News Archive for: Tuesday December 5th 2006 (later added items first)
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DuelAdapter - ExpressCard to PCMCIA Adapter
RTmac posted a link to Duel Systems' DuelAdapter "designed to connect the latest generation of ExpressCard notebook computers with existing PCMCIA cards." The page says OS X is supported (device requires a driver) but a note down the page in bold says "The DuelAdapter is currently under test. Production units will be available late-2006". (It's already pretty late in 2006 though...) I didn' t write them to ask when it will ship (and pricing, retail dealers, etc.) but there's contact email links on the page if you're interested.
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Reader Feedback on Powerboost for iChat AV
Last night I posted a reader's request for feedback from users of Powerboost for iChat AV (see the linked page for more details, system requirements, FAQ, etc. but the vendor says "PowerBoost is an add-on for iChat AV 3 that makes multi-party conferences possible from any Mac.")
Here's the initial feedback from users (updated 2:50PM Eastern):

"My whole family uses PowerBoost so that we can have 3-way iChat AV conferences. Since none of us have a computer that meets the minimum specs for 3-way conferencing, we each needed a copy. (Although I've tested it with and can confirm that if any of the participants is capable of supporting 3-way conferencing, they don't need PowerBoost to join in.) Since they offer a multi-license discount, it wasn't too expensive to get the licenses.

Installation is dead simple and the program requires no configuration. It just plain works. There's an optional PowerBoost meter that tells you something about how hard it's working, but you don't have to have it open, nor does it serve much purpose except to confirm that you installed it correctly. As far as I can tell, it gets things working by simply reducing the resolution of the video so that the computer can keep up with it.

We do occasionally have problems connecting, but extensive troubleshooting and testing has proven these to be iChat problems, not PowerBoost problems. iChat's just finicky, especially when one or more participants is low on bandwidth or behind a NAT router/firewall.
-Nik "

" I used to use it on my 12" PB G4 1GHz 768MB RAM and it ran fine. I used the iSight camera. I could initiate a three way call. It was very processor intensive, so you pretty much could not do anything else on the computer. The software comes with a utility that shows how much processor power is being used. But in general, yes it works.
-Rick "

" I am using PowerBoost for multi-chat on my PowerBook G4 15" DL SD 1.67GHz, 2GB RAM, OS 10.4.7.
I have joined up to 4-way video chat and have hosted a 3-way video chat. Overall performance is pretty good; PowerBoost's indicator bar will consistently show that it is operating at maximum capacity.
I run into connection problems quite often, but this seems to be generally the case with iChat AV not getting enough bandwidth or firewall issues. Reducing QuickTime's transport speed sometimes helps.
I am using their iChatUSBCam software to run a Logitech QuickCam for Notebooks Pro. It would be much more convienent if I had a MacBook Pro, but this setup still gives me a completely portable video conferencing solution.
Regards,Tom "

" G4 933 Quicksilver Tower, 1.5GB RAM, iSight
Works great. Alows me to host multi-person chats which was not supported on my machine with iChat alone.
(One reader implied you had to install it on all systems you want to VC with, which didn't make sense to me and I didn't see it mentioned at the vendor's site, so I asked Russell-Mike)
Not in my experience. I use Powerboost, but my friend (who has a more powerful machine) does not. Either one of us can host a multi-person chat.

iGlasses (by the same mfr) is also a great little piece of software. They always send out updates and reply quickly to questions and feature requests.
Russell "

This reader sent his opinion but hasn't actually used the software:

" No. For good reasons.
Because it would require installation on all machines involved. (this is not a requirement - see user notes above-Mike)
Trying to get things right on 2 machines over a distance is hard enough. Adding 3 or more machines, and the problems increase exponentially.

Eventually, the effort:reward ratio diminishes drastically such that the perceived cost of effort needed + cost of software is much < than the cost of picking up a telephone instead.
And then Apple's releasing a new version of iChat with Leopard, early next year. If just one of your counterparts upgrades to Leopard, then that increases the amount of troubleshooting for everyone.
Try which IMHO is as simple as it gets. Then try multi- party audio iChat which is not too bad. Then try Skype + video. Just to get a free taste of potential issues with relying on 3rd party software for video chatting.
I suppose the answer is: try it, (they have a trial version) but only if all the people you want to chat to are really really determined to get it working. (Nothing is a sure thing anymore but from the reports above from users, it doesn't seem like that's an issue really-Mike) Otherwise, save your dollars for a faster computer and bandwidth (for native iChat AV multi conferencing).
-Chuan "

