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News Archive for: 6/27/2001 Wednesday's NewsReturn to Accelerate Your Mac!

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Top stories of 6/27/2001:

Reader Comments on Legality of Open Source DVD Players:
A reader who asked not to be identified wrote with some comments on legal issues with open source DVD software mentioned in today's news:

" Hi Mike,
I've asked a few questions of you in the past, and wanted to return the favour with some information.

I noticed your report on VideoLAN on your main page, and wanted to comment. Please note that, contrary to information on their webpage, videoLAN is as illegal as DeCSS. (Note that their page never actually says it is legal, just that it doesn't use DeCSS, which is illegal). The reason for this can be seen from browsing the CSS rules and regulations: any DVD decoder which allows the encryption keys to be determined is illegal. This means, by default, any software solution that separates decryption from decompression.

The definitions laid out define a DVD player as a device with DVD decryption and decompression capabilities, and only analog video out (various instances of 1394/USB excepted). A DVD drive may output the encrypted, compressed stream, so long as the decryption solution (usually a chip) can authenticate over a point-to-point secure channel with the drive. VideoLAN is designed as a video server, decrypting the stream before sending it (still compressed) over the network, thus it allows independent determination of the decoder keys. This is illegal. Sending the encrypted, compressed stream is (I believe) legal, likewise sending the unencrypted, uncompressed stream.
Thought you might find this tip relevant. "

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Reader Comments on Performance w/Dedicated Swap File Partion for OS X:
[*Update*: See this page with notes/warnings/tips on the issues of a dedicated swap file partiton.]
Years ago when I setup a Sun Unix server, the general rule was to have a dedicated swap file partition. As noted in Barney's Other Net News listing a few weeks back Resexcellence had a guide for setting up a dedicated swap file partion in OS X. A reader today sent an email noting the benefits:

" Hi Mike, I found this link a while back on the ResExcellence site explaining how to have OS X put its swap files at a different, faster and unfragmented, partition
www.ResExcellence.com/hack_html_01/06-01-01.shtml.

As I am your typical point and click Mac user, I was very reluctant to try this. I have absolutely 0 experience with Terminals and the likes. I bit the bullet today though, and it worked like a charm. My volume (that I use for Photoshop and others as a dedicated scratch disk in OS 9 already) is called Scratch, it took me a while to realize that I had to change the Volumes/swap bit to Volumes/Scratch, luckily I did before rebooting, and I just repeated the steps with the correct name.

As a test I loaded about every OS X app I have, opened a bunch of classic apps, including Strata 3D rendering an image, while iTunes was playing mp3s and OmniWeb was checking out the ResExcellence article, no skipping, very acceptable rendering speed, and the Finder was hardly less responsive than with nothing running at all. This is on a Dual G4 450 with 384 Mb with OS X 10.0.4. X created 480 Mb worth of swap files. I think this is very impressive, similar tests before changing the swap location resulted in the system throwing me out and loading just the finder again. I would really recommend anyone brave enough to run OS X :-) in the first place to try this, it's not as hard as it looks.
regards, Kees
note: thank goodness for ASM, the Dock becomes rather useless as an app switcher with this many apps open "

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Revised Orange Micro Firewire/USB card Details:
I had heard that OM had revised their chipset on their combo card and this reader replied to an earlier post today noting the new card is faster than the original one:

" Hi Mike,
I've been meaning to write you about my new OrangeMicro FW/USB (1.1) combo card, and this morning's news nudged me along. I have one of the very first OM combo cards to ever come off the line, order the day they were announced. As I reported well over a year ago, it has been very reliable for me in my 8500 w/ G3/400, and I have been generally quite happy with it, except for the slow NEC FW chipset.

Well, the rumor you heard is true. I just got the new OM FW/USB (1.1) a couple of weeks ago, and it has the Lucent FW chipset (and an internal FW port, but still no auxillary power connector), which is indeed faster than the NEC chip. The write speed on my ClubMac/Maxtor 17.2 GB 5400 rpm FW drive kit increased from 7-8 MB/s to around 12-13 MB/s, and read speeds increased from 11-12 MB/s to 12-13 MB/s. This is equal to the maximum transfer rates the drive achieved when it was on the 2nd IDE bus of my Biege G3. Thus the card is no longer a bottleneck for my drive.

