A Powerbook Battery Saga

by Hadley Stern Apr 21, 2005

It all started with 10.3.8. At least that’s what I convinced myself. I was finishing up a presentation at the Boston Mac Users group and using bandwidth thanks to MIT. At the end of my presentation the automatic software update popped up telling me that 10.3.8 was hot off the presses. I’m always a sucker for the nextest and greatest things so of course I downloaded it.

Someone in the audience (my laptop was still up on screen at this point) commented, “Yer not going to wait?”

Not me. I need the new now.

Sure enough, as soon as I got home I noticed my battery was dead. I plugged it in and came back to it the next morning. But after 10 minutes the powerbook went dead.

Huh?! So I recharged it, checked the back of the battery and saw that all four lights were on and gave it another shot.

Same result. Overnight my battery had gone from a few hours to a few minutes. My powerbook is a couple of years old, and it has been used a ton, so i just figured my battery and just up and died on me.

That was until I spoke to someone at work, he asked me if I had heard of a battery issue related to 10.3.8. That’s when it clicked. I scoured the Apple support boards and found a few complaints. My friend phoned Apple support and they told him there was nothing they could do. There are a variety of hacks out there (including, believe it or not) short-circuiting the battery.

My powerbook had been acting funky for a while, thanks, in part, to all the software I installed as part of the research effort for my book, iPod and iTunes Hacks. So I decided it was time to do an archive and install and, hopefully, at the same time, solve my battery issue.

After going back to 10.3.7 my battery was a little better. I now got about 20 minutes instead of 3 (literally 2-3 minutes by the way). But still 20 minutes is not an eternity when it comes to a PowerBook.

Then 10.3.9 came out. Once again, I through caution to the wind. My battery was already screwed so what the heck! Well guess what?! My battery came back to life even more. I now get about 50 minutes. I still don’t get it, and plonking down 130 plus bucks for a new battery seems like it could be a mistake since I keep getting more power now.

Who knows, maybe once I install Tiger my battery will be back to normal. Until then, no surfing while sitting on the couch.


  • Hmm… the same thing happened to me with my 12” aluminum. I just figured I was using the battery too much and bought a new one. I put the new one in and put the old one in storage. I was only getting 20 minutes on it, so I figured it was dead. I’ll have to get it out of storage and see if 10.3.9 can resuscitate it. Karen Nakamrua (http://www.photoethnography.com/blog)

    kren2000 had this to say on Apr 21, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Whoa - this is a revelation. I’m having similar problems, but I figured they were just a result of having a two-year-old PowerBook. Maybe they started right when 10.3.8 came out.

    Has Apple been willing to do replacements?

    jerseyfreeze had this to say on Apr 22, 2005 Posts: 2
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