Mac OS X: Too many modem problems!

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 16th, 2003 • 7:49 pm

Modem-related issues under Mac OS X are unfortunately nothing new. I have had the opportunity to discuss them on several occasions already, including the following:

Apple Peel – “The Ups and Downs of Upgrading to Jaguar

The problem is quite simply that… it’s not getting any better! The Mac OS X 10.2.4 UPDATE was recently released, and with it came a whole slew of new or renewed modem-related problems for many Mac users. Witness the recently posted special report at

Apple Modem Problems

Like several readers writing in this report, I simply cannot believe that Apple continues to be so careless about testing its software updates on systems whose sole connection to the Internet is through a modem connection. There is simply no way that such a crucial part of the computing experience deserves to be so consistently ignored by Apple’s quality-control department. Many people, like myself, are now entirely reliant on their Internet connection for many essential aspects of their professional and personal life. Dial-up ISP service is now good enough that we can effectively rely on it — and it is simply unacceptable, in 2003, that a system UPDATE released by Apple should once again render so many people’s modem connections unreliable or unusable.

Yes, you could always argue that people who need reliability and have it now should carefully stay away from any new system updates until they have been thoroughly tests by other, more masochistic users. But this reasoning suffers from several significant flaws.

First of all, new system updates such as 10.2.4 often come with improvements that are essential to some people — including people with modem connections. This flawed reasoning assumes that people using 10.2.3 are perfectly content with their system and have no need for an update. The reality is that 10.2.3 is not a perfect system. Otherwise Apple wouldn’t need to UPDATE it! It has its own flaws, and some modem-using Mac OS X users need to UPDATE to 10.2.4 for other reasons.

Secondly, a great part of what has enabled Apple to survive over the years is the enthusiasm of Macintosh users. Being “early adopters” of new system updates is simply part of this enthusiasm. Yet modem-using enthusiasts are being repeatedly punished for this enthusiasm. Is this really what Apple wants? Does it really want to “punish” its users for being enthuastic about its products and wanting to try out the new stuff as soon as it comes out?

Lastly, while early adoption is and always has been risky, there is a minimum level of quality that we have come to expect from Apple. And that includes ensuring that such basic functionality as modem connectivity does not get broken again and again with each new system update. To me, it seems quite obvious that Apple simply is not testing its new updates with a range of systems that is sufficiently representative of the population of Mac OS X users worldwide. It definitely looks as if Apple is mostly testing its updates on Macintosh computers that have a permanent, Ethernet-based connection to the Internet — and doesn’t realize that its updates don’t work with modem-based connections until it’s too late.

There is only one key phrase here, and it is: QUALITY CONTROL. The 10.2.4 fiasco seems to indicate, once again, that quality control is on the wane at Apple, and that is very disturbing news.

Modem users deserve some respect, and in the past few years they haven’t been getting it from Apple. It’s time for this to change.

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