On a gorgeous Arizona summer Tuesday morning, I jumped out of bed as the sun crested nearby Mt. Lemmon. The mighty Macintosh in my office jumped to life with a familiar chime. I checked my email on the local BBS (bulletin board system), and prepared to log into WorldNet, my ISP (Internet Service Provider), for some pre-breakfast research.
Upon launching FreePPP, the “Connect” button was dimmed, with a message that FreePPP was not installed. Huh? Yes, there it was in the correct places, just like yesterday. How about my TCP/IP Control Panel? It didn’t show up at all, and I got another mysterious message saying Open Transport wasn’t even loaded. Not good. Adam Engst’s Internet Starter Kit book doesn’t have a cure for this problem.
I called WorldNet Mac Technical Service: (800) 400-1447, press 4, then press 2. Lorne listened to my symptoms, and then walked me through a double-check that all my Internet connectivity applications, preferences, extensions, and control panels were definitely not being cooperative. He was concerned about some suspicious items scattered throughout my hard drive, all with PPP as part of their names, so I parked them on a Zip disk, just in case. No improvement. I had some breakfast.
After scowling at my monitor and notes taken earlier, I called WorldNet
again, and spoke to Tim. He also took me through a patient diagnosis, then recommended I reinstall all the Open Transport software from my original Apple system CD. I was less than enthusiastic about that course of action, and went for a walk to hug a few cacti and talk to a couple of rattlesnakes.
Having backed up my entire hard disk recently, I got a brilliant idea. I
trashed all the corrupted Open Transport files, and copied the
previously-working versions from a Zip backup disk, then restarted. Same non-response. This time John at WorldNet insisted I reinstall totally fresh Apple software, not backed-up files.
My next brilliant idea: do an install from the Apple 7.5.3 system CD of only the Networking items. Perhaps they would be compatible with my current Mac OS 7.5.5. (I know what you’re thinking.) The computer crashed upon startup.
I was still full of beans, and decided to reinstall the OS 7.5.5 updater,
hoping that the installer would only update the useless 7.5.3 extensions. My installation was successful, said the installer, except now I had both the 7.5.3 and the 7.5.5 items, and was still unable to connect from FreePPP Setup. I ran Norton Utilities, with “No Problems Found,” and … oh yes, that reminds me!
Here’s how the whole mess started. A week earlier I had installed Norton
Utilities 3.5, and immediately began to have unusual problems and crashes. I decided that I needed selectively to turn off incompatible extensions and control panels, which I did, with varying success. (At this point you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Conflict Catcher 4 yet, right? It’s definitely time for a new utility purchase, friends.)
I thought I had finally straightened out my system, after a week of crashes
at startup and enormous frustration, because everything was humming along nicely. Everything, that is, except my connectivity extensions. I simply had not logged onto my ISP in a day or two.
Back to the story. I again removed every Open Transport item from the System Folder, and called it quits. Then I called (800) SOS-APPL, out of a sense of pure whimsy. The recorded message told me politely to call back later, much later. I gave up, and headed to the pool for a swim before lunch.
Barbara, my intrepid wife, attempted to get me to explain the chain of
events, bless her soul, but I was not feeling chatty. Her oft-repeated
question, “Hey, John, why are computers so complicated?” brought no response from me. Wearing my goggles and ear plugs (but not my fins), as I walked past the disk with the Apple 7.5.3 installer CD, Barbara’s curiosity infected me. Could I have missed something obvious? I dashed back to the office in my swimsuit.
Again I installed only the 7.5.3 Networking files. I didn’t even try to log
into WorldNet. I dug out my dusty MacSense CD #4-02, which happens to have the Open Transport updater 1.1.2. Breaking into a cold sweat, I ran the OT 1.1.2 installer. Are you on the edge of your seat?
The new OT disk-image software did indeed update the 7.5.3 items. Hallelujah! Was I out of the woods? I was breathing heavy by this time, as I launched FreePPP Setup. Yes, the “Connect” button was now ready for my click. I determined that I needed to re-enter the “DNS” WorldNet settings in the TCP/IP control panel, saving me from yet another call to WorldNet Tech Support.
And so, just like that, I was back on the Internet. I did a cursory tidying
of my startup extensions and control panels, and then Barbara and I
celebrated with a lunch featuring fresh coleslaw in mustard-yogurt dressing.
Is there a moral? Keep your system disks, updaters, and backup files nice and safe, and remember where you put them! Keep a library of original and backup applications, with a list of what versions you own.
Call tech support when necessary, and take their advice, but maintain a level head during the process. Take complete notes as you work through conflicts. Remember to do all installs with “Extensions Off.”
Your Mac is usually a great friend. When it tests your patience, preserve
your sense of humor. That little hard drive is probably chuckling quietly to itself.
John Nemerovski (firstname.lastname@example.org)