MacCast 08.24.2006 - Show #155
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
V News
V Apple invites press to "special event" in September
* Apple will be attending Photokina 2006 in Colone Germany which takes place from September 26th to October 1st.
* According to Macworld UK, Apple has notified the press of a special presentation they will give on September 25th at the show.
* Of course this stats the rumor mills buzzing, but the announcement claims they will focus on a new version of Aperture.
* Don't read too much into this. Remember the iPod Hi-fi. Aperture makes for this show.
* Just like last year there will be no Apple keynote at Apple Expo in Paris.
V Apple release results of their iPod factory probe
* The report of Foxconn is up on Apples web site
iPod Factory Report
* The manufacturing facility supports over 200,000 employees (Apple uses less than 15% of that capacity).
V Apple found the supplier to be in compliance in the majority of the areas audited, but did find several violations of their Code of Conduct.
* No problems with on-site dorms, they found issues with 3 leased off-site locations. @ sites were originally factories and now contain large open areas with beds and lockers that Apple felt were too impersonal. The 3rd location contained triple bunks which Apple felt do not provide enough personal space. Foxconn has acquired new land and is building new dorms.
* Worker compensation meets Apples requirements for salary and workers do have a comprehensive medial plan, but the pay structure was too complex (base pay, skill bonus, attendance bonus, housing allowance, meal allowance, overtime) to meet Apples Code of Conduct. Foxxconn has agreed to simplify the structure
* Overtime weekly limit was exceeded 35% of the time and employees worked more than six consecutive days 25% of the time. Apple does allow "exceptions" to overtime rules, but these numbers were "excessive". Foxxconn has implemented new policies to remedy the situation. Oddly enough in interviews the single largest complaint (approximately 20% of interviewed workers) was the lack of overtime during non-peak periods.
* Two workers reported being made to stand at attention as a form of discipline. Apple has a zero tolerance policy for any instance, isolated or not, of any treatment of workers that could be interpreted as harsh. Foxxconn has launched a manager and employee training program to avoid future incidents.
* Because of this incident Apple has hired Verité, an internationally recognized leader in workplace standards, to monitor the factories and ensure their Code of Conduct is being adhered to in the future.
* Janek Kuczkiewicz, director of human and trade union rights at the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), criticized Apples report for not being independently verified and Apple only interviewing 100 out of 30,000 iPod workers.
V MacBook, hacked or not hacked?
* The controversy continues over the hacked MacBook Wi-Fi demonstrated at Black Hat and Defcon by Jon Ellch and David Maynor, Maynor is a security researchers for SecureWorks, and reported on by Brian Krebs in the Washington Post.
* There are accusations flying in both directions ranging from shoddy reporting, allegations of truth being twisted for exposure, to Mac fans being naive and not seeing the truth.
V I don't deny the Mac could be vulnerable to the exploit, but agree that no evidence has been provided to support that it can. Here are some things we do know
* They used a 3rd party USB Wi-fi card.
* From the SecureWorks site, "it was exploited through a third-party wireless device driver - not the original wireless device driver that ships with the MacBook". They claim the same vulnerability does exist in the drivers that Apple ships.
V Despite their claims to the contrary Apple says that SecureWorks has not demonstrated or shared any information with regards to the vulnerability they claim is in the shipping MacBook wi-fi driver.
* Prior to BlackHat SecureWorks did notify Apple of a wireless flay in FreeBSD, which OS X is based on. FreeBSD released a patch for the flaw in January, but Apple has not incorporated it into OS X.
* Apple claims they had already determined the wireless flaw addressed in the FreeBSD patch was not exploitable on any of the Mac products.
V Atheros Communications produces the built-in Apple AirPort chipsets
* Atheros has not been contacted by SecureWorks and Atheros has not received any code or other proof demonstrating a security vulnerability in our chips or wireless drivers used in any laptop computers.
V I believe that most of the time the simplest answer is the correct one.
* Apple does have the FreeBSD wi-fi flaw in their code. Apple says it is not exploitable. SecureWorks thinks it is, but hasn't quite figured it out using Apple built-in hardware and drivers and they had a conference to go to.
* Does that mean it can't be done? No. Does it mean it will be done, no.
V New firmware cools MacBook and exorcizes demon cow
* Apple has released an SMC firmware v 1.4f10 fro the MacBook
* Fixes fans and stops mooing. Also many reports that the MacBook runs significantly cooler (5-6 degrees F).
* Some people report that the fan is now on all the time. Which would solve mooing (caused by fan starting and stopping) and lower temps.
V Dublin Man successfully "shames" Apple
* Karl Hayden has had many issues with his 10-month old iMac. Since July 14th he has had two replacement logic boards, a power supply unit, and a back casing replaced with no resolution to his issue.
* Apple agreed to replace the unit and after waiting a week for them to pick up his old one Hayden became frustrated and decided to walk from Dublin to Cork (nearest Apple repair center) to show he could walk faster than Apple could pickup his unit.
* After his story "broke" he got a call and apology from the head of Apple's corporate affairs in Ireland. 90 minutes after the call he had the replacement 2GHz iMac Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory plus the additional memory to bring it up to the 2GB he had originally installed.
* Apple did just receive the top spot in PC Magazine's 19th Annual Reader Satisfaction Survey with a score of 9.1 out of 10.
V Apple store employees fired for downloading Leopard
* At least 5 Apple retail store employees were fired after being overheard telling co-workers they had downloaded developer copies of OS 10.5
* They were in direct violation of Apples ethics policy.
