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Thread: Strange video problem after installing new RAM

  1. #1
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    I just installed new RAM (from the gurus!), and now I'm having a strange video problem. I have a beige G3 tower running OS 8.1. I just installed three 256MB DIMMS which appear to be working great.

    After booting and watching the extensions load, my screen should normaly change from the desktop pattern to the desktop picture. Then all of my icons on my desktop should load.

    For some reason, as the icons load, the desktop pattern appears on the screen before the desktop picture appears. This also happens after booting. For example, if I select "About this computer..." and view the info on the screen, when I click to close the window, the desktop pattern is displayed where the window was. Then, finally, the desktop picture fills in the space. This is not at all normal for my G3.

    I hope I've explained that well enough. It's as if my Mac can't display the desktop picture fast enough so it first fills in the space with the desktop pattern until the picture is able to display.

    Now what's really interesting about this is if I start up Photoshop, the problem goes away! It's too early to tell for sure, but it appears the problem is "fixed" by Photoshop until I reboot again. So something that Photoshop does when it loads is fixing the problem.

    I've ran ToolTech Pro and confirmed that everything is working, including my new RAM and the VRAM. I checked everything chip-wise that ToolTech Pro offers a test for, and it all passed. I've zapped and restored my PRAM. I've removed the desktop picture and even changed the pattern. If I have only a desktop pattern, no problem. But the moment I have a desktop picture selected, it happens again.

    Any ideas? Thanks for any help!

    Edited to add:

    I managed to get a couple of pictures showing the problem (thank goodness for digital cameras!). In these pictures, all I did was open and close my hard drive folder. The first picture, I was closing the window. Just as the window disappeared from the screen, you can see the desktop pattern where the window once was. This flashes for a moment, and is then filled in with the desktop picture.
    http://www.vickishome.com/00misc/macgurus/videopic1.jpg

    This second picture shows what happens to the hard drive icon when I open it. Look at the red arrow. Notice how the desktop pattern appears as a square instead of the icon. The icon reappears shortly after the window finishes opening.
    http://www.vickishome.com/00misc/macgurus/videopic2.jpg

    This problem seems to happen with everything on my desktop until I run Photoshop. After I run Photoshop, everything returns back the way it should be -- even after I've closed Photoshop. Strange!

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    [This message has been edited by vickishome (edited 09 April 2002).]

  2. #2
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    Well, maybe I do have a problem with the memory I installed. I've been searching the internet for a fix to the problem I'm having, and I ran across this page. This guy appears to have had the exact same problem when he installed new RAM. Unfortunately, I couldn't find that anyone had answered him.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I took delivery last Tuesday of a G3/400 with 128megs of ram in it's stock config and a flat screen Studio Display [LCD?-Mike]. When I initially set it up, I set the company logo as a desktop picture. Fine, works. On Monday, my 4 256meg dimms arrived. Yahoo (or so I thought)! After removing the stock 128meg dimm and installing the 4 256megs, the redraw of the desktop picture and all the icons became highly erractic. Close a window and the background pattern is seen in it's place for almost a second. Once the desktop picture redraws that area, all the icons flicker one by one.

    Remove the desktop picture, problem solved. Today, I installed the new Rage drivers from Apple. Put the desktop picture back up. Same issue but the redraw and icon flicker happens faster. Pull the picture, ok.... well, almost. Now the menu bar clock disappears when apps/windows open and close and when you click on the clock to display the date. I haven't watched this last bit long enough to figure out if there is a pattern yet. Anyway, that's it so far.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Can anyone help with this? Am I unable to run this new RAM in my Mac?



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  3. #3
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    I've run into the same problem on my G3/Powerbook Lombard - it tends to happen if I have a lot of apps open and then I open something that is memory intensive ie. QuickTime or PowerPoint. It flips into the desktop pattern and then it VERY SLOWLY pops up icons.. The problem seems to go away when I close some apps or reboot. It is tied to RAM somehow.. I can't figure out what it is though

    Chris

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    Hi Vicki,

    Just wanted to make sure you knew we weren't ignoring you. You just pose interesting questions.

    Wish I had an idea what you have going on. I wonder if a CUDA reset would help? Do an OpenFirmware reset? How bout running XLR8s PowerControl to test ram, with PowerFrax runnng in the back ground.

