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Archive for the ‘Tinstar News & Gadgets’ Category
August. Always the hottest and busiest month of the year. For us, all the boat shows are approaching, so many of our marine clients come up trumps with lots of lovely design work for us.
Just the moment when you don’t want your primary workhorse computer to start displaying death throes.
I wrote this post as a reply to a similarly distressed designer on the Apple forums, but I though that others might have had the same experience – so I’ve put it here as well in the hope it might help. My machine is behaving itself now, by the way…
Unexplained (Mac Pro) Powering Down
Symptoms: I have been experiencing random shutdowns / power-downs where the machine will simply turn off instantly and then restart 10 seconds later. this has happened about 15 times over the last month.
I had this exact problem which I managed to resolve the problem using two software utilities.
I’d be working away and (usually around mid-afternoon) my Mac Pro would unexpectedly just turn itself off as if there was a power-cut. Then it would restart itself and be OK for a while.
My first thought was that it might be related to the graphics card; it has eaten one before and the problem seemed to be worse when more than one monitor was attached. I called a local computer guy who has helped me with the Mac Pro before – and he suggested that it might be the power supply at fault. The problem here is that you could start throwing money at replacing parts, whilst not really knowing whether or not it’s going to fix the issue.
The other thing it was suggested that it might be was that it was overheating. This seemed to be a reasonable theory, as the studio is warm and the power-downs seem to occur late in the day.
So the first thing I did was a search on Google for Mac Pro temperatures. The first utility I found was Hardware Monitor (shareware).
This shows the current temperature of every component that has a sensor in the computer. The hottest thing in my list was the Northbridge Heat Sink which was getting up to 88°C (190°F). A small amount of research made it clear that this was a bad thing… if the heat sink was this hot, how hot must the chip have been? The Northbridge Chip ships with a thermal paste applied. Over time, this can literally ‘bake’ off, resulting in hotter operating temperatures. If it gets too hot, the computer powers off.
This also explains why the internal fans weren’t kicking in sooner – they’re set at a lower idling RPM which eventually just isn’t enough to prevent the overheating.
Enter utilty 2 – Fan Control (freeware).
Once installed, this utility is accessed via the System Preference pane.
I downloaded and installed this (while the Northbridge Heat Sink temperature was topping 88°C again) and the fans instantly kicked in – in a big way. They brought the sink temperature down to about 45 / 50°C. I set the minimum fan RPM to 1000 and the upper and lower thresholds to between 40°C and 70°C.
By this time I was down to one small monitor, and after a couple of days of no problems, I put my 30″ cinema display and additional 19″ monitor back on – and waited. That was 10 days ago and the problem has vanished – and as far as I’m concerned, solved.
If you have a Mac and you want to download YouTube videos to your hard drive (as we recently had to do for a client), here’s how.
You need to download the VLC video player in order for this to work.
Step 1 – Copy the URL of Video you want to download from YouTube (select the website address at the top of Safari and copy the whole thing).
Step 2 – Open the VLC program. Select FILE/ADVANCED OPEN FILE… from the menu. Click ‘Network’ and paste the address into the URL field. Click Open.
Step 3 – Select WINDOW/MEDIA INFORMATION… A window will open up with ‘Location’ at the bottom containing the online address of the video. Select and copy this address.
Step 4 – Go back to Safari and open a new window. Paste the address into the Safari address bar. Select WINDOW/DOWNLOADS and you should see the last thing on the list in the downloads window is a file called ‘videoplayback’. Click the little magnifying glass to the right of the file to locate it on your hard drive. It would be a good idea to rename the videoplayback file to the name of the video so you know what you’re looking at when you play it back later.
Step 5 – Drag the file from the downloads folder over the VLC video player window and you should now be able to watch the video offline…
In Safari, go to the video you want to watch in YouTube. Whilst it is playing, select WINDOW/ACTIVITY. Look down the list of items displayed under the name of the page you’re on. There should be one much bigger than the rest (in terms of file size). Double click this one and a file called videoplayback.flv should appear in your downloads window. Once it has downloaded it you’ll be able to play it back offline (assuming you have a Flash player available). VLC player will also play Flash videos so you could just open it in there.
I’m delighted to say that Captains Hamish Reid and Nick Dennison overcame their ‘claw hands’ sufficiently to be able to sign a fantastic photo for Tinstar of the conclusion of their epic – and I mean epic – row non-stop around the British Isles. The journey was in aid of Help for Heroes, the Army Benevolent Fund and Toe in the Water, ad it also landed the pair a well-earned place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Sometimes our studio creativity ventures into the domain of childish amusement. Our office doesn’t escape the blight of faulty office machinery and equipment, and I get tired of trying to sneak it down to the local tip. This week, we though we’d have a little fun with our neighbouring company in the next office.
Our plan is to furnish their office with as much obsolete equipment as possible without them noticing. So far, we’ve managed to donate a strategically placed fax machine (which no longer sends, receives, prints or works as a phone), and a fan (which is similarly dead):
So far, no one seems to have noticed. I’m working on item number three.
Last week, Nick Beresford-Davies was interviewed by Mary Gay Marchese of Markzware about the Quark to InDesign Conversion Plugin, Q2ID. Click here to see the results.
One of the most active pages on our site for visitors is the webcam page. The camera has been running for about five years, and is popular despite the fact that we always manage to find something relatively uninteresting to point it at!
We’re as guilty as the next company when it comes to marketing and attending to the needs of our own website; we need to practice what we preach! This blog is a part of a concerted effort to yank us and Tinstar well and truly into the middle of the Web 2.0 revolution.
At the cutting edge of technology now, we’ve incorporated our Twitter posts as well as our blog feed from Tinstar into this weblog – all we have to do now is fill it up with top class content!