"Jiggle it" (or, HAL possesses my Mac)

Heh–I’m not sure why I feel compelled to pass this along, other than that it’s a nice counterpoint to the rigor & logic that we associate with computing.

Last night on a plane, I plugged my headphones into my MacBook Pro, only to see a weird red light issuing from the headphone port.  The sense that HAL 9000 was now peering out of my Mac was compounded by my just having watched Sunshine, a flick featuring a sometimes disobedient flight computer.  The really odd thing was that with this light pouring out, I lost access to my internal speakers.  Headphones in: no prob; headphones out: sounds of silence (something something, neon god they made…).

The solution, I learned from a Mac forum, boils down to “jiggle it.”  And, what do you know, after jabbing HAL in the eye repeatedly, I once again have working internal speakers.  I feel like the Fonz, smacking the jukebox into shape.  Anyway, it’s kind of funny that sometimes all this technology gets resolved with a good old-fashioned jiggle.

0 thoughts on “"Jiggle it" (or, HAL possesses my Mac)

  1. Back in the day, when I did customer support, there was a known problem with Mac IIcx computer hard drives — something called “stiction” where the reading head of the hard drive got stuck after it was parked. The way to remedy the situation was to give the computer a good solid kick to get the head moving again.
    Being I wear a size 12 shoe, my boss used to put the following on his invoice to the customer each time I came by to “fix” this “problem” — System 12 Reboot, $120.
    [Hah–that’s excellent. I remember hearing from a friend who worked at ILM that the crew behind the original Star Wars would kick & otherwise abuse electronic equipment in order to make the pictures crackle & distort. My friend’s job was to replicate that scratchy, jumpy feel using After Effects. –J.]

  2. “Percussive Maintenance” is the common term πŸ™‚
    “And the people bowed and prayed…”
    Back at work after 2 weeks in Vegas – how appropos to see you speaking of neon gods!

  3. The red light that you were seeing was the optical audio-out. All MacBook Pros (and maybe the MacBooks as well, I’m not sure) have a combined mini-plug headphone jack and mini-toslink jack (for digital audio, i.e. Dolby/DTS). What must have happened is that something got inside and triggered the optical audio-out, thus disabling both headphone output and speaker output.
    This reminds me of the old Super Nintendo; it always seemed as if hitting it would fix any of its problems. In fact, I remember my friend getting so fed up with his SNES freezing up that he threw it off his balcony. Whereas this would have broken most pieces of hardware, the ten-foot drop magically fixed the system, which worked without any problems until it completely died three months later :-).

  4. It wasn’t just macs: I was working on a Sun workstation back in the early 90’s when it got all kerflooey. The sysadmin came in, popped open the case, and said, “Ah, yeah, it’s a Seagate.”
    He pulled the drive, held it up, and then *slammed* it down on my desk.
    Good as new.

  5. Oh jeez…thank you so much for the jiggle it!!!!! I could see the red light, couldn’t figure out how to make it go away, googled it and here you are.
    The jiggle worked! I was quite worried I’d have to send it in. Sweeeeeet!

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