News Archive for Tuesday March 24, 2009 (later items first)
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After a week OK, today more Airport Base (w/7.4.1) Dropouts (No Beacon)
I'm about a week behind on mails on AE firmware 7.4.1 update feedback (most writing about problems) but wanted to post a FYI that I've seen the lost network problems I mentioned earlier this month (see this page) - now even with a 7.4.1 firmware updated new simul. dual-base AE base.
After about a week of no (apparent in use) problems, today I've seen over a dozen cases of beacon timeouts (base not transmitting/wireless connection lost) on both a Mac Pro and 2007 AL iMac. (Using same network - 5GHz N only, automatic channel selection, closed network, no MAC filtering, No USB drive/printer connected, 100% transmit power - Airport Base LED still Green, base 15ft away - full bars when it's working). The AL iMac apparently usually auto-reconnected once the beacon was back up (if up again quickly), but the Mac Pro rarely does it seems (from what I've seen in limited use so far). As a shot in the dark, I'm going to try manual channel selection vs automatic on the base and although I'd rather not, I may uncheck the closed network option (not broadcasting the SSID) to see if that helps. But with days usually been the problems cropping up here, not seeing the problem for awhile could have nothing to do with that change.
This time when the Airport network connection was lost, I checked the Console messages (on both machines) and saw repeated instances of "Airport: No Beacon for too long time". Usually leading to dropping the link. Also some instances of "Could not find any preferred networks" and "Broadcast request also failed...". (As I said earlier, even Vista clients can't find a wireless network when this happens, so it's not just a Mac client specific issue.)
(And yes, I've read the AirPort troubleshooting guide but you shouldn't have a wireless network dropout this frequently, nor have to routinely cycle power on bases. Although it covers many things, the problems I and others have seen only started after the 7.4.1 firmware update - network settings, client/base settings, base location, etc. are the same here. Unfortunately wireless reliability is not... far from it.)

As noted here earlier, some affected readers have reverted back to the previous base firmware (i.e. 7.3.2 for pre-Simul. AE bases) in frustration, although some have noted problems doing that.

Had problems w/7.4.1 Base Firmware? Let Apple Know:
So far I've not not reverted back but if I see another day like today I may have to. (I don't want to give up the security fixes in firmware 7.4.1 but miss the reliability I had before the update.) I'm hoping that Apple will get enough complaints on this to issue an update that helps.
If you've seen problems with Airport (or TimeCapsule) firmware 7.4.1, let Apple know about it via these feedback forms. (A direct and detailed report on problems may get more attention than their (not apple tech monitored) forums or a web page post.)

In the past (before 7.4.1/recent updates) there may have been lost beacon instances perhaps but I never noticed them in the logs/console and certainly not anything like the frequency I'm seeing w/updated bases. (It's not been a daily problem of having to reconnect to the network or cycle power on the base - but today is one of the worst. And from what I've seen on the iMac console messages, I wonder how many times it's lost the beacon but auto-reconnected before I noticed a problem.)
As I said before, I ran a v7.3.2 firmware AE N base (gigabit) with the same network settings, etc for about 2 years, on 24/7 with literally no problems like this. I've sent a long/detailed (and polite) message to Apple on this via the feedback form above. If everyone that has seen a problem w/7.4.1 firmware does the same - it may get their attention. (I know some have never seen a problem, or think some tip solved it - but like me, you may go a week or more without any apparent problems only to have it crop up again later.)

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Follow-up from 2009 iMac owner on high speed fan/noise
Mail today from one of the 2009 iMac owners that reported fan speed/noise problems earlier this month. (See down the linked page for his Mar. 12th post with details/fan speeds, temps, etc.)

"I have an update to my saga of the 2009 iMac with loud fans. I called Apple's Support Line (SOS APPLE) and talked to a rep, we concluded there was a hardware problem (unknown what type). He recommended I take it to a service center to have it looked at and repaired.

That day (monday 3-16-2009) I took it in to our local Apple "Service Center". A week passed and I called to see if it was finished and it was. When I picked it up they said there was nothing wrong and was told "that's just how apple products run". I was dumbfounded, especially after Apple said there was a hardware problem.

I took my iMac home and plugged it in. Now the fans ran ALL the time. (Someone else had this problem - I sent info/links on resetting SMC (apple doc suggests that) but he replied it didn't help.-Mike) Not sure why, but the fans didn't kick off at any point. (Apple's doc I linked to earlier here (see page above) says it can happen if the power button is depressed while plugging in AC power for instance, but it could also be a sensor problem (hardware or software) - fans default to max RPM (a fail-safe mode) if not controlled by the OS's thermal mgmt -Mike) I figured that the hardware problem had gotten worse. This morning I went to my original packaging and got my restore disc #2 (applications disc) to run the hardware diagnostics. I ran the diag disc and it found a hardware error (4SNS/1/40000000:T00P-89.875 - if that means anything to us normal people).
(FYI - A reader replied that error is logic board related. I asked for more detailed info - i.e. what component failed the test - I'm guessing a sensor? (used for fan control). I was later told SNS errors are sensor related.-Mike)
I'm not sure how such a easy to replicate error was over looked at the "service center".

