News Archive for: Wednesday Aug 8, 2007 (Later added items first)
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(New) iMac Software Update 1.0
(Note: Link removed (apple page removed) after v1.0 was replaced by iMac Software Update 1.1.)

"iMac Software Update 1.0 This update provides important bug fixes and is recommended for 20-inch and 24-inch iMac models with 2.0, 2.4, or 2.8GHz processors."

I welcome feedback on this update from new iMac owners. (If you see any pros or cons.)

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Mac Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.1
"About Mac Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.1
The SMC Firmware Update adjusts fan behavior in the Mac Pro.

After this update has completed successfully, your SMC Version will be:
1.7f10 (Mac Pro)
1.5f3 (Mac Pro 8-core)

Note: This update requires a Macintosh formatted disk or partition. If you are starting up using a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) subsystem, you must attach a Macintosh formatted storage device to apply this update.

Some USB and FireWire devices may prevent firmware updates from installing correctly. If you are having trouble installing an update try disconnecting non-essential devices and use only an Apple branded keyboard, mouse and monitor."

FYI: I had two Mac Pro owners using RAID boot drives that said the update applied from them, despite the note from apple above (and confirmation in the past that firmware updates didn't work if run from RAID drives).
I welcome feedback on this update.

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Apple posts Boot Camp 1.4 Beta Update
Apple's Boot Camp page has a 1.4 Beta update.

"Changes in Boot Camp 1.4 beta
Boot Camp 1.4 beta contains several updates and is intended for all new and previous Boot Camp beta users. Boot Camp 1.4 beta includes:
  • Support for keyboard backlighting (MacBook Pro only)
  • Apple Remote pairing
  • Updated graphics drivers
  • Improved Boot Camp driver installer
  • Improved international keyboard support
  • Localization fixes
  • Updated Windows Help for Boot Camp"
  • If you find this update fixes (or breaks) anything, let me know the details. (Include mac model, OS used, graphics card info, etc.)
    I've added this to the previous page on Boot Camp User Reports/Tips/Tests also.

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    Guide to Firmware Update/Fix for Samsung HM250JI 250GB SATA Notebook HD Issues
    The latest mail from a Samsung 250GB (HM250JI) owner with a fix for the issues some MacBook/MacBook Pro (and PC notebook) users have reported in the past with it on the onboard SATA.

    "I recently bought a SAMSUNG HM250JI harddrive. It is 250GB and superfast. Here in Europe at the moment this is the best price-value bargain you can get for your money: 129 Euros for a superfast 250GB drive is simply awesome.
    Only one little "glitch" is there (and I didn't know anything about it before): the drive is not compatible to the MacBook Pro "out of the box", you have to apply a firmware update Samsung provides on their site. Otherwise it is unusually slow, e.g. to install the Mac OS-X System on it would take 24 hours and more.
    (Note - regular readers should remember past reports here on this drive in the last month or two - some had -major- problems with it (unusable/unstable), others said they saw no problems, although some of their Kona benchmark graphs showed severe spikes similar to those some reported by some Windows/HDtune tests. What's odd is drive firmware versions reported did not seem to matter, although one of the later drive database reports linked to a german forum post titled "250GB slowdown on Macmini and Macbook" that said " he changed from SATA 150 to UDMA133-mode via the Samsung-Windows-Tool and the drive is working fine..."-Mike)

    In order to solve this glitch, download Samsung's firmware update from this link: (Samsung FAQ)
    M5S (HM250JI / HM160HJ) Slow Performance & Hangs on boot-screen

    With your OLD drive (the one you want to substitute) still inside the MacBook Pro, do this:

    • Download the zip file from the above location, the file becomes an ISO-file
    • Burn it as an image file with Toast on a CD. Leave the CD in the drive. Now take the old harddisk out and put the Samsung in. Close everything.
    • Restart the MacBook Pro from the previously burnt CD while holding the C-key
    • Automatically, the firmware-update will be done for you (instructions and feedback in white letters on black screen, DOS-style)
    • Switch the MacBook Pro off
    • Start it up again (this time booting from the harddisk) and voila, you can now proceed to install the Mac OS-X to the disk.

