Monday, 26 November 2007

Turn off Menubar transparency

Found here

Turn off menubar transparency in 10.5

sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ EnvironmentVariables -dict CI_NO_BACKGROUND_IMAGE 1

Then reboot the machine.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Time Machine

I just got a warning pop-up from time machine reminding me that I hadnt connected my backup drive for 10 days, so I should either connect it or set a new backup drive. After I connected my drive, it started backing up 11GB of data, which got me thinking where is it storing the changes that are made to my drive and is it resetting them later? At the moment I have no clue but it could be an interesting side project.

I'll post more here once I find something out.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Posting pause(?)

Hi, there might be a few days gaps in posts soon as any day now my daughter should be born :) So if I suddenly vanish, you know why :)

Monday, 19 November 2007

Leopard - screensaver "flickering" issue or dual screensavers

So as I mentioned in my earlier post about upgrading Leopard I was having issues with the screen saver under Leopard. Basically I would start the screen saver using my dock shortcut but then after a while a second version of the screen saver would run super imposed over the top.

I actually solved this issue inadvertently when I reinstalled Leopard but I came across the following hint over at macosxhints today, that also provides a solution, which I thought would be useful to share.

Skype VS Leopard

There are a lot of people out there having problems with Skype on Leopard. The issue is that if you have your firewall switched on, then Skype simply crashes on launch.

There are a number of workarounds for this but most of them involve switching off the firewall, which is something that most people dont want to do.

Ive came across a couple by myself just from my own trial and error. The first is to reinstall skype, it will then work when you launch it but after closing it, it stops working and needs to be reinstalled again, which obviously can become a hassle.

To get around this - just keep the .dmg file for Skype and run the application from there, from here it runs and you save at least a couple of clicks from reinstalling it into the Applications folder.

Skype is currently working on a fix.

How to backup your Elgato EyeTV 2 settings and channels

So as most of you know from my posts below I recently did a clean install of Leopard which I used as an opportunity to reinstall my apps as well.

One of the apps that I reinstalled was my EyeTV 2 software (I have the Hybrid USB model) but what I wanted to do was copy across all of the channel information and favourites to save having to re-tune everything again later.

Although I managed to find a few of the files needed, I missed some and as a result ended up doing what I wanted to avoid and re-tuning in all of the channels. This provoked me into writing to Elgato's technical support and after a couple of days they responded with the answer to my woes, so I thought I would share their response here so that those of you out there in a similar position can avoid my fate :)

The EyeTV preference files that contain all of the relevant settings are stored in the following locations and files;


  • com.elgato.eyetv.devices.plist
  • com.elgato.eyetv.plist

In /Library/Application Support/EyeTV
Copy the whole folder

In /Users//Library/Preferences/

  • com.elgato.eyetv.plist

Backing up these files and copying them across to a new installation should retain your settings etc.

Hope this helps someone.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Nerd Breakdown

I picked up on this article from Daring Fireball - after reading it, I can honestly see a lot of what I do in there and I suspect that a lot of you may feel the same, go take a look :)

Gmail Imap

Hi Googe, please, please give me imap support for Gmail - it seems that everyone else has it already, colleagues at work, my wife, the dog at the end of the street but you forgot me! :) Please can I have it?


Wednesday, 14 November 2007

FlushDNS on Mac OS X

In terminal;

Tiger - lookupd -flushcache
Leopard - dscacheutil -flushcache

Force eject a volume

In terminal;

hdiutil eject -force device_name

Device_name can be determined with the df command

Convert .dmg to .iso

In terminal enter;

hdiutil convert dmgfilename.dmg -format UDT0 -o imagefile.iso

mv imagefile.iso.cdr imagefile.iso

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Installing Leopard on an external HDD (Intel Mac)

Im still waiting for the CCC to finish cloning my main HDD, so I thought I'd use the time to document the procedure I used to install Leopard on my external HDD, as Ive noticed on the net that a few people seem to be having problems with this. So lets get started;

Stage 1 - Prepare the disk

  1. Connect your external disk to your mac while running OS X (You should be able to do this via disk utility when booted from the DVD but I didnt try this myself).
  2. Start Disk Utility
  3. Select the physical disk in Disk Utility, make sure to select the disk and not the volume.
  4. Next click on the Partition tab
  5. Under Volume Scheme select "One partition" (or however many you need just keep about 12GB for Leopard).
  6. Next click the options button and for the partition type, select GUID.
  7. In the name field, enter a name for your disk
  8. Now click Apply, after a couple of minutes the disk should be prepared for installing Leopard.

Stage 2 - Installation of Leopard

  1. Insert the Leopard DVD and click the Install Leopard icon
  2. Restart the computer when asked
  3. After a fairly slow startup (its booting from the DVD) the installer will load
  4. In the first window you see, you'll be asked to select the installation language, choose whatever is appropriate for you.
  5. Next read and accept the EULA
  6. On the next screen after the EULA, you should see a list of Harddisk icons, including your external drive
  7. Select your external drive
  8. At the bottom of the window, you should see a button labelled "Options", click this.
  9. You will now be presented with a list of the install options for Leopard, as the external drive is blank, there will be an Install option in first place instead of upgrade, the second option, archive and install will be greyed out and the third option, Erase and Install will also be available. Choose whichever option you prefer and click ok, I chose Install.
  10. Click continue
  11. On the next screen, click the customize button at the bottom, this will allow you to further customize your installation. You will be presented with a list of options for printer drivers, languages, fonts etc. go through the lists and disabled options you dont need, for example you can get rid of languages you wont use or printer drivers which helps to save space.
  12. Click Done
  13. Click Install
  14. If you have done this once already, then there is no need to repeat the DVD verification step, so just click Skip
  15. Now we just need to wait for the install, mine started off at 54 minutes but dropped down to 39 minutes quite quickly, then up to 1 hour, then back down to 34 minutes before settling down.

TIP: If you want to see what is going on during this stage, from the menu bar at the top, select "Window" - "Installer Log", when the window opens you can choose between three options from the pulldown menu - Show errors only, Show errors and progress, Show all logs. Choose one of these and you'll see whats going on during the installation and still have the progress bar visible beneath the log window.

Install complete after about 45 minutes in total.

After the reboot, the Leopard Welcome movie starts playing fullscreen (for me after the upgrade that I did originally, it played in a window only, so the fullscreen was nice).

Stage 3 - Post-Installation Account Customization

Almost done now, just a couple more steps left.

  1. Select the language you want to use for the operating system.
  2. Next choose the keyboard you would like.
  3. On the next screen you'll be asked whether you want to migrate any information, there are four choices;
  • Migrate from another Mac
  • another volume on this Mac
  • from a Time Machine backup
  • do not transfer my information now

If this is a new mac, then select the option, do not transfer my information now. Otherwise pick the option thats best for you. Here I selected migrate from another volume on this mac.

If you select a migration option, then the Transfer your account window appears, here you select the drive that you would like to migrate your information from in the pulldown menu. After the installer finishes scanning the disk, it will display the amount of data available to transfer, for example, User account 35GB and so on.

Tick the boxes here next to the information that you would like to transfer, unfortunately my external drive is smaller than my internal so I wasnt able to migrate my user account, just my applications and network settings.

Click ok and then after a few minutes you will be booted into the desktop with your settings migrated and ready to use Leopard.

Dont forget to go into the preference pane - security - firewall section and turn your firewall on!

Leopard Rebirth - Reinstallation of the OS

So I installed Leopard over a week ago now via the upgrade method, which by all appearances worked out quite well. At first everything seemed to be working fine and I didnt seem to have any of the issues that have been mentioned by others performing the upgrade, such as the "blue screen of death".

During the week though, I did notice a few things. For example whenever I started the OS, I received a cryptic message stating "The application crashed" and asking me if I would like to notify Apple. For the life of me though, I havent been able to find out what the application was, I looked in the console, I disabled the various login items under my user account, I removed files from the startup directories (e.g. menumeters, wifind etc) and still I got the error message.

Secondly I had a problem with the finder/applications folder. Whenever I clicked on it for the first time after starting the computer, I would get the SBOD (Spinning Beachball of Death) for a few minutes, then the system would sort itself out and the applications would be visible.

I was also having some problems with the screensaver, if I started the screensaver and went away for a while for lunch or something, when I came back the display was flickering. After investigation it looked as though a second instance of the screensaver had launched and was somehow, superimposed over the first one (this was also confirmed when I moved the mouse, the password prompt would appear but the screensaver would continue to run in the background. If I clicked outside the prompt, I got a second password dialogue).

I also noticed that the computer seemed to be running hot more often than it had used to under Tiger.

There were also some problems with the finder in the coverflow view as I mentioned in an earlier post, at the moment Im not entirely sure if this is the fault of the documents or the operating system. Unfortunately I just started cloning my original hdd to a backup so Im unable to test this right now (at the moment Im running on a clean install of Leopard from an external drive).

All of these things together lead me to decide that during the weekend (today), I would try a clean install and see of the problems were still present.

So I backed up my files from one external disk to another, then on the first disk that was now "clean", I installed the fresh version of Leopard (details of the installation to follow in a later post).

Lo and behold, after the starting from the new installation on the external disk, the problems that I was having seem to be gone. Clicking on the applications folder now instantly displays the applications, letting the screensaver run for a while works as you would expect it to and no further superimposed versions of it appeared. I havent had any error messages on startup, which as there are no programs running at start is to be expected I guess, just in the mess that was my original hdd, I never managed to find what caused it in the first place.

Finally the computer also seems cooler but its still too soon to say.

Anyway, I've seen enough right now to convince me to reinstall my main internal HDD with a fresh copy of Leopard and then migrate my settings over later. Ive just start carboncopycloner and Im backing up the internal to a WD My Book as I type, once done Im going to start the install on the internal.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, 5 November 2007


Heres a nice simple app for changing your dock - all you need to do is click a button to switch it between 2 or 3D and some various popular mods. Well worth checking out, available from here.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Some amazing Dock mods for Leopard

This thread contains instructions on how to mod the 3D dock to change its colours, appearance and so on. There are some really great new docks in here.

Speed Download - Update

If you run Speed Download now and check for updates version 4.1.17 is available and contains Leopard compatibility fixes, including the fix I mentioned earlier.

"Fix" for smart documents folder in Finder

In the Finder search box, simply type the following, without the speech marks ".doc OR .xls OR .pdf OR .pages OR .key" and press save and add to sidebar. This will display just the documents without the .mp3 files and so on.

Solution for Speed Download

I found the solution for the issue with Speed Download on the developers site. The fix for it is quite simple, download this file and follow the instructions.

Speed download integration broken?

Speed download seems to have lost its integration with safari and firefox after the upgrade. Im trying to find a solution now.

Smart folders

Anyone know how to do a smart folder that displays just documents and not mp3 files?
Or say displays all documents from all folders except this folder where I have my private receipts that I dont want to have easily accessible?

Quicklook issues

I seem to be having some issues with Quicklook, one of which at least Ive managed to solve and the other Im not sure that there is a fix for.

First of all, some of the quicklook effects as demonstrated in the Apple videos were not working. For example when I had a Keynote presentation visible in coverflow, if I moused over it, I did not get the icons to page forward and/or back, the same for powerpoint and so on.

I found out that for Keynote at least, I need to open the presentation, tick the box in the save dialogue that says "save preview with file" and then resave it. Afterwards in coverflow, this provides the aforementioned page arrows. I just hate the thought that this is something that needs to be done for all documents, surely its more simple than that and Ive overlooked something?

The other thing that I dont think works, is full screen mode as when I view the presentation fulscreen in quicklook, its formated like a giant page that you scroll down, not individual slides that you can move through with the arrows or one after the other (unless you use the slide navigator). I dont know at the moment though if this is just me, my system or the way its supposed to be as I dont have anyone to check it with.

Leopard installation

Ok, so as I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to experiment a little and just perform an upgrade as opposed to erasing and clean installing Leopard.

I made a full backup of my system earlier in the week using Superduper and also made sure that I had backups of my important files on a separate hard disk too, so I was quite comfortable that I was covered in this respect.

So today before attempting the upgrade, I performed the following actions;

Checked that I had the latest versions of, or compatible versions of what I call "non-apps", i.e. Saft, logmein, Citrix ICA client and various other preference pane items that I have and use.

Btw there are new versions of Saft for Leopard and a beta of the Citrix client (v10) although v7 should be working, at least on intel macs.

After that I ran Onyx and repaired permissions, ran the cron jobs (daily, weekly, monthly) and cleaned out all of the various cache and log files. One reboot later and I was ready to try the upgrade.

The upgrade was almost painless, I dont run any of the uninsanity apps or the logitech mouse controller, so I had no issues with APE (this can cause you to boot up to a blue screen - the quick fix is to update it to the latest version). So for me I simply put the DVD in the drive, started the installer, rebooted the mac and then let it do its thing.

Right after the reboot once the installer had loaded, I was presented with the usual OS X install options, that is to say, the choice of language, whether I wanted to perform an upgrade (default choice) or archive and install and so on. On the next screen I clicked customise and removed all of the extra printers and fonts that I didnt need, then I just let the installation process go.

I didnt time it but Id say the whole process took just under an hour, including the time for verifying the disc, though at the start it did state that it would take 2 hours or more but this dropped to 30 minutes or so quite quickly.

Once completed, it rebooted again and put me right back at my standard login window (albeit with the new Leopard space background). My normal user account and password got me into the system and once in I had my old background and desktop icons just as I had left them.

A couple of things to point out though;

Menucalendarclock needs to be updated to version 3 to be compatible with Leopard
My finder settings were preserved as well, so afterwards I was missing the QuickLook icon in the finder and had to add it using the customize toolbar option.

Besides that the install seems to have worked out well but now I need time to play, test and reconfigure. I'll post some updates here as I find things though.

Leopard - better late than never

My family sent my Leopard DVD a little later than I expected, so as a result it took a week for me to get it from the time Apple sent it to my UK address. I have to admit it was quite a long week , especially as I couldnt really use my notebook as I spent a lot of time preparing it for the upgrade and I wasnt sure if I would have the time to do it again (due to the fact that my daughter could be born any minute).

Its been frustrating reading about it every where though and not able to try anything etc, still it arrived via post this morning, which is good news :)

Friday, 26 October 2007

The Leopard has landed...

I just got a message from my brother that my Leopard DVD has arrived, or at least arrived at his house in the UK (I ordered it from the UK Apple store on Monday). So now Im quite happy that its there but also hoping that it survives the journey in the post to the Czech Republic and that I survive the next couple of days waiting to get my hands on it :)

Its a shame as with the weekend I would have had some time to play with it. Either way, once I get it I'll post some updates and thoughts here.

Has anyone got theirs already?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Leopard confirmed for Oct 26th

So today Apple officially confirmed that Leopard will be release on October 26th (link : TUAW). I have to admit that Im quite looking forward to it but Im still debating how to go about the installation.

What I mean by this is that Im debating doing a total clean install of OSX plus apps, plus windows plus apps, or just trying to upgrade my existing Tiger installation. Usually with a new OS I tend to do a complete clean install but as we have a baby on the way, due in a 5 weeks, Im not sure I'll have the time (or energy) to do this.

I know that some of you are probably reminding me of the migration assistant right now but I had a "bad" experience using it in the past when migrating data from my powerbook to my MBP. Basically it copied all of the crud over that I'd so carefully avoided installing on my MBP from the system folders - grrr.

Still I have backups of both of my OS'es so it might not be a bad idea to experiment in the interests of science and try an upgrade first.

Ive pre-ordered my copy from the UK store, so hopefully I will have it before the end of October.

Long time no see

Hi, sorry for the lack of posts here for a while but Ive been home sick :( I somehow managed to pick up an infection of the upper respiratory tract - which resulted in a course of antibiotics and me being out of commission for a while.

Im alive again now, so time to post again :)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Play Czech games in English from CDProjekt

CDProjekt is a firm here in the Czech Republic that localises games into Czech. Ive found a way to revert these games back into English, or at least I have managed to do this with two titles so far, Company of Heroes and Supreme Commander, though I suspect that it may also be the case in other CDProjekt games.

To revert Supreme Commander back into English do the following;
  • Navigate to "C:\Program Files\\gamedata"
  • Locate the file loc_CZ.scd
  • Rename this to something like loc_CZ.scd.old
  • Now when you next start the game, the menu's /text will be in English.
For Company of Heroes its a little more involved as the file required to convert the game into English isnt included with the game itself but can be obtained by downloading and installing the English demo (which is complicated but what I did). I might post a link to the file here later on if I find out that its ok to do so. The specific file thats needed is called RelicCOH.English.ucs.

To convert the Company of Heroes CZ into English, do the following;
  • Navigate to "C:\Program Files\THQ\Company of Heroes\Engine\Locale\Czech"
  • Rename the file RelicCOH.Czech.ucs to RelicCOH.Czech.ucs.old
  • Copy the english version of the file RelicCOH.English.ucs into the directory
  • When you next start the game, it will be entirely in English.
NOTE - Patching:

To patch the game, always use the official patches from the CDProjekt site and patch in order, from the first patch to the last.

Before patching, remove the RelicCOH.English.ucs file from the directory it is located in to your desktop temporarily and rename the RelicCOH.Czech.ucs.old file back to its original name (remove .old). If you don't do this, then the patch will fail to install.

If you forget, it shouldnt be a problem, just remove/rename the local files and try patching again.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Bioshock - update

So I installed Bioshock via steam and its working well on my MBP. Im able to play with everything on full, I just had to take the resolution down two notches from the 1440x900. Not to bad so far. :)

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Bioshock on a Macbook Pro

Hi, just thought Id let you all know that Bioshock runs fine on a Macbook Pro Core Duo (2ghz) with 2GB of RAM and an ATI Radeon X1600 256MB RAM.

So far the game is running with the textures on high in 1024x768 without any problems and a good framerate in my quick tests. I played around 15-20 minutes in the game without any problems.

Unfortunately its getting late here so I didnt want to play around with it for too long today but tomorrow hopefully I will find time to try it in higher resolutions and will post back here to let you know how I get a long.

Bioshock - Fix for side-by-side error

So like many of you I installed the Bioshock demo today to give the game a try to see what all of the fuss was about :)

The installation went smoothly but when I tried to run the game, I got an error something along the lines of;

Error: The Side-by-Side configuration information in "c:\games\Bioshock" contains errors. This application has failed to start because the application configuration is incorrect. Reinstalling the application may fix this problem
Reinstalling the game didnt fix my problem and neither did alternative drivers for my graphics card.

I did some research and the issue seems to be derived from a problem with VC++ files either not matching or being included in the program.

The solution that worked for me was to run windows update and install the latest windows updates and .NET updates, then reboot.

After the reboot Bioshock started and ran fine, no issues with videos or game play.

Hope this helps someone else.


Sorry neglected to mention that this is on a Windows Vista 32bit installation, running on a Macbook Pro with an ATI Radeon X1600 256MB RAM graphics card.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Manually sorting pictures in iPhoto 08

So I've been playing with iPhoto a bit more over the past couple of days but the one thing that I'd like to do I haven't been able to and thats manually sort photos within an event.

The problem is that when you double-click the event to access the photos it contains and then go to the view -> arrange by -> menu option, the option to sort manually is greyed out. I've tried this on various events and libraries with the same results on them all.

A quick search on the internet revealed that I'm not the only person having this problem and although a workaround exists on the Apple discussion forums, its just that a workaround, so lets hope that Apple fixes it soon.

One good point that I have came across though and perhaps this is something that was generally known and only I missed it, is that keywords seem to be unique to the library, which is great news for me as I tend to break our photos into libraries such as holidays, family events and so on. Which means that I can now add keywords like beach, sightseeing and views without having to worry about them popping up in the wedding library.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

iPhoto 08 - Quick tip

Just thought Id post something I just found out when playing with iPhoto 08 just now. If you drag your mouse cursor slowly across the icons displayed in event you (or events as iPhoto calls them) the icon changes from the first picture in the event to show you the next and so on, so basically by dragging slowly across the entirety of the icon you can see all of the pictures that the event is comprised of.

Quite useful :)

Monday, 13 August 2007

iWork 08 and iLife 08 - installation

I received my iLife 08 and iWork 08 discs today and thought I'd post up a few comments here about the installation.

iLife 08

First of all I installed iLife 08, this doesnt require a serial number and once you start the installation will automatically replace the previous version of iLife on your computer. Therefore there is no need to manually uninstall it and this way all of your settings, iphoto library and so on are carried across into the new applications.

The one exception is the old version of iMovie which is copied into a separate folder.

Also be aware that your iphoto library will be updated to be compatible with the new version so if you plan to go back at some stage you may want to make a backup of your current library before installing the new version of iLife.

So far I've only launched the individual apps to make sure that they work but otherwise havent really played with them. After installation I ran software update and there was an update for iphoto already available but so far thats it.

iWork 08

iWork I installed second, this does require a serial number to work as the full version and the installation installs into an iWork 08 folder leaving your iWork 06 intact. If you want to install iWork 06 it should be enough to drag the folder to the trash.

Again as with iLife Ive only just launched the apps to make sure that they work, so far they look good and from the quick look that Ive had at numbers it seems quite impressive.

I ran software update afterwards again but there are currently no updates available for iWork.

Thats pretty much it for now, once Ive played with the the apps a bit more I'll post more info here.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Desktop Tower Defense

I was bitten by the Desktop Tower Defense bug, if you dont know what it is, its a flash game where the purpose is to prevent critters getting from one side of your desktop to the other by building a maze or series of defenses composed of different types of cannons. Every time you kill critters you get gold which can be used to upgrade the existing defenses or build new ones.

It might sound a little strange but its well worth checking out and giving it a try for yourselves. Try it first on the easy level just to get the hang of it and then switch up to medium for a bit more of a challenge. Ive managed to get through medium without losing a life and around 6000 points, so Ive decided to give hard a try but Im not having much luck so far :)

Anyone already playing this?


Dockables are some small single purpose apps that you can drag into your dock. They perform actions such as putting your computer to sleep, activating the screensaver, shutting the computer down and so on, all with one click. Definitely worth checking out, so click here :)


I just recently caught onto the Soprano's - talk about coming late to the party :) But for anyone else who hasnt seen it yet its definitely worth watching.

iApps released

So the latest versions of the iApps are out, namely iLife 08 and iWork 08. I have to say that so far they dont look too bad based on what Ive read so far on the net. Ive already ordered my copies from the Apple store in the UK.

This brings to mind something that doesnt quite make sense for me though, Ive never understood why the Apple store here in the Czech Republic takes 3-5 weeks to get new software after release. It would be nice if Apple arranged for shipments to be made in advance of announcements but even so, I wouldnt expect it to take more than a week if they shipped after the announcement. A minor gripe at the end of the day but still frustrating.

Hopefully my copies will arrive on Monday, although most of the torrent sites have links up already. Actually Apple is officially offering a downloadable demo from its site thats good for 30 days, though Ive seen some posts on the net stating that if you remove a certain .pref file the 30 day count resets itself.

In the meantime there are some reviews and first looks up at and to whet your appetite if youre still waiting to receive your discs as I am.

The one thing that I havent noticed though is anyone talking much about the installation process but it could be that I simply havent looked hard enough. I understand that iWork will install onto your mac and leave the current version alone, so you will have to remove it if you no longer want it. The new version also seems to take up less space but I havent had chance to check this yet.

As for iLife my understanding so far is that this does replace the current version with the exception of imovie as the new one doesnt have as many themes etc as the old one and also doesnt run on some of the older G4 macs.

I'll post some more once I receive my discs.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Emulating Windows on a PowerPC Mac

My father-in-law has a small problem with his Powerbook, it doesn't run Microsoft Money and as a lot of people in the Mac community will tell you, most people coming over from Windows use Money.

Anyway I thought I would help him out by installing an emulator for him, so I looked around (unfortunately being on a powerpc it immediately ruled out Parallels or VMWare) and came across iemulator, which I thought used to be free but is now commercial and Q (Quemu), which is freeware.

I bet you can guess which one I went for right? :)

Installing Q wasn't a problem, it was a simple case of drag and drop and presents a control panel a little similar to VMWare. I set up a new virtual machine, chose Win2K as the operating system, purely so it wouldnt need as many resources as XP does and would hopefully be useable and started the installation with a Win2k SP3 disc that I have.

The installation was slow - it took around 2.5 hours which surprised me, of course I expected it to be slow but it was longer than I expected. After a reboot windows started up and then immediately gave me an error "MSGina.dll failed to load", which is a known issue.

After following the steps in the guide it still didnt work and I realised that it was due to my own stupidity as I was trying to replace the DLL with the one from the CD and as it was a slipstreamed disc was basically the same file.

At this point I saved the virtual PC while I went to look up the error and work out a way around it. Unfortunately afterwards when I came back to it I had a lot of issues with getting the virtual PC to start/boot from the CD. It kept crashing and freezing the powerbook so badly that I had to hard shutdown by holding the power button down. (The whole computer was unresponsive and the mouse cursor frozen).

It took a lot of fiddling but the solution in the end was to leave the CD out after a reboot, try to start without the CD which of course would fail. Shutdown the virtual PC and Q, put the disc back in, wait for it to mount and then to start Q again, then in the options for the virtual PC to set it to boot from the CD. Afterwards it finally booted and I could get to the recovery console again. Though this still left the msgina.dll problem.

To get around it I went to the Microsoft site and downloaded service pack for for Win2k, I then booted into parallels on my Macbook Pro and used Winrar to extract the msgina.dll file and copied it onto a usb disk.

Back on the powerbook I created a blank disk image in Q, renamed it to .img (note Q uses .qcrow or .raw which arent recognised by the disk utility in OS X), mounted the image formatted it as DOS and then copied the msgina.dll file onto it.

Then I booted the virtual PC from the CD, went into the recovery console and using expand, "expanded" the file and over wrote the version that was there. I mounted the image in the virtual PC as a floppy disk image, initally once the virtual pc was at the recovery console DOS prompt but this didnt work, I ended up having to put it in the virtual pc options.

After a reboot the virtual PC finally started and I got to the Win2k desktop.

Great I thought - I'll just install the Q provided Win2k drivers, so I started the .exe file from the image that comes with Q and it promptly crashed the virtual machine and the powerbook so badly that I had to reboot again.

After the reboot and once Id started Win2k again I decided to leave things as they were, Windows seemed to be ok and I thought it would be enough for my father-in-law.

I then decided to install outlook as he has a lot of problems opening .msg files (if any of you know a way to open these on a mac please let me know). So I put my office CD in, started the install, enter the key and then the installer bombed out. Tried it a couple more times with the same result.

