Mac OS X Lagfest

If you haven’t downloaded and installed it already, the Mac OS X 10.3.6 client and server updates are available for download from Apple servers. Released yesterday, noted improvements and changes are:

– network volumes are now available in the Finder sidebar and Desktop for convenient access
– improved file sharing and directory services for Mac (AFP), UNIX (NFS) PC (SMB/CIFS), PPTP, and wireless networks
– improved support for NTFS formatted volumes
– improved reliability of user logins, mounting of home directories in a networked environment, and launch of network applications
– improved PostScript and USB printing
– improved font management
– improved disc burning and recording functionality
– improved Bluetooth compatibility for Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse and Bluetooth phones.
– iPods connected via USB 2.0 are now recognized by iTunes and iSync
– improved Open GL technology and updated ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers
– updated Address Book, Calculator, Disk Utility, DVD Player, Image Capture, Mail, Safari, Stickies, and QuickTime applications
– improved compatibility for third party applications
– additional support for FireWire and USB devices
– FileVault, FireWire 800 and WebDAV improvements from Update 10.3.1
– previous standalone security updates and Bluetooth Update 1.5.1

Important note:
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. Even with the improvements available in this update, Apple recommends you update the firmware on your FireWire drive. Please contact your drive manufacturer for more information.

The update is available via Software Update, or you can download the 92MB standalone update (which I usually recommend for bigger updates like this).

Updated life so far…
Initially all was good. No notable difference. No crashes. No new bugs. But later in the day I got some puzzling display anomalies never before seen on my G5 or my Sony 21″ CRT. Horizontal lines appeared intermittently, flashing on an off randomly on screen. Restarted the comp to see if that helped. Nope. Still there. Could be the updated display drivers which came with the combo update. Or could it be the display finally giving way?

Dunno. But today it has behaved. However, I feel the G5 is sluggish. Some tasks lag especially in Photoshop. Switching apps too. I’ll do an update_prebinding to see if that helps.

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96/99 UK-spec Proton Persona For Quick Sale!

I have a UK-spec Proton Persona 1.8 SEi sedan for sale. Need to sell this fast.
Specs as follows:

1996/99 Proton Persona 1.8 SEi sedan (UK-spec)
4G93P Single-cam MPI engine
Pipercross drop-in filter with cold-air intake
Custom downpipe + 2″ stainless steel exhaust system
Apexi muffler
Lightweight cam pulley
MMC engine mounts (new)
MMC timing belt, bearings (new)
Bosch Super 4 plugs
Q8Oils SW10-50 FT fully-synthetic engine oil

F5M22 Manual
(one of the very rare single-cam manual cars in the market)

Brakes + Suspension Kit
Front – EBC Blackstuff + stock disks
Rear – stock disks and pads
APM R-Tech short-stroke absorbers
Eibach Pro-Kit Springs

Rims + Rolling Stock
16″ 6-spoke JRD
Falken Azenis ST115 (front) – 70%
Falken Ziex ZE-512 (rear) – 70%

Stock 2K purple (newly repainted in Feb ’04)
MIVEC/Mirage bumper, fender + lips
MMC Electronic flippable side-mirrors
Rare Daihatsu bee-sting antennae
Original GSR rear spoiler

Stock with GTi console
Sports pedals

Stock Blaupunkt cassette headunit
4 speakers

Relevant info
Mileage: 120,000 miles
Car serviced every 5000-6000km, no major accidents.
Responsive and reliable. Exhaust very quiet at idling. Test to believe and appreciate. 40litres returns about 420-450kms.
MIVEC spotlights available. Will include if wanted. Slightly rusted.

Loan from MayBan Finance can be arranged. RM28.5K max @ 4.75%.

Going for RM32K o.n.o. Interested? Drop me a line!

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Satria R3 – Booked! (but not without hassle!)

I’ve never been this excited or nervous about a car. Seriously wierd. It was much anticipated. In fact, I grew so impatient I was logging on to the ProtonEdar site at 2.00pm. Kiasu! Bookings for the race-bred Satria R3 began at 3.00pm sharp today. When the official R3 booking page came up at 3.00pm, I was number 2.

But much as I expected it, the credit card transaction did not go through. Fuck. This cannot be happening, I whined. After multiple attempts, the online transactions were still timing out. I gave Adian (Head of the R3 project a call), telling him about the problem. He checked with the credit card transaction provider and called me back later. 3.15pm and still no confirmation of the car.

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iMac G5 Launch : Where did the computer go?

MyMUG crew – Sean, Azul, me, Alvin, Chris (Azxel) + Juan (Qwerty)

The where-in-heaven’s-name-is-the-computer iMac G5 was officially launch with much fanfare and excitement last night at Velvet Underground : Zouk. Rudy of the Morning Crew emceed and he was as entertaining as he was funny and spirited. I had attended the event with some of my colleagues, a couple who are Mac-heads, like yours truly.

I am not a biggie fan of the new iMac form factor, but I think simplicity has its advantages. It does look sleek and minimal, definitely saves plenty of desktop space. Plus the G5 processor brings it one level up from the previous G4 offering. Nice, nice quality display (choice of 17″ or 20″) I have to say.

The highlight of the day was definitely Jit Murad who did a 45-minute skit. He was hilarious as usual, with a quick swoosh, transforming into Renee Choi, world reknowned hair stylist and *fooooh* blowdry specialist from Sungai Wang! 😀 He was funny, as usual. Talented dude, and Mac user, no doubt!

Audience was also fed with games, giving participants chances to win Apple merchandise – mostly polo tees and ‘Book bags. Did I mention exclusive? Ok.

