The Computer Blog

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Introducing the G5!

Apple’s introduction this week of the new PowerPC 970 processor, nicknamed the G5 (and associating it with poorer performing chips from Motorola for reasons only Apple knows), was a great thing for the company. They’re aiming the G5 at the professional graphics designer, publisher, and videographer market to reinvigorate sales of the Power Mac line. That’s fine for now, but Apple must realize that it is not a strategy they can afford to adopt for very long.

In an interview with Macworld magazine, Apple’s Vice President of Hardware Product Marketing, Greg Joswiak stated that: “…the [G5] is not going into the Powerbook soon.”. That’s understandable from a technical standpoint. The architecture of the G5 is different enough from the G4 that it will take some time to retool all production lines to fit it. But if Apple keeps the PPC 970 out of its Powerbook, iMac, and iBook lines too long, it’s going to completely sabotage the market momentum it gained by the G5’s introduction. Mr. Joswiak stated that the G4 would be around “as long as the market demanded it”. That’s not reality. The market is demanding the G5. Apple needs to be moving to incorporate the G5 line in all its products. For now, the only place remaining for the G4’s (and these are the 1Ghz and faster G4’s) are in the iBooks and possibly a bottom end iMac just to keep the price points down.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Nose to the Grindstone

I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for the last two days. I’m in the process of moving this website to a different hosting company. You would think that’s no big deal; but my old host uses Windows servers running IIS (Internet Information Service), and IIS lets you get away with some sloppy web page coding practices. (And using any Microsoft product to code introduces a lot of them.) My new service runs Unix servers, so little things like capitalization mean a lot. I’ve had to spend a lot of time manually tweaking code. While there’s still a lot more I could do, I have the site on the new host running well enough where I can get back to more of a “normal” life. Frankly, running a website can eat up your life. That’s something I only have so much time to invest in since I’m doing this for free (Actually, it costs me money to do this!)

I’ve been with my current webhost provider, WebPanache (webpan.com) for about five years. Maybe longer. I’ve been pretty happy with the server speed and uptime. But over time, the company has remained static. They’ve offered no cuts in pricing or new services. Worse, I have a problem with the site publication process every time I put up a significant amount of new material. A couple of days ago, after publishing new content to the site and making corrections to some old pages, the webserver my site was on would not update the content on a specific page no matter what I did. It took six hours of trying to fix and diagnose it and a full day and two e-mail arguments with the owner/operator to get them to reboot the server. (In fact, I diagnosed the problem for them!) IIS 4.0 and 5.0, it appears, has problems with updating its cache. This was the second time I had gone through this with the company, so I decided it was time to move. There were too many other webhosting companies offering better prices and better service.

I’m giving Apollo Hosting a try. So far, everything has been going fairly smoothly. Their servers seem to be a tad slower than Webpan’s, but they more than make up for that with the controls I have available to me, 24 hour online chat for support, and the ability to host three domains within a single account. That’s important to me right now since I’m launching a video editing business and plan on having a website for it up in the near future.

I’ve already requested the DNS change, and I’m just waiting for it to happen. Since the website material on both my old and new webservers is identical, I tagged the “old” website with the statement: “Note: This website is in the process of being moved!”. If you go to the home page for the AndyZone and that statement is not there, the change in webhosts has taken place.

Now, back to the real world…

As you probably know by now, Apple did announce their new G5 PowerMacs this week. Like everyone, I was impressed by what they showed. I believe without a doubt that they will sport significantly improved performance over the G4. But whether they are, as Apple has been claiming, the fastest personal computers available today remains to be seen. From past experience, I know that Apple often hypes their performance claims. Indeed, there is already discussion on the “Net” that Apple has done just that with the G5; and the people waging those arguments are far more knowledgeable than me. I’m going to reserve judgment for now. I’m waiting until the production machines are delivered and I see benchmarks from real users using industry standard benchmarks and real world applications.

Apple also bumped up their price points by $500. That puts their top end machine at $3000. That’s a lot of money for a small business owner or a home power user. Indeed, though I’d love to have a G5, adding $500 to the prices probably priced me out of considering one for now. Frankly, I like the design of the Mirrored Door Drive G4 PowerMac’s more and can make a case that having two slower dual-processor machines for $ $1400 less than it would cost for the dual processor G5) makes more business sense than going after a G5. Dual 1.25Ghz G4 MDD PowerMacs cost $1600. I am sooooo tempted…!

