“Hi. I’m a Mac.” Bzzztt! Crash!

Oh, the irony in those “I’m a PC. I’m a Mac” commercials.

A Mac enthusiast site has the latest report of troubles from Cupertino, specifically, keyboard failures in OS X 10.5 (aka Leopard):

Some users of Apple’s Intel-based portables are reporting that their keyboards are periodically seizing up during use, especially after upgrading to Mac OS X Leopard.

Numerous posts in Apple’s support forums for the MacBook and MacBook Pro, as well as AppleInsider‘s own forum, attest to the glitch. By most indications, the flaw effectively shuts down the keyboard at unpredictable intervals until either resolved on its own or else by restarting or waking the system.

A follow-up post at another enthusiast site points to battery life problems as well:

Apple’s release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard appears to have brought with it battery drain and intermittent keyboard freezing issues, which are plaguing some MacBook and MacBook Pro owners. […] Some users are reporting on Apple’s forums that where Tiger allowed a normal three hours or so of notebook use, they are now down to two or less. “My laptop has become unportable,” says a poster in one thread.

The 10.5.1 patch and firmware update (made available three weeks after Leopard was released) apparently don’t fix this problem, although they do apparently resolve the earlier problem with monitors randomly freezing on new iMacs.

For sheer Schadenfreude, there’s nothing like popping in on some Apple message boards. Like this one:

Is it just me, or is Leopard a MESS ??
Posted: Nov 12, 2007 8:57 AM

Two WEEKS now of pure frustration. […] I’m not a tech expert. I have used Macs for about 2 years and think they are fantastic. But after this Leopard fiasco I will not be so enthusiastic about them in the future.
If anyone in a position of responsibility reads this, then PLEASE ensure that a 10.5.1 release addresses the networking issues. ‘Connection timeout’; ‘Invalid password’; ‘Failed to connect’; and the dreaded ‘Self-assigned IP address’.
Never saw ANY of this with good old Tiger. It simply worked. Always. Oh I miss Tiger…

Which inspired a bunch of “it’s not just you” replies before the thread was locked a day later. One commenter said, “I believe this is the first OS upgrade where I am seriously thinking of back tracking to the previous version.”

No, don’t give up on Leopard!

And even upgrades to older OS X versions are less than trouble-free, apparently. John Battelle, who runs the Federated Media ad network that this site belongs to, is having a lousy time with his latest OS X upgrade:

I recently (over the weekend) upgraded to a suggested new version of Mac OSX, 10.4.11 or somesuch, and it’s killed my ability to work normally – Firefox and Safari both crash without notice nearly every time I launch em.

These sound an awful lot like the sorts of complaints people have had about Vista, don’t they?

For the record, I think both Vista and Leopard were probably about as well tested as they could be, and given the complexity of the personal computing ecosystem these days this sort of glitch is to be expected with any OS upgrade on any platform. But the irony is deeper and richer when it happens on the “it just works” platform.

16 thoughts on ““Hi. I’m a Mac.” Bzzztt! Crash!

  1. Gotta chuckle at your barely supressed glee about this! But, it’s true…any new OS can have teething problems regardless of the company.

    I installed an old original version of XP Home on a machine for some testing and was a little stunned at how really lame that original OS was before the service packs turned it into a good product.

    By comparison, Vista was pretty OK right out of the gate, and seems to be improving as the patches and updates quietly come out. Even my old ThinkPad R51 runs Vista pretty well, ala “Classic Mode” and with 1 gig of RAM.

  2. Well looks like the iTards haven’t found this blog yet. I feel for paul any Apple related tidbit he posts on his blog…and they come like loyal iSheep and rush to protect the virginity of Steve Jobs.

    The fact remains, they’re marketshare makes them irrelevant and those commercials makes them look desperate. So I really couldn’t careless what some iteration of OSX Kitty has problems. Their #1 problem is the arrogant smugness that the majority of their cultbase exudes and it starts with their benevolent dictator…el Jobso.

  3. Yep, I use both operating systems right now and in their current states, I pretty much want to switch back to a No. 2 pencil and lined paper. I would say both OSes need a few more updates before I’d recommend most of my clients making the switch.

    @Adi: Whoa, my friend…. Take a couple of deep breathes and relax before you hop in the car for the ride home. You’re a candidate for either a stroke or some serious road rage.

  4. I still think the commercials are mostly funny. Thx to John Hodgman, of course.

    Btw – I never have had any problems with Leopard & my MacBook. Or with Leopard on my iMac. I do have problems with my beloved Powerbook (random shutdowns and stuff), but that looks like a hardware-failure. Things happen.

  5. Giesbert, “things happen” is the opposite of “it just works.”


    And yes, the commercials are still funny. But maybe not for the original reason.

  6. My Leopard upgrade went without a hitch, and I haven’t had any problems. I did a clean install of Leopard; I’m superstitious about upgrade installs.

    Battery life on my MacBook Pro is still great. I used it for a flight from San Fran to Houston a couple of weeks back. After about 3 hours of use, I was still at around 50% on my battery. That was just typing into Pages, with Bluetooth and wi-fi turned off.

