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CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for MAC USERS #14,
04/03/01
Contents Copyright 2001 by Christopher Plummer
===============================================


THIS ISSUE:
-----------
If I hadn't just encouraged you to GET CURRENT in UNPREDICTABLE #13
(yesterday!), I'd save this. But when possible, I want to SAVE YOU TIME
and GRIEF, and this is timely. It's short too. And UNPREDICTABLE.



POSSIBLE PROBLEMS WITH APPLE'S CURRENT FIRMWARE UPDATES
-------------------------------------------------------
NUTSHELL SUMMARY: If you don't have one of the Macs listed below, or your
Mac came from Apple in a standard configuration and you never upgraded
the RAM, you should be able to apply the latest Firmware Update without
FEAR. If not, you should read all of this.


>From TidBits #574 Apr/02/01:

>Avoid Current Firmware Updates -- Apple's just-released
> firmware updates (4.1.7 and 4.1.8) for recent iMacs, plus the
> iBook, G4 Cube, Power Mac G4, and PowerBooks with FireWire ports
> have caused much gnashing of teeth. The firmware updates, which
> were released both on the Internet and on the Mac OS 9.1 CD-ROMs
> that come with Mac OS X, claim to make improvements to FireWire
> target disk mode, network booting, gigabit Ethernet networking,
> and overall stability. They also enable password protection of
> Open Firmware booting to increase the security of Mac OS X (which
> can protect its files via user privileges, but can't do so when
> booted from Mac OS 9). The significant problem with these firmware
> updates is that something in them can prevent the Mac from
> recognizing some RAM modules from third party vendors. Apple has
> yet to make an official statement about the situation. Our advice:
> don't install these firmware updates until there's word from
> Apple. [ACE]

A quick peek at MacInTouch and we find that Apple's official statement is
that new firmware updates check for 'out-of-spec' memory. That is, memory
that is not 'Apple Memory' and that does not meet Apple's technical
specifications. This is to "help alleviate random crashes and stability
issues". [AND WE WANT THAT, RIGHT?] If it finds it, it disables it. More
detail at the site:

<http://www.macintouch.com/>


TO PUT A POSITIVE SPIN ON THIS: If your Mac came from Apple in a standard
configuration and you never upgraded the RAM, you should be able to apply
the Firmware Update without FEAR.

IF your Mac came from some vendor that advertised 'free 64 Mb RAM' or
some such, or if you added non-Apple RAM to your Mac at a later date,
you're at risk. Find the receipt or invoice and vendor name and phone
number for that Mac or memory upgrade you bought. Check how much RAM you
have in your Mac (if you don't know) and write this number down (see
below). Next, get the firmware update and install it. After you restart,
check how much RAM you have in your Mac (again). If you now have LESS
RAM, contact the vendor and insist on them replacing the RAM with 'in
spec' memory. Most reputable vendors sell 'guaranteed' RAM and will help
you out. [If they won't, all I can do is post them in the UNPREDICTABLE
HALL OF SHAME.] That done, we've taken another step to eliminate HANGING
AND CRASHING which are unacceptable behaviours on our Macs!!



HOW TO CHECK THE AMOUNT OF RAM MEMORY ON YOUR MAC
-------------------------------------------------
With the Finder active, go to the Apple Menu and select "About this
Computer". Look in the 'Built-In Memory' Field for the actual RAM that
the Mac sees. It will be something like '128 Megabytes'.


TFSB :-)


=========================================================================
** CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for Mac Users **
Oriented towards, but not exclusively for, Mac Users in Beautiful Western
Central New Jersey. Published Whenever - About Whatever!
=========================================================================

Non-profit, non-commercial publications may reprint articles if full
credit is given. Others please contact the editor. Accuracy of articles
is UNPREDICTABLE and not guaranteed. Caveat lector. Publication,
product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their
companies.

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All contents copyright 2000-2008 by Christopher Plummer, ZebraTale LLC, except where noted. Accuracy of articles is UNPREDICTABLE and not guaranteed. Unpredictable was published from 2001 to 2008. Although updated occasionally, this is a historical archive - expect dead links. Caveat lector.
Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TFSB :-)