Help! Weird Screen! being attacked by barcode hash marks!

dezcom's picture

In the past few days, I have been plagued by a weird screen problem. It shows up on Mac interface items like Desktop, icons, menus, splash screens, etc,. A weird pattern of hash marks superimposes it self over the above items driving me nuts!
So far, I have booted from other volumes, run a plethora of utilities, zapped my Pram, rebooted all to now avail. None of my utilities show any problem. Except for where the mouse is pointing, all application windows look fine. Anything on the desktop or any navigation item including the Dock gets whammied, though. The splash screen gets a full dose for all aps.
The problem began after waking from sleep last friday (not my sleep, the computer's sleep).

Here are a two screen grabs:

Anyone seen this before or know how to fix it?

ChrisL

Jan's picture

Whoa. That looks strange.
I suggest you go here:
http://discussions.apple.com/index.jspa

I got great help there a couple of times.

blank's picture

If you have a laptop/iMac, the video cable may have come loose and need to be reinserted—which usually means sending the system to apple to be ripped open (most laptop models are glued together). If you can send a normal video signal to an external monitor that’s a good sign, if external output does the same stuff, the video chip is fried and you’ll likely need a new motherboard. If you have a desktop, try replacing the display cable.

In my experience, the Apple store in Clarendon will probably be the easiest in the area to get a repair appointment at. If they’re booked up, try logging in at midnight to get an appointment.

dezcom's picture

Thanks James and Jan!
I have a desktop G5 dual circa 2004 and a 23 inch Apple flatscreen.

ChrisL

Si_Daniels's picture

>the video cable may have come loose and need to be reinserted

One would have thought that the screen grab would not be garbled if that were the case?

canderson's picture

How did you create the screenshots? Was it via Command + Shift + 3? This key command should always create a screenshot on your desktop. The files should be called "Picture 1", "Picture 2", etc. To me, it looks like a hardware problem, like a short in the monitor cable or some sort of interference. However, software screenshots are captured from the video buffer. If the screenshots look bad, it's something I haven't seen before...

dezcom's picture

The screenshots were with Apple's command+shift+4 (and then drag around desired area).
Everything else is sharp as usual and the disruption is limited to the interface items.

ChrisL

canderson's picture

Ok. You could try a Safe Boot. To do this you restart your computer holding down the Shift key before the startup chime. A Safe Boot resets certain system caches. Once the system is up with the red Safe Boot label on the login screen, check to see if the problem is still occurring, then restart normally.

dezcom's picture

I tried removing and re-installing the cable--no change.
I went to the ATI site and got the latest driver for my video card--no change
I rebooted under "safe Boot" and part of the problem went away--the mouse still had the barcode lines following it around. When I rebooted back normally, the whole problem returned, WEIRD!

ChrisL

blank's picture

Carl made a good point—if this is appearing in screenshots, the video chip is probably fried. On the upside, I don’t get the impression that you have a laptop, so at worst you just need to install a new one.

Edit: the safe boot thing is weird—I wonder if you have a bad shader used to process one of the quartz 3D effects that gets turned off in safe mode.

Ken Messenger's picture

I recall having an issue similar to this but I can't remember what I did to fix it (I know, big help). But what I do remember is it was not a hardware issue but some kind of system problem.

Did you install any firmware or software updates just before this appeared? Could be worth checking for any bad prefs if you know the day it started.

dezcom's picture

I installed minor updates to Dreamweaver and upgraded my Fireworks to CS3. I don't recall the order of when my problem occurred though.

ChrisL

Ken Messenger's picture

Are you running the latest MacOS? If not perhaps one of the installers added something for a newer version.

Also may want to deactivate any fonts you've recently turned on in case there's some glitch in one.

blank's picture

On the upside, if this is a system issue, the Apple “geniuses” probably know a fix. Let me know if you find one—I still have my old G4 Powerbook that this happened to sitting on my desk in hopes that a burglar will steal that and not go poking around for the MacBook.

canderson's picture

The thing is, it was working for him before. So, I was thinking that the system was now in a state of temporary weirdness. Safe Boot is often recommended by Mac techs because it is an Apple-designed, safe, mechanism for resetting certain specific settings. My guess is that if you're already running 10.4.10, you'll be in a position where you might need to start swapping bigger things out to diagnose the problem--really stuff that's outside the scope of this type of forum. The fact that these are standard screen shots implies that the issue is software related. Apple's support forums might be a good bet because there may be people who see far, far more Mac issues than we do. With more eyeballs there's a better chance someone has seen this before.