  7. Most of my Vista experiences have been pretty smooth, but I also installed it clean and migrated my user settings rather than trying to install it on top of an existing XP installation. That, to me, is one of the biggest reasons upgrades go awry: the upgrade path is just too thorny.

    The only major issue I’ve had with hardware not working was when I added an SATA DVD burner and found out there was a bug with the Silicon Image SATA controller that caused such devices to not register as a writeable drive. A hotfix from MS published a few months back fixed that problem.

    The other single biggest issue I’ve had so far has been lack of proper power management support for S3 sleep, but that’s apparently a hardware issue and not Vista’s fault. I’m also due to get a new machine sometime early next year anyway, so I’m not terribly worried about it.

  8. I love how they can shut down threads in their forums because their anti-mac and get away with it. As if complaining about a mac is an unholy sin.

    Oh, and my Vista machine worked fine out of the box, and still works great.

  9. i simply bought a new one 😉

    No, just kidding, buying a MacBook when Leopard arrives was the plan. And yes, it’s a black one 😉

    The Powerbook is now 2,5 years old, G4 etc. A very, very nice machine and by far the best notebook I’ve ever had (in historical order: Compaq,Toshiba, IBM, Dell). But for me and my job it’s a little bit outdated.

  10. Ed,

    Thanks for this–very good read.

    I wrote to you a few weeks ago bout my ‘issues’ w/ Vista, mostly relating to speed which I’m happy to say has gotten a lot better. However, I have to tell you that my issues w/ Vista are far exceeded by those my fiancee has had with her Macbook.

    Last May, she bought a white Macbook from Apple’s online store. She’s a teacher and college calculus professor who has owned Macs in the past, but generally has stuck w/ Windows b/c of the ubiquity of Windows software.

    About three months ago, a big bright white line showed up in the display. “No big deal” she thought, until the display started to flicker up and down….sort of like someone playing w/ the brightness setting. Apparently, there is dozens of YouTube videos of people having this same issue and it’s fairly well known.

    Anyway, she calls AppleCare and the first thing Apple[lack of]Care tells her is that she needs to take it to an Apple Store. She declines and says she does not have time to drive to the nearest store (30min away) and wait in line. He says he will make her an appointment, but the next appointment is 4 days from now(then). She declines again and says she would prefer to just be sent a box. The representative asked if her “boyfriend” (being me) or anyone else can take it in for her, to which she replies, “No. I’m not going to ask anyone to take the computer in for me. Why can’t you just send me a box?”

    Finally, the guy says, “Your computer is out of warranty and therefore you will have to be charged a diagnostic fee to send it in.” Despite the fact that the computer is under a one year warranty, she is told that they cannot send her a box because it is outside Apple’s 90 Day phone support.

    I was sitting nearby the entire phone call and could hear her statements to the rep, which in the end meant the phone was handed to me with “You talk to these people”.

    When the rep came on, he told me it was not under warranty and that we need to take it to a store. I told the rep, “Look, just send her a box so we can get this fixed.” He denied the warranty and said, “You have hardware parts and labor coverage, not a warranty.”

    I hung up and called Customer Relations, which ended up to nothing more than 15 minutes on hold and getting a box sent out.

    The computer was sent in, repaired, and sent back w/ ripples in the screen (a “scrolling effect”, sort of like refresh lines).

    We eventually got ahold of someone in Apple’s Executive Customer Relations team, who apologized profusely but in the two weeks that followed our initial contact meant nothing more than waiting endlessly for “our” calls to be returned. Finally, a voicemail left by me telling the Apple rep “Get off your iPhone and call her back…I will be speaking to everyone in your phone tree by the end of the week.”

    After that, my fiancee’s call was returned within the hour, and offered a new replacement.

    Initially, she declined and said that she just wanted the computer fixed–she said if they were offering anything as compensation, then why not give the extended AppleCare warranty. They declined, and offered the new replacement as her only option. She took the notebook and so far it has been fine, but the ridiculous nature of getting the original one fixed is still in our minds.

    The new Macbook still runs Tiger and it’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future. In fact, she is eligible for a Leopard upgrade, but she doesn’t think it’s worth giving Apple any more money right now.

    Now, one could argue and say, “Hey, they gave you a replacement new machine!” On the other hand, one could also say, “They should’ve just sent the box, fixed it right, and sent it back…it shouldn’t have been stretched out over two weeks.”

    In the end, our opinion of Apple remains the same.


  11. I went out and bought Leopard because it came out. Only because I like new things really.

    Have had an annoying problem with the mail app and keychain not remembering my password. Might work a day or so and then fail several times. Tried several solutions in the forums, but none worked. I’ve moved over to Thunderbird for now, but it’s to bad. This is from a clean install, twice.

    This OS should be alot more problem free than reports are saying.

  12. If Leopard and Vista have got a similar number of problems OOTB doesn’t it mean Microsoft did a far better job than Apple?
    Vista has to work with zillions of hardawre, driver, software combinations where as Apple have a much more controlled mix.

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