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News Archive for Thursday Oct. 30th, 2003Return to Accelerate Your Mac!

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News stories of Oct. 30th, 2003: (later posted items first)
Apple posts Warning on Firewire 800 drives (w/Oxford922 chip/1.02 firmware)
Michael Caplinger sent a link to an Apple page with a warning to Firewire 800 hard drive users with Oxford922 bridge chips (the most common used in FW800 drives):

"A special message to Firewire 800 disk drive users"
Apple has identified an issue with external FireWire hard drives using the Oxford 922 bridge chip-set with firmware version 1.02 that can result in the loss of data stored on the disk drive. Apple is working with Oxford Semiconductor and affected drive manufacturers to resolve this issue which resides in the Oxford 922 chip-set.

In the interim, Apple recommends that you do not use these drives. To stop using the drive, you should unmount or eject the disk drive before doing anything else. Please check this web page for further updates."

Update: OWC wrote at 3AM Friday night that they've posted a firmware update (page includes illustrated guide to apply it) for their FW800 drives to v1.05. Wiebetech also sent an PR note they have posted a firmware update, but only included a link to their base website URL (don't click on the red note in their main page - that just downloads a PDF copy of the press release!. Their Tech Support page has the download link for the updater.) Lacie also has posted a firmware update for their D2 drives.

I wonder if this warning is related to the reported data loss some had with 10.3 and FW drives. (I don't remember now if there were some reports on FW400 drive problems also, which usually have an Oxford911 bridge.) Michael is the reader that said earlier today he had seen no problems with 10.3 with various towers and servers using a total of 10 OWC Firewire hard drives. I asked him if he could check Apple System Profiler on one of his FW800 drives to see what firmware version/revision it had:

" I thought of checking it after I emailed you. The firmware field is blank!

    OXFORD IDE Device:
      Capacity: 186.31 GB
      Manufacturer: Macpower
      Model: OXFORD IDE Device
      Removable Media: No
      Detachable Drive: Yes
      BSD Name: disk1
      OS9 Drivers: Yes
      Speed: 800 Mb/sec Speed
      Unit Spec Id: 24734
      Firmware Revision:
      Unit Software Version: 10483

I'm hoping since i haven't had any problems yet that I'm ok, but I'm going to keep the drive off except when i need it. Fortunately I have agood backup of it, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if i get unlucky.
Mike "

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Reader Tip/Fix for 'Rom too Old' Graphics card problems in 10.3
(Update - although he didn't say what video card he had, one reader wrote to say that the tweak below "...rendered my Dual 867 G4 unbootable. I had to reinstall Panther." - I wrote to ask what graphics card (or cards) he was using. Since it's a nvram mod, I wonder if he mistyped the command. I don't know why a nvram tweak would be fixed by an OS re-install (vs clearing nvram). If any other readers using an old graphics card with 10.3 problems see anything similar - let me know, and include details in reports. Thanks.)

I don't have any Macs running 10.3 with an old graphics card (3dfx, older ATI card, etc. also may work w/IXMicro cards per a later reader report) - but a reader sent a note with a tip for the 'rom too old' error reported previously by users of some older graphics cards:

" Mike,
Read this on the Apple Discussion board and tried it with a 3dfx Voodoo3 2000.

Type this in the 10.3 Terminal:

    sudo nvram boot-args="romndrv=1"
    (enter admin password)

This worked on my Quicksilver G4, running OS X 10.3, ATI Radeon 7500 (stock) and the 3dfx card.
-David "

I assume he had the problem of only 640x480/256 color mode before and asked if this resulted in more resolution/color depth options and he said yes. (But it won't add 3d/opengl acceleration for the 3dfx cards - there are no drivers for them in OS X.) He also said this is reported to help older ATI cards with the problem also (such as the B&W G3 RagePro/VR cards perhaps) but I don't have the Apple forum thread link to see what others reported on using it.
Note - one reader with a QS mac and mixed old and new cards said this caused a boot problem (no other reports of this - and several that it did help.) If that happens and you want to clear the Nvram (undo the above) - Here's how to reset the NVRAM on new world ROM macs:

  • boot the mac with the Command + option + O (not zero) + F keys held down to get the the console
  • Enter the following commands (press enter after each)
  • The mac will reboot after the last command entered. This clears settings like startup disk so you need to check control panel settings, etc. (X key at boot will usually boot to the OS X system)

If any other readers that had problems with older graphics cards try this tip let me know if it helps. (Include system and graphics card details in reports - thanks).

