Trying to make a Hackintosh


Hi all.

Yesterday I decided to try to install MACOSX on the old little PC tower I’ve picked up from my mother in laws. The unit is no screaming beast – a “Stone computers” unit. It’s an Intel Core 2 Duo E7300, running at 2.66Ghz. 3GB of Ram upgraded from 2 (don’t remember the speeds), Intel GMA 3100 GPU (I am guessing it’s a part of the CPU). It has a 250GB HDD on it. As of my experience trying to put OSX on it, it achieved another 1TB drive.

So the problem to be solved, and why would I do this? Well, I still think that windows is not as great as MACOSX for what I need the OS for. Yes, it’s running my Plex Server, and OSX won’t do that much better you’d say. But I foolishly believe it does. And it’s just another interesting thing to try to achieve. I’ve tried it in the past, installed it on a Sony VAIO laptop – it worked, but I had issues with drivers… Now I’ve gone through the KnowHow Guide and expected the situation with the drivers should be resolve-able. Apart from the know how guide, I found a pre-installed image that people were advised to just restore to the HDD.

First obstacle – the PCs BIOS has no ability to boot from USB… This is just a recipe for insanity nowadays. It does have a DVD drive, but not that I have any blank DVDs to burn + the software that is used to create the flash drive doesn’t know how to burn to a disk. Well, what I had to do was shuffle the data around HDDs, I used a 2.5inch 250GB drive that would act as my “flash drive”, or the bootable drive. After waiting for over an hour while the data was moving off that disk to another one, I went down the first route of the two that I picked.

This first route was to use the pre-installed system, you’d think that’s just easier! Well, the image that I downloaded was an .arc, it had all the instructions, you’d need to use R-Drive to restore it to a drive. When trying to do that, all I kept on getting is a message that would say “Image media removed”. That just didn’t make any sense to me. I thought it’d be windows permissions issue, so I moved it to a folder out of the ISO that all the goodness was provided in – still no joy. I tried opening the program as administrator – no difference… I just ended up banning this idea assuming the image file was bogus.

The second route I took was the one that came from Twit and the KnowHow Guide. This guide pretty much is a good explanation how to use the tools at tonymacx86. I used the Unibeast tool to create the flash drive out of my 250GB drive using my sata to usb board that I took out of an enclosure a while ago. It implied downloading mountain lion from the mac app store, which I’ve done, and just going through a process they said would take 30 minutes, but on the Retina Display Macbook Pro I now have it funnily only took about 3 minutes. Away I went to plug my massive flash drive into the sata port of the Stone Desktop, and rebooted. When booting from the “flash drive” it greeted me with a boot loader that allowed me to pick the OSX install, or boot into windows. I picked the OSX install and yes (!) the apple logo has appeared. It followed by the spinning pizza ball, which was all looking good. However soon a crossed circle icon had appeared… Oh another round of troubleshooting. I went through every single available step that was there on the website, I tried all sorts of different modes, but nothing was changing.

At that point I have spent about 5 hours with moving data backwards and forwards, trying not to screw up partitioning, and lose any data. The point was reached – I gave up. Some might say that I just got used to the Apple way of using and doing things (“it just works”), got lazy, and my brain just doesn’t want to think any more. Maybe it’s the Stone Desktop, god knows. But it didn’t work, and the day was coming to an end.

If somebody had better experience with Hackintosh, let me know. I am just disappointed, and unsure if I want to try it again.

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Installing Windows 8


So here I am. Installing my first legally owned license of the infamous Microsoft Operating System – Windows 8 Pro. I’ve completed an entertaining course on Microsofts Expertzone Page, and was given an opportunity to buy the NFR version for £9.99. Sounded like a sweet deal, – so I went for it.

The idea was that I would get my MAC a Windows install so I can play the PC Games, since the Nvidia 650M turns out to be a nice GPU.

I was sent a little booklet, which had the serial number on it, and that was about it. It had a link to the page, which directed me to download an upgrade assistant, which would figure out what my computer is, etc… Now my problem with that is that my computer is a MAC, and doesn’t run exe files. You’re supposingly have to run it on an existing operating system. Yes, I might sound wild, and OSX is in the same boat, hence you can only get it from the Mac AppStore. But… Isn’t the world of Windows fans / Apple Haters claiming that Windows is uber compatible and works on everything and all that? Hm… Even my work colleagues got concerned, i.e. – if you want to install this on a clean machine, how do you do it? And is there a way at all?

