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  • The Tiger Report: They Have Problems, But I Don’t!

    December 5th, 2006

    You know, I don’t want to say that I’m particularly unique in any way. At the same time, I have to wonder why Mac troubleshooting sites are filled with reports of problems with various and sundry Apple products, both software and hardware, yet I don’t have any of these problems. Not one!

    It’s not that I am doing anything special in maintaining my systems. I just turn them on, or awake them from sleep mode, and do my thing. On a rare occasion, there’s an application crash, but they’re aren’t terribly frequent. But everything else seems to work as advertised, and I seldom run into any performance issues unless I’m handling a beta product, in which case all bets are off.

    But I’m very troubled whenever I read the pages of MacFixIt and find message after message that something went wrong with the very thing that worked properly for me.

    Now some with a fatalistic approach to such matters will say that, by opening this very door, I might be subjecting myself to abuse from my desktop and note-book Macs. Maybe I should keep my big mouth shut and let sleeping dogs lie.

    However, that’s not me. I must question and question again what I’m doing right and what others might be doing wrong. But I don’t think there are too many mysteries to solve. It’s not like my paranormal radio show, The Paracast, which thrives on exploring the unknown and that which science has damned. The problem, as I see it, is that there are, first and foremost, thousands upon thousands of possible combinations of Mac hardware, software and peripherals. A driver conflict, a malformed kernel extension, a damaged preference file, and lots of other stuff can combine to make things behave badly.

    Even if everything is done properly, a peculiar combination of circumstances might combine to cause troubles for a small group of people. Those people, of course, will tend to be more vocal about such issues, which is understandable. Further, if the problems are repeated and reasonably consistent among all those who write about them, a responsible site such as MacFixIt will devote a reasonable amount of attention to finding out what’s going wrong.

    This isn’t to say that there aren’t Apple defects that don’t require peculiar circumstances. When folks said their MacBooks suffered from sudden shutdowns, it wasn’t their imagination, a coincidence, or a sign of abuse. After replacing logic boards and heat sinks, Apple adjusted the way the cooling fans function, and voila! No more problems; well, for most of those who encountered them at any rate. There are, alas, always exceptions.

    Certainly, the first releases of Mac OS X Tiger had their share of defects, most of which affected people who do cross-platform networking, or connect to an office system via VPN. It doesn’t matter who was responsible. Third parties say Apple changed the rules, pulling the carpet from under them. Regardless, it seems most of those problems were fixed. But my particular cross-platform excursions didn’t require heavy lifting of network resources on an extended basis, and I am sure most of you readers were in the same boat. So we weren’t affected.

    It may also be that I have the wrong printer, the wrong external drive, or some such device, and thus find myself largely immune to some of the issues.

    Moreover, I’m extremely cautious about installing system add-ons, things that put stuff in the menu bar, modify the Apple menu and so forth and so on. I don’t have anything against them, mind you, but I am not enamored of distractions. I suppose this attitude dates back to the early 1990s, when I installed a system alteration utility, known as ClickChange, which modified cursors, system sounds and just about every element of the Mac experience of that era. It could also be horrendously buggy if you went too far, as I did at work. Soon I was restarting my Mac constantly, and that didn’t stop until I removed the thing.

    That being said, I suppose I could complain about the time that I couldn’t get file sharing to work between a PowerMac and a PowerBook. After going through all the usual diagnostics, I just sat back, did a clean system install on both, and everything returned to normal.

    I am curious, however, if you readers can offer me some exceptions to ponder.

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