Heimdall AT&T S4 Mavericks

This post should help you recover an AT&T Galaxy S4 SGH-I337 back to stock 4.4.2 using a modern 64 bit version of OS X, I tried 32 bit 10.6.8 and Heimdall wouldn’t run, so I presume you need OS X 10.7 64bit and above to run Heimdall.

First off, you need to uninstall Samsung Kies so Heimdall has USB access to the S4 drivers, it will require a reboot and possibly command line uninstalls:

Secondly, you need your recovery file.  I used the big ass stock file from Stockroms (dot) net /file /GalaxyS4 /SGH-I337 /4.4.2 /”the big one there”.  You’ll need to rename it to just .tar, then untar that file, and put it in a folder from which you’ll run Heimdall.

Third, install Heimdall.

Read through this post over on XDA:

Follow the OP’s steps, but see 8d) below:

linus$ heimdall flash --RECOVERY recovery.img --SYSTEM system.img.ext4 --HIDDEN hidden.img.ext4 --BOOT boot.img
linus$ heimdall flash --MDM modem.bin --APNHLOS NON-HLOS.bin --ABOOT aboot.mbn --TZ tz.mbn
linus$ heimdall flash --CACHE cache.img.ext4 --PERSDATA persdata.img.ext4
linus$ heimdall flash --SBL1 sbl1.mbn --SBL2 sbl2.mbn --SBL3 sbl3.mbn --RPM rpm.mbn

Sudo doesn’t seem necessary. I added that 4th line per Trevor7.  Thanks to tom_callahan for the original post, for which all things considered made this quite painless for an Android wipe.

As the original poster said, each push will require a boot back into Odin’s Download Mode, hold the ‘volume down & home’ buttons in between reboots as soon as the screen goes black, then press volume up to ‘continue’.  After step #4 you’ll want to boot to the stock Recovery Mode (volume up on boot) and do a “Factory Reset / User Data Wipe”; this will insure you’re good to go.

It should boot to an AT&T logo with a startup sound, it will take a couple of minutes, then you should be back to stock TouchWiz / AT&T bloated stock 4.4.2.  Godspeed.

Update: I updated the above lines.  It should be noted I’ve had issues with the GPS since this flash.  I have been able to make it work again using a GPE “vanilla” edition with a modified TW kernel, but it’s unclear why the GPS wouldn’t work on what should’ve been a fully stock ROM (NB1 vs NC1 rootability or kernel incompatibilities?).  There is apparently a way (using Windows and Samsung KIES) to do a full recovery per the manufacturer.  I haven’t tried this method yet.  For the time being, I was excited to have GPS working, albeit with a fairly unstable AOSP/GPE/Vanilla ROM.  My hope of hopes would be to get this back to fully stock 4.4.2 NB1 and sell it, fully functional 100%.  That may be wishful thinking.

 

Consolidating photo libraries from multiple drives

I’m trying out “The Big Mean Folder Machine” version 2.29 to consolidate (or “merge”) various years of photo cruft.  The process of culling and consolidation will hopefully allow me to have a single photo directory backed up to Amazon Glacial forever.  I believe as I mentioned in another post, mechanical disks fail so having a redundant and offsite backup strategy is crucial.  And certainly a key part of of this is limiting the number of places you’re storing your local data so that you can create redundancy.

I’ll write more here when I get all this data and drives sorted out, but so far I was able to run a scan and it the BMFM was able to create a folder hierarchy from multiple drives.   I may need to do some merges first and then a split.

MacBook 5,1 upgrading to Mavericks and some notes…

A buddy of mine was upgrading an older MacBook (Unibody Aluminum, Late 2008, Model ID 5,1) from 10.6.8. In theory, you press the “upgrade to 10.9” button from the App Store and everything goes swimmingly. In his case it resulted in a serious disk error and wouldn’t boot into recovery mode; it would only boot the initial OS install utility screen and then fail to install the OS. Repeatedly. A recovery partition had not been created as the machine was running 10.6.8 and he also did not have the original 10.5 DVD that came with the Mac nor access to another Mac to create USB sticks from.  So there’s the rub.

He had  10.6 Time Machine backups, of course, so this wasn’t a catastrophic issue but the quandary here was that he couldn’t initiate the Time Machine recovery without the the original 10.5 DVD or from the new 10.9 installer. And the old hard drive still had errors.

