Big Mac Attack

April 7th, 2008 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!

So I am working feverishly Thursday last week to wrap up a MAD job before I leave for my New England park, and I notice my Mac Pro is acting a little weird. Something is wrong with the networking as none of the other computers on the network are showing up under my “shared” folder. This is certainly not a big deal, as I am really not using any networking features at the time other than my internet connection and FTP program to upload the final art to MAD. However I am a little anal about those kinds of things, so I quit all my programs and rebooted my Mac Pro. Rebooting is the first step in any troubleshooting strategy. The familiar Mac “chime” dings and the spinning gear starts spinning….

… then all I got was a blank blue screen.


Minutes went by. No movement, little or no hard drive activity. No response. Nothing. Deadline: 14 hours away.??ᬨ‚Ć Hard reboot (held down the power button until it rebooted). Same results.


I thought that was a Windows only phenomenon, but apparently Macs also have a DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. However, in typical Apple fashion their DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH is not the harsh ultramarine blue of a PC but a well designed and pleasing pastel blue. Maybe they can make that part of their “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” commercials.

Mac: Hello I’m a Mac

PC (completely painted a dark blue): And I’m a PC

Mac: PC, what happened to you?

PC: I’m experiencing a General Kernel Fault, producing the DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH as you can see.

Mac: That’s too bad.

PC: I supposed now you’re going to say that Mac’s don’t ever have complete system failures like this, so no DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH.

Mac (now painted a light aqua blue): No, we also have a DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH, but ours is a pleasing, calming shade of periwinkle, which our designers spent hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars perfecting.

PC: Whatever.

Panic time. Steve Jobs received a considerable amount of verbal abuse while I tried to formulate a battle plan. After my hard drive meltdown several Octobers ago I learned my lesson and have a bulletproof backup system on a secondary hard drive. My files were in there somewhere. I just needed to get them out, onto my laptop and hook my Cintiq up to it… then my Mac Pro suddenly came to life. It took roughly 10 minutes of the DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH from my last reboot attempt, but the OS X desktop finally labored to life. I blinked at it for a few minutes and then opened PhotoShop, my file and started working on it gingerly… like a hiker who had been confidently crossing a frozen lake until his foot went through some thin ice, and then spends the rest of his trek tiptoeing along to the music for cracking ice, thinking at any second he will plunge into the deep as the far bank never seems to get any closer. Perhaps my Mac Pro, sensing it was seconds away from a beating with a hammer, resurfaced out of self preservation.

Not daring to reboot again, I copied over the files I had not yet colored to my laptop and then finished the job. My Mac tried to trick me into rebooting after it had automatically downloaded some software updates but I was too crafty for it. Nice try, Steve. I finished the job by the deadline and then rebooted the computer.

Same results. THE DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH lasted for about 12 minutes this time. Eventually everything was working. However the ice is still cracking around me, so the Mac Pro will have to go into the shop to figure out what the problem is. I supposed since it eventually worked, it can’t really be called the DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. Maybe we can go with THE DREADED BLUE SCREEN OF HEART PALPITATIONS.

They say there are three subjects you cannot discuss on a message board forum without it becoming a flame war: Religion, Politics and Mac vs. PC. I get a real kick out of the personal way some people take their computing platforms. Apple knows it and feeds the flames with their ad campaigns, which basically say “If you use a Mac, you are smart and cool. If you use a PC, you are a boring, nerdy moron.” I really hate those commercials.

I’ve used both. They are both computer systems using software that are designed and manufactured to sell to consumers to make money. Neither platforms are perfect. Both experience issues and problems. As Apple gets bigger and bigger, it is starting to lose the one thing it did have over Microsoft… it’s coffeeshop chic. Apple has been the cool, Grenwich Village cafe to Microsoft’s Starbucks for a long time, but as Apple keeps adding “stores” it’s also becoming a Starbucks, and starting to suffer from the same problems. Leopard has been more problematic for Apple than their previous versions of OS X, and I have had as many issues with my Mac as I ever had with my PC. Granted, I never used Vista, which I’ve heard has some serious issues, but the point is that software is software and nothing “just works” no matter what. It’s the need to be compatible with everything that’s been the Achille’s Heel for Windows, and the more software being written for the Mac makes for more problematic third party problems. I can almost guarantee there will be a Mac-only virus attack in the next few years that will erase the “virus proof” reputation Macs have enjoyed. My PC’s anti-virus programs were the root of many problems as they are intrusive, resource hogging monstrosities.

As my Mac Pro gets hauled off to the Apple Store this week for repair, I will still say that overall I do like the Mac better than the PC for what I need to do and accomplish. Just please do not feed me the arrogant, “Mac is sooooo superior to the PC” rhetoric. It’s not true to any appreciable extent past personal preferences and personal needs. My empty studio desktop can attest to that.


  1. sirdrawzalot23 says:

    I hate when that happens, actually its never happened to me and I hope it never does.

  2. LorenS says:


    My Mac guru sent me this from Apple.

    Mac OS X 10.5: “Blue screen” appears after installing Leopard and restarting
    Last Modified on: November 08, 2007
    Article: 306857
    Issue or symptom
    After completing an upgrade installation of Leopard and restarting the computer, a “blue screen” may appear for an extended period of time.

    Products affected
    Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
    You may have third-party “enhancement” software installed that does not work with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Use one of these solutions.

    Option A: Use another Mac to remove application enhancement software

    If you have a second Mac that has a FireWire port (even if it’s not running Leopard), and a FireWire cable that you can connect to both computers, use this solution:

    Start your original, affected computer in Target Disk Mode by holding the T key, and connect it to your second computer. Your affected computer’s hard disk volume(s) should appear on the desktop of the second computer.
    Open the second computer’s mounted disk volume (where Leopard is installed), then open the System folder, then the Library folder, and finally the SystemConfiguration folder.
    Locate “ApplicationEnhancer.bundle” and move it to the Trash. Important: Do not delete any other files from your Leopard disk.
    Enter an admin account name and password if prompted.
    Eject the mounted volume(s). (Disconnect the FireWire cable if you want).
    Turn off the original computer and start it up again (holding no keys).
    If the issue persists, or if the “ApplicationEnhancer.bundle” file was not on your Leopard volume, use Option B.

    Option B: Reinstall Leopard

    If you can’t use option A, it may be necessary to perform an Archive and Install installation of Leopard. Archive and Install moves your existing Mac OS X system files to a folder named Previous System, and then installs a new copy of Mac OS X on the selected volume. Mac OS X?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√Ñ√∫installed applications, such as Address Book and Safari, are archived, and new versions are installed in the Applications folder. Applications, plug-ins, and other software may have to be reinstalled after an “Archive and Install.” This is covered on page 7 of the Install & Setup Guide included on the Leopard DVD.

    You will probably want to check “Preserve user and network settings” when starting the installation.

    Note: After installation, verify each third-party software product is compatible with Leopard before reinstalling it, especially any application “enhancement” software.

    Option C: Use the command line (advanced) to remove application enhancement software

    Try this solution if you are comfortable using Terminal and have certain application enhancement installed. The software may be removed following the below steps:

    Start up in single-user mode by holding Command-S after restarting the computer. Note that single-user mode always uses the US English keyboard layout.

    Type these commands, each on a single line followed by Return:

    /sbin/fsck -fy
    /sbin/mount -uw /
    rm -rf /System/Library/SystemConfiguration/ApplicationEnhancer.bundle

    If the issue persists, use option A or B above.

  3. The closer Mac equivalent to the Windows BSOD is the (Translucent) Black Screen Of Death, but I think Apple would be called racists if they used your blue-face skit idea with black paint.


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