut down the mac and remove the battery.  You can see a small ribbon cable connecting the button to a control board. Gently pry up the plastic that covers the control board. Gently pull out the ribbon cable and place it on top of the plastic cover.  Put the battery back and boot.  So far, So good.

[Edit post] Based on a comment from Kyle Snyder, I looked into that fact that maybe the battery could be part of the problem as it is located right below the trackpad. Further inspection shows that my battery now has a curved shape.  Might be a sign to future battery problems.  Nevertheless, the battery seems to be compressing the trackpad button causing it to not function properly.  When I remove the battery, the button clicks and works normally.

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Lost Power

Written by jeff on . Posted in Fixes No Comments

Last night the power went out in my house while I was editing some audio in Pro Tools. Everything turned off except my laptop which instantly switched to battery powered. I got the spinning wheel which I assumed was because the computer could not access the external hard drive.  Not wanting to lose the work that I had done since my last save, I decide to find another means of powering my hard drive long enough to save the file.  I had two possible solutions, big gasoline powered generator or a car inverter.  I chose the inverter because it was the faster, easier way to go.


For those who don’t know, a power inverter converts DC to AC. Plug in the inverter, turn on the car, turn on the inverter, plug in my hard drive, save my file, and be happy.

Interestingly enough, the power came on about 3 seconds after I saved the file using the inverter.

Side note:  During the wiring phase of the Music Instruction Building, Muncie had a severe power outage due to a ice storm. Our guys from David Carroll Associates couldn’t power their soldering irons without electricity. So, they parked a car outside Sursa Hall and used a power inverter running off the car battery.

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Computer Hard Drive is Full

Written by jeff on . Posted in Fixes 2 Comments

Problem: Our student login script copies the student directory to another location and copies in a fresh student directory every time you log into the student account. This provides a consistent student experience from day to day. The problem is that the folder (called savedHomeDirs) that collects all those old student directories fills up over time and will eventually use up all the available space on the drive. When that happens the computer has no room to write temp files or cache and cannot process routine tasks.

Solution: Find Jeff and have him empty the savedHomeDirs folder because it takes an admin password to do so. I’m trying to automate the process but I haven’t worked out the details yet.

In an extreme situation where the computer’s hard drive is completely full, the machine will not boot.  It will get stuck part way through the process. This happened today in studio 2. I had to boot in single-user-mode by holding down command-s during the boot process. That way I was able to clean up the hard drive with a few unix commands and free up the needed space for the computer to boot properly.

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