Here’s a list of a few things we tried until it finally sorted itself it:

1) Create boot USB sticks of 10.8 from Ubuntu – (no go, same problem as 10.9)
2) “Restore From Backup” option on 10.9 Installer did nothing
3) Put in a new 320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black and 8GB of fresh RAM
4) 10.6.2 retail iMac install DVD – (loaded Time Machine Recovery but would not install 10.6)
5) Confirmed “secret EFI firmware” version of the MacBook 5,1 can use 8GB ram, 64bit mode

So at this point the machine is back online. He has recovered 10.6.8 from the Time Machine backups onto a new 320GB drive. He confirms that the EFI firmware has been updated to the latest version and the RAM gets upgraded to 8GB. He’s back running 10.6.8 at least.

The question then is if he hits “Install Mavericks” from the App Store will the machine kill itself again? He has the backup so he rolls the dice and it works, the machine updates successfully from 10.6.8 to 10.9.

From here it is rote. Make a fresh backup of functioning 10.9 (don’t delete your 10.6.8 backup just yet!). Do a fresh install from a working USB stick of 10.9. Migrate the crap from the old installation.

That’s it. Not more than 20-30 hours of your life. But hey, the late 2008 Unibody MacBook is now running the latest and greatest.

12.04 LTS for everyone.

Fixing LadioCast crashes & 10.9 SSH issues…

Had some issues when scripting LadioCast broadcasts, started to cause it to crash repeatedly.  The .plist file to delete is com.kawauso.LadioCast.plist from the Library.  Should return the application to defaults.  There was an update to the application in October, so it’s possible this error handling behavior was fixed, but uninstalls did not appear to delete the .plist.

Also, updated to 10.9 “Mavericks” on the server and pretty much all SSH functions stopped working.  Briefly got them working again, but so far it’s been a bust.  Will back update to 10.8 with a fresh re-install.   This machine was an upgrade from 10.6 to 10.8 to 10.9, so it’s possible in all of this OpenSSH failed, but regardless a lot of users have had issues with SSH and 10.9.  An alternative is to run a standalone Linux server or something like a Synology NAS.  Seemingly more reliable those.

Avoiding the analog: Icecast2 for OS X, Sonos & Spotify Radio

Apparently, Spotify has finally released their Radio API to certain content management platforms, but until it’s built into Sonos the only way to actually get Spotify Radio on my ZP80 was to use the analog line-in.  What about creating an Icecast (Shoutcast, Podcast, etc.) local radio station that I tune in to on the Sonos locally? This would then avoid the analog hole (until I add a phonograph line stage).

There were a few sources I had to use to make this work, and I’ve only built/tested this under 32 bit 10.6.8 Snow Leopard (so your mileage may vary for 64 bit and/or more modern OS X machines).  Joao Ricardo’s blog post of  “Icecast Radio in Mac OS X” turns out to be a great starting point.  Note, that he recommends installing MacPorts, which may not strictly be necessary if you have Homebrew already installed.  I have not tried to port Icecast via Homebrew, but I imagine the installation would also work, as others have had success.   For example, here’s Josh Dzielak’s tutorial for Icecast & Darkice using Mountain Lion and Homebrew

So yes, per Joao’s instructions:

1) Install MacPorts (note: there are several dependencies, read up before you even install MacPorts)

2) In Terminal$: sudo port install icecast2

  • If doing Homebrew$: brew install icecast
  • Icecast vs. Icecast2?  I don’t know. You tell me internet, you tell me.
  • This took like 30 minutes using MacPorts on an old 32 bit Intel machine

3) Install Ladiocast.

4) Install Soundflower.

  • Reboot machine.

5) Make sure your admin/user has access/rights to “icecast -c /usr/etc/icecast.xml” as well as wherever an error for Icecast’s “access.log” and “error.log” files.  In my case they needed to added to /opt/local/etc.  You’ll need to adjust access with “chmod 755″ in this example.

6) Start playing some music on your Icecast server machine.  In OS X “Sound Preferences” make sure “Soundflower 2ch” is set as the “output device”; you can also “option + click” on the volume in the at the top right menu and select the source.

7) From Terminal$: icecast -c /usr/etc/icecast.xml

  • At this point Terminal will need to be open, obviously you can set this up as a background process, run on startup, etc. see Josh’s article linked above.

8) From within Ladiocast choose “Soundflower 2ch” as your source, click on the “main” button in Ladiocast.  You should see music bars making music.