My USB devices still work flawlessly (USB 250 MB Zip drive and Epson 750 printer). I have yet to test DV export, and probably won't get around to it for a couple of weeks, so I'm just reporting what I know now. We often discuss these combo cards on the 8500/8600 list (info at http://www.bigfat.com/mac8500-l/). While none are perfect in legacy Macs, and several people agree the OM combo card is among the most reliable overall.

BTW, the CompUSA combo card was mentioned by some reports. I noticed it in the store the other day, and it appears similar to the OM card. It has the same shape and layout, same internal port, but with a power connector added. It is a nice bargain at $70, but the OM card comes with an A/B USB cable and a 4 pin-6 pin FW cable, as well as video editing software (Premiere 5 LE for Mac, Ulead VideoVision for PC), better warranty, and excellent tech support, making it a good value in my mind. Hope this info is helpful.
-- Phil L. "

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8600 Owner w/Sonnet G4 Reports Better Luck w/Free OS X Enabler Than Sonnet's $29.95 Version:
Last week in the news I noted that Sonnet has their OS X Enabler for legacy Macs available for $29.95 (available here.) An 8500 owner with Sonnet G4 upgrade however noted in email that he had better luck with Ryan Rempel's free OS X enabler for legacy Macs:

" SonnetTech have released their support for the Crescendo PCI G3/G4 accelerator cards. http://www.sonnettech.com

I've bought it and can't get it to work at Step 2, where you're meant to select the SystemFolderX. SonnetTech know about problems with InstallerVise that needs FileSharing enabled to copy the correct files. Strange. Even tried that and it still doesn't work. They are apparently looking into the problem.

Meanwhile I tried Ryan's UnsupportedUtilityX and it works like a charm.
Although I could do with the supported version from SonnetTech. I use a PowerMac 8600 with the Crescendo G4/450 board.
Alan. "

For more info, instructions or to download Ryan's software, see the OWC page on OS X on Legacy Macs.

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Ex-3dfx Programmer Comments on Voodoo3 and Tomb Raider Editor Issues:
Yesterday's news had a Voodoo3 owner report on problems with the Tomb Raider Chronicles Level Editor. Ray Swartz, former programmer at 3dfx (and ATI) wrote with comments on the issue:

" I don't have any solutions for you concerning 3dfx and the TR Editor, but I did want to clear up some misunderstandings.

The Voodoo 1 & 2 drivers were built on top of Glide2, which was only full screen. But beginning with the Voodoo 3, all the drivers were built on top of Glide 3, which supports windowed mode and 32-bit color. This includes the RAVE and OpenGL drivers.

From my experience trying to support multiple-window RAVE apps, like 3D World and the French Touch modelers, there was a bad bug in Glide 3 which often gave various "fifo" errors when more than one window was being rendered to. These bugs were never fixed. Sorry.
Ray Swartz
Macintosh 3D Engineer formerly with 3dfx & ATI. "

One Voodoo3 owner noted similar errors with some of the Setting Sun OpenGL screensaver modules (but not all of them).

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More Sonnet G4 Upgrade Owner Issues and Tips:
One of today's Rate Your CPU Upgrade database entries included another Sonnet G4 owner noting Photoshop problems (as well as a problem with Norton Utilities). As some past owners have noted, he said using Powerlogix's or XLR8's software solved the issue.

Sonnet G4/400 upgrade
9600/200 system
Comments:
"The installation went really well. As I've read from other upgraders, I moved my video card to the upper three slots just to avoid the potential problem. After everything finished loading, I was impressed on how much faster the computer felt.

As noted in the news section and as I found out, there were two problems for me. Photoshop 6.0.1 and Norton Speed Disk had trouble. PS would crash (error type 2 for me) when I'd try to resize. I could go for awhile before anything would happen. Norton Utilities worked for everything except for when I would try to defrag a Zip disk. The very moment it got done analyzing the files Speed Disk just quit. No error messages at all and the disk was still unmounted.

I emailed Sonnet support and they got back to me in less than a day or two. I was told to enable VM. Did that and the problems were gone. I'm not a big fan of Vm even with a G4 upgrade I can still tell the slowdown.

Then I did some searching for ideas. Some people had used software from XLR8 and PowerLogix. So I tried both and they both got rid of the problem. So... I'll wait for the Sonnet update and see what happens. I should mention that the guy I was in contact with was very patient.

