The Technical Side of Email Marketing & Other Ramblings

MacBook Pro Fan & Battery Issue Fixed, I’m a “Genius”

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m not an Apple Genius but I am a Genius Googler which was how I ultimately solved my issue.  However I did recently overhear a genius at the Apple Store asking another genius how to fix an issue that I knew the answer to so maybe I’m a junior genius.

So here’s the situation, my parents went away on a weeks vacation.  Wait that’s a Will Smith song sorry wrong situation.  About six weeks ago my less than two year old MacBook Pro went from getting between five and six hours of battery time down to around two and a half hours if I was lucky.  I didn’t think much of it at the time because I usually have it plugged in and I wasn’t traveling anywhere so it wasn’t a big deal.  After a few weeks, I realized that I could barely make it through my DVR’d @HistoryChannel Swamp People and Pawn Stars before completely draining the battery.  Now it was getting annoying and I needed to get this issue solved.  Before making a genius appointment and heading over to the Apple Store I figured I would try a few things on my own to see if I could fix it.  I used my mad Google skills to search for things like “MacBook Pro battery draining”, “MacBook Pro eats battery” and finally, “Why the F is my MacBook Pro battery life sucking even though nothing is running” but all the things mentioned didn’t seem to solve the problem.  I tried a few more things on my own like:

* Checking Activity Monitor for rouge apps running
* Removing old applications that I don’t use anymore
* Removing some new applications I had recently installed
* Reduce the size of my Entourage database (I know reducing it to zero and removing it from my Mac would be better but I have been lazy in that aspect.)
* Archive old files
* Run the battery out and charge it back up

During the process of trying out these things it would trick me every once in a while and show me three and a half hours so I felt like I was making progress then it would quickly drop down to under two hours shattering my hopes that I was truly a genius.  None of these things seemed to do it and it was starting to get annoying so I broke down and made a reservation at the Genius bar.  I gave them the long and short of what was going on as my personal genius processed it all.  They ran a diagnostic test on my baby and she came back healthy as a horse.  They then ran a battery test on it and it showed that it was more than 50% used up.  He then suggested that a new battery would probably fix the issue.  I excitedly agreed because the test seemed to verify that the battery was on it’s way out since 50% use seemed logical that I would be getting only about 2.5 hours of use.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the battery in stock so they had to order it.  My luck seemed to continue when I received a call the next morning that my battery was in.  I made another genius appointment so I didn’t have to wait around.  The genius had the new battery in, in about 10 minutes which unfortunately didn’t have a full charge.  When I turned it on I was not very optimistic when I saw that the battery life at around 50% was reading around 1.5 hours.  This was about where I was before.  The genius asked that I go home and charge it up fully and check it again.  I reluctantly left the store and went home to charge it up.  After a full charge, the time had come to pull the plug and test er out.  I pulled out the plug and watched after a few minutes as the battery was being eaten up.  Now here is where most people would call Apple and freak out, not my style, I was determined to get this fixed without freaking out.

I called Apple Support and spent time on multiple calls over a two day period however my brand new battery was no better than my old battery.  After almost giving up I changed my google search criteria a little bit after realizing that my fan was ALWAYS on and my mac was running very hot.  I searched for “macbook pro fan always running” and low and behold, I came across this article by Tom Meagher from June 2009.  After reading Tom’s article, I checked my printers under preferences but didn’t see any rouge print jobs.  My hopes of getting this resolves yet again seemed shattered but I read on determined that I was on the right track.  I noticed one of the posts mentioned using the Unix utility lpstat  I wasn’t familiar with this utility but knowing that many unix commands and utilities are built in to the OSX, it seemed logical that this could be my answer.  I typed in “lpstat” and saw a job that was trying to print to my home Canon color printer. I used the “cancel” command to cancel the job and like magic the fan shut off and within a minute or so my battery life shot up to 7 hours.  I literally jumped for joy that my ordeal was finally over. I called my wife to tell her the good news. When I told her the details including the date of the print job she paused for a moment and asked me if I knew the significance of that date.  I thought for a second and then it clicked. The day in question was my daughters birthday and the print job in question were pictures of her and her friends for an art project that kept getting g stuck. I ended up printing it from another computer and forgetting about it because I was in a rush.

So I guess the moral of this story is that if you continue to refine your Google search and don’t get frustrated then you too can feel like a genius.  Oh and some patience, you gotta have some patience.

Posted under: Interesting to Someone, Techie Stuff