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News Archive for Friday, August 20th, 2004Return to Accelerate Your Mac!

News stories of Friday August 20th, 2004: (Includes some items from Saturday)
Will there ever be an OS X 3D/FSAA/AF control panel for Nvidia cards?
Someone brought this subject up again tonight after the earlier post on Nvidia 6800 cards today, lamenting the fact there's still no equivalent to the PC Nvidia control panel (or the ATI OS X control panel 3D/Overrides) for Mac Nvidia card owners. Granted there are some games that allow enabling FSAA, but having a control panel with universal settings like ATI's OS X Displays control panel for Radeon cards would be a very welcome feature. (OEM Radeon cards can also use the 3D/GL overrides after patching the CP with Radeon Enabler.)
Of course I'd never expect Apple to include overclocking features like "Coolbits" enables with the PC Nvidia reference drivers and I realize it's far from a trivial task. And even ATI notes that forced settings don't always work with everything, but it would be nice to have a Control Panel with some basic image quality/performance settings options for Nvidia cards on the Mac.
I had asked Nvidia about that in my Q&A with them on the Mac 6800 Ultra last month, but they didn't provide a real answer, other than the usual comments that Apple controls that sort of thing. I'll try writing a contact at Apple to see if he can/will comment on that.
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Another Bonus Map for Blizzard's Frozen Throne
Don't own the game but 3dgamer's Frozen Throne downloads page has another bonus map (dated 8/20/2004) called "Excavation Site". It's included in a zip file with the previous three maps - Stone Cold Mountain, Predators and Rolling Hills. (That page also has links to download 3 previous sets of maps - adjacent to the download links are text files with info on each of them.)
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PowerBook G4 Slotted Superdrive Disassembly/Cleaning Guide
Reader Gregory Smith sent a note he's posted an illustrated guide to removing the slotted superdrive/taking it apart for manual cleaning from his 15in PB G4 1GHz (Ti). As mentioned here in the past, the cleaning discs don't always do a very good job as several owners of desktop superdrives that had problems reading/burning discs said a manual cleaning of the lens helped, where the cleaning discs didn't.
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Mac Nvidia 6800 Ultra Graphics Card Order Ship Date Slips
I'm not sure if everyone that ordered one of these cards got a similar mail but the original "On or Before 8/25/2004" est. ship date has slipped to mid-September for this order. Not that surprising I guess when you consider the fact that 6800 Ultra cards for the PC are still scarce to find in stock and prices (especially since the Doom3 benchmarks were released) are often $100 (or more) above original list price.

"Dear Valued Apple Customer,
We appreciate your recent Apple Store Order XXXXXXXX.
Due to an unexpected supply delay, we are unable to ship the following item(s) by the date that you were originally quoted:
will now ship on or before 09/17/2004

Please note that product availability can change rapidly, and it is possible that your order may ship much sooner than we anticipate. You may even receive a shipment confirmation between the time we send this email and the time that you read it.

If you prefer, you may change or cancel your order anytime before it is shipped, and receive a prompt refund, by calling us at 800-676-2775 ext-56500 Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm (Central).

If we do not hear from you, we will continue processing your order. You will receive an email notification once your order has been shipped."

If anyone that ordered a Mac 6800 Ultra finds out their cards ships before 9/17, let me know. Thanks. (BTW - G5 system orders that BTO'd the 6800 Ultra card are also getting notices on the delay - offering to ship with an ATI card now and send the 6800 when it's available. This is similar to what happened in the past with the Geforce3 and Geforce4 Ti cards when they were the high end cards. Personally I'd accept that offer as you get the ATI (9600XT) for free.)

I didn't really follow the PC 6800 (and ATI X800) graphics card prices/availability until the last month or so - but the prices that some dealers are asking for these cards at times have been outrageous. I've seen 6800 Ultra cards (usually not in stock) with prices as high as $799 (although often within $100 over the $499 list). And one site last month I saw had a $995 (!) price for a ATI X800 Platinum Edition card which ATI lists for $499. (But still not shipping per the ATI store as of today.)
Note I said some dealers, not all. Of course there are exceptions but if you've been watching the popular PC parts mail order dealer sites in the last month you know exactly what I mean. Brick and mortar companies like Bestbuy, Outpost/Frys, and CompUSA have not raised prices over list, although until today they -very rarely- had any stock. (Bestbuy on Saturday lists the BFG 6800 Ultra in stock for $499.99 list and Fry's has a Saturday sale flyer noting the same card for $497.79 a reader said. In the past stock has sold out quickly, unless BFG has shipped more this time than in the past. BTW - as I suspected, Bestbuy shows the BFG 6800Ultra sold out by Sunday Morning.) Personally I would not order from dealers that have charged over the card's list price (often quite a bit over in the past).
Seeing BFG Ultras listed in stock at several places today makes me wonder if they've broken the drought (hopefully). It figures after weeks of wanting to comment on the price gouging on the 6800 Ultras (and often GT's also), several stores get them in today. (LOL)

