Windows Server 2008 R2 on MacBook 6,1 (late-2009)

Recently, I needed to install Server 2008 R2 on my MacBook for development purposes, but I found the wireless driver doesn’t work out of the box. For anyone experiencing this, make sure you have the latest BootCamp version installed (so the drivers are present). Then, use the Server Manager, select Configuration from the left side tree, then Services. Scroll through the list until you find a service called WLAN AutoConfig. It will probably say disabled at this point, so double-click on it, set it to Automatic, then click Start. You might have to reboot, although my system enabled after a few seconds delay. At that point, Wireless networking should work much like Windows 7.

Acer Aspire One (AOA-150 ZG5) and PuppyLinux 5.2

I decided to dust off the AOA-150 Netbook that I have, even though the battery no longer holds a charge due to some wrecked BIOS and a failure to know about it until the damage was already done…

PuppyLinux has always been a nice, small distro to use and I figured it would probably be nice on the Aspire One as it tends to run on nearly anything. One problem: after downloading the newest release, using unetbootin to copy it to a usb flash drive, and rebooting, I found that Puppy locked up with a message about not being able to find the system.

Further investigation revealed that a number of users were having this problem on some systems, but that at least one of the maintainers was blaming the users and Windows people for being unable to properly install the system. A quick bit of investigation revealed that the system was booting up from the flash drive but disconnecting it before the operating system came online. The quick fix?

boot: puppy pmedia=usbflash

Use the line above when initially booting and your problem just might go away. No flame wars with maintainers and users, just Puppy goodness.

MacBook 6,1 and 640 GB Hard Drive

After my recent memory upgrade to 8 GB, I received my hard drive upgrade. Going from 250 GB to 640 GB was intended to provide sufficient space for several virtual machines for development and other purposes. I first connected the 640 GB drive via USB and used Carbon Copy Cloner to image the system drive. I then physically swapped the drives inside the MacBook. However, one step that I neglected to consider was setting the 640 GB drive to be the boot drive. I had to boot the MacBook from the original drive via USB (thankfully, the MacBooks are capable of doing that) and use System Preferences to change the boot drive.

I now have a white, polycarbonate body MacBook (6,1 or late-2009 model, whichever you prefer) up and running with 8 GB RAM and 640 GB hard drive. Works great!

MacBook 6,1 (Late 2009) and 8 GB RAM

In looking to upgrade my MacBook to a more robust machine (capable of running several VMs without coming to a standstill), I wanted to get the maximum memory possible. Although Apple supports a maximum configuration of 4 GB, I found several references for the 2009+ MacBooks indicating that there was really no reason why the system couldn’t work with 8 GB total. Several users indicated that their machines were running fine this way and I decided that it was worth a 20% restocking fee to give it a shot.

I ordered item #CT2KIT51264BC1067 from crucial.com, which is a kit containing a pair of 4 GB, DDR3, PC-8500 memory sticks. These installed perfectly in the machine and resulted in OSX happily reporting 8 GB system memory available. I also have enough memory to comfortably support a Windows 7 or Ubuntu VM running with OS X rather than requiring me to halt all work except on the specific program I need on the VM.

A caveat: be very careful with the screws on the bottom cover. They are easy to lose (I’m short 1 now as I’ve had the cover off about 3 times). Also, although they appear to be standard Philips (+) screws, they are actually machined screws and you must be very careful with standard screwdrivers as they do not properly contact the screw slots. The correct screwdriver is available but costly, so I used a regular jeweler’s Philips screwdriver and a lot of care.

Next time: upgrading from the 250 GB drive to 640 GB (to make room for full-blown Windows 7 and Linux developmentĀ  environments).

Augen Gentouch78, Part 2

I discovered that the Gentouch78 has more than one version out. If you happen to purchase one of them with the 3.5mm headphone jack and the screen rotation feature working “out-of-the-box,” do NOT apply patches 1 to 3, no matter how tempting. Unfortunately, the backup of the firmware that I thought I’d made didn’t re-install properly. After installing patch 3, I found that the firmware my unit shipped with was actually newer. I haven’t been able to find the firmware anywhere, so now my Gentouch78 is actually less functional than it was when I received it.

Augen Gentouch78 and Linux / Windows 7 64-bit

My wife purchased an Augen Gentouch 78 pad for me for Christmas and gave it to me early because we both wanted to see what it could do. Turns out that it’s a nice little device for the money, although it’s not an iPad as many people point out. However, it also doesn’t cost $600 to $900, and it’s very functional, even if it is a little rough around the edges.

