Mac Switchback, Act IV — woes continue 7

My Mac problems are getting worse. Somehow, my user account got screwed up. My log-in items have, for the most part, disappeared. My desktop and other user files have moved to a different directory, so they aren’t showing up. I can see the folder where they are stored, but I guess I’ll have to move them all back to the active home folder. Applications act as through this is the first time I’ve launched them. Basically, all the customized settings I’ve done since getting the machine, like system preferences, have been reset. It’s pretty maddening.

I continue to be amazed that this OS everyone claims is rock solid seems anything but.

I guess I’ll try one more time to reconfigure everything, in the hope the user account doesn’t disappear again. If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to take a deep breath and reinstall Tiger.

UPDATE: OK, the good news is that dragging all the files from my “real” user folders into the user folder that mysteriously became active appears to have restored my desktop and customizations.

I’m still stuck with the following annoyance. A departmental IT person set up the user account on my machine when I first got it, so they could install our site-licensed version of Microsoft Office. For whatever reason, they labeled the main user account “WhartonWharton.” I changed the name to “Kevin Werbach,” but there appears to be no way in the Accounts system preference pane to change the “short name”, whatever that is. So, my home folder is still confusingly called “WhartonWharton”, for example. I changed it last time in the sidebar, but I now think that’s what screwed me up.

I wonder if, short of reinstalling the OS, there’s any way to change the user name I see in the sidebar. Yes another case where I’m finding OS X more restritive and fragile than Windows XP.

Here’s my current list of other unanswered questions and problems. I guess at some point I’ll hire a consultant or go to the Apple store see if someone can resolve them.

* Once or twice a day, iTunes suddently launches for no apparent reason. I tried upgrading from iTunes 4.8 to 4.9, but it does the same thing. I’ve posted this problem on two Mac help forums, and so far no one has suggested any good explanation.

* Someone in the comments mentioned using Activity Monitor to see how much CPU capacity different processes were taking up. But when I double click that application, it does the window zoom graphic, and then nothing happens. Is there some trick to opening it?

* I tried out a utility called CopyPaste, for multiple clipboards. I didn’t find it that useful, so I deleted it. But it left contextual menu items which I can’t delete. After searching help forums, I tried reinstalling the application and turning off contextual menus in its preferences, but that didn’t work.

* I’ve been unable, after several tries, to successfully print over IP to an HP 9000n laser printer in my office. Needless to say, the Windows laptop had no trouble printing to it over the Internet.

* Classic apps don’t work. When I go to the System Preferences, it says I don’t have a System 9.1 system folder. Do I need to buy OS 9 and install it separately in order to run classic applications?

* Two-finger scrolling is now erratic in Word. I love the fact that you can scroll by dragging two fingers across the Trackpad. But now, in Word, that sometimes makes the text on the screen disappear rather than scrolling properly.

I know I sound like a broken record, but given my personal experience wiht Macs for a decade, and the experiences of many of my friends, I continue to be shocked by the poor experience I’m having with OS X. I’m gradually appreciating the ways it’s nicer than Windows; if I didn’t have the constant restarts and eratic behavior, I’d feel much better.

7 thoughts on “Mac Switchback, Act IV — woes continue

  1. nivi Jul 10,2005 6:20 pm

    I seriously think your computer is screwed up somehow. Take it to the Genius Bar at Apple. You can reserve a time there so you don’t have to wait.

    Macs really are rock solid. There must be something wrong with your machine. Everybody makes defective products sometimes.

    Re Activity Monitor: Does it show up in the dock when you launch it? If yes, click on the dock icon. Then in the menubar, click Monitor -> Show Activity Monitor. That application has a stupid design where if you close the window and relaunch, the window doesn’t re-open.

    Re CopyPaste: Does it have uninstall function? If so, I would do that rather than deleting the app. You can launch the installer again to see if the uninstaller is in there.

    As I said, there is probably something seriously wrong with your machine. In my experience, Macs rock.

  2. Kevin Werbach Jul 10,2005 8:31 pm

    There is clearly something wrong with my machine. The unpredictability and nature of the problems, however, just don’t feel like a hardware issue.

    For example, Activity Monitor doesn’t show up in the dock. (I have Dockless installed, and I just verified that Activity monitor is set to show in the dock, but it doesn’t.) There is no indication anywhere I can see that it’s running.

