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by Steve Siercks, Jordan Streiff, & Chris Rogers
computer news with the teen perspective

This Old Mac...
by Chris Rogers
July 27th, 2000

Everyone loves their Mac at some point in their life. Some people love their Mac after they've finished doing all their finances in Quicken. Some love their Mac after they finished layout work for an ad. Some people love their Mac because they just finished creating the next #1 hit on the Weekly Top 40.

Then there's also those Mac users who can't get the stupid thing to work without crashing. Let's face it, the Mac isn't perfect. It has it's flaws. No true multitasking, no crash resistance built in, no this, no that. Either way, you're going to have to deal with it because hey, it's your Mac!

You might be reading this right now having nightmares of all the crashes and freezes that may have plagued your Mac at some point in time, but this article is not here to scare you. I hope I can offer a bit of help to you. This is my first iTeen column called This Old Mac and I am using my powers to help solve toady's Mac problems, or at least try to.

First off I'll let you in on a really, really cool secret. It's a secret that I use in the office all the time to help weary Mac users with broken computers. Apple has 2 Web sites that are the best resources you can find for your Mac. They are the Apple TIL ( and the ASU ( The first is Apple's Tech Info Library. Here you can find the latest conflicts with new systems and existing software and hardware. You can also find updates to problems occurring with Apple's hardware, like the iBook's problem with waking from sleep. Simply go to this Web site, type in some keywords (i.e. your computer name like iMac, G4, iBook, etc.) and scan the list for an entry that may solve your problem.

The second Web site is called Apple Software Updates. You can download software updates for anything Apple from ASU. They even sometimes have links to other popular Mac software titles like Office, if the software has an incompatibility with something on the Mac. Apple posts all of their updates for all of their products on this Web site. Downloads are very quick; they seem to have a very large pipeline for those who care about these things. Apple provides both of these services for free, so use it as much as possible; they are great tools and I know from experience they can be a life saver.

Not everything in a Mac life is free. Duh, you probably already know that. There are some things you should simply buy for your Mac. The three programs I recommend you go out and purchase right now are: Norton Utilities, TechTool Pro, and Norton Anti-Virus for Macintosh. If you already have them, then make sure you use them! I cannot thank Norton Utilities enough for all the help it has given me. It has saved my little white butt more than a thousand times. I have been able to resurrect crashed drives and save files. It is a real life saver, though I do have to say do not install it onto your hard drive because what good does it do there if your hard drive crashes. I also recommend MicroMat's TechTool program because it checks more parts of your system than Norton Utilities does and gives you a second opinion on what could be or is wrong with your Mac. Finally, Norton Anti-Virus for Macintosh is good to have even though there aren't many viruses around for the Macintosh. With the Mac's growing popularity, we may be seeing more Mac viruses than we might like.

If you run these apps on your computer every 2 weeks, you can save yourself many trips to the Apple Dealer near you. Even though I work for one of those dealers, I would like to say these program are tools you simply should not work without. We certainly use them ourselves at times.

Two more tricks that are good to run on your computer are resetting the PRAM once in a while. This trick has resurrected computers from some of the most bizarre problems you can imagine. Try it if your Mac doesn't work properly and you can't figure it out. You can reset your PRAM by holding down the Command (Apple) - Option - P and R keys on immediate startup of your machine. Your display will come on and then quickly leave and you will hear a second startup chime. You just reset your PRAM! You may have to double check your Control Panel settings however because doing this resets some of those settings like sound volumes.

The second trick is rebuilding your desktop file by holding the Command and Option keys before your computer completely starts up. A dialog box will show up asking if you would like to rebuild the desktop file on your Mac. A neat trick is putting an audio CD in your CD-ROM before you do this. If you have a large HD you can listen to your favorite CD while it rebuilds your desktop file as the CD starts playing immediately. Well this should be enough to keep your machine running for a long time. Feel free to e-mail me if you are having any bizarre problems and I will help explain from a Certified Technician's point of view on what the problem might be! Until NeXT Time (Isn't that G4 Cube cool, resembles the old NeXT cube kind of doesn't it?) Peace!


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Offering computer news with the teen perspectiv, iTeen Online started with a weekly column at under the supervision of Robert Aldridge. When they realized that there was a huge demand for teen computer news, iTeen Online was born. iTeen Online posted daily, original content that anyone (including adults) could read. Hits soared and iTeen Online became the number one source for teen computer news.

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