One Mac arriving, one Mac may be leaving


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:


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? ;)



I’m not a big fan of buying refurbished stuff from anybody. You know it was a machine that probably had some problem which they fixed, but maybe they didn’t catch all the problems with it. I bought a refurbished TV and it had problems almost immediately. In my experience, you generally have to cash in on the warranty if you get a refurb item, but I’ve also experienced that once the problem(s) are fixed, the unit seems to run well. So, go ahead and send the machine in for its repair and if that fixes all your problems, then the money you saved buying a refurbished item only cost you a few days without the computer…

Tablet PC User

I’m just going to say what everyone else is thinking!

Macs are indestructible! ALL problems are due to user error. If you do have a problem with a mac, DON’T TELL ANYONE!

I.E. THIS IS YOUR FAULT KCT!! Your membership in the cult is looking shaky.


P.S. The complete reverse is true for Wintel – All problems, including acts of nature, physics or human stupidity are to be immediately and LOUDLY blamed to MSFT. :P


Sorry to hear of your woes; even Macs aren’t immune to the laws of physics. Hard disks and RAM seem to be the main culprits. As was mentioned, though, on the Mac, reinstalling your OS is pretty much never the solution. I’d be really surprised if something with this many crashes in so many apps isn’t hardware.

Dennis Rice

Darn it. Just when you all had me believeing that a Mac never crashes.

Anoher fantasy in my life shot to hell. Oh well, I will feel better ordering one now, it won’ make my life with Windows seem as bad as I feared. :) I mean, what fun is a computer that never crashes? What would I do with all that time? Hmmmmm

James Kendrick

Wow, that sucks, Kevin. Hopefully they will fix it and return it quickly. It’s amazing how fast these types of posts turn into Holy OS wars. :)

Nik Jones

Is there some additional RAM in there ? If there is, try running without it. It may point you in the right direction.



Kevin & James,

Welcome to Mac-land. Start visiting,, and EVERY single day to keep on top of OSX. And follow MacFixIt’s update procedure precisely. Seriously!

Been there done that all too long.



I upgraded two iMacs late last year with refurbished machines. My wife’s seemed great, but mine had a Superdrive problem, so back it went, to be replace by another, which had a case deficiency (expansion bay screws stripped), so it went back and was replaced with a NEW, not refurbished machine, and all was great. The day after, my wife’s machine went kablooie, no sound from the speakers. Her iMac was past the two week return date, so it was taken to a Mac faciltiy where they replaced the motherboard, which burned up the day we got the machine back home (a drive of fifty miles each way as we live in the sticks). Apple replaced the motherboard yet again (that’s 3 motherboards in that machine) and so far it’s worked well.

Apple’s hardware used to be better than PCs; now, maybe not. I won’t buy a refurbished anything from Apple again because I don’t think they do a good job refurbishing. One of my iMacs arrived with leopard stripes which I finally deduced came from being washed down and then covered while still wet with plastic that had dust on it. I was able to remove them with a good cleaning, but still.

However, all that said, I still love how the Mac works once the hardware issues are dealt with. They’re machines, not angels. Better, not perfect, than Windows stuff.

By the way, one of our iMacs came with the production memory slot empty and the expansion slot filled, so the ram in your computer may not be what Apple originally shipped.



Oh boy…here we go again. I was wondering how long it would take a Harvey to come on in and shoot the breeze. Congratulations Harvey, you made my lunch break. Kevin is neither bringing macs down, making a cheap shot; or glorifying Vista. Its OK Harvey, he was merely making an observation. Please enlighten us with your statistical evidence to back your ‘per 1000’ unit claims. I maintain that 86.7% of documented statistics are made up anyhow. Use whatever hardware platform suits your needs, and leave the one upmanship to the great fanboy unwashed. Thanks again for for keeping to the ‘overly sensitive mac user’ stereotype Harvey.

Kevin, this site is a treasure trove of information for the Tablet PC using community. In my business, this oft maligned hardware platform has quite literally improved my productivity, and my businesses profits directly. I regularly read this site precisely because of this platform. In my first comment, I was alluding to the onslaught of posters like Harvey that even mentioning macs exposes you to. Between Tablet PC’s and the ascendent UMPC platform, there is plenty for you to focus on with devolving into another platform flame board. Its hump day, the weather is beautiful here in California. have a nice week everyone. You too Harvey.


