[Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

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kernelpanic
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[Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby kernelpanic » Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:19 pm UTC

My mom owns a 2008 MacBook, with OS 10.5, with a weird problem. On Sunday-Friday, the computer works perfectly fine (the only problem is that it's a mac), but on saturdays, and only saturdays, the computer likes to freeze for minutes at a time, and randomly exits programs. I haven't checked if the same happens if I set up the hardware clock to a saturday on another day because I don't know how to do that. My mom swears she doesn't open files or programs on saturday she wouldn't open otherwise, and a reboot doesn't work. The only conclusion I've managed to arrive to is that the computer is an orthodox Jew, which while funny and very mildly bigoted, doesn't help.
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
Bhelliom wrote:Don't forget that the cat probably knows EXACTLY what it is doing is is most likely just screwing with you. You know, for CAT SCIENCE!

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joshz
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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby joshz » Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:51 am UTC

Which programs randomly exit?
Are they all third party, or all Apple-made, or some combination?
Do you have any crash logs for them?

Can you not try to start a religious war in the help desk?
You, sir, name? wrote:If you have over 26 levels of nesting, you've got bigger problems ... than variable naming.
suffer-cait wrote:it might also be interesting to note here that i don't like 5 fingers. they feel too bulky.

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby EvilDuckie » Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:21 pm UTC

Could it be that there's a backup or virus scan running in the background that's taking up a lot of system resources?
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mouseposture
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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby mouseposture » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:38 am UTC

I bet it's a "cron" job, probably indexing the hard drive. On my MacBook Pro, by default, that job runs on saturdays. Try launching Activity Monitor, and, when the problem occurs, looking for a job that's either using a lot of CPU cycles, or doing a lot of disk access. Then, when you have its name, Google it, to get some clue whether killing the process (which you can do from Activity Monitor) would be harmful or not. If all it's doing is making an index for the use of the Unix "locate" command, then you could probably kill it with impunity. (Apologies if this was already obvious to you.)

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby kernelpanic » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:20 am UTC

joshz wrote:Which programs randomly exit?
Are they all third party, or all Apple-made, or some combination?
Do you have any crash logs for them?

Can you not try to start a religious war in the help desk?

My mom now tells me they don't exit, only freeze; combination; they don't crash, only freeze; sorry.

EvilDuckie wrote:Could it be that there's a backup or virus scan running in the background that's taking up a lot of system resources?

No backup or AV software in that computer

mouseposture wrote:I bet it's a "cron" job, probably indexing the hard drive. On my MacBook Pro, by default, that job runs on saturdays. Try launching Activity Monitor, and, when the problem occurs, looking for a job that's either using a lot of CPU cycles, or doing a lot of disk access. Then, when you have its name, Google it, to get some clue whether killing the process (which you can do from Activity Monitor) would be harmful or not. If all it's doing is making an index for the use of the Unix "locate" command, then you could probably kill it with impunity. (Apologies if this was already obvious to you.)

The program using 95-100% CPU is usually the one being executed on the frontend (Finder, iTunes, Word, Firefox), the rest (even with no user-started programs running) take less than 2% memory/CPU. When I kill the process it takes a long time (2-3 mins) and doesn't help much. I'll check for cron processes running tomorrow, but I've got 2 questions: How do I change the hardware clock and is killing the process from the monitor the same as using the kill command?
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
Bhelliom wrote:Don't forget that the cat probably knows EXACTLY what it is doing is is most likely just screwing with you. You know, for CAT SCIENCE!

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby J the Ninja » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:35 am UTC

kernelpanic wrote:
joshz wrote:Which programs randomly exit?
Are they all third party, or all Apple-made, or some combination?
Do you have any crash logs for them?

Can you not try to start a religious war in the help desk?

My mom now tells me they don't exit, only freeze; combination; they don't crash, only freeze; sorry.

EvilDuckie wrote:Could it be that there's a backup or virus scan running in the background that's taking up a lot of system resources?

No backup or AV software in that computer

mouseposture wrote:I bet it's a "cron" job, probably indexing the hard drive. On my MacBook Pro, by default, that job runs on saturdays. Try launching Activity Monitor, and, when the problem occurs, looking for a job that's either using a lot of CPU cycles, or doing a lot of disk access. Then, when you have its name, Google it, to get some clue whether killing the process (which you can do from Activity Monitor) would be harmful or not. If all it's doing is making an index for the use of the Unix "locate" command, then you could probably kill it with impunity. (Apologies if this was already obvious to you.)

The program using 95-100% CPU is usually the one being executed on the frontend (Finder, iTunes, Word, Firefox), the rest (even with no user-started programs running) take less than 2% memory/CPU. When I kill the process it takes a long time (2-3 mins) and doesn't help much. I'll check for cron processes running tomorrow, but I've got 2 questions: How do I change the hardware clock and is killing the process from the monitor the same as using the kill command?


As far as I know, "kill" does the same thing a Force Quit. Kill is of course available too, as is top, if you'd just prefer to roll the classic way. The whole indexing thing, at least for Spotlight, is handled by the "mds" daemon (short for "metadeta server", iirc) and its assistant, "mdworker'. They are supposed to run with VERY LOW priority, for reasons that are hopefully obvious. My machine doesn't show anything else that would be indexing.

Oh, and cron is basically deprecated in 10.5 (actually 10.4+) It's still around, but launchd has mostly taken over its jobs. Look it up on wiki or just run "man launchd" if you are curious. (It also ate init, just as a warning before you start doing anything to it. Notice it has PID 1).

