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Skippable Geek Saga

So, a long time ago (1999), I bought a blue and white G3 Power Macintosh and filled all its memory slots with memory modules. I was running MacOS 9 at the time, and it was good.

Eventually, I upgraded to OS X, and soon thereafter the machine become unstable. I switch back to 9, and it became stable again. I ran all kinds of diagnostics, and the only detected problems were fixable file system nits that were probably a result of the crashes, not a cause of them. Still, I took the opportunity to pop in a new hard drive and controller (which really sped things up), but the box would still crash in OS X from time to time, usually when playing in iTunes. So it wasn't the disk drive's fault; I popped out the last memory module I installed, and lo and behold, the G3 became as solid as a rock. Normally the only reason I'd reboot it is to install an OS update, after a month or so.

I assumed that the RAM that I removed was bad. After all, it's possible to have a machine that is stable under a less advanced operating system like Mac OS 9, but unstable under a newer one like OS X. A lot of PC users had similar problems going from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 or NT, after all.

That was more than a year ago. Since memory is so cheap now (128 Mb for $30), I decided to get another module. I installed it, and again, the machine started to become unstable under heavy load again. Again I removed the module, and the machine became reliable again. So I went back and returned it. Then I realized that perhaps there was something about the socket or board itself that was causing the crashes, and resigned myself to not being able to install more memory. Then I realized that the older module (256 Mb) which I took out from the last slot might not be bad after all, so I popped it into a slot where a smaller module (64 Mb) was sitting. Now I've got 192 Mb more RAM and it hasn't crashed since (cross fingers).

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sunderance
Mar. 11th, 2003 10:40 am (UTC)
such a problem solver! way to go!

that's like when i thought i needed a new modem...almost bought the airport...then figured out it was the phone line that was running into my house that was the problem!
rpkrajewski
Mar. 11th, 2003 11:24 am (UTC)
Thanks !
I wish I didn't have to solve such problems, but — computers, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, HAR HAR.

The other lesson, is that, even if you're a programmer, and thus naturally suspicious of software, sometimes it is the hardware.

You still need the AirPort, though. Really. ;)
(no subject) - all_askew - Mar. 11th, 2003 10:47 am (UTC) - Expand
rpkrajewski
Mar. 11th, 2003 11:29 am (UTC)
Moral: Computers Suck
Yeah, I though it was the software at first, then the hard drive, and the memory problem was only the third thing to occur to me. And even then I was wrong, but my action "fixed" the problem. The problem with changing one thing at a time is that still takes a while to go through all the combinations of problems.

I related this sad story to our alpha geek here at work and it turns out we had a PC here that showed instability only when a combination of memory modules was installed. Madness !

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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