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View Full Version : Back after 10 years


jtown
Jul 13, 2003, 01:43 PM
Been about 10 years since I last spent a significant amount of time with Macs but I wanted to try OSX and it was time to get a new machine for my day-to-day computing chores (word processing, internet, finances, music, archiving, etc.). Didn't need to be powerful and I didn't want to spend a lot of money but I wanted something portable so I got an 800Mhz ibook. I couldn't justify spending another $300 on the 900Mhz model just to get the combo drive since I already have a firewire burner I can use at home. Besides, if I spent an extra $300 for that, I may as well spend another $300 and get a 12" powerbook. Then I'd be a long way from my cheap computer. ;)

It took just a few hours for my iBook to make a mockery of many Switch ads. I knew they were BS when they first aired but I was surprised to see so many contradicted in the first few hours.

My email didn't import properly. All of the folders are there but most of the big ones are empty or only have a single message. :P I also had a crash the first night. I came back to the computer and found a black display. At first I thought it'd just gone to sleep but the light wasn't flashing and the screen's backlight was still on. Then there were the drivers. I actually had to download drivers for my MP3 player and printer. The horror. ;)

But enough griping. I really do like my little iBook. It runs OS X great. The battery life is better than I expected (and I haven't even done any power-saving tweaking). I've got 60 gigs of space which is enough to carry everything I need and a lot of stuff I don't need. The airport card works with my old wireless gateway. I've been able to find software to do just about everything I did on the PC. The sleep mode is awesome. I still can't get over the recovery time. It's ready to go by the time I get the screen angle adjusted. After that initial crash, it's been rock solid. I've only rebooted after installing drivers and I think I've got them all loaded now. The next reboot will probably be for an OS update.

The screen is bright and the fan hardly ever comes on, even if the CPU is running at 100%. (I installed the folding@home client so I could see how often the fan would kick in.) Even with the CPU at 100% and the airport card turned on, battery life is still decent.

Okay, a couple more gripes. WTF is up with the one-button mouse? Yeah, I know. "Get a real mouse." I did. A nice cordless optical mouse. But that doesn't help me when I'm on the move. I don't want to lug extra stuff around. Why can't my track pad have two buttons?

And what's the deal with anti-aliasing? Why does everything need to be "smoothed"? Makes it look like I've got the display set at the wrong resolution. I put TinkerTool on there but it seems that some apps just ignore the setting and "smooth" the fonts anyway. Come on, Apple. Let ME decide how I want text presented on MY computer. Put a "none" option in there and make it stick.

Horrortaxi
Jul 13, 2003, 04:40 PM
I don't mean to sound like an unsympathetic Mac-bigot, but recent switchers are probably the most likely to crash their Macs. If you're thinking "this is how it works in Windows" you may get yourself in some trouble--you just overthink things. I still do this sometimes when I get into unfamiliar territory. Things get a lot easier after you start thinking Mac and letting some of those Windows habits go.

Trackpad--I sympathize. I learned to accept the trackpad but I still don't like it. I always liked the nipple thing on the Thinkpads I used to use. Anyway, I think there must be an official Apple policy on never making a 2 button mouse. The OS supports them but it just seems like one of those things Apple will never do. Who knows why. When I first got the Mac I kept my 2 button mouse with scroll wheel but I ended up going back to the Apple mouse. I always have a hand free to hit ctrl or command. Just a personal preference. In Medal of Honor I go back to the 2 button for the alternate weapon--time is a factor.

I'm glad you're happy overall though. It sounds like you'll get some good use out of your iBook.

Flowbee
Jul 13, 2003, 05:15 PM
As far as the font smoothing goes, it annoyed me at first, too. Everything looked so fuzzy. However, after a few months of using Macs, I've grown accustomed to it. Now, when I use a PC again, I can't believe how harsh and jagged Windows looks to me.

jtown
Jul 13, 2003, 06:36 PM
Originally posted by Horrortaxi
I don't mean to sound like an unsympathetic Mac-bigot, but recent switchers are probably the most likely to crash their Macs.


I'm pretty sure the Mac crashed on its own. I wasn't even in the room at the time and all I had open was mail and a terminal. Maybe Safari. But it hasn't happened since the first night so I figure it was some initial setup quirk that caused a problem.

WifeOfBillGates
Jul 15, 2003, 01:46 PM
Thought macs never crash?

patrick0brien
Jul 15, 2003, 02:00 PM
Originally posted by WifeOfBillGates
Thought macs never crash?

