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News Archive for: 7/3/2001 Tuesday's NewsReturn to Accelerate Your Mac!

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Top stories of 7/3/2001:

Nvidia GeForce Drivers v2.1.1 Available - Then Pulled:
[Update - as of 7PM eastern time, the Versiontracker link no longer works - and the "product info" link there to Apple's FTP site no longer shows the file. Hopefully Apple will make it available via Software Updates or at their recent downloads page soon. Since last week, their software updates site now requires a login/account however.]
A reader noted that Versiontracker lists a v2.1.1 driver update for Nvidia Geforce cards (MX and GeForce3 I assume - although not sure about the Firmware updates). They were listed at this VT page. (Thanks to Cayetano for the tip.)
Here's the text from the update's readme file:

" About the GeForce Graphics Card Update
This document contains important late-breaking information about the GeForce Graphics Card Update. For the latest information about the GeForce Graphics Card Update and answers to support questions, go to the Apple Support Web site at www.apple.com/support/.

The GeForce Graphics Card Update installs new graphics card firmware and Mac OS 9 system extensions to improve performance and compatibility. The new firmware also fixes a compatibility problem with newer versions of the NVIDIA system extensions.

The firmware on your graphics card will be updated only if an older version is detected. During the firmware update, your display will dim or go dark for 10 to 15 seconds, then reappear.

Important: Do not use other applications while the firmware update is in progress.

You must restart your computer for the new firmware and extensions to take effect.

Troubleshooting
If you use the new NVIDIA extensions with the 1017F version firmware, or the new firmware with older extensions, the screen image may appear shifted to one side of your display. To fix the screen image temporarily, change the screen resolution using the Monitors control panel or the Monitor Resolution portion of the Control Strip. Then run the Update installer to install the new extensions.
June 1, 2001"

The text of the readme has that June 1 date, but the download file is dated today. The 2.1.1 beta version was rumored to be in the OS 9.2 betas some time back. I welcome any reports from Nivida card owners with the new drivers. (The GeForce3 tests here used v2.1, which did not fix the Lightwave 3D issues, but did seem to fix some previous game problems, although not all.)

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It's Official - Apple Halts Production of G4 Cubes:
As rumored for some time now, the G4 Cube has been discontinued. Apple has confirmed this in a story today at their web site titled Apple Puts Power Mac G4 Cube on Ice. The article notes that:
    "(Apple) will suspend production of the Power Mac G4 Cube indefinitely. The company said there is a small chance it will reintroduce an upgraded model of the unique computer in the future, but that there are no plans to do so at this time."

A few weeks back when this rumor first started I asked for G4 Cube owner comments on their systems and got many more replies than I expected. Most were very postive.

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A Simple Feature Wanted in the Next G4 Towers:
There have been rumors of all sorts of changes in future G4 tower models, especially now with Macworld NY so close. Faster CPUs, higher bus speeds, new dual CPU models, different case colors, etc. have been mentioned but not the one feature that I and many readers have wished for since the B&W G3 systems were released. That is a case that will accept two 5.25" (CD/DVD/CDRW) sized drives.

Since the first B&W G3 model in early 1999, all tower cases allow only one CD sized drive with the lower bay sized for only a 3.5" drive. The 2001 G4 towers have a motherboard with the CPU module moved so that it is not in close proximity to the CD/ZIP bays when the case is closed, so this would be a relatively easy feature to add and a popular one in my opinion.

I can't count the number of emails since 1999 I've gotten asking about this issue. And although some readers have hacked up the case and brackets to mount a CD sized drive in the lower bay, there's no bezel that's designed for a CD size drive in the lower slot. I really hope the next version of the G4 Tower has a case that allows two 5.25" drives inside. I think it would be a very well received feature and one that is fairly easy to incorporate. Regardless, I can't wait to see what's shown at MWNY next month.

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Reader Comments on Aimster Napster Alternative for Mac:
A reader wrote about a new Napster alternative for the Mac:

" there's a new entry named Aimster into the post-napster world. The Mac version is at 1.00b2 and it's pretty darn solid, making those gnutella clients look bad ....
Check it out at http://www.aimster.com/. This fella wrote it for his teenage daughter and now it's taking off...
HAPPY FOURTH!
Bob F. "
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Comparing Sony's $999 Vaio SR33 to the iBook:
A reader sent a note about Sony's new $999.99 price (after $100 rebate) Vaio SR33 notebook as a competitor to the iBook. The Vaio SR33 comes with 128MB of memory, 10GB HD, 8meg SGRAM video, Mobile Celeron 600mhz, and a PCMCIA card controlled external CD-Rom drive.
The SR33 has the same case/design as the SR17 model which I commented on in a mini-review last year. (That was a friend's system so I don't have regular access to it now.)
The SR's small size and very light weigh is attractive, but the tiny keyboard was frustrating for me to type on since I'm used to full size keyboards on larger notebooks. (The iBook has a larger keyboard than the SR series). Also the lack of an internal CDROM drive on the Vaio and the lack of a powered Firewire port means you have to lug an AC adapter even if you pack a small VST portable firewire drive and if you need to access a CD.
Also the iBook's 12" screen is larger than the 10.4" Vaio's and the iBook includes a 10/100 Ethernet port . The Sony does have a PCCard slot however, which the iBook lacks. (The Sony also has their jog dial wheel, but the 10.4" screen made it hard to see the wheel control options.) The Sony also has a slot for their memory sticks. Although some reviews have lamented the iBooks 66mhz bus speed, I don't think that's a major factor in most applications you're likely to use on a compact notebook.

