After extensive testing coordinated with TidBITS Talk participants in California and confirmed today, we've discovered the rolling blackouts currently plaguing San Francisco-area residents can cause Apple's just-released Mac OS X to kernel panic under specific circumstances. Reader reports from MacInTouch and MacFixIt corroborate our findings that having your iDisk mounted in Mac OS X (just choose iDisk from the Finder's Go menu) when there's a brief network flicker due to power switching from the area power grid to Apple's data center generators can cause Mac OS X to kernel panic. Examination with a packet sniffer showed timing to be important - the crash happens only when Mac OS X tries to start reading data from a mounted iDisk when it's unavailable, only to have it appear immediately thereafter. Luckily, the workaround is simple - only mount your iDisk when you're planning to use it, and dismount it afterwards by dragging it to the Trash (which morphs into an Eject icon when disks are dragged to it) when you're done. This unfortunate behavior jives with our experience of causing Mac OS X to kernel panic within 10 minutes after installation by trying to download iTunes from an iDisk, accidentally mounting the iTunes self-mounting image thanks to double-clicking more than necessary due to poor performance, and then force quitting Disk Copy and relaunching the Finder several times.
Copy Before Submitting Web Forms
Filling in Web forms (like the one used to submit this tip) can be a bit of a gamble - you put in your pearls of wisdom, perhaps only to lose them all if the Web page flakes out or the browser crashes. Instead of losing all your text, "save" it by pressing Command-A to select all and then Command-C to copy the selected text to the clipboard. Do this periodically as you type and before you click Submit, and you may "save" yourself from a lot of frustration. It takes just a second to do, and the first time you need to rely on it to paste back in lost text, you'll feel smart.
- April Fools Day Apologies (02 Apr 01)