The Solution to “A Mac Puzzler” + Thoughts On Losing Everything

When we last spoke, I asked you WHAT CAUSED MY IMAC TO FAIL?

For the sake of compiling the responses (as some came in via other channels), they included:

Brett Slatkin:

>Guesses: 1. Unseated memory (though they would have replaced that?) 2. Bad power supply 12V rail

Richard “PkerUNO” Whittaker:

I’m not replying until you specify how many Picarats this is worth.
And the fact that you didn’t mention matchsteeks is highly suspicious!

“R”:

>Hmm… I’m going to go with… SATA cable?

Adam “rampage” Meltzer:

So, multiple hard drives, multiple different media from multiple different sources. So, it’s not the CD drive, and not the hard drive.
We already have 12V rail and SATA cable as possibilities. What about the power cable for the HDD?
Sometimes it’s the simple things. I remember when I worked at Sun in the mid 1990s, the SPARC Stations of that vintage wouldn’t boot if there was no keyboard connected. Made for a troubleshooting nightmare when trying to figure out why the damn machine wouldn’t power on.

Ryan “Lee” Short:

>I think Major Nelson snuck into your iMac through the combined power of Live Anywhere and magic…that, or something entirely too simple like a loose jumper or something…

Without further ado, the answer:

The complete and utter failure of my machine to stay running, to verify the integrity of my hard disk, and to reinstall the operating system off of multiple media was caused by a faulty 2GB RAM module. Yes, apparently in that overnight period (when the initial blue screen happened), the DIMM went rogue and failed to actually hold data in some portions. But because this was one of two RAM chips, and it was presumably a sector that wouldn’t have been accessed until some quantity of the RAM was filled, it only showed up sporadically.

The repair company figured this out when they pulled one DIMM and had the reinstall fail, but pulling the other one lead to a successful reinstall.

So no one quite got it right, but Brett wins an honorary 5 Picarats for at least guessing it was RAM related.