20090710

Of Macs and Men Pt. II

So there I was. Staring straight at my monitor in disbelief, unmoving. Like a parent approaching a new but not entirely unexpected situation with a problem child: Not angry, just disappointed.

My G5 suffered catastrophic system failure last week for the 5th time. For the third time in 5 years, OSX suffered a fatal crash that permanently dismounted the system drive. While 5 years seems like a good run, let me explain something: This HD was brand new, installed in January of this year. I'm beginning to think that it was simply a dud from Seagate, but then it was also a root user restore, which means any existing permissions problems would have carried over. Of course I back up often but that's not the point. And certainly I prefer it to the previous issues with this machine: constant Kernel Panics due to a faulty Logic Board (which has been replaced twice and still doesn't want to recognize DV firewire signals from the tower ports. Yes, the firewire bus is tested and working.)

It's pretty well known that Macs have the hardware issues, PC's have the software issues, and Linux users laugh at everyone. But this Mac- my Mac- is from a batch of bad Apples (heh) from 2004. Second gen, first issue liquid cooled G5's that were rushed out the door to fill orders for the first gen machines. (I ordered a first gen machine, not in time to avoid being screwed.) These are the G5's from hell. Before they went out the door, they gave Steve Jobs cancer. They were christened with the blood of sacrificed goats, washed clean with the bile of Hedonism demons, and delivered to the doorstep of unsuspecting professionals everywhere.

In any case, yes, 5 years is a good run and most PC users would say it's about time for a new machine because, DUDE, yer hardware is like SO out of date. But the simple fact is that it's not. I built a monster 5 years ago and it's still up to the task of some of the most advanced compositing and animation tasks you can throw at it. It's just never been stable hardware, and that's entirely Apple's fault.

Sure, it's a PPC chipset that can't run most of the latest and greatest upgrades, but 1)it runs the last generation- CS2, CS3, Final Cut Studio 2- just fine and 2)the latest and greatest will likely have its own issues for a year or two, not to mention a modicum of superficial upgrades that I don't need. I'm fine running what I do, it gets the job done. When it works.

Will my next computer be a mac? Yes. Am I going to rush into a new chipset and order an early generation build before all the kinks are worked out? Absolutely not. Never. Again.

So this time, I'm running an internal scratch drive and installing only the software I need to use immediately. Regular permissions repairs with advanced third party disk utility software should keep this puppy rolling for another year or two, which is all I need.

But yeah. No posts recently because there's not been any work recently. Tech's a bitch.

4 comments:

Üdo Ümami said...

Argh.... I hear you bro. My Big Mac Girly just had a kernel panic... guess that means I have to go buy some $200 apple ram? Not sure... she's about 8 years old and never gave me a hard time. :( How do I fix her?

Ramez said...

I tend to smack my computer's monitor if it stops working.

Jackhalfaprayer said...

Hey Udo- Kernal tanks are scary. It's the mac equivalent of the BSOD. In OS9 fatal errors would show an old-school cartoon bomb with a lit fuse. Macs have gotten more optimistic I think.

95% of the time Kernal Panics are bad permissions/software/OS problems. Back up all your data, boot up from an OSX install disc (insert disc, restart, hold down "C" key to boot from disk or the "Option" key to see a list of bootable startups) and then verify and repair your HD with Disk Utility. Make sure you do a full backup first- even a root user backup won't keep your applications intact so you'll want to use something like Clonezilla to make a redundant disk image of your entire drive's contents. I haven't tried this yet, going to start weekly backups once production gets into gear. ...Nor do I have Leopard, so I don't know about Time Machine or its feature set.

Another option for stability is to use third party disk utilities like DiskWarrior. I've started using it and I already found 5 fatal, unrepairable permissions conflicts and deleted the sources. This is off a fresh installation. Most of them were Microsoft Office glitches and built-in printer drivers. Hopefully this should keep things stable.

Happy computing!

@ramez: if my computer had a nose I would've broken it. I love my monitor too much to abuse it :]

Jackhalfaprayer said...

Forgot to mention: also repair permissions when you are repairing disk. I don't think it matters which order but I like to repair permissions before messing with the drive contents. Sometimes you may even have to repair permissions or disk flaws more than once- this is normal with Mac's HFS volumes.