The Button as last resort

In these Mac 911 blog entries I tend to stick with tried-and-true advice: If Problem A occurs, Solution B should put your right (and, if not, Solutions C and then D are sure to nail it). But every so often it’s worthwhile to offer a Voodoo Solution—the thing to try when you might as well.

Today: The Button.

We use an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra USB audio interface in the Pod Cave to record our round-table discussions. Last week, said audio interface became unresponsive. The get-down lights worked but the device was not seen in the Sound system preference and was just as unseen by the Fast Track Ultra pref pane.

Our fearless leader, Jason Snell, did all the right things—shut it down, un- and replugged it, cursed, reinstalled the drivers, cursed a bit more, scanned M-Audio’s tech support area, cursed yet again, and started the process for returning the device for repair. Upon hearing the news of the uncooperative interface (which I recommended, and felt some responsibility for), I suggested that he let me have a whack at it.

I repeated everything he tried with the same amount of success and was just about to pack it up for return when I recalled The Court of Last Resort. And in the case of hardware, that Court is The Button.

And by this I mean that if you have a device that refuses to cooperate, you’ve taken all the recommended measures, get no good results, and feel you’ve got nothing to lose, start pressing and holding buttons in the off-chance that you hit the magic combination that resets the thing. Using this technique I’ve recovered iPhones and iPods, reset the service warning on my Toyota hybrid when the oil changers neglected to, and, now, brought the Fast Track Ultra back to life. By pressing and holding the Power button until I saw some encouraging blinks, I was able to pull the device from its coma.

I’m sure there are some caveats here: Scan the manual and online documentation to see if there’s a documented method for resetting a device, check in with the company’s tech support, perform under adult supervision, light fuse and stand away, objects may appear smaller in mirror, don’t blame me if something goes wrong… ya know, the usual. But as long as you're not attempting something completely bone-headed (submersing a device in root beer, for instance) it's worth a shot.

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter

Comments