Archive for the 'Apple' Category

Note: I've reorganized this site to use tags; the category archive remains to support old links. Only posts prior to April, 2006 are categorized. Tag Archive »


My 15″ Powerbook is an 867MHz Titanium – the last model Apple made before switching to the Aluminum Powerbook. Like many other TiBook owners, I suffered a broken hinge- 6 or 8 months ago. The Powerbook has remained usable, but I’ve been worried that the other hinge might break, and then I’d be out of luck.

So I recentlty ordered a set of replacement hinges from eBay. Apparently the originals were aluminum, but the replacements are steel, so I bought the matching set. I paid 125.00 USD plus shipping, which isn’t bad… I’ve seen them much higher. They arrived today, so tonight I replaced the bad hinge.

It went okay. The instructions the seller emailed me weren’t great- in fact, there were two sets, and they didn’t quite agree. In the end, I decided to wing it- I’m fairly adept at fixing things, and it wasn’t too bad. Not exactly for the faint of heart- there’s a bit of prying and bending of the screen’s back coverplate. But the job is done, the hinge is replaced, and it seems to work well. I think I’ll hang onto the other until the original needs replacing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to my digital camera, so I have no pictures of the process. As I said, the instructions I recieved weren’t great, but they did outline the basic steps, and I could find no better via Google. I don’t know the source, so I won’t republish them here, but if you need a copy, drop me an email and I’ll pass them along.

One other tip- work on any Apple laptop requires very small Torx screwdrivers (T-10 and smaller), generally in a few different sizes. I’ve never had any luck finding a set locally- at least until a few months ago. My local Lowes now carries a set of “Task Force” Torx drivers, with sizes T-4 through T-10 plus T-15, for five or six bucks, if I recall. Definately worth having on hand.

Backing up a Windows Laptop with OS X

Update 9/10/2006: I’ve improved this procedure, and removed the need for NFS. See HOWTO Backup an Entire Windows Drive with OS X and Ubuntu for details.

My wife’s XP laptop continues to get slower. She’s had it for about 2 1/2 years, and it’s still running the original XP install, so no surprise that performance is lousy. I’ve considered dropping a desktop Linux install on it, but she has a couple of apps that still require Windows. For now, I decided to format her hard drive and revert it to factory condition with the restore CDs that came with the machine.

So now I needed to back up her machine. It doesn’t support Firewire or USB2, so external drives were out. In the past, I’ve always copied alot of files over the network, but this is time consuming, and usually error prone- If windows decides it can’t copy a file, the whole copy operation stops, and you have to figure out what has copied and what hasn’t.

I wanted something similar to Ghost. Ghost is a PC backup solution the PC admin folks at work used to use. It’s now a Symantec product, but I don’t think it was at the time. The original was great- a single floppy (we used floppies back then) would boot, connect to the network, and copy the entire hard drive to an image file on a network server. Modern versions allow you to grab files from inside the image; I don’t recall if the original did. This is a feature I need; I’m not restoring the whole image to a drive.

I tried to find an open source alternative (the current Symantec Ghost is overpriced, and I don’t trust Symantec software at all) without much luck. I found Partition Image for Linux, but the images can’t be opened for access to individual files. While researching, I came up with another idea… make a direct copy of the windows partition from a Linux Live CD (such as Knoppix) using dd. I figured the image might be mountable, just as you can mount an ISO CD image file.

A word about efficiency: This method copies the entire partion, empty blocks along with the rest. So, copying Sherri’s 27G partion would result in a 27G image file. However, I have the space on the iMac, the backup is only temporary, and I wanted to be sure I had everything. Seemed worth a shot.

In order to make the backup over the network, I needed to share a directory on the iMac as an NFS share, since I’d be connecting from a Linux Live CD. OS X supports this, but not via a nice little applet like with Windows Sharing. You need to fool around with netinfo, which I dislike, and run several daemons. Since this is only for temporary use, I decided not to get my hands too dirty, and found a shareware utility called NFSManager to handle the details for me. Once I had created an NFS share, it was time to use it.

I booted Sherri’s laptop using a Knoppix LiveCD, opened a shell, and mounted the NFS share (/Users/jclark/Netmount on the iMac):

sudo su
mdkir /mnt/mac
mount -t nfs /mnt/mac

The first line makes me root for the ensuing commands. I then make a mountpoint, and mount the NFS share to the mountpoint. Interestingly, when I ran the mount command, the command appear to hang, but opening another terminal showed that the mount worked.

The laptop only had one drive (C:) so I suspected that I only needed to backup /dev/hda1, but I checked it with QtParted just to be safe. QtParted is a GUI shell around GNU parted, and is accessible from the Knoppix start menu. I would have used parted from the command line, but couldn’t find it in the Knoppix install.

Once I had confirmed what I needed to backup, making the image was simple:

dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/mnt/mac/laptop_drive

The transfer rate was about 10G/hr, which isn’t too bad I suppose. When it was finally complete, I tried to mount it under OS X using the mount command, with no success. A little while later I realized I hadn’t specified to mount it via loopback (in other words, treat a file like a drive). After a few minutes trying to figure how to do this in OS X, I got lazy and Googled. One of my hits suggested an idea for opening a floppy image that seemed too good to be true, but I tried it anyway.