  • From the menu in Ladiocast click on “Streamer 1” choose Icecast.  Set 127.0.0.1:8000 or whatever you machine’s IP is for the server.  The default user and pw is located the XML file.
  • For encoding, especially to work with iTunes and probably Sonos, I set it to AAC 320 kbps.  Ogg may in fact work with Sonos, I’ve not tried it.
  • Click “Connect” at the bottom there.

9) In a web browser, type in the IP for the Icecast server.  If said machine is localhost use 127.0.0.1:8000 which is the default port for the service. Click on the .m3u link and open in iTunes/Winamp or similar.  If you have music bars making music and you have a .m3u created you should hear music (double check OGG vs. AAC).

10) Final step: open the desktop Sonos App. Click “Manage” from the menu bar and then “Add Radio Station” and the enter http://127.0.0.1:8000/stream.m3u (or whatever your IP is for the Icecast machine).  Create that as a favorite radio station.

11) Works for me.  If you want an Icecast radio station globally on WAN, well, poke those holes. Google a bit.  That’s not this blog entry.  Let’s hope Sonos adds Spotify Radio sooner than later.

 

SSH debug

http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20080424055927442

The crux is that SSH even when connecting w/ -vvv  or -vT modes won’t tell you precisely why it’s not connecting for obvious security purposes.  This is presuming you’ve double checked all other obvious issues and your public/private key pairs are setup correctly.

In the linked post above Kent Martin writes, the answer is to bind debug to an alternate port on the server side:
/usr/sbin/sshd -d -p 2222

then similarly from the client machine:
ssh -v -p 2222 user@machine_I_am_trying_to_ssh_to

On the server machine terminal you’ll see a more verbose debug log and hopefully it will tell you exactly why your client machine is being rejected.

MacBook Pro Magsafe Charging Issues…

No one is alone here with MagSafe issues.  Apple recently announced a MagSafe replacement program (US only) for which I’m quite sure I’m a good candidate (I see some insulating wire); the strain relief on the head of the magnetic adapter simply isn’t up to snuff, which forced a redesign a couple of years ago (along with the requisite California Class Action fire hazard lawsuit).  All of this is to say, if you can see wires sticking out of your MagSafe, the strain relief “issue” qualifies under warranty for replacement.

But what about the ‘ole “MagSafe won’t charge battery” issue?  Well, as it turns out this could be related to the pins in the magnetic tip, or it could be the “System Management Controller” on your laptop.  This is the exact wording of the Apple Support Document for resetting the SMC on a laptop with removable battery:

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Disconnect the MagSafe power adapter from the computer, if it’s connected.
  3. Remove the battery.
  4. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.
  5. Release the power button.
  6. Reconnect the battery and MagSafe power adapter.
  7. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

Ah, but if only it were so simple. I recently watched this video on YouTube:

Macbook Battery Not Charging Fix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRYIMDQxunI

What Kris tells us, with one critical difference from the official Apple support document, is that after pulling the battery he reconnects the MagSafe, waits five seconds, and then re-installs the battery. I did this tonight with my 1st generation MacBook Pro and it solved the charging issue immediately, which makes me think that this is indeed the correct order. YMMV.  Godspeed.

No more shiny plastic discs

The latest updates from the Cupertino camp have included the elimination of the plastic encased MacBook from the notebook lineup and the disappearance of any sort of optical drive from the Mac Mini. And perhaps saddest of all no black anodized MacBook Air. All the newer Macs are now reasonably up to date with mobile Core i3, i5 or i7 processors and “Thunderbolt” ports.

But say again, no DVD drive? What about a Blue-ray Disc drive? Surely iTunes or Amazon isn’t about to start streaming 1080p movies anytime soon. In fact when I recently rented a movie on iTunes to my last generation Mac Mini (late 2009) it forced me to download the entire 1.4GB SD video. Craziness. At least Netflix has HD streaming working well. I think perhaps the Apple TV supports streaming films from iTunes, it’s unclear, though it’s likely a licensing issue.

I mean, I understand where they are going here, people are using discs a lot less. The App Store now allows direct downloading & upgrading of the latest OS (10,7). But I thought the Mac Mini was good for servers & HTPCs? Doesn’t that sometimes require a disc? And why has Apple never been excited about Blu-ray (beyond the awkward hyphenation)? The biggest gripe I have about the Netflix pricing hike is that there simply aren’t nearly as many good films on demand as there are currently on DVD.

