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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

Missing Trash, Aliases, and Type 11 Errors
February 25th, 1999

Greetings, folks, and welcome to the first installment of "Ask Dave." We've been getting a lot of support-type questions here at The Mac Observer and decided it was about time we started answering them! I'm Dave, of course, and I'll be here each week answering your support questions that you send in to [email protected]. With that, let's get started, shall we?

Barbara writes: "I had some old letters that I wanted to clean out of my computer. I dragged them all — 10 documents to be exact — to the trash. The trash can looked real full and I could see the letter names outside the trash can. I hit "Empty Trash" thinking that would take care of it but now I can't see the Trash can, only bits and pieces of some of those discarded documents. What to do?"

Ah, Barbara, I've seen this happen often. The problem is that when you drag things to the trash (or any other folder or disk) you need to be careful WHAT you're dragging and where you're putting it. When dragging anything, you must move it so that the mouse pointer, not necessarily the item you're dragging, hovers over the intended destination. If you drag a document and just the name of it falls on top of the trash, it won't go "in" the trash. This can cause the trash can to become "buried" behind the other icons that you've dragged to that location on the screen. When the mouse pointer floats over a folder into which you can drag the current item, the destination will become highlighted, indicating that you can release the mouse button and "drop" the item in the trash. This procedure has become known as "Drag-and-Drop," and the basics of it are applicable in more than just this situation. Hope this helps!

Polo writes: "How can I place a Netscape 4 icon on my desktop? Currently, I have to go into my hard disk to access it. Will making an alias suffice? I still have Netscape 3 on my desktop from the old version, but that icon is not labeled 'alias'. Other than that, everything is working fine."

If the NAME of that file on your desktop is in Italics, it's an alias nonetheless (even though it's not explicitly labeled alias). You can check for sure by clicking on it once, and then choosing Get Info from the File menu. Look at the "kind" and it will make it clear. As far as making a new alias, go to your hard disk and find the Netscape program. Click ONCE on it, and then go to the File Menu and choose Make Alias. You can then drag that alias to the desktop and rename it if you wish. If you're using OS 8 or above you can skip the "Make Alias" step by holding down COMMAND and OPTION while you drag the Netscape program icon to the desktop. That will automatically create an alias for you there.

Diann Casey writes: "I am getting a system -11 error pretty often when browsing the web. Do I need to change something?"

Diann — The "Error Type 11" has been a mysterious message for a long time, and there's never a sure answer for it's appearance but, in this instance, I think I have a clue as to what's happening. My guess is that you probably have Virtual Memory enabled. Virtual memory is a feature of the MacOS (and others, of course!) that lets the computer use space on your hard disk when you don't have enough physical RAM to load the programs you desire. As you use your computer, it makes more room in physical RAM by saving unnecessary pieces out to the hard disk. When those pieces are necessary again, it saves something else out and loads the first piece back in. This can work quite well, but it slows your system down somewhat due to the fact that it's accessing the hard disk frequently to load and unload those "pieces."

Netscape and other web browsers, however, have a specific problem with this. When you browse the web, your computer is constantly downloading text and graphics from the website. It saves this data to your hard disk in a file (called a cache) which it uses if you access the page again. Instead of downloading the same graphic a second time, it compares what you have on your hard disk to what's on the site and, if it's the same, it just uses what you already had. This, too, can work well.

The problem is that while your web browser is reading the data FROM the hard disk INTO memory, the operating system (via Virtual Memory) is taking that same data and writing it BACK to the hard disk FROM memory. This constant churn of data can, and does, often cause the computer to lock up with a Type 11 error. An added bonus is that when this Type 11 error happens, the file that Netscape was using in the browser cache usually gets damaged, and will cause MORE errors down the road.

There are a few solutions to this problem. First and foremost, go into your web browser preferences and tell it to empty your cache (the cache settings are located by going to the Edit Menu, choosing Preferences, and looking in the "Advanced" options of both Netscape and Internet Explorer). This will delete the damaged files. Once you've done that, you have a couple of choices:

  1. Disable your browser cache. This is done by setting the cache size in your browser preferences to "0". This will work, but web surfing will probably be a LOT slower since your computer will always be downloading images, even if you've seen them before.
  2. Disable Virtual Memory. To do this, open the Memory Control Panel, turn off Virtual Memory, and restart. The problem with THIS is that you might not be able to run all the programs you need. Virtual Memory may have been enabled to compensate for a lack of physical RAM. Disabling it might not leave enough room for your programs to operate. The only way to know for sure is to try it and see.
  3. Buy more physical RAM. This solution will cost you money, but is the best way to go. More RAM will probably make your computer run faster since you can disable Virtual Memory and avoid all that hard disk access. It will also prepare you for newer programs that are always being released that need more and more RAM to operate properly.

Well, I hope all these answers helped. Please e-mail me your questions to [email protected] and I will be here every week to answer them.

Have fun!

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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