I renamed the image file, adding .img to the name, and then double clicked the icon in Finder. A few seconds later the drive image was mounted, and I had access to the entire drive backup. Very cool.

Now all I have to do is restore her factory drive image, clean off all the crap it came pre-loaded with, patch the crap out of XP, reinstall her software, and restore all of here files.

Maybe I should just buy her an iBook….

OS X and Multi-button Mice – A Question

As stated recently, I’ve been looking for a 5 button bluetooth mouse to use with my iMac. One of the contenders has been the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer for Bluetooth, but I’ve resisted buying it because I’m not sure how I like the positioning of buttons 4 and 5, and due to the asymetrical shape. Also, I didn’t really want to pay for the bluetooth adapter included with every MS Bluetooth mouse, since my iMac has Bluetooth built in.

A neighbor offered me his MS bluetooth keyboard and mouse kit, which he wasn’t using, to try out. I left the keyboard and bluetooth adapter in the bag, but hooked up the mouse. After installing the latest bluetooth firmware update and bluetooth software update from Apple, the mouse seems to be working reasonably well. However, OS X is not a support OS for Microsoft’s Bluetooth offereings, and the Intellipoint 5.1 for OS X software I’ve been using won’t recognize the mouse. This leaves me with no way to map buttons 3, 4, and 5 to any type of functionality.

The OS can recognize these buttons, however. I can map them to Expose functions in the Expose preference panel. However, I can’t map them to keystrokes (as the Intellimouse software did), and other applications (most notably Firefox) do not recognize the native button clicks or allow a way to map them. I’d like to map button four to Firefox’s Back button (aka Cmd+Left Arrow) and Button 3 (wheel-click) to the Firefox cmd Open Link in New Tab (Cmd+Mouse Click).

My primary need is for Firefox; I’ve looked for Extentions that would enable this functionality, but all I’ve found are extentions to enable mouse gestures, a feature I’m not fond of. I also stumbled across something call USB Overdrive, and OS X app to enable extra buttons on a USB mouse. Unfortunately, it’s designed of OS X 10.1, hasn’t been updated in over three years, and states that Bluetooth support would appear “in the next version”.

So, does anyone know how to generically map buttons 3,4, 5 in OS X, or a way to make Firefox recognize these buttons? Until I can configure this mouse the way I want it, It’s not going to be of much use.

The Obligatory Macworld Expo Keynote Post

Yes, this is late. Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo Keynote was days ago. It’s been a busy week. Nevertheless, here’s a few thoughts: * iLife ’05– can’t wait to play with the new Garageband. Notation rocks.

  • iWork ’05 – Two products does not a suite make- perhaps. Although it feels ‘thin’ with only two apps, Pages appears to be two apps in one- word processing and dektop publishing. OS X already comes with an e-mail client. I doubt many people need a desktop database (a la MS Access), but a 21st century version of Hypercard might get some attention (maybe a desktop Wiki, Apple style?). A spreadsheet would be nice.

  • iPod Shuffle – These will fly off the shelves. If it was available before Christmas, I might have chosen this instead of the full-sized iPod. When a co-worker mentioned Friday she’d like an iPod for exercising, but the price was high, I showed here the Shuffle online. She was ready to order one on the spot.

  • Mac Mini – My Shuffle-wanting co-worker then remembered her home computer doesn’t have a USB port (yes, it’s old). I showed here the Mac Mini. She’s ready to buy one of those, too. I expect they’ll sell a bundle of ’em. I do think they should have supported PS/2 Keyboard & Mouse connections… so many people sill have these. They could offer a little USB adapter that accepts both a PS/2 keyboard and mouse, sell it for $39 like the iPod Shuffle accessories.

  • “The Year of HD” – Whatever. If I had $3500 for an HD Camera, I think I could find other ways to spend it. I suspect most consumers feel the same way. As far as video professionals and Apple, I don’t know enough to comment.

  • For a couple of good reads on the Mac Mini and Apple’s marketing prowess, have a look at this Urban Mainframe piece and this incredible “infographic” at NiXLOG.

Why, Apple, Why?

As the International Olympic Committee considers adding the sports of “Spreading Apple Rumors” and “Suing Apple Rumorsites” to the official list, one of the rumors to come out of last week appears (sadly) to be true:

On Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM Pacific Time, Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote address for Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Calif. Unlike years past, however, there will be no live webcast of Jobs’ keynote speech.

In a statement released this morning, Apple confirmed that it will webcast the keynote — but doesn’t plan to do so until 6:00 PM Pacific Time Tuesday, nine full hours after Jobs’ keynote is scheduled to begin.


What a shame. Having purchased my Powerbook two years ago this February, last year’s MacWorld Expo Keynote was the first I watched, and I watched part of it live (I lost track of time at work, and tuned in late). As a fan of Apple’s products, it was exciting. Steve Jobs is certainly a showman. By the end of the presentation, I’d blogged about Apple’s new goodies twice, and the next day I ordered GarageBand and the first Jam Pack on the Apple store.

I’ve been looking forward to this Keynote ever since. I’m sure if I watched it live, I’d end up blogging about it during the show. By the time I see the recording tommorow (which will be 9pm EST), all of the news will be old. What a shame.