Posts in category apple - page 13

Apple’s Showtime and the disappointing iTV

Today’s Apple Showtime event showed some great products, and some disappointing ones.

iPods

The tiny new iPod Shuffle G2, the fantastic looking iPod Nano G2 with the return of the iPod Mini aluminum casing and 24 hour battery life and 8GB flash option weren’t to be sniffed at.

The iPod got… downloadable $4.99 games and an 80GB model. No sign of the long sought-after wide-screen touch-screen model with the virtual wheel.

iTunes

The expected downloadable movie announcement was made with movies at 640×480 – that’s 4x their existing TV-show/music video size and now on-par with the resolution of PC’s circa the late 80’s.

Job advises us this is “near DVD” which is kinda true DVD being 720×480/576. DVD given good quality source material, careful encoding and decent equipment can look pretty fine even blown up to 120″ on your wall.

What I couldn’t find out thought was how they intend on fitting widescreen movies into their distinctly non-wide-screen resolution.

DVD resolution is a little wider but more importantly it has an anamorphic mode where rather than waste pixels on the black bars the picture is stretched vertically before being encoded on the disk and then stretched horizontally on the way out of your DVD player – much the same way as widescreen movies were shot on non-widescreen film albeit with anamorphic lenses.

Jobs didn’t elaborate on whether they’ll have such a mode or something better…

Thanks to the complex licensing agreements between studios worldwide movies are a US exclusive so the rest of the world will have to sit and wait anyway.

iTunes 7 & Software Update

Adds support for movie & iPod G4 game downloads and the user interface may well be a taste of things to come in Leopard. Flat blue gradients where aqua bubbles previously existed (equalizer, scroll bars).

Also introduced is a couple of new ways to view your local library using high quality rendered album cover art (like FrontRow) and a sort of mixed up mode (like Windows Media Player 11).

It’ll also now helpfully grab album art for albums you ripped from your own CD’s and show the breakdown of the disk usage of your pod by content type (movie/art/music).

What is interesting is iTunes 7 introduces “Apple Software Update” which looks curiously like it’s Mac OS X counterpart…

iTV

Towards the end of the announcement came the one last thing…. code-named iTV (I can’t imagine they’ll get the rights to this name in the UK where ITV is one of the big TV stations).

The announcement itself was a little unusual – it’s for a new hardware product they haven’t finished and won’t be available for months. I can only conclude they are airing the product to help shift downloadable movies with users knowing they can play it back on the big-screen.

I’m sure neither Apple or the studios want another Sony UMD disaster.

When I heard the words “Mac Mini” and “TV” I thought this could be the answer to my home entertainment hub… alas no. Rather than extend to the mini with support for DVB-S/T/C or UHF tuners and PVR functionality they abandon the hard disk entirely… and the DVD-ROM drive to boot.

Which leaves iTV with no TV support in the traditional sense. If you want content it’ll have to come from iTunes and unless Jobs and his pals add illegal DVD ripping that means buying everything again from the iTunes Store, sticking with your DVD player or buying a more capable media center.

Would the iPod have been such a success if you couldn’t link in to your existing content but had to pay for all your music again?

Very doubtful.

The final icing on the cake is that the box will set you back $299. That’s exactly the same price as the Xbox 360 which will also stream media from a host computer over a network. The difference being that the 360 will play DVD’s and let you play state of the art games for that price.

iTV? More like Apple Cube 2.

[)amien

Supplementing Boot Camp 1.1

This article is now out of date. Check Apple’s Boot Camp page for up-to-date information.

