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News Archive for Friday Feb. 28th, 2003Return to Accelerate Your Mac!

News stories of Feb. 28th, 2003:

Motu PCI-324 and PCI-424 Audio card OS X Drivers Released
True to their promise of a Feb 28th release of OS X drivers for their PCI-324 and -424 audio cards (mentioned in the Feb. 3rd news page) the drivers are available today:

" Motu finally released the drivers for running MOTU PCI-324 and PCI-424 audio systems under Mac OSX. I just installed mine and they appear to be working well so far.
http://www.motu.com/english/download/index.html
Boze "
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iBook with Backlit Keyboard Mod
(from a reader email)

" Hi, Mike
He did his best, White Light iBook. (backlit keyboard)
http://www.kodawarisan.com/ug/ (click on the 'white light iBook' link there)
(Babelfish English translated page)
Sincerely, Mitsunobu Tanaka Ph.D"
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Toshiba 7200 RPM/16MB Cache Notebook Hard Drive Due Soon
Addragyn sent an email a few days ago (that I kept forgetting to post) linking to a japanese page noting that Toshiba is soon to release a 9.5mm high, 7200 RPM, 16MB cache notebook hard drive. (Here's a Babelfish English translated page.) The image notes a MK-5024 model number and 50GB capacity - I couldn't find any info on that model today at the USA Toshiba site. (Last fall there was an IBM press release noting an 80GB notebook drive and future models with 7200 RPM spindle speeds, but they've not appeared yet that I know of.)
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Belkin USB to Wireless Networking Adapter (OS X and 9 drivers available) $39.94 after $10 rebate
Tuesday's news page had a note about a reader's mods to use Belkin's OS X drivers for USB/Wireless adapter with other adapters that used the same chipset. Today while at a local Staples I saw they had the Belkin F5D6050 (USB/wireless adapter) for $49.94 ($10 cheaper than staples.com) plus a $10 mail-in rebate (I hate rebates but even w/o the rebate the price isn't bad - plus there's OS 9, OS X 10.1 and 10.2 drivers for it). Belkin's website as of Tuesday had a $79.xx list price. The Belkin F5D6050 drivers page is here. I'm going to try one with my B&W G3...
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MidiMan M-Audio/Revolution 7.1 Card Driver Update
(don't own this card but a FYI for those that do)
" Bought a Revolution 7.1 PCI adapter to augment my Dual 800 QuickSilver, but was severely disappointed with constant kernel panics while outputting digital signals.
Thank M-Audio for the rapid response!
Glen
(I asked for a link to the drivers page)
Direct link for drivers at
http://midiman.com/support/driversearch.php "
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Altivec Optimized RC5-72 Client available
I forgot to post a note about this when it was posted in the forums on the 26th, but a reader email sent a reminder that there's an Altivec Optimized RC5-72 Client available:

"Hi Mike, Distributed.net has issued a release candidate RC5-72 client which is optimized for AltiVec. My QS2002 Dual 1Ghz is now getting about 20 mkeys/sec. MacBidouille.com is reporting that the cores for G3 and 604e processors also show big improvements thanks to better C code and some hand-written assembler code.
http://www.distributed.net/download/prerelease.html
John"
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Maxon releases CineBench 2003 (totally revised, now OS X native)
A reader noted that Maxon today has released CineBench 2003 (I've used their previous Cinebench 2000 in many system/upgrade/video card tests since it's one of the few benchmarks like that for the Mac and supports multiple CPUs, does flybys as well as render tests, etc.). Here's what they say about the updated 2003 version:

" CINEBENCH 2003 is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D R8. The tool is set to deliver accurate benchmarks by testing not only a computer's raw processing speed but also all other areas that affect system performance such as OpenGL, multithreading, multiprocessors and Intel's new HT Technology.

CINEBENCH 2003 includes render tasks that test the performance of up to 16 multiprocessors on the same computer as well as software-only shading tests and OpenGL shading tests on huge numbers of animated polygons that will push any computer to its limits. "

CineBench 2003 is available at http://www.maxon.net/jumps/cinebench.html.
The page notes OS 9 and OS X support. (thanks to Dileep Sharma for the heads-up.)
(I've taken a look at Cinebench 2003 - it has a totally revised interface, is now OS X native, has more extensive tests and new scenes, a results database feature and more.)

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Comments on CaptyDVD/Encoding time vs ADS Instant USB DVD
Wednesday's news had a G3/400 owner's comments on CaptyDVD not having a pause/quit/resume feature like iDVD (requires G4 though) or Formac's software (which he wanted since his G3 Mac takes so long to encode). A reader replied to that post with a long discussion on the topic.