All in all, it was a fun event. In fact, I think it was one of the better, more happening ones ever organised by Apple. Well done! And btw, the picture you see up there are some of the MyMUG members who came to support the event. Cheers people! See ya online!

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Racer-boys Take Notice : Proton Satria R3 launched

Proton Motorsports soft-launched the much-anticipated Limited Edition Proton Satria R3 over the weekend at Pasir Gudang, Johor. The Satria R3 is set to be in the market on October 17 at 3 selected Proton Edar offices in the Northern, Southern and Central regions of the country.

This exclusive road-legal track car will only see 150 units in production, and I am sure will be snapped up in no time! A claimed 0-100km/h time of 8.6 secs and a top speed of 205kmh is plenty fast, although some may have anticipated better specs.
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Things Designers Do When They Are Stressed…

Continuing from where I left off yesterday. The almost resolved and recovery from the System Meltdown. Here’s a pic to prove that I can still monkey around in times of distress.

By the way, that’s the kevlar plastic casing from a spanking new eMac on my head. My partner-in-crime Andy and I took apart two eMac 1.25Ghz machines to upgrade the puny 40GB to a more acceptable 160GB. This is the first time any of us have ever seen the internals of an eMac, let alone disassemble one. A great source of Mac apps, files and resources – the iRC channel, #macfilez, provided 350MB of Apple service manuals of its product range – from Apple iMacs to PowerBooks to XServes. Referring to the manual diligently, we took 30 minutes to disassemble and reassemble the first. How we wished it was a proper desktop/tower. It takes the removal of at least 30 screws to access the hard drive module. A true engineering feat by the Apple Design team to cram that much of hardware into the white eMac casing, but it is really sheer hard work for a simple hard drive upgrade. User-installable items like the RAM and Airport card is simple though.

The upgrade of the 2nd unit went smoothly, initially, taking just 10 minutes to disassemble. But a really clumsy Verne dropped a screw into the depths of the motherboard, much to the disappointment of the unofficial IT-team (that’s me and Andy, by the way!). Swearing as we went along, we managed to wiggle the screw out from the motherboard, then went on our way to reassembling the remainding parts.

Certainly a challenging task, and I don’t recommend this to be done at home, really, not if you want to void your Apple warranty. Want a hard drive upgrade? Bring it to an Authorised Apple Reseller or Service Centre.

Shame we didn’t take pictures of the process, would have been great to feature on this blog. But anyways, to hell and beyond!

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System Meltdown

Not quite the Holocaust or Armageddon, but however I look at it, the past three days have been rather hellish to say the least. Firstly, our laggy 1.25Ghz dual processor G4 server went down like a bitch. Locking up at startup, faster than you could say “Apple Rocks”, the server just refused to boot. Entering single user boot while attempting to repair using “fsck” brought no improvements.

Our server is configured with a software RAID, 2x 160GB mirrored drives for data, and another 2x 160 mirrored for the system. We use the server as a short to medium term backup facility for our 20-odd users. Mission critical? Yes, I would say so. Containing data almost to full capacity, we were certainly worried, especially for unofficial Mr. Techie (that’s me!) and official Mr. Techie (partner-in-crime, accountant cum IT cum AV man Andy).

Went through the usual troubleshooting – safe mode boot, single user boot, zapping PRAM. No luck. Eventually tried it with a Panther-compatible Norton Utilities 8.02 bootable CD. Breathed a sigh of relief as the server finally booted up and the familiar Norton Launcher presented itself on screen. Attempted to scan and repair the system. This took hours as I configured it to scan every damn bits of the drive including media, catalogue structure and files. Initially suspecting a damaged catalogue B-tree which can cause havoc in the system, Norton froze half-way. Nice. Norton has saved me many times, although not the best disk utility on the Mac platform (don’t agree? shoot me…), it has proven its worth many a times of trouble.
Re-booted, and re-attempted scan/repair. No luck yet again.

Finally got hold of our tech support guy from our Mac supplier to come over. Hardware failure? You bet. After some tests, we found that the 2x 160GB RAID containing the boot-up Mac OS X 10.2.8 Server software had failed. Both the hard drives. That explained the lagginess of the system of late, despite optimisation and what naught. The failure was unexpected, the server being quite underutilised and untested mostly. Fortunately, we had a new 80GB spare, just purchased and we plugged it in, installed Panther 10.3 Server,, and got up and running in about 30 minutes.

Thanking our lucky stars that all data was intact, we placed an order for another 4x 250GB hard drives to be delivered in a couple of days. I have to say that Panther Server is quick, and most notably when running on a DP (dual processor).

Backing up has been a tough process, with lack of spare storage space and all. Had to format my personal 120GB and 80GB externals just to backup the server data. After 2 days, the data have been successfully backed-up and ready for a clean reformat of the drives when the newer ones arrive.

Adding to the system meltdown, our trusty B&W G3 350Mhz used as a scanning machine also refused to boot-up. I suspect a hard drive failure as well. And as if my hands weren’t full enough, I formatted my G5 1.8Ghz, reinstalled Panther and restored all my data. It’s been a long time coming, the G5 not performing to its full potential for some reason. It’s been laggy and buggy to say the least. And for some reason, have always had problems with FLASH-memory based cards/drives. 100% data corruption of anything from GIF files to JPEGs to PDFs. After all the time and effort, the problem has been solved, and I’m happy that the G5 is back to being zippy and responsive again…

I’ve got another story to tell…but I’ll leave it to another time. This time round it isn’t computer/system/hardware failure. It’s human error. Pure and simple. Grrrr…

Word of advise before I end this – BACKUP YOUR DATA!

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