Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hit the flashing animal

Remember those early Internet adds with the flashing animal running across the banner? You were supposed to hit it and then you won some kind of prize. I never did it, so I don't know what you would win, but for the last week or so, I had a sense of déjà vu on my Macbook Pro Finder window.

When I'm copy editing, I usually have a few windows open on my desktops (I run 4 desktops). For example, on the first desktop, I'll have Chrome open with a tab for Google, a tab for WorldCat, and a miscellaneous tab or two (usually Google Books, or some such); on the second desktop, I'll have Word open with the chapter I'm working on, the abbreviations file, and the bibliography chapter; I usually also have a Finder window open in case I need to access another file. On the third desktop, I keep my style sheet, any notes from the publisher on that book, iTunes, and Accordance with the Hebrew, Greek, and whatever English text the author is using. On the fourth desktop is my e-mail and RSS feeder. So much for background...

A few weeks back, I installed Google Drive and then we left for Wisconsin—and no Internet for a week. Everything was working fine—until the day we got Internet back. That day, for the first time ever, I got a blue screen on the Macbook! I rebooted and everything seemed fine. I save continually, so I didn't loose any work. For some reason, I didn't have the Finder window open on desktop 2 and the Word windows took up the whole screen, so I couldn't see the desktop.

Over the next few days, I noticed that the laptop didn't always wake up after going to sleep and I started to wonder if I didn't have a hardware issue. I did a bit of googling (on the iPad—praise God for a second computer!) and found this on how to reset the System Management Controller (SMC). Apple says that it controls

Responding to presses of the power button
Responding to the display lid opening and closing on portable Macs
Battery management
among other things. So I did the reset. Everything worked fine—until we got home. I plugged in the Time Machine backup (I didn't take it with me, depending on Dropbox for backup of the book I'm editing). Next morning, the computer wouldn't wake up. I did a hard reset and powered back up. I got the Apple logo with the spinning whatever, then gray screen. Yikes. I tried again. Same thing. Now I'm getting worried. I tried resetting the SMC again. Nothing. I tried booting into Safe Mode (hold down the right shift key while powering up) and got in. Whew!

I started editing, and noticed that the Finder window on my second desktop would keep showing itself over the bibliography window and then disappear. Hmmm...had I been hacked? I turned off wireless just in case. Still doing it...strange. I kept editing until lunch. I made lunch and came back to a nonresponsive computer : (

This time it didn't come back with any of the above techniques. Now I'm worried. I have a book that is due by Friday and I'm 2.5 hours from the nearest Apple store. I really think it is the logic board, based on my Google results. But I ran across a post that suggested I reset the NVRAM. How in the world do I do that? Oh, here it is. Apparently resetting the NVRAM will clear any kernel panics and reset a few other things. One thing that I had noticed was that I wasn't getting the normal Mac startup chime, but I chalked that up to the possibility of a bad logic board.

I reset the NVRAM, praying the whole time! Everything came back—including the startup chime! But what could have caused the kernel panic? Maybe my Time Machine backup drive is bad? I disconnected it and turned it off. I went back to editing...and noticed that the Finder window was doing its funky thing again. I moved to desktop 4 to check e-mail and noticed that all the folders on the desktop were flashing. Weird! Could this all be related?

Quick Google check on flashing Finder and Desktop icons. Hmmm...turns out Google Drive and Mavericks don't play well together! So far nobody else has mentioned that it also affects coming out of sleep mode, but I figured its worth a try. I quit Google Drive (I use Dropbox anyway) and uninstalled it. Flashing is gone!

Great! But what about sleep mode? I didn't plug my Time Machine back in, just in case it might be the culprit. I let the machine go to sleep multiple times and it came back every time.

OK, let's try plugging Time Machine back in...just in case, I closed all my windows : )

I made supper and came back. It started right back up. Great! Now, let's try it with a few windows open. It came back!

OK, now let's open all the normal windows back up and see what happens...No problems. Great, I'm going to bed!

This morning, the computer woke up with no problem! So, it wasn't a hardware issue after all. Now to finish that book before tomorrow!

Update 3/18/14: It isn't Google Drive. It just happened to me again. Not sure what it is...but I'm experimenting.

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