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2002-01-31 17:30:46+00 by Dan Lyke 20 comments

"Shut up, Dan!" More whining about why I hate Macs, some of the frustrations of trying to get Catherine's Performa 550[Wiki] working again last night, just there for posterity so someone will make me eat my words when I'm blathering about how much I love MacOS XXIV[Wiki].

[ related topics: Dan's Life Macintosh ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:57+00 by: Mars Saxman

OK, let me get this straight: you're trying to install a modern web browser onto a computer that went out of production seven years ago, running an operating system that was superseded a few months later, and you're experiencing... problems?

How odd.


#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:57+00 by: markd

I'm with ya man. I'm really bummed my PC/AT (but with a 386 upgrade!) running Windows 3.1 won't run the latest IE.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:57+00 by: Dori

My problem isn't with Dan or his approach; if I were asked for help with a Linux machine I wouldn't know what I was doing either. He's not a Mac tech guy and he's not interested in being a Mac tech guy.

In this case, my perception is that Catherine is getting the tech support that she's paying for. If she really wants to use a Mac, she should (gasp!) find someone to work on it who wants to be working on Macs. If what's most important to her is free tech support, then she should move to a platform where she can get free tech support.

BTW, we've got a SE/30 here that's hooked up to the net that's doing real work, 24/7. It's not the fault of the Mac if someone who doesn't know Macs isn't able to solve Mac problems.

Dan, the next time that someone asks you to work on a Mac, walk up to their desk, take the Mac, and throw it in the dumpster. Us Mac users will be happy, you'll be happy, and whoever asked you for tech support is getting, well, just what they paid for. Or even better, give it to someone who actually wants the thing.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:57+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I think Dori nailed it.

But markd and Mars, my main issue with old Macs is that I've seen about 4 different TCP/IP stacks for it, and they're all incompatible. Even with Windows 3.1, not even WfW, I never had this sort of versionitis.

I also wrote to someone who sent me email on the topic that if this were a PC it would have been upgrade piecemeal, and would probably be a 300MHz Pentium with 15 gig of disk now. Because the Macs are all "we fit only into this funky-ass case and you've got to buy a card for this specific machine" (admittedly this has loosened up as they've finally started making space for full-on PCI cards), people need to treat Macs like appliances: When it breaks, throw it away. When I recommend systems to friends, I have to take that into account, and even when friends would be happier with a Mac I have to tell them "Windows or Linux or I won't support it."

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:57+00 by: Dori

That TCP/IP issue was solved years ago, though. It was just a problem with 7.5.x, 'cause it was all new for Macs.

In general, I recommend upgrading to the latest Mac OS that the machine will handle. If her Mac can handle 7.6, go there. OTOH, the SE/30 is on 7.5.5 (as high as it can go) and it's steady as a rock.

(admittedly this has loosened up as they've finally started making space for full-on PCI cards)

Yeah, about 4 years ago or so?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:57+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've upgraded another Mac from 7.x to 8.1, and ever since that experience have not wanted to ever do an OS upgrade on a Mac. If 7.6 will solve the problem maybe I'll try to find that.

And on the "4 years ago or so" thing, can you fit any upgrade in an iMac?

As I think I've repeatedly said, I'll bet OS X[Wiki] rocks, but Apple[Wiki] lost the last of its credit with me 5 or 6 years ago (other issues with the 550 were part of that, including the fact that the California Attorney General had to sue Apple[Wiki] to get them to come through on their promises on that machine, as were support issues with customers of Chattanooga On-line), and I keep finding reasons why I now regret suggesting to friends that they buy Macs so that I wouldn't have to support them. As much as it pains me to do it, if a friend wants a machine that will be the lowest load on me, I'll recommend Windows. At least until Steve starts bragging about something other than "core competencies in the fashion and design areas".

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:58+00 by: Dori

And on the "4 years ago or so" thing, can you fit any upgrade in an iMac?

Some iMacs, yes. Others, no. If you want an upgradable machine, don't buy an iMac.

