16 October 2008

My Intel iMac is dead, logic board failure, how's yours?

With much dismay, I resigned myself to the fact my 2006 17" Intel iMac is kaput. I've had it since July 2006, so in just 2 years and 3 months it's died. It's the first total failure of any PC I've ever owned and also turns out to be the most expensive. To replace a logic board here in Canada costs around $1000, so it's an economic write off, I might as well buy a new machine.

When I bought the machine in the UK, back in 2006 I didn't bother getting AppleCare as I thought it was just another extended warranty you don't need. Somewhat ironically I think there's a European consumer law (which I'll have to research), that covers you outside the 1 year manufacturers warranty, but now I'm in Canada, I doubt that applies.

Two things disappoint me here:

1) It's shattered my perception of Apple producing reliable machines. I've been using Macs for years with no trouble with the machines at all. The expensive price tag stood for style and reliability - something that was made to last.

2) The sheer expense to myself. What ever I do, it's going to cost me. I cannot afford another Mac for a few months now and I'm back to using my old Sony Vaio, which the Mac replaced and is still going (it just about runs Flex 3). I need a machine to do my work, but can I really justify buying another iMac at $1500+ ? In Canada, Apple doesn't offer any credit schemes and I'm only allowed a $500 credit card limit as I've not lived in the country for long. It pains me to be actually considering buying a PC with Vista on it!

Doing a bit of Goolging and speaking to the guy in the Apple Store, it seems early Intel iMacs are prone to this problem. Potentially thousands of machines could be dropping like flies, out of warranty and at great expense to the consumer. Apple are probably keeping this one quiet, so please post here if you've had a logic board failure (or any other catastrophic problem) with the 2006/2007 Intel iMac models (the white ones).

**** UPDATE - MARCH 2011 ****
Thank you everyone for posting. There is a petition you can sign to recall 2006 iMacs.

Alas I ripped my iMac apart to get the HDD out and sent it for recycling. But if you still have your dead iMac, it may be worth signing the petition and get on a Class Action Lawsuit.

01 October 2008

Flash Player Audio Sync and Frame Rates

So, it's the end of my hiatus since I last posted. I got married, changed job, house, car - actually pretty much all my life.

I'm back to creating Flash games, which is always enjoyable. I'm currently building a multiplayer world and various games attached to it. At the moment I'm building a Dance Dance Revolution type game which initially sounds simple, and it would be, but for the fact the Flash Player frame rate is all over the place.

If you have a 24fps movie, each frame should fire every 41.166* ms - or they *should*. In reality the frame rate can vary +- 20ms, which means after a short while the animation drifts away from the audio quite considerably. This problem is caused by a number of factors, mainly CPU speed/load and platform. It's bad on PC but terrible on an Mac.

So the problem is how do you get your beat hits to be absolutely precise to the music? I've managed to solve this problem by creating a "deltaTime" variable which calculates the drift per frame. If you know how many milliseconds it should be and how much drift you have, you can convert that to pixels to move, based on frame rate.

The net effect is a bit weird. The beat hits are spot on with the music, but this comes at a price because as the instructions scroll down the screen, the distance the instruction icons move is different each frame. This results in a jerky scrolling motion.

I'm hoping FP10 has more accurate frame rates that would solve this problem.