NEW FEATURE: VOTE & EARN NEATOPOINTS!
Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!


Please Help Miss Cellania with Her Weird Computer Problems

Neatorama author and super nice gal Miss Cellania is having a bit of a computer problem:

My word processor takes fits. I will type a sentence (and I’m not the world’s fastest typist) and then sit back and wait while one by one the letters appear on the screen. It may take thirty seconds or so for my words to appear. No one can figure this out. No matter what browser I use, I cannot paste URLs into a link field at Blogger
or Moveable Type. At Wordpress, I can paste in using rich text, but not html mode. I can at Squarespace in Foxfire versions 1.4 and 3, but not version 2. I can't have Safari ever again because I for some reason don't have Safari now. I always manage to come up with problems no one has heard of before.

I don't have a Mac, so I have no idea what's wrong. If it were a PC, I'd say a virus/malware, but isn't Mac supposed to be resistant to that kind of shenanigans? Anyhoo, if any of you could help her, we'd appreciate it: Link (or you can email her at radiofox AT gmail DOT com)


Hullo,

no, macs are not resistant to malware like viruses and such. It's just that everyone believes that, because Steve Jobs doesn't do a god job in sharing information on vulnerabilities; OSX is full of them. The bigger the Mac-Sect grows, the more malware will be released for that operating system. The only reason, why Windows has so many viruses is not that it is so badly coded (all operating systems have their flaws) but that so so many people use it, i.e. the target group is simply bigger. It's like with music: if you want to make loads of money in a short time, you aim for the mindless masses with stupid pop songs, but if the mindless masses start to listen to emo... you do that.

However, to the actual problem: it's hard to diagnose over the distance as you can't test anything. So the best suggestion would be: backup all the data you need and freshly reinstall the system.

As for the vanishing of safari: last Tuesday afternoon safari underwent an update (which completely trashed our safaris at work, we have about 400 macs operating there now), maybe something happened there. Typing text takes ages for me on the mac mini we use as a supervising computer in one pc lab, and it is always because of the spellcheck. Turning that off it works.

You could also install linux on that mac :D
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Actually tbot may be up to something. I don't know how Mac deals with the "trash can" but I've had a similar problem on a PC where the trash can was really, really full and gobbled up a lot of disk space.

The computer was incredibly slow and was prone to crashing because the CPU ran out of disk space. Deleting a whole bunch of unused files fixed the prob.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Gee, thanks, Alex! I only wrote that because I needed an intro to a post of tech jokes, but every bit is true.

tbot, the hard drive is less than half full.

Aeris, Safari disappeared over a year ago, at least. I tried to install a new version when I noticed, but now it's only bundled with an OSX. I tried to install a new OSX, but it wouldn't do it, since I already have OSX. A few days ago I tried with the new Safari 3, but it's only an update for your existing program. I can do without Safari, but there are some web apps that require it for a Mac user.

What does one do about viruses? That sounds really ignorant, but I've never owned a PC, so I never learned.

KIP, I repair permissions almost every day. I also dump private data from the browser, empty the trash, and clean out unused files several times a week. I reboot at least once a week.

I may try the reinstall, when I can get a real geek to help me back up my files correctly. Maybe it's time to upgrade from Tiger to Leopard.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Well, i would come over but i am not sure if i could come around that quickly from Germany... and such ;)
What does one do about viruses? hm.... well, best option would be to download a virus scanner on another computer, burn that on cd and when you do a clean reinstall, then install it before connecting to "ze internet".
Something else that might be faulty is the RAM... something my brother had with his computer, i took out a faulty RAM-stick and everything worked fine again.

Miss Cellania: it sounds ignorant in a way that a) PC does not automatically indicate attracting viruses (that is an operating system thing; i can click on all the exes I want with my debian and still wont get those viruses, just maybe linux specific ones) and b) Macs are not virus-resistant and have never been, so one should always have a virus scanner on the computer unless you really know what you're doing (and wanting a virus test environment/honeypot).

But maybe it is just OSX. Seriously. OSX is not as good as people keep claiming it is. Quite the opposite.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I've been working Mac support for printing companies for a long time, and you've got some stuff going on that I've never seen. Congrats!

I wouldn't worry about it being a virus/worm; there's really nothing out there right now that can be anything more than a nuisance to Macs.

I would second the reinstall advice — if for nothing else but to get Safari back in action — but you should do it sooner rather than later and relieve yourself of some of the frustration. Your answer implies that you're not sure if you've been backing up your files correctly; you really, really ought to get that covered, because it's not a matter of if your hard drive goes south, it's when (and that applies to Macs and PC's.) It's a hard lesson to learn if you wait too long.