So thinking it might be something to do with the CD reading via an emulator I copied the contents to the virtual PC and tried again but same result, it bombed out. I thought it might be because it's office 2003, so I found my old office 2000 cd and tried that, again the installer bombs out. In every case no error message is generated it just simply closes.

I tried downloading the latest release of Q as opposed to the stable version which I was using but still had the same problems, so now although I have a windows installation I cannot get office to install or find anything on the net to help, even in their own forums and/or wiki.

Anyone out there have any ideas as Im lost at the moment, Ive posted on the Q forums too and Im hoping someone will know something.

Thanks in advance

Update :

After doing some searching on the forums, I found out that with Windows 2000 you still need to update the installer. I tried to download the installer from microsoft within the virtual pc but it failed the Microsoft verification test, so I ended up downloading it via XP from within Parallels.

I then tried to get it into the virtual pc by using a 2.5mb floppy image but it reported that the downloaded archive was corrupt despite it opening fine in xp when I tested it. So long story short I ended up burning the file to cd and running it from the cd in the virtual PC, which worked.

After the the installer had finished updating I tried the Microsoft office install again and this time everything worked out fine.

So I now have a working Windows 2000 install with office running under Q, sometimes its a little slow, but it is running on a PowerPc so I guess it can be forgiven. Otherwise the only problems remaining are USB support and a bug that prevents you from running the virtual pc for a second time after its been shut down. If you try to run it again, the whole powerbook freezes and needs to be hard powered off.

Speed Download

I was looking for a way to download multiple files over night and came across a few program while I was searching but Speed Download was the one I finally settled on that suited me the best. Its not free, which initially gave me reservations but after trying out the demo for a day I ended up buying it.

It basically does what it says on the tin and adds downloads to a list that you can set up to download in whatever order you like, when you like and so on. The links can be captured when you click on them in a browser or from a text file or you can had them yourself either by typing or cut and paste. Its also got growl support so youll know when something has finished or started.

I'm still playing with it but so far Im quite happy with it. After I've used it for a few more days I'll post an update here.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Capture a screenshot from a DVD

Earlier today I needed to grab a couple of shots from a DVD for work, from a presentation we were sent by a client, although there are some software packages for this, you can also easily do this from the terminal.

Open the terminal and type:- screencapture -i ~/Desktop/dvd.png

You should have some crosshairs, now press the spacebar and they change to a camera.
Position the camera over the DVD window and click and you should have a file on your desktop called DVD.png which is a grab of whatever was currently running in the DVD player.

If you plan on making multiple grabs, dont forget to rename the files as you save them or change the name in the terminal prompt to something else each time, e.g. dvd1, dvd2 etc.

Source for this and credit goes to Random Tech and this article

Friday, 27 July 2007

WD My Book Premium 500GB

(icons and link courtesy of MacUpdate)

I got hold of a WD My book yesterday, basically for making backups of my MB Pro and my wifes machine.

So far my first impressions of the drive are good, its quite compact and fairly elegant looking when compared to my other external drive cases and although there is some fan noise when switching on, afterwards it is quiet and runs quite well. The fans in my MB Pro were louder than the My Book when they came on, just to provide some perspective.

When I received the drive it was formatted for Windows, so I connected it to my mac via firewire , split it into two partitions, one to make a clone of my macs hard drive that I could boot from, the other to store a backup of the bootcamp partition and an image of my wifes notebook.

I then realised that in formatting I had of course erased the software that came with the drive (backup program and the button manager) - a quick trip to fixed that error on my part (but have the serial number of your drive handy as you will need it to download).

The backup program I confess to not using or even installing, I used Super Duper for my OSX partition and Winclone for the bootcamp partition, I didnt do my wife's notebook just yet.

The button manager is basically a small driver that on the mac at least, enables the second LED on the drive to display how much space has been used. This is represented by a ring that starts to fill up as the drive does. There is a second LED ring around this one that indicates the status of the drive, for example the LED lights circle the circumference when the drive is reading or writing and when inactive the whole ring pulses slowly. In the centre of the rings is a button which is you press it powers the drive on and off.

On the back of this model of drive there were connections for USB and firewire (two firewire ports), the power cable and a socket for a kensington security lock, otherwise the back, top and bottom edges have a grill effect to allow the air to flow through the case and cool the drive.

It took around 1h 30min, perhaps slightly longer to perform the initial backup of my drive from Superduper, thats for a 172 GB partition with 70GB free and using the erase and copy option in Superduper.

After Superduper had finished I started Winclone and made a backup of the 60GB Windows partition that I have, I believe this took around 45-50 minutes but I didnt time it so cant be sure.

During both of these operations I occasionally touched the drive to see how hot it was getting and was suprised to find it was quite cool still and certainly was quiet the whole time.

Overall so far it made a good first impression on me and based on this I might get on of the terrabyte drives in the future to store our ever expanding itunes and iphoto libraries. Its basically done what I would expect a hard disk to do, do its job quietly and efficiently without being a nuisance.

Incidentally, according to Superduper when I was backing up the transfer speeds start at 9mb and then increased to 17mb, this was of course over firewire.

If youre on a mac and looking for some good icons for this drive, theres a good set available here.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Cool - I got a slight mention on Technorati. because of this post :)

Remote Buddy

I found a nice program the other night but it seems Im late to the party based on some of the comments over at places like TUAW. As you may have guess from the title, the program is called Remote Buddy, its a fantastic program that enhances the functionality of the Apple Remote.

