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News for Wednesday, 21 June 2006

An iTunes movie Store soon ?

By Greg. Original by Lionel - 21/06/2006 21:12:14 CEST - Category: Apple - Source: TGdaily
According to Variety.com, Apple iTMS activities could include full-length movies as soon as the end of this year. Apple is reportedly negociating the retailing price with the studios. Steve Job wants to go for the one price for all $9.99, but the majors would rather set prices themselves, based on each movie's popularity. It was the same story with music, safe for the experience the majors have got with dealing with Apple. And now they're adamant on getting prices ranging from $10 to $20.
While these are only rumors, the mere fact that all post-iBook Macs are able to play HD and H.264 is indeed a good indication of their credibility.
Now if Apple embarks on that road, they will have to face the thorny problem of providing enough bandwith to deliver data content 50 to 100 times as big as an audio CD. Of course customers will never accept waiting for days to download the movie they've purchased. A solution could be for Apple to implement its own iTunes embedded P2P network. Such a network would use the resources of all customers to speed up downloads. Technical feasability benefits from the fact that Apple controls both hardware and software.
Even more interesting is the prospect of the iPod that will be designed to play these films. As was the case for online music a few years ago, the popularity of feature films on sales on the iTMS will indeed be intermingled with that of the portable device proposed to display them.

Planetarium For Your Computer

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 21/06/2006 16:13:48 CEST - Category: Software - Source: XLR8yourMac
If in the evening you are dreaming of watching the stars, while it is pouring cats and dogs outside, then the Open Source Stellarium application is for you.
To install it, follow the procedure:
Download the following frameworks:
*SDL-1.2.10.dmg
*SDL_mixer-1.2.7.dmg
*SDL_image-1.2.5.dmg
Install them in /Library/Frameworks.
Then download Stellarium.
http://stellarium.sourceforge.net/
You will then get a representation of the sky and the milky-way depending on your location.

Exclusive: Apple Expo Banner

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 21/06/2006 16:08:27 CEST - Category: Apple
Hereafter is an exclusive piece of art: the advertising poster for the Paris Apple Expo 2006 that will soon be posted everywhere in Paris and in Europe.

You can already register for the Apple Expo
http://www.apple-expo.com/
As usual, we will be physically present at the Apple Expo so come and visit us at the "Le Pommier" booth to chat, expose your problem or reports information.

Inside A Dead Airport Express

By linathael - 21/06/2006 11:37:56 CEST - Category: MacBidouille
Couple of weeks ago, a skilled Mac user from Australia decided to open up a dead Airport Express in order to identify the faulty component, and potentially attempt to fix it. Hereafter comes her report, that represents weeks of investigation:
Just after Christmas I found myself with a suddenly dead Apple Airport Express (APX). It was in the middle of the hottest season of the hottest year on record in possibly the hottest country - the latter claim won't be defended - but it was horrible.
The APX sat in a hot room, without any benefit of air-conditioning. It sat in its beautiful white sealed case, and was very often almost too hot to touch. The retired Radio Technician (Air) in me begged me to drill some breather holes in the case, but not knowing what was inside, and having no means to easily find out, stopped me doing that.
Then one day the green light didn't light. It was dead. And not long out of warranty; but definitely out. My first total Apple failure since my Mac 128/OS 0.9 (according to ResEdit.)
I accepted the failure, but then, some time later, a chance web reference led me to where many, many other people were reporting similar failures of their APXs soon after their warranty expired, and then to the people behind this site.
My curiosity was aroused, and I decided to break into the case and see what was what. The breaking in proved a laborious task. The case is about 3mm thick, and is of a lovely strong plastic. I used a modeler's fine point knife: the front of the blade to slice the label cleanly in half, and the rear flat side of the blade to patiently scrape a deeper and deeper groove into the join. Being retired was a help. I would estimate it took about two-three hours time, stretched over a few days. I now realize that a modeler's razor saw, with blocks of wood clamped to each side of the blade to limit its cut to 3mm, would have reduced this work to about 30-40 minutes, max.
When I got inside I found a lovely bit of miniature electronics. The left side (as you look at it from the front) is the power board. Mine is branded 'Q61 Samsung, rev 1.0 040609', and beautifully built.