Monday, June 23, 2003

Once More Into the Breach

CompUSA put a 160GB, 7200 RPM hard drive with an 8MB buffer on sale this week for only $99 after a rebate. Always needing more room and speed for editing video, I sprang for the deal. There was only one catch. I wanted to put the hard disk in my PowerMac.

I own a Quicksilver 2002 dual 1Ghz CPU model. The hard drive database at the Accelerate Your Mac! website indicated that most 2002 models had big hard disk support (>137GB hard drive) even though Apple claimed that only the Mirrored Drive Door models did. I decided to take the risk and installed it in my machine as the Primary IDE hard disk and put my old master drive (120GB with 8MB buffer) on as a Slave.

When I booted the machine, it booted up on my secondary hard disk, the one that had OS 10.2.6 on it. (I didn’t realize until this that Macs would search all hard disks for a bootable volume.) Under 10.2.6, I was able to easily partition and format the drive’s full partition. But just because the machine’s BIOS had big disk support didn’t mean that OS 9 or any other Mac installer would see it. And they didn’t. The Software Restore CD’s that came with the computer gave me an error message when I tried to use them. My OS 9 CD would install the OS 9 to the hard disk but only to 131GB of it. The rest of the hard disk was not recognized. The same held true for my Jaguar installation CD’s. They would partition and format only 131GB of the disk. I also found that when I ran Norton Disk Doctor on the new drive, it reported an incredible number of errors. Allowing it to fix them hosed the hard disk so OS X couldn’t even find it when I rebooted. Therefore, short of buying a new PCI card with large hard disk support, making the new drive my primary hard drive would be fraught with peril even if I could do it. For the moment, I decided to make the new drive my secondary hard drive. That way I could still utilize the hard drive’s extra space and speed in Final Cut Pro, my primary objective. If my system crashed, I could still do a normal restore

I’m still researching IDE PCI cards to see if I want to go down that road. Buying one might allow me to use the 160GB as my primary hard disk, the 120GB with an 8MB buffer as my secondary, and a third hard disk (120GB with a 2MB buffer) that’s just sitting around.

As rumored, Steve Jobs announced today that Apple would be releasing the long-awaited G5 computers. “G5” is actually a misnomer since the machines are not powered by a Motorola CPU but the IBM PowerPC 970. Apple has stated that these are the fastest personal computers ever. They better be. Yes, they have 64 bit CPU’s and incredibly fast bus speeds (1Ghz). But if the benchmarks, whether using industry standard benchmarks or application performance, don’t show them as truly competitive with today’s Intel and AMD powered machines, Apple will be seen as only executing another piece of marketing hype. This hit to their credibility could be serious, especially if the machines are priced at higher price points than current models, which is what the rumor mill has been saying. Assuming that is true, Apple cannot afford to take them a lot higher than today’s machines. Apple is on a roll, partially fueled by their innovation and partially due to their attempts to be more competitive with PC pricing. Apple can’t afford to forget that they’re competing against PC’s and not against their own past. If they do, there is no hope that they will ever grown above their current 3% market share; and that would be an injustice for everyone.

Friday, June 20, 2003

G5's and a Senator Gone Too Far

Macworld is reporting that in a bit of a minor slip up, Apple posted details of its new G5 PowerMac on its website Thursday night. Wow! Reported CPU speeds are in the 2Ghz range, with a 1 Ghz bus, 8X AGP, and Firewire 400 and 800 ports. Now, this will be interesting if it turns out to be true! I can’t wait to see the new design and the benchmarks that’ll hit the web in the next month or two. Finally, Macs might be moving toward being as fast or faster than Intel PC’s. With Apple’s killer apps and operating system, Apple could be moving into a new era. I hope so.

In a true display of how absolute power corrupts absolutely, Senator Orrin Hatch stated publicly he was interested in finding ways to disable the computers of people downloading music on the Internet in violation of copyright restrictions. I have never seen a larger display of irresponsibility. What the Senator is proposing appears to be in violation of Federal anti-hacking statues. Even if that is not true, what he is proposing—what he is interested in—is essentially executing legal punishment without due process and allowing that punishment to be executed by corporate entities instead of government authority. This is a blatant abuse of Constitutional power; and Mr. Orrin needs to resign as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He is obviously unfit to serve in such a post.