Boot Camp, for those that don’t already know, is a set of tools and drivers for getting Windows XP up on your Mac. The various components are:

  • BIOS compatibility module for the EFI firmware (supplied as part of the Firmware update on older Mac’s)
  • Boot Camp Assistant – Mac OS X app you download providing partitioning and the XP drivers/tools
  • Drivers for various parts of the hardware normally OEM brand bar the iSight driver
  • AppleTime.exe to adjust the system clock because OS X stores GMT whilst XP stores local time
  • AppleKeys to provide the much needed Fn-key compatibility for brightness/delete etc.
  • Brightness to provide OS X-like screen brightness adjustment
  • Control Panel extension to choose the start-up disk

Which is all well and good but there are still a couple of drivers missing – notably for the infra-red/remote, back-lit keyboard on MacBook/Pro and some of the hardware monitoring etc.

Back-lit keyboard for MacBook & MacBook Pro

Loosing the back-lit keyboard can be more than an annoyance if you often have to work in darkened conditions. There are two tools available you can try, both sit in the system tray and let you configure the lighting parameters whilst also displaying the movement sensors details.

As the sensor information is used under Mac OS X to park the hard drive before impact I wonder if that means the hard drive is currently more vulnerable under Windows until Apple provide a driver.

Updated ATI drivers for MacBook

Until Apple loosens up and provides their tools separately from the OEM drivers we’re stuck with the big downloads but all is not lost.

Whilst most of ATI’s Mobility drivers seem to be locked the latest Mobile Catalyst drivers (5.8 at time of writing) work just great with no third-party hacks/workarounds required to make them operational.

Hibernation on systems with > 1GB of RAM

If you receive the dreaded ‘Insufficient System Resources Exist to Complete the API.’ when trying to hibernate head over to the Microsoft Knowledge Base to grab the hot fix that is now available to download.

Until Apple extend their keyboard tools to emulate these check out Thom Sannon’s AppleKeys.

File-system access

Until either Apple add NTFS write support or provide a HFS+ driver for Windows then either using FAT32 partitioned iPods or flash memory is about as good as the file transfer gets short of using online upload/download tools.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend running Windows XP on a FAT32 drive unless you don’t care about security, compression, encryption and sub-block allocation (a space saving technique).

Until somebody takes the HFS+ file-system code from Apple’s Darwin project and transplants in into a Windows file-system module the only option is Mediafour’s MacDrive which at $49.95 seems a little too expensive even given the current state of the US dollar.

[)amien

MacBook Pro whine fix in 3 hours

It’s been an odd couple of weeks for my MacBook Pro 15″.

First of all I find that my battery is one affected by a recall and so Apple send me a new battery complete with incorrect instructions on how to return.

Then I find that the whine that my machine emanated from under the left of the keyboard when on battery power gets semi-acknowledged in a knowledge base article.

Quick turnaround on service

Unable to live with my MacBook Pro for more than a day or two now that it’s my primary machine for work and home and being that this issue is more an annoyance than a show stopper I tried the following:

  1. Locate my nearest Apple Authorized Service Center
  2. Call Apple support, explain the problem and reference the KB article
  3. Obtain the case ID from Apple and tell them I want it repaired at the aforementioned service center
  4. Head to the service center, demonstrate problem to engineer and provide him with case ID, KB article and my phone number
  5. Wait for engineer to call back confirming that parts have been requested against the case ID (in this case a new logic board)
  6. Continue using my machine until I get a call from engineer that parts are in
  7. Arrange to drop-off machine to engineer when he will be able to work on it and then drop it off
  8. Get call from engineer that machine is ready and collect it!

Total time MacBook Pro out of my hands … 3 hours.

The afterglow of replacement logic board

The annoying whine is gone and the case has yet to get too hot to touch!

They also supply new 10.4.6 CD’s (v1.3) with a note that if I need to reinstall Mac OS X I will need to use these as the original ones supplied with my machine will not contain necessary support for this logic board revision.

There are a few odd issues though…

  • It now reports its serial number as SystemSerialNumb. Hope that doesn’t cause a problem with any shareware applications.
  • Windows XP required quite some time to boot the first time after the replacement board and the fans whirred right up whilst doing so.
  • The iSight camera driver reported “unprogrammed” in device manager. A quick uninstall and detect sorted that out.