I'd love to help, and will, but can't really guarantee my availability; this little nuisance called "work" is in the way.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
er... by the way: it's now 13:29 here. i just posted something but it shows as 7:13. now, i get the hourly difference with time zones... but minutes?.. time zones aren't that detailed?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
*wants an edit function* Alex: OSX does the same. you have to empty the trash bin even for USB sticks to actually get the space back.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
i only mentioned it because i realised that my 250 gb hdd had only 5 gb left the other day and it was slowing up my computer

and i m a mac operator too!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I'd check out the Apple discussion boards. I work for Apple, but I'm not able to give support (policy). The discussion boards are full of Mac geeks who are smarter than any of us. :)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Hi Sue, I really like your blog and contributions to others.
It sounds like you keep your mac on over night to allow it to repair permissions etc. and that's good.
There is an effective maintenance tool that I use. Tiger (now Leopard) cache cleaner, from Northern Softworks. 30 day free trial - then it's cheap to buy.
I really recommend it. It may help you.
http://www.northernsoftworks.com/leopardcachecleaner.html
If that doesn't help,backing up is not that hard. Burn your docs, apps, mail, photos etc. to DVDs. Make sure you save your /user/ library/ prefs. Then re-install. You're doing spring cleaning this week anyway, right?
Good luck.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Umm, actually macs are highly resistant to viruses, due to the way OSX handles programs. Basically, it sets up a sandbox for each program with access only to those functions that it needs. If it requires system level functionality, it will tell you, and require that your use an admin level account and type the password. In my experience (been using a mac exclusively for four years now, before that used both Linux and Windows) the only programs that ever want system level access are Microsoft products, or a few games that were ported from PCs. These programs don't have great stability, so I don't like to use them. Better to use OpenOffice or so.

That said, I have had similar problems with my Mac Mini. I found that it was just underpowered, so I upgraded the RAM, and that fixed it for the most part. I still have trouble every now and then (for example, Safari has been having trouble with flash for a while), but for the most part it works fairly well.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
As someone else pointed out, it is impossible to actually diagnose your computer in a forum like this. All we can do is offer possible solutions for you to check.

1. Do not blindly upgrade a poorly working computer. Unless an expert looks at your computer and tells you you need more RAM, it will likely be a waste of money. Same goes for Leopard. Why spend $300 on upgrades when a new Mini cost $600?

2. Test with another keyboard. Yes, it could simply be that yours is broken.

3. Run your Mac in Safe Mode. Complete power down. Start Button. Lean on the shift key until the gray apple appears.

If the typing works in Safe Mode, then the problem is with software and not the OS or your hardware.

4. If it is software, uninstall everything that you do not use.

5. You should be backing up your computer every day no matter what problems you are or are not having. If you cannot figure out how to do it with the equipment at hand, buy an external hard drive that comes bundled with software.

6. Find a tech. If your career depends on your computer, it is fatally foolish to depend on advice from forums for your support.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Well if you are looking to install RAM here is a video link from CNET.com that clearly explains how the process works.

http://help.cnet.com/ram/9602-12576_39-0.html?messageID=2505010&tag=tip-2505010&kw=ram

I know that's a PC and you have a MAC, but at least you'll get an idea. Also while searching for that link I found another one you might want to read.

http://help.cnet.com/ram/9602-12576_39-0.html?messageID=2510026&tag=tip-2510026&kw=ram

If you search around that website you may come across the answer, but I dont know I have a PC.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
How many fonts do you have loaded? Once I found a good free font site and loaded ~1000 new fonts. MS Office 2000 (or whatever the first OSX MS Office version was) just crawled.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
You can install Safari from your MacOS X-installdisk with the application 'Pacifist'.

If you use AppleWorks a lot you should throw away the AppleWorks-folder in your Documents-folder. If that is too full it can really slow down AppleWorks. The next time you run it, it will create a new folder.

You can also check the Font Book application in your Applications-folder. It has an option nowadays to look for font conflicts.

For the basic troubleshooting I really like Applejack: very small download from versiontracker.com. Install it. Start your Mac with Command-S pressed. Type 'applejack auto restart' and press Return-button. It repairs your disk and permissions, clears caches, checks preferences, etc. It's the easiest way to solve a lot of problems.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
K!P says: ".....the dusk utillity..."

I tried using that software, but it only made my screen gradually turn darker until I couldn't see anything. But everything was fine the next morning.