    The entire operation took me less than 20 minutes, including the physical substitution of the harddisk. It is worth it: the drive is superfast (read/write transfers between 50 and 55MB/s measured with AJA KONA - 4GB/720x486 8-bit video frame size Read/Write)
    Regarding the KONA test, I get the following results (with appx 97GB used, 135GB free on the drive):
    - 512MB Test size: 48MB/sec Read / 51MB/sec Write
    - 4GB Test size: 44.7MB/sec Write / 48.8MB/sec Reads

    Using 4GB, 1920x1080 10-bit video frame size test:
    - 47.8MB/sec Reads / 45.4MB/sec Writes
    (WD Scorpio 250GB has delivered similar results)

    (he later wrote)
    I had exactly the same problems you describe before applying the firmware patch. It was unstable, showed up and than did not, when I tried to install the System on it it took 2 hours to get the base system done but then it hung, etc etc. I fiddled with it for a night and already had decided to give it back. Only then found the solution on a German Apple forum. All the flaws go away if you apply the patch.

    (BTW - What is the drive's firmware version after the update?)
    Firmware Version is now 008.
    Enjoy, Dirk"

    I've added this as a drive database report here also for future reference.

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    New 20in iMac owner complaints on Display Viewing angle
    " Apparently I'm the only one who notices that the new iMac 20in (lowest cost) has a much less capable display than it's predecessor. I just bought two and have them set up here in Milwaukee. (See below for display panel apple specs of new vs late 2006 iMac 20in and 24in. Also I've gotten another reply to this post on Thursday from a new 20in iMac owner not happy with his display in other areas.-Mike)

    The vertical viewing angle is VERY narrow, just like the display on the 17" iMac making the new model very much less acceptable for many graphics applications. Lower cost but... Hopefully the middle 20" and 24" retain the high-quality displays found in the previous models. (My gut feeling is all the current 20in models would be using the same panel/specs - but as in the past, they may have more than one source/mfr for the LCD panels and some may be better about this than others. Update - see below for apple display specs.-Mike)

    A cynic might opine that Apple saw that it was loosing sales of Mac Pros to iMac 20in & 24in due to the high qulaity of the previous displays and now has "corrected" that problem.
    -Dan N. "

    I remember some complaints on brightness (too bright IIRC) from graphics professionals with early model 24in iMacs, but that may not be an issue in later models. (Note: for LCD displays too bright, try creating a custom colorsync profile and compare changing gamma settings - i.e. 1.8 (typical for Mac) vs 2.2 (typical for TV/PCs). Sometimes the default Display colorsync profile results in too bright/washed out look.)
    BTW - a reader sent a note the Display viewing angle is listed on the mid-2007 iMac Specs page, which shows the current 20in has slightly less viewing angle than the current 24in model and the I've added the previous "late-2006" iMac specs (thanks Karl). I've also included a copy of the Brightness and Contrast specs of the 20in vs 24in. (But from his comments I wonder if the panel he has even meets the current specs.)

      Display:.....Typical viewing angle
    • New 20-inch models - 160° horizontal, 160° vertical
    • Late-2006 iMac 20in - 170° horizontal, 170° vertical
    • New 24-inch model - 178° horizontal, 178° vertical
    • Late-2006 iMac 24in - 178° horizontal, 178° vertical

      Typical brightness:
    • New iMacs: 290 nits (20-inch models); 380 nits (24-inch model)
    • Late 2006 iMacs: 280 cd/m (20-inch model); 400 cd/m (24-inch model)

      Typical contrast ratio:
    • New iMacs: 800:1 (20-inch models); 750:1 (24-inch model)
    • Late 2006 iMacs: 800:1 (20-inch model); 700:1 (24-inch model)

    The UK Apple site iMac specs page earlier this week had 170° for the 20in but has now been changed to match the USA site (160°).
    If any other reader has a new iMac (20in or otherwise) and cares to comment on the display (or other things) send an note.
    BTW - I recently gave a little-used iMac DV SE (G3/400) to a relative as a gift and it really struck me how far the iMacs have come since then. I'd be very tempted to buy a new iMac now... (granted I'd rather have a Mac Pro though...)