Well it turns out there isn’t. So here I am, currently downloading a Windows 8 Pro ISO from a torrent tracker, which I intend to use. It might turn out it will not work since it appears I’ve been given an upgrade version, which was actually marked as NFR – Not For Resale. We will see how it goes from here…Image

MACOSX Time Machine to NAS connect error


Hello World.

Mountain Lion is out – yay (or roar?)! I’ve decided at the same time to setup a Time Machine to backup over wireless to my Zyxel NSA310…

What a painful process. To start with I wanted to backup to the USB drive connected to the NAS – wouldn’t want to have it. The firmware for some reason only enables you to enable Time Machine for shares that are on your internal drive… So I gave it a few days thought and decided to move everything from the internal drive to the USB, and use the internal drive for Time Machine. Ok… You thought it was the end of my problems? – NO.

When I selected the NAS share in Time Machine preferences it asked me to input the credentials for the NAS, – which I did and pressed connect. As I did so, I was presented with an error titled the operation could not be completed osstatus error 2Great!

I’ve started googling, and did get a few solutions to try out – but none worked. I’ve tried setting up different users, setting up different sharing/permissions – nothing worked.

What I ended up doing is re-enabling the admin folder which was created automatically with the NAS’s setup (it was disabled as I didn’t use it) – and Time Machine connected with no error to that folder once I selected it as a share. I then tried to point back to the “TimeMachine” folder for TM access – error again. It sort of seems you can only get access by using the pre-built folders on the NAS.

It turns out the problem is not Zyxel NSA310 related, as people on forums experience the same problem with different devices.

If you encounter the problem, I hope this helps you!

OSX Flashback Trojan Fix


Hello All.

This is absolutely not the best reason to write  blog. This is one of the worst ones. At least for a person like me, an active member of the MAC community. It is sad, but we have to be realistic. This day was expected to come when something major hits the MAC. Apple have been busy making these amazing computers, and now as they become more and more popular there’s more people aiming to attack us using them.

The attackers used a vulnerability in Java to insert malware onto the machines. In case with Apple, who have their own custom version of Java, they sadly are usually quite late with updating it. So in this scenario, even if you were up-to-date with your software you could get the malware onto your machine, just by visiting a compromised web site which contained malware (a lot of major web sites affected by this), it would use the Java vulnerability to install itself onto your machine without you even noticing. No user interaction required whatsoever.

Going back a number of months it was acting a fake-flash installer that you would download, and by installing which you would get malware onto your machine, so you would have to actually accept the installation of the so-called “flash” which would prompt for installation after you visiting a web site for example.

The attackers are forming a botnet (What is a botnet?) of Mac users to be available for spamming/monitoring/data theft, you name it.

Now how do we go about understanding if you have it, removing it and making sure we protect ourselves. First of all, everybody and always has to make sure their software is up-to-date. No excuses. I see no reason people not updating their software, if their computer can run it. There is really no reason. And make sure that you are using an Apple Supported OS – so you have to be on Snow Leopard or Lion. Anything under – you’re not safe.

Quite a few nice people on the internet have came up with a few ways of looking up if you have the trojan, and how you can remove it.

One of my most respected podcasters Bart Busschots has combined instructions to check if you’re infected from F-Secure and Tidbits. You can find the instructions on his blog at http://www.bartb.ie – the direct link to the article is here

But all it takes is to download a script, run it. And it will identify if you’re infected. If you’re not – happy days. If you are… You have to follow the instructions on the F-Secure web site. And at the time of me posting this, Kaspersky have came up with a removal tool – the direct link to download is here.

Ok people. This is a sad news, but I keep you updated. Stay on the ball, safe, and careful!

New iPad Review (iPad 3 Review)


Hello World.

I have bought the new iPad, and decided to give it sometime before I will write this review. Mainly because you need to spend some time with the device, and use it in different situations, to understand what it’s really like. I went for 16GB WiFi + 4G. I am using it with a Three sim card in UK.

As everybody might guess, the device is amazing, it was given good marks, though hasn’t managed to avoid criticism. This review mainly describes my own personal experience, and as a tradition, my own criticism towards the negative opinions of others. An hey, lets see if I can do it the Apple way, without trying to care too much about the technical aspects.

