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Summary:

Ugh. That’s the best summary I can give you of my Mac experience last night: ugh. I’m really looking forward to James getting his Mac tomorrow, but by the same time, mine might be going to Apple. Although I’m a Mac n00b, I really don’t think […]

Apple_system_crash_log_smallUgh. That’s the best summary I can give you of my Mac experience last night: ugh. I’m really looking forward to James getting his Mac tomorrow, but by the same time, mine might be going to Apple. Although I’m a Mac n00b, I really don’t think it’s me; I think I’ve got some bad RAM, which makes me wonder: how much are the refurbs tested? In the 13-odd years I’ve been using Windows machines, I’ve actually never had a bad RAM module. This is the challenge when you have a closed system like Apple does; you’re not just responsible for the operating system software, the hardware and overall experience is yours too.

Let me set the stage: I had just finished dinner and began to mix the latest MobileTechRoundup podcast. I had our three audio files and was halfway through mixing the show when my app crashed. All of the audio data that was mixed: gone. I have the original source files of course, but now I need to mix the tracks again: the most time consuming aspect of our show. For a 30-minute show, I spend roughly 2 to 2.5 hours mixing the tracks.

Now this wasn’t the first app to crash on me to be honest. When I first got the notebook three weeks ago, Firefox was crashing once or twice a day. I figured it must be the app and I tried Camino, which seemed more stable from my perspective. Over the past few days, however, I noticed that Camino was going bye-bye more often as well. In fact, last night, I couldn’t keep ANY application open for more than a few minutes: even the Crash Reporter was crashing:

Apple_system_crash_log

After trying some suggestions from various Twitter buds, I finally decided to run the hardware test and sure enough got an error that indicated an issue with the memory. I’m crossing my fingers that the issue is just a glitch because I really don’t want to be without the machine for any length of time. I was literally just a day away from moving my home office desktop to one of the kids’ rooms for their use. The Mac was intended to be a full desktop replacement for me; one that I could take on the go if I needed more horsepower than my UMPC can provide.

Again, I’m hoping it’s a glitch, but I doubt it. I actually reinstalled Mac OS X last night with a full Erase and Install. The first of the two disks went fine, but the second disk installation crapped out three times. I let it run one last time before bed around 11 pm and woke up this morning to the initial configuration screens so the reinstall appears OK. Today is a day of Software Updates and the like.

Now, I’m not going to say something goofy like "Mac stinks", but I have to share this one little factoid that I find amusing: I had more system crashes and downtime in the the last few days on the Mac than I did with Vista over the past year. Seriously. Again, you can’t draw any conclusions from that, but it is sorta ironic, no? ;)

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  1. >>>I had more system crashes and downtime in the the last few days on the Mac than I did with Vista over the past year. Seriously. Again, you can’t draw any conclusions from that, but it is sorta ironic, no? ;)

    The evidence is clear to me, Kevin.

    It’s all YOUR fault!

    Bad user!

    Apple ruulz!

    (Ha!)

  2. Kevin C. Tofel Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    Oh Mike, you’re just upset because we host this blog on a cluster of Nokia 770’s…. :)

  3. There is no clear way to broach this subject Kevin. You’re going to be flooded with comments on both sides of the fence regarding your Mac experience (which mirrors some of the ones I have had). Bad Ram it might be / it may also be ‘logic’ board related. Either way, your machine is going back to apple for anywhere from two days to two weeks. The mac community are certainly helpful, and fill in the blanks for where apples support pages may be lacking. However, your comment about the amount of crashing is going to land you in hot water. Pure and simple. Wait till this hits digg/reddit/tuaw/macintouch/pick your poison….you will be proffered all manor of reasons sans the emperor having no clothes. I too experience more crashes on my macs than any of my pc’s. Period. I know what I am doing; I know the hardware passes all tests; I have been using OSX from the outset. I have lost multiple iPhoto collections, had a number of audio projects in iLife get corrupted, had Photoshop crash repeatedlyfor no reason, and have at least one mac hang each day with the spinning beachball of death. I enjoy using the macs though, and feel that in some respects osx fares better than anything out of redmond. I am too web weary to risk incurring the wrath of online mac mafia and marketing effort to sling any more mud though. As the previous commenter implored – it must be you. Just you. Your fault. How dare you imply that macs may not be as stable as….as stable as….VISTA!! How DARE you. May you live in interesting times.

  4. Michael Venini Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    Kevin,

    Is it going back for repair, or for good?

  5. Kevin C. Tofel Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    Jared, good point, but to be honest: blogging is all about ‘the conversation’ so I welcome the comments from all sides.

    Mike, it would just go back for repair pending the results of my reinstall. I’ve got everything updated again and will use the device as time permits today. So far, no crashes, but I’ve barely used it. All I’ve done is restore a few TV episodes that backed up last night during the crashing. So far, so good…

  6. Ok, I’ll chime in as someone who currently uses both a Windows PC (XP Desktop and XP table pc) and a Mac (Powerbook). I don’t think there is anything wrong with questioning whether Macs are as stable as many claim they are– I believe they are more stable and require less work to maintain than Windows PCs based on my experience. (I finally bought a Mac after way too many frustrations with Windows, but I’m not here to argue that point).

    What I find interesting is that Kevin immediatly wonders whether his potentially bad RAM module says something about Macs in general and implies that his lack of bad RAM modules on his Windows machines says something about Windows PCs more generally. I would suggest having or not have a bad RAM module says very little about either Macs or Windows.

  7. Macs have always been notoriously finicky about RAM quality. If you have a bad stick then trying to run with it is not a good thing and nothing good can be realized running with it. Once you have fixed your problem you will in all seriousness not have enough hours in the year to apply on the machine before trouble of any sort develops. A great forum that is made up of more switchers and high end users of both platforms is http://www.macosg.com
    Their forum area is top notch.
    Have I had bad hardware from Apple in the past ? Yes, and it has always been taken care of.
    Do I have system crashes..ah no, not in 3 years with a machine used by four, always logged in and of very diverse user abilities. Me ..video /audio processing, mail,web stuff and vid chatting and then my son the media monster , two daughters and a wife whom just do web and email and vid chatting and lots of tunes. So yeah the machine is always put through its paces.

  8. >>>I have been using OSX from the outset. I have lost multiple iPhoto collections, had a number of audio projects in iLife get corrupted, had Photoshop crash repeatedlyfor no reason, and have at least one mac hang each day with the spinning beachball of death.

    Ow. That is scary!!

    Which Mac are you using?

  9. My experience has been that computers are computers, and that people who get all righteous about how their box of magic sand is better than others’ are pretty much alike on all possible sides of this issue.

    Speaking as someone who started with the tail end of card input systems, computers crash. Macs, PCs, Unix, Amiga, whatever, they can and do tank. (Indeed, my iPod Shuffle died rather early in its life… and I made many snarky remarks to the “I’m a Mac” ads at the time, too.) It happens. Saying so isn’t a slight or a heresy, it’s a fact.

    Here’s hoping you get a prompt and complete repair, Kevin.

    — Steve

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