Mavericks Virtual Machine

OSX10.9.5Not long ago my interest was peaked in learning OSX so I could become familiar in supporting the OS as well as learn OSX/iOS programming with XCode.

In my earlier years of work experience, back in the mid-90’s, working at Earthlink I had supported various versions of the Macintosh OS but the OS was not as developed as it is now. So I knew I had a learning curve to get over.

Not being super rich like most Apple users who could afford to purchase Mac Pro’s, Mac Mini’s, MacBook’s and the like, I had read quite a bit on building hackintosh systems but never gave it a go. I have a pair of Intel based machines not being used and might try that still.

Last year I stumbled on how to make a Macintosh VM in VMware so pursued the endeavor, eventually creating and using a Mountain Lion VM until I got comfortable enough to try updating to Mavericks once it was out. That epically failed so I knew I had to start out from scratch.

I did some research on the web and came across a couple of tech articles on installing Mavericks but settled on the guide from Sysprobs website since it was very forward to follow. I would need the install files from the Mavericks.app update on my Mountain Lion VM to accomplish creating an install disk so luckily i still had that.

The Sysprobs guide to installing Mavericks will take several hours to complete so make sure you have the time for it. All in all, the end result was a fully functional Mavericks VM that I could play around in and dabble with some programming.

The Mavericks VM will not be display friendly at first, being stuck at a lower resolution, so follow Sysprobs second article on installing a driver to add additional screen resolutions.

I can only attest that the instructions work and I have a functioning OSX Mavericks VM that I can use and learn with. If you follow the instructions you should also. The steps may equally work for Yosemite but I haven’t tried that yet. Soon though.

RESOURCES (credit to Dinesh)

Install OS X 10.9 Mavericks on VMware Workstation with Windows 7 or Windows 8

Increase Screen Resolution with Wide Screen support for Mac OS X Virtual Machine in VMware Player and Workstation

Mac VGA driver for VMware

Oh How Many Times I’ve Heard It . . . .

Famous words – “It was working fine and then just stopped and I don’t know why”. Well big sigh.

A friend of the family said that their computer was not working so I said I would take a look at it for them. It’s an older beast, a Dell Optiplex 330, CoreDuo, 4GB of RAM (max at 800MHz or 2GB at 667 MHz) and an 80GB HDD of all things.

I opened up the computer and large clumps of dust bunnies basically fell out of it. After blowing them out and the other matter collected all over the inside it fired up just fine into – blah – Windows XP. In running some diagnostics I found that the HDD was failing and going bad so I backed up the file data, changed it out for a 500 GB I had laying around and installed Windows 7.

Although I changed it out I kept getting the same HDD failing error so on face value it appeared the issue was more with the I/O of the motherboard but I needed to follow through with a process of deduction. I changed the SATA cable out to make its not bad and even tried booting from a different SATA port but the same issue occurred. I tried another HDD and got the same thing.

The chances of all three HDD’s being bad is hardly likely so I decided to simply ignore the error and continue installing Windows 7. I completed the installation of Windows 7, its plethora of updates and all is functioning correctly. I cant do anything about the failing I/O of the motherboard so our friend will need to make the decision of a replacement board or just upgrade to a newer PC. For now its up and running.

LightScribe on Windows 8.1

lightscribe-logo-hpSo much for LightScribe, the LightScribe website shows it is no longer active. There is a LightScribe. org site though that has the free and a premium version called (that means pay) LightScribe Toolbox that is compatible.

This is a brief description on how to get LightScribe working on Windows 8.1 but you will need to have LightScribe installed on any Windows 7 computer or a Windows 7 VM.

In Windows 8.1 you can go ahead and download and install the latest (at this time) LightScribe System Software install file, LS_Update_1.18.27.10_.exe. You can Google it and find a download location, use the LightScribe.org site mentioned above or search for your (or a) HP machine on HP’s website and then grab the Windows 7 file (32-bit/64-bit respectively).

After installing the LightScribe System Software, from the Windows 7 computer copy the folder C:\Program Files (x86)\LightScribe Template Labeler to an external/flash drive or other location. Copy the folder to the Windows 8.1 computer to the same location, C:\Program Files (x86)\LightScribe Template Labeler. Right-click on the TemplateLabeler.exe application executable and select to pin to both taskbar and to start. From that point on it should work like a charm.

 

Refurbishing Sister Intel i3 PC’s

My company moved locations and in the early stages, while at the old building, the IT Department got rid of what it considered e-waste, allowing employees to take what they wanted that was out on a desk area.