(Copy of his email follows)

" Hi Mike:
Your query about G3 encoding times with CaptyDVD prompted me to finally do some tests I'd been planning on the encoder in CaptyDVD. I tested on a G4, but based on past tests with other encoding formats on a G3's versus G4's I've made an educated guess about G3 times. (The G3/400 reader yesterday noted his machine had an encoding time of appx 50:1, meaning it took him 50 minutes to encode 1 minute of a DVD movie-Mike.)

This test was to evaluate two things: the encoding time for CaptyDVD 1.1.3 and the quality of its MPEG2 encoder. While the ADS USB Instant DVD for Mac includes a realtime hardware MPEG2 encoder (analog video and audio inputs), CaptyDVD also has an integrated MPEG encoder so that Quicktime movies can be imported. The options for this encoder are not much: you select one of the video bitrates - 4, 6 or 8Mbps - and whether to "Give priority to speed."

I used 6Mbps for this test because that's a "safe" bitrate for better compatibility with DVD players (DVD-R disks are more compatible when the bitrate is kept under 7Mbps). I used MPEG audio which can have a bitrate that is less than 10% of the bitrate of uncompressed PCM audio as used in iDVD. MPEG audio is not compatible with all DVD players, but it does work on all three of mine and I use it for personal projects done with CaptyDVD. With DVD Studio Pro you would use Dolby compression, which is a required standard for NTSC DVD players.

I created five-minute movie in Final Cut Pro and used some DV footage from a cruise: it's typical of what anyone might use for amateur DVD productions and has enough going on to challenge encoders: handheld, some quick pans, swirling water from the ship's propellers, high contrast and some great tropical skies and foliage to check out color saturation. I also put cross-dissolves between every scene.

Since CaptyDVD's encoder is integrated with the whole process of compiling the video_ts folder that is burned to DVD, I first wanted to find out how long the compile process would take without having any footage to encode. For that I encoded my five-minute video with the Quicktime MPEG2 encoder and used BitVice Helper to multiplex (mux) that into a file that CaptyDVD would accept. I then set the compile process to simply create a video_ts folder, but not burn it to disk. That took all of two minutes.

Next I created a new CaptyDVD project, set the encoding rate for "Normal" (6Mbps) and left the "Give priority to speed" box unchecked. I then imported the Quicktime DV version of my five-minute video and did the same compile process. To encode and create the video_ts folder took about 90 minutes, which meant that it would take 18 hours to encode one hour of video!

I then created a new project with everything the same except I checked the "Give priority to speed" box. This time the encoding was almost twice as fast: a 10:1 ratio instead of 18:1. To put that in perspective, on my G4/800 iMac the same movie took 15 minutes to encode in iDVD2 - a 3:1 ratio. With the current version of BitVice, a two-pass variable bitrate encoder, the ratio is 10:1on my G4/800 (which is comparable to the encoding times on some of the popular Windows encoders on 1.6gHz PC's) and about 12:1 on G4/500's.

Again, the ratios for my CaptyDVD tests are based on a five-minute video, but I have found that encoding times for a video that length give you a pretty good guide as to how long it will take for lengthier videos. If you have a G3, assume that your encoding times will be at least twice as long as my results: I would not be surprised to see it take up to 30 hours to encode one hour of video on a G3/500 using the fastest CaptyDVD encoding mode.

What is interesting is that CaptyDVD takes so long for in its "non-priority" mode. I have assumed that its encoder is a constant bitrate (CBR) encoder, but with such a difference in encoding time between its priority and non-priority modes I wonder if it may be running as a variable bitrate (VBR) encoder in the longer mode?

I really could not tell much of a difference in the quality of the two modes. There was one very tricky shot where the camera was pointing upward from a lower deck of the cruise ship and panning across the upper decks with a lots of blue sky at the top picture and against the sky very wispy smoke or steam. It was a short fast pan and there was some artifacting in the sky, but it was the kind of thing that "normal" viewers would never notice. I had a couple of scenes shot from the window of a moving car and they all came out great: you could easily read the signs as they zipped past and there were no noticeable artifacts.

