SSD

My 2010 MacBook Pro was starting to show its age when editing RAW photos. Not surprising, since each photo is about 25MB in size! I ordered a Samsung 840 EVO solid state drive to replace the 7200 rpm spinning platter I had in there. I forgot to measure the speed before but I figure it was around 140MB/s read/write. Now it is around 260MB/s and everything loads so much faster!

The computer boots from cold in 14 seconds – woo! Photoshop loads in about 6-7 seconds, and Safari practically instantly.

The drive itself feels like a mostly empty container – really light.SSD inside MacBook Pro

Turning the World-Wide-Web Upside Down

OK, I admit this is a silly joke (WWW upside down is MMM, yawn) and that it has very little to do with my post, but I like to add some humour into my blog. Not happy? Whatever.

Recently I upgraded my MacBook Pro to Lion, and amongst other things, Apple turned the default scroll direction completely upside down. Dragging up on the touchpad (or mouse) moves the page contents up, just as it does on an iPad. Previously the scroll direction followed the scroll bar, which moves in an opposite direction to the content. Since I’m a heavy user of a tablet, I found it quite nice and kept the setting. However, now I’m completely screwed at work, because I’m always scrolling pages in the wrong direction now. Bah!

Building Android on Snow Leopard

In a break from writing about my life, I thought I’d give some Android developers out there a hand with a problem. Google don’t yet support the building of Android on OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard), but I managed to get it working. To do this, you’ll need to do four things:

  1. Install Rosetta
  2. Install JDK 1.5
  3. Install OS 10.4 support for XCode
  4. Change some gcc headers

First, install Rosetta from your Snow Leopard installation DVD. This allows you to run flex from the command line. Without this, a file in libwebcore won’t be generated correctly and you’ll get an error about a missing lex() symbol.

Second, install JDK 1.5. I found a guide online to do this. Instead of using update 4 as mentioned in the article, download the 1.5 JDK update 5 from apple.com: http://support.apple.com/downloads/Java_for_Mac…. Update: after doing this, change the current SDK version by using the Java Preferences utility in Applications->Utilities.

Third, download the XCode 3 package from Apple and install support for building for the OS 10.4 target.

Finally, you need to add symlinks from some OS 10.4 gcc includes to the 10.6 ones. This is fairly easy to figure out when building, but the ones I changed were all in /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.4u.sdk/usr/include and are as follows:

  • emmintrin.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/emmintrin.h
  • float.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/float.h
  • mm_malloc.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/mm_malloc.h
  • mmintrin.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/mmintrin.h
  • stdarg.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/System/Library/Frameworks/Kernel.framework/Versions/A/Headers/stdarg.h
  • xmmintrin.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/xmmintrin.h

If you are building Android, then I am fairly certain I don’t need to tell you how to make symlinks.

Enjoy!

Update: in order to build the kernel, you’ll need to grab a copy of the elf.h header from Linux and copy it to /usr/local/include on your Mac. Comment out the #include <features.h>, otherwise you’ll get a compilation error.

Also, the following patches may be required on a 64 bit system:

5 second delay

Is anyone else seeing a 5 second delay when they visit simonrules.com? I am, and indeed any site on my server. I don’t think it’s the DNS because one of my sites is using a different DNS provider. That leaves either my ISP (comcast) doing something weird with incoming requests, my router (which hasn’t changed) or my server (which hasn’t changed in a while either). Anyway, let me know…

Bye Bye, Windows

We’ve finally been given permission at work to reformat our computers to use as Ubuntu workstations – yay! This is my final stage in my abandonment of Windows. Three years ago, I realised I was spending a good portion of my weekends and evenings fixing Windows because of stupid problems. I’d install something and I’d get an error every time I booted Windows (if it booted at all), or it would get horribly slow, or I had a USB device that would work on one port but not the others. The usual solution was to reformat if it would take less time than to fix the problem. My solution three years ago was to go to apple.com.

I still have an Acorn RiscPC 600 on my desk at work, and it still works. It was manufactured in 1994, which makes it 15 years old. At home I still have an Iyonix (same type of computer), which is now 6 years old and still working well. Neither machine has ever been wiped. My MacBook Pro has not had a software problem in 3 years.

Windows XP was almost good. Almost good in that it almost didn’t suck completely, but it still managed to do things magnificently wrong, such as regularly lose all its icons, open tooltips below windows and change the height of the locked taskbar.

I won’t miss Word 2003 and its hundreds of autocorrect options that are impossible to turn off completely. I won’t miss having to install a USB driver once for every USB port on the machine. I won’t miss critical security updates. I won’t miss Windows Search that can’t find files that are in the first directory it looks at. I won’t miss playing games – that’s what I got the PSTriple for.

Windows, you won’t be missed. As Lily Allen would say, “fuck you, fuck you very very much!”

The Mojave Experiment

For those of you who haven’t heard about it yet, the Mojave Experiment is a marketing ploy by Microsoft to encourage people to decide for themselves whether Vista is a POS good or bad. They show participants Vista, but tell them that it is a new Windows operating system called Mojave. They give their comments, and then they are told that it is actually Vista.

Without commenting on Vista at all, I would like to mention how surprised I am by the results. Microsoft say the people that participated were the following:

  • 84% Windows XP users
  • 22% Apple operating system users
  • 14% Pre-Windows XP users
  • 1% Linux users
  • Some users use multiple platforms.

The thing I find shocking is that apparently none of their participants could tell that it was Windows Vista. I do not use Vista on a daily basis – in fact, I have only used it a few times, but I can recognise it from a mile away. Did they ask any computer professionals at all – people who use computers every day for their jobs? Even before I used Vista, I would have easily recognised it from all the publicity I saw online.

Here are some funny video responses (typed exactly as spoken):

“Like if it’s um up against other systems, um like a Mac system, or something, you know what I mean, like, if you were deciding between the two, I would say that this one has um probably the <pause> best new features that I’ve seen.”

“I’m not a’git thedl git the the book out and read 77 pages to figure out how to do it. I just want to be able to look at it, read it.”

“There’s something I have to tell you now – there actually is no Mojave.”
“Oh? OK.”
“What I’ve just shown you – or John’s just shown you – is actually Windows Vista.”
“Oh, really? See how much I knew – nothing.”

I don’t really have much faith in a marketing exercise that puts the respondents in the same room as multiple Microsoft employees where they may feel pressured (perhaps out of kindness) to give a positive review.

New Hard Drive

Tonight my Mac reported that it was out of hard drive space, just minutes after I checked and was told there was approx 4GB free. I am not sure what happened, but it dropped to zero and then went back up to 3GB free a few minutes later. I was scanning in some receipts and reading email via a webmail account and nothing else when the web browser froze (Safari) and I started getting odd errors from the scanning app.

I have been holding off on upgrading my 100GB 7200rpm drive (the largest in that speed that you could buy in early 2006) in case Apple announced new Macbooks with Blu-Ray drives, but I finally had to buy one.

I settled on a 320GB 7200rpm Western Digital drive… for the killer price of $94 (plus $6 shipping). Amazing price. I just hope the drive turns out to be a good one.

In other news, I am ill for the second time this year – yet another mystery cold type illness. I also went to Scott’s sister’s wedding this weekend and had great fun – I took some great photos and spoke to one of the photographers for a long time, who convinced me to spend many thousands on a pro lens (well, when I save up for it).

RAID

RAID can

Two weeks ago I had a realisation that the server I rely on for hosting websites, handling the home security system (future post on that to come) and secure file transfer was running off a 10 year old hard drive. This is what happens when you build Franken-Puter from a bunch of old parts. I opened it up, and sure enough, the assembly date on the hard drive was sometime in 1998. It’s a 10GB drive, which was pretty big (and expensive!) back then. Incidentally, my first computer had a 4MB hard drive. Yes, megabyte. I also disabled a line on the power supply that prevents it from turning on if the voltages are not high enough, which probably wasn’t the best idea. $100 later and I had two of the smallest hard drives I could find (80GB) and a new power supply costing a whopping $12.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the OS to boot from the new drives in a RAID 1 (mirrored) configuration. On Linux with software RAID, you set up an md (multiple disc) device and add the drives to that, then boot off the new md device instead of directly from one of the drives. The problem, that I found out after many hours, is that Ubuntu Desktop edition cannot boot from md devices due to the md device driver being loaded after the OS starts. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem. I had to reformat with Ubuntu Server edition.

I’m happier now that I have a good backup (although it is on site) and that everything is running off a good (though cheap) power supply. Hopefully I’ll get another 10 years out of it!

New Router

 D-Link DIR-655 Router

Hopefully my websites won’t go offline constantly any more. This router already seems far better than my old Netgear 802.11g router, in that it hasn’t crashed in the last five minutes. 😉

Outlook

Can I just say that Outlook is a steaming pile of useless shit?

I get a lot of email every day, mostly from various mailing lists, and I have to sort the mail based on who the email was sent to. I.e. if it was sent to linux.kernel, I would have a rule saying that it should be moved into the Linux folder. This does not work every time, and I find myself having to sort mail manually. Thanks, Microsoft.

I’ll show you.

Outlook 1

Above: the email in my inbox. Notice the sent-to address. 

Outlook 2

Above: I select a rule to run now. 

Outlook 3

Above: I run the rule, and nothing happens. 

I have tried changing the rule to use specific words in the recipient address instead, and I’ve also tried making the rule client-only. No cookie.

Oh, and there’s no way to make Outlook show the time that an email was sent when using the vertical preview pane mode. Great.