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Old 08-12-2008, 01:23 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default iMac meltdown

As some of you know, my iMac bit the dust last Thursday. Turned out to be a failure of the power supply. Apple nicely replaced it at no cost (through an excellent authorized service center right here in town), and I picked it up yesterday evening. Everything seems fine.

It goes a tiny bit faster now; I took the opportunity to get two 2GB RAM to replace the two 1GB I had before (I believe this machine only makes use of 3GB but they don’t make 1.5s and Apple recommends using pairs).

They couldn’t tell me what caused the problem. There were two odd events in the couple of weeks before the machine refused to boot last Friday: a loud electrical-sounding buzz lasting a couple of seconds; and waves of thunderstorms last week, including one on Thursday (that hurled icecube-sized blocks of ice at our windows in 70 MPH winds).

The technician said he saw some odd things about the power supply as soon as he opened the computer, but no scorching or other signs of its having experienced a great surge of electricity.

So I will never know. In 24 years of owning Macs this is the first early failure of any sort. My 128K Mac’s power supply failed when it was nearly 5 years old — the screen looked like it was melting. And my second-hand Mac II needed a logic board replacement when it was 4 or 5 because the SCSI system shorted out. Both of those machines earned their failure, and both were cheaply repaired.

Ah, well. I’m back in business. It was an awful weekend — Eudora absolutely would not collect most of my e-mail no matter how I fiddled with the settings. Instead of doing something sensible, like locking up and letting things go until I got the iMac back, I kept trying to fix it. I was being an idiot. Eudora got it all today, no problem.

   
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:04 PM   #2
Robin Springall
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Drives us nuts when the computer throws a wobbly, doesn't it? It might be worthwhile investing in a UPS (I use an APC Back-UPS on every one of mine).

   
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
robin: I use an APC Back-UPS on every one of mine
I had mentioned that I saw an ad in this month's Maximum PC for a new APC UPS to someone the other day...

Here's the info:

Here is the APC page on the UPS...

And this is a promo page (key code from the magazine: c855w) with a $10 off coupon

The model number (here in the US) is BE750G and a lot of places have it for a lot less than $99--buy.com has it for $67.35 (shipping is $18-ish)...

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Old 08-12-2008, 06:43 PM   #4
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Thanks. I remembered that and searched today but couldn’t find where you had mentioned that.

The model you mentioned is almost certainly not powerful? enduring? enough for me and my little team of computers, routers, etc. I figure I need at least 15 minutes to shut down and quit the two main computers (the third is really just for messing with old file types), and that small APC device for the amount of power these machines draw would last only about 5 minutes.

I think. Or maybe I should say I guess. Anyway, I found some useful PDFs for calculating requirements for Macs, and I mean to make Jack figure it out for me tout-de-suite! <g>

It looks as if a $250 APC UPS (BR1500) might do. It is supposed to provide 15 minutes of power at half load (432.5 watts). Or only 5 minutes at full power.

After that, it costs more like $400. So I need to figure out my requirements.

   
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Old 08-13-2008, 02:02 AM   #5
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Every budget year, I ask for a UPS for the little server room next to the room where I work.

Every year, when preparing my budget requirements, I ask my mate in Technology Services whose job it is to know about these things to come over and calculate my requirements so I can ask for the right UPS. He carefully calculates the power requirements of every single element in the room – CPUs, monitors, routers, modems, switches, basically every single thing that draws any power at all – adds them all up, asks me how long I need to keep all that running, and tells me what level of UPS I need.

So there are two figures you need – the total power requirement and the time you need that power requirement to be satisfied by the UPS you purchase.

Good luck. I'm still waiting for my UPS. In the meantime, we've replaced repurposed PCs with proper servers, and the building has installed and tested (what fun that was!) an instant kick-in diesel power generator, so the UPS is less urgent than it was. But I still ask for one every year. And I still get knocked back every year.

   
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Old 08-13-2008, 06:41 AM   #6
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Well, I have a smaller committee! <g>

   
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Old 08-13-2008, 07:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
Well, I have a smaller committee! <g>
Love it!
You might find it considerably cheaper to buy a couple of smaller units instead. Mind you, my 500VA at home happily runs a PC with two large LCDs, and a Mac mini with one, all connected to the back-up sockets on the APC. The router's on it as well, but the two printers are plugged into the APC's surge-only socket. I don't need more than a minute or two's batter power, since I'm not running server software and we don't get power failures at home (touch wood), but that's enough to deal with surges and brown-outs.

   
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Old 08-13-2008, 07:58 AM   #8
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Love it!
You might find it considerably cheaper to buy a couple of smaller units instead. Mind you, my 500VA at home happily runs a PC with two large LCDs, and a Mac mini with one, all connected to the back-up sockets on the APC. The router's on it as well, but the two printers are plugged into the APC's surge-only socket. I don't need more than a minute or two's batter power, since I'm not running server software and we don't get power failures at home (touch wood), but that's enough to deal with surges and brown-outs.
I have a lot to learn about this.

There are two aspects that I can see so far: to protect expensive equipment from power fluctuations; and to give me time to shut down my (one or maybe two) computers, so they (and the separate monitor for one of them) should be on the UPS proper.

That is as far as I have gotten so far.

Perhaps in a storm being able to shut down cleanly would be a luxury and it is silly to plan for it. If I did, it takes my Mac at least 10 minutes to shut down because I end up having to manually quit several greedy programs. I tend to have a dozen or more apps running most of the time, and some of them hate to give up: Illustrator, Eudora, iData, and Firefox among them. Not all are equally important, obviously.

   
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Old 08-13-2008, 07:46 AM   #9
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Why would you need to keep it ALL running? Granted, there's the power protection advantage to having all the gear on UPS, but if you just need to keep the computer running long enough to shut it down gracefully, you don't need to plug everything into the UPS, or you could use much lower spec UPS units and/or surge protectors for power conditioning.

Or the short version: who cares whether the router's up when the computer's going down? ;-)

BTW, some of the UPS units come with software that monitors the UPS (via serial or USB connection) and can shut down the computer automatically for you after the power's been off for the interval you specify. Dunno if that works with Macs or not.

   
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Old 08-13-2008, 08:00 AM   #10
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Why would you need to keep it ALL running? Granted, there's the power protection advantage to having all the gear on UPS, but if you just need to keep the computer running long enough to shut it down gracefully, you don't need to plug everything into the UPS, or you could use much lower spec UPS units and/or surge protectors for power conditioning.

Or the short version: who cares whether the router's up when the computer's going down? ;-)

BTW, some of the UPS units come with software that monitors the UPS (via serial or USB connection) and can shut down the computer automatically for you after the power's been off for the interval you specify. Dunno if that works with Macs or not.
Good thought about the router. I think what I want for that sort of stuff is protection from power surges. I have one surge protector (not just the typical power strip). Not sure how good it is and I have had it at least ten years, so it could probably stand to be replaced. Or tested, anyway.

   
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