I guess I was missing the experience of visiting the local Genius Bar so my MacBook Pro decided to push me in that direction today. Actually my problems began late last night as the MBP hung up and wouldn’t recover. I had to kill it via the Power button and when I tried to restart it got the familiar "3 beeps of RAM death". I have experienced those beeps a few times in the past and just like before they meant my MBP was not going to cooperate and boot up. After far too much time last night fussing with it I finally got the system to safe boot up and stay running long enough for me to run TechTools Deluxe which is available to AppleCare customers.
This good utility ran a whole bunch of diagnostics and determined that the 3 beeps were telling the truth, I had bad RAM. It was by this time very late last night so I went to bed with the intention of jumping headfirst into the problem this morning. I did just that too and it was like jumping headfirst into the shallow end and smashing my head on the bottom of the pool.
The MacBook still wouldn’t boot up so I turned it over and removed both RAM cards (1 GB & 2 GB) and swapped slots. I put it back together and hit the power button while holding my breath. It got the gray boot screen without the 3 beeps of RAM death which was a step forward but after a while at that screen the device would just shut itself off. Time to make an appointment with my local Genius and this afternoon off I went.
The Genius Bar experience itself is still very refreshing, good attention from the staff who actually listen to what I have to say and then act on it. He plugged in his magic disk drive with Leopard on it and booted it up quickly, only to determine that the MBP was not able to mount the internal disk drive which was causing the boot failure. He did some diagnostics which told him the only option was to erase the drive and reinstall Leopard to see if the drive was OK. He did this over the next 20 minutes with me watching everything. I wasn’t concerned with his wiping the drive clean since I have been dutifully keeping the system backed up with Time Machine to my Buffalo 500 GB external firewire drive. Silly me.
When the install finished his diagnostics showed that everything with the system was A-OK, RAM good, disk drive good, all was good. I took the system home with the plan of restoring the Time Machine backup and getting back to work. Silly me. I plugged the external backup drive into the firewire port and watched the disk access light go berserk flashing. After 5 minutes the flashing stopped, only for me to see that the drive was not mounted by Leopard. Uh oh. I ran Disk Utility in OS X which I was glad to see could actually see the drive was connected even though it wasn’t mounted properly. This let me run the repair option which took 10 minutes only to end in failure. The log isn’t very detailed but it tells me that the disk cannot be repaired so here I am now, no way to restore the only full backup I have and save all my data. I will be very impacted by this failure of first the internal drive and then the external backup drive at the same time. I’m still desperately trying to get the drive to a point where I can at least mount it in the hopes that I can keep it mounted long enough to restore my system, or at least as much of it as I can. It doesn’t look good for the home team, Casey’s count is 0-2 and it doesn’t look good.