Massive Failures

The night before the wedding party, Ray heard a Bad Sound when opening the computer. One of the hinges on our 2002-vintage TiBook seized up, and broke. Everything continued to work, though, and we were a little more careful when opening and closing the lid.

At one point during the wedding party, Ray’s camera saved an unreadable file. Just to be safe, he went back to the hotel, saved the pictures onto the computer, and reformatted the memory card. The camera hasn’t messed up since, but it was a little annoying.

The next day, when Ray used the computer, he noticed a spark coming from the break in the hinge, and the display no longer worked. This started a long process of deciding what should happen next — should we have a spare computer sent from home? buy a new MacBook? get something secondhand? do without?

When we got back to Iasi, I opened the computer to use it with an external display, and noticed smoke coming from the break in the hinge. The external display trick worked, but required an external USB keyboard as well, not something we’d often find on the trip.

The Internet told us a few things: MacBooks are more expensive in Europe than the US (the number of Euros matches the number of dollars, basically, making them 34% more expensive), and they’re more expensive in Romania than elsewhere; there was a guy selling a secondhand 12″ powerbook in Bucharest.

We spent Monday in Iasi, eating pancakes, gathering info at the Apple Store (ie it’s hard to get an English keyboard in less than 2 weeks in Europe), and got on the train and headed back to Bucharest, where we stayed at a hotel two blocks away.

Today was a whirlwind in Bucharest — we ended hooking up with the guy selling the 12″ Powerbook at a McDonalds. He wanted a lot of money, but we ended up getting it. Its battery is definitely shot — it went from full to empty in about 10 minutes. Everything else seems to work. It cost about a third of what a new MacBook would have cost, or about the extra amount of markup that getting one in Europe would have cost. We had a nice leisurely lunch with friends, then returned to the computer errands, getting a FireWire cable at a long-standing Apple dealer in Bucharest, before getting on the train for the four hour trip to Craiova, where we are now.

On the train ride, I discovered that my camera had once again gotten the dreaded E18 error (search for “E18 S80” for more info), and the gentle whacking wasn’t fixing it this time. I don’t know what will.

Now we’ve met our friends here, gotten to a hotel, and gotten set up on the new computer. It’s been a pretty rough couple of days, technologically speaking. (On top of all that, Ray’s drugstore reading glasses broke when the precarious very heavy suitcase came down on the train).

And I’ve spent an hour or so posting instead of sleeping. But now we have three days here to experience the Romanian countryside with some nice folks we originally met on a train in 1999, and hopefully things will be a little more relaxed and stable for awhile. When we arrived, there were three platters full of food that could never possibly be eaten by the five of us, including some delicious pieces of goose.

So I’ll go to sleep so I can make the most of our time here.