    Maybe the issue is that my OS X installation got corrupted. But if so, I’m still disappointed it’s that easy for a brand new install of the latest OS to break this badly.

  3. egarc Jul 14,2005 1:07 pm

    We have four Macs all running Tiger, two started with OS X 10.1 and have been upgraded ever since. I have never had problems even remotely like yours. Even my computer illiterate mother AND mother-in-law have happily been using Panther for over a year and NO problems. Please keep in mind, most OS X users are switchers, most from OS 9. The switch from OS 9 was just as painful as a switch from XP so ignorance is not an excuse for problems like yours.

    Either this is one big hoax or your computer is fsked. Even if the OS were corrupted or the hardware malfunctioning, I still can’t imagine a scenario that would give a computer a mind of it’s own like yours.

    Advise: take it to the Genius Bar. They should be able to tell if its hardware or software related. But please, please stop blogging about problems you refuse to do anything about.

    “I’m still disappointed it’s that easy for a brand new install of the latest OS to break this badly.” You have already admitted that you CREATED an Applications folder in your User directory and had a hell of a time figuring out the file structure. No telling what other asinine thing you did to it. Take some responsibility…

  4. Kevin Werbach Jul 18,2005 9:00 am

    egarc, I’m trying to find a time when I can drive out to the Apple store to go to the Genius Bar, since several people have recommended that. I’ll just say that one reason I bought a Mac was so that I wouldn’t need to spend hours with an expert in order to do basic things.

    I’m not a newbie. I’ve purchased at least 8 personal computers as my primary machine since 1983, including 3 prior Macs, not to mention various other office computers I’ve used. I understand that someone who, for example, doesn’t need to install any new applications, would have an easier time with OS X, but that’s not a great comfort for me.

    As for taking responsibility, first of all, several others commenters here have assured me that putting applications in the “wrong” folder couldn’t have caused all my problems. I didn’t say I created the other application folder — to the best of my recollection, it just appeared, and I assumed that was the right one to use. Another commenter on this blog had the same experience.

    And in the end, you’re just confirming my point. If OS X is so fragile that an “asinine” thing like putting applications in the user folder makes it go haywire, it’s not exactly “rock solid.”

  5. egarc Jul 18,2005 4:34 pm

    Hey Kevin,

    I reread my last post and realized it came out kind of harsh.

    I do not believe creating an Applications folder in the User directory can cause problems like you are having. It is true that Applications can be put just about anywhere but you lose “organization” like if you randomly put your clothes in drawers.

    My “asinine” comment referred to things you _may_ have done without knowing it…eg. deleting or moving things in the library or dicking in the System folder.

    I’m not blindly defending the OS. I am saying that your experience is not normal and either the OS is damaged beyond repair (most likely user error) or the hardware is defective.

    So far, you have completely blamed the OS _before_ a proper diagnosis. I do believe that when this is sorted out, you will change your mind about the “rock solidness” of OS X. The eMac in my son’s room went for over 8 months without a restart or any sign of slowdown or system degradation until I finally waded through his mess to run Software Update. Amazing, he can trash his room 15 min. after the cleaning lady leaves but he hasn’t been able to break OS X, ever.

    I look forward to what the Apple Genius says about your Powerbook.

  6. david mathison Sep 15,2005 8:41 pm


    Regarding Classic Aps and OS9: Did you by chance choose Unix File System (UFS) when you upgraded? According to the installer, if you choose UFS, Mac OS9 and all Mac OS9 applications must be installed on a Mac OS9 Extended format disk to use them with the classic environment.

    There is more to this, but it came to mind when you mentioned that you were having problems. Contact me for more –

  7. Kevin Werbach Sep 16,2005 9:03 am


    Thanks for the suggestion, but it doesn’t help. I never upgraded this machine — it came with OS X 10.4.1 pre-installed.

    Apparently, to run a classic app I need to separately buy and install OS 9. It’s not a big deal — there are only a few classic apps I’ve wanted to use. It just would be nice if Apple gave an indication somewhere that Classic is only for people upgrading old pre-OS X machines.

    By the way, I’m still having various unexplained problems and slowdowns with the machine. Some things are running better, but it’s still slower and more unstable than my Windows laptop.

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