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    OWC notes on iMac 2.8GHz std config vs upgrading base 2.4GHz iMac (w/2.8GHz CPU Option, more ram)
    (from site sponsor OWC)

    " Figured this is worth sharing...
    Something easy to miss on the Apple Store section with the new iMacs is that you the 24" 2.4GHZ Model can be upgraded with the 2.8GHz Extreme Processor option for an additional $250.00 for a total of $2049 vs. the $2299 the 'standard' 2.8GHz system starts at. (The 2.4GHz base system w/2.8GHz CPU and 500GB hard drive options added is $2149. You can't select to reduce the std 2GB ram on the 2.8GHz base model)

    The only other difference is the base hard drive (320GB vs. 500GB) and the memory (1.0GB vs. 2.0GB). FWIW, you can actually add the same options to the 2.4GHz model for $500 that make it EQUAL to the standard listing config Apple has for the 2.8GHz, but not my point... :)

    If you want the 24" and want the 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme processor in there, by clicking on the 2.4GHz model selecting that $250 2.8GHz option - you've now got $250 you can spend as you wish.

    (NOTE: the prices mentioned here were accurate when posted on August. 8th, as of mid-August they had increased. Check links for current pricing/availability.-Mike)
    Apple charges $150.00 for a 1.0GB upgrade. OWC charges less than $50 for the same 1.0GB module and we have the 2.0GB modules for only $115. So for less than Apple charges to go to 2.0GB, you can take that iMac (actually any of the new iMacs) up to 3.0GB. Or splurge and for $229 make it 4.0GB (2x2GB). (The Apple CTO cost to go from 1GB to 4GB adds $850, from 2GB to 4GB adds $700!?!, )

    Of additional significance is that all of the models 2.0GHz to 2.4GHz standard config come equipped with 1 x 1.0GB module. So that 2nd slot is open... You can go to 3.0GB without having to remove any module. What's of additional consideration here is that if you pick the 2.8GHz config Apple presents to you, that one comes with 2 x 1.0GB modules installed, so to upgrade you'll have to then remove at least one of the 1.0GB modules.

    We will be doing new Memory tests with the iMacs next week... But these tests on the latest MacBook Pros - which have the same processors, memory and bus ought to be be pretty similar and of good reference in the meantime for the iMac in addition to the MacBooks.
    We've got those XLR8yourMac Reader memory prices and more here of course. :)
    I hope the info is useful... I'd suspect a lot of people who want the 2.8GHz model jump right over to it and may then be missing the better "custom" option path to 2.8GHz available by upgrading from the 2.4GHz base model instead.
    Best Regards,
    Lawrence R. O'Connor
    Other World Computing "

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    Maxon releases CineBench R10 (benchmark)
    Maxon (makers of Cinema 4D) has released the latest version of their cross-platform 3D/rendering benchmark - Cinebench Release 10. They note "The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores".
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    First reactions to iMovie 08 (not good...)
    "Subject: New iMovie is severely lacking.
    I picked up the new iLife 08 suite, and like it for the most part. Most of the additions are subtle, but overall they are nice (and the new sharing functions in iPhoto are very nice.)

    But the new iMovie 08 is absolutely horrible. The timeline is gone. Multiple audio tracks are gone. Video FX are gone. Subtle editing of titles is gone. Themes are gone.

    iMovie 08 is like "Mac Movie Maker 1.0". It has to be one of the worst "upgrades" I have seen come out of Apple in 20 years.

    Now... if Apple had added this editing mode on top of the existing iMovie, it would be a nice addition. But killing the old functionality was a big mistake. In fact, if anyone wants to learn "real" editing, now they need to buy at least Final Cut Express as a starting point.

    Apple leaves one older iLife 06 program on your machine when you install iLife 08: iMovie HD. I wonder why? It's almost an admittance from them that their new program is horrid.

    The Apple discussion forums are already ranting about this one. Check it out.

    (I asked Paul if there was any preference setting to enable a more 'expert' mode and if iMovie 08 Help has any info on timelines for instance.-Mike)
    Nothing, unfortunately. There is an advanced mode but it doesn't add much. Very disappointing release.

    (Note: See Thursday's news for More Debate on iMovie 08, Free download of iMovie 6/HD (for iLife 08 owners))
    Apple's iMovie 08 discussion forum has several threads on the subject and Apple also posted a ton of iLife 08 support/troubleshooting docs yesterday including more than a dozen iMovie 08 related. (BTW - before you buy it also check the iLife 08 system requirements - as iMovie 08 for instance requires a (1.9GHz or faster) G5 or Intel-CPU Mac they say.)

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    NES emulator on the iPhone
    Eddie sent a link to a page on an NES emulator for the iPhone.
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    New Apple support docs (Mac Pro RAID card, new iMacs, iLife 08 apps, .Mac)

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    Other News/Misc. Software Updates

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