While it should not be necessary, it is possible (with a bit of symlinking) to get Steam on OS X working with a case-sensitive boot volume.
This can be done as follows: (continue reading…)
DUE TO A SHORTAGE OF LOWERCASE LETTERS, AND FAULTY CASE CHECKING, THE ENTIRETY OF THIS POST WILL BE WRITTEN IN CAPITAL LETTERS, JUST LIKE DOS 6.22.
DEAL WITH IT OR GO HOME.
Or, at least, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you try to use Steam (OS X), StarCraft II, or practically any Adobe product on a Mac with a case-sensitive boot volume.
From the factory, a Mac ships with a case-insensitive filesystem. This seems to be an Apple simplification, (continue reading…)
On September 9th, 2009, Apple unveiled the (disappointing) updates to their iPod line, and released to the world iPhoneOS 3.1. The first, while notable, is nothing interesting in comparison to what they’ve done in the latest release of iPhoneOS.
With the latest release of their desktop operating system, OS X, Apple made great improvements to the system’s speed and application load times (supposedly, I’ve heard mixed reviews of Snow Leopard.) iPhoneOS 3.1 brings in these new enhancements, further streamlining the software on their mobile devices.
The single most impressive, noticeable change I’d like to discuss today is library caching.
CyDelete is an iPhoneOS addon (using MobileSubstrate) that allows you to delete programs installed with Cydia just like they were App Store applications. I recently released it to BigBoss‘s Cydia Repository, and it’s received 2123 downloads at the time of this post. It’s been up for about an hour.
Just a brief post to let you all know what I’ve been up to.
Full post here.
I’ve been sitting on this post for quite some time. I recently bought (and later sold, long before this post was typed) a Pico-ITX motherboard, an x86 motherboard smaller than my hand.
I named it Marcus and crafted a custom installation of Gentoo (as I do for every new computer) for it. I also decided to slipstream a gPXE (Enhanced PXE Network Boot) image into the BIOS. All seemed well, and I flashed it.
Reboot time came. I tried to enter the setup screen to configure my new toy!
- How now! An external hard drive?
- Clatters to the floor
- [Within enclosure] O, I am slain!
Well, it happened something like that…
I was about to attach my external enclosure (containing a Seagate 120GB 2.5″ SATA hard drive) to my other laptop, when the cord came up short and the drive slid off my desk.
To the floor three feet below…
While it was running.
Hard Drives are rated to withstand falls from a few feet, but only when they’re not running. When they are running, however, the heads smash into the platters, spinning at 5,400 RPM.
So I’m running a fsck on the drive, and it finds a bad block (about 2.3 million 4096-byte blocks into the disk). As I went to pull my laptop and hard drive into my lap, and the hard drive slides off the desk again. In the same place, and landing the same way.
By this point, I’ve started to give up. Fsck tells me that there is a bad block in the same place, and I check the SMART statistics: 0 Reallocated Sectors.
I write data to the bad sectors to force them to reallocate. This goes on for quite a while (with the badblocks tool, among other things such as creating as many 10GB files filled with zeroes as I could (I got to 6 files of various sizes before the drive began buzzing) and I get up to about 150 reallocated sectors (Or around 90 as a calibrated hard drive value; for the record, the failure threshold is 36. The drive started at 100.).
I decide to back up the data (only one of the actual files on the drive is corrupt; all the damage is in unallocated space) and delete some things I have elsewhere. 156 reallocated sectors.
After backing up the data I decided that it would be best to do a destructive write test. Writing to bad blocks causes the drive’s firmware to reallocate them on a different section of the physical disk.
By the middle of the test (700,000 4096-byte blocks, starting at the first corrupted region), the drive began buzzing again, and when I finally gave up, it had reallocated about 2,100 sectors, and the calibrated value was down to 44.
At this point, I gave up.
Rest in peace, Seagate. You have been with me since I got my laptop. Thanks for all the fish.
On another note, I’m now in the market for a new 2.5″ SATA drive.
UPDATE: The drive is a lost cause. I’m not writing anything to it, and it’s reallocating sectors on its own.
