View Full Version : Strange random behavior

05-09-2001, 10:49 PM
I believe I am dealing with two problems. One is my monitor is failing as I am discussing in the Video forum. However, I am experiencing some very strange erratic behavior that I can't figure out which I don't think is related to the failing monitor.

Beige G3, rev 1
OS 8.1
No new hardware
Two new shareware programs
Scans for viruses show everything is clean

I don't know how to explain what's happening because it's not one specific thing. It's a bunch of little quirky things here and there. I'll try to list what I can. Sorry this is so long!

1. The first time I noticed a problem was after downloading two shareware programs. Pre-Lister 3.7.1 (http://www.blackmagik.com/gavelware.html) and Auction Monitor 1.3 (http://www.blackmagik.com/auctionmonitor.html). I was unable to expand Pre-Lister which was later determined caused by a corrupted pref for Aladdin Expander. Once I was able to clear that up and expand the file, I didn't really run the file other than to confirm that it would load. However, I have been running Auction Monitor. It appears to run okay, but it had a problem that the author claimed was not a bug in his software. The icon that should appear in the menu on the far right side of the screen was missing. It was just blank. I used Icon Tools to "reset icon" and suddenly the icon appeared and has remained ever since. I mention this because I have to wonder if this program is the root cause of my problems. It could also be the first symptom of some other kind of problem.

2. Later that day I was working in Photoshop. When I tried to switch from Photoshop to the Finder, the screen became very distorted with lines and gray and colored blotches. It was so bad that my monitor turned itself off (first time I've ever experienced that). I rebooted and all seemed well except I noticed that my main hard drive claimed to be full. I emptied the trash containing the Photoshop scratch files, but the hard drive still claimed to be full. I rebooted, and that's when the hard drive showed the normal amount of free disk space available.

3. I was online (Netscape 4.6) and switching between windows when I noticed that the window in the background scrolled to the top or close to the top on it's own. It did this several times with several different websites, but not consistently. I have never had it do that before. It would always make the change while the window was in the background and I was active in another window in the foreground.

4. The Finder did this very same thing while I was doing a File Find. I had ran File Find, opened a folder about halfway down the list, and when I closed that folder, File Find had scrolled back to the top of the list. This has never happened before either.

There have been other strange things that have happened, but this is what I can think of right now. It's just a series of strange behaviors that I have never experienced before.

Does anyone have any ideas where I should start to look to find what's wrong?

BTW, I want to check my hard drives out. Any recommendations for a good hard drive maintenance utility? Thank you!

[This message has been edited by vickishome (edited 09 May 2001).]

05-10-2001, 12:45 AM

I almost downloaded those two programs today. I'm glad that I didn't.

These symptoms are so weird that my first thought is virus. What do you use for virus protection and is it set to scan downloads?

05-10-2001, 07:04 AM
I should hang my head low. I don't have anything that scans automatically. I scan manually using Norton AntiVirus v5.0.3 (pretty old version). I did not scan the files before opening them. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif But after I started experiencing the problems, I did a Live Update with Norton and then scanned both hard drives. They came up clean.

I know it could be a virus, but my gutt feeling thinks it's not. It feels more like there's a corrupted extension or system file. Or maybe my computer has become haunted. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

I need to do some disk maintenance anyway. I finally found the name of the disk utility I saw someone here suggest: Disk Warrior. Do you know where I can get it? (edited to say - dumb question - www.diskwarrior.com (http://www.diskwarrior.com) takes me to the website where I can get it.)

My first hard drive is just about full which may account for some of the problems. My second drive has 55 gigs free so I think I'll move some of the data to my second drive and give my first one some more working space. The first drive has my system and all of my applications. I've had a couple of other strange things happen that I believe may be caused by the first hard drive filling up.

My computer has been rock solid for a long time which has led me to ignore basic maintenance. I may be regretting it now.

So what are the basic maintenance steps you guys recommend? I've already rebuilt the desktop. I should zap my pram (what are the keys I hold down?). I need to defrag my hard drives and check for bad spots. I used Conflict Catcher to check for bad files - it said everything was okay. What else should I be doing that I've ignored?

[This message has been edited by vickishome (edited 10 May 2001).]

05-11-2001, 09:15 AM
Hi Vicki
For utilities/maintenance info a la the gurus, see The Gurus Speak Out on Utilities (http://www.macgurus.com/graphics/mgscsisoftware.html).

My 8600 went through a stretch where it was very erratic. I finally found that my HD had "severe" fragmentation, according to Norton (while the gurus don't recommend using Norton Speed Disk to defrag, it can give you a relative idea of your HD's frag level). I had bought the 8600 on ebay and proceeded to upgrade the OS and install all my apps and stuff without doing anything to the HD. Pretty soon it was almost unusable--all kinds of wild behaviors. I decided to upgrade to OS 9.0.4, and so rebuilt my OS/apps from scratch. Reinitalizing the drive fixed the fragmentation, of course, and I no longer save data to that HD (I have a second one also that I use for work/temp storage). Been very smooth ever since (mostly following the gurus' advice on their utilities page). You might want to think about keeping your OS/apps on a relatively pristine HD or partition when you get everything whipped back into shape (or perhaps whip things back into shape along these lines).

Also, if you're using Virtual Memory (don't know whether you are or not) on a very full, very fragmented HD, it would seem to me that that would lead to all sorts of problems, too. Just some thoughts that I hope will help...


