Just when you thought it was safe. . . .

By Graham K. Rogers

I finished the last eXtensions article late one night just after installing the most recent (then) update of OSX: 10.2.8 (build 6R65). Everything worked properly and there were some obvious improvements to Bluetooth operations. I particularly like the way it is now possible to turn off Bluetooth: the adapter can be kept permanently in the USB port.

By the time I awoke next morning, half the Mac World was in disarray as the update had wreaked havoc, particularly among those using G4 computers on a network. I delayed the planned upgrading of the networked G4 at the office and watched as news unfolded.

Much of my information came via MacSurfer which links to major Mac stories and is updated a couple of times a day. Several fixes were posted (although some were a bit too late if you had done the update and had no spare Mac laying around).

Apple reacted quickly and pulled the update from its site but they were too slow to stop the Aple Knowledge Base mailing from going out: links to updates came up against a "temporarily removed" noticed.

Some local users had already decided to take a wait-and-see attitude and they were quite happy with that decision in the light of events. I always go for updates as soon they are available and have had no problems with OSX.

Within a further 24 hours, Apple had provided another Knowledge Base article on the 10.2.8 update outlining the problem. There were a couple of suggestions, including "Archive and Install" which is not too difficult, but a huge step if you are not over-confident and really something of overkill. However, if you needed to get up and working quickly, this would certainly have done it.

The corrected update -- build 6R73 -- finally appeared on Saturday morning (Bangkok time), some 10 days or more after the initial offering. For me, with a 10.2.8 update that had not faltered, the download was 560KB using Software Update, and it was all installed within a couple of minutes. On the Apple website this was only 248KB.

For those who had waited, the full download was 40MB (97 MB for the combo). There was also a special version of 10.2.8 for the lucky ones with a G5 (or several -- see below).

In the Knowledge Base mailing that had information about the updates, there were links to the expected updates for iSync and iCal (plus the iSync Palm conduit which is essential). Those upgrades all worked properly. I did synchronise data before the new installations and then again afterwards just to be on the safe side. A few months ago iSync 1.0 caused me several days of grief.

Computer Engineering students are usually blasé about software. In the recent Mac Lab I ran at work, they liked the way I could crash an application with no effect on the operating system; they complained that there were too few machines (true); but if there is one item of software that caused my students to gawp, it was iSync.

Almost every one of them has a mobile phone and they all have computers. A couple have PDAs. The idea of synchronisation of data between all these devices -- particularly when one of them synchronises via Bluetooth, appeals to them.

Although they had seen it before, they also liked the Salling Clicker software that allows me to run applications on the Mac using the mobile phone as a remote device. One group was so interested in this that they decided to try and make a similar device for a Nokia 3650 and a PC. They asked me to be co-adviser for their project: talk about making a rod for your own back.

I was at home marking final exam papers a few days ago and it was raining outside. There was a flash of lightning followed immediately by a huge bang; and then another. A quick check showed that the television was dead, so I ran upstairs to where I keep the iMac. It was no longer in sleep mode and the screen had an unusual pink hue at the bottom left: next to one of the internal speakers.

Electromagnetic effect: an induced current from the lightning, if my memory of physics is correct. The surge protector in the UPS had kept the iMac from frying its internals, but I was keeping my fingers crossed about the screen. A shut down of the iMac de-Gaussed the screen; and a restart a few minutes later gave me a normal desktop image.

Another warning here about backing up data?

I had not realised how close the strike had been until I went outside and found some concrete on the ground. The house had taken a hit on the balcony about 2 metres from where the iMac sits (inside). The violence of the strike had thrown some of the concrete into the street. I guess that losing the TV was a small price to pay. But have you any idea how user-unfriendly local department store websites are?

I wrote recently about the purchase of 1,100 G5 computers by Virginia Tech and the project there to build a supercomputer on the cheap. Tokyo University has also made a huge purchase of Macs: 1,150 iMacs and servers. The university plans "to switch from Linux and Windows to OS X-based systems." Not that I need any convincing.

Apple World is on the calendar for November 8 - 10 in Bangkok; and this time in one of my preferred locations: the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center just round the corner from the Bangkok Post offices. Information about this, including a floor plan can be found at http://www.maccenter.co.th/ Is it too much to hope that Panther will be released about this time?

Note:As usual, just after sending this to the editor, a firm date for Panther (24 October 2003) was announced; so maybe we will see Panther at the Bangkok, Apple World.

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