When you install it, it will ask to install a kernal extension to enable full functionality but there is an option to undo this in the program itself if you chose to go back or youre nervous.

After installation the functionality of the remote is improved a thousandfold at least, you're suddenly able to open pretty much any application on your mac or access any file. For example I can navigate to my movies folder, select a file, choose whether to open it in VLC or Quicktime and then switch to fullscreen to play it. While there I can also do things like adjust the brightness if I need to (if watching at night), volume as well as the usual controls such as pause, play, fast forward.

The program also includes a virtual mouse with (spotlight/halo effect), that you can use as you would a normal mouse or in a presentation, an on screen keyboard - admittedly a bit fiddly with the remote but good in a pinch.

I know that all of this may sound complicated but its surprising how easy and effortlessly it is, Ive tried a few programs for the remote and so far this is the best that I have came across but even so I didnt really "get it" or see the difference from the other programs until I tried it. So the main thing that I can recommend is to try the demo which works for 30 days, after which youll need to register. I bought my copy after 24 hours... it costs 20 euros but is well worth it.

The only small problem that I had was that after installation the remote functionality didnt seem to work in quicktime. I could switch the player to fullscreen and back but I couldnt pause it or adjust the volume in quicktime (though it still worked via the menu). I tried VLC and everything worked there fine.

My initial assumption was to do with the kernal extension that was installed and that given the integration of quicktime in the system that perhaps a reboot was solution. This proved true when I tried the program again the next day after shutting the computer down for the night (with the remote, not sleep but shutdown), as afterwards quicktime is working flawlessly.

Anyway this is really just a recommendation to try this program out, especially if you are using a mac as a media centre or if you're like me and like watching TV on your mac in bed - did I mention that it works with EyeTV too? :)

Well worth it, give it a look and if you have any questions let me know.


Sunday, 22 July 2007

Its Harry's fault

Sorry for the update drought yesterday but when we went to town my wife bought me the latest Harry Potter book as a surprise present so I spent yesterday reading it. I dont think that it was a bad close to the series but Rowling left doors open at the end...

One question I have though - and this is a slight spoiler, if the goblin ran of with the sword in the bank vault, then how could Neville put it out of the sorting hat to kill Nagini?

Friday, 20 July 2007

Vista and Games

I installed a few games onto the Vista partition the other night, in particular, Splinter Cell Double Agent, Supreme Commander and Company of Heroes.

Both Supreme Commander and Company of Heroes worked right out of the box without any trouble, I loaded both of them and tried the tutorial missions and they were both working out ok. I didnt play around too much with the graphics settings yet - I'll mess with those on the weekend. In COH I did try turning everything up to full just to see and the game was still quite playable, a bit sluggish now and then but playable.

Splinter Cell was a bit more interesting in terms of installation and setup. The initial install went fine but took a while, once complete though it asked me to install directx9c which being on Vista I refused. IT them promptly popped up the hardware detection utility and informed me that I didnt have the correct version of directx, graphics drivers and something else which unfortunately my tired brain can't remember at the moment. The long and short of it though was that I wouldnt be able to play the game.

I didnt believe as I had already played the game on this same computer on a Windows XP partition, so I knew it worked. So I simply cancelled the hardware utility and tried running the game and it ran quite happily with no issues that I could see, although I only tried the first 10 or 15 minutes of the first mission.

One thing to note here though is that the game ran better than it had under Windows XP. On XP I had a problem that the game was incredibly slow - I had to disable one of the processors in order for it to be playable (go into task manager, right click the game process and choose affinity). On Vista it played quite happily from the start without me having to make any changes.

I'm hoping to get some time to play during the weekend, so I will try tweaking graphics etc then and let you know what I found out. In the meantime I thought that this might be useful information for someone, even if its not very scientific ;)

Update : Thought it might be useful to post my machine specs for reference;

Macbook Pro, Core Duo 2ghz, 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon X1600 256MB

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Backup a windows bootcamp partition

Lots of places on the net deal with methods on how to back up your main OS X partition using a variety of utilities such as Superduper and Carboncopycloner.

Not to knock any of these articles but when I want to back up my computer, I'd typically like to back up everything, which means if youre using bootcamp even the windows partition.

I searched high and low for a while and the only option that I found to do it was this CopyCatX. While this looks like an excellent option at the time it was beyond my finances, so I found other ways around the problem.

A couple of weeks ago though I came across this - Winclone which is purpose built utility to backup and restore your bootcamp partition from OS X, for free. So far it has been working for me flawlessly, Ive had no issues backing up and restoring Windows partitions on my Macbook Pro.

I found out though, purely by chance how flexible this utility is, as an example let me share a story with you, I had a user come into my office with his Macbook and a new iMac that he'd bought. He'd also bought a scanner that was Windows only. A search on the internet just to be sure, revealed that there were no drivers for it etc, so it looked like it could be a bit of a dead end.

I offered to install Parallels or VMWare for him and to set the scanner up on there but after forking out for the computer plus scanner he was broke. So I offered to install Bootcamp for him and put the scanner there. He seemed quite happy with this solution and left me to it.

On opening the box of discs he'd brought with him though, I soon found out that there was no windows CD inside - argh. Thats when I remembered Winclone.

