Fried By An Apple Thunderbolt


It's kind of exciting seeing that window pop up on your Mac which says "new software is available for your computer." But sometimes, it can be downright dangerous. I've seen four software updates come out of Cupertino this year which definitely weren't ready for prime time. As an Apple Computer Technician with over twenty years of experience, I'm trying to figure out what's going on — what's happening to these updates lately?

Released exactly one week ago today, on June 11th, 2012, Apple's Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2 was a nasty one which had Mac users re-installing their system software immediately after installing the update thanks to Kernel Panics. Note that we spelled the word "Kernel" correctly — it has nothing to do with the Colonel from Kentucky Fried Chicken (although I'd much rather have my chicken fried instead of my software). If this update still happens to be sitting somewhere on your desktop and you haven't yet installed it, delete it. Apple finally pulled the update on June 15th, 2012.

Earlier this year, we had to deal with three other updates-gone-bad:

  • iTunes 10.6 Update Crashing
  • Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3 Delta Update "CUI" Error
  • Apple Security Update 2012-001 For Snow Leopard Breaks Rosetta

Where's the quality control? Who's testing the updates now — us Mac users? It sure seems that way. To the software chefs at Apple — the Thunderbolt 1.2 Update was one pretty finger lickin' bad update (no need to keep the recipe for this one a secret).

Whether you use your Mac for fun, for business (as web designers and computer geeks like us) or for any other purpose whatsoever, this kind of stuff just shouldn't be happening — at least not this frequently. With OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) arriving next month, it does nothing to bolster confidence.

After seeing what's been happening in the Apple software department since the beginning of the year, I'll have to admit that I'm a little bit worried about OS X 10.8. I'm a computer guy who has to work with these updates and upgrades and fix the problems they can sometimes cause for people. I'm supposed to be the guy with all the answers. One of the most frustrating questions I'm often asked is "how can this happen?" I honestly wish I knew the answer.

Most of our Mac clients who know me well enough will certainly be able to relate to the many times I've told them to hold off on installing a software update or upgrading to a brand new operating system until most of the bugs have been worked out. All in the client's best interests. Hopefully, they all remembered (some "food" for thought for those of you who aren't our clients).

Although it may not seem like it at times, I really do love Apple and I do appreciate the fact that the company actually apologized for the "disruption" this time around — a very rare occurrence in the Apple world:

"Apple promptly withdrew the update and investigated, discovering an installation compatibility issue with a previous Thunderbolt update applied by some customers. Apple apologizes for the disruption this caused for customers with affected Macs."

I'm just not so sure about the "promptness" of pulling the update — it took four days. I guess they must have had their reasons for leaving it on their servers for 96 hours but the reports of kernel panics began flowing in within a few hours of its release on June 11th, 2012. With all due respect, I realize that these things do happen but this is the fourth time this year that we've seen an unacceptable update released to the general public.

My main goal as a computer consultant and technician has always been to recommend what works best for the client, not what appears to work best on television. About all I can say is never install a software update before researching it first. Hold off for a week. Otherwise, you might be waiting in line for a fresh new bucket of software, er, chicken — er... whatever (you know what I mean).

[Updated 06.19.12] Apple released Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2.1 late yesterday evening, shortly after our post. We haven't tested it yet — wait for the feedback first before installing it.

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