Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Fixing Computers

Friday, December 27, 2013

The good – Making music again

The bad – Lost time

The ugly – Money spent


I use multiple older Macs and a PC on a daily basis. One Mac, a (Gigabit Ethernet) G4 500DP running Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.11), is used for email, web browsing, web design/development, graphics design, and other productivity stuff. Oh, and listening to music with iTunes! This Mac has been running faithfully since I bought it new in 2000. It’s had some hardware upgrades along the way—RAM, CD/DVD burner, hard drives, etc. I also use an iBook 1.33 for web browsing.

My Music/Recording Computers
My main music/recording computer is a MDD (Mirror Drive Doors) Mac G4 1.25DP FW400. I run Pro Tools audio recording software, and its associated hardware, on this Mac. I run two versions of Pro Tools software on it—version 5.1.3 booted from Mac OS 9.2 (classic), and version 6.4.1 booted from Mac OS X Panther (10.3.8). I recently installed Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.8) on this Mac, but haven’t made much use of it so far.

I built a PC in 2005 that I also use for music/recording. It runs NI Komplete and other software instruments (i.e., soft synths or virtual instruments). I’m running Windows XP Pro (SP3) on this PC. I originally built it for playing computer games, and to test my websites under Windows using Internet Explorer. I began using it for music/recording when another Mac, a MDD G4 1.42DP FW800, started giving me trouble, and I transferred the NI Komplete software to the PC.

Recently, both of my music/recording computers have experienced failures, bringing my music writing and recording activities to an abrupt halt. Not good!

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When A Lifetime Warranty Is Worthless

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The good – Good while it lasted

The bad – Good company closes its doors

The ugly – Seems nothing lasts forever


When I built my Windows PC back in 2005, I included an NVIDIA 6800GT video card from BFG Technologies—model BFGR68256GTOCX. It seemed like a great video card for my application, receiving great product reviews from the most reputable websites. You can view its specifications here. Best of all, it came with a LIFETIME WARRANTY.

Warranty Honored
After about 2.5 years of use, the video card’s fan became dirty. I wanted to remove the fan assembly from the card to give it a thorough cleaning, but worried that might void the warranty. So I called BFG’s 24/7 customer support and was told to just return the card for a replacement. I did, and received my replacement card promptly. I was really impressed with the service. No-hassle product replacement, even for a fully functioning product that just needed cleaning. The replacement card worked flawlessly until last week.

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PC Meltdown

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The good – Disaster averted

The bad – Relying on cheap fans to cool PC components

The ugly – I feared the worst


I had two fans fail, virtually simultaneously (I believe), in my Windows PC. One was the primary (rear) case fan, an Antec TriCool 120mm. The other was the cheap manufacturer-installed 40mm fan designed to cool the Northbridge chip on my MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI motherboard. Both fans had been performing without issue since I built this PC in 2005.

Instant failure without warning
I don’t know exactly when these fans actually quit functioning. My first, and only, warning was noise coming from the PC. I traced it to the primary case fan, and noticed that it was not running at its normal constant speed. I then looked at the temperature readings provided by sensors built into the PC’s components, and two others provided with the PC case, an Antec P160. I saw the temperatures rising and immediately tried to save the data file I was working on, before shutting down the PC, but the system shut itself down before I could do so.

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Hackers and Spammers are Scum

Monday, December 12, 2011

The good – Nothing

The bad – They are a bunch of losers without a real life

The ugly – They are trying to ruin the Internet


I get a bunch of spam email every day. I just delete them without reading/opening them.

This web site gets spam comments nearly every week. My spam filter catches them and I delete them. I require ALL comments to be approved by me before they are posted, just in case a spammer’s comment might fool my spam filter, which hasn’t happened yet.

This web site has been the target of hackers many times. Fortunately, my web site has proven to be secure to this point, and all attempts to gain access have failed. My logs show where the hackers have tried to gain access, and the IP address the attack was launched from. The IP addresses track back to locations all over the globe. However, I doubt that any of these IP addresses are the actual source of the attacks, since it is easy to use a proxy server to hide the true IP address.