I installed Winclone onto his Macbook and backed up his Windows XP partition onto an external drive.
  • Next, I connect the drive to his iMac, installed winclone there and also downloaded and installed Bootcamp.
  • Once done I created a partition via Bootcamp that was the same size as the one on his Macbook (Ive since found out that you can also create the partition via Winclone but Ive yet to try this).
  • Then using Winclone I restored his Windows XP image from his Macbook into the new, empty partition on his iMac, the whole process went smoothly.
Once complete I rebooted into Windows and that was that - everything was working just as it did on his Macbook. I have to admit that at this stage I was a little surprised as I expected XP to complain about different drivers or something but it was quite happy, so kudos to Apple for the Bootcamp drivers and to TwoVolcanos for Winclone.

Needless to say that afterwards it was a simple case of plugging in the scanner and installing the drivers.

After my colleague returned I recommended that he should invest in Parallels or VMWare as both of them would let him start from his Bootcamp partition in OSX and save him having to reboot (I initially tried to get him to return the scanner but he didnt want to). I also explained to him about the additional Windows license but Im not sure that it got through to him.

Still at the end of the day the story had a happy ending and left me quite impressed with a good piece of free software.

Have any of you tried Winclone?

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Zonealarm and Vista BSOD

I was playing around with the installation of Vista on my Macbook a little yesterday and decided to try installing some anti-virus and firewall software. For the anti-virus I installed AVGFree, primarily because its free :) and also because Ive been using it for years now without any issues. Thankfully it held true to its reputation and is working quite happily under vista.

Zonealarm unfortunately didnt...

I downloaded and installed the latest free version from their site, which states that it supports Vista. I had no problems downloading it but halfway through the install it froze and then after a couple of minutes the whole computer locked up and became totally unresponsive. I left it alone for around 20 minutes to see if it would sort itself out but unfortunately no joy, so I performed a hard reset by holding down the power button.

After rebooting, Vista obviously complained and grumbled about being shutdown so rudely and went through a disk check, got to the logon screen and then before I could enter the password, boom there was a nice BSOD. First one in a long time I have to admit. I rebooted and got to the logon screen a second time and the same thing happened. Starting to see a pattern here? :)

Luckily having worked in IT for the past few years I have lots of patience for these types of problems so I booted up again, this time in safe mode and managed to log in. Oh happy day :) I then removed zonealarm, rebooted once more and since then everything has been fine and dandy. I think I will give it a couple more weeks and then try again, as like AVG, Ive used Zonealarm a lot in the past and never had problems with it. Admittedly Im not so worried about it as I only tend to game or "mess around" in windows, most of the time Im working in OS X but even so, you tend to feel naked without a firewall these days.

Has anyone else had much luck with firewalls under Vista? Any recommendations?

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Vista runs hot...

I installed Vista onto the bootcamp partition as mentioned in an earlier post and the Macbook seems to get quite hot as soon as you start doing anything with it.

To be honest Im mainly using it to keep my windows knowledge current (for work) and to play games, so its not really that big a deal as Im using it on a desk in those situations but it still worries me a little bit. From the research I've done though it seems that we are stuck until either Apple or Microsoft release appropriate drivers for the power management. Or do any of you out there know otherwise and have any tips that you wouldnt mind sharing?

In the meantime I'm using these... Cool Feet... They actually work quite well, Ive been using them for around 5 months now, the only problem I have with them is that sometimes the suction isn't as strong as it could be, so if you pick your laptop up to move it, they fall off. Its not all the time though and in general for just providing airflow beneath the computer they do a great job.

Well as I said if anyone has any tips for getting Vista to run slightly cooler Id be happy to hear them.


Macbook Pro Upgrade

Ive finally finished the last (for now) of the upgrades to my first gen core duo Macbook Pro and I have to admit that I'm quite happy at the moment.

The first upgrade was a few weeks ago, when I exchanged the superdrive that came with the laptop for another one, specifically an 8x speed, dual-layer burner (a step up from the 4x burner that came with the Macbook). The model is a HL-DT-ST DVD +- RW GWA4080M, which I found on eBay and is supposedly an authentic Apple replacement part (the sticker on the drive has the Apple logo on it). So far the drive has been working fine, Im playing with the idea of upgrading the firmware on it but on the other hand I'm thinking, if its not broken... I guess I need to do some more research first.

My second upgrade was a new hard drive - I installed the Western Digital Scorpio 250GB WD2500BEVS-11UST0, it formats to around 232GB which is still a big jump from the standard 100GB drive that came pre-installed.

I performed both upgrades following the guide available on which was a great help. There were a couple of points that they missed in the case of the hard drive installation though.

The first is that the bluetooth module is stuck to the side of the case with glue. This matters because the module is next to the drive and you need to be able to lift it up in order to get at the screws to remove the drive. A credit card or some other similar tool that you can slide down between the bluetooth module and the case in order to break the bond should do the trick.

The second issue is that you will need a Torx 7 screwdriver to remove the supporting struts from the original pre-installed hard drive, you will need to mount these onto your new drive to ensure that it stays snug and doesn't bounce around.

Neither of these are major sticking points but I thought Id share them with you so if there are any brave souls out there planning to do this you'll know what to expect.

For me both of the updates took 45 minutes to 1 hour but that was because I was being incredibly careful about it, I took time so that I wouldnt scratch the case, I made a labeled diagram and placed the screws on it in the correct location so Id know where to put them back later and so on. I think the extra care was worth it as both of the upgrades worked first time.

Afterwards I created a 170GB partition for OS X and a 62GB partition where I installed Windows Vista - but I'll save that for a later post.

Any questions let me know...

First Post!

This is my first ever blog and first ever post - so will be just playing for a while to get the feel of things