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First Reader feedback (problems) with Airport Extreme 5.2 Firmware Update
As I mentioned earlier tonight, I applied the Airport 3.2 update but do not have an Apple Airport Extreme base station to test the included 5.2 firmware update. Hopefully this first reader report isn't common - but posting it as a FYI.

" Hey Mike,
Just a warning for everyone here at accelerate, I updated tonight My G5 to the new 3.2 update and my extreme base station to the 5.2 Firmware and lost any internet connection that I had. I had to hook up with ethernet to my dsl modem and revert the base station to 5.1.3 Firmware. Luckily it was still on apples download page.
Here is what it did.
After updating to the 5.2 Firmware the Airport extreme hub told in Airport admin utility that I had a WAN hooked to my ethernet port and an ethernet network hooked to my WAN port on the airport extreme hub. I dont know how it got the two ports screwed up but it did. The only fix was to revert to 5.1.3 firmware.. Way to go apple!
Shawn F. "

If any other AE base owners have applied the 5.2 firmware, let me know if you've seen any problems.

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Airport 3.2 Software Update (includes 5.2 Firmware for Airport Extreme Base)
(Update - see the later reader report above on problems with th 5.2 base firmware - not sure that is common as I have no AE base.)
Running software update under 10.3 today shows an Airport 3.2 Software Update. (A reader running Jaguar said he did not see the update - it may only be for 10.3 currently.) Here's the info from the SU panel:

" This software update provides improved AirPort wireless networking software, and is recommended for all users with an AirPort Extreme enabled computer or an AirPort Extreme base station.

New AirPort Extreme Base Station Features
This software provides support for the Wi-Fi Protected Access(tm) (WPA) specification for the AirPort Extreme base station and AirPort Extreme client. Please see AirPort help for more information on WPA. Also included in this release is v5.2 of the AirPort Extreme base station firmware. Instructions for updating the base station firmware can also be found in AirPort Help.

The AirPort Extreme base station and AirPort Extreme client are Wi-Fi Certified(tm) for 802.11b and 802.11g interoperability. "

I updated the only system I have with an Airport Extreme card (the G5) but I'm not using an AE base station (using a 802.11b Siemens wireless base/router).

While on the subject of software updates in 10.3 - one thing I have noticed is that downloading updates via SU in 10.3 on the G5 here seems really slow compared to 10.2.8 on the same machine - and even the PB G4/800 (w/std 802.11b Airport card) seems faster for downloading updates. Normally downloading files off web pages, etc. has good performance on the G5, it just seems like SU crawls at downloads on that machine. At first I thought it may be just my ISP or the source server being overloaded but it's been a consistent thing in SU on the G5 in 10.3 (not much better than 56K modem D/L speeds per the progress bar). Probably not typical, but after seeing it again on this update I thought I'd mention it. If it was due to my (non-apple) 802.11b base use with the G5's Airport Extreme card, then I'd think it would be slow for all downloading which it isn't.

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Jaguar owners wonder when Security Fixes will be released
And while on the subject of Apple software updates - there's a lot of Jaguar owners that are upset that there's been no security updates for 10.2.x to address the security issues fixed by 10.3 and noted recently by security sites such as this page.

I've received more mail on the Firewire drive problem with 10.3 - one reader noting he had 10 OWC Firewire drives (many with journaling already enabled) that had no problems updating to 10.3, but some other readers did. Many that noted no problems did not have the drive connected during a 10.3 update. (Update - see the later news item on the Apple warning to FW800 drive owners that I suspect is related to this issue.) I'm trying to get some work done on checking out OWC's 1GB RAM modules for G5s (8 on loan) and work on a fanless Cube 1GHz CPU upgrade, so replies to mail and news updates have been light.