-WifeOfBillGates

Nobody ever said that! :D

It's just incredibly rare. The average user should only see a Kernel Panic (crash) once a year on average.

jtown, as for that 'crash'. That sounds serious. A kernel panic or KP for short, presents itself by greying the screen with a box in the middle telling you to restart in several languages. The black screen thing you describe sounds like some kind of hardware failure. What can you tell me about the circumstances? What was the temp/humidity of the room? How hot did it get in there?

jtown
Jul 15, 2003, 02:24 PM
Originally posted by patrick0brien
-WifeOfBillGates

Nobody ever said that! :D

It's just incredibly rare. The average user should only see a Kernel Panic (crash) once a year on average.



Actually, I had two of those last night. I think it was related to the 3rd party driver used by my MP3 player. I was importing the songs from my Archos Jukebox and I got a kernel panic after about 5 gigs had been imported. I restarted and resumed the transfer and it did the same thing after about another 4 gigs. This time it corrupted the itunes library file so I decided to give apple tech support a call. (Went pretty well as I'll explain below.)


jtown, as for that 'crash'. That sounds serious. A kernel panic or KP for short, presents itself by greying the screen with a box in the middle telling you to restart in several languages. The black screen thing you describe sounds like some kind of hardware failure. What can you tell me about the circumstances? What was the temp/humidity of the room? How hot did it get in there?

The environmental conditions weren't unusual. It never gets humid here and it wasn't very warm. At that point, I'd never heard the fan. Didn't hear the fan for the first time until I was playing a game the next night. If I had to guess, I'd say the screen had been put to sleep and didn't "wake" properly. That's just a guess, tho.

As for my call to Apple tech support regarding the KPs, it went pretty well. It certainly helped that I'm not a computer novice. :) The only part I didn't like was the fact that he had me remove the open firmware password. Wasn't necessary to accomplish the tasks in his support scipt but I'm guessing the script's OF password branch is "get rid of the password". He had me reset PRAM, boot to the shell and fsck the drive (found some "minor errors" and repaired the filesystem), then see if the corrupted itunes database had been fixed. I was pretty sure it wouldn't be and so was he but now I know how to do a manual fsck after a kernel panic. :)

After that, he just had me move the itunes library out of the music folder and itunes started up with a fresh database. Drug my itunes folder onto itunes and it filled out the database again in under a minute. I turned the OF password back on and was completely done in <20 minutes. Would have been two minutes if I hadn't called tech support but I wanted to see how they'd handle an easy problem. Well worth the time since he walked me through a few things I didn't know how to do on the Mac yet.

I think he wanted to spend some more time tracking down the source of the KPs but he could tell I just wanted to get going for now and didn't push it. With so little software installed at this point, I'm fairly certain the drivers for my MP3 player are to blame. If I see more KPs, I'll certainly call Apple again and go through a complete troubleshooting script with them rather than just a quick repair.

patrick0brien
Jul 15, 2003, 03:54 PM
-jtown

Ok then. That sounded like a pretty messy KP for it to cause fsck to need to fix something. Hmm. Keep an eye on it.

As for the screen not coming back on from a sleep, well, it's certainly possible - especially if you supect a rogue driver. Personally, I don't let my 12PB sleep on it's own - I've turned it off in Energy Saver. It sleeps only when I ask it to, mostly by closing the lid. I also never power it down my current uptime is 13 days 17 hours.

What mp3 player are you using? Have you tried to load it without drivers?

jtown
Jul 15, 2003, 04:15 PM
Originally posted by patrick0brien
-jtown

Ok then. That sounded like a pretty messy KP for it to cause fsck to need to fix something. Hmm. Keep an eye on it.

As for the screen not coming back on from a sleep, well, it's certainly possible - especially if you supect a rogue driver. Personally, I don't let my 12PB sleep on it's own - I've turned it off in Energy Saver. It sleeps only when I ask it to, mostly by closing the lid. I also never power it down my current uptime is 13 days 17 hours.

What mp3 player are you using? Have you tried to load it without drivers?

Archos Jukebox Recorder 15 which, I believe, uses the ISD-200 IDE->USB bridge. I think the only OS with built-in support for it is Linux. It didn't work at all on the ibook until I loaded the 10.2 Jaguar drivers provided by Archos. With the drivers installed, it shows up as a removable hard drive when I plug it in. Same as it does with Windows.

patrick0brien
Jul 15, 2003, 04:21 PM
-jtown

Well, I guess you have to live with a dodgy driver, but perhaps you can insulate it so that you only use the driver when you need it.

Have you considered creating a user account with the express purpose of using it for the Archos? You can maintain preferences across the accounts by opening the Archos-loading account permissions all the way up, then shortcutting the itunes music folder and the preferences file of your main account from it.

It's wild, but it just might work. I've done similar things - created proxy accounts - to allow multiple logons (to the Mac) from Windows networks.

Let me know how it works.

(edit) Oh, I forgot. Try to locate that driver (should be in the master Library) and place it in it's corresponding place in the Library of the Archos account. Otherwise it'll load with every account - which is what we're trying to avoid.