Scripting News for 8/15/2006

NY Times: “Even as it rolls out a local wireless Internet service in Mountain View, Google says it will not be a national provider of such services.” 

Om Malik: Google launches WiFi Network in Mountain View

Marc Canter: “Facebook is now offering open APIs.” 

Amyloo: “I still don’t get the Rocketboom naysayers.” 

MacWorld: “Apple is attempting to take control of the word Pod within product names.” 

Jeff Ubois on Google’s secret deal with the University of California. “The terms of the agreement are secret, and were arrived at with no public input.” 

The Canadian Tech Mob is a “not for profit, grassroots campaign to try to publicize Canada’s tech presence.” 

Yes Virginia, Macs crash too 

Every time my Mac crashes in the middle of the night I think of the stupid Apple commercial where they claim that Macs don’t do that. It happens about once a week, sometimes every other day.

Apple: “Your toaster doesn’t crash. Your kitchen sink doesn’t crash. Why should your computer?”

Good question. The answer is that computers crash, even Macs. In my experience, they crash more than Windows machines. Giving Apple the benefit of the doubt, their marketing people don’t understand computers. Better to promise to help users when the computer you sold them crashes, than to promise they don’t crash.

18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Brian M. Criscuolo on August 15, 2006 at 10:00 am

    Hi Dave,

    I’d love to see what the crash report is when you get that crash. You can copy out the report from the window (if you hit the report button) and I’d be glad to take a look at it.

    Whatever it is, something is bringing down the system. It sounds like a kernel panic of some sort.



  2. Brian, that’s not the point, I can debug a crashy computer, and if I couldn’t I can count on people being there to help me. What I don’t like is the false advertising.

    For example…

    “Your toaster doesn’t crash. Your kitchen sink doesn’t crash. Why should your computer? Think of the countless hours you would save if your PC worked on your time — not the other way around. Then think about a Mac.”

    It’s bullshit. And deceptive advertising, so bad that it’s fraudulent. Imagine if a car manufacturer said:

    “Your toaster doesn’t crash. Your kitchen sink doesn’t crash. Why should your car?”

    Nice. Let me know when you figure it out. 🙂


  3. Posted by Chris Woods on August 15, 2006 at 11:07 am

    I don’t quite understand your last paragraph about better to promise to help consumers when they do crash.. In fact, on the page you link to about Apple claiming they computers don’t crash, they do admit that their computers can crash and they offer to help:

    “Of course, should you happen to experience the occasional hiccup with your Mac, you won’t get the runaround. Because Apple makes the whole enchilada, one phone call — or better yet, one visit to the friendly Genius Bar at your local Apple Store — can solve both hardware and software problems in one fell swoop.”

    To balance your sample size of one, my sample size is also one and my PowerBook has not crashed in more than a couple years of use. Well, I did have a few kernel panics on a previous PowerMac purchased in 2002, and I found that was due to faulty memory that I purchased on the cheap. I can’t really blame Apple for that.

    I hope you can quickly find what is causing your Mac’s problems.


  4. Posted by sean on August 15, 2006 at 11:23 am

    I agree. Mac’s can crash. Now, I haven’t had a system crash on my G5 since – oh, maybe December? So i guess it depends on the system, hardware, software, user, phase of the moon,…..?



  5. Posted by Marcelo R. Lopez on August 15, 2006 at 11:24 am

    Did you send out the crash report, Dave ? If you don’t mind a second pair of eyes besides brian’s having a look, I’ll take a crack at it.

    I have my PB-AL with me CONSTANTLY, and I think it’s “gone weirdo” on me once. The same could not be said with the PC ( or the Dell back home ) I’m typing this post on right now. Yes, I’ve had Firefox lose it’s sanity on me a few times, but Force Quit took take of whatever ailed it. I’ve maintained all the patches and updates I wanted ( didn’t take all the QuickTime and iTunes updates, unnngh ).

