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Firewire vs. USB

September 10, 2009 2 comments

The battle between Firewire (A.K.A. IEEE 1394, iLink) and USB rages on.

i switch

It’s well known that although USB 2.0 shows a higher speed on paper (480Mbps vs. 400Mbps) than Firewire, due to inefficiencies in USB protocol and the fact that USB requires the host to manage the transfer of data, Firewire is in actual fact faster on the whole.

The reason is cited as being not just the efficient, real-time, streaming oriented protocol but the Firewire controller itself, which manages much of the dirty work when it comes to data transfer, offloading the stress of controlling real-time, high speed data from the motherboard/CPU onto the device.

This offers two main benefits:

  1. The host CPU or controller has less work to do and can focus on other, more important stuff, meaning the attached host will feel more responsive and less stressed under heavy load.
  2. Because major data flow control is performed on the device itself, wasteful, detailed control data does not have to flow back and forth between the device and the host, leading to less wastage and latency.

…and two main drawbacks:

  1. The controller is relatively complex and thus expensive.
  2. The controller’s complexity can lead to difficult to diagnose compatibility issues.

Which leads to my main issue.

My Logitec MA-16FU2/WM external firewire and USB dvd burner regularly fails to mount disks on my Mac, while connected by Firewire but performs flawlessly with USB.

Basically, no disks inserted will mount at all under Snow Leopard.

Indeed “about this mac/more info…” shows no sign of any volume in this drive, whether it’s directly connected to the mini or via the firewire hub of the Princeton PHD-MM160IUH.

Moreover a second firewire / USB device will often fail to remount over firewire if I shut it down or disconnect it. Again, it works flawlessly over USB. Moreover, it even works with Firewire when connected to my Windows PC!

Go figure!

I’ve tried:

sudo kextunload
/System/Library/Extensions/IOFireWireFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleFWOHCI.kext/

and:

sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/IOFireWireFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleFWOHCI.kext/

but the external drives just shut down and restart, still without mounting the volumes.

No joy.

It’s really ironic that the Mac has worse support for firewire than Windows, especially since Apple were one of the founders of the specification.

basically, despite the ‘so-called’ superiority Firewire, I can only get my job done reliably with USB… sigh.

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Mac vs. PC ad nauseam

August 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Even I have my limits when it comes to arguments.

So I would like to say:
“Will everyone just pipe down!”
I don’t care which machine is more or less secure, that isn’t an issue. Security is not the issue at all; it’s relative safety.

I have used windows since 3.1 and have never contracted a virus.
I have used Macs since os 9 and have never contracted a virus.
I have owned about equal numbers of both machines.

While nothing can protect users from themselves, we often forget that
safety and security are not the same thing.

This is why this whole thread is tosh; You trying to reconcile two
different arguments without distinguishing between them.

Take a gun for example, whether used in either Japan or the US, it is
equally deadly. But statistics say that Japan is safer. Is there
something about Japan that makes guns intrinsically less deadly? No
Are US citizens better trained at handguns on average than the
Japanese? Perhaps.
Are those from the US more likely to die when hit in the head by a
bullet? Who knows.

The PC has long since left the cliques of the University Labs and “IBM
Rooms” but the Mac still has an air of the quaint, little, local hippy
community where it was fathered, a place where everyone knows each
others’ first name.

There are still vestiges of this “Mac spirit” remaining, although they
are becoming harder and harder to find.

Still, just like I leave my house door open here in Japan more often
than I would in the US or the UK, I prefer to let my kids browse on
the Mac, just to be safe.

Sure there is a risk, but then, we all know that, don’t we… because
we’re not stupid.

This is of course changing and I will miss the Mac when it goes
mainstream, when it will be just another PC, only one running OSX
instead of W7 or Linux.

We are all on the same side here we want a safe place for ourselves
and our families and businesses.

Let’s not spend this time divided and bickering like kids in the
playground saying their father is toughest. Instead, we should use the
nous we have to hunt down the ba * ds who make the malware and
educate those around us.

Windows 7 not much faster than Windows Vista – My first impressions of Windows 7


I wrote this in response to an article I saw regarding the relative speeds of Windows 7 and Vista.

I have a venerable 2.8GHz P4 with Intel RAID on 2x160GB HDD and a gig of RAM which I bought in 2003 or something… I only upgraded it once to a 256MB NVIDIA 7600 as I was running it as a Tiger Hackintosh for a couple of years. It really flew on Tiger, but I had a real Mac (albeit a G4) which was slower but much less flakey and so went back to the trouble free XP.
I then made the mistake of BUYING A BOX COPY (sheesh) of Vista Ultimate. My first ever Box OS purchase. My poor machine really felt its age since it would no longer play back HD videos smoothly, so the box went back to XP again and served as my main Playback device for my Projector for a couple of years.

On hearing all the Windows 7 brouhaha I decided to retry Vista with SP1 and about 75 incremental upgrades and put office 2003 and Zend Studio back on.

To be frank, It wasn’t as slow as I remembered it. It was as if the patches were just enough to allow my old faithful to climb back on to its feet.
And Aero’s 3D surfaces for each application actually meant the interface was MORE responsive and Mac Like since each app didn’t have to redraw when brought to the front. With the RAID disks, even 1Gb of RAM was usable (although multitasking slowed it much sooner than in XP).

