On Case Sensitivity

by on May.09, 2010, under Annoyances, Gaming, Mac OS X

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.

Steam claiming that it requires a case-insensitive volume.

From the factory, a Mac ships with a case-insensitive filesystem. This seems to be an Apple simplification, (continue reading…)

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Cache or Check?

by on Sep.17, 2009, under Annoyances, Mac OS X, Mobile, Projects

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.

(continue reading…)

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Pico-ITX and gPXE (in BIOS) do not mix, outside of blenders.

by on Mar.25, 2009, under Annoyances, Hacking

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!
(continue reading…)

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Hard Drive Suicide

by on Jan.24, 2009, under Annoyances, Linux

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.

Reallocated_Sector_Ct 0x0033 018 018 036 Pre-fail FAILING_NOW 3282

Powered-on time: 305 days, 6 hours. Rest in Peace.

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Vista Woes Pt. II; What gives?

by on Sep.26, 2008, under Annoyances, Windows

Getting wireless working in vista sucks. I’d rather BITE MY OWN ARM OFF. What gives?
Getting vista to accept a non-signed device driver sucks. What gives?
Getting the Group Policy editor to work sucked (had to remove system policy file).
I was running on battery power until my computer died, and vista never even told me.
It just sat there and then shut off, degrading the capacity of my battery further. What gives?
30 GB volume, I barely have anything on it and it’s got 10 GB free. What gives?
Right this moment I have a restart pending for reconfiguration and a program that says “Cancel pending.. Please wait.. This may take several minutes. Please do not exit from this operation.” (Not like I can exit, or anything.) What gives?
Installing the windows update for my video card caused it to shut off and not start up anymore: boot = windows failure = poweroff. Safe mode to the rescue. What gives?

Point of Note: I still don’t have wireless working. At all. It connects to my router, and that’s it. Its dumb ass can’t get an address from DHCP, when everything else (including older versions of Windows) can.

I choose Bite my Own Arm Off. It really would be less painful and time-consuming.

I believe I’ve restarted this thing 30 times in configuration.

For some reason, Vista boots through GRUB?
Not even kidding. My Grub -> Vista GRLDR -> Vista BootMgr.
I don’t remember installing that. Is that legal?
It appears GRLDR is a giant GRUB binary. It contains the stage1, stage2, every stage1.5 AND a menu.lst configuration file, all in one. Neat.

Anyway, I’m staying up all night or something.

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I decided to install Vista.

by on Sep.16, 2008, under Annoyances, Windows

I attempted to install Vista (Really Windows 2008 Server Standard) once-
On my 12 GB partition.
It said “This drive requires at least 9978 MB free!”
Alright, I figure that’s fine and reformat it; there are well over 12000 MB free.
It then says “Windows suggests that you have at least 17000 MB free on this drive.”
I figure again that that’s okay, it’s just a suggestion!
Apparently not. “Windows could not find any suitable drives.”
That was some weeks ago.

Today, I tried again (new hard drive, 30 GB windows partition, etc.)
The install completes without a hitch.
Then, I start installing drivers. 300 megs worth of drivers. Wonderful! (This is still downloading, btw.)
Sounds worked out of the box, so did my touchpad + scroll and cardreader, it was pretty amazing.

Windows shuts off when I close the laptop (like, when the phone rings and I have to check the caller ID)- Minor annoyance.
Windows asks me for permission to do EVERYTHING- Minor annoyance.
I disabled Administrator and made my account the administrator (just so there weren’t two). Fine.

I’m apparently not allowed to shut the computer off?
“Restart [tooltip: This power option has been disabled by the administrator.]”
Excuse me? I am the administrator, and I sure as hell did NOT disable this.

Internet Explorer comes pre-configured in super anal high security mode!
“Internet explorer wants to warn you about going to”
“Internet explorer will not allow you to download this file from”
[Repeat last message for 15 different firefox mirrors: I add one of them to the whitelist and click 15 more times until I get lucky and it tries to use the one I whitelisted.]
Annoyingly enough, I CAN’T DISABLE THIS MODE!
Screw IE.

I’ll have more updates as time goes on (Still getting everything set up and downloaded and such. Jesus.)

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I have just one question.

by on Sep.11, 2008, under Annoyances, Mac OS X

Apple MenuWhat do you have to press to open the Force Quit dialog?

Here’s a hint: They’re all keyboard keys.

The accelerator for Log Out makes sense!

On another note, I absolutely love OS X. I take back all the bad things I said about it.
I’ll put up some screenies some time.

Happy Hacking!

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