I sent the following e-mail to Senator Hatch (see the section in quotes) and, after examining Senate rules, also sent e-mails to the Chairman of the US Senate Ethics Committee and the Vice Chairman of the Committee. Quote:

“Dear Senator Voinovich,

Below is a copy of an e-mail I just sent to Senator Orrin Hatch:

‘Dear Senator Hatch,

Though I am not a Utah resident, I am a computer user and have been for several decades. I am also a writer and videographer. While I am sensitive to copyright issues, I find your public comments concerning disabling the computers of people downloading music in violation of copyright irresponsible.

What you propose appears to be in violation of Federal anti-hacking statues. Worse, you directly advocated breaking the law to enforce the law, something that usually sends law enforcement personnel to prison. You advocated allowing corporations to execute legal punishment without due process. This is a blatant abuse of power.

The press has been reporting that you earned $18, 000 last year as a songwriter. Your chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee while it is hearing matters of copyright, especially those connected to the music industry, directly violates Senate Rule XXXVII, part 2 which states: “No Member, officer, or employee shall engage in any outside business or professional activity or employment for compensation which is inconsistent or in conflict with the conscientious performance of official duties.”

Your apparent violation of Senate rules and your apparent disregard of due process leave me no choice but to ask you to resign as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.’

I'd really love to hear from you why Senator Hatch is not in violation of Senate Rule XXXVII, 2 and why ruke XXXVII, 4, is written to state that a Senator may not pass a bill that furthers only his pecuniary interest vice specifying any pecuniary interest.

Thank you for your time.”

Of course, I’ve heard nothing back. I don’t expect to.

Hatch has lost it. He’s going too far.

Monday, June 16, 2003

No more IE for the Mac

Last week, Microsoft announced it was discontinuing development of Internet Explorer for the Mac, not surprising due to Apple's release of Safari. About two weeks ago, Microsoft announced that it was discontinuing development of stand-alone versions of Internet Explorer for Windows, something I didn't know about until this morning. It turns out that Microsoft's dropping of new "standalone" IE Development is part of a grander strategy that (surprise!) once again takes advantage of its near-monopoly. Development of Internet Explorer will continue, but the new versions of IE will only be found in the new versions of Windows which will be offered to consumers at higher prices than we have ever seen before.

This attempt by Microsoft to gain more revenue by once again twisting the consumer's arm may backfire. Many websites are optimized specifically for IE, a bad idea in the first place; and Microsoft is counting on those websites remaining in the IE camp to pull this off. My advice: don't! Everyone needs to be writing code to W3C standards. Not only does writing to standards help optimize everyone's experience, but it also prevents the kind of proprietary blackmail like the one I'm discussing.

Even more importantly, open source efforts and even Apple's move to develop its own browser may mitigate any advantage Microsoft hopes for. I don't know if you've been running Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org); but if not, take a look at it. It's certainly as fast as IE or Safari and surpasses Safari's handling of some sites while holding its own with IE.

If I lost the entire use of Internet Explorer for Windows, I'd simply move my prime surfing to Mozilla; and I'll certainly do that before shelling out $199 for a new operating system that has a new version of IE, if IE was the only reason for it.

On the Mac, I keep a version of Mozilla around. Most of the time Safari runs just fine, but I go to a few sites where Safari does not display the pages correctly. Mozilla does. I only use IE on the Mac anymore as a last resort.

I may start making "IE-less" browsing my everyday experience. I'm going to do everything I can not to subject myself to Microsoft's schemes. I already started down that road by moving most everything I do to the Mac and by moving my web management and development work from Front Page to Adobe's Go Live. Moving to something other than IE for my web browsing is only one more little step down that road.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Microsoft's Last Apple Bastion

Two days ago, the word hit the street that Microsoft had acquired RAV antivirus. PC World's first articles talked about the impacts to the PC industry of Microsoft acquiring an antivirus vendor, but the most important articles on PC World about this matter appeared yesterday. The biggest impact of this move will be on the Linux community. RAV Antivirus, a product produced by GeCAD Software Srl in Romania, is the most used antivirus software in Linux.