Powered-on time: 305 days, 6 hours. Rest in Peace.
I have to say, Microsoft really did a great job here. The beta version of Windows 7 (Build 7000) is far more usable at this stage than Vista ever was. All my issues (see here and here) with Vista are not present here.
- Wireless worked immediately; during setup, no less! (screenshot)
- All my hardware was detected and drivers automatically downloaded from Windows Update, without my intervention. (screenshot 1: All drivers installed; screenshot 2: Installing my SATA card)
- User Account Control is 100% less intrusive, and doesn’t hang while blanking the screen.
- Aero is Beautiful in this release.
- Paint got a complete overhaul (screenshot: menu) and can do something similar to Word’s AutoShapes.
- Progress bars in the taskbar. (screenshot)
- Calculator now has a “Programmer Mode.”
- It’s fast, in both setup and use.
- Address bar icon in IE8 doesn’t support PNG transparency properly. (screenshot)
- Folders no longer display the size of their contents unless the contents are selected. (screenshot 1: Windows 7; screenshot 2: Windows XP)
- Paint uses the Ribbon Interface (not an issue, just hard to get used to). (screenshot)
While the beta expires in August of 2009, I foresee great things for Windows 7.
The title says it all; This combines my love of (read: veiled interest in) talking about random things online with my love of having a new toy to play with.
Plus, Howettblog® is now completely located on the HowettNET server!
Last night, I tried to figure out how the iTunes App Store (as accessed from the iPod Touch) worked.
I was able to simulate the app store experience, and here are the few notes I took on the matter.
All replies from the App Store are gzip-compressed.
If any of these steps fails, the connection is terminated.
- The device queries phobos.apple.com for a “bag” (ix=2), which contains a signature and a signing key.
- The device sends a non-binary plist (XML property list) of its current applications to a WebObject called “availableSoftwareUpgrades”
- The app store replies with a list of all the information for those applications. It is up to the iPod itself to determine whether/not there are upgrades.
- Periodically, the device makes a request to metrics.apple.com (which replies 100 Continue instead of 200 OK), which I believe is for stats tracking.
- The device reads software categories and loads icons (WebObject viewFeaturedSoftwareCategories)
- The device loads the contents of a category (WebObject viewGenre)
- The device loads an application’s information descriptor (WebObject viewSoftware). This for some reason contains the text to be used in the price display, as well as the “INSTALL” or “BUY NOW” text.
- The device initiated a secure connection to download an application. This is where I had to stop my research, as I couldn’t track this.
- curl (Commandline URL Fetcher)
- Wireshark (packet capturer/analyzer)
- Apache (Web Server, used here to serve fake App Ptore pages)
- A single firewall rule on my router to redirect all traffic coming from the iPod back to my computer (iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -s ipod -p tcp -j DNAT –to 192.168.254.1. Note: I couldn’t redirect to a computer inside the router’s network, so I had to hook up via WiFi to the router AND via Ethernet to the modem)
Not much useful information into the app loading process was gleaned from this, unfortunately, though I did manage to snap some “neat” screenshots of my meddling.
Applications are signed, though, so even if this was an exploitable vector, the device would need to be jailbroken first, thus making this useless.
- You go pick up an engine (in pieces) and body parts from the central warehouse.
- You find that your version of sys-car/transmission is too new and you need to get a newer version of sys-car/engine out of storage.
- You put together the engine, transmission, and body. You’re pretty psyched, only to find that you have yet to install car-misc/seats.
- You install the seats, but find that the latest version of car-misc/seats does not correctly recognize the human body, due to an incompatibility.
- You downgrade car-misc/seats and in the process must downgrade sys-apps/steering-wheel for height concerns.
- You install the radio separately, which is the easiest part.
- You turn the car on and it explodes.
EDIT: Whoa, it looks like I’ve been Reddited! Or whatever the appropriate form of that word is. I want to clarify that I love Gentoo and use it on a daily basis. For all the ~arch dependency hell, it’s still a pretty damn great distribution.