"This is Bloody Dangerous!"

210721 G9 1011854
Camera: Panasonic DC-G9 | Date: 21-07-2021 16:50 | Resolution: 5116 x 2878 | ISO: 200 | Exp. bias: -66/100 EV | Exp. Time: 1/80s | Aperture: 6.3 | Focal Length: 17.0mm | Lens: LUMIX G VARIO 12-35/F2.8

More MacBook battery woes – this time it’s serious.

The title is a quote from arguably the greatest of Hollywood Musicals, Paint Your Wagon. The words are uttered by Mad Jack Duncan, a gold miner engaged in digging a shallow tunnel under the arena where a bear and bull fight is being staged. He’s right – that activity is “bloody dangerous”.

Using a 2015 MacBook shouldn’t be. But it bloody well is.

Mine has now suffered the third near-catastrophic battery failure in three years. As before there was no warning, no on-screen indication of any problem. At least on the previous occasions I was regularly travelling with it and noticed when the distortion of the body was great enough that it would no longer sit flat on a surface when I was typing. This time my wife was using it in a fixed position with an external keyboard, so we had no such indication. Yes, the fans were running a lot but they always do on that model and the weather’s hot. Yes it was getting a bit sluggish, but computers do from time to time.

Finally on Sunday it gave up the ghost and suffered a “blue screen of death” failure. I managed to nurse it back to operation but it failed again and there was clearly a major hardware problem. As soon as I lifted it off the desk the problem was apparent – the back was so distorted that it had parted from the chassis in a couple of places, and everything was red hot. If the batteries had gone one step further and leaked there would have been a fire, on a desk surrounded by papers. I shudder to think what the implications might have been.

The 2015 MacBook is one of the worst excesses of the Jonny Ives era, and “unmaintainable by design”. However I’m getting good at this, having had lots of practice, and once again followed the Andrew Johnston patent method for MacBook battery replacement. This time, the back was so distorted that two of the screws were completely jammed and had to be drilled out. After the second failure of an Apple OEM battery I’d purchased a Duracell-banded replacement hoping that would last better, but if anything the damage was worse this time, so it’s obviously a fundamental design flaw.

The new battery works OK, but the laptop still won’t boot. What appears to have happened is that the distortion due to the battery expansion was so bad it’s damaged one of the circuit boards. I’ll try taking the back off and making sure all the connectors are properly located, but as almost all the components are soldered I’m not hopeful.

This may be ending its life with me on eBay for “spares or repair”, which will also make it the worst value computer purchase of my career. Good riddance.

As portability is no longer a priority for this PC, and Frances fancies a larger screen, the replacement will be an Alienware R17. That has enough cooling it almost qualifies as an air-conditioner, so fingers crossed!

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