One of the first things I wanted to do was apply the most recent patches. I tried this through Ubuntu 10.10, both using Wine and using a Windows XP VirtualBox, but failed. Wine really isn’t setup for this type of operation and didn’t recognize the device as connected. The Windows XP VirtualBox gave the illusion of working and was able to access the device’s drives, but couldn’t perform the patch using update.bat, nor directly using fastboot.exe.

After some research on the ‘Net, I booted into Windows 7 64-bit instead. It seems that people have had a lot of problems with Windows 7 not installing patches to the ’78 properly. I went ahead and downloaded the PDANet drivers from www.janicefabrics.com rather than trying the various versions of Augen and non-Augen drivers, as PDANet seems the most consistent based on various sources. I installed the PDANet Windows 7 64-bit drivers (using “Run as Administrator”) and made sure they connected to the device while normally operating. No patches have been applied to the device to this point.

The procedure I used was to grab the most recent version of patches (v3 at this time) and unzip them as required into C:os. I started a command prompt (normal mode, not administrator), changed to C:os, and ran update.bat. The program sat at the waiting for device prompt at that point. I then held the “back” button and pressed the reset with a paper clip and continued holding the back button. Once the backlight comes on, the device connected to Windows and the recovery and boot programs transfer, followed by the system program. Note that these should occur within 60 seconds or less. Several procedures recommended not releasing the back button until the system file started, so I held the button to that point. I then released it and left the PC. I’m not sure how long the transfer took as I was gone about 10 minutes and the file had completed by that time.

At this point, I disconnected the USB cable and pressed the reset with a paper clip. It took about 3 minutes for the unit to completely boot, but it was definitely the newest version. One of the little rough issues with these units is that the system reports Telechip 8900 development board in a number of places as the Android version used still has a great deal of default data in it. Doesn’t really matter to me, but someone looking for a polished unit will probably want to get the new Samsungs that are going to hit the market soon.

My impression is that the unit is great other than the power button, which is poorly located and difficult to operate, and the resistive touchscreen, which isn’t as responsive as the capacitive screens. The power switch is pretty much a “live with it” item, while the touchscreen calibration program can relieve some of the discontent, at least.

I still need to apply other patches and will possibly install one of the 3rd party patches ultimately, as there are some great hackers and devs out there. At this point, the unit works pretty nicely.

Dangerous Chinchilla Toys

Having spent the last 15 minutes freeing the head of one of our chinchillas from a toy, I figured I’d make a post here, just in case anyone ever visits. The toy in question is a wire-frame ball that hangs from the ceiling of the cage and can be filled with hay. The chinchillas love the idea and play with them constantly. However, Vin managed to somehow get the wide area of the ball stuck on his head. It might have been funny if he hadn’t been choking and nearly hanging himself. As it was, the thing was too tight (and the wire too thick) to get wire cutters in to snip the wires away, so I ended up gently talking to him and slipping it around his head. Unfortunately, he had both forelegs in there as well, so it took a bit to work him out.

Unfortunately, we can’t remember exactly which pet stores they came from, but we’ll be sure to mention the incident in every store we’re in. The toy concept is a great idea but they should probably be pulled from the market unless they can be made safer. If our son hadn’t noticed, I’m pretty sure Vin would have been dead by morning.

Jiffy Cornbread Mix and No Egg

In the event you’re ever trapped with a need for pancake style cornbread but you don’t have any eggs for the Jiffy mix, you can sub mayo or Miracle Whip. The general ratio that I’ve seen is 1/4 cup of mayo/whip for each egg. However, I recommend starting with a bit less, especially of Miracle Whip. You’ll probably need to add more milk to compensate, but the cornbread will rise nicely. Watch out, it’ll also burn much more quickly. You might want to cut the heat a little from your normal settings.

Xubuntu 10.10 and Windows Shares

Ubuntu offers a more direct method of connecting to Windows shares than that provided through Xubuntu. The Places -> Connect to Server menu item that everyone is familiar with in Ubuntu isn’t there in Xubuntu, but you can start Applications -> System -> Gigolo and get mostly the same functionality. Simply click the double computer icon (the left-most) and enter the correct information.

Now, you’re probably wondering where the hell the files are mounted… the same problem actually exists in Xubuntu as Ubuntu, if you are using the vanilla system. You can easily find the mounted files by navigating Places -> {Your home}. Right click in the file area and click View Hidden Files. Now, find a folder called .gvfs (gnome virtual file system, I believe). You should see any mounted shares in that location. Click and enjoy the goodness of uploading files via Firefox, etc. The love is there, you just have to look for it.

Boyle County Band Competition

The Boyle County Band held their home competition today and did a fantastic job. We only attended for the last portion of it due to schoolwork and other commitments, but everything looked great. More importantly, Boyle County sounded great and performed very well. As the host band, it’s always good to outshine the competitors šŸ™‚ The trumpets did an outstanding job!