I did compare the CaptyDVD encoded video against the one I encoded with the Quicktime MPEG2 encoder (the DVD's were played on a recent model Philips player into a Panasonic professional monitor). In the Quicktime version the artifacts in the sky were much more subtle, but that comes at the expense of an overall softness in the Quicktime-encoded video. The Quicktime encoder has been criticized by many because it reduces sharpness and the color just don't look as saturated and dynamic as it should. The CaptyDVD-encoded video was sharper and the blues and greens especially much more dynamic and overall it looked more vibrant and alive. I was really quite surprised at how good the CaptyDVD-encoded video looked. I think that if you could somehow do a split-screen DVD with half of the picture encoded with Quicktime and the other half with CaptyDVD the differences in color would really jump out at you, but the artifacts difference could negate that (as could the 10:1 encoding time compared to iDVD's 3:1 ratio). CaptyDVD, though, does have the ability to accept files from third party MPEG2 encoders so it has a leg up on iDVD there. It also does chapters (as does iDVD3 if you can get it to work), allows you to apply the same styles to several menu buttons at once, and I have have had no audio sync problems at all with it. The USBIDVD package is now down to about $300, so you also get a hardware encoder with that as well as cuts-only MPEG editing software and the ability to make VCD's. If you're a qualified student or faculty members, for the same $300 you can get CaptyDVD by itself from LaCie, buy BitVice at the academic price from Innobits and download the free BitVice Helper (although I am a consultant for BitVice, it's not my purpose in writing this review to promote BitVice, so I will also mention again that with CaptyDVD and BitVice helper you can import files from any MPEG2 encoder, Mac or Windows).

The bottom line is, that more than two years after Apple started the desktop DVD revolution with the introduction of Superdrive-equipped Macs, DVD Studio Pro and iDVD, there is finally another DVD authoring solution that either doesn't cost a small fortune or isn't tied to one encoder, actually has some decent features and will work with internal or external burners. CaptyDVD and BitVice each support G3's, although I really don't recommend it since you might need to let your machine encode from Friday night to Monday morning just for one or two hours of video. Consider a G4 CPU upgrade or a real cheap used Mac that would do nothing but encode.
--
Bob Hudson,
Consultant to Innobits "

I had mentioned in the past post that if you have a G4 CPU (and internal Superdrive), the $49 iLife package w/iDVD3 is much cheaper than the $149 (separately from Lacie) CaptyDVD software cost.

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Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 5 new reports this morning (reader entries from yesterday until 9AM today; entries later today are added the next newsday morning). Total to date: 8,118. Here's a summary of the updates added today :

  • PowerLogix G4 1.2GHz in G4 Cube (rated 5)
  • PowerLogix G4 1GHz in G4 Cube (rated 8)
  • Sonnet G4 500 in Beige G3 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G3 500 in Beige G3 (rated 10)
  • XLR8 G4 350 in B&W G3 (rated 7)

(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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CDRW/CD/DVD/Hard Drive/Cardreader Compatibility Database Update Listing
The Drive Compatibility searchable database had 8 new reports added (reader entries from yesterday until 9AM today; entries later today are added the next newsday morning). (*Entries missing info, having no useful info, etc. are deleted. I'm just tired of emailing over and over for missing info, sorry. Also Search for answers, don't post questions there.*) The database includes reports on Combo DVD-CDRW, CDROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, 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, adapters). Current total 9,937 reports.

    DVD-R DVD Recorder Drives:
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-105 in G4/AGP (OS X)

    IDE CDRW Drives:
  • AOPEN CRW-4048 (40x12x48x) in G4/AGP (OS 9.2)
    (listed under "other" brands" - no itunes burn support)
  • Matshita UJDA340 (8x8x24x) in iMac (OS 8.6)
  • Lite-On LTR-40125S (40x12x48x) in Beige G3 (OS 9.2)
    (noted firmware update solved boot/hang problems)
  • Yamaha CRW2100E (16x10x40x) in Beige G3 (OS 9.2)
    (FYI - Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers G4 towers up to the Digital Audio Model, Beige G3 MT, B&W G3 and 8600/9600 Macs.)

    IDE Hard Drives:
  • Samsung SP8004H 80GB in Beige G3 (OS 9.2)
    (Beige G3 MT illustrated HD upgrade guide here)
  • Fujitsu MHS2020AT 20GB in PowerBook G3 Wallstreet2 (OS 9.2)
  • Toshiba (no model no given) 20GB in PowerBook G3 Wallstreet2 (OS 8.6)
    (noted magnetic sheild needed as mentioned for IBM drives in my illustrated HD install guide here)

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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News pages from 1, 2 and 3 years ago:
(Sometimes these old pages are a bit embarrassing - and in many cases the offsite links may not work and comments there were accurate only on the date posted regarding upgrade availability, etc.)

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