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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

.AVI Files, IDE Drives, & Weird Auto-Rebooting Macs
July 14th, 2000

Good day, everyone! I trust you've all made your MACWORLD plans for next week, and are busy awaiting all the juicy tidbits that are sure to follow. While we wait, I decided I might answer a few questions for the readers at home. That, and it's in my contract that I'll do this on Friday, so here we are. Today we revisit AVI files, discuss upgrading IDE drives, and work on a IIci that reboots all the time. Feel free to e-mail your questions to me at [email protected], or visit the Ask Dave Forums for interaction with the rest of the Ask Dave readers. Enjoy!

Josh Dransfield writes, "I have all these .AVI files sitting around on my Mac that i cant play. I have tried 2 play them with Quicktime, but no luck. I was wondering if you knew where I could get a free AVI player for the Mac if there are any. I would appreciate any suggestions you may have."

Josh -- You actually already have a free AVI player for the Mac. QuickTime will do it for you with the proper codecs ("codec" is short for COmpressor/DECompressor, and is the engine used to decode the movie files you have). There are many different types of AVI files and, as such, many different codecs required to view them. Unfortunately, there are a few different formats that are optimized ONLY for the Pentium-series processors and, as you might guess, won't work on the Mac. I have detailed this information in a past column (see "Playing .AVI Files, Virtual Memory Problems, & More On .EXE Files (April 28th, 2000)").

Bryan Bogue writes, "Dave, Will I have any problem replacing my stock IDE drive in my beige desktop 266MHz G3 with a Maxtor Plus 30 GB, 7200 RPM drive? I'm not sure what Rev I have. I think it may be a Rev 1."

Bryan -- this new drive should work fine in your older machine. However, the Apple Drive Setup utility may not recognize or format the drive properly. For this purpose, you might require FWB's Hard Disk Toolkit, which recognizes and formats many 3rd party drives, as well as offering more customization than the utility provided by Apple.

Paul Kennedy writes, "I have a IIci that has been working fine until a few weeks ago. It started rebooting every few seconds. I can press the power on/off button and it will turn off but then it immediately turns back on. It will then power on again in about 2 seconds. The power supply doesn't seem to be the problem and it hasn't even gotten to the disk yet. What could be the problem and what can I do to correct it?"

That doesn't sound like much fun, Paul! My guess is that the motherboard battery is on its way out. There's a little 3.6v battery on the motherboard that keeps your PRAM, date, and time (among other things) safe and sound. If that battery dies, the information may get corrupt, and cause these strange reboots. You can get a new battery at Radio Shack.

The other thing it could be is your power switch (either on the keyboard or the computer). Try starting it up without a keyboard plugged in and see if that helps. The reset button is another place to look. Often times the switches will wear out with age and get stuck in the "pressed on" position. Try working them a few times to make sure they reset to their normal resting state.

Frank Blinkon writes, "Dave! You have to tell me what Steve Jobs will announce at MACWORLD Expo in New York."

Oh... no problem, Frank. We just got the itemized list of announcements and are happy to share. Steve will be showing us the... oh... sorry... my editor just told me it was press time. I'll finish this question up next week. :-)

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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