I cannot imagine studios are going to kill off the DVD anytime soon. And certainly Blu-ray Disc is the last generation of physical media out there. Anyhow I’m glad I’ve got my not very upgrade friendly 2009 Mini.

Eye Oh-Ess Four Point Two

A classmate of Z’s mentioned that the iOS 4.2 update was a worthy upgrade specifically for its ability to stream audio to Airport Express Base Stations (from your iDevice). Of course I didn’t really believe him, you know, because I already have a Mac Mini server and I can stream via iTunes from my laptop.

Sure enough, after I updated to 4.2 on the iPod Touch I’ve enjoying the streaming feature, though it depends on your setup. My old amp, a late 70’s Denon PMA-850 started blowing fuses and I was bequeathed a functioning 90’s Denon AVR-610 (I believe the rear channel outputs are bad but using “bypass pre” the main L+R channels sound good). I’ve been slow to build the LM4780 Chipamp and it was terrible not having music in the living room. Per wireless, we have an older Time Capsule that isn’t dual band (I keep it at 5GHz 802.11n) so I have an 802.11g/n Airport Express on 2.4GHz bridged to give my iPod touch wireless access and “AirTunes”.

But how does it sound? Well it works like a champ. Initially I tried using the digital optical out of the AE and I was disappointed with sync and jitter issues. It sounds pretty good, but being streamed wirelessly (.mp3, compressed AAC) from the iPod Touch over 802.11g doesn’t sound nearly as good as lossless audio from the Mac Mini into the DAC and the receiver (100% wire). However, the convenience factor of being able to pick and choose music from the iPod Touch without having to deal with the server/player is huge. The Mini or a dedicated audio server (or using Amazon S3 for cloud based music storage) gives you a much greater capacity, but again it’s the convenience factor; I appreciate that I don’t have to turn on the Mini. The Denon AVR-610 has an IR remote so once I click ‘power’, bingo bango, I’ve got music.

Compared to using iTunes (or something like Sonos or Logitech’s Slim Server) you can only stream from one iOS device to one AE Base Station at a time. And unlike Sonos you cannot have different music streams going to different rooms of the house at once. Within iTunes, when you select multiple “AirPlay” channels each room hears identical streams.

Being a “free” upgrade (to 3rd & 4th gen iPod touches and newer iPhones) iOS 4.2 is an easy recommendation, especially for those who own AE Base Stations connected to their stereos.

iOS 4.2 Audio Streaming

iOS 4.2 Audio Streaming

Large Cryptographic Hashes with Whirlpool and a myriad of coffee brewing methods

Who doesn’t like a nice long 512-bit message digest to confirm that the file they’re opening is secure? Cryptographic hash functions are one method of verification to insure file integrity between two parties (or as a signature or authentication code). The most commonly used hash verification is MD5 check sum (proven insecure). Apple uses SHA-1 for it’s package update manager (also likely insecure). But if you want to get deep, go with Whirlpool, and I’m not talking about appliances here, I’m talking about 512 bits of hash (the authors, Barreto & Rijmen have a page here). Ironclad and md5deep are two easy to use packages if you’re looking to implement Whirlpool under most *nix and Win 32/64 systems.

In coffee news, here is a nice webpage devoted to a myriad of coffee brewing methods: http://www.brewmethods.com/

Whirlpool

Image via USGS National Center for EROS and NASA

Latte Swirl by Flickr member Mr. Pauly D

Latte Swirl image by Flickr member Mr. Pauly D

OS X and the “cat” command for appending sequential .zip files

For whatever reason there is certain a level of incompatibility between various .zip (archive) file formats among various operating systems today.  It’s certainly not that you won’t be able to access any file type on any given system, as there are many tools to do so, mostly it’s a question of how many hoops you have to jump through.

Specifically, I had a sequential .zip file that was in multiple chunks where the first file ends in something like:

zzzzzz.zip.001.zip

And the next files in sequence look like this:

zzzzzz.002
zzzzzz.003

OS X comes with a couple of utilities for archives but neither seem to be able to handle this particular sequence (especially if it is AES256 encoded with a password).  There is a $20 piece of software called BetterZip that has no problem with any type I gave it, however, I found a free utility called The Unarchiver which seems to be an excellent replacement for the OS X native ‘BOMArchiveHelper.app‘ and if you use the *nix ‘cat‘ command (see: Concatenation) you can append the sequential files all into one and The Unarchiver will work fine.

Open the Terminal in OS X, red is what you type, assuming all the files you want to append are in your home directory:

computer:~user$ cat zzzzzz.zip.001.zip zzzzzz.002 zzzzzz.003 > onebigfile.zip

Where onebigfile.zip is your new appended file, ready to be unarchived.  I’m sure they teach this to preschoolers in *nix 101, in fact I think there is a book out now called Linux For Lilliputian Lads, but I found it useful.

I’ll be doing a writeup soon of the re-foaming process of my Advent Heritage speakers, they sound better now.

iPod Touch has 802.11n! But it’s not enabled! Zing!

I went to the Apple Store on 5th Ave before doing a little bouldering in Central Park.  Chris sent the Polish Traverse and made it look effortless.  At least someone is in shape.  So, I stopped by Apple and asked what they knew about the 802.11n chipset on the latest model iPod Touch.  Nothing.  They never know anything.  Seriously, I’ve had my best experiences at these stores only in the morning on very un-busy days.

I had to get a new battery once for a black Macbook and my options were: 1) schlep to Staten Island 2) buy one or 3) schlep to the 14th Street store because they are less busy.  I sat around the 14th Street store for about 45 minutes, crossed my fingers and waited for a lull in the ever present traffic.  The Genius there was very nice, she took pity on me and warranteed a new battery. But my other option was to come back to the 59th store at 5AM on a Friday. Their system blows, but I digress…

The employee didn’t have any specific answers about 802.11n on the new Touch.  It was his belief that it works, though I imagine if this were the case I’d have read at least one technical blog mention it.  Right now the word is that it has Broadcom’s mobile n chipset and it has a single antenna and it should be capable up to 30 Mb/s. Most tech writers speculate it’ll be enabled in the next 6 months. Oh well. Also, there is no camera yet on the Touch.

The image below links to the tear down, and if you’re into such things, click here for the Broadcom PDF spec sheet.



iFix it 802.11n iPod Touch Teardown

iFix it 802.11n iPod Touch Teardown

802.11n in iPod Touch

802.11n in iPod Touch

Darwine you are a fine Wine.

For whatever reason I’d never played around with application compatibility layer software like Wine under OS X. Parallels and VMware are quite overkill for most people’s purposes.  Usually the user may need to run one application in the guest OS and setting up an entire VM and giving 10GB or whatever over to that system, not to mention memory resources, is overkill.  Certainly for developers being able to load/change machine states with VMs and sandbox their development, it makes sense, but for most end-users it’s crazy.

I haven’t checked all the applications I’d like to use, the ones I found myself booting to XP the most were A/V stuff like Foobar2000, MediaMonkey, EAC, etc.  But the good news is that under Leopard Darwine v1.21.1 runs Foobar2000 just fine, a fine Wine if you will (hah).  So that’s exciting.  Codeweavers sells something similar called CrossOver but Darwine is free and I figured since I already had X11 installed it was worth a shot.  Pretty cool stuff.

Darwine

Darwine

WWDC no 802.11n in on the 3G S iPhone!? Drat!

So, with the new iPhone 3.x OS you will not be purchasing an 802.11N enabled wireless chipset.  Apparently the new 3G S model does support 4G HSDPA but not 5 GHz 802.11N wireless with the new lower powered Broadcom BCM4325. Apparently the 3G S model is a bit snappier. When is the 802.11n iPod Touch coming out? That’s what I’m waiting for. I saw that Garret had a very small LG phone that’s basically free from Verizon, if I could find that used/new and then go with a Touch remote… we’ll see how it goes…. Windows 7 RC is OK. It works, for what it’s worth.

I like Ubuntu 9.04 with MythTV…. I’m going to go back to that but probably do a dual boot leaving Win7 RC just in case…. Sadly, for Netflix playback due to Silverlight DRM a Windows XP/Vista/7 VM or even an OS X VM is necessary for Netflix streaming…. or buy a Roku box, unfortunately our TV doesn’t have 2 HDMI inputs… I’m surprised no one has been able to reverse engineer the Roku Box’s chipset and put the Silverlight DRM code out there…. Or even just have a “Roku Box VM”…. Why not, right? Seems possible, when you consider how almost all old video console games can now be played and fit on one flash drive.

