News Archive for Monday Jan. 19, 2009 (later added items first)
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ElGato releases EyeTV 3.1 Update
I'd been checking several times a day lately for an update since hearing about v3.1 shipping with new Hybrid tuner pkgs. Today an EyeTV 3.1 (4511) update (84.6MB) appeared in my (v3.0.4) in-app software update check. Here's ElGato's EyeTV 3 updates page which has details on the changes including: TV Guide Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) for the United States and Canada, Smart Series Guides, EPG Search By Genre, Parental Controls, added Hardware Support and a list of several Bugfixes.
(BTW - after applying this update (2007 AL iMac w/10.5.6), I'm seeing "no signal" with my (late 2007 refurb) EyeTV 250 Plus tuner using in-house OTA antenna. I'll try some troubleshooting tricks used in the past as it's not the first time this has happened...)
Update: After trying all the usual tips (including suggestions in their Error Message: No Signal - EyeTV 250 Plus page & deleting EyeTV helper from login items) - I finally dug out my old EyeTV Hybrid Tuner and connected it. The EyeTV app hung on starting with it connected (repeatedly) but after a system restart it seems ok. (I then ran the "setup assistant" again to scan for channels, etc.)
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Problems applying new Seagate Firmware update/Reminder on updater Notes/Tips
(Update: The 7200.11 SD1A firmware update that was pulled Monday night is now available again as of late Wednesday, Jan. 21st. And as of the 21st, the Barracuda ES.2 series has a link to request a firmware update if your drive has firmware earlier than SN06.)

"ST31000340AS 1TB Updated.
Sometime around 5pm EST Seagate silently replaced the firmware upgrade download with a working version. Note that the filename didn't change and there's no indication of any updates. The replaced file has a later modification date and is definitely different (confirmed by a SHA1 checksum).
The revised version now works properly and I was able to update a ST31000340AS 7200.11 1TB drive from firmware SD15 to SD1A. At this point everything is working normally. This drive is one of six in a RAID5 array in my NAS. I've only updated the one for now to see how it goes. Once I've exercised it for a while to ensure stability, I'll update the other drives.
(he later wrote)
Just a quick update that the SD1A firmware seems to be bricking the 500GB ST3500320AS model. Lots of reports in Seagate's forums where the drive is recognized in the BIOS but it is not responding to commands (per Seagate's SeaTools testing software). So I'd avoid this update if you have this model. Seagate forum page: Does the SD1A break 500GB cudas?
-Bruce"

The updater was pulled at 8PM CST tonight (Jan. 19th) - Seagate's page for the 7200.11 firmware update showed "Note: This file has been temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation." (As of Jan 19th, the Seagate Barracuda ES.2 and DiamondMax 22 models firmware still hasn't been released - pages show "In Validation" with options to be notified when it becomes available.)
(earlier post/notes follows)
A reader that downloaded a Seagate firmware update for his ST3500320AS drive today (see earlier post) wrote about problems seen applying it - which reminded me of previous notes/tips from last fall here.

"well... I got the download, used my pc to burn a copy of the ISO image to a CD. Installed the drive (ST3500320AS); booted the CD; hit F10 to get out of the text; choose S (for Scan drives) to make sure it saw my ST3500320AS, which it did...
choose option D for the ST3500320AS... and it promptly reported back that there were no ST3500320AS drives connected. Sigh... Seagate...
-Tracy"

I asked Tracy if it was the only drive on the SATA bus as I remembered a post here last Nov. (Nov. 21st 2008 news page reports on SD1A firmware update for 1.5TB drive) that had notes from a Mac Pro owner - here's a copy of his post from that page to save you a click:

(copy from Nov. 21st 2008 news page)
" Mike, .... I had to burn the (update download) .iso image to CD-R and boot from it with all hard drives removed other than the one to be flashed. (emphasis mine-Mike)
One caveat for me on an early 2008 Mac Pro was that I had to move the drive from bay 2 to bay 1. I was getting "-InitDiskError reading partition table drive 01 sector 0" until I moved it...
-Brian"

I was hoping the above helps with Tracy's problem but he later wrote the Seagate HD was the only SATA drive installed and the updater still didn't work. (The updater was later pulled due to problems some had with it ranging from not applying to 'bricking' some drives.)

" I did this all on a Dell Dimension E521, with removable drives (because I use it for testing the X-platform software I write.) The ST3500320AS was the only drive attached to the bus.
I'd be curious if any of your other readers have a solution. I sent the results back to Seagate.
Needless to say, I'm holding my breath... ;-)
(It was an "affected" drive firmware/date correct? (but you'd think the updater would say it was not needed if that was not the case).-Mike)
Yep: 7200.11 ST3500320AS (firmware) SD15.
I'm a Hitachi kinda-guy these days.... (experience is a cruel teacher...)
-Tracy"

If any reader with an (intel-based) Mac or PC has successfully applied a new Seagate drive firmware update, let me know the details.