(I know it was a typo, but i had to. :P)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Aeris...

You show me any evidence of a self-propagating worm or virus, along with corroborating evidence of its existence from a known, trusted, 3rd-party security specialist firm, one that installs itself without user-interaction or malicious physical access to the system and which is running unfettered in the wild, and I'll eat a box of rocks.

Oh, that's right:
THERE AREN'T ANY! If there were, it'd be some of the biggest computer-related news to come down the pike in years, and that news would be plastered EVERYWHERE, and EVERYONE would be yammering about it on every forum in existence.

Guess I'll be having a meatloaf sandwich for lunch.

:¬/
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
nothing to add- but this was all very interesting and informative. And, I like it (sorry Miss C) that someone doing such cool stuff on this site and Floss has the same comp head-aches as dull little old me... somehow, my world just rosier or something; I thought, you know, that there was a little comp angel for... oh never mind- how ignorant does that sound? Anyway, Good Luck Fast! ;)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Everytime I have seen this problem it has been font related. I had a user switch their default font from "times" to "times new roman" and it cleared up. I think one was True type and one was postscript, but I forget which. It's fairly easy to remove / switch your fonts so you might give that a try.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
For backup, I love my Maxtor One Touch portable HD. All I have to do is press the button on the disk and voila! It backs up my computer.

I have it for my PC, but I think it works for Mac as well.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Which Mac Mini do you have? PPC G4, Core Solo, or Core Duo? How much RAM does it have? Are you running Tiger or Leopard?

Some of the early G4 Mac Minis came with 256MB of RAM, which is not really enough, especially for Leopard.

You could also run the "Apple Hardware Test" off of the CD to see if it is a hardware issue. Instructions are here for Intel (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303081) but the same should work for PPC. The Apple Hardware Test is found on Disk 1 of your Mac Mini restore disks.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Miss Cellania: 512 Megs ram are too little. Way too little. all 50 mac minis in our pc lab (we have another 50 imacs) run on 512 megs and they are a pain in the bottom. Basically we can't turn on more than two programs or we wait for ages until anything happens... nice to hear that safari is back.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
You probably know this already, but in case you don't:
For almost all problems every Mac-troublesolving site (like macfixit.com) recommends to first run the combo-version of the latest MacOS X-update (again).

You should at least download and install the 'Mac OS X Update 10.4.7 Combo PPC' from apple.com. Or better: the 'Mac OS X 10.4.11 Combo Update (PPC)'.
A 'combo'-update includes all previous updates, so it's much better then separate updates.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The first post here is a bit off.

"no, macs are not resistant to malware like viruses and such. It’s just that everyone believes that, because Steve Jobs doesn’t do a god job in sharing information on vulnerabilities; OSX is full of them."

Yet no one knows of anyone that has gotten any viruses or malware using OS X since it's existence..

I think what you mean is, they have found (and quickly patched) vulnerabilities in OS X that they say someone might have been able to do something malicious, but it never has happened.

Then you say this

"The bigger the Mac-Sect grows, the more malware will be released for that operating system."

They would have to figure out a way to exploit it, and for it to actually spread first.

"The only reason, why Windows has so many viruses is not that it is so badly coded (all operating systems have their flaws) but that so so many people use it, i.e. the target group is simply bigger."

No, it's coding and MS leaving it's OS wide open IS a reason that it has so much problems.

Especially with quotes like this coming from Gates himself...

"If you can't make it good, at least make it look good."

"Since when has the world of computer software design been about what people want? This is a simple question of evolution. The day is quickly coming when every knee will bow down to a silicon fist, and you will all beg your binary gods for mercy."

"You see, antiquated ideas of kindness and generosity are simply bugs that must be programmed out of our world. And these cold, unfeeling machines will show us the way. "

"We're no longer in the days where everything is super well crafted. But at the heart of the programs that make it to the top, you'll find that the key internal code was done by a few people who really know what they were doing."

"I know not a single less irrelevant reason for an update than bugfixes. The reasons for updates are to present more new features."

Until recently, MS wasn't too concerned about bug fixes, or security.

I see Vista finally started using permissions the way SECURE computers are supposed to, and my comments about windows only covers XP and below, as I don't have any experience with Vista (My barely 2 year old Windows box wont run Vista.. But my 4 year old Mac runs 10.5 just fine.. )

I am just so tired of hearing FUD coming from both ends of the spectrum.

Do I think there will be vulnerabilities in OS X if it had a larger market share? Maybe. More than likely.