If it were me, I would probably also try resetting system caches using a free utility called OnyX. I've never known OnyX to cause any problems, but there are lots of options to do goofy things.

I also obsessively back up my hard drive with a free cloning utility called Carbon Copy Cloner. It creates completely bootable backup partitions. That would be handy in a case like this because one could boot a recent backup and test to see if the problem occurred. I recently survived a hard drive failure on my laptop without losing any data. My backup disk was a month old, but my email was still on the server and my other backup files had copies as well.

I guess my final comment on this is... yeah, it's weird. Gremlins maybe?

david h's picture

shut down your computer; Restart & hold down the keys : Command- Option-P-R -- release the keys with the 3rd 'bongs'. Open Display ( System Preferences) -- change the resolution, and go back to your current resolution setting. Close System Preferences, and rebot.

dezcom's picture

David,
It didn't work.
Also, prior to that, I installed fresh system on a seperate hard drive and booted from it, no change! Even the System DVD had the funky mouse problem! Yikes!

ChrisL

mili's picture

Chris, that sounds weird!
I suppose you've done the usual, Utilities/Disk Utilities/Repair Disk Permissions? I also use a little application called MacJanitor. I use these two on regular basis, and after all installations.

Pause's picture

If I had to guess, I'd say the video card's dead (possibly its memory) or overheating. Best bet would be to run the Apple Hardware Test from the OS DVD that came with the G5:
http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/aht.html

Run the extended test. This may or may not be able to diagnose a bad video card – it may appear to function correctly to the computer, but produce a garbled visual output – but it should rule out other things, such as bad system memory (though you'd most likely be getting kernel panics with bad memory).

Assuming that comes up fine, it's the graphics card. If memory serves me correctly, the G5's had an Nvidia FX5200 64MB dual DVI. Here's a guide for swapping out the card (it's really easy):
http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/PMG5_AGP:PCI_Card_DIY.pdf

Before you go out and buy a replacement, try this: switch off the G5 at the plug (but leave it plugged in so it's earthed) open up the case, take out the graphics card and use an air duster to thoroughly clean out its heatsink. Put it back in, boot up and check to see if the corruption's gone. Frequently the heatsinks clog up after a couple of years under a desk, making the card overheat and causing this sort of visual corruption. Give the rest of the G5 case a good blast of air while you have it open, too. Oh, and make sure to keep the air duster vertical, you don't want to spray freezing propellant everywhere ;) (Though it shouldn't be harmful.)

If you do have to replace the graphics card, you can use a good few different models as long as OS X has the drivers for them, but it'd probably be easiest to use the same make and model again. You should be able to pick up a cheap retail FX5200 128MB dual DVI (non–Mac–specific) for around $50 at the most.

dberlow's picture

Wow! I was going to say it's the graphics card, toss it, (financially, once I start loosening screws, I'm screwed).
But on the bright side, you can now say your computer runs like a nylon stocking.

Cheers!

dezcom's picture

LOL! Well, David, at least I got a good laugh out of it to ease my pain :-)
A nylon stocking sure beats the Sing-Sing metaphor I have been using and anything else, bar none.

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Mili,
I ran all the utilities from Apple plus TechTool before. Everything came up fine on the hardware, drive, and softyware tests.

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Stef,
I'll try your dust-bunny technique and hope it works.

The card is the OEM version (the high-end option card at the time) of the ATI 9800:

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro:

Chipset Model: ATY,R350
Type: Display
Bus: AGP
Slot: SLOT-1
VRAM (Total): 128 MB
Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
Device ID: 0x4e48
Revision ID: 0x0000
ROM Revision: 113-A14401-117
Displays:
Apple Cinema HD Display:
Display Type: LCD
Resolution: 1920 x 1200
Depth: 32-bit Color
Core Image: Supported
Main Display: Yes
Mirror: Off
Online: Yes

Thanks for all your help, everyone!