Consumer machines, such as Performas, iMacs, and my Compaq Presario, shouldn't be bought by people who are thinking about future upgrades. If they're available later, that's gravy. But if you know you're going to want to upgrade anything, buy a pro machine.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:58+00 by: Dan Lyke

See, that's the issue. Pro-level machines I'll happily buy as throw-away-when-you're-done boxes. Consumer level purchases aren't made with long-term cost of ownership decisions in mind, so upgrade paths are much more important for them.

Anyway, it boils down to: I've been burned, really really want to be able to recommend Macs to people, but can't. Oh well.

Probably has something similar to do with the market dynamics of fat computer books.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:58+00 by: rodolfo de hamsteaka

Your last comment about upgrades is confusing. Consumer level machines cost $400 or less. People buy them at costco. Most of them have bizarre sound and video cards and totally random software preinstalled which make upgrades impossible. The only "upgrades" consumers perform are when they add a few garbage peripherals they bought (at costco) to the system. Every year or two , all of this crap gets chucked into a back room somewhere and is replaced by more crap.

The only people I know that upgrade systems are gamers. I imagine that people who do 3-D rendering or high end audio production might upgrade. But that's just because they spent way too much on the system in the first place. I've been a nerd for a long time and the only "upgrade" I have performed regularly is ripping the junk out of one of my dad's costco castaways, throwing freeBSD on the thing, and throwing it into a closet somewhere.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:59+00 by: Dan Lyke

The only $400 at CostCo machines I end up with are hand-me downs from other people. Machines I run, and machines friends now run (as I wean them off Macs) are "stone soup" computers, put together from parts.

The only person I know who buys complete systems is Todd.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:59+00 by: Larry Burton

#Comment made: 2002-02-03 07:11:27+00 by: W. Ian Blanton [edit history]

Hey Dan, good to see others already have weighed in on the whole "WTH?" comments I was going to make, so now I'll drop into helpful "I do this for a living" mode. :)

If you are going to work on Macs, hie yer a** over to http://www.versiontracker.com/moreinfo.fcgi?id=922&db=mac and download a programme called "Clean Install Assistant". If you don't know what you're doing digging around inside the OS, it makes your life easier doing upgrades. If you do, it shaves like 50-70% on cleanup time doing a full rebuild. It works on System 7.* up.

I dunno about your comments about "we never had this...with Win 3.1" as I remember Win 3.1 and it was/is an abomination, and even thought I'm MS certified and Un*x certified, I tell my friends that they can either buy Macs or they can pay me to waste my time fixing their windows problems.

On the whole, I think giving consumers sub-standard machines/PC-instein systems is doing them a disservice, as the amount of mucking you generally have to do on them is Just Not Worth It. (I use by way of an example my 7 year old 8500, which has finally been replaced by a G4 on my desk about 6-8 months ago) Alternately you can give them something that it's wrapped up that they can't screw with, but then why not just buy them a kiosk and skip the whole "computer" idea in the first place?

Anyways, just some thoughts. Anyways, where's your XML so I can subscribe to you via Radio? :)

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:35:00+00 by: Dan Lyke

XML is at http://www.flutterby.com/main.rdf . If you'd like stuff formatted differently, now that Radio is taking off I'm happy to try to make a different feed.

And once again it's one of those "Macs and I just do not get along" things. I hear people say all the things you say, I've just always found Macs so frustrating that as much as I want to like them (and I really do!), experience convinces me that the Apple //gs[Wiki] was the last great computer Apple made.

Of course I also believe that Windows for Workgroups[Wiki](or whatever the 3.1.x rev that really worked was) was the best compromise between machine resources and GUI that Microsoft[Wiki] made, and am getting closer to getting a novice totally sold on the joys of Linux, so obviously my experience is not normal.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:35:01+00 by: Shawn

Ian, What's all this about moving things in and out of the System Folder? I've never done a MacOS upgrade, but I always assumed there was just some "Upgrade" option one picked from the OS CD, or one just installed over the top...

