Nov 12, 1999
CONTRIBUTED by Kenneth Lim, this very recent TIL (Article ID: 25049) from Apple discusses several issues related to DHCP client implementation found in Open Transport 2.5.1 (included with Mac OS 8.6 on selected systems) and 2.5.2 (included in Mac OS 9). This TIL is of interest to owners of the new slot-loading iMacs, iBooks, and Power Mac G4 in which OT 2.5.1/2.5.2 is pre-installed.
The same information is also available here.
Magix Access Client 2.0 is reportedly unable to work with Mac OS 9, apparently due to these issues. Apple Singapore is currently working on a solution to the problem.
Need technical information on Open Transport 2.0.3? Then go to TIL Article ID:58138
Nov 7, 1999
LOOKS LIKE reader Kenneth Lim has found the answer to the strange phenomenon I mentioned below in "Magix Miscellany". In this MacFixit report, several MacFixit readers relate varying accounts of very similar problems. And all are DHCP-related, it would appear.
The revelation seems to be that DHCP leases last only 30 minutes, and that after the initial connection, your Mac attempts to poll the DHCP connection after the first half-hour (and maybe even regularly after that) to renew the lease for a valid IP address. (My own time-checks confirm this.)
Based on the ambivalent nature of the reader reports received, the stall may or may not occur during each of these instances, but it almost definitely will occur if the DHCP connection has been terminated or is otherwise down, and your Mac still attempts to poll the connection. I recommend that you read the report, which covers the issue quite comprehensively, even if there appears to be no clear-cut solution.
The solution may however reside in Mac OS 9. That is, when MAC 2.0 is eventually fully compatible with it. According to Apple's Tech Notes 1176 for Mac OS 9, under the section Open Transport 2.5:
Some internal timeout constants have been adjusted to prevent pausing behavior when attempting to obtain or renew a DHCP lease.
So now there's even greater reason to argue that SingTel's idea of a time-based Magix service for the Mac is seriously flawed. Let's all put some pressure on them to do the right thing, shall we?
Nov 7, 1999
I JUST RECEIVED my copy of the new Magix user guide from SingTel Magix yesterday in the mail, together with a CD containing Version 2.0 of the Magix Access Client (MAC). Look out for yours if you haven't received it already.
On the whole, the manual is quite clear and everything's fairly well explained. As well, there are some interesting inclusions I had not noted previously, such as the DNS server settings (see page 42) which incidentally are the same as those of Singnet.
Take note that you'll have to upgrade to MAC 2.0 by Nov 15. Previous versions will cease to be compatible with the service after that date. I also understand that MAC 2.0 is not fully compatible with Open Transport 2.5 which comes with Mac OS 9.
I am noticing some curious behavior when using Magix (only since using MAC 2.0). Momentary freezes will occur lasting several seconds during a browsing session. This happens infrequently, and only if you've been online for at least several minutes, and sometimes even if you've already gone offline but have not quit the Magix client. The symptom I've noted is that although you still have cursor movement control, clicking has no effect on anything onscreen. The problem disappears after maybe 10-20 seconds, when you regain full control of the cursor.
I'm not sure, but I suspect the pausing behavior may be due to attempts to obtain or renew a DHCP lease, which incidentally, Mac OS 9 has sought to resolve. If any Magix user has faced the same situation, I'd like to hear from you. Drop me a note.
Meanwhile, check out The Unofficial Magix for Mac FAQ if you haven't already.
Magix for iMac Update:
Ethernet-based Magix for Mac Coming Soon
Sep 13, 1999
Oct 3 Update: Another Magix bench-test movie trailer for you to try out:
• Toy Story 2: The Really Big One (19MB).
Oct 2 Update: SingTel Magix now has a Magix Usage Alert Service. How thoughtful.
Sep 16 Update — Magix Announces TimeBank: Starting October 1999, SingTel Magix allows subscribers to bring over any unused free hours to the following month.
Sep 13 update: The Magix Access Client works fine on a PowerMac 8500, and to my knowledge, on a PowerMac 6400 as well. I assume it would work on just about any Mac model with an Ethernet port built-in and running Mac OS 8.6. The performance may vary; large files (say, more than 5MB) will download at between 30-50 KB per second on my 8500, but web pages are typically rendered at speeds that seem only moderately improved. This suggests that performance levels between different machines may have less to do with the data throughput via the Magix connection than it has with the machine's speed, RAM, and the caching performance of the browser used.
Sep 12 update: Magix is unaffected by either Call Waiting or PhoneMail services which you may have subscribed to on the same line.