    Biggest thing that comes to mind for me is upgrading your OS to at least 8.6. Can't believe your still on 8.1, I didn't think the Beige even came with 8.1, thought it was 8.5. Not that I know anything.

    Just questions, gotta be some sort of software issue though, the way things can come and go really looks like startup order or some sort of faulty NVRAM setting.

    Rick

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    Quick question, what PCI cards do you have installed?

    Rick

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    Could it be that something is loaded into VRAM that isn't supposed to be - (or vice versa) so it's akin to a memory leak??

    Chris

  7. #7
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    Hand it to me to come up with a weird one. All I did was install the new memory. Let me see if I can answer the questions you've asked.

    Chris - This is definitely not caused by having too many apps open, but that is how it "feels" when I see it. I've barely even opened any apps since this began. I've ran maybe 3 or 4 apps (and I usually have about 6-8 running). I haven't changed any of the memory requirements on my apps either.

    Rick - Umm... whatsa CUDA reset? If you'll tell me what to do, I'll give it a try. Ditto on openfirmware reset... don't know what it is (can you tell my G3 has ran smoothly all this time - never had to do any of this stuff before). I've zapped the PRAM and rebuilt my desktop to no avail. All tests with TechTool come out clean. I'd be happy to run XLR8's tests if someone can tell me where to grab it (it's free, right?).

    I've been 'round and 'round before about upgrading my OS. My G3 came with OS8.0. I upgraded to 8.1. It's a Rev 1 G3. I then proceeded to fill it full of hardware and software. To upgrade my OS, I'd have to spend a fortune upgrading my hardware and software. It would be better to get a new Mac and start fresh again (which I had planned on doing before my husband was laid off - no new Mac for me right now).

    PCI cards:
    1. I have the audio whatchamadoodle card that Apple shiped with the G3 (that funky card that you plug your speakers into).
    2. A defunct Radius Firewire card (one of the first that came out). It came as a bundle with the digital video software (one of the reasons I can't upgrade my OS).
    3. An ATTO SCSI card - also came with the G3.
    4. A defunct IXMicro Ultimate Rez card that also came with the G3. (I'm interested in replacing this card if I can find something better that will run with OS8.1).

    All old stuff. All worked great. Until now.

    What's also interesting is that other apps can "fix" the problem, not just Photoshop. I loaded Netscape and then MacSOUP, and that was enough to fix the problem. I tried again with just Netscape, and no good. I tried with just MacSOUP, and that was no good. But the two together worked. It makes me think that I have to "use" enough RAM for the problem to go away. Isn't that weird?! And whatever I do, once I load apps that "fixes" the problem, the problem remains "fixed" even after I've closed all of the apps and the memory is once again showing as "available".

    Weird! Weird! Weird!

    There's a part of me that thinks I can't run this RAM in my Mac, but then why does it work okay AFTER I've loaded some apps? If the RAM can't work, then it shouldn't be able to work at any time. But it does. I'm at a total loss on this one.

    Also wanted to add:
    - I have no RAM disks. No virtual memory. My disk cache is 7680K (don't know why, should I change that?).
    - I have 20% free disk space on Hard Drive 1 (Quantum 4GB came with G3) and about 50% free on Hard Drive 2 (Cheetah, I think it's around 70GB). No IDE drives; 2 SCSI busses.
    - My Mac is 266MHz, not 233.
    - I also have an internal SCSI MicroTech PCD-47 card reader, and an external SCSI scanner (talk about old! It's almost 10 years old and still working great!).

    That's it. That's all I have except for printers and modems and such.

    All of my video appears normal and loads quickly with the single exception of the strange desktop problem when I boot. So it's not just slow video throughout. I've also noticed that when I open a window, the text for the icons close to the window "jump" when the window is opened.

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    [This message has been edited by vickishome (edited 10 April 2002).]

  8. #8
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    Well, I've never tried to do a startup into OpenFirmware on a Beige G3, don't know if this will work but here's the procedure:

    Hold down the Command+Option+O+F keys during startup. If you get a command interface (looks like a DOS interface on a winders machine) then your set to do a reset. If you don't get anything out of the norm then we know this won't do anything.

