Monday, February 18, 2008

Beachball of Oblivion

This is one beachball you don't want on your Mac beach.

When your mouse cursor transforms into the spinning beachball of death, several potetial causes may be at work, one of which the user controls. The rest are beyond the beyond.

What is it? We've all seen it. Regrettably, computers shipped from the factory do not have enough memory (RAM) to function efficiently. When the CPU, central processing unit, is starved for memory, the Mac operating system throws up its hands, and throws up a spinning multicolored icon reminiscent of better times on the beach. This is one beach where your Mac is stalled in the deep sands of computer time gasping for breath.

Other times, the SBBOD may reflect a hung application. If the ball spins endlessly, the application has crashed. Force quit from the Apple Menu is required to recover.

Avoiding the SBBOD caused by memory shortage is easily done. I recommend that Macs running Mac OS X Tiger (10.4) or Leopard (10.5) have 1.5 GB to 2.0 GB of memory--minimum. If you are a graphic artist working with Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, your Mac should have 4 GB or more memory for such processor-intensive work.

To run a Mac with less memory really is penny wise and pound foolish.

I resent it as much as the next person. When I buy a new Mac, the very first thing I do is buy more memory. Yes, it's a scam, but this isn't new in the world of computing. Hard drives do not contain the advertised file capacity, printers never print as fast, and there isn't a WiFi access point on the planet that lives up to the data transfer marketing hype. Deceptive advertising is the American way, and so it is with computers sold new starving for memory.

Now you know how to send this beachball packing.

A major part of my work is as an iconoclast, destroying computer myths in the face of shinning, happy clients. Finding a compasionate path to breech the myriad illusions is a continual challenge.

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