Although it has DVI+VGA ports instead of Dual DVI ports, the single-slot 6800GT model has the same basic features as the Ultra (16 pipes, 256MB VRAM but with 350/1000 core/memory clock vs 400/1100 and only one Aux power connector) and many of the GT cards can be overclocked OK to stock Ultra speeds, some even higher than 400/1100. (A PNY 6800GT runs 400/1100 fine even in Doom3. An Ultra model bios flash (slightly higher voltage) resulted in higher clocks passing the CP test, but also increased even the idle temp, so I'm waiting for a better cooler than the stock GT one before pushing it higher.) I wish a Mac version of the 6800GT would be available in the future but I'm not holding my breath. The 10.3.5 drivers had a reference to an ATI X800 Pro, so that's likely to eventually appear (hopefully at retail and not just a BTO option.)

The Doom3 benchmarks seemed to really boost demand for 6800 cards due to the better opengl performance in that game (despite the fact the X800 cards often did better in DirectX games). I wonder if the recent Half-Life 2 engine stress tests showing the X800 series as better performers will turn the tables a bit. (Of course for Mac OS X, OpenGL is used for 3D apps/games and Quartz Extreme.)

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Pioneer DVR-108 1.10 firmware update (PC flasher/3 models)
A recent DVR-108 owner reported that his Pioneer DVR-108 had firmware version 1.10 (most shipped with 1.04) which is not at the USA Pioneer site yet, but a reader (thanks Med) sent a note that it is linked at this Pioneer Japan page. (There's 3 drive model/versions of the 108 listed there - with different download filenames for each although they all list 1.10 firmware. Owners of OEM DVR-108 drives said the "BK version worked to flash their drives.) It's a PC flasher so you'll need a real PC to update the drive (although with some previous Pioneer drives, VirtualPC was used to flash the drives if installed in a USB case - VPC will not flash onboard IDE or Firewire drives.)
Here's the change info for the 1.10 firmware:

  • Reduction of 12X/16X DVD-R Writing time
  • DVD-R Writability Improvement
  • Reduction of 12X/16X +R Writing time
  • +R Writability Improvement
  • CD-R Writability Improvement
  • DVD Playability Improvement
  • CD Playability Improvement

The firmware listing page also links to a Firmware version history page that includes changes in the 1.06 firmware. (most early 108 drives originally shipped with firmware 1.04.)

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Reindeer Graphics announces free Select Edges Pshop Plugin
Here's a clip from the PR:

"Reindeer Graphics, Inc., developers of Optipix and FoveaPro and the number one Google(R) site for free Photoshop(R) plug-ins on the web, have released a new free plug-in, Select Edges, for Photoshop 5.x through CS on Mac OS9.2, X 10.1+ and Windows 9x/NT/2K/XP. This plug-in includes a PDF file documenting installation and usage and can be downloaded from the Reindeer Graphics site at
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EyeTV reports page Updated (reader feedback on EyeTV 200 VHS Encoding tips)
I've updated the EyeTV Owner Comments/Tips page with reader feedback on ElGato's recent tips on EyeTV 200 VHS Encoding.
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Tip for Airport Express and Unsupported Printers
I've updated the Airport Express and AirTunes reports/tips page with a reader's guide to getting his (otherwise unsupported he said) Brother HL-1240 laser printer to work connected to the Airport Express.
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More reports on Toast 6.0.7/Dual Layer Burning w/DVR-108
I've updated the page with Toast 6.0.7/Pioneer DVR-108 Dual Layer burning reports with 3 more reader reports. One includes notes on a 1.06 firmware update and another that said his drive shipped with firmware v1.10. More comments on buffer underruns, although some did burn DL discs OK and said they mounted fine. (DVR-108 sets DL disc type to standard "DVD-ROM" booktype for improved compatibility compared to many other DL burners.)
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PowerMac G5 Firewire/USB reports page updated (More Sonnet Tango card tests)
I've updated the page of PowerMac G5 owner feedback on Firewire and USB devices to include another report from a Sonnet Tango combo card owner that said deep sleep worked properly if no devices were attached to the card. (Just to make sure, I asked to verify if all fans were OFF and the G5's power LED was pulsing.)
I welcome other G5 owner feedback on FW/USB PCI controller cards and devices.
(For other G5/PCI card (SCSI, Audio, etc.) compatibility info/reports - see the PCI Compat. section of the PowerMac G5 Tech Docs/Compat. Info page.
For pre-G5 system reports on FW/USB card deep sleep - see this page)
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AlchemyTV DVR PCI Card reports updated
I've updated the page of Reader Reports on the AlchemyTV/DVR PCI card with a follow-up from a Dual 2GHz G5 with 512MB of RAM and OS X 10.3.5 and a report from a G4 owner after several months of use.
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Apple Knowledge Base Doc Updates (Airport Express/Extreme, iPhoto4 exports to Entourage)
(from apple's mail list)