* ThinkSecret reports that at least one employee feels he wouldn't have been fired if he denied the allegation, but because he admitted it he was terminated. DUH!
V Lions Gate films reveals iTunes movie deal
* Based in Vancouver they are the largest distributor of independent films in North America.
* In transcripts from a financial earnings conference call Lions Gate's chief executive, Jon Feltheimer, said the company reached digital delivery deals with CinemaNow, Movielink, and iTunes.
* In July, Think Secret reported that Apple had worked out deals with Walt Disney, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros., and was pursuing other studios as well for its iTunes movie rental service.
* Lions Gate's president, Steve Beeks, said that digital downloads of the studio's films on iTunes were expected in the coming months.
V MacBook delays
* Reports that Apple is having a hard time meeting Back to school demand.
* Customers report getting apology letters from Apple saying they are unable to fill orders within its promised timeframe.
* Customers are report delays of up to two weeks on custom build to order systems.
V Apple settles lawsuits with Creative
* Apple agreed to pay Creative USD$100 million as a one time licensing payment to settle a lawsuit over Creatives "Zen" patent, which describes the way musical data is display on a digital music player.
* The agreement settles all 5 lawsuits pending between the companies.
* Apple may also recoup a portion of its payment if Creative is successful in licensing the patent to other companies.
* Apple and Creative announced that Creative has joined Apple’s “Made for iPod” program and will release iPod accessory products later this year.
V Feedback, Comments and Commentary
V Feedback on Apple stock options troubles
* Play comment from Peter
Pro Money Talk Podcast
V Trying to answer Mac Pro questions
V Graphics cards. Can you use cards other than what Apple provides?
* At this time it doesn't appear so. I think this is due to driver limitations so your options are NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500, ATI Radeon X1900 XT, or the stock NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT (up to 4 of these). On slot for the double height cards
* Not currently support for NVidia SLI or ATI Crossfire graphics cards either. (mostly a gaming thing)
V RAM. How is it divided up among processors, tasks, applications, etc?
* Mac Pro does run in two modes that can have effect on memory bandwidth and does effect the performance of some applications (SOME).
V Dual channel, only 2 memory slots are filled. Quad channel (preferred) with 4 slots filled
* Recommend to fill upper slots 1&2 with matched pairs and lower slots 1&2 with matched pairs. Then 3&4 upper and 3&4 lower
* Better off running 4 larger DIMMs then 8 smaller ones filling all slots. (less latency between DIMMs)
* RAM performance in the Mac Pro is "hindered" by FB-DIMMS, which effect memory latency and lower the actual memory bandwidth (Theoretically 21.3GB/s, but Anandtech could only achieve 4.292 GB/s in their tests). Core 2 Duo systems which could use standard DDR2 RAM have much less latency meaning that if Apple released a Core2 Duo desktop iMac it could actually compete with the Mac Pro in a number of memory sensitive tasks. Of course it would be limited to 4 memory slots and a single processor.
Anandtech: Mac Pro
V The usefulness of Activity Monitor in troubleshooting
* Came back from taking a weekend break and my system was slow, iTunes skipping, etc. Checked Activity monitor and found a process called 'AuthenticationSE' running as 'root' using up 98-99% of my CPU.
* Also found a process called, 'bfobserver' using ~350MB of physical memory.
V Using Google search to identify the processes I discovered
* AuthenticationSE, appears to be started by Macromedia Dreamweaver and may be related to their anti-piracy system. Why it runs as root is a bit scary and I will be looking into it further.
V bfobserver, is part of the latest XCode and is a launch daemon there to allow the distributed build functionality. The launch service is run by default, it doesn't matter if you are doing distributed builds or not. I found command lines on Apple's developer site to disable and re-enable the service.
> WARNING: Use these commands at your own risk. They are provided for informational purposes only.
V Applications-->Utilities-->Activity Monitor
* Use the search or the dropdown at the top to filter which processes your see, All processes, My processes, etc.
* Click the column headings to sort the lists. I find CPU and Real most useful.
V kernel_task
* Uses a lot of Virtual Memory, but this is normal as this process seems to encompass the entire kernel (xnu core of OS)
V From "Mac OS X Internals (A Systems Approach)" by Amit Singh.
* The kernel uses a single task - the kernel task - with multiple threads that perform kernel operations such as scheduling, thread reaping, callout management, paging and Unix exception handling. Thus xnu is a monolithic kernel containing markedly different components such as Mach, BSD, and the I/O Kit, all running as groups of threads in a single task in the same address space.
* Can monitor almost everything on your system and get an overview of what is going on. Play with the tabs, CPU, Memory, Disk Activity, Disk Usage and Network.
* Can "kill" processes there, but be careful. Research and know what you are doing as you can easily cause harm as well as help.
V Automatically get lyrics and artwork in iTunes
* Play tip from Adam
* Needledrop from DougsScripts
* Sing That iTune! Widget
Sing That iTune!
* Dashboard must be activated for it to get the info. There are are solution around this same concept that do the same thing.
* Cool app for browsing and playing albums by artwork is Coverflow
V Another QuickTime Streaming Tip
* Listener Mark recommend turning down the streaming speed In the Quicktime preferences to give Quicktime more buffer time.
* You can also try disabling Instant-on or set a longer delay.
* This could cause you to get a "smaller" version of the stream if it is set to auto detect your connection speed.
V Closing
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* Show notes.
V Keep emails coming. More audio comments.
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V "The Punk" by Beep
* From listener Ron
* Mild language warning.
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