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Archive for March, 2009

Holiday Time

March 26, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m off to San Francisco and Las Vegas for two weeks, leaving in about an hour. The San Francisco hotel has free internet access throughout the building so I might do some posts from there, but the Treasure Island in Vegas want $15 a day for internet access so I can’t see that being used much. Sounds like a mission: find cheap or free WiFi in Vegas.

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iMovie 09 AVCHD import problems

March 23, 2009 10 comments

Another freshly fixed problem that had me puzzled for a couple of days is my iMovie 09 crashing when trying to import AVCHD video. This problem hasn’t always existed as I was able to import AVCHD format video from my Canon HF100 in January, but trying again a few days ago resulted in an iMovie crash whenever the Video Camera was connected by USB (or the SDHC card connected via card reader). I’m not sure if this is a new problem with iMovie 09 or if another update caused the issue. Making an image of the card and then mounting it gave the same result, and the problem existed on both the hackintosh and HTPC.

Much searching of insanelymac suggested the problem was fixed by use of a different AppleSMBIOS.kext. I had version 1.1.1 installed to start with, and 1.0.13/1.0.11 didn’t change anything. I eventually came across a post by Andy Vandijck that contained a couple of modified files.The AppleSMBIOS_MacPro.zip file fixed the problem for me, and was easily installed using the OSX86Tools install kext tool.

One way of figuring out the problem with a crashing app is to launch it from the terminal so any error messages are displayed there. To use the example of iMovie, open a terminal window and type

cd /Applications/iMovie.app/Contents/MacOS/

then

./iMovie

Plugging in the USB card reader and SDHC card gave an error message as iMovie crashed:

Error getting a reference to /options.

This lead to the AppleSMBIOS threads at insanelymac so proved to be a good starting point for getting the problem fixed.

Quicktime and the stuttering mouse

March 23, 2009 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I noticed a problem with mouse movement on the hackintosh, where the cursor would jump across the screen as if pausing for a fraction of a second. This only happened when quicktime was active, for example when using iTunes or the Quicktime player. An initial workaround was found at PCwizcomputer and while this worked by replacing a quicktime file it wasn’t a perfect solution.

Browsing for a better fix last week I found the weaksauce12 blog, also at PCwizcomputer. This highlights a problem with AppleUpstreamuserclient.kext. The explanation is that this kernel extention is for DRM use with the Macintosh versions of Nvidia 9400 and 9600 GPU’s. Although I have a 9800GT this appeared to be causing the problem as removing this kext did the trick. Combining this fix with iTunes 8.1 has made music a much better experience on the hackintosh.

iPhone firmware V3 announced

March 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Apple has announced iPhone/iPod software version 3, with a beta available to developers now and the final version due this summer. Offering over 100 new features, some of the highlights include

  • Cut, Copy and Paste finally
  • Spotlight Search avaliable from a new screen to the left of the current first page. Looks a bit like the Palm Pre screen layout to me
  • Turn by Turn CoreLocation available to all apps for turn-by-turn GPS directions
  • MMS the iphone catches up with the rest of the messaging world
  • Push Notification previously promised and delayed, now to be included in V3
  • Third-Party Accessory Apps software can now access hardware add-ons
  • Peer-to-Peer Connectivity over bluetooth and wifi for data sharing and games
  • In-App Purchasing for buying content within applications, such as newspaper or magazine subscriptions
  • Landscape keyboard for easier data entry
  • Voice Memos again, catching up with everyone else
  • A2DP Bluetooth stereo headset support
  • Shake to Shuffle the ipod nano feature moves to the iPhone

The biggest question here is should you wait for 3rd generation hardware (if launched) this summer of take advantage of the free iPhone handset/stock clearance rumoured to be coming in May?

iTunes updated to version 8.1

March 12, 2009 Leave a comment

itunesApple has today released an update to iTunes. Version 8.1 boasts several new features on top of the usual bug fixes, including importing CD’s at iTunes Plus quality (AAC, 256kbps) and Genius for Movies and TV shows. The best improvement for me so far has been the speed boost. iTunes now loads faster and syncing with my 1st Gen iPod Touch is noticeably quicker.

Also updated are Front Row and the iPhone/iPod iTunes remote adding iTunes 8.1 compatibility.

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…