    It’s got everything from Eclipse to RadRails, XCode to Virtual PC running on it, sometimes all up at the same time. It’s had GDB debugging a Cocoa client while Eclipse’s debugger perspective is up debugging a server application. All on the same box. Mind you, I’ve got a fair bit of memory in there, but still the real enemy of this thing is it’s battery life, not the software I have running on it.

    So, you’ve got the email address, drop me a note with the crash report and I’ll take a look. I’m presuming you’re still running on the iBook G4 you bought last year(?) ?


  6. Posted by bwhite on August 15, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    I have 4 Mac’s running day and night… I am not having crashes like you. We do alot of intensive work on our computers and crashes almost never happen. I have been using Macs for 15 years and computers for some 30 years. Sorry you are having a problem but that is not normal for Mac these days. I also help dozens of other users… they are not having crashes like you either.


  7. Oddly, even though I like my G4 IBook more than my Dell running XP, I find that the Dell is easier bring back from bad behaviour with windows task manager.

    But as to your observation: it is deceptive advertising to claim that

    “The real secret behind the Mac’s crash-resistant performance lies deep within the operating system itself. Beneath the surface of Mac OS X lies an industrial-strength UNIX foundation hard at work to ensure that your computing experience remains free of system crashes and compromised performance. Time-tested security protocols in Mac OS X keep your Mac out of harm’s way. Most Fortune 500 companies, governments and universities rely on UNIX for their mission-critical applications. And now, so can you.”

    No, and my little litigator soul wishes it would be otherwise.


  8. Posted by heavyboots on August 15, 2006 at 1:27 pm


    I hate the new Mac commercials too (for exactly the reason that many of them are rather deceptive).

    But OTOH, I’m running about 30 Macs here and we get maybe one kernel panic per MONTH out of all 30 (G4’s, G5’s, and a couple G4 laptops). So if you’re getting crashes weekly, your Mac is having exceptional issues that don’t reflect the broader picture accurately, IMHO.


  9. Hmm weird, maybe you [Dave] stress your machines more than I do, but my G4 machines run almost 24/7 – 364 (on new year’s we usually have a power outage).
    Sure, applications do crash, but I got the “black multilingual” 8 times so far since I went from OS9 to OS X.

    We had a very hot summer in Germany and it was interesting when the AC couldn’t keep up anymore and each machine just ‘froze’.

    I went straight from Windows 98/2000 to OS9 after having used OS8.5 in the ad agency where I worked at the time. From the “blue screen of death” that actually destroyed many files (that were open at the time) the freezing of OS9 never physically destroyed my files, just lost the last unsaved version.

    What can be the reason for Dave’s crashes is slightly damaged RAM, I mean physically. So when it goes over a certain temperature a hair crack (not a hairy crack, that’s a different blog) opens up.

    If the issue isn’t resolvable between the screen and the chair, it might be hardware 😉



  10. Same here. I support over 300 Macs and the OS X machines are extremely reliable. (To be fair so are my Windows 2003 servers.) If you are getting a crash that often, there’s something wrong. I have a couple of eMacs that have been running for over 6 months 24/7 without a crash. You know things like this can be caused by so many things, bad memory, bad software, bad power, who knows?

    Please don’t paint all Macs with the same brush. Have your system checked out, there’s no way it should be crashing lke that. BTW, lately I find more and more unexpected things crashing like my cable box, my cell phone. Hell, I suppose if your toaster were digitally controlled, it might crash too.


  11. I’ve had my iMac Core Duo since early march and I’ve had it crash 6 times, 5 of them due to some weird rosetta bug that seems to freeze the screen and once was a random kernel panic. My families old G3 iMac kernel panic’s a lot but it’s a 7 year old machine so the parts are going. In fact the only time I’ve had macs crash regularly since I switched to OS X is if there is a hardware failure imminent. Other than that it’s random crashes once every few months, if that, for no reason. I don’t think I’ve restarted my iMac Core Duo because of a crash for over 3 months now


  12. Posted by Sam Griffith on August 15, 2006 at 4:25 pm


    I was going to offer a possible cause. At least this is what I had as a cause when my old Cube was doing the same thing your Mac seems to be doing. The first time I had rebooting problems it was overheating. I had put it in a room with not enough cooling and the Cube would get too hot. The second time it was a bad RAM stick. It would every so often (like 1 or 2 times a week cause the machine to reboot) I had put it in and so I knew what had changed on my system, making it easy to debug. I traded it for a different RAM SIMM and the problem went away.

