Saturday, September 29, 2007


OK, let's get one thing straight about me and Macs. I own an Apple assembled dual 2.5Ghz G5. Further I freelance as an editor and as such am specifically familiar with about ten other G5's around Birmingham Alabama. Some of those G5's were home assembled. Others assembled by video post houses some by Apple Computers. I can say with some authority that I know the G5 architecture and OSX pretty well. After staying awake all night trying to track down a 'strangely missing file' problem for about the third time, I have come to the following conclusion. A Mac is a toy.

Let me clarify. A Toy is something which offers hours of amusement. Something that helps build and strengthen the imagination. Something that performs or behaves differently with each subsequent use. It is this last sentence fragment that I am expounding upon this morning.

Macs do something different each and every time you use them. they are unpredictable. they are given to wild flights of fancy. Let's take the horrors of this past evening as an example.

I had a rather long Mpeg 2 export que for my current project. Wholly eight fifteen minute videos with accompanying aif (or aiff if it's a Tuesday) audio files. I cue up the sequences and set them to render. After babysitting the first two segments (sometimes Final Cut will abort a render claiming that the project in question has unrendered video especially when there is in fact NO unrendered video and only a reboot can satisfy its lust for chaos and human misery) I was reasonably satisfied that all eight were going to go down so I went to the gym. I come back after working out and a trip to Walmart at 2 a.m. only to find that the render que aborted just moments after I left the house. Fine. I que up the remaining six and take a three hour nap (based on the estimated completion time). I awaken to find that all eight have rendered successfully.

Ok, here it gets fun. Although the files rendered, they are not in the project folder. I check the export settings to be sure I sent them to the correct folder and lo, I have! Still no files in the export folder. Odd. I try to do a file search.

OK, here even the most brain-washed and zombified Mac purest probably just grimaced because they know as do I that Mac OSX HAS NO file search function. At least not one bound to any natural law. You see, Mac doesn't have file types per has kinds. And file kinds aren't strictly bound to any specific trait or application. In fact, you can have file kinds that contadict the file extension and you can have two identical file types (mpeg 2, for example) which are identified as different file kinds by OSX. Even though - and I can't make too fine a point about this - both individual kinds are opened and run by the same application. An mpeg 2 may be called by OSX an 'MPEG MOVIE' or an 'MP2' or an 'M2V' or an 'Mpeg LAYER 2' file. All run in Final Cut. All are the same type of file. All were created by the batch export of Final Cut Pro using the same settings.

OK, suppose now you want to search for said file. And keep in mind that it could be anywhere. It could be nowhere. Yet when I searched for 'MPEG MOVIE' it only returned a handful of files even though I knew of directories with literally hundreds of 'MPEG MOVIE' files in them.

Now don't send me an email telling me to check which drives were selected or to make sure I had spelled MPEG correctly. You should simply assume - as is actually the case - that as unto a God, I was operating infallibly at this point.

And while I'm at it, 'MPEG MOVIE' while being OSX's favorite kind of mpeg 2 is NOT in the pull down menu in the search by kind option. Oh no, you must ENTER that kind by hand - even though - and I hasten to add - making DVDs is supposed to be what owning a Mac is all about.

Ok, to summarize:

1) file types and kinds may or may not be different things...unless they are the same things...unless maybe they aren't or may or may not be...depending.

2) search function may or may not return the file of type or kind or flavor or spin or what have you even if you know the evil thing to be there and in a particular folder eating ice cream at that very moment.

3) file search engine actually asks you to enter the kind by hand rather than having the complete list of kinds which the operating system knows damn well exists in a handy pull down menu.

Clear enough? So I use the file search utility to try to find every mp2, mpeg 2 m2v and 'MPEG MOVIE' file on my drives and it won't even pull up all the files that I know and can verify to be there. Hell, it sometimes pulls up three of a total of four 'MPEG MOVIE' files which all reside in the same folder. I have to assume that there is some form of random number generator attached to the file search utility. maybe it rolls for activation on each file. Hell, I dunno. Suffice to say that hit-or-miss literally describes the process at work here.


So the damn operating system is going to be no help. What next? Re-render. I must simply re-render these files for a second time. Fine. Group select...settings...quality...destination folder...export. "Error: a file of the same name already exists in that directory"


I look in the folder. Nope. Those files are not there. Export. "Error: a file of the same name already exists in that directory" I rechecked everything and soon discovered that the ghosts or phantoms of those files somehow existed in that folder although they could be perceived in no human way. A reboot did not help. Diskwarrior did not help. Ultimately, I had to render the new files into a new directory and copy them into the proper directory overwriting the old files (yes, a dialog box open asking me to confirm this) which could be neither seen nor touched by human hand.

OK, by now I'm actually shopping for the exact weight and length of bat to take with me to Seattle for a face to face with Mr. Jobs. I've been awake for 30 hours. I have had files evaporate, move, take on vague aspects and generally not cooperate. All this and I'm on a Mac. Worse, this isn't localized to MY Mac. Crap like this happens on every G5 I use, operate or borrow. My fellow video slaves all report similar stories: files vanish, renders abort, drives fail to mount. Yet why do we stay with Final Cut Pro? Because Macs are more reliable.

See in Apple parlance reliability is all about the operating system. So long as OSX doesn't go into kernel panic, it is considered more reliable than Windows. I can't remember the last time a file went missing in Windows. I can't remember the last time I had a file vanish from a folder (in front of my very eyes no less) just because. I can't remember the last time I had a Windows 2000 application (program) hang or (poof!) unexpectedly quit. Yes my Windows 2000 box does get the odd blue screen of death but never when I use it. I will come back to it after hours of neglect only to find the blue screen staring back at me as if to say 'your absence has driven me to this sad state'.

* EDIT This behavior was later diagnosed as the onset of a physical drive failure...said diagnosis being that the drive did in fact, fail EDIT*

But Windows 2000 does not simply delete files just to piss me off. No, that is the soul bailiwick of Apple.

So even though I put up with an operating system that can, on occasion, go belly up for no good reason with Windows. I much prefer that injustice to the actual obfuscation, corruption and deletion of my life's blood (files). Look, I like the look and feel of brushed metal as much as the next guy. I obviously felt strong enough about the power and sophistication of a Mac to shell out nearly four thousand dollars to own one. But I will not accept the pandering, fawning, exaggeration and outright lies put forth by the Mac community. Your fecal matter also has an oder most foul (as this last 64-point OSX mega security patch can attest). OSX has a lot of repair work coming to it and I'd like to see Apple provide more than its usual best effort to the problem. That is before Leopard drops and all of us G5 users find ourselves left once again out in the cold. Unless of course we choose to buy yet another four thousand dollar machine from Apple.

* EDIT This last comment was made in the face of potential incompatibility for power Mac users with Leopard. Apple so far states that Leopard will run on my Mac G5 EDIT*


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