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News Archive for: 6/25/2001 Monday's NewsReturn to Accelerate Your Mac!

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Top stories of 6/25/2001:

Jordan Hubbard Joins Apple OS X Team:
Jon Rust sent a copy of a FreeBSD mail list post from Jordan Hubbard noting he was going to work for Apple. (Jordan worked for 7 years at Walnut Creek CDROM, BSDi and most recently at WindRiver Systems as a general FreeBSD evangelist and product manager for the FreeBSD CDROM product line.) To verify the info, I went to the freeBSD site and found the same post in their mail-list archives. To read his comments about his move to Apple and what it means, see this posting.
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ID's Graeme Devine's OS X Quake3 Performance Tip:
A reader sent a copy of Graeme's latest plan file comments that has a framerate tip for users of the latest OS X beta Q3 update:

" Welcome to id Software's Finger Service V1.5!
Name: Graeme Devine
Description: Designer / Project Manager
Last Updated: 06/25/2001 15:44:46 (Central Standard Time)
Quick update on Mac OS X

If you run with s_chunksize 2048 you get a noticable framerate improvement over the default. Please note that I forgot to latch s_chunksize, so you need to quit the game and restart after you've changed the value of that cvar.

Mac OS X 10.0.4 seems a lot snappier to me too.
Graeme. "

Thanks to Carver Tangeman for sending this.

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OS X Quake3 Config Mod Tip:
" I have been hearing of some people having problems with a frozen yellow screen. I too had this problem. The new beta ran fine on the first try on a clean install and it was faster. After I modified my config file I got the frozen yellow screen. At first I thought is was my changes, but for some reason thought that before I do anything I should convert my config file back to Unix before saving it - something I never had to do in any other version. It worked! No more frozen yellow screen. I don't know if this is truly the solution for the frozen yellow screen, but it worked for me.

This version is definitely faster. Currently, I am only running a config with minor enhancements. It felt like it was about 10 fps faster with a clean default config, then 1.27 using the heavily modified - beyond Locki - config I was using. My new config only consist of turning off effects and not tuning graphics, prediction/lookahead modes nor network settings. It is almost fast enough that I am thinking about turning back on a few of the effects. Using a G4 450MHz/256MB/Rage 128 PRO, I figure I am getting around about 65 fps with no major modification to the config, only turning off effects and 32 bit colour as compared to about 55 fps with a very heavily modified config in version 1.27.

For see the recent articles list below for test results with the latest OS X 1.29f-2 beta and a GeForce3, including download links to config files.

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Diablo II 800x600 Resolution Mod:
A reader post in the forums notes how to use Resedit to enable 800x600 mode in Diablo II. The linked page with a patch file and info refers to using regedit (windows registry editor) but from the reader comments using Resedit on the Diablo II prefs file to insert the same string works on the Mac. (I don't have Diablo II installed on any Mac right now so I can't check this out myself, but another reader replied it looked great with his Radeon card.)
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Retail SuperDrives at BestBuy - Reader Report w/Toast 5:
A reader sent a note that shows they have retail box Pioneer Superdrives in stock for $799. ( lists the drive for $788.95 this weekend, but not sure if they have stock now.) The drive comes with only PC software so you'd need Toast5 or other DVD recording software for the Mac.

" Mike,
Just to follow up.....
I installed the DVR-A03 in my G4/450 MP. Installation was a snap! I burned 4 CD-R disks (2 audio, 2 data) using Toast 5.0.1. Perfect! I just burned my first DVD. Again, perfect! It plays in my Pioneer Elite DV37 and my Alpine 5200 (auto) DVD players. What an amazing product!

Steve had noted that he found one of the drives in stock at a local store, but supplies in stores are likely to be limited. (There's a CDROM install guide here that might be some help for those wanting to swap out a drive.)
The June 13th news here had a reader report on using the retail drive w/iDVD and Toast5 and includes a Roxio note on a Toast5.01/Superdrive issue from their Knowledge Base.