I’ve been using my ibook for two years now, and never, ever, had a crash. I also use xp. If I can choose what to use, I choose the mac. But yours is a terrible experience, and even though I notice that you “really don’t want to be without the machine for any length of time”, maybe you should ask for your money back. It wouldn’t be logical to continue using OS X when you say that:”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.”


Are you the guy who couldn’t use GarageBand and a USB mouse at the same time? (I knew I should have said something.) Don’t accept a repair! Get it replaced. If you bought AppleCare, go into a store and quietly act like a noobie. Then quietly ask “If I take a different refurb, would be faster? Can we just swap the drives?”

My wife got her client’s dead Powerbook 64 replaced with a MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo doing this. I kid you not.

Don’t settle for a lemon refurb. Return it.


Believe it or not some Macs do have hardware failures (although it’s been documented that it is less often per 1,000 computers than any other PC manufacturer). When you do have a hardware failure (with a Mac, Windows PC, or Unix box) it’s always pointless to reinstall your software to “fix” it. You just need to get your computer hardware repaired or replaced, and go on with your life.

Using your own instance of hardware failure on your Mac is just a cheap shot at bringing Macs down, in general, just to glorify Vista (which has been panned royally in mainstream media). I’ve used both Windows PCs and Macs, and I’ve definitely found the hardware reliability & service for Macs to be way better than any other PC.


Mike: I currently use a Macbook Pro C2D 2.33; a dual G5 Powermac for editing training videos and intranet development; I am the inhouse IT support for all the machines in my small business (forced to wear many hats)- I have two office staff using iMac 17’s – intel CD 1.83’s. Oh, a G4 mac mini 1.42 is running OSX server for MySQL backend for our intranet; and funnily enough, that little thing has never skipped a beat, nor been turned off since it was purchased and put in use. We have twelve pc’s in the business too, running xp pro and win2k – these are primarily CAD workstations / connected to CNC machines. The Macbook Pro sits on my desk beside a Fujitsu Tablet. The Tablet is my primary machine, used throughout the factory and out on customer site’s. The macs are / were my hobby, I have used apples since OS 7 days. Tiger is the best of the breed so far, Panther was OK; everything up to Jaguar was horrible. I’d be interested to know what Mac Don is using. Must just be my luck…our xp desktops / laptops have been trouble free (and virus free); my macs are generally flaky (mac mini aside). YMMV

Aaron Walker


Poor guy. I posted a comment in James’ item yesterday. And I am not here to start a flame war since I agree with Jared and Pam.

As I said yesterday, I used Macs exclusively at my previous place of employment for the last four years. In that time we got three hardware updates (i.e. new Mac G3s, G4s and finally G5s as well as a the most recent 17 inch Powerbook.). I’ve only been gone a few months and am back in an all Windows world again at my new employ.

That said, yes, our Macs had problems, including the RAM issue you mentioned on both the G5 and the Power book as well as software/hardware issues and conflicts. Does that mean Apple makes bad products? Of course not. We are all human and things happen, just like in Windows based PCs for a myriad of reasons.

My only issue, as Jared stated, is the zealousness of the Apple users makes them discount or minimize that anything ever goes wrong with their hardware or software ever. That’s ridiculous. It’s like saying (insert favorite high price sports car here) never break down or have issues. Ridiculous, they do.

The Macs I used at work have had problems and I have had problems with my Windows PC. For me, my problems on my Windows based PC have been fewer than at work. As well as I had some small “understanding” what may have gone wrong so it was easier to find a solution.

Many people report intense frustration with Windows and they report switching to Mac as some sort of Nirvana experience. I didn’t see it when I used them. I had a job to do, the Macs were the tools given to do that job, and for the most part, it did the job. At another newspaper I worked, it was all Windows PC based and it was the same scenario, the job got done with minimal problems.

From my experience, neither is “better” than the other (with the exception that Macs look better from a design standpoint). The problem is Apple users want every to think nothing ever goes wrong in their world and it must be you who is doing something to upset the perfection.

Things go wrong in Windows based PCs, things go wrong with Macs. Things go wrong period. So I don’t buy that Macs are inherently better than Windows based PCs, all of them are just a means to an end. The only thing that counts is like James always says, the “P” in PC is for Personal. And personally, I like being in a Windows based world more than a Mac based world. For me, Windows just works ;)

Anton P. Nym

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

Mike Cane

>>>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?


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
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 /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.


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.

Kevin C. Tofel

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…


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.

Mike Cane

>>>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!


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