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Toast 6/6.01 Bug w/10.3 - Can't select FW Drive as Source for Disc Copy
" Mike,
After a call to Roxio support, I learned that my inability to select my external firewire CDRW as the source drive for a disc-to-disc copy is a known bug caused by 10.3. They say an update is on the way.
Steve "

Although Roxio still hasn't released the 6.01 update yet for Toast 6.00 owners (that added BUP support with DVD-Rs for Multi-format DVD burners) , I verified this bug exists in Toast 6.01 under 10.3 using my Firewire CDRW drive (Liteon 40125S). (The Liteon drive model is fully burn supported in 10.3 with iTunes, etc..)

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More on older Graphics Card Problems in 10.3/Tip on removing RAM
(UPDATE - see the Friday Oct. 31st news page for a partial fix for the Geforce4MX/2MX issues seen with some older G4 towers and 10.3/7B85.)
I've had some Geforce MX card owners with the black screen problem in 10.3 say that removing installed RAM to 256MB or less solved it. (Not a good workaround however since performance is impacted with less RAM, but at least they had a working display.) There's a thread in Apple's panther forums on this issue they said but I don't have the direct link.
Those comments reminded me of a bug in an older OS X 10.1.x version (10.1.3 I think but can't remember now), where if you had 1GB+ installed RAM, there were OpenGL problems with some Nvidia cards.

There have been many 10.3 user problem reports (black screens or limited to 640x480/256 colors) from owners of Geforce4MX cards (at least in pre-quicksilver macs and I've had one Geforce2MX problem report - although that card is working fine in my Cube with 10.3 so far), older ATI graphics cards (pre-rage128 series in general) and 3dfx cards (which never had OS X 3d/acceleration but were usable for basic 2D in the past). The issue I believe is no driver is present or being loaded for these cards. Some owners reported the "too old" firmware error in the console/verbose single user mode. Yesterday's news had a note/link to an Apple Panther FAQ doc that mentions.

" ...If your video card's ROM (or firmware) is older than March 2003, Mac OS X 10.3 will not load the ROM driver during start up. Instead, it will try to load a newer software driver file if one is present "

(Update - see the later posted NVRAM tip above for the "ROM too old" issue.)
For RagePro card owners, I don't know if it would apply to 10.3, but there's a past page here since 10.1.5 (last updated for 10.2.8) on RagePro Driver Loading Tips that helped performance with some with previous OS X versions.

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Higher Capacity PowerBook G3 Batteries
Sponsor OWC sent a press release on their Newer Tech line of higher capacity Powerbook G3 batteries for the PB G3 Lombard (1999) and Pismo (2000) models with up to 37.5% higher capacity than the original battery. Here's a clip from the press release:

"Newer Technology, Inc. and Other World Computing (OWC) today introduced an extra high-capacity NuPower replacement battery compatible with the PowerBook G3 FireWire (2000/Pismo) and PowerBook G3 Lombard (1999/Bronze Keyboard) models.

Utilizing the latest Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cell technology, this new 6600mAH PowerBook battery provides 37.5 percent more capacity than the Apple stock battery for PowerBook G3 Lombard and FireWire models and is available immediately for $159.95.

"With our extra high-capacity NuPower battery, Pismo and Lombard owners can go longer than ever without plugging in," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "If sales of our G4/500MHz processor upgrade for the PowerBook Pismo are an indication, the Pismo is still extremely popular. At some point, you either want an extra battery or need to replace one, and our NewerTech batteries offer the longest battery run times you can get!"...

Per the comments, these are higher capacity models than the ones originally announced on September 16th. (That PR also mentioned higher capacity batteries for the Titanium PB G4 models.)

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Pioneer (retail) DVR-105 owner notes 10.3 solved drive spindown/kernal panics
A reader with a DVR-105 drive said that 10.3 solved his drive spindown/sleep/kernel panics (if a disc left in the drive for long periods of idle time). The drive sleep issue was pretty common with some models of retail Superdrives (lots of DVR-A05 aka 105 owners noted this - some thought the 1.33 firmware helped). The usual tips were disable drive sleep in Energy Saver and use a script to disable all drive sleep, although I did not see the problem with a retail 105 drive (1.33rom) in a MDD G4 using only the Energy Saver settings.