BTW, definitely keep your virus protection up to date, and you might want to upgrade Netscape to 4.76 (if it'll run on 8.1). http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

[This message has been edited by geotime (edited 11 May 2001).]

05-11-2001, 10:34 AM
Thank you for the link and info! It is very helpful! http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

I bought DiskWarrior yesterday and ran it on both drives. Very interesting results. My second drive has only been in use for about a year and came up with quite a few "oversized threads", mostly for graphics I work on. I'm still scratching my head on that one.

But the real surprise was what DiskWarrior found on my main hard drive. There were hundreds of folders recovered, and upon inspection, appear to be nothing more than a bunch of empty folders I had thrown away in the trash (and then emptied the trash). The folders were thrown away at various times, anywhere from many months ago to recent. There were a number of other problems found and corrected, but the empty folders stood out since there were so many. Obviously, I have had some sort of problem that has gone undetected. It didn't seem to affect any of my data or my applications, but it may explain some of the random errors I have encountered every now and then. The errors were usually few and far between until just these last few days.

I plan to run DiskWarrior very frequently to see if it continues to find these same problems which would tell me if the cause of the problem is still ongoing. Once I get things cleaned up, I'll continue to run it frequently because I think it would clue me in early on when something has gone bad so I can repair the errors before I actually lose any data. The earlier I can find that something has gone wrong, the better chance I have of backtracking my steps and figuring out where the error is.

I know my disk is severely fragmented because I have not defragged it in eons. This very well may be where my problems are coming from, especially as that drive is filling up to capacity. I will get it defragged as soon as I can ensure that I have a solid full backup of the drive.

Drive Set Up says my hard drive does not have any surface errors. I do not use virtual memory (don't like it at all). Instead, I upgraded to 256megs of RAM soon after getting the computer. I give Photoshop 50 megs to play with and point the scratch disk at my 2nd drive, a Cheetah 73gig with about 55gigs still free. I'll look info upgrading Netscape after I get everything stable again (I don't like making changes on an unstable computer). My Mac is already running better than it was before running DiskWarrior so I think I'm on the right track.

Thanks again for the help. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

05-11-2001, 10:24 PM

DiskWarrior is great but it's a one-act play; It only does Directories. NUM and TTP do many other things. You really need of of the others in addition to DW, plus a good antivirus program.

A virus program needs the monthly updates to be effective.

I keep forgeting that you are still using OS 8.1, so all the older utilities versions will work. NAV is up to v7, NUM is v6, Virex is 6.1.

You shouldn't let you disks get over about 80% full. They need breathing room.

How's the sick daughter?

05-11-2001, 11:03 PM
vickie, you are actually better off running NAV manually rather than using the automatic scanning feature. While your version is a little old, it is still updated monthly, and works just fine. It is absolutely better than nothing!

I agree with your gut-feel: you need to look and see what has changed in your extensions folder.


05-11-2001, 11:04 PM
Thanks for asking about my daughter. She's doing great today. It's good to see her back to her ol' self. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Let's see what utilities I already have:

Norton Utilities v4.0
Norton AntiVirus v5.0.3 (with a live update subscription and current updates)

If I remember right, the 4.0 version of Norton Utilities took quite a beating in the press when it was first released. I bought it when it first came out because I was familiar with Norton Tools, pc version. When the press said it was so bad, I chose to not use it. That was the beginning of my lack of routine maintenance. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif Maybe I should get the upgrade now and get back on track with my maintenance. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Norton Antivirus seems to be quite happy as long as I get the monthly updates. I'll leave that the way it is.

And for a laugh, I also have:

Norton Utilities v1.0 (copyright 1990!)
Symantec SUM II v2.0 (award winning in 1989!)
Symantec SAM v3.0 (better... it's 1991)
Alsoft DiskExpress v1.5 (1986-1987)
and last but not least,
Central Point Software PC Tools Deluxe for the Mac (for 512K and Mac II)

Gee, I'm feeling old tonight. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Okay, so I need to scan for viruses, defrag my drive, check for surface errors on my hard drives and keep my directories in shape. Does that about cover it?

05-12-2001, 12:17 AM
Norton 4.0 was a disaster. However, get the free update to 4.03 from Symantec. It was OK by then.

05-12-2001, 12:24 AM
Great, I'll do that! Thanks, Louie! http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

05-15-2001, 10:22 AM
Just a quick update. After doing some basic maintenance (defragging and running Disk Doctor and DiskWarrior), the strange behaviors seem to have disappeared. However, I'm not sure if the maintence did the trick or not (see below).

Norton's Disk Doctor found a problem with the icon for Auction Monitor 1.3 (see my first post in this thread). After "fixing" the icon, the icon will not show up in the upper right side menu anymore. I don't know why. But this is the exact same problem I had when I first downloaded and opened the program. The author claims it's not his programming. I believe differently. I have downloaded (and paid for - Grrrrrr!) two of his software programs (Pre-Lister and Auction Monitor), and regardless of the version I use, both programs have problems running. The new version of Pre-Lister is crashing so badly that it's completely unusable. And I have to wonder why I started having those weird behaviors while running Auction Monitor only to see them disappear when I stopped running it. Therefore, I have decided to not run either program. I believe they are so buggy that they can cause harm to my other files. I suspect it's an extension conflict since I have so many extensions running, but I would think the author should be more interested in finding the cause. His reply is, "thousands of people have downloaded it so it must be okay". Well, that's not convincing me. YMMV.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me with this! Let's hope things continue to run smoothly now. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif