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ATPM 2.07
July 1996




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MacMan to the Rescue

by Mike Shields,

What Does A Mac Tech Do,
When All The Macs At Huge Work???

Lately, it seems like no one needs a Mac Tech, at least here at Huge. I mean, we're done with the 7.5.3 upgrade, although we still can't install it site-wide yet. Possibly because they (meaning CSC), can't decide when to do it. After all, there is Update 2, and Revision 2 to deal with. So, in reality we have 3, count them, 3 different versions of 7.5.3 here at Huge. As well as you, the home user. Now Update 2.0 is supposedly a more recent version than 7.5.3, so actually, there are only 2 versions. Now didn't we read somewhere that 7.5.3 was supposed to work platform-wide? I believe it was in MacWeek.

Everyone should believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink. Because, as you may or may not know, they (meaning Apple) decided that we needed Revision 2, for the PCI PowerMacs. "Excuse me Mike, under redundant it says, 'see redundant.'" Yes, I know, all the PCI Macs are PowerMacs. So, now that I've thoroughly confused you, let's review. Economy, bad. Recovery, good. Sorry, I just had a George Bush flashback. Getting back to what I was talking about, there are two different versions of 7.5.3, one for PCI Macs, and one for non-PCI Macs. How does this affect you, the home-user you may ask? Well, by now, if you have a PCI Mac, you should've gone to your friendly neighborhood Apple Web-Site, not to be confused with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and downloaded a copy of Revision 2. Of course, to load Revision 2, you must be running 7.5.3, which is actually 7.5, Update 2.0. And they wonder why I spend my free time reading newsgroups. Some of them are even work related.


There is a minor hole in the security at Huge. It allows me to get to approximately 3800 newsgroups, give or take, with my software o' choice: NewsWatcher. Now I could use Netscape Gold 3.0 Beta, but I don't like how it reads the list of available newsgroups. I much prefer the Netscape 1.1 version, but that's another column, which I'll turn in late next month. Maybe. If you write to request it. But I digress. The newsgroup I 'hang out' at is, (insert appropriate fanfare here), Alt.Showbiz.Gossip, or a.s.g. for those that know. This newsgroup alone rates an entire column, but it's not really Mac related, so I'll simply state the following. If you have even the remotest interest in what's happening in the Industry, and of course when I speak of the Industry, I'm talking about, The Business, you could do worse than to spend your time browsing this fascinating group. Read the FAQ before you try to post. Or should I say, the anti-FAQ. For those of you from Little Rock, Arkansas, FAQ stands for frequently asked questions. If you don't read it, when you get flamed, don't say I didn't warn you.

After diligently posting for almost 3 months, I received my first flame. The guy didn't even have enough guts to use his real name, as he did it anonymously. You see, there's this server in Finland...sounds like the setup of a joke. When I write the punchline, I'll let you know. Or, we could start a contest. (Spoiler warning: I have no prizes, other than the fame and fortune you can acquire by having your name published in the next ATPM) having said that, if you'd like to finish the joke, submit your best punchlines to me,, and the best one gets 'printed' next month. So, have I confused you enough? Good!!! On to your questions...

MacMan to the Rescue!!!

I only got a couple of questions this month, I guess all your Macs are working. Try to have more breakdowns this month, so I can do an all user question column, like I did last month. Unless of course, you enjoy my ramblings, in which case, write anyway. I get lonely.

All right tough guy, let's see if you can solve this one. First, the setup: Powermac 7200/75; 24 megs of RAM; 500 meg hard drive; EZ135 external SyQuest drive; dozens of extensions and control panels, mostly Apple-related with a few third party; running system 7.5.3r2. Now the problem: Every once in a while, and for no discernable reason, the Finder will refuse to load. The startup process proceeds as normal, but once the menu bar appears, everything just stops. Usually this happens after a crash, but occasionally it occurs when I start up for the first time. When the problem is preceeded by a crash, the freeze-up is usually related to something I was doing that involved the SyQuest drive. (I'm running Silverlining 1.1, which came with the drive.) To date, the only solution I have been able to discover solves the problem, but reveals little about its cause. Here it is: all I have to do is remove one control panel or extension (It doesn't matter which one, as long as there is one less CDEV or INIT loading at startup!) and then restart. All is well, and I can replace the extension or control panel, and restart without any problems. Ben Levin

I've been in contact with Ben on this since his initial inquiry. Part of his problem is that he's actually running Silverlining Lite. The latest and greatest version out there is actually 5.6.4, (coming soon to an online service near you), which will do all sorts of wonderful things with all sortsa drives from every company except Micronet. Their hard disk driver is proprietary. Go figure. Additionally, we came to the conclusion that he simply needed to zap his PRAM. For those that don't know, that's Parameter RAM. [and stores such things as the current time, and the number of hours your Mac has been used. -Ed.] Zapping it resets your Mac to the factory settings. So, the first control panels you should go to after doing this are the Memory, Network, and Monitor panels, not necessarily in that order. To zap your PRAM, hold down the option, command, P, and R keys on startup. Or, you can run the latest version of Tech Tool from Micro Mat Computer systems, which will let you zap your PRAM or rebuild your desktop at anytime. (end of shameless plug.)

