Quarter Life Crisis

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Mac OS X Display FAIL

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My impression is that slowly but surely Apple manage to ruin every good thing about their soft- and hardware. Traditionally I had a very high opinion of their networking support. Not that I could (or had a need to) judge its technical merits. But it just worked. AppleTalk was perfect back in the days (but has been degraded to the printing niche by Apple by now where it is still superior to all the other methods of printing I have seen, if only because PAP driven printers seem to be the only ones which can automatically, tell the computer whether they have a duplexer and that they are having a paper jam). But even TCP/IP networking was relatively good on the Mac. Since System 7.5 it could do without restarting and it pretty much ‘just worked’ for me all the time. Except when you had to use Apple’s particularly shitty implementation of SMB/CIFS networking, but we could be generous and not consider that proper networking at all, I suppose.

But as technology ‘develops’ I have a machine now whose Airport connection routinely fails and, since the X.5.3 update whose Ethernet connection fails as well when there’s a high load on the machine. Fan-friggin-tastic. My inner conspiracy theorist assumes it’s a scheme by Apple to move the whole internet onto iPhones. Haha.

Another point where the Mac ruled pretty much forever was support for multiple screens. No matter what you hooked up, the computer would generally make reasonable sense of it and options to adjust the multi-screen desktop to your liking were never far off. And I have never seen a Mac cause significant problems when trying to hook up an external screen. — Until last week that is. The crappy CRT in the office started flickering. Which meant I got a different crappy CRT as a replacement which looks just the same from the outside. And it worked just fine with the MacBook the first time I used it. When attaching it the second time with Apple’s ridiculously overpriced ‘MacBook to VGA adaptor’ the screen just gave me an OVERRIDE SYNC ERROR message. All capital letter FAIL, that is.

Screen displaying OVERRIDE SYNC ERROR

I first hoped, I had just destroyed the crappy screen. But the fact that the crappy X-Terminal in my office could use the screen just fine, hinted that the carefully ‘crafted’ combination of a MacBook and Mac OS X was to blame. Some combinatin of deleting all preference files remotely looking like they are WindowServer or Monitor related, restarting the machine and replugging the screen at the right moment, solved the problem. Temporarily. Attaching it the next time gave an OVERRIDE SYNC ERROR once more. Now that sucks. It’s exactly the reason why I’m not using Linux or Windows. I want this to ‘just work’.

(If you want to trigger extra bugs in OS X, start playing with the ‘Rotate Screen’ options OS X offers for the secondary screen. I ended up with my secondary screen being all blue and completely unusable after having used that while trying to explore this problem. More Suck.

June 3, 2008, 0:24

Tagged as bug, Mac OS X.


Comment by Eric: User icon

I don’t doubt you in the least, but I’ve administered and used 10-20 heavily-used Macs in the past decade and haven’t had a tenth of the amount of problems your post archives indicate, on both the hardware and software sides. It’s pretty bewildering. If anything, I feel like reliability has drastically improved since the days of AppleTalk.

You should get an electrician in, or maybe an exorcist. Something isn’t normal.

June 3, 2008, 1:53

Comment by ssp: User icon

I haven’t tried an excorcist yet, thanks for the hint :)

June 4, 2008, 11:51

Comment by arum: User icon

I don’t doubt that your experience is very frustrating. However I have to say that after 10 years of using macs I added a second display to mine for the first time last week (Sony X-Black to a MacBook Pro via the analog to digital adapter) and I have to say it was so smooth that I barely noticed it happening!

I was able to rotate the sony screen at will, and tell OS X where it was in relation to the other screen. No problems - no hassle. My only complaint is that the colour rendition on the SONT is utterly rubbish.

I suppose my point is - if you connect a rubbish CRT to a state of the art mac - what do you expect? ;)

June 4, 2008, 21:42

Comment by ssp: User icon

I expect reasonable things – which so far I took as granted when using a Mac: One of them is that the display works with the Mac right away. The other is that no matter which buttons I click in Apple’s screen preferences the screens remain usable and the system remains responsive.

As I said in the post: The screen works just fine; the only problem here is the MacBook and the OS that was ‘crafted’ to work perfectly with the hardware.

June 5, 2008, 17:41

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