There is a little job called simply the "weekly" script that runs on Saturday mornings by default. It rebuilds the locate and whatis databases, and cleans up some logs. It's supposed to go early in the morning, but if the machine was asleep then launchd will execute it on the fly when the machine wakes up. There is a similar script that runs every day that will launch as well. I'm not sure how it would cause your issue, but it came to mind.
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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby kernelpanic » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:21 am UTC

J the Ninja wrote:There is a little job called simply the "weekly" script that runs on Saturday mornings by default.

How long should it take to complete? seconds, minutes or hours? because this happens from morning till night every week.
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
Bhelliom wrote:Don't forget that the cat probably knows EXACTLY what it is doing is is most likely just screwing with you. You know, for CAT SCIENCE!

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joshz
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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby joshz » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:06 am UTC

On a recent computer, it shouldn't take anymore than a half hour on a bad day.
You, sir, name? wrote:If you have over 26 levels of nesting, you've got bigger problems ... than variable naming.
suffer-cait wrote:it might also be interesting to note here that i don't like 5 fingers. they feel too bulky.

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby kernelpanic » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:39 am UTC

joshz wrote:On a recent computer, it shouldn't take anymore than a half hour on a bad day.

I'm thinking of getting her some AV software, but I don't know about mac antiviruses. Which one would you recommend?
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
Bhelliom wrote:Don't forget that the cat probably knows EXACTLY what it is doing is is most likely just screwing with you. You know, for CAT SCIENCE!

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby joshz » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:05 am UTC

DO NOT WANT. If you really feel it's necessary, get ClamXAV. But as long as she doesn't install anything from really sketchy sites, she's fine. As of now, there are no self-replicating viruses for macs, and if you install a virus checker that always scans, it'll slow her down even more.
You, sir, name? wrote:If you have over 26 levels of nesting, you've got bigger problems ... than variable naming.
suffer-cait wrote:it might also be interesting to note here that i don't like 5 fingers. they feel too bulky.

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby J the Ninja » Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:43 am UTC

kernelpanic wrote:
joshz wrote:On a recent computer, it shouldn't take anymore than a half hour on a bad day.

I'm thinking of getting her some AV software, but I don't know about mac antiviruses. Which one would you recommend?


I use ClamAV from MacPorts. It won't do much common sense won't already do, though. Most people who have AV on their Macs are either have it to comply with work/school network rules, or to keep their machine from passing on a Windows virus in an email or something. As noted, there are no known self-replicating malware programs for OS X. What malware there is by and large requires the user to type their admin password for it to do its thing. (aka, the user must, at the very least, manually give it root access, if not launch it outright. The nastier ones I can recall are usually found in poisoned installer packages of pirated software. It's an easy way since these commonly need an admin password before they are run*)


*Installer packages(.pkg or .mpkg files) are not executables, they are special folders containing some scripts and archives, and instructions for Installer.app on what to do with them. An pkg is a basic installer package, an mpkg is basically a package that runs other packages. mpkg's are often used to make a unified installer for a software suite, such as Final Cut Studio or XCode.
Shishichi wrote:Applies a sexward force to counter the sexpression effect that Forward Advection can apply to fluid density, particularly along sextainer boundaries. In this way, the sextribute attempts to conserve the overall fluid volume ensuring no density loss.
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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby kernelpanic » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:51 pm UTC

OK, now I know it's not the CPU. I ran 6 yes commands (3 per core) and the CPU pumped up to 99-100%, just what you'd expect, but the computer was still usable. When the hang-ups take place, the program stops responding and everything slows down, CPU at 15-30%, up from the normal 1-5%. The only time something weird happened was when a program (terminal, not running any commands) said it was taking 190% CPU. I don't know how that is possible, but it took me several minutes to get it to close.
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
Bhelliom wrote:Don't forget that the cat probably knows EXACTLY what it is doing is is most likely just screwing with you. You know, for CAT SCIENCE!

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby joshz » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:54 pm UTC

While I'm not sure how to solve the issue, the % refers to two cores, not just the one. So 200% is using both cores to the maximum extent.
You, sir, name? wrote:If you have over 26 levels of nesting, you've got bigger problems ... than variable naming.
suffer-cait wrote:it might also be interesting to note here that i don't like 5 fingers. they feel too bulky.

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby phlip » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:15 am UTC

I don't know about Macs, but on both Windows and Linux, a CPU-heavy process means a sluggish but still technically usable computer (especially with multiple CPU cores)... but heavy disk access means everything goes to hell.

Does the HDD churn a lot when the slowdowns happen? Is there some process monitor tool for macs that'll show a process's IO level, or maybe pagefault frequency?

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby joshz » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:46 am UTC

Yeah. In Activity Monitor, down towards the bottom, you should see a "Disk Activity" tab. Click that, and report what you see there on Saturdays versus days with no problem.
You, sir, name? wrote:If you have over 26 levels of nesting, you've got bigger problems ... than variable naming.
suffer-cait wrote:it might also be interesting to note here that i don't like 5 fingers. they feel too bulky.

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Re: [Mac] Weird problem on Saturdays

Postby kernelpanic » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:52 pm UTC

joshz wrote:Yeah. In Activity Monitor, down towards the bottom, you should see a "Disk Activity" tab. Click that, and report what you see there on Saturdays versus days with no problem.

Last Saturday I saw some peaks, nothing major, but not during the slowdown.
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
Bhelliom wrote:Don't forget that the cat probably knows EXACTLY what it is doing is is most likely just screwing with you. You know, for CAT SCIENCE!

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