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Reader Request: Quiet internal Hard Drive for MacBook Pro
(Updated w/more feedback below. I've also added them to the drive database on Dec. 6th.)
A reader with a first-generation MacBook Pro wrote complaining about his original equipment 100GB Toshiba MK1032GSX hard drive that "emits a constant mid-to-high pitched noise that is loud enough to be heard several meters away in a silent room". (I assume he put the drive to sleep to confirm it was the source of the noise, and not a system fan, inverter, etc. - he later said yes, it was the drive.)
He's looking to replace it with a 100-120GB (SATA) drive but wanted to get some feedback from other MacBook Pro owners that have upgraded to a drive that is virtually silent. (A lot of the drive db reports didn't comment on drive noise he said - I assume that's because for them they didn't find it an issue - most are more likely to complain about fan noise or inverter noise, etc. but noise tolerance varies by user, what's not an issue for some is for others.) There were some past comments on drive noise (drive power saving mgmt related IIRC) with some WD Scorpio drives and some early Momentus drives IIRC (although I've used a Momentus IDE 100GB and 120GB in portable FW cases and didn't find noise an issue, but I didn' t use them inside a notebook or for many hours on end in a totally silent room).
Anyway, if you've upgraded your MacBook Pro with a drive that's very quiet, let me know the details/drive model, etc. (please include drive model number.) Thanks.
Update - here's a few replies today:

" I've upgraded a few MacBooks at work with Seagate Momentus 7200rpm drives (Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS) and they been virtually silent, but that's not why I'm writing. I just wanted to add to the discussion that my MacBook has a TOSHIBA MK1032GSX 100GB stock drive in it and I have never heard the hard drive, ever. It is completely silent. So I'm not sure if I should consider myself lucky, or if the original questioner should maybe try to get a warranty replacement.
-Jeff N. "

" I upgraded my Macbook with the Seagate 120GB 5400rpm Momentus ST9120821AS. I have to put my ear to the keyboard to tell if it's even running.
Speed is better too, which I didn't expect; about 5MB/sec faster than the stock drive in xBench even after filling the drive up to about 90GB.
-Adam "

" The stock drive in my MacBook Pro, a (100GB) ST9100824AS is almost completely silent, quieter than any previous drive I have had in a notebook. Since it is quiet, it is much easier to hear all the other noises my MacBook Pro makes (inverter whine when on battery, the fan when it occasionally ramps up).
(name withheld by request) "

" I have upgraded my MacBook with a Seagate 100gb 7200rpm drive (Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS) and it is quiet as all heck! Start up time and daily running operation is greatly improved shown by using xbench. Good luck in your search.
-Jim C."

" Well, mine's PATA, not SATA, but the stock 100 GB 7200 RPM Seagate ST910021A in my 2005 PowerBook is dead silent (in a room with no noise and two powerbooks, I can hear the fan or disk on my 2001 TiBook whispering at idle but I can't hear anything from the new 'book). Unlike the Hitachi on the TiBook, which makes some noise when I use it, I almost never (maybe never) hear anything from the Seagate, even after a year of hard use.

The manufacturers site claims "QuietStep ramp load technology Enables whisper-quiet load/unload acoustics". Their ST910021AS would appear to be the SATA version of this; the data sheet for both claims 2.5 bels idle and 2.9 bels under "performance seek". On a couple of charts 29 decibels is a "library", and I'd have to agree. If anything, it's quieter.
-Ken "

One reader said he's used Dynamat on hard drives (sound proofing sheets, popular for cars for instance although they also sell a Computer Kit for lining the inside of cases) but I'm guessing he used it on desktop drives, not drives in notebooks. Even if there was clearance for some of that inside I don't think I'd want to add another insulating layer on a drive inside a notebook.

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More notes on ExpressCard Sleep Problems w/10.4.8
(follow-up to posts in Friday's news)

" Hi Mike, I rarely put my MacBook Pro to sleep but since updating to 10.4.8, I'm experiencing the same sleep issue as Marlon with his NitroAV FW800 Expresscard.
The screen would go blank but the MBP does not sleep--the sleep indicator would remain dimly lit until I force power-off the Mac.

I should add that if I unmount the drives connected to the SIIG FW800 ExpressCard and select "Power off Card" from the card menu bar icon, the system can sleep and wake up successfully. Just need to eject and reinsert the card if I need to use FW800 peripherals.
Regards, Eric "

A MBP owner with an eSATA card (not bootable he said) didn't see the problem:

" I have the same (MBP) model as Marlon, and use the Firmtek Expresscard/34 eSata card, and have no trouble with wake from sleep. One difference is that this card is not bootable (unfortunately).
(I asked Lars if he was running OS X 10.4.8. (As some mentioned they thought the problem appeared after updating to 10.4.8.)-Mike)
Yes, 10.4.8. I just tested it to be sure, by putting the computer to sleep from the Apple menu, and waking it from sleep. I got the pulsing light, heard the external drive spin down, and then woke the computer from my external USB keyboard. So all seems fine for me.
-Lars "

I've added these to the previous posts in Friday's news.

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G5 Tower Random Shutdowns page updated (again)
I've added 2 more reader reports to the G5 Tower Random Shutdown page. (One user with Applecare noted they replaced the logic board and CPUs.) BTW - as mentioned on the page several times before (but missed by some) - If you have this problem and are using an UPS, test with the G5 plugged directly into an outlet (not the UPS).
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