[)amien

Apple releases Boot Camp 1.1

This article is now out of date. Check Apple’s Boot Camp page for up-to-date information.

Apple have released Boot Camp 1.1 which, at a whopping 202MB, adds:

  • New Intel Mac (Mac Pro and presumably Xserve) support
  • Nvidia graphics drivers (in addition to the existing ATI ones)
  • iSight camera driver (at last)
  • Keyboard mapping tools (fn-F-keys now produces expect results, eject and UK keyboard fixes!)
  • Sound driver updated (headphones mute speakers, no more optical light on etc.)
  • Clock shifting between Windows and Mac OS X fixed (via start-up programs according to MysticOS)

Get drivers without burning a CD-R

  1. Grab something you can write to from OS X and read from Windows – a FAT formatted USB key or iPod will do
  2. In Finder navigate to Applications > Utilities and single-click Boot Camp Assistant
  3. Choose Show Package Contents from the context menu (the cog button in the finder tool bar or right mouse click)
  4. Go into the Contents and then Resources folder
  5. Double-click on DiskImage.dsk and wait for it to mount
  6. Drag Install Macintosh Drivers for Windows XP.exe to your USB key/iPod
  7. Reboot into Windows, access the device and enjoy

Art points out in the comments you can launch Boot Camp Assistant and then choose Utilities > Save Macintosh drivers to folder. Much easier, thanks Art.

Getting the Bluetooth drivers re-installed

It seems that once again Windows like to use it’s own signed drivers over whatever a third-party provide even if it’s own drivers are useless for the scenario…

If you find Bluetooth missing the following procedure should help.

Neither this tip nor myself can help with other Bluetooth problems such as detecting or pairing devices once Bluetooth is available. Try Apple Discussions for further help.

  1. Fire up Device Manager (right-click My Computer, choose Properties then select the Hardware tab and press the Device Manager button)
  2. Find the right device to correct which depending on your model…
    • MacBook Pro
      1. Select the View menu then Devices by connection
      2. Expand Intel 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB Universal Host Controller – 27CB followed by USB Root Hub
      3. Right click on the USB Composite Device (or USB Human Interface Device if that’s listed instead) and choose Properties and click the Details tab
      4. This device should have an entry that starts USB\VID_05ac&PID_1000
    • Other models
      1. For each USB Composite Device or USB Human Interface Device right click and choose Properties
      2. Select the Details tab and see if it has an entry that starts _USB\VID_05ac&PID_1000
      3. If it does proceed to the next step, if not repeat these steps until you do
  3. Select the Drivers tab for this device
  4. Press the Update Drivers… button and then select No, not this time and press Next >
  5. Choose Install from a list of specific location (Advanced) and Next > again
  6. Choose Don’t search. I will chose the driver to install and Next > yet again
  7. Do you have the option Apple Bluetooth kicker?
    • Yes: Select Apple Bluetooth kicker and press Next >
    • No: Press the Have Disk… button then choose the directory C:\Program Files\Macintosh Drivers for Windows XP\BthKicker and press OK
  8. Agree to Microsoft that you don’t care it’s not signed
  9. Wait a while whilst it detects the radio and enumerator
  10. If it asks for bthub.sys or fkicker.exe
    • If you had Bluetooth before: You can find them in your windows\system32\drivers and windows\system32 directories respectively
    • If you didn’t have Bluetooth before: You can find them on your Windows XP CD-ROM in the i386 directory

Suggestions to Apple…

Remove the Windows drivers from the Boot Camp Assistant and make them separate download.

Personally I’d provide a Windows download that checked the Apple site for the latest drivers for your hardware and just downloaded whats needed. Downloading a 202MB package that includes drivers for graphics cards, network cards and other devices you don’t have is just a real pain – especially when even the drivers you do use haven’t been updated (ATI’s driver between 1.01 and 1.1 haven’t changed).

Now, how about the last missing few drivers… Infra-red/Apple Remote, the backlit keyboard and the Intel hardware monitoring.

[)amien