Mac Daniel's Advice

Translucent Gray Box in OS X, AFP Connection Problem in Classic Stump Mac Daniel

Dan Knight - 2006.07.12

Sometimes I just love a good mystery. Other times I just wish the problem would go away.

I solved problems using my cell phone with iSync (see Getting iSync to Work with an Unsupported Cell Phone). I uncovered all the details about using "big" hard drives - ones over 128 GB in size - on older Macs (see How Big a Hard Drive Can I Put in My iMac, eMac, Power Mac, PowerBook, or iBook?).

And sometimes I'm stumped. This column covers two problems I'm having that I simply haven't been able to get to the bottom of. Thankfully I've been able to attack both of these by simply logging in and out of my account for one problem and restart the Classic environment when trying to solve the other. It beats a full hardware restart any day.

I'm hoping one or more readers may be able to shed light on these problems and point to a solution.

AFP Connection Status

The first one goes back a long ways, at least to the OS X 10.3 era. When I launch Classic, I get a dialog box that says Classic is looking for the IP address That window will stay open for a long, long time if I don't hit Cancel, and Classic won't finish booting until then.

There's also a much longer delay at the end of the Classic boot sequence than there is on my eMac or PowerBook G4, but since I usually have Classic running all the time, that's not such a big issue.

What's particularly frustrating is that it only happens on one of my Macs, and it happens even when I log in as a different user.

I've used Google to research this. I've gone to Mac OS X Hints and other sites. And I haven't found anything about this problem, let alone how to solve it.

I have deleted preferences in System Folder > Preferences. I have changed the settings in various control panels. I've made sure there is nothing in the Recent Servers folder. Yet the problem persists.

I haven't found anything in my OS X User folder that might address this either.


The Translucent Gray Box

The second problem started on my eMac a couple months back and manifested on my Power Mac G4 within the past week. All of a sudden I have a translucent gray box that won't change in size, can't be moved, can't be vanished, and persists in the same location regardless of screen resolution.

It's a real eyesore. Although I can work right through it, it's very annoying. Very. And I can't figure out what's causing it or how to solve it.

This box only appears when I am logged into my main account; switch to any other account and it doesn't show up.

I'm guessing this isn't related to OS X 10.4.x itself, but probably to one of the many apps and background tasks I have running. These include the Update Client, SMARTreporter, WeatherMenu, the BOINC client, WINswitch, Palm Desktop, and Plaxo's sync tool. Disabling these, logging out, and then logging back in has not solved my problem.

Neither has deleting these apps and replacing them with fresh (sometimes newer) versions.

Activity Monitor shows dozens upon dozens of active processes, and in most cases I have no clue what they might be and whether it might be safe to disable them. This is a far cry from troubleshooting in the "bad old days" of the Classic Mac OS.

I'm at a loss with both of these problems. If you have any ideas on how to solve either issue, please email me at low_end_mac (at) I'll share the solution to both problems here.

Thanks in advance! LEM

Translucent Gray Box Solution

A huge thanks to Matthew Ryan who recognized this problem from his own trouble-shooting experience. It turns out the translucent gray box was a by-product of WinSwitch, a neat little freeware app I'd pretty much forgotten I was even using.

The solution was to uninstall WinSwitch (using the program's installer), delete the .plist (preference) files related to the program, log out, and then reinstall WinSwitch. Problem solved!

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