The Coastal Post - January, 1997

She Was Dead

By Jim Scanlon

I picked up the telephone late at night. It was my editor.

"She's dead Jim" She was working just fine, and all of a sudden...he choked...before I knew what was happening, she was gone. Just like that."

"I can't believe it".

"I tried everything" he said defensively " I did everything I could...everything! I tried to get help, but they told me she was...too old even worry about her and I should get something newer. It was


I told him I would help.

I picked her up the next day. It was hard to believe that this "old thing" was only five years old. I took her home and laid her out on my desk. I plugged her in and jiggled her power cord a little. I did this for quite a while until, finally I heard a crackle of life, and then...a flash of purple light shot across her screen!

"Ah ha", I thought, and with the purple light flickering, I hit the reset and the programmers switch simultaneously and the screen jumped into a uniform state of illumination.

Then I carefully touched the keyboard...and she uttered the Macintosh start up chime. She wasn't dead after all!

She was, however useless in this condition. She was not brain dead, but comatose. I thought, "Maybe there is hope for this five year old obsolete lap top! This wonderful machine that my editor loved so much more than theater critics, food critics, photographers and journalist/poets.

The Powerbook 100 was the first Lap Top made for Apple Computer in 1991. They were expensive at first and sold well only when the price came down. This was the only one made by the Sony Corporation and is still a hard working slender beauty!

I turned her upside down and took her apart. I unslipped two connectors and her screen came off. Her insides were partly exposed. I could see that the power connector to her motherboard was loose. But this was as far as I dared to go! There were too many screws and clips and, as Clint Eastwood said in "Magnum Force II", "A man's got to recognize his limitations!"

This was a job for Doctor Fankenmac.

Because my editor is a member of BMUG (BEE-mug), the Berkeley Macintosh Users Group." I took his comatose companion to see my friend Ian Cumming, also known as Doctor Frankenmac, for his ability to piece together dead, dying or dismembered old Macs. He pieces foreign parts together, rebuilds and upgrades "oldies but goodies" for placement with deserving people, mostly women trying to get skills necessary to drag themselves and their families up into the ranks of the working poor with the rest of us.

When he was ten, Frankenmac's brother took him to one of his computer classes at Lawrence Museum of Science and instead of hanging out at Malls, and stripping cars, he has been building, tearing apart and

programming Macs, Unix and even, if you can believe it, Intel based Microsoft computers.

Of course my editor's beloved Mac would only go to the Project, if the Doc found her unrepairable which she wasn't. He took her totally apart and found a hairline crack underneath, in one soldered joint where the power connector joined the motherboard. A tiny, but deadly flaw!

He got out his soldering iron and in a jiffy, with me holding the light, she was back together again. And when plugged her in, I touched her keyboard and she sang ! My editor was so happy he promised to

print a food review, a theater review, a long boring poem I had written, and even look at a few art photos I had taken of sidewalk paint stains and dead animals lying on Highway 1.

By the way, anyone with an old, unused, sick or dead Mac in the closet should consider donating it to a worthy project like BMUG. You break your bond with your old Mac (it really isn't a person you know!) so you can get on with your cyberlife. And -you get written acknowledgment of the gift, which is tax deductible.

Call the Coastal Post 868-1600 or call me at 485-0540