Sep 12 update: Confirmation: Once SingTel Magix has been configured in your Internet control panel, you do not need to make it the Active Set (nor change your TCP/IP settings) in order for Magix to work. Simply start up the Magix Access Client to get online. As a matter of fact, with your regular PPP account settings intact, you'll be able to retrieve your mail from your regular incoming mail server (eg pop.singnet.com.sg) even though you're connected on Magix. (If you are on the trial, and have a different ISP eg Pacific Internet or Cyberway, let me know if your experiences differ.)
Sneak Peek: Catch a glimpse of Magix Access Client version 2.
Sep 10, 1999
The following random notes are based on a presentation on Magix by SingTel Multimedia's assistant associate director David Hanley to the Singapore Mac Users Group on Sep 8, 1999 at Apple Singapore's premises:
Magix for the Mac: What You Can Expect
Magix for the Mac will be very similar to the Magix for iMac configuration:
It will be Ethernet-based, so no ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) card is used. It will in fact be modeled after the Magix for iMac configuration, where all that is needed besides the ADSL modem is the Magix Access Client software. (Aside from the iMac, other Macs reported to have been tested successfully with the Magix Access Client include PowerBook G3s and the iBook.)
As it is Ethernet-based, IP addresses assigned will be dynamic rather than fixed, but this won't be a real issue for users unless you are using Magix to set up, say, an FTP server.
Possibly because it is Ethernet-enabled, or for other technical reasons, Magix for the Mac will be TIME-BASED, not usage-based. So forget about being charged only for actual data transfer time and nothing else, or about the rumored line polling on your Magix connection without your knowledge; you're basically going to be charged for staying online every minute, by the minute, just like with a regular dial-up modem. So disconnect Magix the moment you're done, or else it'll cost you.
Apple recommends that you run Mac OS 8.6 (update included in the installation CD) with the Magix service due to its more stable DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) support. Read more about DHCP here.
The service should be compatible with LANs, and even wireless LANs(!), as in fact, SingTel Magix already has a 512K LAN package available to corporate clients.
SingTel Multimedia has only engaged in low-level marketing of Magix on the Mac platform so far, simply because it presently lacks the technical capacity to offer the service in greater volume. It has however co-opted value-added resellers like Top Communications Pte Ltd to offer Mac users the required level of expertise and customer support for the Magix service. However, SingTel Multimedia expects in time to be able to provide the service on a larger scale to Mac users.
More on the Magix for iMac Trial
There are actually 200 participants in the current Magix for iMac trial, as opposed the earlier reported 100. No substantial feedback has been received so far.
The Magix for iMac program was designed to spearhead the launch of Magix on the Mac platform in Singapore, and SingTel Multimedia aims to price it "very aggressively". Mr Hanley assured the meeting that Magix for iMac will be introduced in October and that the start-up kit would definitely be offered as a "sub-$200" package to subscribers.
According to an engineer at Apple who ran a demo of Magix on an iMac, the Magix Access Client now on trial automatically configures the TCP/IP control panel to the Ethernet/DHCP Server setting once you've set your Internet control panel to Magix, and reverts to your regular PPP setting (if you have one) when you quit the Magix Access Client. More on this in the coming updates...
Magix does employ some form of a proxy cache server, according to Mr Hanley. However, this is totally transparent to the user. As such, the proxy settings in your browser preferences have no effect on the quality of your Magix connection, and can safely be left alone.
Miscellaneous Notes: Oracle Video Client vs QuickTime 4
Some questions were raised regarding compatibility issues pertaining to the VOD services offered on SingaporeONE, specifically, about the use of the Oracle Video Client browser plug-in (See Oracle Video Server) for 'live' streams and archived video.
The Oracle Video Client, required to view SingaporeONE multimedia content, was decided upon by SingTel Magix as it is used exclusively by SingTel Magix to access VOD content on SingaporeONE, according to an NCB source. OVC boasts full screen, full motion video, but it's a reasonable assumption that this has more to do with the 2.5Mbps bandwidth that SingaporeONE offers than with the OVC plug-in itself. Aside from the fact that the OVC plug-in is not available to the Mac, it apparently requires the use of an ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) card to work.
I've not seen anything like full screen, full motion streaming video (or live-action online games) on QuickTime 4, but given the broader bandwidth of SingaporeONE, I imagine it would be possible to deliver the same content via Quicktime 4. However, there is the reality of the investments already made on supporting infrastructure to consider.
One notable feature OVC has though, is something that could probably be described as 'live'-on-demand streaming. It is the ability of the OVC plug-in to allow users to "rewind" 'live' streaming content by a certain measure of time. Say you've tuned in late for the 9.30 news. With OVC, you are able to 'slide back' to catch the news at an earlier point in time even as it is being webcast. Sounds pretty cool.
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