" Mike,
... Panther build 85 solved the Pioneer DVR-A05 (acutally DVR-105 per ASP) spindown kernel panic issue for my Quicksilver 2001 867 MHz system. In the past (both with Jag and with several earlier Panther betas) the spindown kernel panic persisted. I had to turn drive sleep off and use pmset spindown 0 to prevent them.
But when I rebuilt my machine with Panther, I forgot to enable these settings... and nothing bad happened! I've left audio, video and data discs in and have been unable to induce any problems. I even burned my first video DVD in iDVD last night just to check for the problem you mentioned with spindown during rendering. (i.e. disc in the drive during hours of encoding time where the drive is idle) Everything worked perfectly. I hope this holds true for others as well. Thanks for a great site,
Darrell K "
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Article on some 10.3 users reporting Firewire drive data loss
(Note - see the later news item above on the Apple fw800 drive warning page.)
Marco Migliari sent a link to a Macworld UK story mentioning some 10.3 users have seen data loss with Firewire drives during a 10.3 install or reboot, referring to Apple discussion forum topics on the problem. I've used a portable Firewire 400 case with 10.3 intermittently in the last few days. However it was not connected during the install - but has been during reboots and from a cold boot after 10.3 was already installed). I have seen no problems so far.
More details would be found by reading the actual Apple discussion forum threads (10.3/panther section), but there's no links at all in the article (typical..). I searched apple's (USA) site for "firewire data loss" and found only 2 threads - one with only 1 reply and another mentioning that File Vault security and firewire drives. I then searched for just "firewire" and again didn't find any threads with a large number of problem reports - but a reader sent a link to a thread there on a FW drive failure with many replies.
Here's a reader that said he saw the problem with a drive connected during a 10.3 install:

" Hi,
1. Thursday night, October 23rd, used Carbon Copy Cloner with OWC FW800 Mercury Elite Enclosure with two partitions on the installed Maxtor 200G to clone:
  a. 40GB of 80GB 5400 15" 1.25GhZ Aluminum PB, FW 800 cable.
  b. 9 GB of 10GB internal and 30GB of 40GB external hard drive, FW 400 cable.

2. Friday night, October 24th, with the External Firewire still attached to the iBook:
  a. Clean install of Panther.
  b. Automatic reboot gave a message to the effect, "unreadable drive attached."
  c. Same message on Flat Panel 800 iMac, Firewire 400.
  d. Same message when installed as an internal drive on a G4 PowerMac.

.....Other than that, everything is normal around my house ... as I enter the second week of waiting for Apple to return my white spotted 15" AL PowerBook...

And this reader mentioned a thread at Ars.

" This may or may not be related, but one of the posters on the Ars thread relating to automatic defragging in Panther speculated that this feature may be the cause of the FireWire drive failures.
Just thought I'd pass it along.
Go here. (search for River-wind)
Randy B. "

I wonder if the 10.3 default journaling may have been a factor.
If any readers have personally seen data loss with 10.3 and a firewire drive, let me know the details. (System, drive/case bridge, etc.)

I don't know if it's firewire drive related - but did have this recent mail from a reader;

" We have experienced data loss on two separate computers: one Power Mac G4 and one PowerBook G4, both have the Journalized HFS enabled.
The data loss extends (at minumum) to: iChat prefs, Address Book contacts, Keychain, iTunes playlist, and now an Excel file. The Disk Utility reports no problems and there were no instances of data loss when running 10.2.8. Have any other users reported similar problems?
David A. "

If any other readers have seen this problem let me know. (Use the news link above but add a descriptive subject line.)

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More 10.3/PCI Quartz Extreme feedback
Although the last report on enabling PCI Quartz Extreme noted chopy dock performance (using 33MHz PCI slot), a B&W G3 owner with Radeon card in the 66MHz PCI slot said he's been happy overall with the performance of the mod in 10.3:

" ... I've got a G3 B&W (Rev 1, was 300MHz stock), with 640MB Ram, an OWC G4 450 Processor upgrade, Sonnet Tempo ATA/66 PCI IDE Card connected to Maxtor 120GB drive, with an ATI Radeon 7000 32MB video card in the 66MHz PCI slot. (PC Version that was flashed to work on Mac)

On a whim I decided to install the PCI Extreme 2.1 mod, and immediately also saw speed gains in the finder, roughly 10-15%. Finder quicktime previews play beautifully, standalone quicktime plays fine, and so do AVI movies in full screen using MPlayer. Sheet dropdown and menus are nice and fluid, and tests done with Quake 3 Arena show the video and scrolling to be more seamless than before the hack was applied (intermitted choppiness resulted before the hack with stock settings in Quake). iTunes visuals are smooth, so it appears the OpenGL performance has been enhanced overall. All apps seem to load a lot faster now in general.