I found myself honestly enjoyin using Vista for the last month or two and not missing XP, even when I had to really struggle to find any of the randomly shuffled functions.

Last month, I forced myself to make what I promised is the last upgrade to this machine and got 2GB RAM. My old faithful suddenly sprang to life… After a couple of days of heavy use, the memory was full, but it appeared to be about 1.5GB of cache! Office opened instantly (once I turned off min/maxing animations) ! I mean that literally. It was definitely faster than XP in general use and although 1080P HD Vid playback still stutters, my Leopard C2D Intel iMac w/ 4GB of DDR2 can’t match it for general interface response speed!!

So, to cut a long story medium, I installed the Windows 7 RC on the 2nd of May(!!!) expecting wonderful things… Firstly, the interface and colours remind me of a certain open source OS. Light, simple, breathy. Everything is simpler. I haven’t scratched my head as much as I got accustomed to with Vista, for sure.

However, I NOTICED NO SPEED INCREASE for my particular workload of Zend, Office and a Trial install of Illustrator CS4, indeed Office felt marginally slower which corroborates what was mentioned in the article. Instantaneous was replaced with a slightly annoying Almost Instantaneous, but not quite sort of feeling.

Still, benchmarks aside W7 is definitely less offensive to use than Vista.

In conclusion, then, I think it’s all about expectations. I was expecting molasses for Vista and got syrup – It felt good. i was expecting water for W7 and got slightly warmed syrup – I felt cheated and actually missed Vista’s moody dark interface.

Windows 7 is not much faster than Windows Vista but of course, YMMV.


Disclosure: I’m a “slider” rather than switcher, finding my Windows use fading out since 2005 on the release of the Mac Mini. My SOHO now consists of 6 Macs and only 3 PCs (one of which is a netbook). I now basically use Windows for Office 2003 compatibility and a label printer that refuses to talk Mac.

BTW, Vista Boot Camp on an Aluminium Mac 24″ w/ 4GB of RAM is THE FASTEST Office 2003 machine I have ever used. It’s shockingly instantaneous! If I had time, I’d install W7 on it, but I can’t be bothered.

Is Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac just revenge for the travesty that is Quicktime for Windows?

October 8, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve reported here on Office:Mac 2008 being the worst version of Office ever released for any platform. It’s buggy, runs slower than the previous version runs in emulation and it still lacks database software and is also missing Visual Basic, a key feature for any serious Excel user. In a word. Office:Mac 2008 is a lemon, and I want my money back.

But if you really, no, I mean REALLY want to talk about crap software produced by a world class company for another world class company’s operating system, then let’s not beat around the bush.

Quicktime for Windows is a dog. It’s an old dog, a mangy, old, lame dog which you just can’t seem to have put down despite serious, room filling flatulence.

It’s slow, buggy and is missing lots of features that many serious media users find indispensable.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes blogging for ZD-Net has shown that Quicktime on his old 512MB RAM Mac Mini on OS X outperforms his 8GB Quad Core Vista system.

Ah, Vista, I hear you say. But before you click the reply button, he states that using VLC or a real media player blows the Mini to smithereens, so it is a Quicktime for Windows issue.

So I’d make that a 1-1 Apple-Microsoft draw.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Sun Tzu

July 1, 2008 Leave a comment

xp-gone

Windows XP is no more. The 30th of June signified the last day of the general availability of Windows XP, Microsoft’s most successful operating system to date.

In all fairness, it had its turn in the limelight. Dragged kicking and screaming prematurely from beta in 2001 in response, perhaps, to the newly released Mac OS X; itself an operating system with the stability of a newborn Bambi on ice.

XP has had perhaps the longest run of any popular operating system. A decent seven years! It saw off OS X 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4 and only now, at the maturing of OS X 10.5 Leopard does XP lay down its hat.

Seeing off the nay-sayers, the staunchest Windows 2000 supporters, the 98 holdouts, the raft of driver and compatibility problems that greeted it, it became the gamer’s and business users OS of choice alike, and by default simply because there was no competition.

XP was so strong that it became in the last year, Vista’s number one rival, even as Vista’s, Jabbaesque form heaved and laboured under its own mass, to lift itself out of the morass of sluggish performance and insane user interface reworkings.

There was XP, standing strong, as if saying, “See. I’m here for you, when you need me! And you do need me!”

It was in this capacity that XP found itself the “new” people’s champion: The symbol of resistance against a cruel, uncaring, over-marketed world.

in one swift and brilliant move, It turned itself from the unwelcome yet nevertheless tolerated partner to a symbol of the underdog fighting against the new colossus: A staunch ally, unappreciated yet ever there, forcing the industry to look before they leapt onto the new OS from hell. Vista, an OS so heavy that it dragged all but the newest machines whimpering to their knees, crippling performance and destroying productivity like a heavy dose of gout.

Vista was the new enemy that turned expensive computers into gaudy playthings with all the class of Paris Hilton stepping out of a stretch limo hand-in-hand with Britney. 

XP, we’d hoped you’d last until the promise of Windows 7, but it looks like too much for Microsoft’s ego to take and so they put you down, sweet XP, like the owner of an old dog who’s grown bored of the obsequious pawing and unwanted licking of palm.

May you Rest in Peace.

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