Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category.

Mac Pro Wake from sleep, restarts instead

A couple of weeks ago my Mac Pro (Early 2008) started failing to wake properly from sleep – basically it would boot from scratch rather than awaken.

PRAM zapped and all the usual stuff you see written across various forum. Then at the point of installing a replacement backup battery, I noticed a bright red light on one of the RAM risers.

Cutting a long story short, one of the RAM modules has failed. Checking the system profile, 4Gb of installed RAM is missing. The mac has wisely ignored the failing bank of RAM, but it would have been nicer if it had also alerted me to the fact prior to looking inside.

End result: physically removed the modules on the failing bank and now sleep/wakeup works as normal again. Fingers crossed the memory supplier will replace the failing package on their lifetime warranty.

Flex4.6 mobile maxChars bug/problem and workaround

Bug-note to self, and workaround while waiting for the bug-base to migrate from Adobe to Apache.

I’m using in a Flex 4.6 mobile project and found that setting the maxChars property to 512 caused exeption:

Main Thread (Suspended: ArgumentError: Error #2006: The supplied index is out of bounds.)
flash.text::StageText/set viewPort [no source]

However setting maxChars to something much smaller (e.g. 10) was fine. From experimentation, seems that the biggest number to which maxChars could be set without causing the problem was 481. I have no idea what that number relates to. Anyway the database field my TextInput corresponds to is 512 chars max so that’s the number I need.

The workaround:

Setting maxWidth on the TextInput seems to solve the problem. But rather than insert a constant I want the TextInput to flex to the width of it’s container, so the following seems to avoid the problem:


id        ="textInputId"
maxWidth  ="{skinableContainerId.width}"
maxChars  ="512" />


The future of Flex :

MacPro early 2008 video card dies

A couple of months ago, during a particularly busy period of work, I started to suffer some quite strange symptoms with my MacPro. Essentially, ‘sometimes’ if the system went to sleep, it was not possible to properly wake it up. It was apparent that the machine was starting up, but there was no video signal to either of the two monitors attached. One being an Apple 23 inch LCD. The other being an old CRT. The only way to get back to a working condition being to force-shutdown and restart the system.

My first suspect was one of the monitors – possibly the LCD. But trying them individually and swapping the connectors over made no difference.

The next suspect being the video card. Taking a look inside, there was a shocking amount of dust build up. I removed the card and gave it a good clean. Unfortunately this didn’t solve the problem. Over the next few weeks the occurrence increased in frequency to the point where one Sunday, after 7 or 8 reboots, it was time for more drastic action.

ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT

I had found a discussion on the Apple support site which echoed the symptoms and seemed to confirm the video card being at fault. My Mac was out of warranty and I needed it working for the next day and so trekked to the Regent Street Apple Store. Really busy store – the worse part was trying to get the attention of a member of staff. But then it was plain sailing. I explained the issue. While he suggested it might make sense to bring in the Mac to be checked – doing so would have been a real pain, run up cost and taken ages. I was pretty confident in my diagnosis. The only option available was an upgrade – which I was pretty happy with. From reading the rest of the support discussion I really didn’t want to replace like with like.

So, £300 lighter I trekked back home with a Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter and a 512Mb ATI Radeon HD 4870. Very releived that the item was in-stock.

It dwarfs the old card, taking up two slots and full width. Installation was not too hard. The worst bit trying to connect the extra power cables to the mother-board.

ATI Radeon HD 4870

Closed the machine and restarted. The new card was picked up immediately. No installation of drivers required. Note: I had been a little worried that drivers may be required as I had previously considered upgrading to  an NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 285, for which I read that it was vital to install the drivers prior to installing the card. Something difficult to achieve if the old card is dead!

Summing up – very happy so far with the new ATI Radeon HD 4870 which has been running faultless for the last couple of months, and looking forward to more software making user of the GPU, particularly from the likes of Adobe.

resurrected my tascam porta 05

Slightly off-topic for this blog, but…

Tascam Porta 05

Tascam Porta 05

Decided to dig out my old Tascam Porta 05 ministudio in order to digitise some old 4-track recordings. But, found that the play heads seemed to be stuck in the forward position. Full symptoms and notes:

  • Power on ok
  • Impossible to insert a cassette due to the position of the heads
  • Can hear the motor (which turns all the time power is on – this is normal)
  • Motor responds correctly to the pitch control
  • Fast forward button works – spins the central right capstan
  • Rewind button works – spins the central left capstan
  • Tape heads in forwards position, but the rubber wheel in front of the stop button is not forward enough to press against the metal capstan
  • The metal capstan, which should normally be spinning all the time the machine is powered is not actually spinning
  • Pressing play or record buttons does nothing – the central capstans that would fit into the tape spindles do not turn

I did google around trying to find a solution. I did find a couple of people with the same problem, but no solution posted. I googled for the service manual with no result other than someone in the states selling on ebay for around $22. I wish companies like this would get their service manuals PDF’d and onto the web – shouldn’t be an issue for what is essentially obsolete equipment?

Anyway, with no solution available from the outside, I decided to take a quick look inside to see if there was anything obviously out of place. Getting inside is easy:

  1. Remove the 5 screws from the back panel
  2. Carefully part the two sides noting that:
    • The power on/off slider will likely drop out as it detaches from the internal control
    • all the other sliders remain with the top of the case – but some detach in the process from the underlying control which remains in the base.
    • In my case the forward position of the tape heads was preventing the sides from separating. Pressing them back by pressing the plastic between the erase and write heads made enough space.
Inside the Tascam Porta 05

Inside the Tascam Porta 05

Close-up showing heads fixed forward

Close-up showing heads fixed forward

With the sides parted, I then powered up and observed the mechanics when pressing the various control buttons. I couldn’t see anything obvious, but then noticed that underneath the controls is a flywheel attached to that capstan in-front of the stop button. The flywheel is belt-driven and was not spinning.

Nudging the fly-wheel

Nudging the fly-wheel

Using a cotton bud, I gave it a few nudges, attempting to pushing it round in either direction. I was quite surprised  after a few attempts when the belt picked up and the flywheel turned under the power of the motor. At the same time the heads snapped back into the retracted position, and the play and record buttons now worked.

All that remained was to give it a good clean-out and reassemble. Taking care to align the Record function sliders with their underlying controls, and get the 5 screws back in, and I am back in action with kit that I thought was pretty cutting edge back in 1987.

opposing software patents in Europe…

creative-cognition ltd is signed up on the following petition to oppose software patents in Europe. Surely copyright and licensing is enough protection… petition banner