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News Archive for: 7/16/2001 Monday's NewsReturn to Accelerate Your Mac!


Top stories of 7/16/2001:

Reader's Custom StartupItem for Dedicated OS X Swapfile Partition:
Back in June there was a page here regarding using a dedicated swapfile partition for improved OS X performance, with notes/warnings on potential issues with that. A reader today sent info on his custom startup item for OS X to initialize a swapfile on a dedicated partition that has been added to the previus page on OS X w/dedicated swap file partition.
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OS X vs. OS 9.1 Firewire Performance with Fast Firewire Drives:
I've posted a page with performance tests comparing OS X and OS 9.1 with Oxford 911 portable and AC powered cases. OS X was significantly faster at file copies from or to the Firewire drives, and duplicating a folder with thousands of files, but OS 9.1 was faster at duplicating a single 100MB file, at least with this system. Also included are benchmarks comparing the two Firewire drives using a G4/450 Cube system. (Where possible, comparisons to the Cube's 20GB internal drive are also included.)

Below the test results I noted in the comments a strange problem seen with the Cube losing the ability to mount Firewire drives . It was as if the Firewire ports had failed. A very frustrating episode that cost me nearly half a day of troubleshooting to get working again. The FW drives were bootable with G4/AGP and later systems, but not with my B&W G3 system.

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Quake 1.0 For MacOS X:
Versiontracker has a listing today for Quake 1.0 for MacOS X. The page notes that it only uses software rendering (not OpenGL) - "this release includes only the software renderer versions of Quake, which is dedicated to all MacOS X users with an unsupported graphics board, like RagePro and Rage II chipsets."
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More Comments on Firewire Drive Mounting Failures (updated):
(Update -see below Glen's original comments on how a shutdown and battery removal helped with the problem.)
In reply to a comment today (see above OS X vs OS 9.1 Firewire performance article) about a strange Firewire drive mounting issue I saw this weekend with a G4 Cube (no disks would mount, etc.), a reader noted he's seen the same thing with his PowerBook G4:

" Mike, I have also seen a similar problem with external firewire drives, but for me it was on a Titanium.

An older non-911 pocketpup used to work. However now neither a non-911 nor a 911 firewire drive will be mounted on the desktop when connected. I did do the firmware upgrade to the Titanium, which it is a possible culprit.

At one time while debugging, connecting a drive would cause an immediate crash in the finder (runing 9.1). The problem is definitely independent of powered vs non-powered firewire. That mysteriously went away (although I reset the PRAM at various times while debugging).

The Titanium works fine as a "Target Mode" Firewire drive if connected to another machine (suggesting that the firewire port is fine from a hardware point of view.). The Titanium's firewire port also works fine with a digital camera.
The firewire device works with another machine.
I'm still trying to resolve this issue...
-- Glen "

Update: Glen later wrote that the shutdown tip noted below worked. I assumed from his original comments he would have shut down at least once since the problem happened, but he later wrote that removing the battery may have been a factor.

" Mike,
I'm sure I had shut down many times without fixing the problem. However, the Titanium has a battery. I think this bug needed a full power off, including battery, in order to reset.
-- Glen "

I had updated the G4 Cube's firmware as well as my PB G4, but have only seen the problem (so far) on the Cube. Knock on wood the Cube seems fine now, but I'm not sure why the problem occurred in the first place. Another reader didn't mention his mac model, but noted he had seen occasional problems with Firewire in FCP:

"Hi Mike, At the end of your article, you mentioned the apparent loss of the firewire drive. I have found that shutting down the computer for a bit and starting up will solve this problem.

This happens (not too frequently) when I do work with Final Cut Pro and loose contact with my camera (FW). I have noted this solution to others on the Apple FCP discussion site and it has always fixed the problem. It seems that something in the FW driver gets mixed up and there is no solution but shutting down.

Not sure what fixed the Cube other than cooling down or repeated resets, but I've never seen this issue before with other Macs here. However a friend in Australia noted he's seen 4 new G4 macs with Firewire port problems (even after motherboards were replaced). The root cause was never really determined.

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OS 9.1 Problems w/Swapped in Apple Dual G4 Modules Related to Uni-N Revision:
Back in the June 22nd news page here there was a post about Sonnet's errata page for their Duet Dual G4 upgrade, noting it was not compatible with early G4/AGP systems having revision 3 of the Uni-N Apple ASCI chip. (That page also has tips on how to check the revision using OS 9.1's Apple System Profiler.)
I wondered if the Uni-N revision could have been the reason for the problems running OS 9.1 noted by some G4/AGP owners after swapping in an Apple Dual G4 module. A reader today wrote that he was one of those having problems after a dual G4 (Apple module) swap and checked his system's Uni-N revision - it was a rev 3. (To check the revision using OS 9.1's Apple System Profiler with the Dual G4 module installed, he said he had to remove the Apple CPU Plugins extension for stability. He said "It is also very stable under 9.0.x (I use 9.0.4) including dual CPU work as long as I use Apple CPU Plugin 2.3 through 2.5. ASP even reports the second processor". )
The Sonnet errata page is linked/noted in our FAQ's Apple G4 and CPU upgrades section and has been added to the article on performing a Dual G4 module swap for future reference.
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Reader Comments on Bryce 5 Lightning/Performance/Network Rendering:
" Hello Mike:
Some quick first impressions on running Bryce 5 Lightning.