One other comment I made in the SR17 article is that the Vaio SR series notebooks have used micro-dimm RAM modules, which are more expensive than the standard SODIMMs that most portables use. Last year micro-dimms were over $300 for 128MB, but prices have dropped a lot now although they are still more than twice the cost per MB of SODIMMs. ( The best price I've seen lately on a 128MB micro-dimm was $89, 256MB SODIMMs are available for under $60.)
The other downside is that there are usually two 64MB modules installed in the SR's with 128MB of RAM, which means when you buy a 128MB module, the net gain is only 64MB, since you have to remove one of the 64MB modules to add the 128MB module. (I assume the 128MB SR33 has two 64MB modules, as did the 128MB SR17.)

I'm sure the Sony SR33 will be very popular and it's incredibly compact and light (2.9 lbs per spec). But for $300 more, I think the iBook's features are worth it, all things considered (internal CDROM, powered firewire, larger keyboard and screen, uses standard/low cost RAM modules). The $1299 iBook only comes with 64MB of RAM, although many dealers often offer "free" RAM with new Macs. A 256MB SODIMM module is currently very cheap (appx. $56).

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Review of Diablo II Expansion Pack and Install Tip:
Gamespot has a review and screenshots of the Diablo II Lord of Destruction expansion pack. Diablo II LOD is a dual platform CD that works with Macs and PCs. (There's also a recent Diablo II 1.08 patch from Blizzard.)

A reader posted an install tip for the expansion pack in the forums that will avoid CD spin-up delays. here's clip from the full post:

" ... the music started after a 5 second pause while the game waited for my CD to spin up... I looked on the Play disk in the Support folder and there were 2 files that weren't installed...Diablo II Expansion Movies and Diablo II Expansion Music. Install those into your Diablo II Files folder and you won't get those annoying CD spin up pauses....
Well, if you turn off music you don't need to copy it over, you say? There are cases where it automatically plays victory music at certain times as witnessed when I defeated certain bosses.
a2daj "
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More Reports of Yamaha 2100 IDE Flash ROM Tip for Macs Working:
Yesterday's news had a tip on how to flash an IDE Yamaha 2100 (16/10/40) CDRW drive in Macs using the SCSI flasher with the Firewire firmware update file. This is the 3rd reader so far that reported the tip has worked to update an IDE Yamaha 2100 (16/10/40) CDRW drive in a Mac.

" Hi Mike, I'm writing you after having read the Yamaha 2100 firmware upgrade tip on the main page. I just tried to follow the explanations, and I have to tell you that IT WORKS!

Had a new internal IDE yamaha 2100E (...and I was about to write a report to you!), firmware version 1.0E, on my G4 450 MP, now I have firmware 1.0N and:

1- it's still bootable
2- it still works with iTunes, DiskBurner and Toast 5.0.1
3- .... it's now quieter than before :)!!!
Many thanks, again, to you and to all the people contributing to your site. All the best from Florence, Italy
Pasquale S. "

I've updated the FAQ's CDROM/CDR section on Yamaha 2100 firmware update info to include this tip for future reference.

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PB Wallstreet/BlueChip Owner Comments on Reliability with >192MB RAM:
There have been some mixed reports on problems from PowerBook G3 (Wallstreet) owners using the Powerlogix Bluechip G3 CPU upgrades. (The sample Bluechip G3/500 I reviewed back in January had problems running the cache at the default 250Mhz as noted in that review.)

" I've just had a many email exchange with the very nice head of Powerlogix Support, John Landis. The upshot of it is that Powerlogix does not guarantee that the Blue Chip will operate with more than 192Mb of RAM, which was Apple's original spec. when the Wallstreet machines came out.

I have a Wallstreet with 512Mb of RAM that is a wonderfully stable machine. I went nuts trying to make the BlueChip work reliably in my machine, following all suggestions given to me. It was only at the end of the process that Mr. Landis nicely confessed that they could not support my situation. It took so long that my dealer's 30 day money back guarantee ran out, and now I have to take a store credit.

Look into this if you like, and please indicate to the readers who trust you that this issue exists. Anyone we can save from what I just went through will be forever grateful to you.
Thanks,
Stanley K. "

I had returned the two 256MB low-profile modules to Transintl that I used for the Newer Tech PB G3/466 upgrade review and only had 192MB of ram installed for the Bluechip review, however some of the owner reports in the CPU upgrade ratings database may have been from users with more than 192MB of ram. (Check the comments in the entries there.) More RAM may increase heat (especially if using full size SODIMMs) which could be a factor perhaps. (Since the RAM size has not normally been an issue. Apple's specs were from the days before there were higher capacity modules available and as Stanley noted, it was not an issue with the original CPU.

