News Archive for: 2/28/2005 Monday's News
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User feedback on AppleJack (OS X troubleshooting util/script)
Friday's news page had a note on an update to AppleJack and I asked for reader reports on it. I've posted a page of AppleJack user feedback that's literally all positive. The only mixed reports were on RAID - one reader said it didn't work on his RAID array but another user said it worked fine on his SIIG (aka Acard) IDE RAID card setup.
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G5 owner tips on reducing HTDV Overscan using DisplayConfigX
Friday's news had another G5 owner's report on his HDTV setup and asked for tips on overscan problems from Paul (who had posted his setup/comments in last Monday's news) Here's Paul's comments/tips on Overscan correction (using DisplayConfigX):

" Mike,
I noticed someone was asking what I did to get rid of overscan when outputting my mac on hdtv.

Basically, the image can be thought of as being made up of a house (active area) and front and back porches, both vertical and horizontal. Back porches are top and left, and front porches are bottom and right. To decrease overscan, you increase the porches and decrease the house by the same amount. Think of the porches as regions you don't care about looking at, and you have only so much real estate to build on, so as the porches get bigger, the house has to get pushed in until the house is completely or almost completely in your field of view (I guess you are looking from above in this analogy).
There are excellent suggestions on how to set all this at the DisplayConfigX web site. See his "What are those syncs and porches, anyways?" about 2/3 of the way down his home page.

Here is what I wound up using in the custom timings, and it still didn't get rid of as much overscan as I wanted at the bottom (can only see about 1/3 of the dock):

  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Horizontal x Vertical
  • House (or active): 1208 x 680
  • Front Porch: 104 x 15
  • Sync: 80 x 15
  • Back Porch: 256 x 40
  • Total: 1648 x 750

The reason I couldn't go any further is that displayConfigX won't let me go past 15 for the Vertical Front Porch. I have an inquiry in to the developer about this.

Some notes: You want to keep the totals the same (1648 x 750 for nominal 1280x720p 60Hz widescreen HDTV) and the active H/V ratio roughly constant (16:9 in this widescreen example). The Horizontal total can vary a little because you want all horizontal components of that total to be multiples of 8. But the vertical total should be 750. Normally, I wouldn't have changed the vsync from its default 5 to 15, but with the Front Porch stuck at 15 and not wanting to underscan the top (back porch) by going above 40, I increased vsync to get to 750 total. Shouldn't do any harm as it is just giving more time for the vsync, although I don't really know all that much about it.
You don't want to completely get rid of overscan for watching video, because you want the jaggedy edges of the frame to be overscanned out. But you don't want 2/3 of your dock missing either. So I guess you might have two settings, one for desktop use and one for video (maybe even the default HDTV-720p setting from displayConfigX is OK for video; see if you miss any important action areas.). The settings I gave have no top overscan, and maybe 20 or 30 pixels overscan at the sides and bottom. These settings are very TV and video card and adapter dependent, so they should only be taken as an example.

Here are the displayConfigX HDTV-720p defaults for the record:

  • 60Hz vertical refresh or 45kHz horizontal freq.
  • 1280x720p active
  • 72x3 front porches
  • 80x5 syncs
  • 216x22 back porches
  • 1648x750 total

- Paul"

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G5 Optimized Firefox Builds
Friday's news had a note on the Firefox 1.0.1 update and a link to a site with G4 optimized builds. I've not tried them, but a reader sent a link to a site with Firefox G5 builds. (Updated)

" Now that Firefox 1.01 is out, maybe you could remind your readers about the g5 optimised builds which can be found at:
http://homepage.mac.com/thenonsuch/firefox/
(Note - a better page on them is http://www.beatnikpad.com/firefoxG5-Mike)
There's no question that they're faster, and I've used them continually since v1.0 and have never had any problems whatsoever :)
Best regards,
Bill N. "

Note: A G5 owner replied to this post saying he'd seen some major problems with one of the G5 builds:

" Mike
Just checking in to report that the new G5 Firefox build would not even boot on my late-model, box stock G5 2x2Ghz. After installing in Applications, it crashed hard on mousedown and would not even open. (I don't know what build he used but see below for more info and tips.-Mike)

I had to pull Firefox 1.0 when I went to G5 in January because it refused to cooperate with the digital optical sound feature (Logitech Z-680). I was getting Firefox crashes that seemed to implicate audio drivers--go figure. No crashes after Firefox removed.
BTW, I am very pleased with the Z-680s. Hiss is minimal. My only beef is that the subwoofer rattles even under light load; I have to dial it way back to avoid overdriving it. The 5.1 playback reproduces DVD soundtracks amazingly well. It is like having a theater at the desk.
Semper fi Mac,
Richard D.
(I asked Richard for more info like build version and if he was using URL Manager Pro after the author's comments below-Mike)
It was the "release" version (1.01) found on Neil's "Beatnik Pad" site. I do not use URL Manager Pro and have never installed it on this box. I will download FFox again from Neil and see if it runs from the desktop.
Richard "

(For other G5 owner reports on Optical Audio, see this page.)
Update: (3/1/2005) The author of the page with the G5 builds sent some additional notes and links:

"Hi, Mike
I just wanted to drop you a quick email, as I noticed someone passed along a link to the G5-optimized Firefox builds I've been creating.

