This fly in Apple’s ointment has been brewing for the best part of a year now but I did not experience it until about 6 months ago.
The studio that I run is part of a larger PC-based company that is expanding rapidly and various internal developments necessitated a purchase of another Mac for the studio.
In the end I decided upon the single processor G5 (1.8ghz), and upon delivery everything seemed fine. I transferred over the user’s account from his old Mac (an 800mhz G4 which is now used as a print server), installed an extra 160gb internal hard drive for the user’s work and off he went into G5 heaven, extremely pleased that he cold now use InDesign at an acceptable speed.
After a few days several odd things began to happen. Occasionally and without warning the spinning beachball would occur, usually in Illustrator or the Finder.
So I did what I would normally do in this situation, I tried to force quit these applications – but they wouldn’t force quit. I tried quitting all other applications first and then trying to force quit the Finder – still no dice.
I then tried force quitting from the Activity Monitor and then the command-line – still nothing. I couldn’t even shut the Mac down – I had to press and hold the power button to restart the Mac.
Now, I did not know about the G5 freezing problem back then so I approached the problem in much the same way as any other, repairing permissions & running disk utility from the CD, all to no avail.
After this happened numerous times I tried to find out exactly what the user was doing in each occurrence and what I narrowed it down to was when the user was saving something to the extra internal hard drive. Taking the hard drive out completely, and moving the work folder to the boot drive seemed to make the problem go away.
I then ran tests on the hard drive but it was fine. It was at this point that I happened to listen to the MacCast and a chance article advertising a web-site (www.G5freeze.com), alerted me to the fact that I wasn’t alone in this problem. I registered my complaint with them and we all waited with baited-breath, waiting for Apple to notice us.
And, 6 months later Apple seemed to have noticed. The G5 System Firmware update has just been released. I have yet to install and test this update, I’m going to wait few days yet as this is a production machine and I do not want to risk anything, but initial feedback from the Apple forums seems to point to everything being okay.
However, this has been a troubling affair for all those people who have had working hours lost because of this anomaly. Apparently a lot of the early complaints were ignored, and some users were accused of lying about their problems. Many G5’s have been returned several times, and eventually were replaced with a dual G5.
This does not bode well for Apple’s crowning glories, i.e. the Mac’s reliability and great customer support, those crowns now need a lot of polishing. These kinds of problems should not affect Mac’s, and the fact that they do, point to a few problems in quality control at Apple.
Somebody is to blame for this, and I hope that lessons have been learnt. I also hope that this does not give us an insight to any future problems with the Mactel’s because once we’re all on the same hardware, and speed is no longer an issue, reliability and customer service will be the only thing Apple has left in hardware terms to differentiate themselves from the competition.