Lost Explained, Plumbers, Travertine Marble, and Macs

There have been so many theories on LOST, I’ve lost track. This one which I found via Stumble-Upon today is absolutely stellar. It works. Makes sense. It’s a very long post so make sure you have time to read and think. It’s got some holes but I really, really, like this one.

Today, the plumber came to fix the ballcock on my guest bathroom toilet. Actually, he replaced the whole mechanism because it had a small leak. I only mention this because it’s not often you get to say ballcock when there’s not a dirty joke involved. I wish I could work in a badminton reference and say shuttlecock. I can’t. So I won’t say shuttlecock.

My shower work is done. My three-day semi-expensive job turned into a ten-day long ordeal. However, the old shower was ripped out. The leaky shower-pan was replaced — and a good thing because it was developing a mould collection. The new shower has authentic travertine marble tiling. I like it except for the light fixture (which I’ll replace) and the door (too short for my tastes). I am pleased, though. I missed being in my bathroom because it was just weird being the guest bathroom for so long.

My new Mac is chugging along nicely except for the firewire issue. What firewire issue you may ask. We’ll let me tell you then 🙂 An edited version of what I sent to Apple’s Engineering Department:

I thought it was just me having problems but then I’ve since had other friends with similar problems. We have a technology provider that deals directly with Apple and I spoke the Apple Rep. A few days later they called back and confirmed there ARE problems on a wide scale and they’re “checking into the cause but are leaning towards the monitor having faulty hardware.”

Now, on to the nitty-gritty. This bug manifests itself as follows.

To rule out other issues, ALL OTHER EXTERNAL DEVICES BOTH USB AND FIREWIRE (except mouse and keyboard obviously) were removed from the chain: CPU, Monitor, Hubs, everything.

This problem is specifically related to the 23″ new cinema display and the firewire port/hub built into the new Intel 2x4core 3.2ghz. This machine is about a week old as is the monitor. Hot off the press. All external devices were previously plugged into a dual-core G5 with similar specifications and functioned normally.

What happened is that if you plug the monitor into the rear firewire ports an external firewire HD (800 or 400) will eventually overload the system and disable the entire firewire bus on ALL ports. I tried two different external firewire drives (on the 400 and 800 ports in front and back of the machine with NOTHING plugged into the monitor but the monitor plugged into the machine’s rear port (tried both ports). I also tried various cables.

Apparently, the internals of the machine have one shared bus and even though the system is powered it can’t handle an external drive. The drive in question is one of the 1-TB Western Digitals (I’m not using their drivers — just the default Apple stuff).

When you access the external drive and open it, you get the root directory for that drive, but then when you open a folder the drive over-spins and then powers down. Checking in System Profiler shows that the Firewire Bus cannot be read. All firewire devices stop working. You must POWER DOWN THE SYSTEM to recover. Moving down to 400 didn’t help.

I tried this with two different Firewire Drives. Happily, the data was not too badly damaged by the unexpected power down. DiskWarrior to the rescue.

At first, I thought I had an isolated incident with my specific machine or monitor being bad which is when I slowly begin trying to isolate it by removing equipment from the equation. (I have firewire external Sony AIT, iOmega ZIP, Memorex DVD+RW drives in addition to the HD. Since USB is unaffected, I left those out of the equation and unplugged).

So, after narrowing it down to the monitor and hard drive, I went to Google (gotta love Google because it knows everything) and typed the error message about the bus being unreadable. There are lots of matches and everyone is having firewire bus problems, but nobody has apparently isolated it yet. But it’s my observation and gut feeling that there is an endemic problem with the monitor’s firewire using too much power from the machine the machine’s firewire bus is insufficiently powered. The fact that it powered down the drive and rendered the bus dead supports this hypothesis. (Or, more likely, a combination of an issue between the Mac and the monitor.)

This information is VERY good and solid and tested carefully. It’s not perfectly tested but Apple ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY has an issue. The hard drive worked fine on my G5 Mac (2x2ghz) in the same FW800 port with ALL the above devices attached. That rules out the machine handily. ¨

Continued testing causes repeated bus power downs and will continue to damage my hard drive which is why I don’t want to keep testing my drive.

It’s some sport of an electrical issue with bus power over your firewire chain. I suspect that with all those ports on the machine plus the monitor added in, the stress is too much, and it gives up.

I will, shortly, have a lot more Mac hardware for sale including (possibly) a Cinema Display, a Dual Processor G5, and more. Contact me for details.

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