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Fiery Wire
Does this look like "normal wear and tear" to you? Didn't think so. Click image for a larger view. Be a'frayed, be very a'frayed.


OPINION September 6 , 2000
Road Hog: FireWire and Fiery Wires

Some good news and some hot news for PowerBook G3 users

by Tim Wilson
Man About Town™
[email protected]

It turns out that that this year's flavor of G3 PowerBook (Pismo) has had some problems with its star attraction, to wit, FireWire. This is the Apple-developed data protocol also known as IEEE-1394 (the geekspeak of the international electrical standards board), iLink (Sony's brand name) and DV (barely this side of flat-out wrong, but on the other hand, close enough). It offers monstrously fast throughput, which is great for video files ... when it works.

And it mostly has, with a couple of notable exceptions. The Pismo has been widely reported to occasionally "lose sight" of connected FireWire peripherals. It's pretty common, in fact, when the port hasn't been used for a while, and is usually fixed by a reboot. No getting around that this is a bug, though, and not a feature.

There's been one other hazard reported on Pismo PowerBooks, and that's catastrophic data loss. Oops.

It's not quite as bad as it sounds, and it only happens when you select "Preserve memory contents on sleep," then let your computer actually go to sleep. Not only does this option not preserve the data in RAM, it may prevent your Mac from waking up, short of a restart, thereby torching all unsaved data in every open application, and not just the contents of the clipboard.

Both of these are addressed in a new software update from Apple, just a few days old, called FireWire 2.5. To use it, you need a Macintosh computer with either built-in FireWire ports, or at least one FireWire PCI card or CardBus card installed. This is true of any Mac, but Apple's tech notes observe that this software is a must-have for Pismo users, but I'll add that it looks like a good idea for anyone who uses any FireWire devices.


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