Nov 19, 1999
HAVING PROBLEMS with your Magix connection already? Well, you're not alone. Thing is, the SingTel Magix Help Less staff ('Help Desk' is obviously a misnomer) seems to expect Mac users to solve their own connection problems now that we've signed up for disservice.
And to get us all started in the deep end, they made a reasonably problem-free beta client obsolete and got us to upgrade recently to a new client, which was about the time when the problems began.
I would like to recount my own experiences with the Magix tech support during the last week. But then, perhaps another time. For now, the brickbats will have to wait as I proceed to deal with a problem which some of you may also be facing.
I've detected a bug that may arise from a possible conflict between the Mac OS' networking software and the Magix Access Client. This bug surfaces after you've gone online, then offline, and then left the Client open and idle for an undetermined period. Subsequent attempts to reconnect under these circumstances would fail if you encounter this bug.
After a week of narrowing down the variables, I've been able to consistently reproduce the problem at will and verified that it is not the result of any other software conflicts or corrupted preferences. Having said that, I can't rule out that other Mac users might experience their own peculiar set of problems with Magix, or not even experience any bugs at all. (At least one PowerBook user I know has his own problems with Magix connections.)
For the purpose of this article, I'll assume you've configured your Mac appropriately for Magix and have installed Magix Access Client 2.0 as prescribed in the latest manual that was sent to you.
Connecting to Magix
Assuming you start up the Client to connect to Magix and everything goes smoothly, you should see the following sequence of status messages appearing in your Client's status window:
• IP address obtained from network. Proceeding to authenticate with server.
• Sending required username, password and service required to server.
• PTS network detected. Logging into network...
The entire connection sequence should take only about 10 seconds to complete, and then the time-counter appears.
Play It Safe
After you are done with your current session, disconnect from Magix and quit the Client. If you remember to do this each time after you are done, you should have no problems reconnecting subsequently.
Do not leave your Client open when not in use, thinking you'll save the bother of reopening it later to get back online, as your Mac might start acting weird*. Chances are, if you do and then try to reconnect later, you risk getting a network error message in the Client status window. All subsequent attempts to reconnect will similarly fail, and the only status message you will receive is this:
IP address obtained from network. Proceeding to authenticate with server.
This message stays on for about half a minute and is then followed by a connection timeout error message.
*I previously touched on a DHCP-related phenomenon that causes the Mac OS to periodically freeze for up to half a minute before returning to normal state. Evidently, this occurs when the TCP/IP control panel has been configured for a DHCP connection, and is due to the Open Transport software initiating a poll of the DHCP connection to renew the DHCP lease every so often (usually every half-hour). This phenomenon — which Apple refers to as a "pausing behavior" — is apparently of a sporadic nature, making it all the more quirky. If you'd like to read some personal accounts of it, look up this MacFixit report.
Coming back to the point of this article, the onset of this pausing behavior when the Client is left idle seems to contribute to the connection problem. Once the pausing behavior occurs while your Client is open, the bug will already have taken effect, and even if you quit your Client now and reopened it, you will not likely be able to reconnect. Conversely, I have determined that if I quit the Client after each session (as I'm recommending that you do too), the freeze, and hence the associated connection problems, ceases to arise.
Recovering from the problem
The only way I've been able to recover from the inability to connect is by shutting down my iMac and letting it cool off for maybe an hour or so at least. I know, it sounds about as logical as "smack it on the side and the picture should come back on", but it's worked each time so far, which is what matters most.
As I've reported earlier, Apple Singapore is currently working on getting Magix Access Client 2.0 fully compatible with OT2.5.1 that's pre-installed in some of the newer Macs and OT2.5.2 in Mac OS 9, and hopefully the situation will improve by then. Meanwhile, we might all do ourselves a favor if we submitted our own bug reports (be as specific as possible) to SingTel Magix at email@example.com for them to deal with the problem.
Then maybe all these bugs will just disappear. (Poof!)
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