DBAN notes

In case  blogspot disappears into the ether, here are some notes if you’re using Unetbootin and a USB key for DBAN in OS X or just happen to run into the “Could not find ramdisk image:/ubninit” error.

  1. If your machine is old you’ll likely need to turn off UEFI/EFI boot and put the BIOS into legacy USB Boot mode.
  2. In OS X using Disk Utility or Terminal wipe your USB key and reformat into a single partition with FAT32/MBR.
  3. Download DBAN’s latest .iso.
  4. Open Unetbootin on the Mac, choose the above .iso and hopefully your USB has mounted as /dev/disk2 or 3 or 4 or whatever to be set as the target destination.
  5. As taken from Stephen Greenhalgh’s DBAN USB Unetbootin Fix Post:

To fix this insert the USB drive back into a computer and open up “syslinux.cfg” in a text editor. Find and replace all occurrences “ubninit” with “ISOLINUX.BIN” and do the same with “ubnkern” with “DBAN.BZI”. Make sure that you match the case.

This worked for me using DBAN 2.3.0.

Reverting back to Mavericks

It’s unclear.  I did a fresh install of Yosemite on a Retina MacBook Pro 13″ 11,1 but the battery life was terrible.  Typically 4-5 hours max.  In order to revert to the “Out of Box” state you need to delete the primary Mac OS partition and then boot to recovery using CMD + Option + R.  This will initiate the “Internet Recovery” which will take hopefully less than an hour to download whatever OS the machine came with, in my case Mavericks.  Upon receipt of the machine I did a fresh install of Yosemite but consistently saw terrible battery life.  My hope was that it was Yosemite related, so I’ve reverted back to 10.9.4.

I’ve now performed an SMC reset and I see over 13:00 hours at 100% battery life under Mavericks.  It’s unclear if Yosemite is at fault, or the SMC is at fault, the clean install is at fault, I mean who the fuck knows Apple?  All I know is that I did a fresh install of Yosemite on a brand new machine and it got about 4 hours of battery life.  Now it says it has 13 hours of battery life.  Talk about a fucking unreliable narrator.

Notes from inside TouchWiz ATT S4 SGH-I337

The Heimdall stock flash worked, in that it got the OS reinstalled on the phone.  GPS never seemed to work.  TowelRoot still works. To get “Wireless Hotspot & Tether” working I installed WanamXposed and if I recall correctly “X Tether” module.  Anyhow, this all worked on Bell up north.

There is another version of the stock image called “337UCUFNB1_100%_Stock” which can be rooted also with TowelRoot, this module and some of the Google Play Edition TW /SafeStrap ports of the SGH-I9505 also worked with GPS.

Currently here’s what I’m running / the process:

1) SafeStrap (has to be installed over a stock rooted ROM, ODIN, Hemidall, etc).

2) Advanced wipe everything but the SD card with the installer data on it (ROM, NB1 modem modules, SU Update).

3) Graviton S4 v3.2 for SafeStrap (4.4.2 NB1).

4) [MOD][Script] SmartDebloater [4.3-4.4] (note: don’t remove Samsung Calendar as TW requires it, I also left the camera and calculator)

To get the Google Now Launcher to work correctly as the default (and not TouchWiz Home) I installed Nova Launcher, disabled the Google Now Launcher, set Nova to default, and then re-updated/installed the Google Launcher.

I installed Wanam Xposed, a few modules, and GravityBox.  Graviton has a number of tweaks baked in.  I tried the “SlimSung NI1 ROM” but the radio seemed screwy since it was built for the NI1 update, the NB1 radio seems okay in Graviton, GPS and wifi seem to work fine.

Quickoffice isn’t available on the Play Store anymore, but this link goes to a Google support page, that launches a “browser only” Play Store whereby you can install the app to your device via the web play store interface.  Worked for me anyhow.  I’m sure the APK is available somewhere as well.  All other apps can be installed via the Play Store.

GravityBox has a tweak whereby you can set the double-click behavior of the home button to launch Google’s Voice Search which is nice.  The Google Now Launcher swipes left-to-right from the home screen to get to Google Now.  You could also just leave “Google Now Listening” on from all screens.

Another nice GravityBox tweak is changing the number of home screen icons to display, the stock GNL is 4×4 which looks huge on the S4, I think 5×5 or even 6×6 means you might only need a single page.

The one “feature” of TouchWiz which seems impossible to get around is the ability to take photos from the lock screen while using a PIN or password unlock.  I’ve tried nearly every conceivable hack, it simply doesn’t work.  If you have no security (e.g. swipe unlock) you can take photos, but any sort of PIN or pass means you have to unlock to get to the camera.  Oh well.  The S4 camera seems pretty decent, definitely an upgrade from the N4.  Probably not from the 5S.