This latest round of problems/firmware updates is another example of why I've avoided Seagate drives for several years now. (As I've said many times before here due to a repeated history of early firmware issues with 7200.9, .10, .11 series, then the 1.5TB drives SD15-19 firmware last fall (all fixed by later firmware updates) - and now this much more widespread/severe problem.)
I know many in the past have been happy with their Seagate drives (esp. those that didn't have the early firmware issues) but this latest episode makes me glad I don't own one of these. Although they may not be the fastest/coolest running, I've -personally- had zero problems with several Hitachi SATA drives since 2003 in my G5 tower and external cases. Like anything, YMMV and a certain % of anything will have infant failures but I've used a 160GB (since 2003) and several early 250GB Hitachi SATA drives (since appx. late 2003) which are still running fine as is my last Hitachi drive (a 1TB 7K1000) which has 15 months of daily use with no problems so far. (BTW: I hear the latest Enterprise (E7K1000) models have 3 platters (vs 5 in mine) for better performance and a bit lower power use.)
And as I mentioned here a few months ago, my most recent SATA drive purchase was a 1TB WD GP 2nd generation model with 3 platters/32MB cache, bought for my ext. Ministack v3 (Quad interface) used for daily TM backups and CCC boot drive clone. I've been very happy with it so far after several months of use.

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Updated Seagate page on Drive Failures (with some Firmware Updates)
Seagate has updated/revised the previous page on the firmware bug/drive failures issue - it now has a revised (trimmed) list of affected models with firmware updates available for some - see Firmware Recommendations for Barracuda 7200.11, ES.2 SATA, and DiamondMax 22 Drives [Doc #207931]. The drive model numbers in the listing there are now links. An updater for 7200.11 drives was released (but later pulled at 8PM CST) - Seagate Barracuda ES.2 and DiamondMax 22 models firmware pages show "In Validation" with options to be notified when it becomes available. (Seagate updaters however have never run under Mac OS - although Intel-based Mac owners have applied them in the past - most recently the SD1A update for 1.5TB models mentioned here last November.)
Owners of already failed drives should contact seagate support as maybe now they can send replacements with (hopefully) fixed firmware. (Their serial number verification page still isn't working as of Monday AM - shows "This application is temporarily unavailable" leading some to think they still don't know all the affected S/Ns.)
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Anyone know of any Leopard-compatible software for AlchemyTV/DVR card?
(from a reader mail - as of today there's still no leopard compatible software at their Alchemy TV/DVR downloads page - last driver update was v2.5.1 from July 2007.)

"It's been more than a year since Leopard was released and still Miglia shows no sign of releasing a 10.5 compatible driver for the AlchemyTV card. I believe Miglia was still selling this card even up until Leopard's release, so it seems very premature to simply drop support for it.

I, like many others, filled out Miglia's form to receive updates when a beta driver had been released; I even E-Mailed them recently to inquire about the status of development. Of course, I received no response. I was Googling for any sign of hope and found a post on a forum from an individual claiming to have received a beta release of the Alchemy software, but no amount of attempts to contact him succeeded.

So there are a couple points to address here. First, Miglia's support and quality control was lacking upon the Alchemy's initial release (if you search your archives of my review of the card upon receiving it you'd know what I mean). Second, they're totally brushing off any inquiries regarding the card and instead, offered a coupon to upgrade to another card. That's fine. If you want to drop support for a product go ahead and state it blatantly, but don't mislead people by leaving a beta request form on-line for over a year claiming that a release is right around the corner. (ref: AlchemyTV & AlchemyTV DVR Mac OS X 10.5 Compatibility page last updated Dec. 3, 2007.)

With all that said, the chipset on the Alchemy card is fairly standard and has been used in other PC products; it was designed by Phillips. When I was a Linux user there were a number of open source drivers for various chipsets and a few apps you could use as a viewer. Would an industrious individual be able to scrap something together by looking at the existing code? Is there anyone out there who actually has this mysterious beta software from Miglia in their possession?
-Haroon"

If any reader has the rumored Miglia "beta" or any other Leopard-compatible software or suggestions for this card - let me know. Thanks.

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Matte Display replacement service for Unibody 15in MacBook Pros
TechRestore sent a press release on their Unibody MacBook Pro 15" Matte Finish Screen Upgrade. Cost is $199.99 (expedited shipping options are extra). The new unibody 17in MacBook Pro has a $50 matte screen option but many 15in Unibody MBP owners wished for a Matte screen option. (I wonder if Apple will eventually offer that option on the 15in models...)
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OT: Sony free repair of some older flawed Camera/Camcorder CCDs Ends March 2009
(Posting this in case anyone else has an affected model and wasn't aware of the repair program) This weekend I discovered that my Sony DSC-T1 camera (pocket/slim model bought 'open box/return' in 2004) now has a CCD failure. I hadn't used it for over a year (since getting a Lumix T3 in fall 2007) and was going to give it to a friend but noticed after charged the battery the camera's CCD had a major problem - showing distorted image (vertical lines, light flares, unusable for photos). Menus/icons and previous images/movies on the memory stick were fine - so I knew it was CCD/sensor related. I had updated the firmware in 2004 (v2.0) and decided to check Sony's support site for any updates/notes (and repair costs - although I suspected repairs would cost more than the camera was worth now - they list a flat fee of $141 for T1 out-of-warranty repairs). On the news/alerts page was a Important Notice About Your Sony® Product that was posted in late Nov. 2006 covering the exact CCD issue seen (citing some cameras/camcorders made before March 2004 with a certain type of CCD may fail (distortion or no image/video). The page notes:
    "Until March 31, 2009, Sony will repair, free of charge, affected products exhibiting the above-mentioned symptom where it is caused by the image sensor device"

The repair is free but there is a $15 shipping/handling fee.
The linked page includes image examples of the failure and links to a service form for requesting a repair. Again now sure if any readers have one of these but posting as a FYI as I was not aware of that repair program/defect (had not checked the page for years). I'd have passed on the $141 repair fee - but at $15 (S&H fee) it's worth fixing.

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Updated Apple Support/Troubleshooting Docs

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Other News/Articles, Software Updates
(some from over the weekend)

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