The screen is AMAZING. Yes it is. I’ve put it next to the iPad 2 and the iPad 2 looks like a thing from the last century. To give you an idea what it feels like try imagining looking at a CRT TV and an LED TV with 1080p from the same couch. That’s how big the difference is. I’ve put the same pages of the same book in iBooks on both iPads and they look absolutely different. Not only the text is sharp on the new iPad, the colours feel alive, they are more vibrant and vivid. I can put more words to appear on the screen and zoom out now as I can still read it ok. When viewing web pages in portrait mode you don’t no longer need to have to go to landscape as such, because you can read it ok without having to zoom in, which was “kind of possible” on the iPad2 / 1, but felt a lot more comfortable and easier to read if you were to zoom in. I am not entirely impressed with the graphics in the games. I have tried RealRacingHD2, and Asphalt6 – yes it’s not pixelated, but it’s not the pixels I’m after. Probably need to invest in this new thing from Infinity Blade (Diablo-like one).

The new iPad is heavier than the old one, and yes you can feel it when you hold them both together and compare. I was actually a little shocked at first, as it really feels heavier and thicker when comparing it to the iPad 2 side by side. But… As I moved away from the iPad2 and just used the new one, it doesn’t feel “too thick / heavy” at all. It’s absolutely positively naturally good.

No, it doesn’t get stupidly hot. Yes, it gets a little bit warm. Not a lot warmer than the old iPad. I have used the new and the old one without a case for periods of time and I cannot say I feel a massive difference. Maybe it’s because I don’t play games for a long time on iOS, maybe it’s because I don’t put it on maximum brightness (WHY? – tried and it makes no difference outside, a little pointless inside as well).

To test the camera, I decided to travel a bit to the beach in Waterloo, Liverpool. I was amazed by the quality. I will insert these pictures unedited, full size, so you can see for yourself, how good they are.

Here are the video samples:

 

So guys and gals. This is definitely an amazing device. It is worth getting. It makes me barely every need to use an actual computer. That’s how good it is. 10/10.

How to resolve Remote Buddy Express Plex Volume Issue


Hello everyone. I have found  a workaround for a major issue there is between Plex and Remote Buddy Express.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who came across the problem. This is when using Remote Buddy Express to control Plex, and hey, your volume doesn’t work. It just sits at -0db. It has worked for me in the past, but it seems that after I’ve reinstalled Lion and put the apps back on it doesn’t. Whether it’s a new version or similar – I have got no clue.

I’ve digged into the forums, came across a few solutions, which didn’t really address the issue, however when combining the information from different forums I came up with a solution. There is two ways you can do it, depending if you want the system volume to change when using plex, or plex volume to change.

But essentially I’ve mapped the keys to act as volume change when holding the up / down (plus / minus) keys, rather than just pressing them. As pressing them in a normal way doesn’t seem to be handled correctly on either side of the apps.

Go into remote buddy express preferences.

Go to the Mapping screen, select Plex on the left hand side, and adjust the settings that way:

By the way we’re only editing the top section – for the apple remote. My settings on the Virtual Receiver page are altered as I was trying suggestions from other places that didn’t seem to help me.

I hope that helps. Any questions – feel free to ask in the comments!

iPad 3 and all the rest


ImageSo 7th of March is our “iPad 3” event. Everybody’s excited. All the blogs are getting noisy. We are counting millimeters between dock icons thinking there’s no home button. iPad 2 8GB? iPad 7inch… Ouch.

There’s so much stuff going round the internet, it’s just unbelievable. What I can’t understand. How people are in their jobs being paid to talk about stuff like that? All these “reports”… Who pays them money for it?

The times between an Apple invitation sent out for an announcement and the announcement itself are when I feel like staying off the Tech blogs. They are just full of speculation. And it seems like you trash your brain with all the expectations, to then potentially get upset, because Apple have not announced something that everybody thought was “logical” for them to come up with…

And the outcome is the blogs are hating the company saying they have not delivered what was “promised”. Some of them do say stuff like that. A lot of people that I speak to in the real world keep on saying “Apple are releasing an iPhone 5” – the talk before 4S launch days. But they never promise or tell us anything like that. So no point to get disappointed because they didn’t do something you expect them to do isn’t it?