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.

Sonos, one year in… post one of two

I suppose this starts with the scale of system you want.  Sonos, as a kit, can allow you to hide all the amps, the wires, while even your speakers can become invisible; see the Amina branded by Triad “DesignerSeries” in walls (as hidden by plaster skim coat).  The trade off, like many things, is flexibility of the system and certainly its future upgradability.  The strength of the Sonos, as most people will tell you, is the software controller. It is available for nearly every platform, mobile and desktop.  The Sonos units tap into to countless internet streaming music services as well as your locally (or cloud) stored music library.  The controller app is built for humans and allows seamless multi-room/multi-zone control.


I received a Sonos Play:3 kit with wired to wireless Sonos Bridge for work rendered last year and also got a used Sonos ZonePlayer 80.  My tower speakers in the living room are old Advent Heritages.  I bought a used pair of 100 watt AudioSource monoblocks at some point on eBay  (replacing the 1979 Denon PMA 850 that finally stopped working).  In my office I ended up with a pair of Pioneer SP-BS41-LR’s that a friend didn’t want and an Emotiva mini-X a-100 50 Watt ‘Stereo Flex Amp’.  I took the spare RCA output of the external DAC that lives next to the ZP80 in the livingroom and sent it to the Emotiva in the office.  The Play:3 lives in the upstairs bedroom.


I’ll start this by saying, for most people looking for kitchen or small room audio, the Play:3 and the newer and more compact Play:1 represent exceptional value.  This is of course not “architectural audio” with invisible plastered speakers, or even in-wall (grilled) speakers; rather the Play:1 and Play:3 are small powered speakers that sit on a shelf or desktop, sound good and happen to look nice as a bonus.  The price points of the Play:1 & 3 represent the “blue ocean”; people simply want to listen to their music collections or to Pandora, TuneIn Radio & Spotify (and literally dozens of other streaming services) – but control it easily from an application on their phone or tablet.  There will be those who argue the $200-300 is a lot to pay for a small powered speaker, but there is nothing else out there that does it quite as easily and elegantly as Sonos.

For bigger rooms that don’t have a television or projector the Play:3’s can be setup in software as a “stereo pair” giving an even larger sound stage.   Granted for most kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms a pair of powered speakers may be overkill (and/or examples of where you’d rather not see the speakers).  For users with existing audio setups the ZonePlayer 80 (now called Sonos Connect) has two digital audio outs (SPDIF Coax & Toslink) and a pair of RCA stereo outputs and inputs.  If you already own speakers you want to power, the Sonos Connect:Amp adds in a high-efficiency Tripath  (Class T/D) 55-watts per channel amplifier to the Connect (taking away the RCA stereo output jacks but adding a single RCA mono-subwoofer LFE output).


In the next post of this series I’ll go into why using the Sonos system is a pleasure and what I’ve done to get the most out of it (including the local  Mac Mini audio server) and my thoughts after a year of usage.

Increase an NTFS partition while decreasing & moving EXT4

About one year ago I installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on a friend’s machine that came with Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit pre-loaded.  It is a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T430s to be precise.  I decreased the NTFS partition to about 40GB and gave the rest of the 500GB drive to  dual boot Ubuntu (leaving the Lenovo Recovery and Win7 recovery partitions intact).  Long story short (and no fault of 12.04 LTS which has been running very well) the friend and spouse needed more space on the NTFS Windows 7 partition (because everyone loves a bloated Win7 install).

Here are some steps to make this work.  The best piece of advice I found was this, “Use Linux tools to resize Linux partitions and Windows’ tools to resize Windows’ partitions” (gparted’s support for NTFS resizing is/was deemed experimental which is why I decided to use PWHE 8.11) and of course it goes without saying but I’ll say it, “backup your $***”:

  1. backup the EXT4 ‘home’ folder of the Ubuntu user.
  2. boot gparted live to backup/copy the 3 NTFS partitions (MS recovery / Win7 “C:” / Lenovo recovery) onto an external drive.
  3. gparted resize and move EXT4 partition to give an equal split for NTFS and EXT4.
  4. Unallocated space must now be “to the right” of the nearly full NTFS partition.
  5. Burn Partition Wizard Home Edition (8.11) via Ubuntu & Unetbootin to a USB key.
  6. Boot into PWHE 8.11 and “extend” the NTFS partition to reclaim about 100GB for Win 7.
  7. Test both OSes. It is now an even split between NTFS & EXT4 ~230GB each.


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.

These things fail.

Drives. Negatives. All of it. It expires. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to implement simpler, more efficient means to organize and backup important items. Everyone wants a houseboy. They should be exceptionally talented in the mysteries of the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500, rapidly converting their heretofore analog paper trail into an endless cloud sync’d searchable PDF. Amazon Glacial. Google+ and Picasa auto photo backup. Flickr uploader does not work well. It is slow and tedious. There is this feeling of a freight train rolling in the darkness, never stopping. Go. Get outside. Run. Try to outrun it.

Fixing an SD memory card with broken lock…

Turns out all you need is some Scotch tape.  For some reason I thought it was a more complex mechanism.  Essentially the modern equivalent of the tab you used to see on VHS tapes to prevent overwriting.  And similarly as I recall there were special holes to allow S-VHS to be written.


So yeah, all you need is a wee bit of Scotch tape.  Takes all of 10 seconds and your SD card should be writable again.

1″ thick folding table… & a human powered Quad’copter

Step 1) Fly to Italy
Step 2) Buy 1″ thick folding table
Step 3) Fly home

lodovico bernardi table

Sources: lodovico bernardi Design-ing™ ; Dornob ; Gizmodo

And HT to Evan on this one, you know, just a human powered helicopter.  Nothing new there:

Source: Evan ; Popular Mechanics

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 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 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 (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


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.

Moderate upgrades…

Finally got around to soldering some 1/4″ TRS jacks onto a pair of XLR cables I had.  In case you’re curious what the wiring for XLR (differential) mono cables (not for microphones), the 3 pin XLR breaks down as such:

Pin 1: Ground (⏚) Sleeve, Pin 2: Postive (+) Tip, Pin 3: Negative (-) Ring.

Good information on soldering audio cables of all types here:

The EMU-0404 USB into the AudioSource 5.1a’s sounds a modicum cleaner, definitely driving now at lower levels. Probably not worth the effort but what the hell, I was curious and I had the TRS plugs sitting idle along with some old XLR cables.

XLR (male) to TRS 1/4" (male) diagram pinout

XLR (male) to TRS 1/4″ (male) diagram pinout

XLR M-F Pin Out

XLR M-F Pin Out

1/4" TRS Diagram

1/4″ TRS Diagram

Unetbootin my old friend, Dell XPS 15″ 1st gen, my enemy

Was having a devil of a time getting 10.04 LTS Unbuntu (Lucid Lynx) to install via USB flash key.  It would boot off the key fine, then during installation step 3, choose your keyboard layout, it would hang, no matter what I selected.  A couple of people suggested it was the maker of the USB key, so not having a spare key, I tried the “Alternate” text based installer, which also failed while recognizing disk partitions at 43%.  Someone else had this exact problem, which leads me back to this post, and the USB key as culprit:


Apparently partition size of the USB key can effect installation, so I’m going to try a 1GB partition and see if that works.  Otherwise, most users were able to either install 9.10 Netbook version or 11.10 with no problems, so I’m going to try that next, because as it stands I tried three different USB boot key creators (Pendrivelinux, Unetbootin, and LinuxLive USB) and three different versions of 10.04 LTS, no joy.  So hopefully this 1GB partition gets the installation flowing.  For the record, the machine is an old Dell Inspiron XPS 15″ 1st generation, Pentium 4 3.4GHz.

Update 30.Jan.2012: I got this working, as of a couple of days ago. I ended up booting from an old 8.04 or 8.10 CD-ROM I’d burned and the did an upgrade over the internet tubes to 10.04 LTS. It works, the Broadcom wireless adapter required a non-open driver but that auto updated as well, which is nice. And, I will say this, that 1920×1600 15″ LCD is massive on this thing. Ubuntu seems to really handle display settings much better than XP did, and Windows 7 would never be able to run on this thing, especially considering the poor performance I’ve seen from Windows 7 on Netbooks, I’d say 10.04 LTS or 9.10 Netbook is a safe bet for older machines.

EMU 0404 USB driver finally updates….

I’ve never been displeased with the price performance of the Creative/E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 [DAC] MIDI audio interface, but seeing as how I mostly use it for music listening I’m not super reliant on the latest and greatest drivers, it’s worked fine with OS X.

From past experience, I know configuring just about any USB audio interface in Windows XP was a headache, and I am told Vista/Win7 fixes some of the audio path issues. But I don’t run Windows 7. I have 10.6.8 on my systems now, the Mini is the main playback hub. The E-MU drivers for it were old, think Rosetta, possibly PowerPC binaries, as in old, but they worked. And despite being capable, Creative/E-MU has never enabled 24 bit 192KHz playback with the 0404 USB under OS X. I’m sure it’s possible. This is all to say, when I updated to the latest drivers for 32/64 bit Snow Leopard / Lion compatibility I just wanted to make sure it didn’t break anything, if it sounds better, great, so long as it doesn’t break functionality.