Some grabbed monitors, RAM, etc., but I grabbed a pair of HP p6330f’s that had Intel’s (MS-7613) instead of AMD’s. One had no RAM or HDD, the other had 8GB RAM and no HDD.

I blew out all of the dust bunnies and cleaned up the cables and contacts. For the computer that had no RAM or HDD, I installed both 4GB of DDR3 ( 2 x 2GB) and a 500GB HDD I kept from an older computer and it fired up. I installed Linux (Mint) on it and couldn’t be happier. I will sell the 4GB box to a kid down the street who has expressed interest and keep the other one.

Final Refurb Specs:

Box 1: Intel i3 processor, 8GB RAM, 2TB HDD, GB NIC, DL DVD w LightScribe, 15-in-1 multimedia card reader. Windows 7 Professional.

Box 2: Intel i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, GB NIC, DL DVD w LightScribe, 15-in-1 multimedia card reader. Linux Mint.

Nexus 7 (First Gen) Battery and I/O Ribbon Replacement

An ex-coworker asked me if I could look at her nephews Nexus 7 (First Gen) and find out whats wrong with it – offer $20 to fix. She said it was completely dead and would not even charge.

Her nephew is 10 years old so of course I had to ask the usual stuff like if he did something to it or if it got wet and the like. Seems it just one day wouldn’t charge and that appears to actually be an issue with the first gen Nexus 7 tablets.

Well I looked it over and it had all the signs of a dead battery so I looked around the net for battery prices and found a few sites selling OEM batteries. I gave her mom the URLs to check out and described what I thought was the issue, letting her decide on whether to purchase a new battery and she did. I did try to sell her on getting her grandson an iPad or iPad mini which, to me, is a bit more useful scholastically. Dont get me wrong, I own a Nexus 7 First Gen myself but also an iPad where my kids sometimes use iTunesU or download books to read.

After replacing the battery I also found that the charging port was bad. If I held the charging cable a certain way I could get it to charge but that is not a solution. I wager what happened is that the charging cable was in the unit as someone was walking around with it and the cable pulled, damaging the port. I let my ex-coworker know about the port issue and she asked me how long it would take to fix it because the little boy was flying back home the next day.

I cant have a sad boy on my hands so I took the audio/charging ribbon from my Nexus 7 and put it in his. Perfect match since both are first gen units and the battery charged up nicely. I ordered a replacement cable on Amazon. His mom wanted to pay me for it but I just told her the only requirement I have is that her grandson perform a random act of kindness someday. I dont plan on taking her up for repayment for the part or whatnot.

The process of replacement for both battery and charging port should be the envy of iPad owners as well as other tablet owners where the OEMs almost liquid nails their products shut. In a nutshell, most tablets are not made to repair but made to be replaced as the technology changes. Anyway, here are my steps for replacing the Nexus 7 parts which is by far the easiest and quickest hardware repair I have ever done.

Steps Gallery

My New Old LS800 Tablet Part 2

I ran my first wave of Windows Performance Toolkit and copied the generated ETL files to a folder for later processing. The files I am interested in have a naming convention of boot_BASE+CSWITCH_ and are numbered 1 thru 5 for the iterations of each boot. For all ETL files created throughout this test, I will process them and add their individual summary charts to my blog to show performance increases or decreases.

So, the first Windows PC tune-up software I am going to run with on my tablet for my case study is a product called System Mechanic made by iolo technologies, currently in version 10 (10.1.2.1 to be more exact). They update their product on a regular basis both as an entire application and what they call, what I’ve seen been called within their software anyways, Tune-Up Definitions. Might talk more about that later at some point but if at any time I update their software I will duely make note of it along the way.

So I had previously downloaded System Mechanic 10 (and I’ll plainly use SM or SM10 at times) from their website and installed it. I do like how quickly it installs and how it generally presents itself as a no-nonsense lets get it going application.

SM10 has a few automatic options that I chose to disable for any possibility of interference with my first round of this case study so under the Options menu I went to the ActiveCare tab, Edit Advanced Options and changed the Frequency to ever 24 hours, Exceptions to not start between 12 AM and 12 AM and then went back to the Boot-Time tab and also selected to not strat between 12 AM and 12 AM.

I saved the settings, exited SM10 and then ran Windows Performance Toolkit. This will give a measurement of the system performance after simply installing the product but not running any of its tools.

