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Saga of Mac Fan

By Ray Cook

Washington Apple Pi Journal, November/December 1999, pp. 72-74, reprint information

Part I

It was a dark and stormy night. Oops, can't use that, it is an opening line of a beagle writer who stars in a comic strip.*

It was a dark evening early in October 1999. The weather forecast predicted the first cold evening of autumn, followed by the first frost outside the Washington Beltway the next night. I walked into the bedroom, turned on the light and there they were, unopened, factory shrink-wrapped copies of Symantec™ Norton Utilities™ for Macintosh® v5.0 (NUM) and Norton AntiVirus™ for Macintosh®, v6.0 (NAV). They had been there for two weeks just waiting for me to get the courage to open and install them on my Power Mac 7500.

Said to myself, "tonight's the night, I am going to do it! But first some necessary precautions must be taken." I did a total backup of the hard drive, then ran Alsoft's DiskWarrior® to ensure the disk was healthy. To doubly ensure success I also ran NUM v4.0.x. Not satisfied with this, I fired-up Apple's Disk First Aid. All of these applications pronounced my hard drive as healthy.

I then proceeded to remove the shrink-wrap from NUM v5.0 and read the installation instructions. Having been a prior user of NUM for years, the installation instructions were pretty straightforward and similar to previous instructions. I then inserted the NUM CD into the Mac's CD-ROM drive and cautiously double-clicked the Norton Utilities Install icon. I was provided with a variety of prompts and decided to do a custom install rather than an easy install. I chose to install Norton Disk Doctor, UnErase, FileSaver, Volume Recover, Speed Disk, and Wipe Info. I did not choose LiveUpdate, System Info, Norton Fast Find, or DiskLight.

I then clicked OK and the installation began! With bated breath (kielbasa, mainly) I waited for it to complete, wondering all the time, "will I come through this unscathed?" At last it completed and a message was displayed, saying something like "installation was successful, you must now restart your Mac;" I cannot remember the exact words. YES, I had succeeded! With great elation I selected Restart from the Special pull down menu and waited for the Mac to complete the restart process. Finally it did and there were no error messages! The Computer Gods (a.k.a. Symantec) had smiled on me.

Part II

Encouraged by this success I removed the shrink-wrap from NAV 6.0, located the installation instructions and, per the instructions, proceeded to restart the Mac using the CD as the startup volume. Having been a prior user of NAV 5.0.x, I knew my hard drive was virus free so there was no need to do a virus scan prior to installation. Double-clicked the Installer icon and again received a series of prompts. Also again, I decided to do a custom install and chose to not install LiveUpdate. Since I use the WAP Explorer Service to download updates to applications and monthly NAV virus definition updates, I figured LiveUpdate was unnecessary.

The installation completed, I restarted the Mac using the hard drive as the startup volume. Again with bated breath, I waited for the Mac to finish restarting and, when it did, promptly received a message that Norton AntiVirus was not launched (or something like that) because the Norton AntiVirus Library file was either damaged or not installed in the Norton AntiVirus Additions Folder. I was further instructed to reinstall NAV and run LiveUpdate to ensure I had all of the correct software installed.

Arghhh, my luck had run out! I figured the fickle Computer Gods were now punishing me for doing custom installs rather than easy ones. Promptly I reinstalled NAV, this time including LiveUpdate, and restarted the Mac. Fired up the modem, got on Explorer, and launched LiveUpdate.

LiveUpdate then proceeded to advise me that all of the existing software was current and quit (would hope so since it was just installed off of a brand new CD.) Frustrated by this experience, I finally solved the problem by manually replacing the contents of the Norton AntiVirus Additions Folder contained on the updated hard drive with the corresponding contents of the Norton AntiVirus Additions Folder contained on the installation CD. Then I updated the virus definition file with the NAV 6.0 Oct 99 virus definitions. Feeling very satisfied with myself that I had beaten the NAV Installer, and had successfully completed the NUM and NAV installations, I went to bed.

The next morning after getting a cup of coffee and finding my face, I started the Mac to do my early morning Web surfing and check for new email. I was promptly presented with an error message about an unimplemented trap and something to do with memory. Initially I thought that NUM FileSaver didn't like the fact that I maintain a RAM Disk on the hard drive, and I had instructed it to not update its directory contents at shutdown since they are done away with at shutdown.

I also received an error messages that the RAM disk was damaged and asked if it should be initialized. Excuse me, how do you initialize a RAM Disk? Turning off the RAM disk eliminated the error message but turning it back on brought it back. Nothing else seemed to work so I said "what the heck" (yea, right), "I'll initialize the RAM Disk," and it solved the problem…. so I thought. Did my Web surfing, read my new email, turned off the Mac and went about the day's business.

That evening, I turned on the Mac to log onto the WAP TCS and again received the error message about an unimplemented trap. By now I was totally regretting I ever decided to install NUM 5.0 and NAV 6.0. I use the RAM disk to hold the Netscape cache so that it doesn't further bloat the System Folder. You also get the benefits of the RAM disk contents being trashed at shutdown, and getting the opportunity to cancel a shutdown when presented with the question about losing the RAM disk contents. This is good if you selected Shutdown and then decided to not do it.

By this time I was willing to do anything to get this behind me but didn't want to have Netscape use my System Folder as the place to cache information. I reluctantly decided to turn off the RAM disk and, in its place, create a new folder on the desktop and call it Netscape Cache. Then I went into the Netscape preferences and pointed the cache to this folder. This allows me to manually empty the folder prior to shutdown and satisfies either NUM or NAV (at this point not sure which one is the culprit), and the Mac no longer displays the unimplemented trap error message at startup. I would imagine that an AppleScript could be written to trash the cache file contents at shutdown; however, it must be very accurate to ensure it is the only file it trashes.

As a long-time user of NUM, Symantec AntiVirus for Macintosh (SAM), and NAV, I'm very disappointed that this conflict with a RAM disk was not identified during development of the application(s) or during the beta-testing period. It's been a long time since I've had an extension conflict and really don't want this one but I'm not going to pursue it any further. If versions 5.1 of NUM or 6.1 of NAV are ever issued hopefully they will correct the problem. In the meantime I'll use the folder on the desktop of the Mac as a place to store the Netscape cache. 

About the author: Ray Cook is a Mac enthusiast and became a WAP member around 1995. He's an active user of the WAP TCS and Explorer Service, and try's to not take himself too seriously. Has served as a WAP beta-tester for the TCS Explorer Service Sys Config and Applications Installers.

*Actually, Snoopy plagiarizes the opening line of Paul Clifford, a really bad novel by the 19th century English writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, best known for The Last Days of Pompeii. Bulwer-Lytton's mangled prose is immortalized in the yearly contest, sponsored by San Jose State University's English Department, for the best deliberately bad piece of English writing. For more details, see http://www.bulwer-lytton.com. - Editor

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Revised November 24, 1999 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi
URL: http://www.wap.org/journal/