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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




Trouble with FireWire On Your Pismo? Dave says, 'RTFM'
August 11th, 2000

This week there's one problem that's been driving me crazy, and it's time I addressed it! It is in regards to the of Apple's FireWire software to version 2.4, specifically when installed on PowerBooks. Of the multitude of e-mails I've received on the subject, the following spells it out best:

"Dave -- I'm just wondering if anyone else is having issues with their FireWire ports on their PowerBooks? Although my Pismo 400 is operating fine in all other respects, there are times when Apple System Profiler will not list FireWire ports in the devices list. When this happens, a subsequent run of the Apple Hardware Test CD will stop with an error code like 1/fire/-50000, identifying a problem with FireWire. Checking out some of the forums online seem to indicate that I'm not alone, with most folks suggesting a Power Manager reset (which is a pain since it resets the date and a few other things), doing a complete shutdown and restart, or downgrading to FireWire 2.3.3, among other things. I haven't done a thorough analysis process to find out which of these, if any, reliably solves the problem, but probably should. Any ideas?"

Yes, I have an idea. You know, I don't get on the soapbox much, but this time I believe it's warranted. My idea is, of course, read the manual (which is the nice way of saying it!). The ReadMe file that comes with FireWire 2.4 documents this EXACT issue as a known problem, and Apple has even gone out of their way to republish this information in its own TIL article, from which I quote:

Symptom

Sometimes a PowerBook (FireWire) with FireWire 2.4 software installed does not recognize FireWire devices.

Solution

If a PowerBook (FireWire) stops responding ("crashes") and no FireWire devices are connected, the computer may not recognize FireWire devices after restarting. If this happens, fully shut down the PowerBook and then power it back on.

It's one thing for the average reader to miss this kind of stuff, but I've seen LOTS of tech. support-oriented web sites miss it, too, and it's driving me crazy. I even wrote one of them (that deals exclusively with PowerBooks, mind you), and they wrote me back to tell me I was wrong. Days later, they published the same information as though they found it on their own (this is after a multi-month thread on their discussion forums about the topic!). I'm not sure why this one has everyone stumped, but it sure caught a lot of folks off guard. So the moral of this lovely story is this: If you decide to live on the bleeding edge and add every update the moment it comes out, take the time to read the information that comes along with those updates. Occasionally you'll find something that gives you a bit of insight into exactly what it is you're installing!

If you have a question of your own, please feel free to e-mail askdave@macobserver.com or visit the Ask Dave Forums and let everyone have a shot at helping you!

P.S. Have a Nice Day.

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....


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