So, all-in-all, I love it and can't see myself going back to the 604e/200.
Joseph R."

Yesterday's news had a similar report and one of several noted recently from Sonnet G4 upgrade owners.

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Reader Report on Iomega Predator Firewire CDRW:
I've had some readers ask in the past about how well the firewire version of the Iomega portable "Predator" CDRW drive works with Macs. Today's updates to the Drive Compatibility Database included a report on this drive:

Apple G4/AGP system running OS 9.1
Firewire Iomega Predator CD-RW
Comments:
" This firewire CD-RW works like a charm
After installing authoring support 1.1.2, everything worked great
itunes/disk burner... etc
I am erasing a cd-rw as I type..
it worked with toast too...
it was very easy to install, and works great..
Daniel "
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Another Open Source DVD Player - Plus a Mac OS X Version:
Yesterday's news had a note on a freeware Linux DVD player called Ogle. A reader replied to that post with a note on another open source player that has a OS X port effort in the works:

" Hi Mike. Noticed the reader post about Ogle, the open source Linux DVD player. Just wanted to let you and your readers know of another open source DVD project at http://www.videolan.org
They already have a MacOSX port that more or less works. But it needs a lot of work and surely could use any and all contributions, especially from the Mac side.
Satoru "

Their page with the OS X version info is at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/macosx.html.

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PowerMac 4400 Owner Finally Finds Firewire/USB Combo Card Solution:
Recently there was a PowerMac 4400 owner report here that noted he had problems using a Firewiredirect FW/USB combo card. His latest comments noted tests with several other brands and one that finally worked:

" Mike:
Here's the continuing saga - and happy conclusion - of my experience with the PPC 4400 and combo cards...

FWDirect combo card... As stated previously - doesn't function completely. Even with direct power (not PCI bus), USB peripherials don't work. Firewire does work. SANITY CHECK: Inland USB card (#08307; $10 at Fry's) performed well - with PCI power only.

CompUSA card SKU# 280284... Again, all possible combinations with power and OS (8.6 and 9.1). FIREWIRE does not work with this card. Every time a Firewire device begins to be recognized by the finder, the finder freezes - a force-quit works, but the device won't be recognized. USB is fine and scanner/printer/Trimedia Reader peripherials work well. Again, after a complete diagnostic to check for any kind of conflict with extensions and so forth... No Firewire connection. (Same was tried with the FWDirect card).

OrangeMicro combo card... Since the trusty PPC 4400 won't be running Mac OS X and most likely won't ever be able to support USB 2.0, the final test was with the OrangeMicro combo card (the same as others have tried in this forum). This card does not have a power connector, so it's only powered by the PCI bus. This card works well with all of my external devices! USB and Firewire, both work nicely.
Regards and thanks for the forum,
Mike N."

There were rumors that OM had changed the firewire chip used on their cards from the NEC chip that was used on the original cards (NEC FW chips had lower write speeds than TI chip based cards in previous tests here). I'll be adding Mike's comments to the page on Firewire/USB combo card owner reports later today.

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CPU Upgrades Owner Ratings Database Updated:
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 9 new reports today (total to date: 5,873). [Entries after midnight eastern time are added the following day.]

  • Metabox G3/400 in Umax J700 (rated 1)
  • Newer Tech G4/400 in Beige G3 (rated 3)
  • Powerlogix Bluechip G3/466 in PowerBook G3 Wallstreet1 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G4/400 in 9600/200 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G4/400 in 7300 (rated 8)
  • Sonnet G4/400 in PowerTower Pro 225 (rated 10)
    [3rd entry with better results than previously noted]
  • Sonnet G4/400 in Beige G3 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G3/500 in 7500/100 (rated 9)
  • XLR8 CarrierZIF MPe w/G3 333 ZIF in 8500 (rated 1)

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 4 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 4,095 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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More Reader Game Reviews:
Today's Reader's Rate their Mac Games database updates included more reviews of Star Wars Episode 1 Racer and Descent 3 (3dfx glide and Opengl versions). Total Reviews (all titles): 779. To read game reviews use the search page.
If you've not already done so - Enter a Game review. (If your game title is not in the long listing, select "other game" and note the title in the comments)
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