Related Links:

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More Reader Comments on Removing Unused OS X Extensions:
Yesterday's news had a reader comment on removing unused OS X extensions (they do not load into memory, but do take up disk space and may slightly increase boot time if there's checks done at boot). Another reader commented on removing the unused extensions:

" I just read your article about removing OS X Kernel Extensions.
In my experience, removing these extensions (as well as screen savers, some fonts as well as desktop pictures) does not in of itself speed up anything except boot times and there it is a tiny improvement.
However...
I mostly run OS X on a rev A iBook with a 3GB drive so Drive space is at a premium. This is why I went through and pruned back OS X. In situations where there isn't much drive space available, opening more drive space for OS X does lead to a noticeable speed improvement, particularly when running lots of programs and classic. On a TiPowerbook, with lots of drive space I saw no improvement from pruning the system.
Just another datapoint
Jeremy "
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HP1200SE Printer Install Tips:
A reader sent a long list of instructions/tips for setting up HP's 1200se printer.

" Hi Mike.
Just thought that you might want folks, those who happen to buy a HP 1200 series Laserjet, to know about this little SNAFU.

The instructions that come with the machine (1200se) are not as correct as they should be. And since this is a new product, the online feedback is minimal. I had to contact HP support by phone(very nice people, by the way) to find out that there are a couple of extensions that need to be turned off as well as a couple of other steps which need to be taken.

Please find the extra info below that HP customer support has given me on a revised setup.

On a more positive note, the printer is a cinch to set up, and the quality is great. The price is good for a home office or designer, although it lacks color support. If it weren't for this small detour, I'd give it a great review. I haven't tried this fix yet, but support assured me that this should take care of most of the problems that I've been experiencing.

Hope this information is helpful.
--Dan P.

NOTE: For Apple - Macintosh Customers

Printer Setup (USB)
1. Open the Apple Desktop Printer Utility provided by Apple (This is usually located in HD/Applications/Apple Extras/Apple LaserWriter Software/Desktop Printer Utility).
2. Click on "Printer USB" (NOT "HP Printer USB), and then on OK.
3. Click on the Change button to the right of the USB Printer Selection, Click on HP LaserJet 1200 then on OK.
4. Click on the Change button to the right of PostScript Printer Description (PPD) File and then select HP lj1200.
5. Click on the Auto Setup button to the right of PostScript Printer Description (PPD) File.
6. Click on the Create button in the lower right corner of the Desktop Printer Utility window, and then click on save.
7. To make the LaserJet 1200 the default printer, click on the desktop printer icon that was created for the LaserJet 1200 once and then hold down "Apple Key" and "L" key (or go up to the Printing Menu and select "Set as Default Printer"). "

I asked him to verify the instructions before posting this and he later wrote:

" Hi Mike.
...The changes were made, following the directions that HP provided. And they seem to have worked fine. None of the problems I was running into are happening anymore. (This doens't mean that new ones won't find a way to show up, though.)

One small thing, though. For folks who are planning to print large layout documents, or layout documents that have image files which are large, you will need to add memory to this printer. From what I've read and been told, the printer will take 100 pin, 66mhz, DIMM, SDRAM-up to 64 mb. It comes with 8 mb, and then has 5 mb left over for use. And for any image file, 5 mb isn't quite enough to keep things moving at a decent pace. HP tells me that any brand o'memory will work, although they won't be able to help if you run into problems, at least with the memory.

I've hooked the printer up to a beige G3, 266 mhz, 256 mb, third party USB adapter card, OS 9.1. I've printed from quark, Word, and IE. For now, things look good.

If the printer works well with my cave dwelling Mac, not quite a dinosaur mind you, then I'd imagine that the printer should work nicely with newer machines.

Good luck to any who need a decent, relatively affordable, home business/office laserjet printer.
Cheers!
--Dan P. "

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CPU Upgrades Owner Ratings Database Updated:
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 2 new reports today (total to date: 5,892). [Entries after midnight eastern time are added the following day.]

  • XLR8 CarrierZIF w/OWC G3 333 ZIF in PowerTower Pro 250 (rated 8)
  • B&W G3/400 Overclocking report

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 Compatibility Database Updates:
The Drive Compatibility searchable database had 8 new entries added this morning. The database has reports on Combo DVD-CDRW, CDROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, CDRW, Hard Drives and Removables (tape drive, ORB, ZIP, MO drives, etc.) in all interface types (IDE, IDE RAID cards, Firewire, SCSI, adapters). Current total 4,136 reports. [BTW - the drive database is not a place to post questions, it's for reports on drives you've used. For guides to drive installs, see the IDE, SCI or Firewire articles linked above and/or the FAQ. 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.]
You can find full owner reports by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches).
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.
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