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Highs and Lows

Entry 948, on 2009-02-18 at 21:37:03 (Rating 1, Computers)

As a computer consultant and programmer I experience a few highs and lows in my job. Yesterday things went really well. For example, one person I was helping out was obviously impressed because I was working on the terminal on her desktop iMac at the same time as I used VNC to control a backup server over wireless on my laptop at the same time as I gave step by step instructions (entirely from memory) about a Photoshop process to someone else on the phone. It was quite an impressive performance but I should never have let it give me a false sense of competence!

Today I was called out to help with a Mac which crashed as the Finder launched. The OS would then automatically relaunch it and it would crash again. I had seen this before and thought I knew the answer so I said "no problem, it will only take a minute to fix that".

I restarted the machine into the command line and disabled the Finder preferences by moving them, then rebooted. It made no difference! So I thought I should disable the global Finder preferences. I did, and yes... that didn't help either! Things were getting serious so I disabled all the preferences. Didn't help. Checked and repaired the disk integrity and privileges. Didn't help. Reset the PRAM. Didn't help. Copied a new copy of the Finder. Didn't help. Disabled all the extensions and plug-ins I could find. You guessed it... didn't help!

So it was time to admit defeat. I installed a fresh copy of Leopard (previously the person was using Tiger so that was one positive aspect of this) and it worked fine. I still don't know what caused the original problem but some times you just have to be practical and install a new system. At least on a Mac you can install a system while maintaining the existing data so the person can be up and running again fairly quickly.

So the moral of the story is never be too confident when it comes to computers. No matter how clever you think you are the computers are sneakier. Things will go well for a while to lull you into a false sense of security, then just when you think you can do anything, you will be brought back down to cruel, hard reality!

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