    In Open Firmware you will get a bunch of text that ends in a "> prompt. At this prompt type in:

    > set-defaults
    press return
    > reset-all
    press return
    Your computer will then resume normal restart.

    Anytime you install new hardware you should do a CUDA reset. On the motherboard is a small1/8 inch button down by the PCI slots I think, that you should push with a pencil for about 30 seconds when installing particularly cpus and PCI cards but also sometimes will solve issues with ram installs.

    Pressing the CUDA reset sets the PRAMs and the NVRAM to default, in the case of hardware slots that means blank. The boot strap program then is forced to re-appraise all your hardware and reset the startup to match. Also this sets up the hardware test that comes during every bootup process. Important stuff.

    If you need to see a picture of the motherboard to determine where the CUDA switch is you can see one at the Gurus main site at: http://www.macgurus.com/graphics/mgwhichram.html

    If this helps great, if not we'll keep working on this. BTW, XLR8s PowerControl and PowerFrax utilities are available on the Gurus ftp site:

    ftp://ftp.macgurus.com/

    Power Control should be let run all night with Frax running in the background. The ram test works great. Make sure all energy saver settings are set to 'never'.

    If in doubt you might try switching your ram around to different slots, see if anything changes.

    We'll figure this out yet.

    Rick

  9. #9
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    Ha! I'm one up on you. When I installed the RAM, I also took pictures of my motherboard and every card I have inside my G3. It's very difficult to get into my Mac because of where it's located so the pictures are my way of looking inside whenver I need. I have located the reset button.

    I'm a little scared of the OpenFirmware stuff you mentioned, but I'll give it a try. I think I'd better print off your instructions before I get into trouble. You're positive about those command, right? Every keystoke is exactly as you typed, dashes and all?

    set-defaults
    reset-all

    I'll try that first and see what happens. Then I'll give your other ideas a try.

    Wish me luck!



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  10. #10
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    Yep, those are the commands, I double, triple edited my post to you. Everytime I post those I cringe a little. No one has had a problem, but it is possible to tell your computer to never boot up again, or to only boot from a linux disk or some such nonsense while in OF. Is a scary thing.

    But the darn reset has saved my butt twice with my G4. I have never run a Beige so don't know if it was manufactured with OF available.

    I would choose the OpenFirmware as the last of the alternatives I gave you only because it's the least likely to resolve the issue.

    Rick

    Good luck

  11. #11
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    Whenever you put your hands inside a computer, there is always the possibility of bumping something or something possibly not fully seated. I would check that all RAM and VRAM and all cards and all cables are fully seated, everything. In the case of cards, push straight down until you feel a slight give to the motherboard. k

  12. #12
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    Well, Rick, there's nothing to fear. I'm still here. My G3 wouldn't do diddly while I had those keys pressed down. I held them down for about 5 minutes (enough for my fingers to cramp!), and nothing, nadda, zip. My monitor wouldn't even come on. Finally, after letting go, it began to startup (after enough time for the RAM test to have been done so I think it began the test after I let go of the keys). When the monitor turned on, I quickly pressed the keys again, and then my G3 offered to rebuild my desktop. I politely declined. So no openfirmware resets for me tonight!

    Hi Kaye - funny you should mention bumpin' stuff while you're inside the computer. About a month ago, I opened my Mac and cleaned it out. It was incredibly filthy with dust! I removed every card and vacumed the whole durn thing. All was good when I put it back together.

    Today, when I installed the RAM, I decided to get pictures of my cards because it's so hard to get inside my Mac. Once again, I pulled everything out. Got my pictures, and put it all back together. Everything was fine (except this weird problem).

    So who knows... maybe I bumped something in the process? I know everything is seated very well since I just reinstalled all of the cards today. I have a feeling my next best step is to hit that reset button, but what a pain trying to get my Mac out of its hole. Geeeez, I hate trying to get that thing in and out. But I guess I need to do it.

    I just tested my theory of having to "use" a certain amount of memory in order to make the problem go away, and it does appear to be the case. I increased the memory for MacSOUP to 50MB. It was 10MB, and that alone wasn't enough to "fix" the problem. But when I opened MacSOUP with 50MB, my problem disappeared immediately! It was funny because MacSOUP decided to not load with that memory setting, and I had to do a force quit. But that was still enough to do the trick. I checked the available memory and memory usage of my system (About this computer...), and the numbers were identical before and after loading and quitting MacSOUP, but the problem was, once again, "fixed". Hmmm...

