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FireWire is the name Apple uses for a technology that is also called IEEE 1394 or i.Link. Whatever it's called, it's incredibly fast (in excess of 50 or even 100 MB per second). As I write this, FireWire is still too new and untested for much troubleshooting advice to be known. Still, here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Check FireWire connectors There are 4-pin and 6-pin FireWire connectors. Macs only accept the 6-pin connector. Other devices (such as digital cameras) may use the 4-pin. You will need a cable that has the correct connector on both ends.

    Not all digital camcorders work with FireWire (and/or with applications that use FireWire, such as Final Cut Pro). An Apple Web page <http://www.apple. com/finalcutpro/techspecs/qualification.html> provides a list of what works and what does not.

  • Check FireWire drivers Using FireWire depends upon having Apple's FireWire driver extensions (e.g., FireWire Enabler and FireWire Support) installed in the System Folder. If you are using FireWire to download from a digital video camera, you will also need DV Enabler and DV Support. Devices attached to the FireWire port will likely require additional separate FireWire-specific drivers.

    In some cases, these drivers conflict with other software. At least with the early versions of these drivers, users reported that disabling these extensions solved certain problems starting up the Mac and/or using the ATI Rage 128 extensions on the blue-and-white G3 Macs. Disabling these extensions is fine only if you do not plan to add any FireWire peripherals.

    Similarly, older versions of these drivers may cause a startup crash when installed with a newer version of the OS. For example, Mac OS 9.0.4 installs version 2.3.3 of these files. If (perhaps due to a third party installer), you instead wind up with version 2.1, your Mac will crash at startup. Even worse, these extensions load even if you startup with Extensions Off (by holding down the Shift key at startup). Thus, to access the drive and remove the problem extensions, you will need to startup from a bootable CD or similar emergency startup disk.

  • Unmount before hot-swapping Although you can hot-swap FireWire devices (that is, disconnect and reconnect them while the Mac is running), be sure you unmount a FireWire hard drive (on the Finder's desktop) before disconnecting the drive from the FireWire chain. Do this by dragging the icon of the drive to the Trash.

    Certainly do not disconnect a FireWire device while it is in use, such as disconnecting a hard drive while data is being written to it.

  • If a FireWire device does not work as expected, try the following (in order):

    1. Disconnect and reconnect the device.

    2. Turn the device off and back on.

    3. Restart the Mac.

    4. Make sure all software that came with the device is installed.

    5. Try switching to the other FireWire port on the Mac. If you have multiple devices connected to one port, try moving the device to the other port by itself.

    6. If the device is self-powered, consider getting a powered FireWire hub and connecting the device to the hub.

    7. Some of the advice for USB troubleshooting (described next) may apply for FireWire as well. Read on and see.



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