When Good Updates Go Bad (9/24/03)

Tsk, tsk; someone's been a naughty little operating system update, and Santa will not be pleased. As we mentioned briefly yesterday (and as originally pointed out by faithful viewer David Silberman), the Mac OS X 10.2.8 updater has since pulled a vanishing act-- but not before wreaking untold havoc on millions of Macs worldwide. At last count, 10.2.8 is responsible for thousands of lost network connections, hundreds of now-unbootable iMacs and eMacs, dozens of water mains bursting, six shark attacks, and at least three bloody coups in various third-world countries. It has also been implicated in the greenlighting of the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard movie.

Well, okay, that may be a slight exaggeration. But there's no doubt whatsoever that lots of folks are having trouble with 10.2.8 in varying degrees (MacFixIt is crawling with reports of problems and potential workarounds), and CNET confirms that Apple did pull the update from its servers, citing "an issue affecting Ethernet networking on a small number of Power Mac G4 desktop systems." That's certainly the most widely-reported bug, albeit one AtAT's own Power Mac was apparently lucky enough to sidestep; following our post-update kernel panic and a forty-minute restart, our network connection was rock solid.

Of course, that was the point at which our Mac had become resolutely convinced that we were holding down the command key on our keyboard and the only way we could finally persuade it to change its mind was to restart again-- but considering that we're not wrestling with dead networks, scrambled video, unsupported trackpads, seriously reduced battery life, or any of the other biblical plagues of Egypt to have smitten similarly incautious upgrade fiends, we're going to consider ourselves lucky. In fact, at this point we're scared to look at our Mac cross-eyed for fear that we'll somehow trigger 10.2.8 to start writing random 1's and 0's to the boot disk while transmitting our credit card numbers as cleartext to every email address and URL in our Junk Mail folder.

At this point we think it's safe to say that the 10.2.8 updater easily ranks somewhere in the top ten list of Scariest Updates Ever, probably just a notch or two below that 7.1.4 updater that physically assaulted a Detroit man in the mid-'90s with a length of pipe and a corkscrew dipped in antifreeze. Here's hoping that this is evidence that Apple is devoting too much time to Panther at the expense of other projects' quality control. In fact, does anyone else wonder if Apple is undercutting customer confidence in 10.2.8 on purpose in hopes of boosting 10.3 sales when that upgrade finally ships? Intriguing.

Anyway, now that the 10.2.8 updater has ducked back into hiding, for those of you still spluttering along in 10.2.7, aren't you sorry you waited? Well, fret not; before long you'll be able to step up to 10.2.8 (presumably a kinder, gentler 10.2.8) along with the rest of us poor reckless sods, because Apple says that it "anticipates that the issue will be resolved soon." Then again, Apple also said that 10.2.8 "was designed to offer improvements in reliability and in performance," so sometimes you have to take statements like that with a grain or two of salt...

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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


The above scene was taken from the 9/24/03 episode:

September 24, 2003: Apple yoinks the 10.2.8 updater due to Ethernet "issues." Meanwhile, rumors that Motorola is selling off its PowerPC business are slightly overstated, and what do you get when you cross a BlackBerry with an iPod? Answer: a BusinessWeek writer who just doesn't get it...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4226: Juicy To Dull In 8 Seconds (9/24/03)   Well, whaddaya know about that? Barely half a week has passed since Motorola heir and CEO Chris Galvin announced his "retirement" due to an unspecified difference of opinion with the company's board of directors, and the press is already abuzz with reports of Motorola selling off chunks of its semiconductor business-- a move which analysts and shareholders have urged for years, but which, until now, seemed to fall on deaf ears...

  • 4227: The PodBerry Of DOOM! (9/24/03)   Charles Haddad's freewheelin' over at BusinessWeek again, this time asking the question, "What would you get if you crossed a BlackBerry with an iPod?" The answer, he claims, is "the future of the music business": a player that downloads music wirelessly over the airwaves and plays it with "no way it could be stored."...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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