Starting Line
My Mac Magazine #36, April ’98

Dear Readers:

I’ve just gotten back online after a month of no Internet access. Why, you ask? Well, after checking the phone lines, swapping out the modem, and various other checks, it turns out I had an extension conflict… duh! That should have been the first thing I checked out! I had forgotten some of the problems my system gave me the previous month and with all the crashing, swapping out components, etc., the extension conflict should have been obvious. But I don’t feel too bad. My tech didn’t check for it and it took four calls to AOL for their techs to suggest it.

By the way, special thanks to the last gentleman I spoke with at AOL. I thought I had his name! It was his suggestion to check for extension conflicts and try the clean install which got me back online. And thumbs down to the female who blew my tech off. She walked him through some checks and finally told him he’d have to reinstall the software and “that takes too long… goodbye!”

Now, I’ve had to reinstall software after speaking to someone on the help lines. Probably all of us have had to at one point. They always give you a reference number or tell you to call them back or something if it doesn’t work. This person did not. She hung up on a customer!

But then, customer service is never what it should be…

Helpful Hints

HH#42: Check for extension conflicts first!-Use the above for reference. If I had done that early in the game, I would have been back online in a couple of days rather than a month.

HH#43: The cold is not your friend-Teemu Masalin
, a reader in Finland told me this tale:

It’s winter in Finland right now. Teemu had a box of floppies, with files on them, in a suitcase. When they were brought out to be used, they were erased! But, when Teemu returned home, where it was warm, the floppies were back to normal. The only explanation Teemu can think of is the extreme cold is detrimental to floppies.

If anyone has insight to Teemu’s experience, please email us. We’d love to expand this topic. And Teemu, thanks for sharing your story with My Mac!

HH#44: Unreadable Disks-This actually ties in with HH #41, Tuning Up. Usually disks you’ve used before that come up as unreadable have a simple problem: their directories are a bit scrambled. Most of the time, ejecting and reinserting the floppy or Syquest or Zip, etc., etc. takes care of the issue. If it does not, try running Disk First Aid. If you still have a problem run a repair program like Symantec’s Norton Utilities.

Another option for you to consider is to rebuild the desktop on the floppy. Yes, I did say rebuild the desktop on the floppy. Just like your hard drive, your floppy has the same invisible folders and files. When you go to insert your floppy, hold down on the Option and Command keys and a dialog box will appear, asking if you wish to rebuild the desktop. Click yes, and your Mac will handle the rest.

HH#45: Unknown Application Files-Say you have a file you’ve worked on for months. You try to open and instead get a message saying the file was created with an unknown application. There’re easy ways of dealing with this situation to save your file.

The first is ensure the application the file was created in is on the computer you are using. Then, open the application and try opening the file from within the application. Depending on the application, you may have to use the “Open Other” command. This usually takes care of the problem.

If you find several of your files on your computer have become unknowns, rebuild your desktop. This essentially resets your system and things should return to normal.

In desperate situations, and this is only for the very brave, you can use ResEdit. Make a copy of the unknown file. Then, launch ResEdit.

First, with ResEdit, open a file in the same application as the file that has become unknown. You will find a four character type code and a four character creator code. These are normally hidden, which is why you need ResEdit to see them. Write down these codes exactly as they are case sensitive. Close file.

Open the copy of the problem file, again with ResEdit. Enter the type and creator codes. Close file, quite ResEdit, and you should be okay. If not, at least your original problem file is still with you and you can try again.

Internet Site of the Month
ONTRACK Data International: I briefly visited this site to check its usefulness and was impressed. You can download Data Advisor 4.01 which will diagnose and prevent hard drive data loss. They also offer Ontrack Jumper Viewer, a Java applet and Disk Manager 2.0 for Windows . Disk Manager is a hard drive installation utility.

Last, and most important, they currently have free data recovery assistance for victims of the recent California floods. I love good corporate citizenship.

Jumping back a couple of months, to HH #36– Peripherals, David Minsk
wrote to say he has never been plagued with the problems I wrote about.

I say, good for you, David! My guess is that the effect is cumulative, as I had been doing this for years before my system refused to cooperate. Also, David is running 7.5.3, which is probably more stable than my System 7.1. If any of our readers has insight, send email! This is yet another area worth exploring.

On that note, if you have a particular area that’s giving you trouble, or have a solution to a problem and you want to tell the world, email me. I’ll answer you both personally and post it in the column. I promise, I won’t use your name if you don’t want me to!


Barbara Bell (

Websites mentioned:

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