Archive

Archive for the ‘computer’ Category

Adding an SSD to a hackintosh HD installation

November 3, 2012 4 comments

There is much interest in Apple’s new Fusion Drive for Macs, where an SSD and conventional Hard Drive are paired into one drive. Files are automatically moved between the SSD and HD depending on usage, so the most frequently accessed files reside on the faster SSD and the HD provides greater capacity for infrequently used files. The feature sounds like a step forward for users with more files than a reasonably priced SSD can store, but there are still many answers and reliability tests needed before it’s something to recommend for use on a hackintosh.

After recently buying a 128Gb OCZ Vertex Plus SSD from Aria, for the bargain price of £40, I have been looking at ways to use this with my 2Gb hard drive. I recently added a Seagate 2Gb 7200.14 drive, using my previous 2Gb drive as a backup. The new Seagate gave a big boost to read/write performance, going from around 50Mb/s read/write on the old HD to 140Mb/s read/write on the Seagate 7200.14. This testing was done using the free Blackmagic Disk Speed Test app for the Mac appstore, so while in no way comprehensive does show a big speed increase for sequential access.

The OCZ Vertex Plus SSD is an older generation device that gives around 160Mb/s write and 200Mb/s read speeds. This is way below the 500MB/s+ speeds that newer SSD’s can offer, but this was intended as a cheap test before committing to a more expensive SSD. The next decision is how to use the two drives, with three main options available: Read more…

Hack Mini ITX 10.7 Server

December 10, 2011 5 comments

In July 2009 I built a small Intel Atom based file server that ran Mac OS 10.5 Leopard. It served as a NAS box and later ran 10.6 Snow Leopard with the Plex media server feeding my HTPC and a WDTV box through network shares. While there was enough processor power available for these simple tasks, new developments were beyond the limited power the Atom offers. The Plex Media Server can now stream and transcode to iOS clients, if your CPU is up to the task. Lion Server is available as a $50/£35 add-on for the Lion operating system, adding all the server functionality you could want. iTunes will act as a music server for all the computers in the house. With so many possibilities available, it was clearly time for an upgrade. Read more…

An Englishman in New York. With an iPad.

Several news sites are reporting the limited availability of the WiFi+3G iPad at Apple store, but in New York there’s a shortage of all models. I visited the 5th Ave store Thursday evening to be initially told at the entrance there were no iPads available at any of the New York Apple stores. Further enquiries inside revealed deliveries had been received every couple of days so I reserved a 32Gb WiFi only model. The “come get it” email arrived Friday morning, so after a visit to the Top of the Rock (awesome view) I headed to the store and got the iPad activated for immediate use.
Requests for iPads at the store are constant, and within five minutes of getting mine out of the box to set it up I had an offer of “whatever you paid plus a hundred dollars”. That was without even seeing what model it was. Setting up a US iTunes account is necessary since there is no UK iPad support until launch. A $25 iTunes gift card took care of the app store billing requirement.
Onto first impressions. It’s surprisingly heavy but more solid than cumbersome. Performance is very smooth, and there have been no lags or pauses so far. I bought the Acer Aspire One hackbook on this trip and it cannot play my holiday movies exported from iMovie at quarter HD (960×540). The iPad has no trouble and they look fantastic, no stuttering with vivid but realistic colour.
The camera connection kit is sold out as well so I haven’t been able to directly import photos. iPhoto is sluggish on the hackbook so I am only importing a select few photos for syncing to the iPad. Those viewed so far look just as good as movies.
Off to the New York public library today as Mrs Basshead loves The Day After Tomorrow film, so more thoughts to follow.

Categories: apple, computer, ebook, email, ipad Tags:

Using a Bluetooth earpiece with Windows 7

October 25, 2009 Leave a comment

windows-7-logoThis weekend I have been upgrading Mrs Basshead’s Netbook to Windows 7. There was recently a problem with Windows XP taking a random but often lengthy amount of time to show the desktop after logging in. Various fixes had been attempted but XP could not be fixed. I have the Windows XP restore disc’s so thought there would be nothing lost trying Windows 7 Home Premium first.

The install went well, with Windows 7 picking up most of the hardware and installing the necessary drivers. The only thing that caused me problems is bluetooth support for a Jabra earpiece, which Windows appeared to recognise and install but not connect. I tried a couple of Vista drivers with no success, then found a post in a HP support forum. Hewlett Packard have a package that adds Bluetooth support to a range of HP Netbooks and Laptops running what looks like any version of Windows 7. It also works great with the Samsung Netbook, and Skype now automatically uses the Jabra earpiece when it is powered on in range. If you’re having problems connecting bluetooth equipment to a Windows 7 machine these HP drivers may help, just remember to make a backup or System Restore point before installing them.

Apple releases new iMacs, Mac Mini, Macbook and Magic Mouse

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

As was widely predicted this morning, Apple has updated its iMac, Mac Mini and Macbook ranges. Also new is the Magic Mouse, described as ‘the world’s first Multi-Touch mouse’. The new products feature:

iMac

  • 21.5 or 27 inch LED backlit glossy display
  • 3.06/3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor or 2.66GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor or 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
  • 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM with four SO-DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB
  • 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 9400M or 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 (21.5 inch model)
  • 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 or 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 (27 inch model)
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 10/100/Gigabit Ethernet
  • Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive
  • 1 or 2TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA hard drive
  • From £949

Mac Mini

  • 2.26GHz, 2.53GHz, or 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 1066MHz frontside bus
  • 2GB or 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of shared DDR3 SDRAM
  • 160GB, 320GB, or 500GB Serial ATA hard disk drive
  • From £499
  • Also available with two 500GB SATA hard drives and Snow Leopard Server for £799

Macbook

  • 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colours
  • 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 1066MHz frontside bus
  • 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM with support up to 4GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
  • 250, 320 or 500GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive
  • 8x slot-loading SuperDrive
  • New Unibody enclosure
  • Up to 7 hour battery life
  • £799

Magic Mouse

Magic_MouseA new design with no buttons. Instead, the whole top of the mouse is a multi-touch surface that responds like the trackpad in the Macbook/Pro’s. Not cheap at £55 but certainly cutting edge.

