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Lots of Universal Binary apps for Intel Mac appearing

I have received confirmation from Zeiss that the new ZF lenses for Nikon will offer automatic aperture control. See the 18 January entry in this blog for details.   This means that when you set the lens to, say, f5.6, the aperture closes down only when a picture is taken. Canon users won’t benefit from this feature if they use Zeiss ZF lenses via an adapter.

Yesterday’s discussion of ECC memory brought to light issues with data integrity and a running computer. But what if the computer stops running suddenly because the power fails? What kind of data integrity or data loss can you expect?  That’s hard to say, but it’s a bad thing to lose power suddenly.  Not only is data at risk, but voltage spikes and swings can damage sensitive computer equipment.

Yesterday evening, after a calm and sunny day, the power at my home popped on and off at least 3 times before dying a 4th time for the better part of an hour.  Aside from regular beeps and fan noise from the UPS units, my computers kept running without a hitch, including the diglloyd.com webserver.   That’s  because several weeks ago, a 24 hour power failure took down all my computers, including the diglloyd.com webserver which prompted me to look into some serious battery backup, also known as an Uninterruptible Power Supply.

I now have about 250 pounds of glorified lead-acid batteries which allow the web server to run for 24 hours, and my power-hungry PowerMac G5 for about 3 hours.   UPS devices also are excellent power-conditioners, much better than plain-vanilla surge-supressors.  I chose units from APC, which offers a full line of UPS units.   Let me share some thoughts on what I purchased, and why.

I first looked at the entry-level units such as the Back-UPS RS 1500VA, which offers an output power capacity of 865 watts.  However, with a 400 watt load (eg a PowerMac G5 with screen and drives), it offers only 13 minutes of juice.  By adding the optional battery pack, the runtime can be increased to 51 minutes.  For the web server (a laptop), DSL router, ethernet switch, only about 50 watts is needed, and that would yield about six hours of runtime.   Still, that's pretty limited runtime, especially for any future needs.  And from past experience I knew that it’s better to buy more than “just enough”—or I’d end up buying something more capable in short order.

So I looked at units with more runtime, and finally settled on the Smart-UPS XL 1000VA, which offers 800 watts of power output.   I also added a Smart-UPS XL 24V Battery Pack and two Power Distribution Units (highly recommended; don’t plug a redundant surge-supressor into a UPS) . Together, those reasonably-sized and priced units provide 2.5-3 hours of runtime with a 400 watt load.  The nice thing about the Smart-UPS XL is its expandability—up to 4 of the regular battery packs may be attached, thereby extending the runtime to nearly 9 hours at 400 watts.    For truly substantial runtime, up to four of the 12.2 X 17.6 X 29.7-inch 280-pound Smart-UPS 24V Ultra Battery Packs may be attached, for runtime of 35 hours at 400 watts. Presumably those humongous batteries need to ship on a pallet via truck—and then you’d need a couple of guys to move just one of them, so I stuck with the “wimpy” ones.  I purchased everything from thenerds.net, and got prompt and very reasonably priced shipping, as well as very competitive prices.

Now here’s the catch—if you like quiet computer operation as I do, it turns out that the Smart-UPS XL line switches on a rather noisy fan when the power draw exceeds 57% of capacity, which my PowerMac G5 system just barely managed to do, drawing about 500 watts (with router, ethernet switch, etc).   So now I had excessive noise on my hands.  In the end I purchased another Smart-UPS XL 1000VA and battery, and attached the web server, DSL router and ethernet switch to that unit, and the main G5 system to the other unit, which kept both units comfortably under 400 watts.  Voilà—no fan noise.  This yielded a setup with nearly 24 hours of runtime for my power-frugal web server (a PowerBook G3 laptop), and 3 hours or so for my PowerMac G5 system.

Many small developers have released (or promise to soon release) Universal Binary applications (for use with the newly-introduced iMac Core Dual and MacBook).   The folks at macintouch.com are maintaining a list of vendors.

According to the macintouch.com list, Adobe Systems will not be releasing its Creative Suite CS2 product as a Universal Binary.  This suggests that users will have to pay for the privilege of getting a Universal Binary version by upgrading to the next version (when it becomes available).  Does this mean a new release is coming soon?

Also, Nikon, Canon, Bibble Labs, DXO Optics and Phase One are conspicuously absent from the list.  When will software vendors learn that proactive honesty about their plans is the best type of customer relations they can offer?

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