May 08, 2007
links for 2007-05-08
Good article on Apple's design processes.
G5 display problems solved
I've been having some trouble with my G5 over the last couple of months. Intermittently, it wouldn't boot up, though the power LED would light, and the drives seemed to spin up to speed.
At first, I thought it was an immediate kernel panic, possibly resulting from my keyboard or mouse drivers, partly because it didn't appear that holding down "shift" for safe boot or "C" to boot from the optical drive had any effect. At first, it seemed like it would boot every 2nd time I tried, but as weeks went by, it seemed to be less likely. Fortunately, the machine is very reliable, and didn't need to be rebooted, except for System Updates. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of system updates lately.
I discovered that if I opened up the case, reset the Power Manager, and put everything back together, the machine would boot cleanly. I did a little more web research, and discovered this link from the Mac Owners Support Group, which led eventually to this Apple support database entry. It turns out that there's a known issue with certain ATI video cards, which show up in System Profiler as Card Model "ATY, RV350." Mine is an RV360, but other sufferers reported a fix just from removing and reseating their video card.
That fixed it for me, as well, and pointed up the worst part of the otherwise brilliant G5 case design: The screws that hold cards in place are hard to get a screwdriver on, because they're (a couple of inches) behind a lip. If you've got an offset screwdriver, this is the place for it.
UPDATE 5/24/07: This didn't actually fix things. Somehow, I got two consecutive reboots without a failure, but not three. When the new Security Update came out today, I installed it, then shut down the machine, reset the PMU, unplugged the power cord and all the cables, and rebooted. The machine came up, worked on installing the updates for a while, then rebooted again. D'oh! Since then, I've been unable to get the machine to come up at all, and somehow, I've made things worse -- now the machine only flashes the LED for a half-second when I try to reboot. More as it happens.
More by Stuart
By total coincidence, this shot appeared in my Flickr contacts today:
. It's by Jonathan over at BikePortland.org.
May 07, 2007
links for 2007-05-07
Good coding tips on logging, variable naming to match scope, and a few other tips.
Tips for TextMate.
Head-to-head: Dell 20" LCD vs. Dell 20" LCD
So, Dell now sells two different 20-inch wide-screen LCD displays. The value model has only 3 digits in its part number -- the E(conomy)207WFP -- and sells for $120 less than the 2007WFP, currently $219 for the economy and $339 for the deluxe.
Is the pricier display worth the extra money? How can you tell? I happen to have one of each on my desk, and have been using them side-by-side for the last 3 weeks.
After 3 weeks, I can't tell the difference between the image quality on the 207 from the 2007. I'm using both the DVI and VGA connectors, and colors look consistent, response time is acceptable (Dell says faster on the cheaper model!) and apparently identical for each display, and the controls are the same across both display models.
Why would anyone spend the extra $120? The more expensive display offers a stand that enables easy pivoting and height adjustment, and a number of extra interfaces: S-Video, composite, and 4 USB ports. The plastics are of a higher quality, and contrasting silver and black on the pricier model, where the cheaper model has a coarser grain one-color charcoal plastic that's similar to my home display, the last-generation Dell 2005 WFP.
In practice, I find that neither stand gets the display as high as I would like in landscape mode, so I have to use books or boxes to build a platform under the stand. That platform has to be taller with the cheaper display. Since I'm also using a KVM switch with one of the monitors, I'm not using the USB ports on the display (the KVM switch lets the mouse and keyboard change at the same time the video switches), but I do find myself pivoting the 2007WFP into portrait mode pretty regularly, to test public display layouts or look at big chunks of code. You could pivot the cheaper display in conjunction with a 3rd-party VESA-compatible mounting system, but not with the stock stand.
Which monitor works for you, then, may be a matter of which monitor you want to pair it with. If you're looking for a 2nd display to work with an Apple display, you might prefer the 2007 WFP: You gain the option of portrait mode, and the silver plastics coordinate with recent Macs better than the charcoal. If you've already got a pivotable display, though, and don't see running two portrait-mode displays, the E207WFP is a steal of a deal at less than $250 (it lists for $259, and is almost always on sale).