This not surprising at all. With this one acquisition, Microsoft has continued its Blob-like expansion in the PC World and dealt a blow to the ever-threatening Linux community as well. Though it is a severe blow, it is not likely to be a fatal one, even though Linux is suffering the slings and arrows of its own success. Some industry players (like Microsoft) are threatened by it; others see its success and want to own a piece of it (like SCO). Hang in there, Linux users! This, too, shall pass.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Mac Business Unit announced today that there would be no further development of IE 6.0 for the Mac. They're hearing, they said, that Mac users prefer Safari. A lot of folks thought that, even though Safari had been released, Microsoft would not drop IE support because of antitrust concerns. Think again.

It's not a huge loss to me, even though Safari still has a fair number of bugs to get worked out, especially in the area of security. And I still can't really use Safari at Schedulemaster.com where I schedule airplanes with my flying club; the blocks used to display scheduled time never show the user name and are not sized correctly. I use Mozilla to get around those problems. It is as fast as Safari and doesn't seem to have either its display or security problems. I rarely pull out IE anymore.

At least on the Mac, Apple has beaten Microsoft in the browser wars.

The interesting thing will be to see if Microsoft also withdraws support for Office V.X for Mac OS X if Apple releases a complete office suite it is rumored to be working on. Even if they do, it would have to have some compelling features as well as full Word and Excel compatibility for me to drop Office in favor of it. It could happen if I bought a new Mac with a new Mac OS that my current version of Office wouldn't run on, I really liked Apple's version, and it was cheaper than Microsoft's. That's not very likely right now. I've got too much money invested in Office and in my current crop of Macs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

WWDC, Mac Problem, and Best Buy Rebates

For those of us who are Mac-heads, WWDC is now only two weeks away. For the uninitiated, the big point of the World-Wide Developer's Conference isn't that Apple will be showing off its next operating system but whether or not that Apple will reveal its new PowerMacs. If the rumors are true, they will be the first machines using a new PowerPC chip from IBM called the IBM 970. Not only do these chips sport faster speeds that the Motorola G4 chips Macs are currently using, but they are 64 bit processors capable of running 32 bit software without resorting to emulation.

I'm not in a position to afford a new PowerMac. Still, there will come a day; and a faster more capable CPU, especially if in a dual processor machine, is something I look forward to.

While OS X's installations have proven to be superior to Windows XP's, OS 9's just proved to me that they are almost equally problematic as XP's. This weekend, I replaced my PowerMac's 120MB Western Digital hard disk with a 2 MB buffer with a Maxtor of the same size and an 8 MB buffer. I had to reload the operating system and application software, of course. All of it went very smoothly on the OS 10 side of the house. When I booted into OS 9 to check it out, the system immediately locked up on the desktop. I did a quick reinstallation of the OS, but it didn't help.

I suspected the problem was between OS 9 and my video card, an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro. I had installed the 9000 Pro sometime after I had bought the machine; and I thought I remembered a caution about installing the drivers before installing the card. Searching the information on the CD and the ATI website, though, yielded no references to that; and there was no way I could have done that easily anyway.

Information from Apple's Support website revealed that the problem probably had to do with the operating system's extensions. Ahhh, the dreaded extensions, those extra features that used to help make the Mac operating system more functional. Apple's info informed me that by booting my PowerMac and holding down the Shift key, the OS would start with all extensions turned off. That was true, and the machine did boot up. However, it was useless for doing anything. I couldn't open my DVD drive (it would not respond to keyboard commands) nor would the ATI software installer run. I had to try something else.

While at Apple, I had also learned that holding down the Space Bar while the machine was booting would bring up a utility called Extension Manager. This utility let me see all the extensions the operating system was using and turn each one or a group of them on or off as I desired. I tried turning off the ATI extensions and rebooted but the system still locked up. What finally worked was turning off all the ATI extensions, all the Nvidia extensions (which were probably conflicting with my ATI card), and all the Airport and Ethernet extensions. After several hours of playing with it, that got the system to boot into OS 9 and let my DVD drive work. Using the ATI supplied CD, I was then able to install the 9000 Pro extensions and turn the others back on. It's all working honkey dorey now. But it took me three hours to figure it out, only a little better than the time it took me to install my ATI Radeon 9000 in XP!

That made me glad I'm not working with OS 9 all the time and actually made me regret reinstalling it. After all, no major applications on my PowerMac required OS 9. I really did it just because that's how the machine had been set up and just in case something popped up where I needed OS 9. That's not very likely, however.

