News Archive for: Friday April 27, 2007
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Apple posts Battery Update 1.2 for MacBook/MacBook Pros
" Battery Update 1.2 updates battery firmware and improves battery functionality.

After Battery Update has been installed, each battery you insert into your MacBook or MacBook Pro will be updated automatically. Your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source.

For further information on this Update, please visit this website:
http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n305256 ("About Battery Update 1.2")

Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later, MacBook/MacBook Pro"

Apple also has some updated Battery-related docs today:

Note: They also have a page at http://www.apple.com/support/macbook_macbookpro/batteryupdate/ with notes on issues with some batteries and criteria for getting a suspect battery replaced (if the update does not help and certain criteria is met).

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Review of Synology Disk Station DS-207
" Mike, AMUG has posted a review of the Synology Disk Station DS-207. This dual drive gigabit ethernet server supports Mac OS X, OS 9 and Windows file sharing. Plus it provides a download redirector, FTP, Web, UPnP, Photo, Video and iTunes sharing features. Music copied to the Synology Disk Station DS-207 is available via iTunes sharing for all computers on the network.
In addition, the unit includes Photo Station which provides the option to share photos placed on the DS-207 with network users. The power efficient DS-207 only used 25 watts with dual Hitachi hard drives in our test and when not in use, hibernation mode reduces the power uage to 14 watts. The DS-207 supports 3.5" SATA hard drives in JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. Mac users that want to avoid Mac OS X 10.4.9 and OS 9 file sharing issues plus add some very cool multimedia features to their network will enjoy using the DS-207.
Have a great weekend,
Michael Bean
Team AMUG "
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Halo 2.0.1 Update (improves performance on PPC and Intel Macs)
MU today lists a Halo 2.0.1 update that promises significant performance gains:

    Version 2.0.1:
  • Overall performance on PowerPC Macs has been improved by up to 35% over the original Universal Binary version, depending on graphics configuration.
  • Overall performance on Intel Macs has been improved by up to 25% over the original Universal Binary version, depending on graphics configuration.
  • Cinematic full-screen effects run much faster.
  • Many more enhancements.
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More feedback on AVC decoders for Quicktime
(Updated 6PM)
Last night I posted a reader request for feedback on an AVC decoder for QuickTime he tried on his Dual 2.3GHz G5 (from http://www003.upp.so-net.ne.jp/mycometg3/ - avc1Decoder 0.6.5.) He mentioned disappointing performance (especially during playback of HD Movie trailers) and asked if anyone else had tried it with better results. (I also asked for feedback on any alternatives). Here's a couple initial replies so far:

" Mike, Just wanted to let you know that I installed the AVCdecoder library tonight and played some 1080p H.264 files back from my MBP C2D 2.16GHz 128MB VRAM machine without issue. This wasn't one of the downloaded trailers from Apple's site, but my own content. But still, with this AVC decoder, I am able to get full frame rate playback.

Also, I wanted to note that the recently released WMV Player software you linked to (yesterday - Flip4Mac WMV Player 2.1.1.70) finally includes the ability to play back Windows Media VC-1 (WVC1, SMPTE-421) video. This has been a much long overdue development, finally spurred on by MS' desire to get development traction with its Silverlight platform. I wanted to point this functionality out as I do not see the VC-1 additions mentioned anywhere in the installer or notes for the download.

(He later wrote)
I also wanted to give you another update... I downloaded the Ratatouille 1080p trailer from Apple's site and played it back using the Apple H.264 decoder and the AVC1 decoder. VLC and the AVC1decoder at the most minimal playback tool settings required about 65% of the MBP C2D's processor (reading via Activity Monitor). The AVC1decoder with the most advanced playback tools turned on required about 105% of the processor. The Apple default H.264 decoder required about 75% of the processor. As far as image quality, the Apple decoder and AVC1decoder at minimal settings were about the same. The AVC1decoder at max settings was noticably sharper however.

I also wanted to note that the AVC1decoder supports H.264 High Profile encodes, which is great because it means that I can now test my H.264 encodes for IPTV on a mac now. Previously, I was not aware of any decoder that supported H.264 HP on the mac. VLC has some rudimentary support, but it is highly unreliable IMHO. (And another nice feature of the ACV1decoder is that I found it appears to support H.264 video in a transport stream with QT Player. When I first installed the decoder last night, I believe this worked fine, but after uninstalling it and reinstalling it today to run these tests, I am no longer having any luck, so it looks like something broke. But I could of sworn I had this working last night.)

I have attached a layered Photoshop file of the QT decoding results from the various decoders/settings mentioned above.
-CS "

The attached photoshop file was 1MB, too large a file to post here. Another reader commented on an alternative (perian):

" Hi Mike, Though I have not used the particular QT component in question, I do watch a bunch of AVC (h.264) video on my Intel Core Duo 1.66 Mac Mini (2GB RAM) using Perian (http://perian.org/)

Although sometimes I have noticed that VLC uses less CPU time than Perian, I suspect this is due to some overhead in streaming/muxing the varied codecs to the Quicktime APIs and frameworks.

720p is no problem, I do not have 1080p x264 avi's to test, only mkv's (which are on the "todo" list for Perian).

My last remark is that 1080p content encoded with h.264 or x.264 is extremely CPU intensive, and therefore it is not surprising that some decoders do better (like Apple's own h.264) than others. On the PC side, fast decoders like CoreAVC are so desired that folks pay good money for them.
-JI "

If you've used the avc decoder component (from http://www003.upp.so-net.ne.jp/mycometg3/) or an alternative, let me know the details. (Include your computer/system info also - thanks.)

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Power Fractal Author's comments on Universal vs Rosetta performance
I've added a reply from Dean Dauger (Author of Power Fractal) to the 8-core Mac Pro page about why the Carbon version of Power Fractal had better performance under Rosetta than the Universal (native) version.
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Other News/Misc. Software Update/Revised Apple Docs
(Updated 3:45PM Friday, includes list of recent apple doc updates)

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Recent Articles and Reviews
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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