AMITIAE - Monday 8 December 2014

Kernel Panics Galore: An Unwelcome Problems (not apparently cured)

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Since mid-November, the MacBook Pro that I use as my prime computer has been producing Kernel Panics. As the problem began a while after the arrival of OS X 10.10, Yosemite and I had been running beta versions for a while before that, the cause is unlikely to be directly related to the latest version of OS X.

The problem of Kernel Panics (KP) on my MacBook Pro began with three identifiable coincidental changes to the way I work: the arrival of the iPhone 6 (I was already running iOS 7 with the iPhone 5s); several downloads of student movie files (MOV and MP4) from a variety of external media; and an update to Little Snitch (3.5).

In an earlier report, "Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (now apparently cured)" - which seems to have been premature - I outlined the steps I had taken, ending with "fingers crossed".

Kernel Panics There was an update to Little Snitch (3.5.1) and the system was reliable for a couple of days, so I wrote up that earlier report. One of the steps I had taken was posting the most recent crash report (available via the Console app, in Applications>Utilities).

The response was simple: it looked as if Little Snitch was the problem, but uninstalling might not work. If the uninstall does not work, it may need taking in to a service center. When I questioned if the possibility of a hardware problem being the cause, the answer was, "Yes."

Three days after this, another KP happened and I uninstalled Little Snitch. The KPs continued, so this was not the cause and each time a KP occurred the action that triggered it (at least on the surface) was different as before.

I now have to face up to the possibility that there is a problem with the MacBook Pro: a computer that has run without fault for over a year. When I bought it, I chose the 16 GB RAM upgrade option, but knew at the time I ordered the Mac that the financial risk if something were to go wrong, would be high. I made sure that a few months later I bought AppleCare, so if the fault is with the hardware (motherboard, RAM, SSD) it should be covered.

Warranty repair is extended to 3 years with AppleCare, but this is not carte blanche. It covers parts installed by Apple that fail under normal usage. It does not, for example cover spills of beverages, cats scratching the screen, or dropping the Mac.

Unless there is some miracle to the installation (and these KPs have been catching me out somewhat), I plan to take it into a service agent on Wednesday. That will give me time to set up working alternatives and to upload my next Bangkok Post column to my site. As part of the preparation, I moved the text file for the column to a DropBox folder, then sent the Post an incomplete copy: rectified on Monday morning. I shall have to take extra care if I have an extended period working on the iPad (and iPhone).

Kernel Panics

I have been without my main Mac before: for a short period when I managed to lock myself out and needed the help of a Service Agent. That was only for three days. Although I was able to continue working with a number of my everyday tasks, I expecte that any extended period without the MacBook Pro would cause me problems, if only because I am so dependent on the software and systems I have built up with the Mac over the last years.

I can write with little difficulty as there is much software already installed on the iPad (and iPhone). Loading files up to the website - and managing the site itself - would be fairly easy, although the mechanics of operations are not the same: files on a Mac (and the site) are organised in a typical hierarchical folder system, while access to files on the iOS devices is app-specific.

With preparation, many of the files I would need for site organisation will be available. If not, they can be downloaded. What I will miss most, if the Mac has to go away (a distinct possibility), is the software I use for handling photographs: digital and scanned negatives. For the rest I can be in a sort of digital limbo, at least for a week or two.

This story is not yet over.

See also:

  • Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (now apparently cured)

  • Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (preparing for the service center)

  • Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome problems (sailing into dry dock)

  • Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome problems (adapting to change and making changes to images) - Resize, Auto Resize and Simple Resize


  • Kernel Panic Restore: Macbook Pro Time Machine Backup onto a Spare iMac

      Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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