Overall it’s a very strong line-up for the Christmas Market. I’m a bit surprised the Macbook is still just a single model at £799 but Apple have never been interested in the budget market. The iMacs now go from fast to ridiculously powerful, and while the 1920×1080 HD resolution screen appears to be becoming a standard, the 27 inch version offers an enormous 2560 by 1440 pixels. The Mac Mini is still expensive now has the server model leaked earlier this year. Could this become the perfect small office server?

Snow Leopard Problems

August 31, 2009 6 comments

Snow_Leopard_Family_Pack

The first system I tried Snow Leopard on was my 1st generation Macbook. I expected some problems installing onto a hackintosh but all the reports I have read so far say the Leopard to Snow Leopard upgrade works just fine. Unfortunately this hasn’t been the case with my Macbook.

Before starting the upgrade I made a full backup to an external hard drive. The Snow Leopard upgrade is fairly straightforward, there are few options you can change now so it’s just a case of insert the DVD and go through the installer steps. After installation there were immediate problems visible, starting with many missing items at the right side of the menu bar. No time, no iStat menu’s and other items missing. I’ve since found out that iStat menu’s has problems with Snow Leopard, but trying to go into System Preferences> Date & Time>Clock just caused System Preferences to hang and needing a Force Quit. It looked like there was a conflict somewhere, so I tried again. Read more…

Hackintosh Atom server

July 27, 2009 3 comments

In a previous post I told the sorry tale of my Synology DS106e network attached storage box. It served me well for 18 months until the fan stopped working and a scheduled backup led to the hard drive overheating. It was time to upgrade my server, and there were several options available.

  1. Buy a replacement NAS box, either a newer Synology model or something similar from Qnap, Thecus, Netgear etc. This would cost anywhere from £70 for a used item on eBay to £300 for a top of the range home/soho device. The current Synology one drive budget NAS is around £180 online.
  2. Buy a used Mac Mini from eBay. The newer Core 2 Duo/solo models fetch a high price but the original G4 versions at 1.25 or 1.4Ghz are selling for around £120. Ready made server in a small and silent box, easy to setup and expand through software.
  3. Build a mini hackintosh based on an Intel Atom processor. This is perhaps the most flexible approach, is should be able to run Leopard and hopefully Snow Leopard. Linux and windows shouldn’t be a problem either, so it has plenty of options for software.

I decided to go for the third option, not really surprising since I have already built a Quad Core hackintosh and a Home Theatre hackintosh. Building something is usually more fun than buying a ready made device, although this depends on how well the end result works. With the decision made I started looking at the Insanelymac forums for details from people who had already used Atom processors. Read more…

The entry level Macintosh

March 7, 2009 2 comments

Apple updated it’s non-laptop hardware this week, and the one thing that really struck me was the UK Mac Mini pricing. In January 2005 I bought a 1.42Ghz Mac Mini G4 from the Apple UK store for £441. At the time this was a good spec with 512Mb of ram and an 80Gb hard drive. The top Mac Mini model in March 2009 is now £649. Hardly an entry level computer any more.

The spec is greatly improved, but nowhere near current average desktop specs. The lower Mac Mini model has the same processor and less Ram/Hard drive space for £500. A catalog from Dell turned up in the post this week, and for £400 I could buy a mini tower with a Core2Duo E7400, 2Gb Ram, 250Gb Hard Drive, DVDrw and a 19″ widescreen monitor. Thats a lot of computer for the price. While I understand the exchange rate is not favourable in the UK at the moment, how does Apple expect to sell at these prices? Apart from the size and software I can’t see what the Mac Mini can offer at the moment. And why does it still look the same as three years ago?

Categories: apple, computer Tags: , ,

Hackintosh HTPC part 4

March 3, 2009 2 comments

In Part 3 I briefly touched on screen settings, and ended up using the analog output of the HTPC at 1920×1080, 59.9Hz. Picture quality was good, and to my surprise the pixels output by the video card were perfectly mapped to the ones on the TV. I used the free monitor setup displays at http://tft.vanity.dk/ for testing, and applied setting for colour and sharpness that had been previously been set using a Home Theatre setup DVD.

The setting that made the biggest improvement here was sharpness. On my TV, a Samsung 46A656, the default setting was 50 on all inputs. I had assumed this meant no sharpening but a quick run through the test cards on the setup DVD showed this to be anything but neutral. A black pattern of lines on a grey background showed very bad white edges around the lines, indicating too much sharpening. Dropping the sharpening to 10 gave a much better image, and the colour setting was dropped to 42 from 50 using other tests. Read more…

Hackintosh HTPC part 3

February 5, 2009 7 comments

In part 2 I detailed the motherboard, processor and ram picked for the HTPC. The plan was to initially use the spare Nvidia 7300GT card and replace this dependant on space available in the final case. I had a spare Tagan 480w PSU and a midi tower case as a temporary home, and the 500Gb hard drive from the hackintosh (replaced with a new 1Tb).

The build was straightforward so I won’t dwell on that. The first choice was how to install Leopard. The 500Gb hard drive had the hackintosh install on it so I chose to boot this first and see what happened. It wasn’t much of a surprise when this started up fine as it had previously been working on an intel chipset motherboard. The only thing that didn’t work was audio, so the next choice was do I keep the install and remove unnecessary software/files or do a fresh install? Read more…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers