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Category: 'Computer'

Seriously, after reading a few articles (yes, I haven’t actually installed it yet) the amazing new feature list includes…

iCloud Integration: Nice, but not revolutionary.
Notification Center: Don’t we already have this with Growl?
Gatekeeper: A step backwards IMHO. I understand the reasoning but by making this the default, they are going to financially harm any developer not in the store.
Notes: Stickies
Messages: iChat
Calendar: iCal
Reminders: Nice, but its little more than a dashboard app. If they integrate Siri that would be nice.
Share Sheets: This has promise, the OS is due to have some social integration built in.
Game Center: Also very welcome, while not strictly needed, it will probably invigorate casual gaming on the mac.
AirPlay Mirroring: Also welcome, but, it seems like a fairly niche feature.

So really, I’m not sure of the direction they are going in, maybe I’m getting old and skeptical. But, I think the “Mountain Lion” part of this is just like ‘snow leopard’, not quite a full update even if it’s getting a new version number.

Things I’d *like* to see in a new OS X?

Seamless data management. Think time machine with hardware knowledge. “There appears to be 1025 files in 10gb that are only located on a single storage volume and are more than 30days old, please insert a blank bluray, sync to icloud, or add a new volume”. “there is data on a dvd-r you burned 3 years ago and is not backed up anywhere, please insert the disk to make it redundant.”

But, I fear they are going the Cloud Path with no looking back and I just don’t know if i’m a luddite for not wanting my data spread across that series of tubes…

Bring back the Snow Leopard color schemes and scroll bar options.

True resolution independence.

Fix the issues with Lion automatic saving, things like mark a checkpoint for good versions.

Ok, thats all the rant I have in me at the moment…


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Safari
Safari

Only took 12 months for the keyboard scrolling interrupt bug to finally get what was coming to it. At least 7 geeks world wide rejoice now that they can scroll complex long vertical pages in Safari with their key repeat set to overdrive. Actually, i’m sure a few non-geeks with older machines are probably thinking ‘hmm this seems a little faster’ too.

Either way, I’m glad it’s fixed, it was really annoying me forever.

Update: So it seems to be fixed on both my Mac Intel Mini and my G5 Tower, but oddly still not fixed on my brand new MacbookPro. All I have to say is…REALLY? Really…i mean seriously really?

Watching my G5 scroll faster than my i7 is just disturbing.


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DSL Reports Speedtest

DSL Reports Speedtest

So got my new 35/35 service running and apparently we’re getting close to the maximum upload. Verizon had called me on the upgrade date and told me that I would only get 29mbit upload because the ONT at the house wasn’t capable of more. He offered to send a tech out to replace it, so I said “sure”. The tech came out today and basically said he wasn’t aware of any speed difference on the other ONT’s. He called his boss and he said the guy I talked to was misinformed because the 611/612 ONT’s are all pretty much the same (just different port configuration and MOCA support) and won’t go any faster than my 610.

The second thing he said was they only guarantee 75% of the claimed speed (which is 26.25mbit) so there really isn’t much of an option at this point. I guess I’ll be satisfied for now, but I’m a bit miffed that they said they could fix it and now they can’t or won’t now.

I just wished the sales/service people who called you would actually not make promises they can’t keep. I think they continue to have a shortage of highly qualified guys.
I tried to do some searching for the AFC AccessMax SFH ONT 610X specifications, but I couldn’t find any useful data.

My old gallery of my FIOS Installation in case anyone is interested.

UPDATE 1/22/10:So my wife just reported that Verizon called back and DID claim it was an equipment problem and will be sending techs back on saturday to fix it (shaking head). Big company communication fun, I have no idea, I’ll update again Saturday.


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this is fios, this is big

This is FIOS. This is BIG.


The good news is the latest bundles as of 1/17/2010 while not great for everyone, are a good upgrade for me. Something changed last month and my bill was $10 up so it all coincides well for a change of plan. I’ll end up saving a few bucks a month while getting 35/35mbit service (up from 20/20) and a few extra FIOS TV channels. The bad news (and its not new news) is the Wi-fi hotspot joke they claim you get.

Verizon Wi-Fi is not available for PDAs, phones, desktop PCs or Macs.
In fact 64-bit Windows need not apply as well. It is ONLY available for 32-bit vista/xp. This is just ridiculous, wifi access is built on all open standards. It’s purely a marketing/business decision to alienate all of the PDAs, phones, Macs, etc…

It amazes me how Verizon can wave the Network Neutrality Flag and yet at the same time not offer any access to all to various devices. So, its network neutrality, as long as you’re the type of device we think deserves it.

The ugly? Well, the $1.99 mysterious fee is still an unknown factor and ETF’s have doubled on both FIOS and Wireless up to $350 and $360 respectively. FIOS prorates at $15/month and wireless is oddly $10/month which will leave a hefty chunk even at the end.

They continue to be my most hated/loved company. FIOS and FIOS TV are unparalleled, the wireless on the other hand? Well, lets just say I won’t be a quad-play subscriber any time soon.


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New Mac Mini’s

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

So apple announced a couple new MacMini’s today. At first I was really disappointed since MacRumors has them both listed as a maximum speed of 2.0ghz (as of 11:40am PST). But, in reality its a 2.0Ghz and 2.26Ghz model.

Engadget also gets a FAIL as of 1:34pm PST, also erroneously reporting only a 2ghz model.

But there is some good news underneath the surface of this fairly standard refresh.

First the basics, support for up to 4GB of memory (up from an unofficial 3GB and officially 2GB maximum), more USB ports (no-hum), 802.11n, firewire 800 and the most obvious big enhancement the 9400M graphics chipset.

The real interesting part to me is the new 1066Ghz frontside bus and the socket that comes along with that (up from 667mhz). I can’t wait for someone to crack one open. It appears to use the Core 2 Duo P7350 which if I’m not mistaken is a socket P. Which means there might be quite a bit of latitude for upgrades.

Model Number sSpec Number Frequency L2-Cache FSB Mult Voltage TDP Socket Release Price
Core 2 Duo P7350 SLB53 2000 MHz 3 MB 1066 MT/s 7.5x 1.00V-1.250V 25 W Socket P OEM
Core 2 Duo P8700 SLGFE 2533 MHz 3 MB 1066 MT/s 9.5x 1.00V-1.250V 25 W Socket P $241
Core 2 Duo P9600 SLGE6 (E0) 2667 MHz 6 MB 1066 MT/s 10x 1.050V-1.212V 25 W Socket P $348
Core 2 Duo T9800 SLGES (E0) 2933 MHz 6 MB 1066 MT/s 11x 1.050-1.212V 35 W Socket P $530
(table data pilfered from wikipedia)
New Mac mini
New Mac mini

So in this table, the P7350 is what I believe the new Mini to be using. This means if the CPU is easily removable at a minimum the P8700 should be a drop in replacement at 2.533Ghz its part of the same exact line. The P9600 has a slightly narrower voltage range and twice the cache, but again I couldn’t see why this wouldn’t be a GREAT drop in replacement at 2.667Ghz. The top of the line would be the T9800, it has a higher total wattage which means a slightly higher chance of running in to trouble but at 2.933Ghz its worth trying.

Personally, I have a Mini that I upgraded to 2.33Ghz. It’s the same 34Watts as the original 1.83Ghz CPU that came with it originally. The only downside is that it does make quite a bit more noise than the original CPU when both cores are running 60% or more. But, if the original mini can handle a 35Watt CPU, the new one just might…

Can’t wait to see the first 2.93Ghz Mini benchmark!

P.S. There are in fact faster versions of the Socket P line of CPU’s but I omitted the 3.066Ghz C2Extreme (44watts) and the 2.26Ghz C2Quad’s (45watts) as just a little unrealistic with the stock mini cooling, but that isn’t to say it isn’t possible. Only time will tell when someone actually tries such a thing…

Update: Ask and ye shall receive (well partially at least), macminicolo.net has an unboxing and disassembly, no specifics on the cpu/socket but it all looks pretty similar to the current model.


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10.4-10.5.6 Updates Graph
10.4-10.5.6 Updates Graph

You might want to hold off on the unless you’re already experiencing problems like some new MBP users are. My latest not-so-scientific numbers show its a risky bet.

Check out my older post on the topic

The graph is basically the number of positive to negative comments made on MacRumors.com.

10.5.6 Update
10.5.6 Update

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Mac OS X Updates Graph

Thursday, September 18th, 2008
10.4-10.5 Updates Graph
10.4-10.5 Updates Graph

Some totally useless statistics…

Apple released the 10.5.5 update the other day and while debating whether or not to run the update I threw together this graph. It’s basically the number of positive/negative comments on MacRumors for each point release of OS X from 10.4 and 10.5 to-date.

Anyway, while not the best reception for a release, 10.5.5 is tracking to be pretty average (46% being average and 10.5.5 at 50% as of today). I’m still at 10.5.2 as I skipped 10.5.3 because of the complaints and then just forgot to update since everything has been running so smoothly. It’s interesting to note the bad run from 10.4.6-10.4.9. I wonder if there were internal issues at Apple at the time or something to correlate it with.

Note: the 10.4.8 story was combined with the 10.3.9 release for whatever thats worth.


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WordPress 2.6

Sunday, September 14th, 2008
Wordpress
WordPress

So, I finally decided to clean up this site and upgrade WordPress. Unfortunately, that took lot more effort than I ever anticipated. Apparently, 2.5 was a major restructuring of how things work. That would be fine for the average user but I’ve made many customizations and optimizations over the years and it took quite a bit of recoding to make it work in the new system.

The good news is that the new system has a much better layout for customizing pages that I can see will make upgrading in the future much easier. Everything seems isolated in the themes folder under your specific theme. I still have a few things that I should probably clean up in the main directory but, I’m already 20 hours or more in and I don’t feel like coding anymore. At least comments, rss, etc… are all working again. Although, there will probably be a few missing layouts…


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HTPC Gone Wild

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
HTPC Setup
HTPC Setup

So I thought it might be a bright idea to illustrate what has to be one of the more over complicated HTPC (Home Theatre PC aka. PVR, Tivo thing, etc…) setups ever, mine… Ok, probably not, I’m sure plenty of people have crazier setups. But, it does surprise me how reliable it has been, even with so many computers involved. So how does it work? Magic! Ok, maybe not but something like this…

SageTV controls most of it. But, after trying numerous 1394 (a.k.a. FireWire) cards I never managed to get Windows XP, the Scientific-Atlanta SA-3250HD STB, and Charter Cable’s crappy signal to get along. Magically (Apple did create the standard for 1394) it just works without anything special on a Mac. So, FireWire is plugged in to the Mac, Sage TV controls it, all HD and digital channels go through the Mac and get recorded to the main media server/raid as raw MPEG-2 TS (transport streams). SD signals get recorded directly to the RAID through a Hauppauge PVR150 in the Windows box. All channels SD and HD are controlled through the 1394 (no infrared blaster silliness).

The great thing about this set is you get pure digital recording and playback all the way to the display. Digital cable -> Firewire digital files -> HDMI TV. The only other systems that work like this are DirectTV TiVo, some dedicated cable/sat. company PVR’s and Cable Card based systems. Unfortunately, after many years of unencrypted goodness, earlier this year Charter turned on 5C encryption on all HD pay channels. Note 5C is the digital encryption for the HDMI not the encryption that protects which channels you get which I believe is DigiCipher 2.

So what does the future hold? FIOS TV and the Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 likely. Unfortunately, this may mean losing pure digital recording/playback. But, I would regain recording of all HD channels.

The future is more likely the Internet and Bit Torrent. It’s really too bad for the studios that downloading bit torrent TV shows are often higher quality, more convenient and let you build collections as compared to the ‘legitimate’ offerings (Hulu, NBC online etc… and even recording SD/HD TV from cable/sat). But, this is a rant for another time…

Update: For completeness I added my parents Mac Mini to the full diagram (click the image), it runs Front Row Apple’s not so good PVR software, its slow over the Internet, but I believe that might be something about Samba. She can watch movies via the remote mount to my RAID and I put aliases in her Movies folder in her home directory.


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So being the lucky gal I am, both my parents and I both have FIOS 20Mbit Bi-directional internet connections (actually they may have a slightly lower tier). So after the 50th time I had the conversation “You should really see this movie, tv show, etc…”, I got to thinking it might be cool to connect our networks in order to allow them to share my media library/HTPC.

Unfortunately, getting my father to reconfigure his home network firewall is pretty much a non-starter. So I had to find a more creative solution.

So here it is, a quick how to get Samba connected over a reverse ssh Tunnel on OS X.

SSH Tunnel
sudo ssh -N -p 222 -c 3des user@domain.com -L 222/127.0.0.1/139


-N detaches terminal for ssh tunnels
-p is the port – I’m using 222 because if you use port 22 then you have to disable SSH/remote access on the local machine you are connecting from.
-c encryption type – 3des is the default blowfish is faster if CPU time is an issue remote user/domain

(direct from the man page)

-L [bind_address:]port:host:hostport
Specifies that the given port on the local (client) host is to be
forwarded to the given host and port on the remote side. This
works by allocating a socket to listen to port on the local side,
optionally bound to the specified bind_address. Whenever a con-
nection is made to this port, the connection is forwarded over
the secure channel, and a connection is made to host port
hostport from the remote machine.

Ok, now you have a tunnel, the next step is mounting the remote drive.

Mount command
mount -t smbfs //user:password@127.0.0.1:222/remoteshare /mountpoint


Note: A friend noted you should NOT use root for the mount command or Samba may not mount correctly.

To make this run at login, put it in a text file, chmod it executable and then put it in your login items.

Great! Final step, how to make the connection persistant. Enter launchd.

`launchd` is a unified, open source service management framework for starting, stopping and managing daemons, programs and scripts. It was introduced with Mac OS X v10.4/Darwin v8.0, and is licensed under the Apache License.

Unfortunately, you need to make a launchd plist and launchd is a bit of a bitch, so its much easier to just go get Lingon by Peter Borg it’s free, it works and you won’t have to learn launchd.

Now you have a great persistent remotely mounted Samba title over SSH.

Notes:
1. The mount command is a simple terminal script, but you may need to put a delay in the script if the connection isn’t up before the login runs the mount script. There is probably a way to get launchd to handle this but I haven’t spent the time to figure it out. So if the session disconnects it will automatically reconnect but not remount the drive.

2. The 1.83 GHz Mac mini doesn’t seem to have enough CPU to playback and receive HD content over the SSH tunnel (works fine if you download, then play). I may try to use blowfish to see if it improves playback. Normal SD divx/h.264 seems to be just fine.

I’m interested to know if anyone has any suggestions to improve this setup.

Note: As of somewhere around 10.6.7 IIRC this stopped working. As far as I can tell SMB and AFP no longer accept connections from the same box over 127.0.0.1. I’m really not sure why. As an alternative I’ve switched to using MacFuse, MacFusion and SSHFS which seems to be working reasonably well. I also switched the cipher in SSH to use arcfour in an attempt to eek out a little more performance.


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