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Well, I disemboweled my Mac and there certainly was dust in there. I cleaned it all out and re-seated the card. There was a moment of great hope when I booted but it was quickly dashed when the problem was so obviously still there :-(

ChrisL

Pause's picture

Boo :(

The graphics card's chip is probably toasted then, I'm afraid you'll have to replace it. Looking into this a little, it seems that you DO need to get a Mac–specific one otherwise it won't work, which is a shame as the PC equivalents are much, much cheaper for what is basically the same card but flashed with a different firmware.

A quick trawl of eBay turns up the following:
http://computers.search.ebay.com/9800_Apple-Macintosh-Computers_W0QQ_trk...

Including a card that exhibits the same problem as yours (looks like they tried replacing the fan but it didn't help):
http://cgi.ebay.com/ATI-9800-PRO-128mb-AGP-Mac-OEM-Showing-Artifacts_W0Q...

Spire's picture

That definitely looks like a problem with the graphics card. Judging from the nature of the graphics corruption, I'm guessing bad memory.

dezcom's picture

Stef,
That looks like compellig evidence to me. Thanks for showing me the "smoking gun" :-)

Looks like another unexpected expense. Retirement is sure nice but living on half vyour income has some drawbacks :-(

Thanks, Spire, for the ditto.

ChrisL

mili's picture

Chris,
you have to start selling those lovely fonts of yours to pay for the computer parts, so you can design more fonts, so that...

dezcom's picture

Thanks Mili! I hope to be releasing at least one before the end of October. I hope at least enough people buy it to pay for my video card :-)

ChrisL

PS: I see a few typos in my previous post but I dare not fix them since the post will move to tha bottom and make no sense! Sorry, my typing and spelling suck.

dezcom's picture

I bought the bullett and ordered a new video card. The cheapest I could find that works on my system cost $150. There were some a little cheaper but they were refurbished and only had a 30 day warranty. I ended up getting a Radeon 9600 since other options were more money and unavailable.

ChrisL

Hiroshige's picture

Barcode Blues :(

Sorry I can't help, I know how you feel though. My other laptop (name Roxanne) was eaten by a nasty virus. I couldn't access anything and lost all software. As it turned out I could pull the hard drive and rescue my works, wipe her clean and reload. But for a while there I was lost.

Hope you're back up and kick'n it soon enough!!

dezcom's picture

Roxanne was cruel! :-)

ChrisL

Pause's picture

Sorry I'm late getting back to this, Chris! If money's tight and you don't mind a bit of work, try this:
http://www.giantmike.com/G5_9800_fix.html

Back when I did PC repair I noticed a lot of machines would have far, far too much thermal compound placed between the heatsink & CPU, which would subsequently gunk up, go off and actually make the heat transfer worse! I wouldn't bother with the fancy silver or ceramic stuff, though, tests have shown that it's no more effective than normal compound, it just costs ten times more and looks prettier in the packet.

Remove the heatsink, clean off all the gunk, thoroughly clean the fan & heatsink (if the fan still even works?), apply a tiny amount of thermal paste (scrounge it off a geek friend) and reapply the heatsink. Leave the side of the case off if you can, so the heat doesn't build up and you can see if the graphics card's fan still works.

If it seems to make a difference, it may be worth shelling out for a new heatsink such as this:
http://www.arctic-cooling.com/vga2.php?idx=125

(Though I'm not sure that'll fit in the G5 case.)

Worth a try on the off chance it fixes it? If it works you've wasted a bit of time but saved $150, assuming you can send the unopened card back.

dezcom's picture

Thanks Stef!

ChrisL

brampitoyo's picture

When you return from your thing, can you update us on the problem? Has it been resolved, or are you kind of waiting for the video card to ship and try that?

I am using the same hardware that you do, but in my previous life—when I used to build PCs—the video cards are probably the last thing to get malfunctioned. Granted, it was Pentium III PCs, so I digress.

And your system actually displayed 256 colors. That definitely spells graphic card problem.

dezcom's picture

A few hospital visits prevented an earlier reply but I can now confirm that t was my video card. I replaced it and all is well. Thanks to everyone for their help!

ChrisL

Pause's picture

Good stuff, Chris, glad it's all sorted. Hope the angioplasty went well and the meds aren't too unpleasant!

dezcom's picture

Thanks, Stef!