Windows Performance Toolkit has finished so I copied the generated ETL files to later process.
Disabled automatic options
Exited SM
Running WPT
Finished. Copied files to X:LabsLS800Test 1Step 2 installsm_no updates

Running SM Deep analysis
Repairing all problems found
Repaired. Restart required. Restarting tablet.
Running WPT

Dell Studio 17 1747 – Replace LCD Top

A co-worker has a Dell Studio laptop that is relatively new but has a broken top at where the security lock and power button are and asked if I could repair it. This is not by any means the best design Dell has ever come out with and is apparently something that happens frequently with the Studio models, according to researching tech forums. I could repair it but after analyzing the unit I saw that the entire top needed to be replaced, ridiculous given the minor damage, but because of the design flaw that’s what it needed. To compound this, the co-worker wanted the same exact top with same graphic, it was a skull design. After poking around I found one on the entire Internet for around $35 (new) so my co-worker ordered it and it came in a week later.

First step before doing anything, always remove the battery. You have to anyways since most times there are always screws attaching some aspect of the body to the keyboard or something. Next I took a small flat plastic screwdriver and began popping off the LCD front side plastic trim and then the plastic cover over the power LEDs. This let me get to the two upper corner screws and six bottom most screws of the top cover to detach it from the unit.

Once thing I like about Studio design is that the LCD is mounted on its own frame so the cover and front side trim basically attach like a clam shell. This would have been more work than I was about to find I would get myself into.

When I detached the top cover and laid it down I noticed the wire harness went into the laptop to a point I was not willing to go. Should this have been a CPU change or something then sure. I could have taken the bottom of the laptop off but it would have been a bit more work for something as simple as a laptop cover change so I opted for the secondary choice, detach the wiring from the new laptop cover and use the existing wiring that was already attached to the old cover I was about to replace. This was still a sound choice and only added another ten minutes of time on this repair.

Another design flaw I feel that needs to be pointed out is that in the area of the power button there are two sets of plastic studs that are supposed the power button is supposed to press onto to mount it, they were actually thinner than the holes on the power button circuit itself (odd since this was new and not used or refurbished) so I had no choice but to opt to set it in place and hit it with a hot glue gun. This will at least solidly set it in place and provide an option in the future to remove it again should the power button area on the cover break and need to be replaced.

Once everything was reassembled I fired it up and it powered on fine. My coworker later confirmed for me that the camera was working correctly. It was within the wiring harness items that were changed from the old cover to the new cover. Power button behavior is as expected and should last a good while so long as care is given.

QuakeFeed app for iPhone

quakefeed_rev2

I have been using an application on my iPhone for a while called QuakeFeed. After searching around the net and trying a couple of different apps geared at earthquake reporting I find this one the best so far. More so because in its being offered as free there are absolutely no ads, its ad free, nothing pesky to popup and hold screen real estate hostage.

The applications main pro’s are its user intuitiveness, screens that work in both landscape and portrait mode – nice when you are viewing a map – and that it has social integration for Facebook and Twitter. Within the app I did see an option though to upgrade to a Pro version for $1.99 that offers additional custom notifications but that is about the only difference I see between free and Pro.

QuakeFeed is pretty feature rich as it is so purchasing for the custom notifications does not seem entirely necessary. However, if you like the app I urge you to purchase, if anything to support the continued product development. To see the full gamut of what QuakeFeed offers, please navigate to the product website via the link here, please enjoy the screenshots from my iPhone.

 

Download from iTunes

Artisan Global website

Encode Decode URL Tool

URLEncodeDecode

I was testing something that in turn generated encoded URL strings so I wanted a quick way to decode them into their respective URL format along with properly formatted characters. As an example, instead of seeing a %2F in the URL I wanted to see the actual forward slash ‘/’ that it represented. In C Sharp I recall the HttpUtility.UrlEncode and HttpUtility.UrlDecode so made this app to do what I needed.

Example, take this URL:

http%3a%2f%2fwww.mysite.com%2fgohere%2fmyresources%2fmyarticles%2fhow-to-build-a-better-mousetrap%2f%3futm_blahblah%3dmyarticles%26utm_medium%3dsomethingelse

Generate this URL:
http://www.mysite.com/gohere/myresources/myarticles/how-to-build-a-better-mousetrap/?utm_blahblah=myarticles

I hope someone else finds it as useful a tool. The .cs file is also included in the ZIP file below.