Use Oven to Fix iMac Hardware Issue

Seriously? Yes, I am not joking. I like repairing stuff, not for the purpose saving money, but just want to see whether I can do it. It is fun to challenge something seem quite impossible. Ok, get the story short. I have a iMac for almost nine years. It’s an old, but still functioning good. Recently it show the issue of stripped screen as shown below.

I know it’s time to change a new computer for this one. I have done some repairs to my home window PC and laptop longtime back, but have never seriously fixing some hardware issue on Mac. From what I read on the internet, it seems relating to graphics card. It would cost about $150 for a new graphic card, far exceed what this iMac is worth right now. Ok, let me find out whether anyone has fix similar issue before. Then I found this one: 2010 iMac 27″ Graphics Card Replacement.

It is a nice video showing how to open iMac and replace graphics card with a new one. It has a very good instruction in how to open iMac and take parts out. Mine was actually more complicated than this one and I had to take out the whole motherboard to get the graphics card. Then I found another video Burn the VGA and Fix your iMac – Don’t Pay Shitty Problems!!!. It’s insane approach to fix this striped screen issue: put the graphics card into oven with 380 F degrees for 8 minutes. This is probably the craziest idea to repair Mac I have ever heard. But from the comments, it seems it indeed fixed many people’s problem. Anyway, I am going to throw out this computer. So there is nothing to lose if I can fix it.

So my journey began during the Thanksgiving holiday. First I bought the required tools from Amazon: OWC General Servicing Kit for all Apple iMacs 2007 & Later. Actually the most useful tools are T10, T8 Torx Drivers and Suction Cups. 

I followed the videos’ instructions to remove the monitor screen and take out monitor related stuff. Here is what it looks like when monitor is removed.

As you can see, Apple intentionally makes the repair work of iMac super painful. Everything is packed in this limited space with many wirings and cables. I was not even sure I can put back anything after I disassembly the iMac. After I removed many screws, the whole motherboard was still stuck there and could not be taken out. I reviewed the videos many times and still did not have a clue why it was still stuck. Finally I remembered I upgraded RAM before and know RAM is located at the bottom of the iMac. Maybe it was RAM. So I took out the RAM and tried again. Bingo! It was RAM. Here is the photo for the motherboard:

Checked the clock, 2 hrs passed. Get the graphic card out of motherboard is quite simple, just a few minutes work.

As the video instructed, I put the card in the oven (380 F degrees) for 8 minutes. Then took it out and cool off completely. I thought it might be easier to put them back. I was completely wrong. It took 200% to 300% effort to put them back in place. As the space is very tight in iMac, any small variation in positioning of motherboard would cause issue and had to redo the whole assembly process. Some issues are:

  • One time. I assembled everything. Then I realized I could not put in RAMs at the bottom. Managed to squeeze one bank of RAM, but still had issues for the rest of 3 banks of RAMs.
  • Sometimes I had a perfect fit for the RAMs. Then realized I forgot to plug in Data cable from hard disk to motherboard. The computer can show the Apple logo, but it would show a folder logo with question mark.
  • A few times, I forgot to connect monitor cable to motherboard. During the boot, it had the normal noise of startup, but with complete black screen.
  • Sometimes, a few cables was blocked behind the motherboard and I couldn’t find them when I tried to plug them in.

Finally after almost 10 times re-assembly process, I finally made it working. It shows the nice Apple logo.

Exhausted after 9 hrs of work, but really had fun in fixing stuff.

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Move Microsoft Office 2011 to macOS High Sierra

The latest version of Mac OS is called macOS High Sierra. There are some nice changes in the new OS. Instead of using HFS+ file system, a new file system, Apple File System (APFS), was introduced. Important enhancements in the APFS include faster speed in file copy, built-in encryption, crash-safe protections. Safari in this version not only becomes much faster (Apple claims it is the fastest desktop browser, I am not sure about this), but also has a feature to stop the most annoying feature on the web: autoplay videos. The new Safari also has a feature to allow you to view sites in Reader mode. Interesting, I didn’t know I can view site in writer mode before! There are also some improvements in video and icloud experience, which I don’t really care.

There was an important note about Office 2011 caught my attention. Microsoft announced that the company is no longer to support Office 2011 on macOS High Sierra and users should switch to Office 2016. I understand the company may want to get more revenue from selling Office 2016 to existing customers. While many other programs are still supported and running on macOS High Sierra, it looks bad if Office 2011 is not working in High Sierra, especially Word and Excel are some of the most popular applications people used daily. If this is the case, It would hesitate to upgrade my Macs to the new version: High Sierra.

