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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

Dealing With The Undeletable Folder From [That Hot Place]
October 7th, 1999

Holy super computers, Batman! We've got a few quirky little problems to discuss this week, and we visit options for dead components like hard drives and motherboards. That, and we get a letter from a man of the cloth! So, e-mail your questions to me quick, and then read on!

Rev. Wayne Rouse writes, "After I did a clean install of OS 7.6 on my Mac 8600/300 MHz I ended up with an 'Iomega' file which I am unable to trash. When I try to empty the trash the window which indicates the number of items to be trashed starts with -2000 or something like. One time I let it go to -200,000 before I stopped it. Can I get rid of this file without initializing my hard drive? I've used Norton Utilities etc but nothing with read the file. . . .therefore it can't be deleted. Will I have any trouble if I just leave the file on my hard drive?"

Well, Reverend, I'm not sure, but this sure sounds similar to the "Folder from," um... you're a Reverend... so we'll just say, "Folder from [insert really hot place here further south than your basement]." Anyway, the long and short of it is that the typical solution here, unfortunately, is to back up all your data and reformat your hard drive. However, a recent posting to MacFixIt's forums suggests that newer versions of Disk First Aid may be able to fix this problem. With that in mind, Perhaps Norton Utilities 5.0 could do it as well. Certainly worth a shot before wiping the drive.

As far as leaving it alone, well, I wouldn't recommend that. This is indicative of a problem with the directory structure itself, and once you have irreparable damage done here, things are only going to get worse. Fix it now, or suffer the consequences in about a year or so...

Stu and Sarah Wladyka write, "Hello Dave, extremely helpful site you have. [Dave's Note: note that it helps to smother me with compliments] I'm wondering about trying to slim down the time File Sharing takes to start. It seems it used to be faster, then I selected the hard disk as sharable with my girlfriends new iBook, after realizing the error of my experiment (it copied the settings to all the folders) I unchecked the 'share item...' option for the disk and went back to just using a shared folder with few items. Now when I start filesharing it takes quite a long time (about as long as it did to copy the sharing settings to enclosed folders/files)...I've trashed a few prefs and such wit no avail, I'm fairly experienced with the Mac, but not networking/AppleTalk. Let me know if you have any ideas, we'd appreciate it very much."

Well, folks, even though you're one of the lucky few to actually have a new iBook, I'll let that slide and answer your question. :-) You'll notice that, even when a drive ISN'T marked as shared, you can still mount it over the network if you log in as the machines owner. So every drive IS getting shared. What has happened here is that you went and told it to use explicit permissions for each folder when you clicked that checkbox and told it to share the item. You need to "reset" all this. While it's possible to do it with individual settings, the easiest way I've found is to delete the "Appleshare PDS" file, which is a hidden document at the root of every volume. Use something like File Buddy to make it visible, then trash it and restart the machine. That ought to do it.

Michael Grauer writes, "I have a Power Macintosh: 6500/225 with an IDE Quantum Fireball ST. 3.5 GB running System 8.1. When booting up the Mac, the smiley face appeared on a gray background and stopped. When booting up from the CD, the DeskTop came up normal until the CD appeared (darkened). The menu was at top and the cursor moved with the mouse but nothing could be selected/activated.

After trying various means to isolate the problem, I found that when I disconnected the internal IDE drive, the computer booted up normally (CD). I got the system running normally with my old Centris 610 internal SCSI drive (hooked up in the 5-inch bay).

After the Mac was up-and-running, I hooked up the IDE (the cable was already connected, I merely inserted the power connector) I tried various diagnostic programs (i.e. Norton, TechTools, etc.) and nothing could detect the presence of the IDE.

My first question is: do you think is this a hard drive problem, an electronics problem, or a cable problem? Is there any easy way to rule out an electronics problem before I purchase a new IDE and install it (i.e. ATA interface)?

My gut tells me it's the hard drive itself. Everything seems to work fine (with it cabled) until the drive actually powers up. That's indicative of a problem with the circuitry on the drive. If there was a problem with your IDE interface, I would think that you would see it manifest itself earlier in the process here. It is, however, possible that it is the IDE cable. I would still tend to think it's the hard drive, but the cable is certainly a possibility. For $4 you can test that out and be ready to go!

If it is the IDE, how large a drive can I replace it with (I'm looking at 9 to 15 GB), and can I use any type of internal IDE (I have HardDisk Toolkit).

Yes, there's a whole host of options available for the Mac as far as IDE goes. You can read a previous column of mine that discusses this in depth, and you can also check the "Supported Devices" list that comes with FWB's Hard Disk Toolkit to ensure that you're getting a drive that you can format and use.

Brian Jacobson writes, "On my G3 Powerbook, when I switch my AppleTalk from Ethernet to Modem/Printer Port more than once without restarting, the computer locks up with a CHK error. What is that and why is it doing it?"

While I've never seen an actual description of the "CHK" error, it typically indicates a serious enough problem that requires a restart, which is exactly what you're reporting. I've seen similar problems when the PRAM has gotten corrupted. That's where the computer saves its network device settings, so resetting the PRAM with TechTool might do the trick. The other thing to try would be deleting your AppleTalk preferences file (and your AppleShare Prep just for good measure).

Dave Fetterman writes, "This is less of a 'solve my problem' question, and more along the lines of 'I'd like to get your opinion on something.' My wife and I have a beige G3 which suits us just fine, doing pretty much everything we need. We also have, buried in a closet, her old PowerMac 7500/100 which was forced into retirement when the logic board died. Tinkerer and Mac fanatic that I am, I'd like to see if I can breathe new life into the old computer.

So, what's your opinion on this salvage operation? Would buying a G3 upgrade card make sense? Investing in some new components (bigger hard drive, etc.)? And, as I'm relatively new to the Mac-restoration hobby, is there something I've missed, like will I first need to find a new logic board?"

Well, Dave, depending on what component actually died, you may or may not need to replace the whole logic board. I would definitely say that a G3 upgrade card makes sense, especially in light of all the price drops that are happening now that the G4s are starting to appear out there. A G3 upgrade, some more RAM, and a larger (SCSI) hard drive would help to turn that machine into a real workhorse.

If it was *just* the processor that died, then your G3 upgrade will replace that and you're good to go. If it was the logic board, however, then you either need to visit your friendly, yet costly, Apple dealer, or go to someone like Shreve Systems. Shreve, AllMac, and others like them deal in refurbished Mac parts, and can save you a BUNDLE if you're willing to do the work yourself. That, and they typically give you a rebate if you ship your old, dead, logic board back to them. Yep, that's right, they'll pay you for something dead (so long as you buy your replacement from them)!

And that's all there is this week, folks. E-mail me your questions at [email protected], and we'll see you next week!

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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