I brewed with the Yama 5 Cup Vacuum brewer today. Thank you Conor and Leigh, awesome gift BTW; best of luck in your trip West. The coffee is very good, very clean, very smooth. I currently am grinding Gimme’ Coffee’s Picolo Mondo variety. Thank you Japanese vacuum brewing technology and to Chris for the awesome vintage German Peter Dienes grinder which does it job remarkably well for a hand grinder over twice as old as I am.

Yama Brewing

Yama Vaccuum Brewing by Digital Colony

My Vintage PeDe looks similar, all metal on top though

My Vintage PeDe looks similar, all metal on top though

Hackable?

Hackable? Image from ehomeupgrade.com blog

It goes – Ethernet > Airtunes > SPDIF > DAC

Got the two Airport Express Base Stations working on the network with Airtunes & iTunes.  I bought an older 802.11b/g one for wired usage and an 802.11n one for wireless audio in the kitchen.  I had to do hard resets on both of them before they’d show up on the Airport Utility.  I turned off wireless on the b/g one and told it to use Airtunes via ethernet.  The newer 802.11n Express joins our existing Time Capsule 802.11n network. Optical SPDIF out from the wired b/g Express goes into the E-MU 0404 DAC, unbalanced RCA analog line into the old Denon amplifier.  Works well.  Pretty light, open and clear DAC on the high end.  These old Bose speakers were never much for bass anyhow, and we don’t like to annoy the building.

Apparently Hulu’s content providers (which I believe includes FOX & NBC) decided to pull their support for Boxee.  Now if you haven’t been following Boxee, they are one of the few companies actually making inroads into “set-top conversion” software, allowing people with computers to get the TV shows they want legally from their computers onto actual television screens.  It’s sad really, that this should be an issue.  Almost every show we watch online (legally, usually via the networks’ streaming sites) usually only has one commercial.  So if you’re watching an hour of television at NBC.com and you’re hoping for a variety of commercials you’ll be disappointed, you’ll simply get the same commercial over and over again.  How is it they can’t figure this out?  I distinctly remember watching a Verizon LG Chocolate phone commercial approximately 30 times (with the Feist song as soundtrack) as multiple episodes of a show simply had the same commercial.

Anyhow, at some point I’m going to try and put together a small low power HTPC that can record and playback at least a 720p stream.  Most of the Intel Atom motherboards simply have abysmal video performance and NVIDIA is supposed going to release something soon (and possibly a new Mac Mini). XMBC or Boxee, or even XP Media Center would work as far as a front end.  My requirements are pretty minimal, I’d like to have a Firefly MT-DAAPD server running for music (transcoding .flac to .wav for iTunes/Airtunes) and possibly a second instance of it running for the rest of the mp3/aac/m4a’s.  I’d probably record shows via the SiliconDust HDHomeRun, which would give two tuners for playback/recording.  Mostly the challenge has been finding something that is close to silent and fanless (especially as the Atom could be fanless) but it really hasn’t been optimized for HTPC applications yet.  OSX86 (search “Hackintosh”) with Boxee and Elgato EyeTV could potentially be an option as well.  MythTV could work too.  Who knows?  Right now I’m pretty happy with the Airtunes and Firefly setup.

Firefly Transcodes FLAC > .WAV for iTunes & Airtunes

So I bit the bullet and ordered a couple of Airport Express base stations so that I can finally listen to music over both ethernet and 802.11n.  A small miracle, the old Dell P3 is able to transcode the FLAC on a USB hard disk drive attached to the Time Capsule (a Samba share via Bonjour in Windows XP mind you) and serve it via Firefly to the iTunes (as uncompressed .WAV with track info) on our Mac laptops.  So now, when I get the Airport Express base stations it should be a matter of selecting both “kitchen” and “living room” in the Airtunes settings and bingo bango, I’m done. Music everywhere.  If I’m ever flush I could use an iPod touch or iPhone to remote control via the mobile interface, however, I’m holding out until they offer 802.11n 5 GHz as a feature.  I don’t understand how Apple could push so hard for 802.11n and then not have it on the products that are supposed to integrate into the “home media system”.  So I think this is it.  It’s the end of the odyssey.  If Z’s in the kitchen with her laptop she can select music from the MP3 library via her iTunes, or if I want to listen to FLAC I select the Firefly Share.  Simple as that, really.

Still Not Ice Climbing – but lets build a MythTV!