If a hacker ever does manage to gain access to my site, and alter its contents, I will immediately shut down this site. I can’t take the chance that they’d use it to post pornography, for terrorist purposes, or any other vile or malicious purpose.

Yep, it’s a strange world that we live in, filled with all types of losers, weirdoes, and scumbags—people without a meaningful purpose in life, and no real life at all, actually. Be aware.


Apple losing this long-time loyal customer

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The good – I’ve been a loyal Mac user since 1997

The bad – Apple kills my MobileMe account

The ugly – Apple throws me under the bus


I switched from the Windows/PC platform to the Mac in 1997. Since then I’ve purchased 7 Apple Macintosh desktop computers, 2 Apple iBook laptop computers, 4 Apple LCD monitors, and many Apple hardware accessories. I’ve purchased many Apple OS upgrades and applications. I’ve sent thousands of dollars Apple’s way, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Apple.

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Bye-bye Norton Products

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The good – FREE at last

The bad – Norton products cause problems

The ugly – Norton’s incompetent tech support


I’ve lived with the hassles and horrors of Norton products on my Windows PC since I built it in 2005. First there was Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2005, a suite with anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall protection. I had some problems with it, and dealing with Norton’s tech support proved frustrating and VERY time-consuming.

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A Good Data Backup Plan

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The good – It can save your bacon

The bad – It’s inconvenient, time consuming, and expensive

The ugly – Even the best plans can fail


The other day I was retrieving Pro Tools session and audio data files for a music project I’m working on. I loaded the first of four CD-R discs which held the backup data. I successfully transferred all of the data files except one audio file, which contained a recorded instrument track. The error message said that the file could not be retrieved due to data error. In other words, the file was damaged. I made note of the name of the missing file, then loaded backup disc two. This time all files were retrieved except two audio files, both containing recorded instrument tracks. The error message was the same as before. I made note of the file names and moved on. I successfully transferred all files from discs three and four without issue.

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My Troubled Mac – Part 3

Monday, August 3, 2009

The good – It boots and runs

The bad – More kernel panics & freezes

The ugly – It’s got to be one of the “BIG 3


I’ve thoroughly tested my Apple G4 1.42 GHz Dual Processor FW800 MDD (Mirror Drive Doors) Mac, trying to resolve its kernel panic & freeze problems. (See Part 1 & Part 2 of this story.)

It’s not the hard drive(s). It’s not the RAM. It’s not the Mac OS X installation. That means the problem is, most likely, one (or more) of the “BIG 3” — the motherboard, the processor card, and/or the power supply.

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My Troubled Mac – Part 2

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The good – It boots and runs

The bad – One kernel panic, one freeze

The ugly – Difficult to isolate the problem


Yesterday, I started the process of evaluating and fixing My Troubled Mac. It’s an Apple G4 1.42 GHz Dual Processor FW800 MDD (Mirror Drive Doors) model that has been prone to frequent kernel panics and freezes. My goal is to isolate the source of these problems, then decide on a course of action.

I started by removing all the hard drives, a USB 2.0 PCI card, and the Apple Internal Modem card. I installed a single hard drive, which is known to be good. I then reset the PMU. I left the DVD drive, video card, and RAM installed. So I now have a basic hardware configuration for testing.

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My Troubled Mac

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The good – My other Macs work perfectly

The bad – Repeating kernel panics

The ugly – Appears to be a major hardware issueg4mdd


On July 4, 2006, I purchased a used Apple G4 1.42 GHz Dual Processor FW800 MDD (Mirror Drive Doors) Mac on ebay. The total cost, including shipping, was just under $900. I thought this was a pretty good deal, since it was a 2nd generation version, with quieter fans, updated power supply, and copper CPU heatsink. It came with 2 GB (4×512)of RAM, two 80 GB hard drives, Pioneer DVR-105 SuperDrive, Iomega Zip 750 drive, ATi Radeon 9000 Pro 64 MB video card, Apple internal modem, Apple Extended USB keyboard, Apple Optical USB mouse, and system restore disc.

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