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Really whacked out computer problems - Help?! - The art of Thornwolf
Really whacked out computer problems - Help?!
Okay...this is really strange. I really need help with this one cuz I have no idea what could have caused it.

Type of computer: Laptop - Mac Powerbook G4

I came home yesterday to find my laptop had turned itself off. This is odd because it was plugged in so shouldn't have run out of batteries at all.

I figure its in sleep mode. Nope, totally off. So I turn it on.

It tells me that my computer's clock is set for a date before March 2001 and that I need to manually set my clock. Odd. I do so, but its set for the correct date and time, wtf? I check my dashboard calendar and my computer seems to think its December 1969.

If I unplugged the laptop, even after what would seem adequate time for charging, my battery level would show its fully charged but then suddenly the computer will turn off, seconds after unplugging it. When I turn it back on it doesn't go from a sleep mode back on if I plug it in, it restarts the computer.

I've taken the battery out, let it sit, put it back in, same result. This is a brand new battery so it shouldn't be that the battery is out of juice I wouldn't think.

I have no idea what could have happened. Would maybe a short in the electrical system in my house fry my computer's battery or something like that maybe? I didn't notice anything odd with anything else in the house that was also plugged in. I honestly can't figure out what had happened.

Any advice on this would be great. Thanks!

*edit* and now as I update this LJ thinks its December 1969 as well because my computer is messed up. And my computer has taken /this long/ to realize it is not 4:30 PM but 8:30 AM :/
13 comments or Leave a comment
cesarin From: cesarin Date: October 21st, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
most possible stuff is defective battery
there as been a lot of noise in many manufacturers, even apple.. about defective battiers that can explode, overheat or simple fail...

but yours sounds damaged bios as well..
its not usual to keep the dates to restart over and over..
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: October 21st, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
damaged bios? whats that? And is it preventable or does it just..happen?

I have another battery. I should test it out and see if the same thing happens.
cesarin From: cesarin Date: October 21st, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
the bios is called "basic input output system"
its the minimal program that checks that the hardware components are working and in order.
when the battery of the bios dies, it will constantly reset the time
and the settings of the computer's hardware.

when its damaged or corrupted, lots of errors can occur, its critical to have a working bios.

the batteyr of the bios is not your usual battery, it looks like a hearing aid battery, but flat and more rounded...
nrr From: nrr Date: October 21st, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
The PowerPC-based Macs have something called OpenFirmware that controls and abstracts hardware access. OpenFirmware is actually a lot more involved than the typical PC BIOS; it's probably more akin to EFI (which is what the Intel Macs use) than a typical BIOS.

Either way, these computers used some sort of non-volatile RAM and battery-backed parameter RAM to store things like the current time, the preferred boot device, and other miscellaneous settings, much like old UNIX workstations. NVRAM negated the need to use battery backing for some of the more crucial aspects of system configuration, and the PRAM was more for things that could fail and not cause huge problems, at least in theory.

Now, it's actually sounding kinda like one of either the NVRAM or the PRAM has somehow failed, which is mysterious.

Either way, it isn't user serviceable. Take it to a technician.
cesarin From: cesarin Date: October 21st, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks for the info nrr, I havent touched macs these days, so I hadno idea they had different HAL files for booting...
maggock From: maggock Date: October 21st, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
BIOS is the 'basic input output system'. I don't know if Macs even have BIOS, I thought it was more a PC thing. o_o It's kinda like a very basic OS AFAIK; a boot system.

Anyways, I wouldn't worry about this quite yet - check the battery first.
cesarin From: cesarin Date: October 21st, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
nrr actually corrected me, the use a different type of HAL to initialize the system.
more akin to these old Workstations it seems.
datasocks From: datasocks Date: October 21st, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
skorzy From: skorzy Date: October 21st, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't remember if you've done this or not, but some G4 powerbook batteries were recalled by Apple:


Check the serial number of the battery. If your battery is "new", check it anyways, just in case. This sounds precisely like a "bad battery" problem.

Alternatively, there's some tricks to attempt like resetting the PMU and trashing the power managment prefs file and starting over. Either way, you want to back up ALL your important documents before you do that. Do you have an external USB hard drive?
From: the_brad Date: October 21st, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
It sounds like your BIOS battery needs replacing.
shockwave77598 From: shockwave77598 Date: October 21st, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd say that the lithium battery which holds your clock and PRAM has died. Given the age of the computer (7yr) it's about due.
bloodwolf666 From: bloodwolf666 Date: October 21st, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Macs react really strangely to problems. My brother's old Powerbook, which is like 8 years old, does this about all the time. He hasn't yet taking it in to get repaired, though. How old is yours? Is it under an AppleCare plan? This shouldn't be happening with a newer computer, but this is what my old 10 year old Mac and my brother's do now sometimes. I'd bet it was some kind of short, because mine did it after a power outage.

I'd take it to a local Mac repair shop. Are you running on the most recent version of OS X (Leopard) or previous versions?
From: captainq Date: October 22nd, 2008 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Some laptops have an "NVRAM" which is where those kind of informations are stored. There IS a separate battery for these, even with the OpenFirmware for your Mac, but it's not quite the same idea as CMOS would be(removing the battery won't reset all the settings, but would reset the system clock, for example). I know that Dell laptops do this, the battery is more a series of batteries buried deep within the computer chassis to prevent thieves from easily resetting password information.

From my research, Apple will probably want to replace the entire module, even if the battery is the only problem(this is probably a good idea anyways). As others have stated, this isn't exactly user-serviceable...unless you WANT to learn how to disassemble a laptop...
13 comments or Leave a comment