Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mac Mini or Hackintosh?


Rumours abound on the net about a possible update to the Mac Mini. The suggestions include using the same chipset as used in the updated Mac Book, the 9400M from Nvidia. This is by far the best integrated VGA on a motherboard so is worth getting excited about. It would be probably the final push towards me buying a Mac Mini.

But an alternative is out there lurking away, in the form of Hackintosh. A few mobos have been released using the desktop version of the same chipset (and they are faster) - example the Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H.

If this can be hacked for OSX then we could pop a quad core CPU in as well. Integrated VGA could always be updated later to something even faster if needed.

I'm torn in two. Three if you count the desire to get one of the new aluminium Mac Books. Apple are making such good looking hardware that I can see how they sell it at the premium they do.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Apple a day....

Having tinkered with Ubuntu and triple booting on the MSI Wind (Advent 4211) I came to the conclusion that it was easier just having one OS on the hard disk of the Wind (my main one) and others on USB sticks. I managed to install OSX onto an 8Gb USB2 stick I have. Write speeds are slower on USB sticks so it took over an hour to install. I booted it up successfully but it took about 3m 40s compared to 1m 30s odd for the hard disk. Not sure if that is anything to do with setting the Owners on the stick but it was enough to kill the idea for me. However, Ubuntu supports USB booting and I only want to use Ubuntu to try Aircrack-ng so I will try Ubuntu on USB later.

Anyway, when in OSX mood I decided to update my OSX install to 10.5.5. I got some advice from a friendly user on's forums. The procedure is basically

Download the 10.5.5 update from Apple website (or use the Update facility in the OS - I prefer to download as I may do it on other machines
Download the Wind drivers
Download Kext Helper
Download the GMA950 Kexts (revised ones)
Apply update
Apply drivers
Apply GMA950 kext
Fix permissions

I had a problem with my keyboard being killed by the update. This was "fixed" by plugging in a USB Wireless keyboard I had (luckily) and then when the drivers had been applied the keyboard returned. A normal USB keyboard would have done just as well. I also experienced the weird 800x600 screen bug but after about 3 reboots that disappeared.

Now, finally, a 10.5.5 OSX. The current WindOSx86 disk install method is due to be replaced by a method that involves using a proper retail (untouched, unhacked) OSX install DVD and a custom CD. This method is based on the Boot-132 process detailed on and should result in a clean install that will take updates without breaking and needing many re-patches.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I've gone all Twonky!

I have a small problem. Every time I want to find an excuse to buy some new kit I am thwarted. This time I had decided I could find a case for a new low power PC, the Asus Eee Box. I've been playing with streaming video to my Wii and Xbox 360 as I need a media player downstairs to be able to watch my Xvids. I suppose (I realise as I type this) I could persevere with using my slim PS2 but it was too flakey and difficult to set up. Anyway, I discovered a great program called TVersity which works with just about anything. But for the Wii it needs to transcode the Xvid into an FLV (Flash Video) file before streaming that as the Wii cannot play Xvid. This needs a PC. I experimented with this by installing TVersity on my MSI Wind clone (Atom 1.6ghz same as the Eee Box) and it just (and I mean just) coped with transcoding. I tried with my Xbox 360 and that doesn't need transcoding.

And that's when it hit me. If the 360 didn't need transcoding then maybe I didn't need a PC. It was then that I came across MediaTomb and the solution I plumped for, Twonky. Twonky isn't free but the demo lasts 30 days before you need to buy. Mediatomb is free. So I'll make a proper decision in 30 days.

But Twonky will run on my Linkstation - and use 13W in total. Oh bloody hell, yet again the Linkstation stops me buying some nice new kit. Again it saves me money. Damn that little box of tricks. It does everything!!