News Archive for: 11/4/2004 Thursday's News (later posted items first)
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ATI Displays 4.4.1 Update
*Update* - Bruno of ATI wrote there's a bug in the ATI Displays 4.4.1 update that prevents 3D/GL overrides from working with eMacs and onboard radeon chip based Macs (i.e. powerbooks, ibooks, etc.). He said a 4.4.2 update will be released to fix that.

(Thursday's news post follows)
Gregory sent a note that there's an ATI Displays 4.4.1 update (dated yesterday). Here's a link to the release notes which you should read before installing. I just got back in and have not compared the release notes to see what's actually changed yet on this update.

    Requirements:
  • Mac OS X version 10.2.8 (Jaguar) or higher
  • Power Macintosh Desktop Computer
  • 128MB of system memory
  • October 2004 ATI RADEON Universal ROM Update or higher for full advanced feature-set

    Supports:
  • RADEON 9800 PRO MAC SPECIAL EDITION
  • RADEON 9800 PRO MAC EDITION
  • RADEON 9200 MAC EDITION
  • RADEON 9000 PRO MAC EDITION
  • RADEON 8500 MAC EDITION
  • RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION
  • RADEON MAC EDITION (AGP & PCI)
    ( Plus all Built-In and Mobile RADEON variations)

If any reader finds this update fixes (or breaks) anything, let me know and include your card/system details. (There's a previous page here on ATI Radeon Sept/Oct. 2004 firmware updates and previous ATI Displays 4.4 update reports, which I need to update for mails recd in the last week or two.)

(I've been out since about 11AM this morning so updates have been light today - sorry. I have to get the townhouse painted/repaired and sold asap or as Chris Farley said, I'll be "living in a van, down by the river"... It's getting really close to ready to show and hopefully in a couple of weeks that will all be over.)

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AlchemyTV DVR 2.2.3
MU lists AlchemyTV DVR 2.2.3. See that page for a list of changes. Several reader reports there mentioned problems with the v2.2.2 installer quitting/crashing so v2.2.3 was released the next day on 11/5. (I've added this update to the previous page here of Alchemy card feedback/tips.)
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Another iMac G5 owner report on MacAlly FW+USB Hub burnout
Yesterday's news had an iMac G5 owner report on a burned out MacAlly FW/USB hub with a recap of the same problem seen with that hub (and a Dlink model) noted in the past here from G5 Tower owners. (reportedly the FW bus voltage although under the spec max, must be too high for those hub designs/components).
Another iMac G5 owner wrote he's seen the same thing:

" I recommended the MacAlly FW+USB Hub to a friend mainly based on the nifty combo design that also seemed to be a great match for his new 20in iMac G5. I helped him install the combo hub and ran into an incident remarkably similar to Todd R's report (here) on 11/3.

The hub was initially hooked up to the iMac G5's USB2.0 - the hub at the time was self-powered using the MacAlly provided power adapter. The USB hub worked fine for a good hour or two, it was only after the Firewire cable hooked up to the iMac did things really start to go haywire.

The hub just stopped - LEDs quickly went out and every attached device lost power. The power adapter LED flickered, dimmed and also went out. The smell of burning plastic was unmissable - it took a few seconds to figure out that the hub itself was culprit. The side of the hub (I think) nearest the power supply jack was absolutely scolding hot. Certainly hot enough to melt the adjacent white plastic case over a roughly one-inch area. There was a slight bulge or bubbling of the case right by the power adapter jack. I didn*t notice any discoloration on the case. Everything was still gleaming white.

We didn't have any success in getting the toasted hub to power up again after that. He did manage to get an exchange from J & R - which was where the hub was originally bought. The replacement did exactly the same as the first. This time we were ready to unplug as soon as things got even slightly warm. Within seconds of attaching to Firewire port on the iMac G5, the hub LEDs dimmed considerably. Same for the power adapter only at this time it was blinking rapidly while dimming. The hub case was very warm in the same region as the first burned-out MacAlly combo hub.

These things need warning labels. We were just fortunate to be in the same room at the time the hub overheated. Had we walked out for a couple of hours, things could have been pretty serious. Based on the two incidents (more than that - G5 tower owners also reported the problem here earlier this year) - I*d strongly advise G5 owners to exercise extra caution when using Firewire ports on the MacAlly FW+USB Hub.
Simon S. "

Actually they should -NOT- use that hub model with a G5 at all based on the reports here in the last few months unless they revise the design to solve this problem. Last night I checked the iMac G5 developer docs (firewire ports section) which notes the FW bus voltage is (nominally) 24V (vs 25V for the G5 tower specs) and although the dev docs say it's regulated, some other sources say it's not. (As I mentioned here back in august, I checked my 2003 G5 tower FW bus voltage - it read 25.06V, but I was not able to monitor the voltage under load or over time using just my voltmeter and two thin probes in a FW cable connector. I can't recommend you try that as it's -very- easy to short the probes.)
Some other macs have lower FW bus voltages than the G5s, but at least one has higher specs as I mentioned when this issue came up originally back in August. (And unlike other macs in the past, the iMac G5's firewire ports have power present even when the system is off apparently.)