First of all, if you could update the link to point to the entry on my web site, I'd be most appreciative - this is the best place for updated info on the builds, as well as user comments.
http://www.beatnikpad.com/firefoxG5
For people looking for a G5-optimized build of the Firefox 1.0.1 release version, you can download it from here:
http://www.beatnikpad.com/archives/2005/02/27/firefoxG5

Regarding the crash that "Richard D." mentioned, here are a few things to look into:

1. Was it the nightly or release build that was crashing?
(see his later reply above-Mike)

2. With Firefox quit, try moving the entire Firefox folder from the user Application Support folder to the desktop, and then relaunch the application. This will cause Firefox to create a fresh profile which may eliminate any installed extension conflicts or profile issues. If this does fix the issue, you can then go into the old Firefox folder and move your bookmarks over, etc.

3. As far as I know, the only crashing conflict with the G5 builds is a conflict with URL Manager Pro - is it possible that Richard has this installed? I've spoken with the URL Manager Pro developer and neither of us have any idea why this is happening. My suspicious is that there are bugs in the G5 optimizations, but I'm not sure.
Hope this is helpful. Thanks for the great web site and resource!
Neil"

Over the weekend a reader reported some problems with the Firefox G4 builds (such as no back page caching).

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Updated M-Audio Firewire 1814, 410 and Audiophile Drivers
MU today lists M-Audio Firewire 1814 Driver 1.4.3, M-Audio FireWire Audiophile 1.4.3 and M-Audio FireWire 410 1.4.3 updates. All list these changes/improvements:

    Version 1.4.3:
  • Control Panel Improvements
  • AMS support improved
  • Optimization for G3 systems
  • Improved Support for Logic 7
  • Improved overall latency performance
  • Improved latency with Garage Band
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Other Net News
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CDRW/CD/DVD/Hard Drive/Cardreader Compatibility Database Update Listing
The Drive Compatibility Database had 19 new reports added this morning. (Entries today are added the next newsday morning.) The database includes reports on CDRWs, Combo DVD-CDRW, DVD-ROM, DVD Burners, Hard Drives and Removables (tape drive, ORB, ZIP, MO drives, CF/Smartmedia readers, etc.) in all interface types (IDE, IDE RAID cards, SATA, Firewire, SCSI, USB, adapters). Current total - 14,333 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)

    Combo DVD-CDR Drives
  • IDE Liteon SOHC-5232K in Beige G3 (OS 9.2)
    (Using Toast 5.x Lite. Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers Beige G3 MT model)
  • IDE Liteon SOHC-5232K in G4/AGP (OS 9.2)
    (using Toast for burning. Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers G4 towers up to the Digital Audio Model)

    DVD+R/RW + DVD-R/RW Drives:
  • IDE BenQ DWI 620-20i (1620?) in (MDD) Single G4 DDR (OS X 10.3)
    (Listed under "Other" brands. Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. )
  • IDE BenQ DWI 620-20i in B&W G3 (OS X 10.3)
    (Listed under "Other" brands. Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers B&W G3)
  • IDE LG GSA-4163B in 8500 using IDE PCI Card (OS 9.1)
    (using Toast 5.2.3 for burning CDs. said toast crashes when trying to burn DVDs.)
  • IDE NEC ND-3500a in G4/AGP (OS X 10.3)
    (Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers G4 towers up to the Digital Audio Model)
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-K04L in iBook G4 (OS X 10.3)
    (native iApps burn support)
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-K04L in Powerbook G4 (OS X 10.3)
    (another report of drive not recognized - I think due to the firmware being set to slave. Although some 12in PB G4 owners (and one 15in/667MHz owner) said it worked as a slave, several 15in AL PB owners reported the drive was not recognized at all.)
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-109 in (MDD) Dual G4 DDR (OS X 10.3)
    (Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. )
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-108 in (MDD) Dual G4 DDR (OS X 10.3)
    (Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. )
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-109 in (MDD) Dual G4 DDR (OS X 10.3)
    (Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. )
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-109 in G4/AGP (OS X 10.3)
    (Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support.)
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-109 in G5 Tower (OS X 10.3)
    (Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. Said Philips 8x DVD+R discs only show 4x max rates available in Toast 6.0.9)
  • IDE Yamakawa DVR-Y08 in (MDD) Dual G4 DDR (OS X 10.3)
    (Listed under "Other" brands. Using Patchburn 3 for iApps burn support. )

    Hard Drives:
  • IDE Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 in iBook G4 (OS X 10.3)
  • IDE Samsung SP0411N 40GB in B&W G3 (OS 9.2)
    (Illustrated guide to adding a 2nd HD here in B&W G3 rev2 and G4 towers up to the QuickSilver models.
    IDE articles page RAID section has an illustrated guide for adding 2 more drives in the side bays.)

    PenDrives:
  • USB Sandisk Cruzer Mini 128MB used w/Beige G3 (OS 9.2 and OS X reports)
  • USB Sandisk Cruzer Mini 128MB used with 5400/6400 (OS 9.1)

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 3 new reports this morning (entries today are added the next newsday morning). Total to date: 9,812 Here's a summary of the reports added (search by brand/mac model for full reports - latest reports always shown first):

  • Apple Dual 1.42GHz in (MDD) Dual G4 DDR (rated 8)
  • Daystar G4/1.8GHz (7447) in (Sawtooth) G4/AGP (rated 10)
  • Giga Designs G4/1.4GHz in (Quicksilver) G4/AGP (rated 8)

    (Full reviews of G4 and G3 upgrades compared to stock CPUs, including real world apps/game tests, install info, etc. are linked at 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).

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Mac Game Reviews Database Updated
The Rate Your Mac Games database update this morning included another review of SimCity 4 (includes notes on Rush Hour Expansion pack). Total Reviews (all titles): 1209. (Looking for more reviews of new mac games.) To read game reviews use the search page.
If you've not already done so - Enter a Game review. Please include as much detail as possible in your review comments. (If your game title is not in the long list of titles, select "other game" and note the title in the comments)
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Recent Reviews and Articles:
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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