Sadly my Saturdays and Sundays have not been filled with ice climbing trips to hidden frozen waterfalls of the Northeast.  My hand feels better despite having a small gash where it hit the edge of the BMW car door. I imagine I’ll be able to go back to the MPHC climbing gym soon.  

I miss the outdoor rock.  Ryan, Josh and I went on a few climbing trips before it got cold and before weddings and Texas.  Ryan has photos of us climbing in the Gunks and Brewster, NY available here: http://picasaweb.google.com/ryanwesleywebb these are just a sampling.

 

Peterskill - Mark, Josh

Peterskill - Mark, Josh

Ryan in Peterskill

Ryan in Peterskill

Ryan, Ice Pond

Ryan, Ice Pond

 

Mark's hand Ice Pond

Mark's hand, Ice Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent most of yesterday reading about MythTV.  If you feel like setting up an open source home DVR (TiVo like) then Mythbuntu or KnoppMyth seem to be a couple good stable options for creating a home Linux TV recording solution.  Obviously this will only work if your signal is “free and clear”. Dish, DirecTV, ComCast, Time Warner and basically any cable or satellite provider, encrypts all premium content.  So on the one hand, local network channels and basic cable should be “free and clear” (over digital cable local channels are usually free using QAM) but with satellite it’s more likely you’ll need to rent the DVR from them.  The only reason I’ve been considering it is because I’ve needed some sort of iTunes server back-end (see my Firefly MT-DAAPD post) and it might as well DVR network HD shows we want to watch.  Also, our ATSC tuner is old (2nd or 3rd generation) and I think the latest 5th or 6th gen tuner chipset should allow us to get all the local HD broadcast channels without fussing with the antenna. 

There are three parts to most MythTV setups, which could all be integrated into one system or distributed into three smaller systems:

  • The back-end is your dedicated server which should have low power and processing requirements.  I’ve been looking at the MSI Wind ‘Nettop barebones PC (MSI’s product page) which sells on Newegg for like $139.99.  It uses an intel Atom 1.6GHz processor with minimal power draw, I think around 35 Watts max, but you could probably optimize it to use somewhat less than this.  Obviously, HDTV content takes up a fair amount of disk space, so for starters lets say a 1.0 Terrabyte hard disk drive.
  • The actual TV tuner (which now ‘a days will need to be digital ATSC HDTV compatible, unless you still have analog cable) could be as simple as a PCI card in the back-end but something even cooler is the SiliconDust HDHomeRun.  This product is two ATSC tuners in one.  It transfers HD broadcasts from over-the-air (or QAM) to your server via ethernet.  It requires DHCP to obtain an IP address, but otherwise it’s just a little box with one 10/100 ethernet jack and two antenna inputs; ATSC to IP as it were. Your back-end will recognize it as two tuners in the setup. You could watch one while the other records or both could record simultaneously.
  • The front-end will be how you actually watch the content you have archived. Say you ripped all your DVD’s and you’ve been time-shifting several seasons of Top Chef, the “front-end” is what will do the heavy lifting of playback depending on the bit rate and resolution of the video.  It should look just like any other media playback menu.  From my reading, MPEG-2 is the optimal format to save content to (thankfully DVD and ATSC signals are already MPEG-2 so no transcoding is required) and MPEG-4/h.264 require more horsepower on your machine to playback smoothly.  My MacBook Pro Core Duo 2.0 GHz would be a fine front-end however I’d need to plug it in to watch shows.  I’d be able to watch live TV wirelessly on the laptop anywhere in the house though. Note: the Elgato EyeTV is another option for Mac OS X HDTV time shifting however it doesn’t have the front-end/back-end model, your laptop has to be on and plugged into the tuner to record.
Yup.  So that’s where I’m at.  I’ve already wired the 1GigE cable to the bedroom.  I still need to do a cable run to the kitchen, but that’s not really a priority.  I think having a small machine like the Wind PC in a closet would be a nice way to have both an iTunes server and a DVR.  Apparently MythWeb allows you to easily setup recording from your web browser, so you just login and set the shows you want to watch for the week and let the back-end do its job.  There are ways to “Sling” content to yourself if you’re out of town or something, but personally I think I could wait until I’m home, and besides most of the content by the big networks is instantly available online now for free viewing.

Hump Wiggles – I got the FireGL V5200 Softmod to work!