(Yesterday's news was light as I was offline from 3PM to 11PM, working on trying to get a much larger/better working space as soon as possible.)

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CDRW/CD/DVD/Hard Drive/Cardreader Compatibility Database Update Listing
The Drive Compatibility Database had 3 new reports added this morning. (Entries from Thursday, entries today are added the next newsday morning.). The database includes reports on Combo DVD-CDRW, CDROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, CDRW, Hard Drives and Removables (tape drive, ORB, ZIP, MO drives, CF/Smartmedia readers, etc.) in all interface types (IDE, IDE RAID cards, Firewire, SCSI, USB, adapters). Current total 13,468 reports. (searching by drive type/brand, mac model etc. listed below will show the full reports, most recent first - does not include updates to previous reports)

    DVD+R/RW + DVD-R/RW Drives:
  • Firewire (cased) Pioneer DVR-107D used w/iBook G4 (OS X 10.3)
    (native burn support in 10.3.3 and later. FAQ's DVD section has tip/trick for iDVD burns to ext. drives)
  • IDE LG GSA-4120B in G4/AGP (OS X)
    (didn't note drive speed rating, if bootable from CD or comment on iApps burn support. I don't think there's iApps burn support for this drive - so using Patcburn 1.1 for 10.2.x or Patchburn II for 10.3.x is suggested.)
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-106RD in B&W G3 (OS X 10.3)
    (non-standard drive ID version of the DVR-106D, so no iTunes/iApps burn support. Suggested using Patchburn II for Panther iApps burn support, or flashing the drive with a std DVR-106 ID firmware kernel. iDVD requires a G4 CPU however.
    Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers B&W G3 and G4 towers up to the Digital Audio Model)

You can find full owner reports (latest shown first) by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches). For guides to installing CD/CDRW/DVD drives or Hard drives in many mac models, see the IDE Articles page. The Firewire articles page also has guides on case kits, installing drives, etc.
If you've added a IDE, SCSI, Firewire or USB hard drive, CDRW, tape drive, etc. make sure you add a report to the database. (If you post an updated entry - make sure you use the same name, etc. as you did before so I can find your past entry. Thanks.)
(Incomplete entries are deleted. Do not post questions in the database, it's for drive reports not questions on what drive to buy - for that try searching the database for reports from owners of your mac model on the drive type/brand/interface, etc. you're interested in.)

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Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 1 new report this morning (entries from Thursday, entries today are added the next newsday morning). Total to date: 9,517. Here's a summary of the report added today (search by brand/mac model for full reports - latest reports always shown first):

  • Daystar G4/433 in PowerBook G3 Lombard (rated 9)

    (Full reviews of G4 and G3 upgrades compared to stock CPUs, including real world apps/game tests, install info, etc. - see the CPU upgrades page. OC/CPU module articles are on the Systems page.)

(Warning - Overclocking may not be reliable and could lead to hardware failure or corrupted data.) You can find the full reports by searching the database selecting the indicated Mac model and upgrade card brand/type. If you've upgraded the CPU on your Mac, please post an entry in the database. Search the database for entries from most every upgradable Mac model *before* you buy. (Searchable by mac model/upgrade brand). For detailed reviews with performance tests and install tips, see the CPU Upgrades page.)

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