If you missed it when this issue came up back in August, the G5 Firewire/USB reports page here has links to the MacAlly and Dlink pages on specific models that have this problem, as well as the past info and details from G5 tower owners. (And blown LEDs in some FW cables were also noted there.) That page also has reports on other FW hubs that did not have this problem.
But if there's any doubt - verify with the mfr of any FW hub you're considering for an iMac G5 or G5 tower that they have tested it with those systems before buying it.

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Feedback on VLC 0.8.0 performance problems
I've still not had time to try the recent VLC 0.8.0 update (too many more important things I have do do here lately) but a reader sent a note about performance problems he's seen:

" Mike, ... I don't know if you're getting others reporting this, but I'm having terrible performance issues with the new version of VLC. (0.8.0 I assume, the last update) On the MDD 1GHz PowerMac at work (512MB RAM, 10.3.5), I'm seeing startup delays of around 6 seconds at 100% CPU utilization before the video starts. Then VLC complains the computer is too slow. The previous version of VLC had no such problems.

So, I ran it at home on my Dual 2GHz G5 with 2GB RAM and 10.3.5. The videos I'm trying to play at DivX and XviD encoded (720x480, 640x480, 720x404) and although my G5 has a much shorter startup delay (about 2 seconds -- still too long), playback stutters and at points stops and starts again. VLC reports that my computer isn't fast enough during those pauses. Not fast enough? There is something seriously wrong with this new version.

Again, the previous version of VLC didn't have these problems. Neither does the current version of MPlayer or the 3ivX CODEC in QuickTime playing the same files.
-Aaron- "

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Updates to Firefox and Thunderbird
MU lists Firefox 1.0 RC2 but no information on what's changed from release candidate 1 there.
They also list Thunderbird 0.9 (mail client) with a long list of changes.
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Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 3 new reports this morning (entries from Wednesday, entries today are added the next newsday morning). Total to date: 9,637. Here's a summary of the reports added today (search by brand/mac model for full reports - latest reports always shown first):

  • Other World Computing G4/1GHz (at 1.2GHz) in (sawtooth?) G4/AGP (rated 2)
  • Powerlogix G3/500 in 8600 (rated 10)
  • XLR8 G4/366 (at 450MHz) in B&W G3 (rated 8)

    (For full reviews of G4 and G3 upgrades compared to stock CPUs, including real world apps/game tests, install info, etc. - see the CPU upgrades page. OC/CPU module articles are on the Systems page.)

(Warning - Overclocking may not be reliable and could lead to hardware failure or corrupted data.) 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/Cardreader Compatibility Database Update Listing
The Drive Compatibility Database had 3 new reports added today. (Entries from Wednesday, entries today are added the next newsday morning.) The database includes reports on Combo DVD-CDRW, CDROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, CDRW, Hard Drives and Removables (tape drive, ORB, ZIP, MO drives, CF/Smartmedia readers, etc.) in all interface types (IDE, IDE RAID cards, Firewire, SCSI, USB, adapters). Current total 13,819 reports. (searching by drive type/brand, mac model etc. listed below will show the full reports, most recent first - does not include updates to previous reports)

    DVD+R/RW + DVD-R/RW Drives:
  • IDE Pioneer DVR-108 in iMac G4 (OS X 10.3)
    (no native burn support yet for the 108 so use Patchburn3 for OS X iApps burn support. iMac G4 take-apart article here)
  • IDE Samsung TS-H542AEN in G4/AGP (OS X 10.3)
    (using toast for burning. no apple apps burn support so I'd suggest using Patchburn3 for OS X iApps burn support. Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers G4 towers up to the Digital Audio Model, Beige G3 MT and B&W G3 Macs)

    xD/SD Media reader/writer:
  • USB Motorola SYN1114A used w/Powerbook G4 (OS X 10.3)
    (listed under "other brand")

You can find full owner reports (latest shown first) by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches). For guides to installing CD/CDRW/DVD drives or Hard drives in many mac models, see the IDE Articles page. The Firewire articles page also has guides on case kits, installing drives, etc.
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. (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.)
(Incomplete entries are deleted. Do not post questions in the database, it's for drive reports not questions on what drive to buy - for that try searching the database for reports from owners of your mac model on the drive type/brand/interface, etc. you're interested in.)

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Video card/System performance database updated
The Video card/system performance database has been updated to include another Mac Splinter Cell benchmark result (Dual 2.5GHz G5 w/6800Ultra at 1600x1200 using a pre-release version of 10.3.6)
. You can post your own system/video card results of the various tests listed there or search to compare results from other systems/CPU/graphics cards combinations.
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Recent Reviews and Articles:
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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