Again, don’t just read this blog because you have a MacBook Pro Core Duo and you want to make it act like a FireGL V5200, read it because you care.  Seriously, I got the ATI Moiblity X1600 to softmod into the FireGL Mobility V5200 following a myriad of somewhat unintelligible instructions from the internet (I think I get points for reading both Chinese and Italian posts which referenced this mod).

The driver I ended up using was from the actual AMD/ATI official site but it was an older version, 8.353.1.1000 to be exact – from 5/8/2007.  There is a chance that the newer ones will work but you have to do a patch using RivaTuner 2.11 using one of the patch scripts I found and my concern was that the older scripts would somehow not work with the newer drivers.  So yeah, you run the copy/pasted patch script on the driver you downloaded and you modify one of the setup files within the installation to allow the “MacBook Pro Mobility V5200” to appear as an option and actually talk to the correct address in the system.  From there you should run “Driver Sweeper”, uninstall all existing video drivers, and reboot and hopefully it goes to a safe mode VGA driver.  At this point you’ll try and install the thing.  It worked on my 3rd or 4th try finally using the new ATI driver, so go figure.

The good news is SolidWorks runs a whole lot better with the FireGL driver and the Instant 3D stuff works as well, Window XP’s video is a whole lot snappier.  Now if only I had that older Broadcom Chipset so my signal strength in XP would come back..

Airport Extreme! Broadcom! Oh my!

So, if you don’t care about wireless data connections and or OS X & XP you should ignore this post. I recently did a little 802.11n upgrade to my aging Core Duo Macbook Pro and I bought an “official” Apple 802.11n Airport Card that has 2 antenna wire inputs. It’s chipset is the Broadcom BCM4328. My Apple System Profiler polls this as Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (5.10.38.9) and in Windows XP it clearly shows up as the BCM4328. Now, shouldn’t this be all good? Well sort of, there have been some problems.

Under OS X 802.11n (ie Airport Extreme) works like gang busters over the Time Capsule but it seems my 802.11g performance has taken a huge hit. And under XP SP3 both my g/n performance has degraded. So what’s the deal? Well it seems I should’ve gone with an older version of this chipset.

Apparently the BCM94321MC aka the Dell 1500 Part Number NJ449 was the original version, which worked well for people under Tiger. There obviously are other options, but the key here was the 4321 chipset as opposed to the newer 4328 chipset. So what’s the issue? I don’t know. I imagine the XP drivers aren’t fully up to date. And I also imagine 802.11n MIMO works better with 3 antennas which is why the newer Core 2 Duo machines come with the 3 antenna input Atheros wireless cards. Can I add a third antenna wire and put in the Atheros? I don’t know. Should I sell the one I installed and try the $30 Dell 1500 NJ449? I would say yes.

Another issue that has developed is that with around 15% battery the wireless card will go dormant and not startup again without a reboot. Nice. Whatever, I suppose I cannot complain too much. It mostly works.

Big drives & faster weefee

My first generation (Rev. A) MacBook Pro (Core Duo 2.0 GHz Intel 32 bit Yonah) has starting to slow a little.  The 100GB hard disk is full and I can’t add any more RAM (2GB’s maxed out) but swapping in a bigger faster 7200 RPM laptop HD drive (say like a Seagate Momentus 7200.3 320 GB) and upgrading the mini-PCI wireless LAN card to 802.11n will get me by.  As I recall, Apple took about a year and a half to upgrade to the Core 2 Duo chipset with 64 bit capabilities and even then Leopard didn’t come out until Fall 2007.  I was an early adopter and I’ve been pretty happy with this machine.  So now I’m looking to either stay with OS X 10.4.11 or possibly go the whole hog to 10.5.5, either way I’ll need XP Pro SP3 for CAD software using either BootCamp or rEFIt as a bootloader.

In Leopard with Time Machine data backups should be seamless, my only concern now is application compatibility and system stability.  Z’s white MacBook 2.2 Core 2 Duo came loaded with Leopard 10.5.1 and seems to have stabilized in 10.5.4 (though I think it does need more RAM).  From what I’ve read, somewhat like Vista, Leopard has a basic “footprint” of 512MB, so really 2GB is the minimum you need in practice with multiple applications running.  Tiger apparently has something like a 128MB starting point.

I took my first 3D rendering class in SolidWorks today at NYU.  It seems pretty cool.  NYU sells an educational copy that should work under XP and the MacBook Pro supposedly works alright with it.  We’re going back to Jimmy’s No. 43, I’m excited.