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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

The QuickTime/SimpleText Connection, 8.5.1 RAM, and Miscreant SCSI Busses
April 1st, 1999

Greetings, once again, everyone. Before I get started with this weeks questions, there is one issue from last week left outstanding. Sometimes Mac knowledge flows IN to me, and this time it's worth sharing.

In last week's column, Jim wrote:

"Ever since upgrading to 8.5, if I double-click on a SimpleText text document, the computer waits for about 5-10 seconds and then reports a -2048 error and says that SimpleText cannot be found."

Not ever having seen this problem before, I gave Jim some things to try as a hopeful solution to his problem. A few days after the column was posted, I received the following from Jeffrey P. Davis:

"I was having the same problem and it baffled me for months until someone looked up the error code and said that it was coming from QuickTime! Apparently there is some synergy between QuickTime and File Exchange: they both translate files. Once I trashed both of their preferences everything worked great!"

Dave Dafoe was kind enough to offer to test this for me on his system and, sure enough, it solved the problem. I wanted everyone out there to see this solution in case there are more people plagued with the problem.

Let's give a big round of applause to Jeffrey P. Davis and Dave Dafoe for offering their assistance!


Ed writes: "I've noticed recently that when I look under "About This Computer" it gets huge while Netscape Communicator v4.5.1 is running. I'm using OS8.5.1 and here are the stats:

Mac OS 28.7Mb with Communicator quit
Mac OS 41.2Mb with Communicator running

I've reserved plenty of memory for Communicator (20Mb), so I'm not sure why it is also locking up additional memory under the guise of the Mac OS. Could it be something to do with Open Transport when a TCP/IP application is open? Or is Communicator using a 'secret' RAM cache that I'm unaware of?"

Ed --

Not to worry, there's nothing "strange" going on with your machine. At least nothing stranger than what I see on other Mac's! What you're seeing is all the additional resources that Communicator loads. In addition to loading the program itself (which gets loaded into a memory space defined in the "Get Info" window), programs can also load additional resources that get dynamically loaded and unloaded to and from the "System Heap," which shows up under the "Mac OS" listing in OS 8.5.1. This is perfectly normal and is nothing to worry about.



Ron writes: "I've got a knotty problem that's driving me nuts!

My former machine was a PowerBase 200. One day, I had a backup cd-rom in my cd drive which also had a Netscape and a system folder in it (the CD was called "Maxtor HD" because it had the contents of an external Maxtor dumped on it). While it was in my drive, I ran Netscape for a while, then closed out. Then a strange thing happened. Every single time I'd run Netscape after that, it would pause on the splash screen and ask me to insert "Maxtor HD" before going any further. If I hit CANCEL, then everything would continue as before. The problem is, if there's another CD in the drive, then it spits that one out, asks for Maxtor HD, then after I hit CANCEL, asks me to reinsert the CD that was in there in the first place! What a pain in the butt! I've scoured the Netscape "helper applications" to no avail.

But that's only the beginning...

When I bought my Beige G3 minitower in November, I decided to upgrade from Netscape 3.1 to Netscape 4.5. The only problem was that my one way cable modem (phone modem out - cable in) wouldn't log in with the settings that I had hand set in, so I dragged a bunch of setting files from the old Netscape to the new one. Well, this worked for logging on to the Cable modem, but now I get that same stupid "insert Maxtor HD" message every time I boot Netscape. Arrrggghhh! Any suggestions?

BTW, I have a similar problem with PageMaker 6.5. I once printed a PageMaker file I had on a zip disk, and now PageMaker asks me to insert that zip disk every time I attempt to print anything."

Ron --

It sounds like your preferences files have retained settings that point to older disks. You can try going into your Netscape preferences and seeing if the "Download" folder or "Cache" folder is set to "Maxtor HD." If that doesn't work, I recommend deleting your Netscape (and PageMaker) preferences and letting the programs rebuild them WITHOUT any other removable disks mounted.



Fred wrote: "I have a 9600/200 Mac running 8.5.1, I'd like your opinion please. Something my son told me in regards to the question which you no doubt are aware of is that this Mac (I'm not gonna say this right) has two SCSI busses. An internal and an external. The 9600 appears on both.

I have an external drive connected and mounted on the desktop. I am quite sure that my connections, SCSI and otherwise are correct as are my terminations and SCSI numbers.Both drives are HFS+.

My problem, if it is a problem is that while I am running "stuff" from the internal drive, especially doing stuff in the system folder - - the external drive lights blink. Not just a little bit but a lot especially if I'm doing something with extensions or prefs. I believe this should not be happening. DFA, Nortons etc say all is well.

Assuming that I can't resolve why this is happening, would it be so terrible to just shut off the external drive although still connected to the computer? Or not even start it up or mount it till I need it, then put it in the trash, unmounting it and shutting it off? Years ago I was told by some Guru 'Don't do it or you'll go blind.' But I have tried it a few times and my eyesight has not suffered.

Any ideas, suggestions, advice . . . whatever?"

Fred --

Your guru was probably right, if not a bit sarcastic. :) Turning off SCSI hard disks while they're connected to a running system is not a good idea. It can cause information to flow incorrectly across the SCSI bus and, in some circumstances, even cause data loss on OTHER drives. I know you've got two SCSI busses and the external drive is isolated, but I wouldn't tempt fate. Leave it on.

The drive is being accessed for a very good reason: The Desktop Database. As I've discussed in other columns, the MacOS keeps track of all Applications and related file types in a "Desktop" file. There is one of these files stored on each disk or partition. When you open up a folder, the Finder checks EACH file in there for it's type, and then tries to match it to an Application so it can report the "Kind" correctly. If it doesn't find a matching Application on the main drive's Desktop Database, it will check the database on ALL drives until it either finds it or runs out of drives. Your "Preferences" and "Extensions" folders both have a large amount of files in them, hence the increase in activity to the external drive. This behavior is perfectly normal, and shouldn't interfere with the operation of your computer.

Good luck!


Unfortunately, that's all we have time for this week folks. I've been receiving LOTS of feedback regarding my advice on virtual memory last week. I'm putting together a little follow-up, so keep your eyes peeled for more on that subject. Until next week, then, take care, and should you have any problems, ask me!

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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