I have Norton 3.1 on my machine and ran into a situation yesterday that cost me about 5 hours of work and a lot of adrenaline. I had been informed off and on over the past few weeks that the volume bitmap was incorrect, and after a few fits and starts got around to fixing it with Norton. Thing was, it showed up again a day or so later, only this time Norton told me it couldn't fix it. Not only that, it eventually (I.E. within a few minutes) made it so that I couldn't even get the HD to show up on my screen. I *was* able to get the disk back using Volume Recover and managed to take a quick backup before following Norton's advice and re-formatting. Needless to say, I then spent several hours re-formatting, re-installing, recovering and resetting my Mac up to do its job. Is there some kind of progressive error introduced by Norton or it's Volume Recovery functions that will eventually destroy your directories? I have checked for viruses and found none (Disinfectant 3.6), but now I'm seeing the same ominous message at home! Thanks! Bev D. Blackwood II

The quick answer to your question is a qualified yes. You didn't say how old your Mac was, however, at a previous worksite, I had almost the identical problem. It got to the point where I left my Mac on, because if I turned it off, on power up it wouldn't find the Hard Drive. What you have, is a Hard Drive crash waiting to happen. I can only recommend doing what you did for your Mac at home, however, you'll wanna use the latest Norton (3.2.3 as of this writing) and pray your disk doesn't crash before you can get a new hard drive, and complete a data transfer.

We bought our Performa 578 (8/320) for Christmas 1994 (year & a half ago). I ran Disk FirstAid periodically, and ocassionally it had to make repairs, but I don't remember if it mentioned what was wrong. Then a couple months ago, we got the System 7.5 update 2.0 CD-ROM, and upgraded to 7.5.3!

After this, it seemed that almost every time I checked (every few days) Disk FirstAid had to repair a bunch of (once over 50) problems such as:

"Problem: Missing file record for file thread, 3243, 1024"

Apple SOS said to do a clean reinstall of the system.

But, before I was able to do that, Disk FirstAid found a problem it could NOT fix:

"invalid index key, 4, 14"

So, I backed up (via appleTalk to our Classic), and re-initialized the Hard Drive as "maximum Macintosh" (like original).

Then I re-installed all software from the Performa CD, and straight-way ran the 7.5 update 2.0 from its CD (easy install), followed by both English & Spanish text-to-Speech. Then I ran Disk FirstAid, just to be sure, before I ran a bunch of installations of my other software, updates, etc. It found another:

Problem: Missing file record for file thread, ##, ##

I went ahead & reinstalled my software & data, and have been using the it. I just repair the problems with Disk FirstAid each time I empty the trash, which is the only time the problem seems to manifest itself. The problems seem to be related, but not equal, to how many files I delete by emptying the trash. I suspect it has to do with the files that were fragmented, or some such thing.

This time when I consulted Appl-SOS, the kind gal went out of her way to do some checking & came back with the recommendation I get a dealer to do a "low level format," which couldn't be done from the PerformaCD, and she wasn't equipped to explain how to do it. (but apparently can be done in some way with the update CD).

I am not at all close to a dealer, and would rather do it myself.

Will continually fixing, eventually cause me trouble? Do I need a de-fragmenter? Do you think the low level format is the proper fix?

If so, can I do it with the latest HD Setup? (ie. copy the newer HD Setup from the update CD to RAM Disk or Floppy, and then start up from the original PerformaCD to use it). Will it also allow me to partition my hard disk with separate *Macintosh* volumes?

By the way, what is System 7.5 update 2 revision 2? Is this the one that is only meant for certain models (which I don't have), or is it something I should be looking into? Ben Andrus

Ben, you sure do ask alotta questions for someone from Glendale...seriously, It sounds like your problem lies in the fact that Disk First Aid is unable to fix the error it is finding. You have a similar problem to Beverly above. So, I recommend a similar solution, Norton Disk Doctor 3.2.3. This MIGHT fix your problem. I believe you can do a low level format with Apple HD SC Setup 7.3.5, which is the latest and greatest version that you can use for non-PowerMacs, but don't quote me. Yes, it will allow you to partition your drive. And in this case, there is such a thing as a free lunch, 'cause if your machine is under warranty, the dealer will fix for free. You MIGHT need to replace a faulty hard drive.

As for your second question, Revision 2 is only for PCI Macs, and the PowerBook 5300's, that have been listed elsewhere.

Okay, so there were 3 questions. Being under the deadline crunch, I momentarily forgot. So, again, for next month, try to have more breakdowns. And then immediately e-mail me at:, and I'll get back to you quickly, hopefully with the right answer. The best questions will be published next month. Also, remember the contest, or, The Alamo if you prefer.

Mike Shields is still looking to review things, so contact him about sending him free   stuff at He needs a 28.8 modem, and the recent 225mhz PowerMac from Power Computing would be nice. Ok, he'll settle for a book...

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