Here’s a link to the October 14, 2011 64 bit Lion driver download page: http://support.creative.com/downloads/download.aspx?nDownloadId=12115

I can’t hear any difference but it didn’t seem to break anything. Still no 192KHz up-sampling option.

On a side note, C says it’s not worth it yet to sync all the songs to the cloud, too much lag, in which case I need to upgrade to a 1TB 9.5mm 2.5″ SATA drive in the Mini, as I’m running low on space. I like having most albums at 16bit/44.1KHz lossless audio, and I occasionally buy CD’s and rip it to such. For streaming over the cloud 320kbps .mp3/aac seems to be standard. At $5/mo Spotify doesn’t sound very good, comparatively, $10/mo apparently bumps the streaming quality. At home FLAC/Apple Lossless sounds better, for sure.

Mountaineering Boot Sizing

I don’t think I have such incredibly abnormal feet, 10.5 EE US (“high volume”, “high arch”, “wide”), but as it turns out sizing mountaineering boots is a giant pain. Period.  Perhaps mostly because I don’t live in Colorado or Chamonix, but also because it’s difficult to find all the boots you want to try on in any one place, and except for out West, good custom boot fitters are hard to find.

I spent most of last year regretting not buying a pair of used Scarpa Invernos on sale from Whittaker Mountaineering. I figured size 10 UK boots with an Intuition “Thermofit” style liner would probably have fit fine.  I’ll never know.  I tried on pair of the Scarpa Omegas and they were far too narrow in the mid-foot. A local EMS had a single pair of 11 US Invernos with the non-thermo (“low altitude” cordura / open cell foam) liner, again they seemed a bit narrow but potentially with molded Intuition liners they would’ve been fine.

I borrowed a pair of older Koflach Degres (10 UK) all winter for ice climbing here in the Mid-Atlantic and for a Lee Vining trip, but the old liners were quite packed-in and they never seemed wide enough, plenty of toe room though.  I “vacationed” to a mountaineering shop in Keene Valley, NY and tried on both the La Sportiva Baruntse and Spantiks.  I think the size 45.5 EU Spantik was pretty close, but it’s hard to say, apparently thermo-molding the Spantik liner is a bit tricky, whereas the Baruntse’s Palau liner is apparently much easier to mold.  Dane Burns on his Cold Thistle blog has many more in-depth reviews (of boots, tools, apparel, climbing lore, etc) and has many more thoughts and years experience than I could hope to ever have on the subject.

The Baruntes were too narrow. I wore the Spantiks for a couple of days around the house before ultimately finding a pair of barely used Koflach Arctis Expes (11 EU) for 1/5th of the price, that felt incredibly good; wide, wooly, and wonderful on my feet.  In Alaska above 14k I paired them with the Forty Below K2 Neoprene Overboots and my feet were warm.  The boots were definitely too big though, probably almost a whole size and a half. But again, my toes were warm, so it’s probably better to err on that side of things.  It was a heavy combo, and didn’t leave a lot of feel for technical climbing.

Which brings me to the present.

What is a good 4 season’ish “all mountain” single boot here? I’ve been checking out the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX.  It does indeed have a wide “high volume” fit.  And it doesn’t come in UK (sometimes labeled EU on double plastic boots) sizing, which is nice, as I’ve already established a pretty solid baseline of size 45.5 in most truly European sized mountaineering boots.  The tall lacing and narrow heel seems to lock down nicely, which is good.  So far I’ve been using the green Superfeet and they don’t feel like they’re reducing volume too much.

I’ve tried on the Scarpa Jorasses Pro GTX (45 EU), which ostensibly is a slightly stiffer lighter “more technical” synthetic boot similar to the Mont Blanc GTX (lineage is the ice climbing Scarpa Freney XT GTX).  All I can say is that in size 45 the Jorasses Pro GTX were quite a bit shorter (not narrower) and I could not really tell the difference in stiffness without climbing in them outside, but it is immediately apparent that the Mont Blanc GTX is a warmer boot meant for snowier climes.  And I trust in the durability of leather over synthetics in the long term usage of a mountain boot.  I realize this isn’t a pure ice climbing Winter boot here, but that wasn’t really what I was in the market for.

So that’s where I’m at right now.  Waiting for the ice & snow to come in.

Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX
Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX



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











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.