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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Hard Drive busy light among other things


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cyclist
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Hello all. . .

After 20 years of using PC's I've finally switched to the Mac a week ago and have a few comments/questions.

I really miss the HD busy light that lets you know when the hard drive is active. When my Mac is installing something, unless there's graphical display from the the downloading software, I have absolutely no clue as to whether the drive is active or just sitting there. Unless I missed it in the manual and can't find it on my G4 Powerbook, there isn't any drive activity indicator at all. I wonder why. Is there any software out there that adds that functionality to the Mac?

What is the consensus on anti-spam software? Best and the worst. I need something like SpamBully which was a great PC spam software package. . .it even showed the location of the spammer.

Any really good auction snipe tools for the Mac? I've done a search and haven't really found anything that looks interesting. I've been using AuctionTamer for several years, but they aren't porting it for the Mac. Anything comparable?

Thanks in advance, Barry

BTW, I began my computer interest back in 1981 with an Apple 2Plus and in 1984 went to the PC. Now, it's back to the Mac. Guess I've come full circle.
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wickedbusa
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I was a long time PC user and to tell you the truth, I don't even miss the HD indicator light. My Powerbook is exactly the same way it came custom built from the factory and aside from Keynote, I haven't added anything to "increase" its functionality. You'll be surprised how much less garbage you need with a Mac to make it work. And as for spam, I have been a .mac member and haven't had any issues about spam.
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Cloudane
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I'd also like to express my wish for a HDD indicator prog (surely there must be one that sits in the Mac alternative of the System Tray in the top-right)

I'm quite surprised that they missed this out - given the enormous attention Apple give towards usability and human-computer interaction, it's amazing that at least in this exception they forgot "always provide feedback" - one of the most basic guidelines you'll see in any HCI book. It's just about the only thing I miss from the PC
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hype.it

 
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I've enclosed a utility for those who miss the HD read/write indicator. It monitors many other beside the HD, such as CPU usage, Memory and Network activity. It's freeware.

Attached Files
File Type: zip MenuMeters.dmg.zip (381.9 KB, 125 views)
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technologist

 
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The menubar indicator hype.it suggested is the only way.

I wonder, though: Why, on earth, would you need such a light? Is it just curiosity?
On removable drives, the light means "don't remove me," but what purpose does it serve on a HD? To me, it seems Apple omitted it because it has no function.

Mail.app has a built-in spam filter, and Eudora has a better one (IMHO.)

Don't know about auction software. Try Versiontracker
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Cloudane
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Sometimes, even an Apple will slow down or not respond, without a beachball or wristwatch etc to indicate it and no indication of progress. The only ways to tell it's still *doing something* are a) to put your ear to it and listen for the hard drive thrashing and b) to see an HDD light still flickering. Otherwise, for all you know, it's just displaying a wristwatch for the hell of it, and in fact locked up.
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cyclist
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Thanks very much for the link to the download. It will do what I needed. And the additional monitors are nice as well. I really appreciate the info.

-Barry
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technologist

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudane
Sometimes, even an Apple will slow down or not respond, without a beachball or wristwatch etc to indicate it and no indication of progress. The only ways to tell it's still *doing something* are a) to put your ear to it and listen for the hard drive thrashing and b) to see an HDD light still flickering. Otherwise, for all you know, it's just displaying a wristwatch for the hell of it, and in fact locked up.
or c) Control-click on the application's icon in the dock. A locked-up application will be marked "Not Responding."
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Ragle

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technologist
I wonder, though: Why, on earth, would you need such a light? Is it just curiosity?
On removable drives, the light means "don't remove me," but what purpose does it serve on a HD? To me, it seems Apple omitted it because it has no function.
The flickering HD light is just another way to monitor what your system is doing at all times. Maybe we new Mac users will come not to rely on such information, but I can definitely sympathize with the original poster of this thread in wanting to know what my machine is doing. Not only that, but from a hardware perspective, a constantly cranking hard drive, even when I am not doing something to require it, means that something else is, i.e. a virus, spyware, or even an impending HD failure.
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rman

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragle
Not only that, but from a hardware perspective, a constantly cranking hard drive, even when I am not doing something to require it, means that something else is, i.e. a virus, spyware, or even an impending HD failure.
That may not be the case. Most Unix systems are steady updating themselves. During the process, the system may or may not write to the system disk drive.

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, It's about learning to dance in the rain!
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witeshark

 
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I adjusted to the missing hard drive light very quickly
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Avalon

 
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I never really missed the HD light, as I never paid attention to it, even on my PC. On the PC, due to poor housing designs, you could always hear if your HD was working or not.
On the Mac, as rman said, the UNIX-based system makes it accessing the HD even if, as a user, you don't see anything working. Lots of things run in background, it's the same on Windows NT based systems (including XP). This doesn't always mean that there is a virus or other malicious software running (especially not on a Mac ).
The last Macs I saw with a HD light mas the Macintosh II series, a very long time ago.
Aplle, didn't forget it, they just removed something obsolete, like they did with the floppy drive.
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Cloudane
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I just find it reassuring *shrugs*

Certainly on Windoze, often times it'll slow down to a near standstill and I'll think "what the hell is it doing??" *peer over to front of case* "oh, it's having a disk thrashing session. I'll wait until it's stopped."
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hype.it

 
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You know guys... I've yet to experience any of those problems regarding my mac and i've used many. The only time the OS has a thrashing session is when your Document is 3 times the size of your physical memory, as the data needs to be swapped and updated. Other than this, it's very rare that the PowerBook 15 (i took this as an example as it's my slowest machine, 1Ghz) stop responding, if anything it's more the Application's fault than the System.

Must be some thing that PC users have gotten used to; I honestly don't know.
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MoltenLava
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I'm also used to HD lights on a PC. But at the same time, whenever I remote login to another machine I did fine without ever needing to see a HD activity lights. I guess that's the reason why I don't terribly miss HD lights on my Mac. When I'm in doubt of certain applications, I open up terminal and run top or ps to figure out what's going on. The reason I needed HD light on a PC was because Windows was lacking such utilities.
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