(Here you can see a couple of the plastic 'fences', mentioned below.)
The fuse was wrapped in multiple layers of carefully folded-to-fit strong yellow tape. Surprisingly, scattered around the circuit board are what could be called strong clear plastic fences, seemingly positioned to protect various components. When sub-miniature fuses blow, they sometimes literally explode, and this was good. Being clear plastic, they prove devilishly difficult to photograph. Yes, the fuse was blown.

(This shot of the original fuse does not show the layers of bright yellow tape that it was exquisitely wrapped in, and shows the fuse raised a little so that I could read the data on it's top edge.)
I was not able find an exact replacement fuse locally, but found an American 'bel' brand fuse equivalent (they supply the original fuses in my mushroom iMac) in a case that fitted the small space available. The fuse is a 'T500ma 250V'. (T = Slow blow.)

I soldered the new fuse in, and, with the two halves of the APX laying open on the desk like a dissected frog, turned the power on. I was smart enough to be watching behind protective glasses. The bang and spurt of plasma &/or flame came from the opposite side of the power board to the fuse, which was of course blown. (First rule of radio techs - always buy 3 fuses! Blast. I hadn’t. I'm losing it!)
This event was tracked to a tiny hole in the side of an 8 pin IC (Integrated Circuit)

. . . and the burst from that IC blew all over a blue capacitor alongside it, staining the capacitor black on the side facing the IC.

The IC is unbranded!!! Every professional I discuss this with raises an eyebrow here. An Apple device with unbranded parts!
It is labeled 'DMO265R', with a second line of text 'CVE29' below. I have been unable to find any data on this item at all, after very many Internet searches using many search engines, and can only guess at its purpose. Until I have drawn the circuit I'm unwilling to make any assumptions about its purpose, but the fact that the centre two pins on each side are 1.5mm wide, instead of 1mm like the others, and that it comes with a tiny four ribbed aluminum heat sink, stuck to its top surface with wobbly double-sided tape (you can glimpse it in the photo above), indicates it is meant to handle a lot of power for its size. The tape *may be a good conductor, but when I stuck it to my lips and put a hot cup to the tape I could feel no heat, so I have my doubts about how effective a heat transfer device it is.
So the current upshot is -
I have two new fuses;
I have a zero supply of DMO265Rs;
I don't know what a DMO2365R is anyway, so I can't go look for an equivalent replacement;
My APX is therefore terminally dead;
If I could have fixed and re-assembled it, I would have made a lot of ventilation holes in the case, clear of any high voltage areas. Blow the elegant form factor. I need working!
An Airport card in a mushroom iMac is currently performing the APX function for me, sort of.
I have opened the APX case, so Apple is unlikely to make any out-of-warranty replacement, according to my friendly local (independent) Apple dealer.
It looks as if I will have to go to a non-Apple WiFi box next time. I can't afford a re-run of this exercise.
Jen
In addition, Stuart, a reader from UK, sent us a photo of his opened APX, Jen was also able to draw the same conclusion from the photo: "The "blue resin coated capacitor " (C111) does indeed have a blackened area, but it is not the capacitor that is at fault. This capacitor copes the brunt of the blow-out from the DMO265 chip".

When you open an APX, you will be amazed by the mix of care between the clean and well organized Samsung IC, and the tape wrapped messy part of the Airport Express electronics.
We will of course need to confirm this analysis, but with other reports we have collected, we can conclude that the devil that leads to the short-life APX syndrome, is already inside the box when you purchase an APX.
All together, it seems that the quality of components is not what we could expect in an Apple branded product. Cupertino should spend more time selecting their manufacturers. Given the fact that most APX usually get very hot when turned on for sure doesn’t improve their lifespan
To conclude, we still have to determine if the short lifespan of APX is driven by the poor manufacturing of this device or by a faulty design, or both keeping in mind that the design might be correct but not properly translated in reality in Foxconn production lines.
The component DM0265R has been identified as a Green Mode Power Switch from Fairchild: http://www.fairchildsemi.com/ds/FS/FSDM0265RN.pdf

[Thanks to Kalomir for his help and comments]
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