Anyway, I called Apple back about an hour ago and the are sending me a new computer. Problem solved (I hope). The technician on the phone said that they definitely want problem computers like this one back because their engineers dissect them to find out if these problems affect the product line.
cheers, jeremy"

So far only two 2009 iMac owners have written about the problem. (I've not checked apple's forums though.) Hopefully these are just random failures and not related to a suspect batch (w/component issue) of logic boards. (Anyone with a new iMac that has constant high speed fan issues (and an SMC reset does not help) should run Apple hardware test/diagnostics to see if there's any "SMS" (sensor) or other related errors reported.)

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Hardware Monitor/Temperature Monitor updates (w/2009 Mac Pro support)
Marcel Bresink, Author of several OS X/Mac utilities wrote this morning he's updated Hardware Monitor (shareware) and Temperature Monitor (freeware) utilites (including support for new Mac Pros).

  • Hardware Monitor v4.7 change list:
    • Added full support for the new Mac Pro series (March 2009). This includes support for processors using Intel® Core™ i7 technology and simultaneous multi-threading.
    • Completed support for the new iMac and Mac mini series (March 2009).
    • The labels for several battery sensors have been changed to be more consistent with the labels of other sensors. Numbering will now begin with 1 instead of 0. Users of previous application versions can update their preferred labels by either browsing through all sensors via Preferences > Sensors and editing names manually, or by selecting the menu item Monitor > Reset Customized Names for All Sensors for automatic replacement of all labels.
    • The detail information windows for G5 processors, x86 processors, battery units and Xserve disk units have been modified to begin numbering of objects with 1 instead of 0.
  • Hardware Monitor Remote (v4.7 notes here)
  • Hardware Monitor Widget Edition (v2.7 notes here)
  • Temperature Monitor (v4.7 notes here)
  • Temperature Monitor Widget Edition (v2.7 notes here)
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Report on problems playing very large MP3 files in iTunes 8.1 (not common)
from a recent reader mail. (I didn't remember it at first but I do have a large MP3 file from years ago that plays fine. See below)

" I have upgraded all my Macs with iTunes 8.1 last week. I had problems on all Macs with very large (self-recorded) MP3 files. The files are very big (up to over 600MB). I'm unable to play all those files with iTunes 8.1. iTunes hangs if you try to play them. The bug persists if you delete the files and load add an other copy to iTunes (the progress adding the files is VERY slow and iTunes hangs if you try to play the added files). With iTunes 8.0 and before I had no problems and they played very well.

Because the files don't have any DRM and the file format itself should be OK, I guess it's simply the size which is a problem for iTunes 8.1. I can play those files with VLC or an other player but iTunes fails on all my Macs.

I hope Apple corrects the bug quickly as it is quite annoying. Maybe there is a work-around: If 8.1 has problems with very large MP3 files and not with large files in other formats, a conversion to AAC or something else could be a solution. I don't have files this large in other formats as my recording software has MP3 output.
Regards, Christian V. "

I'd forgotten about it earlier but I do have a large (18.6MB MP3, 128kbps) file in iTunes here ripped several years ago from a "Stop Smoking" audio CD. It plays fine here in iTunes 8.1 on my AL iMac running OS X 10.5.6 w/all updates. Another reader replied he's played 100MB MP3s OK in iTunes 8.1:

"I've got a couple of large MP3 songs myself - one over 105 megabytes - and they all play fine in iTunes 8.1 I'm running 10.5.6, all updated, on a 2.4ghz Unibody Macbook Pro.
(just for the record I asked about the MP3 bitrate, etc.)
320k - it's basically a full CD in one track, hence the large file size.
For a test, I tried putting two of these full length CD "tracks" together using Garageband - the resulting file was over 300 megabytes using MP3 compression - and iTunes plays it perfectly.

On a separate note, (ref: my post above on beacon dropouts w/updated bases.-Mike) I've also been experiencing some "beacon lost"/ wireless disconnect issues with my Airport Extreme Dual Band with 7.4.1. It was worse when I tried extending the network with two other Airports. I have the other two extending still, but I don't allow any wireless clients to connect to them, only to the main Dual Band. I've also tried using manual channels, using the highest 5ghz channel available. So far, so good. The disconnects are less frequent and less noticeable. (I tried that earlier tonight (set 5GHz to highest channel - 161 IIRC) and it seemed to make things worse (including problems auto reconnecting after wake from sleep) so I went back to Auto channels. I asked if he had a "Closed" network.-Mike) I agree they shouldn't be happening so often and I'll be writing a note to Apple as well.
Thanks again for the site.
Cheers, Yaser H."

I don't know why Christian had problems playing back his large MP3 files but a reader sent notes on Fission that he's used to split large MP3 files:

"Since I don't know Christian V's exact scenario and use, I can only offer Rogue Amoeba's Fission as a possible solution to the gigantic MP3 problem - it will allow you to losslessly split those files into more bite-sized chunk MP3 files. Again I don't know your particular scenario and needs, but Fission has changed the way I use a Marantz PMD-570 for live recording for this single reason. I love it, highly recommend it - but it requires OS X 10.4 or higher.
-Rick"
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Other News/Articles, Misc. Software Updates
(Later added items first)

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