ChrisL

dood's picture

Hi Chris,
I am not much into fonts but I am facing this exact same issue. Googling led me to this thread. I too have an ATI 9800. I have had this video card for over 4 years now. It has never given me a problem till one fine day, last month when the bar codes started scrawling around the screen. I wonder if ATI had a bad batch of cards or something. (I have a PC.) Methinks: Something worth following up with ATI?
Thanks,
-Dood

TomN-CA's picture

@dood
It's not really ATI's fault per se - blame marginally faulty memory that finally degraded into failure. Without an electron microscope there's no way to tell just how it failed, but it did.
Had it died within the warranty period or right out of the box that would be something else. There might be a recall of 9800's but more likely the fan is going bad or died long ago, leaving the card to overheat and produce glitches, that's the other possiblity next to memory failure. Open the PC and check if the fan can move. Bet you it's stuck solid, and you'll burn your fingers on the heatsink. :)

dezcom's picture

My fan was working just fine. The diagnostics said the memory in the card had gone bad. After I replaced the card, all is back to normal and the crawling barcodes have gone. I think you might have to replace your card as well, Dood.

ChrisL

dood's picture

The fan seems to fine. It must be the same memory bug. I am hunting around for a reasonable replacement. Thanks Tom and Chris.

dezcom's picture

Good luck with the "reasonable" part! I hope you do better than I did.

ChrisL

Devodoc's picture

Hi dezcom...came across your posting on Google trying to fix my monitor problem....your screen shot is exactly what my G5/23" CD is doing. I replaced the video card (figured it was overheating and cleaned alot of soot etc. out) Replaced with Radeon XT800 (256) and seemed to work fine......for 20 minutes...now same problem!!! Aaaarrrggghh!!! $300+ for a new video card and it is different. Any other ideas? Have you had the problem again after your new video card?? Relation to Leopard perhaps?? Any help appreciated.

David

dezcom's picture

Hi David,
Luckily, my problem never returned after replacing my video card. I have yet to upgrade to Leopard. Perhaps your new video card is under warranty? Check with the dealer who supplied it. Here is hoping for a permanent and cheap cure for you!

ChrisL

Devodoc's picture

Well, I cannot figure it out..... if I put a brand new video card in, It seems logical it has to be something else. I just got it in the States this past week and now back in Europe they are hard to find and ATI service is non-existent. I am not sophisticated enough to understand why it would be the monitor, and the logic board or something scares me. Anyone w/similar problem you hear about especially software problem let me know! Thanks

David

dezcom's picture

OK, If I hear, I will let you know.

ChrisL

3art's picture

A few days ago I updated my Leopard to 10.5.2, rebooted the system, worked a little, turned my Mac to sleep and when I turned it back on I also had this problem.

By googling the ROM Revision (113-A14401-117) a finally found this thread. It is the only case that exactly describes my problem with the exact same hardware.

Did Devodoc eventually solve the problem or did he give up after wrecking another card? I'm affraid to buy a new video card because of his case. Dezcom could resolve his problem by replacing his old card but he was still using Tiger. Did he eventually saw the problem return? So if anyone could tell me the conclusions of this "video-card-destruction-epic" I would be very glad.

I would like to use this Power Mac G5 (first gen) for a little longer. And eventually when I buy a MacBook (Pro) it could serve for holding at least one copy off all my precious data. Or it might be just for a shorter term because I might end up with an all brand-new Mac Pro where my old hard drives can live their second live and leaving the old one hard drive'less.

So now I'm in the stage where I'm thinking of fixing my until-a-couple-of-days-ago-very-loyal Power Mac so I could hang on a little bit longer for buying a new Mac and eventually use the old one as a back-up beast or leave it as it is and go to the store to buy a MacBook (Pro) or Mac Pro. It all depends on the availability and price of AGP 8x video cards in Europe and the risk I could be taking because the new card good get the same problem.

dezcom's picture

"Dezcom could resolve his problem by replacing his old card but he was still using Tiger. Did he eventually saw the problem return?"

3art, No, my problem has not returned since I got a new video card. I am still running Tiger and probably will untill the next bugfix comes out from Apple. I can't imagine that Leopard would be the issue anyway. It is hard to find a workable video card any more so I hope mine hangs in there for a couple more years. I wish you the best of luck solving your problem. Let me know how it all turns out.

ChrisL

3art's picture

I bought a new video card ATI Radeon 9600 and everything is back to normal. Let's hope it stays that way. If something does go wrong I'll add a new comment. Thanx for your help by posting this topic.

dezcom's picture

Glad you solved your problem!

ChrisL

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