" After burning or simulating a burn of DVD-R or DVD-RW media with the Pioneer DVR-A03 (the Apple SuperDrive), Toast 5.0.1 is left in an inconsistent state. This causes any subsequent burn or simulation to fail with a Buffer Underrun, during the setup phase. No actual data is written to the media.
The workarounds are:
1) Have Toast rescan for new recorders (double-click the recorder info line at the bottom of the main window).
2) Quit and relaunch Toast. "
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Another DVD Software Player Patch for Unsupported Macs:
For a year or more in the DVD section of the FAQ here I've linked to the Think Different site which has had patches for the DVD 2.x players to allow them to run on other than the "supported" macs. (Still requires a Rage128 or later ATI card - but the 2.7 DVD player includes a Nvidia extension as well.) I've used the patch for instance in my review last year of the Toshiba DVD ROM drive in my Beige G3 (w/VR128 card).
A reader noted in the forums that he's also released a patch due to problems he saw with the Think Different site patch in some configurations. The Think Different site author has noted he's recently revised his patch also for better compatibility.
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Mac Rogue Spear 1.1b1 Update:
Versiontracker notes there's a long-awaited update to Mac Rogue Spear. The 1.1b1 Beta update includes 32-bit mode support and more. This is a beta and Macsoft asks that anyone that has a problem should email describing the problem, your computer, and how they can recreate the bug. They suspect that there are still some multiplayer bugs in this version, "particularly when playing via GameRanger, and particularly in the Ruined City map. In addition, there is a known bug whereby choosing "Random Map" in multiplayer games will not work."
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Notes on Cube Housing and New vs. Refurbished Cubes:
I have bought several refurbished Macs over the years and they have all looked like new and worked well. Recently I had a first-hand look at a refurbished G4 cube and wanted to post some comments about this particular sample as well as the issue of mold lines in the housing. Although I have seen several Cubes in stores and read many stories on the net about the 'mold lines' in the case, I now know why some owners were upset about them, especially the one on the top right side of the case. On this sample, the upper right hand corner had a very visible line that stood out like a sore thumb and clearly looked like a scratch. (It was deep enough to actually cast a shadow onto the white surface of the inside sleeve.) I was convinced it was not a mold line since it was wavy and stopped (disappeared) long before the edge of the case. However looking at this ZDnet page (see the close-up link), this is a common mold line apparently. So be aware this will not likely be cause for a replacement housing, no matter how visible it is on any particular sample.
Since the mold line "disappears" farther down, my guess is that the housing is polished on some surfaces/areas, but not that far up on the housing. (Just a guess, but I've never seen mold lines suddenly stop like this unless they were polished out as part of the final manufacturing process.)
I'm sure the visibility of this front surface mold line will vary and note that many Cube owners in the previous article here did not comment on mold lines at all. This sample may be a worst-case example, since I never remember seeing anything this noticeable on any Cube on display at a retail store. (Of course they may be specially selected housings since they're for display purposes.) [Update - a replacement brand new housing from Apple had the same visible line as the refurb one, although a bit less noticeable. The housing replacement was authorized after a dealer looked at the condition of the refubished Cube housing, which had glue and debris inside the case between the liner. The new housing was spotless but unfortunately had the same visible line in the upper right had corner of the front surface.]
I'm posting this only as a FYI to readers that are considering buying a cube based on the recent rumors it may be discontinued. If you're intent on buying a Cube and are concerned about the housing mold lines, my advice is to buy new from a dealer that will let you look at the case before buying. (Some dealers may let you see the unit first.)

Although refurbished Macs now have a 1 year warranty just like the new models, here is a list of benefits of a new Cube vs a refurbished one.

  • May have a better housing (there were reports the molding process was improved)
  • Free OS X installed w/CDs (or at least eligible for the free OS X offer) [$129 list]
  • Later CD versions included (OS, software restore, hardware test, etc.) Many refurbs have OS 9.04 CDs and OS install, and this sample didn't have the DVD ROM drive firmware update applied.
  • The Apple store lists Appleworks 6 as included w/new Cubes (not w/refurb. models).
  • No need to update the DVD ROM drive firmware, system firmware, etc.
  • May have other subtle improvements over the earlier refurbished models
  • Until this refurbished Cube had the 4.1.8 firmware update applied, it would shut off when trying to boot from a Mac OS 9.1 CD. (Both a software restore OS 9.1 CD and the OS 9.1 CD included with the OS X package - and each time it not only powered off, but cleared the novram also.) The firmware update won't apply unless you're running OS 9.1, but updating from the OS 9.1 CD was possible after booting from the hard drive.

It's your call if a refurb. is worth the appx $200 savings over a new model. (Based on a new Cube list price of $1299 vs. typical refurbished price of $1099.)
Also note that if you buy from a mail-order dealer, they often have free RAM offers on new Macs, but if there's an install fee ($30 often times), remember a 128MB SDRAM dimm now costs only about $30. For any system with only 64MB, I'd highly recommend adding at least 128MB more of RAM.

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CPU Upgrades Owner Ratings Database Updated:
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 10 new reports today (total to date: 5,857). [Entries after midnight eastern time are added the following day.]

  • Newer Tech G3/466 in iMac (rated 10)
  • Newer Tech G3/500 in Beige G3 (rated 10)
  • Powerlogix Bluechip G3/500 in PB G3 Wallstreet2 (rated 8)
  • Powerlogix Zforce w/G3 333 ZIF in 7500/100 (rated 6)
  • Sonnet G3/400 in 5400/120 (rated 9)
  • Sonnet G4/400 in PowerTower Pro 225 (rated 1)
  • Sonnet G4/500 in B&W G3 (rated 9)
  • Sonnet G4/500 in Beige G3 (rated 9)
  • XLR8 CarrierZIF w/OWC G3/500 in 9600/200MP (rated 8)
  • XLR8 CarrierZIF w/Newer Tech G4/400 ZIF in 9500/120 (rated 9)

You can find these 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 15 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 4,086 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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