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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

Spring Cleaning Tips, G4 Modem Problems, & Shutdown Trouble
June 23rd, 2000

Greetings, everyone. I was hoping to have the answer to rising gas prices for you all today, but as I started my research our editor reminded me that this is for Macintosh-oriented stuff, so I put that project to rest (actually I'm following up on my research, but only for personal reasons!). In any event, we have something just as juicy for you today! We discuss the location of Outlook Express files, modem and ISP connection problems with a new G4, and shutdown problems on a newer Mac! Read on, and enjoy!

Mike writes, "Yesterday I decided to clear some space up on my hard drive. I got rid of duplicate artwork files, some incomplete MP3s and so on. When I started up Outlook Express it came up with a new setup window. Behold, everything gone! My address book, my e-mails, my serial numbers for at least $600 worth of software, and so on. I tried to remain calm, I know I didn't trash anything out of the OE5 folder or the Preferences folder. How could this happen??? More importantly, how can this never happen again? Why would these priceless files be placed anywhere but the preferences folder? I ran a utility called Data Rescue, no luck. Please tell me if this can be fixed. Your help would be greatly appreciated. I'll be sobbing in the corner of the room sitting down and rocking myself waiting for a reply."

Well, Mike -- I can give you a reply, but I don't know that it will stop your rocking. Outlook Express creates a folder called "Microsoft User Data" in the "Documents" folder on the root level of your boot hard drive. It is within this folder that Outlook Express stores all of its preferences, mailboxes, and the like. Searching for this data in your trash can would be the right place to look at this point, assuming you haven't emptied the trash already. If you have, well, try your Data Rescue utility and see if it will find it. Norton Utilities also has an "UnErase" tool that might help as well.

This does bring up a good point, though. If you're going to do some housecleaning, go ahead and put everything in the trash, but wait to empty it for a couple of days. Make sure that everything works and you haven't deleted something important. Except for some rare circumstances, the system won't let you access any files in the trash -- it will warn you that you need to take them out of the trash before you can use them. With this method, you'll know if you threw something important away before you really lose it!

Bill Soter writes, "A couple of months ago I bought a new G4/500 to replace my PowerCenter 132. Because I wanted to use my old serial Epson printer through a USB/serial adapter I didn't opt for an internal modem but bought a new Global Village 56k external USB modem. This new modem wouldn't work properly with the G4, it appeared to not be robust enough to log onto my ISP. Even though all configurations, scripts, etc, were correct and verified by Apple technicians and Global Village technicians, I had problems about 95% of the time. At the same time I connected my old 56k US Robotics modem to the G4 through the USB/serial adapter and it worked perfectly every time. I then replaced the Global Village modem with another Global Village modem: same result. I then bought a different USB 56k modem, a Best Data model. The results were the same as with the Global Village units even though, again, Apple technicians, Best Data technicians and my ISP technicians all agreed that all configurations and scripts used were correct. All of these connections were through Apple Remote Access using a direct USB port connection on the G4 and then through a powered USB hub. I finally relented and bought an internal Apple 56k internal modem for the G4 directly from Apple (I replaced my Epson printer with a USB one) This unit worked fine from the get-go with one huge exception; it connects nearly every time at only 26.4 kbs, sometimes less, never more. Again, reverting to the old serial modem through the USB/serial adapter everything works fine including fast 50k + connections. The slow speed of the internal modem and the faster speed of the old serial modem is confirmed by several instances of downloading files; less than 3.0 kbs for the internal modem, 5.6 kbs for the old serial modem. Using TechTool Pro modem tests, the internal modem is confirmed as a 56k modem with no problems. It's really disturbing to have "the fastest computer available" with a plodding internet connection. I'd really appreciate any help you can offer in solving this problem. For whatever reason, I don't think that the internal modem is faulty although that certainly can't be ruled out."

Bill -- you've left a few things out of the equation here -- one is the 56k protocol used by both your "old" and "new" modems, and the second is your results with another ISP.

For modem protocols, my guess here is that your "old" modem supports the US Robotics X2 standard for 56k. This was on the market in the very beginning of the 56k days. However, it was replaced by the more popular (and now officially "standard) v.90 protocol. The two protocols are not compatible but, for a time, there were quite a few modems that supported both. My guess is that your ISP also supports only the X2 protocol and that all your "new" modems (including the Apple internal) are all v.90. If this is the case, then the modems will fall back to the "lowest common denominator", which would be the v.34 protocol used for connections up to 33.6 k/second.

This ties into my second thought here -- you never mentioned how well any of your modems worked with another ISP. ISP loyalty is something that's been the bane of many Internet users' existences (mine included!). If you've been through 4 modems and only gotten one of them to work with your current ISP, my first advice would be to try someone else. There are probably many other local (and certainly many national) ISP's who will offer v.90 connections. Many will offer trial accounts so you can see if it will work with your setup. If it doesn't work properly, move on to someone else. If NONE of them work properly, check your phone lines in your house.

Judy Umphrey writes, "My Mac NEVER shuts down right (I've had it for four months). It doesn't matter if I use the button on the keyboard or if I use the pull down menu. After I select shut down, all the icons will disappear off the desktop and then it does nothing. I use the power button to turn it off. Even though it doesn't seem to be causing any problems, it still bugs me. I had this problem when running OS 9."

Judy -- there are a few things that could cause this. The first thing I would try is to delete the Finder Preferences file located in your System Folder:Preferences Folder. The system attempts to write the current settings to this file as you restart. If the file is damaged, it will fail in this process and you'll see the symptoms you describe. Just throw that file in the trash and restart.

The second thing I would try is looking in the System Folder:Shutdown Items folder to see if there's anything there. The computer will launch anything located in this folder at either Restart or Shutdown, and if something in here is not configured properly, it could also cause these problems.

The last thing I would try is resetting the PRAM. Use a utility like MicroMat's TechTool (available for free download) instead of the standard Command-Option-P-R. It's possible that this is also corrupt and is causing the problems you describe here.

That's it for today, folks! Let me know if you have any questions of your own -- you can e-mail me directly at [email protected], or you can visit the Ask Dave Forums!

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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