    I guess I need to get my hands on that reset button and see if that will be of any help.

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    [This message has been edited by vickishome (edited 10 April 2002).]

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    Okay, I've pressed my reset button. I know it did something because my clock/date was wrong and needed to be reset (said it was 1956 - a very good year!). But no joy. My problem remains.

    I have narrowed down the amount of memory I have to use in order to "fix" the problem. It's somewhere between 40MB and 45MB. Does that mean anything? I keep hoping this will be a clue somehow. If nothing else, it's a great temporary fix while we're hunting down the real cause.

    So it looks like XLR8's tools are my next trick. I'm tired so I hope this won't take long to set up, but I'd like for it to start running tonight while I'm sleeping. So here goes.

  14. #14
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    I just got my first results from the XLR8 tests. It says I don't have enough memory! Huh?! I'm sitting here with 768MB of RAM, and I don't have enough memory?!

    Here's what happened. I restarted fresh so the problem would be present while I ran the tests. I ran PowerControl and selected PowerFrax from the Load menu. I came back to PowerControl and began the memory test (using defaults, 2 hours). Almost immediately, I noticed that my Finder icon was flashing so I switched to the Finder where I was presented with an error message saying I didn't have enough memory. It suggested that I quit some apps and offered me two choices: Restart and Try Again. I tried to capture this screen (and thought I had), but the file is no good. Whatever is causing the problems I'm having also prevented PowerControl from running and made the screen capture file bad. BTW, while all this was going on, PowerFrax was running in the background, albeit VERY slowly.

    I had played with PowerControl and PowerFrax enough before running the test to know that I CAN run the tests as long as I "fix" the problem by first starting an app that takes up 45MB of RAM. So I'll do that now.

    But none of this makes any sense to me. If my Mac cannot recognize the memory (thus, not enough memory to run PowerControl/PowerFrax), then why am I able to load Photoshop and other apps that are asking for MORE memory? And why does that "fix" the problem? The entire time, my Mac seems perfectly aware of how much memory I've installed based on the fact that every test clearly shows 768MB RAM.

    UGH!!



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    After posting my last message last night, I closed all apps and proceeded to run the tests again. At that time, the problem did not appear to be happening. I ran the test in the same way I had earlier, and I received the very same error message all over again. However, even with the error message displayed, both PowerFrax and PowerControl continued to run. I let them run all night, and this morning PowerControl reported 0 errors. This is the error message the Finder keeps reporting:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>There is not enough memory available to continue. Use the Application menu to quit some applications, then click Try Again.

    If quitting applications does not help, quit all applications and click Restart.

    [Restart] [Try Again]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I have never seen this error message before. I have seen one similar to this one, but never this exact one.

    Next, I quit PowerFrax and PowerControl (which caused the error message to disappear on its own in the background). I loaded Netscape and MacSOUP and went about my business. After that, I closed both of those apps and decided to try PowerFrax and PowerControl again to see what would happen.

    PowerFrax had no problem running (in the foreground, in the background, whatever). However, as soon as I began the memory test in PowerControl, PowerFrax slowed down considerably. I received the error message again. I aborted the memory test in PowerControl, closed PowerFrax, and clicked "Try Again" in the error message box. This took me to PowerControl. I aborted the test that was ongoing (and that appeared to have paused, but I couldn't tell for sure).

    It is interesting to note that closing PowerFrax caused the problem to REAPPEAR. Remember, when I run apps over 40MB, the problem would "fix" itself, even when I closed that app. This time, closing PowerFrax caused the problem to become "unfixed"!

    I ran PowerControl's memory test again (no other apps running), and once again I received the error message. I aborted the test, yadda, yadda.

    Now that the problem was "unfixed", I attempted to fix it again by running Netscape (which normallly fixes the problem). Now I received a different error message saying that Netscape couldn't run because there wasn't enough memory (the Finder was reporting over 722MB available). I don't think the error message was saying that Netscape itself couldn't run, but that the script calling Netscape couldn't run. That script is set to 200K memory in the Get Info.

