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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




Dead Clones, IE 5 Problems, & Netscape Too
October 13th, 2000

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! Today we'll be discussing what to do with a dead clone, why Internet Explorer might not be loading pages for you, and how to get Netscape to start reliably all the time, every time. If you have a question of your own, please write me or visit the forums. Until then, enjoy!

SpiritWriter writes, "I helped a friend with her Power Computing PowerBase 200 MT running 7.5.3. Everything went fine. When I left, her computer was in the middle of a large download. Apparently it got frozen during download so she turned it off (I don't know if it was a hard shutdown or soft reboot, probably just a hard power shut off). Also while it was running she had apparently picked it up & moved it back on the desk a few inches (or worse, just scooted it back).

The next day I get a panicked phone call: no power, no startup, no chimes of doom, zip, nada, nuthin'! Being the nice friend I am, I went back over to see if I could figure it out again and had no luck (tried plugging in different power sources/strips which were working; monitor got power but not CPU).

Now, it conceivably could be the power cord (although unlikely), which I didn't switch out yet, but I have a sick feeling it's much worse. So....what do you think the likely culprit would be?"

This sure sounds strange, but my guess is that you're the victim of a coincidence here. My general rule of thumb is after working on a computer, if something goes wrong that doesn't appear to be related to what you were working on, then it probably isn't! However, it is wise to go through ALL the possibilities, just in case. That said, my gut feeling is that you are seeing the result of a dead battery on that machine. Power Computing had some great machines at even better price points, but they did cut some corners to get there. One of those corners was that the power supplies they used didn't provide "trickle" power to the motherboard. Since Macs all start up with either a key-press or a "soft" button on the computer, the motherboard requires at least SOME power to notice that event and begin the startup process. The power supplies on all Apple-built Macs provide "trickle" power to the motherboard, meaning that there's always at least a small bit of power being supplied to the computer for just such an event. The power supplies that Power Computing used didn't do this and, therefore, the computer relies on the onboard battery to power things enough to notice a startup event. If the battery dies, the computer will appear dead until it's replaced. Thankfully, Power Computing did use the typical Mac battery (3.6v Lithium) which is available at your local Radio Shack!

Dan Knight, of Low End Mac fame, writes, "Dave, my Internet Explorer 5 isn't updating pages for a lot of sites. I have to force a refresh. Any suggestions? I've already cleared the cache, the history, and told it to refresh with each visit."

Hmm.. that's an odd one, Dan. The only thing I can think of would be to try setting the cache size to "0" and then click "Empty Now." Also go to the "Advanced" section of the preferences and and set it to automatically connect to the Internet if a page is not cached. This should force the machine to reload those pesky pages.

For the record, if you're on an ISDN or faster (Cable modem, xDSL) connection, your web browsing speeds will be significantly enhanced if you go and disable the cache in your browser (or set the size of the cache to zero). When you connect to a web page with the cache enabled, the browser downloads everything from the site and saves it on disk, and then proceeds to load those images and text blocks from the disk into memory and displays them on your screen. If you disable the cache, the browser skips the "write to disk" step and just downloads the data directly to your screen, saving a huge amount of time. Again, this only will help if you are on a fast connection. If you're on anything slower than a 56k modem (at full speed) you definitely don't want to try this, as it could serve to lengthen the time it takes to load pages due to the fact that it must re-download everything for each page.

Bill writes, "I have a iMac SE and it has been trouble free, not a year old yet. I have Netscape Communicator 4.75 and when I sign on my computer will freeze up. I reset and then I can get on line until I turn it off and try to get on later. Any ideas? It does say there is a type 2 error, but not all the time."

Another interesting problem today! My first instinct would be to completely clear out the Netscape Users folder and anything else related to Netscape from your Preferences folder. Then relaunch Netscape, enter your settings (disable your cache if you're on a high speed connection!), and see how it does. If that doesn't do it, then my next guess would be an extensions problem. Try disabling all but the standard Mac OS 9 extensions and see how that does for you.

That's it for this one, folks. E-mail me at askdave@macobserver.com if you like, or ask everyone's opinion in the Ask Dave Forums. Catch you next time!

P.S. Have a nice day.

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....


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