1. The license agreement states that you may make unlimited copies for use on only your local area network. I have installed the software on Windows 2000 Pro and Mac OS 9.1 and Mac OS X Server. In every case, you simply run the application and the software becomes network aware (obviously you have to log in first under Windows or OS X). We issue IP numbers on our network; I am not sure what will happen using DHCP.

2. I am currently running 10 Windows 2000 Pro boxes under the Network Render Manager. I can see the other 10 in the lab, but they refuse to accept input from the program even though the software is installed correctly and running. The online HELP pages indicate there may not be enough memory on these machines to render input. You can see the screens flicker as they are poled by the server, but they refuse input either as a frame or when using the tile option. The non-functioning machines are running <150 Megs of RAM and 1024 virtual RAM. The functioning machines have > 230 Megs of RAM and 1024 virtual RAM.

3. In my humble opinion, Bryce Lightning looks like a real winner. So far the operation is seamless and anybody can do this. You can start and stop the program on the Windows boxes and it doesn't bother the rendering process. When you restart Bryce Lightning on a client, the server will see it on the next cycle and immediately send it input. It soon becomes obvious that the speed of your server can be a limiting factor during the rendering process. At the moment I compose on my G3 Powerbook and then let it be the server to manage the faster machines. This works fine for sending individual frames, but when using the tile option, the G3 is not fast enough to handle the flow of data to and from the faster Windows boxes. It might do better under Mac OS X.

I have no idea of what a suitable benchmark is for testing configurations. I have been rendering a test file for QuickTime that is 18 seconds long (180 frames), document resolution 540x405, antialiasing and superfine resolution. The best time yet is a little over 3 hours to produce an 80 Meg file. I know this can be made faster because I haven't optimized the animation in the original file.
With regards,
Wayne R.
(he later wrote)
Not sure if your email system will handle this, but here is a compressed version of the file I have been rendering . Again, I am just a novice at this, especially compressing QT movies. I used QT 5 and Sorenson 3. The original file is 87.6 Megs. The final is 1.8 Megs. On my 450MP it literally only takes a few minutes to compress the file now. "

Friday's news had Wayne's comments/tips on Bryce 5's upgrade password.

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Mac Maya on OS X Comments:
A reader who asked not to be identified sent the following info:
" Maya on Mac OS X...
Beta2 is in circulation to those who A|w choose... Beta3 is in use at ILM!

The nVidia cards are NOT working, but it is being aggressively worked on...
The Radeon card seems to pull it's weight thought...

OpenGL/textured & shaded mode in the view window work great, and the IPR rocks! No more waiting on test renders... And speaking of the renderer, it is pretty good, after a few 'minor tweaks'... But out of the box sucks...

There is no dongle, the app is licensed to your workstations Ethernet MAC address (which is how we do our licensing for the wireless LAN equipment here...), and the shocker... To install Maya, you simply drag the app from the Cd to wherever you want it, and then drag your license file (which you don't even have to open...) to the Maya folder, and you start the app! That is it! They are still using FlexLM, but it is hidden from the end user... Pretty cool, I think...

And of course, MacMaya uses OuickTime, which all the other Maya versions DO NOT...! This is a good thing downstream in a Mac production environment...

Oh yeah, MEL & AppleScript can talk to each other... Imagine pulling up a texture, modifying it with Photoshop, and inserting it back into Maya; without ever leaving Maya!

And, the clincher, dual monitors work with no problems whatsoever in MacMaya...

There is an environment file in the Maya folder which holds all the app setup data, modify this once, and all your tweaks to the app are engaged each time you start said app... No opening the app, and 'setting things up' each time you want to get some work done... "

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IDE RAID Setup for Digital Audio Recording:
A reader sent a link to a page he has posted about using IDE RAID for digital audio recording.
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CPU Upgrades Owner Ratings Database Updated:
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 5 new reports today (total to date: 5,922). [Entries after midnight eastern time are added the following day.]

  • Apple G4/450 Cube Overclocking report
  • Other World Computing G3/333 in Beige G3 DT (rated 10)
  • Powerlogix G3/500 in 7500/100 (rated 10)
  • Powerlogix Bluechip G3/466 in PB G3 Wallstreet1 (rated 8)
  • Sonnet G3/500 in Beige G3 DT (rated 9)

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 9 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 4,209 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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