As I reported here, I upgraded my iMac not long ago by installing a Western Digital 120 GB hard drive. There were two rebates associated with that purchase, one for $10 and one for either $50 or $80 (I don't remember). I submitted paperwork to get both. Well, today, I got the $10 rebate. We'll see if I get the other one. They were both sent in to Best Buy.

Speaking of Best Buy, be careful about both rebates and what you actually are buying if you're responding to their Sunday ads. On two occasions recently, I discovered that they were advertising 7200 rpm 8 MB buffer hard drives at discount prices that turned out to be 2 MB buffer hard disks when I got to the store. Also, be cautious about multiple rebates on a single item. Make sure you qualify for all parts of the rebate and be a little getting more than one. I am. That's why I said the above. From everything I could see at the store, I was eligible for both rebates simply by buying the hard disk.

Friday, June 06, 2003

The Pain of Windows

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrote a memo yesterday finally admitting that Microsoft considers opens-source Linux a threat to his company's bottom line. That's nothing new. Companies in Europe and Asia have been gravitating toward Linux for the last several years. What seems to have sparked a formal declaration of war was Munich, Germany's city government's conversion of all its computer systems to Linux despite a visit by Ballmer last month (See the full article on this at PC World; http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,111036,00.asp.).

In parallel, the SCO group, a company that claims it bought the rights from Novell for Unix System V, launched a lawsuit against IBM, the major player who has announced support for Linux in commercial avenues. SCO is claiming that Linux infringes on some code they bought from Novell, and commercial users of Linux may be subject to royalty payments or penalties. Sounds like a Microsoft move, doesn't it? It is. Microsoft had approached SCO about licensing from them some Linux of their own. The lawsuit was subsequent to that.

(More articles on this at PC World are: http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid/110904,00.asp ; 110794,00.asp;110712,00.asp; and 110750,00.asp.)

And speaking of the perils of doing business with Microsoft or ATI, on a subject a little closer to home, I bought a Radeon 9000 video card to replace my All-In-Wonder Radeon in my Windows XP desktop. I had decided I wanted full cable modem speed and a quiet haven in my office rather than TV or analog video capture capability. At about 8:20 p.m. last night, I started trying to install the card into my dual boot XP/98SE machine.

I finished FOUR hours later!

The more I use Windows, the more I hate what it's done to my life.

Here's what happened:

Since I knew ATI's software installation routines don't check for prior versions before trying to install, new software, I uninstalled the AIW Radeon software from the machine before beginning the Radeon 9000 installation. I had installed Direct X 9.0a and Windows Media Encoder 9 (WME9) a week or two before so I could use ATI's latest version of their Catalyst drivers. They were working fine.

I first ran the ATI software CD under Windows XP. The installation seemed to go well. But when I tried to test out the DVD Player, the computer would bog and then give me an error message telling me of a runtime C++ error. I decided to look for generic software conflicts and started by checking what applications remained installed. I discovered that an older ATI Multimedia Center was still there; so I uninstalled it, downloaded all 9 components and installed them per instructions at the ATI Tech Support site. (That included Direct X 9.0a, WME 9, a newer version of the Catalyst driver (3.4), as well as the Control Panel, and the Multimedia Center.(MMC 8.5). All in all, that took about two of the four hours to do.

The real problem came in when I tried to install the card under Win98SE using the ATI CD included with the card. Again, I uninstalled all previous ATI software before beginning and rebooted. Win98 recognized the card as a Radeon 9000 and began asking for specific files from the ATI CD. I cycled through every directory on that CD (in and of itself a pain in the butt!) and Win98 only recognized the .inf file! No other files could be found! Not only was the OS asking for a whole bunch of them—and each one required you to tell the OS to "Skip File" during the return—but the card went through that TWICE, one for each of the two monitors the card is capable of driving. That set a video card in the Registry but left it with no active drivers installed. The installation routine hung the system because the video drivers were not correctly installed and forced a reboot. After I rebooted and was staring at the black screen part of the Windows 98 load, the system made a sound like "donk" once, telling me it had encountered some type of error, and hung. To get around that, I rebooted into SAFE mode, uninstalled all ATI components, went into DEVICE MANAGER, and removed the Radeon 9000 entries. And rebooted again.