I have been there before. I used to have Parallel software for my VMs on Mac many years ago and it worked great. Forgot from which version of new Mac OS release, Parallel announced the old version Parallel software would not work on the new MacOS and existing customers must pay extra fee to upgrade to new version if want to continue to use Parallel on the new Mac OS. If I remember correctly, Parallel has done the same trick almost every time a new Mac OS is released since then. Luckily, I switched to VirtualBox when Parallel did the first announcement and completely get rid of Parallel since then. Although I missed some nice features from Parallel, VirtualBox meets all of my requirements for my VM and it is free.

Similarly, if Microsoft Office 2011 is not working at all on macOS High Sierra, I will switch to Apple’s Pages and Numbers, or Google Docs. Anyway, my use of Word and Excel at home is very basic, just some simple Word and Excel documents. I don’t see paying annual subscription to new Office 2016 makes sense to me. Anyway my company laptop will have Office 2016 subscription. But if I can keep using my paid Office 2011 on my home Mac, it would be perfect.

I checked out Microsoft Office Support page, it has the following statement:

Office for Mac 2011

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Lync have not been tested on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and no formal support for this configuration will be provided.

All applications in the Office for Mac 2011 suite* are reaching end of support on October 10th, 2017. As a reminder, after that date there will be no new security updates, non-security updates, free or paid assisted support options or technical content updates. Refer to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle for more information.

Interestingly, it sounds like that users of Office 2011 will be on their own if they continue to use Office 2011 on High Sierra. But the wording does not say the Office 2011 is not going to run on High Sierra. So if running into issue in Word and Excel, don’t call Microsoft support. This is understandable. Anyway, all applications in the Office for Mac 2011 suite are reached the end of support on Oct. 10th, 2017.

Ok, this is better. I will see whether Microsoft Office 2011 works or not in the new macOs High Sierra. I happen to have a Mac at home that indeed needs a complete refresh. After many years running and installation, many software were installed on the computer and the Mac was terribly slow. I want to do a complete new fresh installation long time ago. One of major concerns I had in the past is that I would still bring a lot of garbage back if I do a time-machine restore during the OS upgrade. But if I do a complete wipe out, I have to reinstall Office 2011 and I could not find my license key anymore. Although there are some articles about moving Office 2011 license files for application migration to new Mac, I was always skeptical and worried what happened if it didn’t work. I was stuck in this situation for several years. This time, I have to a good opportunity to do it. I must wipe out my Mac for a fresh installation and have to test the steps to move Office license files. If it fails, I will not use Office on this Mac.

After reading some articles about moving Office 2011 to a new Mac and did some preparation work, I finally made it successfully. Actually, I tested two scenarios by accident. When I did the upgrade, I didn’t wipe out my hard drive on my Mac because I was worried the OS Installation would not complete if I wiped out the hard drive. Actually I was wrong. There was another small partition containing OS boot and installer. Without wiping out my default hard drive, after installation, I found out I just did an upgrade to macOS High Sierra and all of my garbage stuff were still there. No wonder it was so slow during the installation. But at least I verified Microsoft Office 2011 was still working under scenario of upgrading to High Sierra. Then I tried the correct scenario, wiping out my default hard disk first, then do the OS installation. It was much faster and successful. On top of that, I did the office 2011 migration successfully. The followings are the steps:

Step 1. Backup Office 2011
Of course, I need to do a full time-machine backup before doing anything else. In addition to the backup, I also copied the followings to an external drive.

The following directories are mainly for backup purpose, not really used during the migration step. It’s good to backup these Office 2011 directories.

/Library/Application\ Support/Microsoft/
/Applications/Microsoft\ Office\ 2011/

Then backup the following three license related files.

/Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper
/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper.plist
/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist

Step 2. Wipe out Default Hard Drive
If you just do the High Sierra upgrade, do not do this step. This step is going to wipe out everything on the default partition.
After reboot, immediately press Option + Command + R keys at the same time. When OSX Utilities screen shows up, uses Disk Utility to wipe out the default partition first.

Step 3. Install macOS High Sierra
Then click Reinstall OS X. Go through the regular mac OS installation screens to complete the High Sierra installation.

Step 4. Migrate Office 2011
Install Office 2011 software and it will show the screen to license information at the end.

Unfortunately, Quit in Office 2011 was not working and I had to do the force kill from Activity Monitor.

Copy the three backed up file from external drive to the same path on the new system.

/Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper
/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper.plist
/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist

Start Word or Excel. The Office 2011 works on macOS High Sierra. I am sure there are certain features might not fully functional on the new OS. But basic functionality seems working and that’s enough for my usage.

My first blog

Finally my blog about Big Data is here. At one time, I am thinking what would happen if ancient people could write a blog without computer and keyboard. They must use feather pen. Luckily I don’t have to use it.
My Pen