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Editorial: Panther teething pains
By David Leishman
“Protect Your Data: Over half of Internet users have lost computer files at some point, and two-thirds of them never recovered the data.”
— © 2002, Forrester Research, Inc.; displayed prominently on
Apple’s page for its Backup application
Apple’s recent operating system update, Panther, this week continued to make big news around Mac Web sites. Fortunately for the company, most of the news didn’t spill over to the mainstream press.
Some users of Panther have reported losing data when using the new FileVault data encryption/security utility, or when using FireWire hard drives. Both issues appear to occur in specific circumstances: FileVault problems can ensue when users take advantage of the application’s offer at shutdown or startup to reclaim lost disk space, while FireWire issues are reported to occur only when the user’s drive is plugged into a Mac during startup. The latter problem was originally thought to be limited to FireWire 800 drives, but a MacCentral report this week found that earlier drives employing FireWire 400 also can suffer damage. (There’s also at least one Web report that an iPod was damaged.)
Apple has announced that it, respectively, “is aware of” and “has identified” the problems. Some FireWire drive makers have
issued firmware updates
that appear to solve this problem for users of their drives, but there are still a number of drives for which no updates have been issued.
My best hope is that those suffering from the problems are experienced users who know the pitfalls of moving to new technologies, whether of the software or hardware variety, and have taken appropriate steps to protect their data. Unfortunately, of course, many of the migrators backed up to their FireWire drives and assumed they were “good to go.”
In which case, I hope they backed up to more than one external drive. Or better yet, that they were using recent models of Power Mac G4s, which can accommodate up to four internal drives, and also store multiple backups therein. The newer Power Mac G5s offer only two internal drive bays, and many “content creation” users will employ the first drive for system and application files, and the second drive for data files — leaving only optical media such as DVDS and CDs for backup, which is not an optimal solution.
The present problems lend a touch of irony to Steve Jobs’ pronouncement at Wednesday’s meeting with analysts that, “With the combination of G5 and Panther, it’s a great time for our pro customers to upgrade.” And the re-introduction of FireWire drives as a supported technology in the recent release of Apple’s Backup 2.0 application is also ironic, especially given my opening quote.
There can be no question that developing a modern operating system is a Herculean task, involving an immense amount of detail and a significant possibility for error. The introduction of new technologies such as FileVault will always be an occasion for cautious deployment, but the FireWire issues are more difficult to explain away. This is a two-generation-old technology and the problem should have been caught in thorough pre-release testing. Drive manufacturers have provided some amount of relief, but it seems Apple still has a system-level problem to fix.
FireWire 400 data loss culprit remains a mystery
Apple announced last week that it had identified an issue with the Oxford Semiconductor 922 chipset used in FireWire 800 hard drives and is working to fix the issue. While Apple, Oxford and other hard drive manufacturers have stated the issue only affects the newer Oxford 922 chips, users of FireWire 400 drives have been reporting symptoms very similar to the ones initially found with FireWire 800.
NY Post: McDonald’s to do billion-song iTunes giveaway
The New York Post reported Wednesday that Apple and fast food giant McDonald’s Corp. will team up to give away up to 1 billion songs through the iTunes Music Store in an as-yet unannounced marketing campaign. While the deal is unlikely to actually run to a billion dollars, the report estimates McDonald”s spending will be “in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” (McDonald’s has subsequently characterized the report as “pure speculation” and indicated that there were no deals to announce.)
IDC: Apple UK sales up 36 percent
Salkever: Apple staging a comeback in education
Jobs talks Intel, .Mac, more with analysts
Apple will fix security flaws in Jaguar
FileVault problems continue Apple’s OS woes
White screen blotches mar some 15-inch PowerBooks
Several owners of the new 15-inch aluminum PowerBooks are having problems with “mysterious white blotches” showing up on the LCD screens. Some posts on the Apple message boards indicate that, in many cases, the spots appeared gradually over several days; others said the spots were visible the first time they turned on the PowerBook.
Canon offers new microportable projector
Sony expands Micro Vault line
Kanguru releases network storage device
New RAID systems based on ATA technology
Panther security update addresses Terminal issue
Apple has released a security update for Mac OS X 10.3 (“Panther”) that addresses a potential vulnerability with the Terminal application in OS X 10.3 and OS X 10.3 Server that could allow unauthorized access to a system. The update is available through the Mac OS X Software Update preference pane.
Apple releases Backup 2 for .Mac users
Xcode developer tools get updated
Macromedia offers Studio MX 2004, Contribute bounce fix
Cinema 4D updated, new module introduced
Media 100 i to add Power Mac G5, Panther support
Around the Web
Apple’s Knowledge Navigator revisited
Fifteen years ago, Apple’s
Knowledge Navigator video
offered a vision of the future of personal computing. Today, the integration of PowerBooks, iSight and Google show that the clip “stands the test of time rather well,” writes Infoworld’s Jim Udell. The interaction of natural language and computers still remains to be conquered, he continues, but “Apple’s vision, in any case, was and is spot on.”
Ten Things I Dig About Xcode
Democratic Presidential hopeful’s computers of choice
Va. Tech to sell Power Mac G5 “supercomputer kits”
Apple pushing media ‘core’ for 3G phones
ENUM: Telephone number in, URL out