    At that point, I had to reboot. I just loaded Netscape again, and the problem appears to be "fixed". My head is spinning. I don't know where to go from here. I may have to pull out the memory and return it. It's not working in my computer. So much for upgrading.





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  16. #16
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    Doggonnit Vicki,

    Maybe there ought to be a law that Texans can't have computers. Talk about a strange problem, you sure you didn't let the cows play on your mac?

    Last thing I can think of is to try switching around or pulling the first ram module. Whatever is the lowest numbered slot.

    When the system loads it makes a stack that will be the same everytime in the ram. Maybe the ram module is bad and causing this problem until you load past it? See what happens.

    What happens if you startup holding the shift key down to not load extensions? Does that change anything?

    Rick

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    Nope, no cows have played on my Mac. But don't give me any ideas. Feeding this thing to the cows is beginning to sound good about now.

    It's not an extension conflict. Using Conflict Catcher, I turned off my extensions (except for 3, 2 required and 1 desktop picture extension). While I was unable to actually view a picture on my desktop, the behavior of the windows felt the same, only without the picture.

    I think I've also ruled out the video card. This G3 has video built into the motherboard. So I unplugged my monitor from the defunct Ultimate Rez card and tried the onboard video. That produced the exact same problem. I believe that rules out the Ultimate Rez card as a factor.

    I'm now beginning to get a second symptom as I type. My keystrokes are delayed very few seconds. As I type, the keystrokes appear instantaneously, and then they abruptly stop, only to be followed by about 5 keystrokes appearing all at once. It feels like something is cycling??

    I'll see about switching the memory around in a little while. Actually, I'd like to try running with just 1 of the DIMMS to see what happens. I can't help but think these DIMMS are incompatible with my G3. I have an early Rev 1 266MHz (as opposed to the more common 233MHz), and I can't be sure these chips were ever tested with my particular flavor of G3. MacGurus returned my phone call a few minutes ago, and the lady is going to speak with one of the techs, but we think we may be better off trying PC100s instead of PC133s.

    And you guys want me to upgrade my OS. See why I don't like to upgrade stuff?!



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  18. #18
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    I have a question while I'm at it. If I have, in effect, two video cards installed (1-built into the motherboard and 2-Utlimate Rez card), what's being tested when I run VRAM tests? How does TechTool or PowerControl know which VRAM to test -- the chips on the motherboard or the chips on the Ultimate Rez card?

    Although I think I've ruled out the Ultimate Rez as a factor, I started wondering about this question so I thought I'd ask.



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  19. #19
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    Okay, that's it. I'm through playing games. The memory is back out of my computer, and I'm back to normal. At least I think I am (I'm still getting that weird hanging on the typing?!).

    I had two VERY LOUD popping noises come out of my G3!! The first time I heard it pop, I couldn't believe it was my G3. It was LOUD! Everything appeared fine on my G3 so I figured I must have heard something from outside (there are people doing work on the house next door making loud noises). Then while I was picking up my kids from school, my husband heard it pop a second time. This time he was certain it was my G3. I came home and immediately unplugged it, pulled out the RAM, cleaned out everything once more, and put it all together. Amazingly, I can find no signs of damage or lost data, but it will take some time to know for sure. At least my hard drives are looking okay so far (knocking on wood!!).

    I have no idea what's happened to my computer. I can't even say it has anything to do with the RAM I installed. Everything seems normal again except this strange pauses in my typing.

    I have decided it IS time to feed this computer to the cows! I'm going to get a new G4. I've pushed this one as far as I can push it, but it's time to move onward. I can't upgrade the OS. I can't upgrade the hardware. And that limits my upgrades with software. And I'm completely unable to backup my data on my 73GB hard drive (ouch!!). This G3 has served me well, but it's time to move on. The G4 with the dual 1G processors is looking mighty inviting about now.

    Problem solved. Feeding G3 to the cows and getting a new Mac.



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  20. #20
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    I sure feel bad about this Vicki. Let me put out a call for all the experts and see if someone can come up with a solution.

    We'll hope one of the moderators can solve it.

    Rick

    Batsignal invoked to moderators!

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