Like Dan, I really want to like Macs (even have one) but I've never been able to figure out how do do things under the hood like I have on [DOS/Win/Linux] Intel boxes. Questions abound for me, such as: How does one upgrade the OS? How do I partition and/or format a new drive? How do I start an application automatically on bootup? What do I do/how can I fix it when a data file is not recognized (and therefore not tied to an application - even though the application does exist)? Etc. Etc.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:35:01+00 by: rodolfo de hamsteaka

Figuring out how to do things under the hood on a mac is the same as learning how to do anything under the hood on any system (or any other non-computer device). If you can't figure it out by looking at it, you go get a book and/or ask someone who might know.

Dan is right, the Apple II was the last *great* computer apple made. The apple II and the amigas were the last time I can remember computers seeming "fun".

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:35:01+00 by: Mike Gunderloy

Dan, believe it or not, despite 25 years in this industry (including a stint building the damned things) I actually buy complete systems rather than parts these days. Out here in the sticks it's just much simpler to order from Dell or Gateway or Pogo than it is to deal with the inevitable "oops, I should have bought THAT memory, let me run out and get it" problems.

Of course, with a dozen or fifteen systems running here now I end up swapping parts all the time. But they *start* as complete systems.

#Comment made: 2002-02-03 22:48:05+00 by: W. Ian Blanton [edit history]

Hehe Dan, you sound like me telling someone why I prefer my OLD iBook to the new one I'm using while it's getting the DVD replaced. "Me and the 5 other people out there who use it like this..."

Well, if you like WFW, then you may be a heavy case...:) Although you are remembering correctly, it was the one that actually worked.

I guess I'd need amplification on what you find frustrating about the Mac OS so as to address it. Of course with the Mac OS now being unix under the hood, all of my comments here will only pertain to Mac "Classic" (Mac OS 7.*-9.*) :)

To Shawn:
Moving stuff in and out of the System Folder is what the upgrade does, but as with anything, when you get past a certain point, you have to stop letting the automatics do stuff. :)

I had more, but I decided to throw it up on my Radio log as it was getting long for here. :)

#Comment made: 2002-02-05 19:14:34+00 by: John Abbe [edit history]

Dan, if you're still having trouble with Opera, try iCab, it's very happy with old systems, and better, can filter out ads.

Shawn wrote: "I always assumed there was just some "Upgrade" option one picked from the OS CD, or one just installed over the top..."

There is, but with some upgrades a clean install is a better idea. The Clean Install Assistant makes that nearly painless -- it sucks out all the non-Apple stuff from the old System Folder, and then if you want stuffs it all into the cleanly-installed new System Folder.

One of the greatest joys of Macs has always been the ease of moving around System Folders. Alas, Mac OS X ends that tradition.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:35:05+00 by: Dan Lyke

Given the hassles of moving data around, the fact that this machine is no longer attached to my local network, and all of that, I set her up with Netscape 4.04. I did a few abortive attempts to upgrade, but as people point out, the right way to do that is wipe the disk, at which point the whole "will the PPC upgrade work for the new install" thing becomes a big issue, and after talking about it we decided that a new computer is the way to go. So she'll be looking at iBooks, 'cause most of my complaints about Macs probably really apply to all laptops (only weirdos like me have a full set of Torxtm wrenches specifically for getting laptop cases open...), so if she's going to go with a laptop she may as well go with a Mac.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:35:06+00 by: other_todd

Just checking in to say: It ain't just novices who buy whole systems, Dan. I buy them for the same reasons Mike gave, and I ain't out in the sticks either. I'm a software guy, not a hardware guy, I can't keep the different kinds of memory straight, and frankly I don't need to know that stuff, nor bother with it. What I pay extra in buying pre-assembled, I gain back in lack of hardware headache.

Oh, and I upgrade, but then, I'm guess I'm a "gamer," whatever that is. Since I use my Windows PC only to play games (well, these days I surf the web on it quite a bit too, since IE has become a slightly lesser evil than Netscape), the limiting factor will hardly ever be memory or bus width or even CPU speed. The limiting factor will be how much disk space I can shove into the thing (for most games a SMALL install is now 300-500 MB - augh!), and how many times I can put in a newer and faster video card before the system rejects the transplant. One PC every three years or so is about par for me.

I don't upgrade my Mac at all, nor do I need to. But that's a separate story.