Do I think it would have as much problems as Windows has had? No. Their priorities are different than that of MS.

MS has people brainwashed into thinking that it's a COMMON thing to have to run such software (malware removers, virus scanners) constantly on a CONSUMER device. One should have to take a college course to learn to run and keep up a CONSUMER device.

Now am I saying that OS X is perfect and has no problems? Of course not. That would be silly and zealous. But it's years ahead of Windows right now as far as stability and features goes.

And I am no Apple fanboy. If I could use Linux for what I do, I would just because it's a cheaper alternative. If something better came out for what I do, I would be all over it in a second.

As of right now, there simply is none.

These are just tools people. No need to get emotionally attached to them to the point where you start making up FUD.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I agree with Aeris and triple X. At 512mb of RAM, Tiger will perform, but not well. Your version of Mac Mini will accept a maximum of 1GB of RAM (one 1gb stick of DDR333). Here is a video that shows the disassembly of a Mac Mini ( http://eshop.macsales.com/tech_center/index.cfm?page=Video/mini/med.html). Prices for the RAM run from $40-$60.

Also, running the combo updater would be the way to go. Tiger got more stable with each update, so updating to version 10.4.11 could fix alot of problems. I hope this helps.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Kevin: There is malware for OSX. and has been for a long time. Full stop.
I am working with them (not only), and with loads of them, so i pretty much know what i am doing most of the time, and saying that there is an operating system for which there is no malware is just bollocks. there is malware for unix, linux, osx and windows. and lots of windows malware because so many people use it.

Other, less known OSes are way less secure than even XP or 98 (oh and there are big fat reasons for which I dont think that vista is a good OS just yet) but since no one uses it, there is just little malware, and the stuff that does exist, is mainly there for testing purposes.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
It sounds like this could be a number of things, but I'll take a stab at it.

The OSX filesystem is not the best as was so recently and not so subtly pointed out by Linux Torvalds, and it sounds like that might be the problem... especially since you say re-installing Safari with Pacifist fixed it. I'd recommend at least running Tech Tool Pro or Disk Warrior on your drive before you go with a reformat. Heck, even give the bundled Disk Utility a go before you shell out for those utilities, it just isn't as thorough.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Kevin: There is malware for OSX. and has been for a long time. Full stop."

You didn't read what I said. I said yes, they have found vulnerabilities.
But this hasn't effected ONE Mac user yet. And no, it hasn't been a long time, and it's nowhere near the amount Windows has. And this has something to do with market share, AND something to do with Windows being more insecure than the Mac OS

"I am working with them (not only), and with loads of them, so i pretty much know what i am doing most of the time"

You are working with them what? Be specific when you write.

" and saying that there is an operating system for which there is no malware is just bollocks. there is malware for unix, linux, osx and windows. and lots of windows malware because so many people use it."

The maleware problem Windows has has to do with it's usage AND MSs crappy coding and "no care" policy on such things. As Gates has said himself. I have never seen CRAP about OS X maleware. Why isn't there any removers for such things for OS X then? Where are they at?

"Other, less known OSes are way less secure than even XP or 98 (oh and there are big fat reasons for which I dont think that vista is a good OS just yet) but since no one uses it, there is just little malware, and the stuff that does exist, is mainly there for testing purposes."

Again, I said that it didn't exist in the public. No one had been bit by it. I didn't say it didn't exist at all.

No OS X computer has been infected by it. And you can say that is because it has small numbers, but that would be dishonest. Because back in the classic days there were viruses that got around and spread with a even smaller user base.

Yes, one of the reasons Windows DOES get viruses more often is because it's the one used the most. But that isn't the only reason. That's not even the main reason.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"The OSX filesystem is not the best as was so recently and not so subtly pointed out by Linux Torvalds"

Of course it's not! It's not a Linux OS!

He has been known to bash anything not Linux. He's very egotistical ya know. :)

I'd use Linux if it was user friendly and had major application support.

But so far, the only .nix that has that is OS X.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Anyhow to put this to rest, she doesn't have any virus or maleware that is making her machine do these things. Yes, if it was a Windows box I would have thought the same thing.

I would take it to an Apple specialist and have them run a hardware test on it. If it has a hardware failure then Apple usually does a decent job of replacing it. I know when my old G3 tower's firewire ports stopped working and it was out of Warranty, Apple went ahead and replaced the board for a $50 cost. (Basically shipping)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 45 comments




Email This Post to a Friend
"Please Help Miss Cellania with Her Weird Computer Problems"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window
X

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
 
Learn More