No noticeable slowdowns, except for the dock. I did notice it was a little more choppy on the zoom, but it's not really an issue for me.
I will keep the hack applied and update with any problems...or other noticeable improvements!
Thanks for the great site!
Damon G"Using the 66MHz PCI bus is a plus rather than the 33MHz PCI bus (which in the B&W G3 had a history of lower than expected performance).

I'll add his comments soon to the previous page of PCI Quartz Extreme mod feedback.

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Ars thread on 10.3 Auto Defrag
" There is a thread on Ars Technica that I thought your readers may find interesting. Apparently, Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) has automatic defrag capability at the kernel level. What's nicer still is that there is a mechanism that moves certain types of frequently used files to the fastest part of the disk.
Engineering at its finest. Scroll up a bit to get the total story. Gotta wonder about the marketing folks at Apple sometimes.
Ars forum thread.
-K "
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Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 4 new reports this morning (reader entries from yesterday; entries later today are added the next newsday morning). Total to date: 8,848. Here's a summary of the update added today (search by brand/mac model for full reports - latest reports always shown first):

  • Newer Tech G3/240MHz in 8100/80 (rated 10)
  • Powerlogix G4/1.4GHz in (gigabit) G4/AGP (rated 9)
  • PowerLogix BlueChip G3/900MHz in Powerbook G3 2000 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G4/1.4GHz in (quicksilver) G4/AGP (rated 10)
    (My reviews of G4 and G3 upgrades w/apps/game tests, install info, etc. are linked here. 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 6 new reports added (reader entries from yesterday; entries today are added the next newsday morning). The database includes reports on Combo DVD-CDRW, CDROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, 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, adapters). Current total 11,605 reports. (searching by drive type/brand, mac model etc. listed below will show the full reports, most recent first)

    CDRW Drives:
  • IDE LG GCE-8520B (52x24x52x) in Beige G3 (OS 9.2)
    (no itunes burn support, problems noted that may not be related the drive - loss of all CD support.)
  • IDE TDK 4800B (didn't note speed rating) in Dual G4 DDR (OS X 10.3)
    (no native burn support - 10.3 can't use modfied device plugin files from 10.2.x)
    (Illustrated CD drive install guide here covers G4 towers up to the Digital Audio Model, Beige G3 MT, B&W G3 and 8600/9600 Macs)

    Combo DVD-CDR Drives:
  • Exp. Bay Matshita UJDA710 (8x4x24x +8x DVD-ROM) in PowerBook G3 2000 (OS X 10.3) (no native iApps burn support, noted drive will not mount CDs anymore, not sure if a laser failure or if the slave set drive is a factor. I suggested trying to boot to os 9 and see if the drive will function to rule out a hardware failure.)

    DVD+R/RW + DVD-R/RW Drives:
  • IDE Sony DW-U14A in G4/AGP (OS X 10.3)
    (no native iApps burn support - 10.2.x plugins in FAQ are not for use with 10.3)
  • Firewire (IDE drive in FW case) Pioneer DVR-A06 (DVR-106) used w/B&W G3 (OS X)

    DVD-ROM Drives:
  • IDE Toshiba SD-M1712 (16x/48x) in Umax S900 using IDE PCI card (OS X) (noted poor DVD playback, since the player is a software decoder i'd expected that on an older Mac even with a g3 CPU upgrade.)

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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Recent Reviews and Articles:
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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News pages from 1, 2 and 3 years ago
(These older pages in some cases have off-site links that may no longer work. Remember comments were accurate only on the date posted regarding producs/availability/pricing, etc.)

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