    Anyway, I hope that helps. As per you hating false advertising, I think you have a point, but at the same time most advertising doesn’t assume to cover irregular situations. So given that I think they are not being unfair or untruthful in their advertising. In most situations it is incredibly stable as an OS. Applications crash but the OS for the most part has been pretty good. I’ve only had two kernel panics apart from that overheating since OS X beta but that’s my expierence. I use lots of developement tools, Fincal Cut Pro, and other stuff and so I consider myself lucky.


  13. Posted by Diego Barros on August 15, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Dave, didn’t you have a problem with your RAM when you first got it? Something about it not sitting right in the slots? Maybe it’s hardware related again…


  14. Posted by Jeff Wright on August 15, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    Dave, sorry your Mac crashes. My Dual 2.5 has been up 24x7x365 since new (ordered first week those were available, what 2 years ago?). It’s crashed once since I’ve owned it.

    It runs a network backup every other night and does a few other sundry tasks such as scanning in a stack of 35 mm or medium format slides one or two nights a week, and burning back up DVDs at night. I have 4 hard drives, 3 PCI cards, 3 external drives, 2 external film scanners and 5 GB of RAM. Current uptime is 10 days and 13 hours; last reboot was for a software security update.

    My point being, maybe something is screwed up with your machine–probably software, but maybe hardware. Your daily crash is the exception, not the rule.
    My 12 inch powerbook crashes daily ever since being dropped on it’s head when it was young.

    My PC at work has to be rebooted once or twice daily, and it’s only used for an enterprise application, web browsing and email….That’s pretty much the standard for the office. I did have a PC server a few years ago that never crashed, it was up for over 8 months until a virus brought it down…. Now my Dualie G5 does that job. I figure it’s the enterprise app that makes my PC unstable.


  15. Posted by Paul on August 15, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    I agree that it’s probably that RAM problem you were having a while back, or some other hardware glitch. Since I switched over to OSX (at 10.1), I have had maybe 10 crashes total across three machines in 5 years (applicaiton crashes are a different story, but the OS is the most solid I have used). My Win 2000 Thinkpad (granted loaded to the gills with too much security crap) crashes at least once a week, using just standard office and web aps. The macs are running demanding graphic, video, publishing and other multimedia creative aps simultaneously, plus the office and web aps, and this stuff just doesn’t happen.

    I would have that machine checked out, or let some of these guys take a look at your crash reports. If it’s the Macbook you recently got, exchange it if you think something’s wrong.


  16. Posted by Gerry Kent on August 15, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    I have to echo what most other comments have been, your case seems very unusual. I am running OS X on a number of computers, mostly G3 and G4s and very rarely do I encounter system crashes. I think you must have some peculiar issues. Does this happen with specific software? I understand your frustration, but truly it is very unusual.



  17. Posted by heavyboots on August 15, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    Actually, I’ve had time to ponder on this and I recall a case of an XServe that crashed whenever the daily housekeeping cronjob was run. You might try executing “sudo periodic daily” from the Terminal and see if that crashes it immediately… If so, there’s something weird going on with your system and an Archive & Install may be in order.


  18. I guess if a plane maker said their planes didn’t crash they’d try that little bit harder to make sure they didn’t. I suppose you’d be sitting there wondering even more than usual all through the flight though about wings coming off or engines going up in smoke or terrorists mixing drinks for you so you wouldn’t thank them for making you think about it. Which is why you should shut up about Macs crashing. My G5 has been fine so far, but now you’ve got me worried. I already won’t let the Mrs near it because she’s magnetic.


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