Canon Mini-DV Camera & Firewire Bug

I spent way more time than I should have trying to figure out why my Canon ZR800 wasn’t being seen by my Mac. I tested the Firewire cable, I rebooted, I re-installed QuickTime. The Sony PD150 worked fine, but the Canon was a no-show.

Canon ZR800

Finally I dug up this Camcorder HQ post by Doug Van Doren

Actually, there’s one HUGE caveat with that: the new Canon ZR’s 800-850 will NOT work with a Mac that has another FireWire device plugged into it. If you have an external hard drive, your iPod or anything plugged into one of the other FireWire ports on the computer and then you plug in a Canon ZR800 series camcorder and launch iMovie or FCP or FCE, it will crash and freeze the Mac OS.

This is a huge bug I recently discovered when I bought a new Canon ZR-800 and ended up crashing all three of my Macs (I tried it on them all just to make sure).

It was a nightmare. Here’s the technical article from Apple:

It does not mention the ZR800’s specifically, but trust me, it applies to them as well.

If there’s nothing else plugged into the other FireWire ports, it works fine. The only trouble with that is that most people like to use an external firewire drive to put their digitized footage on. This is a big problem if that’s what you’re trying to do.

Luckily I did not experience any real crashes, just the fact that iMovie and Final Cut sort of ‘stuck’ while the camera was turned on, and then resumed when turned off. The System Profiler also failed to show any Firewire device when the camera was on. Everything is fine when no other Firewire devices are connected, so there is a workaround… Still, it’s an annoying bug I hope can be fixed in the future.


Dumb Devices Storing Data

Our devices are dumb. They are not very aware of each other, and they should be.

I was thinking about this after I got home from BarCampMadison, where we talked about storage solutions. The thing that really trigged it was that for about 3 minutes, I thought I lost my digital camera. While you freak out for a minute about losing an object, you also freak out (probably much worse) about losing the data.

What would be nice is a way for devices to talk to each other, and be able to sync and backup data without user intervention. So, I carry around a digital camera, a mobile phone, an iPod, and a laptop. What if the camera could easily communicate with the other devices and say “Hey, I have 30 new photos, who can store these for me?” The laptop might respond “I’m the primary device, I have all the digital photos, give them to me” and then some wireless magic (wifi, bluetooth) would be used to do the right thing.

No laptop present? Perhaps the iPod could say “I’ve got 10 gigs of free space, give me the photos, and I will give them to the master when I get in range and connect.” No iPod? The mobile phone could be the storage device. Meanwhile the phone is talking to the other devices and asking them to sync/backup the new data it has, “Hey iPod, store these new phone numbers I got in the last 4 hours.” And on and on…

The idea is really to spread your data far and wide. We talked about this a lot at BarCampMadison. The situation will only get worse as our digital lives create more and more bits we have to deal with. Those bits need to be saved, and synchornized, and backed up. Doesn’t it seem silly that I need to manually tell my computer to sync with my phone every morning? Shouldn’t they be smart enough to do that when they get in close range of each other? Yes, there can be conflicts in the data, but do all the easy stuff first, then ask me to resolve conflicts. Syncing the iPod is nice, but in the future I hope having to physically plug in a device to have that happen seems just silly. (Sure, today we have issues with wireless communication, large amounts of data, and battery life, but those are all problems we can solve.)

We have automated backup solutions for our regular computers, but these mobile devices we carry are getting more and more important, and holding more and more data, and we need to make sure we don’t just lose it all to the bit bucket.


BarCampMilwaukee JerryCam

Here’s my first video: BarCampMilwaukee: Time Lapse. Actually it was a collaboration with Jerry, who set up a webcam while he was there…


Thanks Jerry! Hope the drive back to Iowa wasn’t too rough…


Olympus Rides Again!

There have been no photos posted recently. This is due to the death of our digital camera. Countertop. Children. Floor. You can put the pieces together…

So we never quite got around to replacing it, I mean, isn’t the cost of technology supposed to go down? It never seems to, you just get more for the same price. A good Mac will always cost around $2000. Six years ago that got you a 233 mhz PowerMac G3 with 64 MB of RAM, and today you still pay $2000 but now you get a Dual 1.8 ghz PowerMac G5 with 256 MB of RAM. Six years from now you’ll get a 20 ghz PowerMac G8 with 2 terabytes of RAM, and you’ll pay about $2000… (Ok, the numbers might be off, but you get the idea…)

Anyway, I was secretly hoping the upcoming holiday season would help out with this problem, when a friend of mine gave me an old Olympus camera to use. I mean, how often does someone give you a $1000+ camera? Well, when it’s 6 years old! ;) (I should add a sidenote that this friend is the same one that I got my old Wallstreet PowerBook from, and it too was state-of-the-art in 1998. Thanks Friend!)

I’m not complaining, I’m quite thankful actually! It uses SmartMedia cards (of which I have about 5 or 6 now, some from the old Olympus, some from the Rio 500.) It’s a huge camera! It’s not gonna fit in your pocket unless you are a kangaroo. No matter, I can again take pictures! Of course with the 8 MB card it seems to hold only 4 images in “Super High Quality” mode. I’m hoping it can use the 64 mb card I have…

The test images seemed a little soft… Hey, just think of the Dischord inspired photos I can take now – Flickr here I come!