Saturday, June 16, 2012

Molasses Search Detail

So one of my many excuses for not blogging more is that my home computer -- that should be "my," since there's also The Wife's laptop, the Mac used by the boys, and the even older Mac that's officially The Wife's but doesn't get used much, all in the same house, and for all of which I'm all the tech support they get -- is running very slowly a lot of the time lately.

I've been trying to figure out the problem -- today I ran a big virus scan, which didn't turn up anything serious -- and have decided that it's one of the three programs I have running pretty much all the time. (Well, the other possible reason is that the machine -- a 3.06 GHz Mac i3 with 4GB of memory running OS 10.6.8 -- is just too old and slow, but the boys' Mac seems to be doing pretty well, and it's about three years older. And I'm really just using it for websurfing, blogging, and other highly non-processor-intensive tasks.)

So the three possible culprits are:
  • Firefox, which used to be a great, stable browser with wonderful plug-ins, but has turned into a weekly-updated house of horrors that freezes for minutes on end for no clear reason. (I'm on the beta update channel, so maybe I just need to step back to a stable version -- but, even there, they're updating the damn thing almost every month, which is way too often for a browser.) I'm currently on 14.0 beta 6, for my sins.
  • Entourage, my e-mail program -- the problem here is possibly the opposite of Firefox, since I'm still on Office 2004 (and I don't really feel like spending $200 to update to something that I'll mostly use to work on documents for my job).
  • And then iTunes, which takes about five minutes to open each day, while it's doing something. (I suspect it's checking every single song in my library -- and there's over 23,000 of them -- for signs of piracy.) If this is the problem, I really don't know what to do -- I'm pretty locked-in to Apple's plug-and-play music ecosystem, with two iPods and an iPad.
I don't seriously expect anyone out there to have an answer -- though I more and more suspect it's Firefox, and that I should shift over to Safari and see how that works. (I already use Chrome and Opera for browsing occasionally, and have radically different sets of bookmarks in each of those.)  I think I even still have Mozilla installed, though I bet that hasn't been updated in a long time.

No, really, I'm just venting, since I am a blogger and that is what we do. This also looks like content to a cursory glance, and I have been feeling guilty about how empty Antick Musings has been recently. But commiseration and/or suggestions are certainly welcome.


jmnlman said...

I'm over on the Windows side so don't have any bullet-proof suggestions. If you're got Genius on for iTunes try switching it off and see if that helps.

Catherine Omega said...

It's possible that Firefox is to blame, and if I'd read this a year ago, I would've told you it was absolutely 100% Firefox's fault. Except the Firefox-on-OSX experience has become so much better in the past year, to the point where even web developers I know who switched to Chrome as a dev platform are going back.

Entourage is possibly contributing; Office 2004 is a PowerPC app, (So definitely don't try upgrading your computer to Lion in the hopes that'll fix it; 10.7.x removes Rosetta support entirely, so your pre-Intel OSX apps simply won't work. Also, unless you have a solid-state drive, you probably don't want Lion at all either. It's notoriously slow on computers with hard drives.) You might consider running something like Notify ( ) that can check for new messages and only open your email client as necessary.

But if you really want to be sure, why not keep Activity Monitor open for a while just to keep track of your CPU and memory usage?

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