A.J. Walker



The Black Screen of Partial Death

My MacBook Pro—a 13" 2020 M1—passed away a couple of weeks ago. That’s not to say it has completely passed away as a computer, but as a laptop it has. I noticed as I walked past the spare room where the laptop was that the screen was flickering away with all too dodgy lines and blocks of mess. Before too long with some movement of the laptop the screen was suffering from the all too common symptom: The Black Screen of Death. After too many attempts of ‘Zapping the PRAM’ and all the other associated potential treatments of the Black Screen (i.e in case it was a software issue) it became apparent that the issue was a hardware one. Looking at the .net it is really crazy—and wrong—that this is not an uncommon problem and the issue should have been addressed by design over previous iterations of the MacBook.

Anyway the computer itself is still working when plugged into an external display so I guess I may have simply lost a laptop but been left with a desktop. Glad I bought the external screen a while back or else I would not have even known the computer was still working. To replace the screen on the laptop as far as I can see is around 360 quid—and that would still have the same physical issue as the original one so could fail just as easily over the next year or two anyway. I’m not spending that kind of money with that fear—or likelihood—waiting in the wings.

As far as I can see the issue is a hardware issue purely affecting the screen and there is no reason to deal with it; if I’m happy to use it purely as a desktop. Hope I’ve surmised the correctly. At the end of the day, when I’m out and about, I tend to use an iPad with a portable keyboard rather than take the laptop out anyway. And I use Dropbox to sync with my computer when I’m back home, so I guess I can continue doing that and just use the Pro in my spare room/office if I need to print stuff out and get stuff up on the website etc. I dare say I could print from the iPad if I set that up correctly too, but I wouldn’t be able to update the website (and use various other Apps that only work on the MacBook).

I’m leaving the laptop in clamshell form so I don’t have to face the miserable screen at all, but from time to time I will have to open it up—if I need to use the camera for iMovie and YouTube etc or maybe to use the thumbprint ID. I think I can use the iPad as a second screen if it comes to it, but in the main I guess it’ll just be used in a straightforward desktop configuration.

In short, I am gutted about the Black Screen of Death and my love of Apple leaves me thoroughly disappointed with them (in them knowing about the problem but doing FA about sorting it), but at least it is only a Partial Death and not a Death Death.

GarageBand Doodling

Still very much at the base of a big learning curve. Hoping that playing around on the computer with my guitars and the microphone may mean that I finally get around to putting some songs of my own together. That is the aim anyway. In the meantime I had a quick mess around with it today and used the same format as before ie drum track, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and vocals. Not great but every time I use it I should learn some more. That's what I hope at any rate.

'Oh My Sweet Carolina' by Ryan Adams - with my apologies to fans.

Updating the Website

Eventually I bit the bullet and replaced my old MacBook Pro with a shiny new one. The most obvious thing of course is that it seems quite small – as I've moved from a 15" to a 13" (must be an age thing). Once turned on and copied everything over from my old mac it was time to delete the old files and applications that don't work on the new system. Didn't loose much. But copying over the photo albums was time and Gigabyte consuming. I definitely need to go in and cull many thousands of photos. Won't get to it quickly but every few days I'll make sure I delete a couple of hundred or so. There is a mind boggling 37k photos on there at the moment. I need to at first – at least – get it down to 30k. At the end of the day I dare say I should ask the question 'would I ever use this photo' and 'would it deserve to find its way into a photo album?' and if the answer is no; then delete the buggers.

Of 495GB available on the hard drive currently 120GB is taken up by my photos so losing 7k of photos that'll get used it will free up about 20GB. I need to take some time to work out how to deal with saving items on the hard drive and how to save things externally on other drives or in one cloud or another…

Now I have a decent computer which should be less prone to crashing I may finally use GarageBand to help me play and record songs – and I hope write some of my own. That's the plan anyway. Incidentally the sound from the speakers is unbelievably good moving on from an 11 year old computer.

One thing that stopped working was the
Stacks plugin for Rapidweaver (which I use to produce this website). This meant much of the website couldn't even show itself in Rapidweaver. It gave me some cause for thought in terms of whether I paid to upgrade from Stacks 3 to 4 or whether I should maybe get another bit of software to use for my website. After considering a few things out there I almost went for Sparkle. But then again it would have meant learning a new app whilst downloading my entire site into it to reproduce some of it – and the risk of losing a lot of links; including comments to existing blog items. There are not that many, but it would have been a shame to lose them. In any case getting Sparkle would have been more expensive and time consuming than upgrading Stacks. So – a bit like the consideration of updating my laptop – I ended up going full circle and retaining (albeit updated) Rapidweaver with Stacks.

The whole transfer of data and updating of software has been a pretty much painless operation – assuming you consider thinking about things not too painful.

The next thing is to consider what changes I may want with the website. So far I've made sure the changes with the Stacks have updated (initially the upload deleted all the boxes I had around text, but this has now sorted itself out). I deleted the section I had on 'Class Song of the Day' which was bit sad, but it was an old feature which I dare say no-one ever went back to. I'm thinking about turning this into another new series of pages. Obviously the main sections are this general blog, the writing bits & bobs, and the health section (which thankfully I haven't had to update recently). Considering adding a section to do with pubs and beer which I could use either to highlight local (Liverpool & its Environs) or national things. Just consideration at the moment. Watch this space.