Archive for the 'Hardware' Category

Note: I've reorganized this site to use tags; the category archive remains to support old links. Only posts prior to April, 2006 are categorized. Tag Archive »

(i)Trippin’ no more

I finally gave up on my iTrip, and dug up my old cassette adapter for the daily commute. Don’t get me wrong- the iTrip is a great device; I just can’t use it anymore. Much as I hate dealing with the wire trailing from my dash, it beats not hearing my iPod at all.

The main problem is location. I live in Northern Delaware, which puts me about an hour from Baltimore, 45 minutes from Philly, and 15 minutes from Wilmington. I get radio stations from all three. The Baltimore stations aren’t really listenable, but there’s enough signal to make using the iTrip not possible on those frequencies.

In fact, I’ve only found one frequency that works reliably with the iTrip. Of course, everyone else is using the same frequency, either with iPod-connected FM transmitters, or (more and more) with satellite radios. I don’t know what kind of numbers Howard Stern is pulling on Sirius, but I hear him several times a week as someone’s Sirius transmitter bleeds over to my radio.

The evening commute is the worst, since the traffic is generally much heavier, and of course slower. I also see lots of semis during evening rush, and they all seem to have some kind of transmitter these days- and usually much more powerful than my poor little iTrip. It was up to the task a year ago when I got my first iTrip (I traded up at Christmas for the one with the knob), but not with today’s crowded airwaves.

HOWTO use a Canon Camcorder with iChat

John and Dave are two of the latest among my co-workers to succumb to the siren lure of the Mac. They both have recent iMacs with the built-in iSight, so last night we tried a three-way video conference to see how it works (very cool, in case you were wondering). My iMac, being a bit over a year old now, has no in-built iSight, and I haven’t seen fit to drop the 150.00 USD for one.

Instead, I plugged in my Canon ZR65MC via Firewire. iSight was happy to comply, but the camcorder wasn’t. After 5 minutes, it shut off. Thinking it was a battery issue, I plugged it into AC power, and re-connected. Five minutes later, I was off the air. It seems the Canon has an auto-off battery saver that even works when you’re not on battery power.

Several minutes fruitless searching in the onboard menu system revealed no way to disable this “feature”, nor did 15 minutes flipping through the manual. The support website was also mum. Google eventually hinted at the answer, after alot of searching. For the next brave soul, here’ s the short version: Remove the tape.

It appears that if you have a tape in the camera, it assumes you mean to record tape, regardless of the firewire connection to the Mac. Without the tape, I guess it assumes you have another reason for powering up the camera, and disables auto shut-off. This makes sense to me, since I had to remove the tape previously in order to use the camcorder as an analog-to-digital converter for my old 8mm camera.

And just for the record, iChat video chat rocks. My wife and her father have been trying to get an audio chat working via Yahoo IM on their PCs for weeks, with only one (brief) success. iChat just worked. As the old commercial says, “There’s no step three.”

iMovie HD + Griffin Powermate Problem, and Solution

A couple of years ago, I received a Griffin Powermate for Christmas. I use it as shuttle control in iMovie and Garageband, and I love it. The only improvement I can think of would be a finger-tip recess in the top surface, to support rapid mutli-turn spinning (great for zipping through footage in iMovie – hold shift to zoom through at 10x speed).

I recently started importing all my old 8mm tapes via my DV camcoder, to burn to DVD and to re-archive on DV tape. Since I was importing from 8mm using my DV camcoder’s AV->DV feature, I has to manually split each import into multiple clips in iMovie. While doing this, I found that the Powermate didn’t work with iMovie anymore- it was just controlling the master system volume. Using the Powermate wdiget in System Preferences, I located the iMovie settings, and hit apply. The Powermate worked fine in iMovie again.

But each time I quit and restarted iMovie, or used the Powermate outside of iMovie, it would “forget” the iMovie setting and become a volume knob again. I found no solution on the Griffin website, so I emailed their support department. I received a reply a few days later, which solved my problem.

Seems that when last I did any serious work in iMovie (about a year ago) was prior to iLife 05, and so prior to iMovie HD. The settings in System Prefs (which I think were auto-installed with the Powermate) were for “iMovie”, not “iMovie HD.” I guess the name change means the settings weren’t inherited during the upgrade, which makes sense. I just added a new batch of settings for iMovie HD, and now it works perfectly again.

Thanks for the reply, Griffin. The only thing nicer than a great product is a great product with great support.

More Power!

To quote Tim Allen, “Auugh Auugh Aughh!” The new memory for the iMac arrived today, in all its 1-gigabit-goodness.

About this Mac screenshotg

The whole NewEgg experience was a good one; I will shop with them again. And I’m glad I went with the gig… the system definately feels faster.

Update: Bloglines users should now correctly see the image above. Oops.

More Memory for the iMac

I’ve been putting off ordering additional memory for my iMac G5 ever sine I got it. The configuration I bought at the Apple store included 512M installed as a single DIMM, and one empty slot. The iMac G5 will support up to 2G of memory. I new when I bought I planned to add memory. Given what Apple charges for memory, I knew it wouldn’t be purchased from them.

Based on my experience adding memory to my Powerbook, I inteded to purchase my iMac memory from Crucial. Crucial is a division of Micron, and many sources state that Crucial supplies Apple with all of its memory. Indeed, the memory I purchased a couple years ago for the Powerbook seemed identical to the memory already in the machine, except for the part number (the memory sizes were different). The website has a memory selector to ensure you buy the right unit, the price was very good, and overall I was satistfied with the entire experience.

Shortly after I purchased the iMac, I looked on Crucial’s site for memory. The prices have not changed in that time (about a month), and are currently:

  • 256MB – USD 42.99
  • 512MB – USD 79.99
  • 1GB – USD 259.99

Wow! Quite a jump in price from the half gig unit to the full gig. Given that the iMac only holds two DIMMs and that any future memory upgrade will mean removing an existing chip, I’m highly inclined to buy the 1GB module. However, I really balk at the markup.

So today I’ve hit the web, looking for reputable providers of Mac memory with better prices. I’ve learned quite a bit. For example, using a single DIMM or a mixed pair of DIMMs results in your memory bus operating at half the full speed- a matched pair is faster (Apple Technote). However, I’ve also learned that in real-world tests, the net speed improvement is 0%).

I also learned about a web resource I didn’t know about- ResellerRatings.com. This site allows users to rate online shopping experiences, both with numerical ratings and with written reviews. As someone who always checks Amazon’s reviews when shopping for new goodies, I think I’ll be using this site quite a bit in the future.

So did I find a good deal? I’ve looked at a bunch of websites, including Smalldog, Transintl, Otherworld Computing, MacGurus, and MacSolutions. The best price so far (for a 1GB DIMM) has been 110. In addition, NewEgg has an excellent rating at ResellerRatings, based on nearly 10,000 reviews. The memory is Patriot Memory from PDP Systems. I’m not familiar with the memory, but the NewEgg site has a number of reviews for the product from iMac G5 owners. So, I ordered one. More to follow when it arrives.

  1. 50 USD at NewEgg