I tried the CD a second time, got the same result, and went through the same procedure AGAIN! I then booted the system normally, clicked through the 2000 "Skip File" commands when Win98 tried to install the Radeon 9000 (again), and got onto the Internet. (Network drivers do not load in Safe Mode, so it wa s necessary to get a normal boot to get to the Internet.) I then downloaded from the ATI website the latest Catalyst drivers for Win98, installed them from my hard disk, and installed the latest Multimedia Center (MMC 8.5), the same one I had downloaded earlier and used in XP. That got everything working, but that whole mess took another two hours!

It only took 15 minutes to install a Radeon 9000 Pro in my PowerMac running Jaguar (OS 10.2).

Enough said.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Cable Modem Blues

Finally, I'm settling down enough after a move to get back to writing this. I have a very nice office set up in the new place. My three desktop computers (an iMac, a G4 Tower, and an AMD powered XP machine) are arranged in a U-shaped cockpit. The iMac is in the center (and looking out a window), my PowerMac is on my left, and my XP machine is on my right. I can get to the keyboard of any machine by simply turning my chair and scooting over a little. Neat!

Internet access is now via Earthlink cable modem. Actually, the network belongs to Time Warner; but I signed up for Earthlink to save some bucks and I've used them before. Really, the only thing they're really supplying is an ISP service; most of the technical end (hardware) still rests with the cable company (Time Warner).

Moving from DSL to a cable modem has been interesting. First, I am seeing higher download speeds using the cable modem modem. The fastest download speed I ever showed using a DSL speedtest was 1100 KBPS (kilobites per second). With the cable modem, I routinely test out at about 2048 KBPS. I have not seen any noticeable slowdowns on our network at any time of the day, so it looks like the user/capacity ratio must be pretty good.

The only significant problem I have had with the cable modem concerns the signal to noise ratio on the lines in the house. Sunday morning, the "Cable" and "Data" lights on the cable modem (a Toshiba model) both went out, and a call to tech support determined that the problem was at my modem. The tech support guy explained that the signal-to-noise ratio was too low, and he scheduled a technician to come out and take a look at the house. (He is supposed to drop by today.) In the meantime, I decided to see if a splitter installed by the cable modem installer might be the culprit. Bypassing it and cycling power to the modem did restore the signal to the modem and speed tests showed about speed improvements of about 6%, though on one test I saw about a 30% jump! More telling, since I bypassed the splitter, the cable modem has not dropped the signal once.

I did some research on the Internet about this subject and discovered that the placement of splitters on the cable lines is a major driver of cable modem performance. A splitter is used to divide the cable modem line and the TV line going into the house. The house's prior tenants had their cable modem hooked up in the living room; mine is hooked up in what is one of the smaller bedrooms. So, I want a technician to examine whether I may have too many splitters installed or, more likely, have my current ones installed in the wrong place.

Why was there also a splitter in the room with the cable modem? My XP machine has a TV-capable ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon video card installed in it, so a splitter was being used to divide the cable signal between the cable modem and the AIW card. I have been watching TV on my PC for years and wanted to continue that practice; but my desire to get more serious about both writing and videography, my desire to get max speed out of my cable modem connection, and my love for quiet in my room are forcing me to reconsider it. I'm going to see what happens after the tech visits today before I make a decision, but I'm leaning toward replacing the AIW Radeon with a Radeon 9000. That would still leave DVD playing capability in place while expanding video memory and adding some shading functions I don't have (not that I'm a heavy gamer). Still, I might keep the TV card (or replace it with a more up to date AIW version) if my speed losses remain less than 10% and constant connections can be maintained. We'll see what happens.

Now, to switch gears entirely, my little iMac has always had a problem with the flat panel display drooping a bit to the left. Just looking at it, it appeared that tightening up of the hinges on the side of the top joint would do the trick. I ordered a special tool and gave it a shot. Not only did it not work, but the two outer hinge pins were connected by an internal shaft that broke when I applied a torque that didn't feel unreasonable. I secured the bearing of the top joint using a machine screw and nut. It doesn't look pretty but since it's directly behind the flat panel, you can't see it anyway unless you go looking for it. For the moment, I put one of the outer hinge pin covers underneath the machine's base on one side to level the display out.

I have no problem ordering replacement parts, but how do you do that for an Apple? Apple ties everything up so that all repairs are done only by an Apple certified facility. I understand the reasoning, but can anyone spell monopoly?