Categories
computers suck

perhaps a slightly easier way to make SD cards bootable for CHDK under OS X

Now that CHDK has a working beta in the source tree for my Canon PowerShot SD790is, I actually have to prepare SD cards for it. The Bootable SD card – OS X instructions seem a bit contrived, so I took a look at the linux instructions, and modified them accordingly. These instructions should work for FAT16-formatted SD cards of 2GB capacity and under. It will not work for SDHC cards, which are generally formatted to FAT32.

This is all command-line only for here on in. It seems to work. Please note that you will be modifying raw file systems with root permissions here; there is no safety net. If you b0rk your main hard drive, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Firstly, you’re going to have to find out where the SD card in mounted. Do this with:
df
I got:

Filesystem    512-blocks      Used Available Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/disk0s2   487463200 318749896 168201304    66%    /
devfs                222       222         0   100%    /dev
map -hosts             0         0         0   100%    /net
map auto_home          0         0         0   100%    /home
/dev/disk2s1     3969280      3328   3965952     1%    /Volumes/CANON_DC

There are three important concepts to note when looking at the mounted card:

  1. The mount point (or volume) – in this case /Volumes/CANON_DC. This is the location that you see in Finder when moving files around.
  2. The filesystem – here /dev/disk2s1. This is the partition on the disk, arranged according to a certain formatting scheme like MS-DOS FAT16.
  3. The disk device – which for me is /dev/disk2. This is the disk device itself, and it may contain several filesystems.

Your locations for these three could well be different, so please substitute your values.

You’ll need to unmount the device, as writing to a raw filesystem while the OS thinks it has control often results in hilariously unexpected results. I used the OS X-specific command

diskutil unmount /Volumes/CANON_DC

You should get a message like Volume CANON_DC on disk2s1 unmounted. Now you need to write the boot instruction:

echo -n BOOTDISK | sudo dd bs=1 count=8 seek=64 of=/dev/disk2s1

This will prompt you for your password.

If you need to, you can remount the filesystems on the card with

diskutil mountDisk /dev/disk2

(Note that we used the disk name here, not the filesystem. If there were several partitions on the disk, this command would mount all of them that it could. It’s also kinda handy for remounting USB devices that you’ve accidentally ejected from Finder.)

Update: Knowing a difficulty getting the firmware update method of getting CHDK to work on a Mac? Running a Leopard or newer machine? Then you need to learn all about Apple’s quarantine attribute and how to remove it with xattr: FAQ/Mac – Still having trouble?.

Categories
cars suck computers suck

good, not quite great

I accidentally dropped and broke my car mp3 player, so had to come up with another music solution. I caved and bought an iTrip for my iPod Nano. It sounds pretty good.

What’s good about it is that it allows you to charge your iPod from a standard USB Mini-B. What’s not so good is that it doesn’t have full USB pass-through, so you can’t sync your iPod, and have to stick with that stupid dock cable.

(and don’t get me started on the really annoying connector on my work cell phone …)

Categories
computers suck

the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from

I have a suspicion that, while I Want My Green Plug and their associated blog One Plug. One Planet want to replace all power adaptors with theirs, all that will really happen is that:

number_of_power_adaptor_variants = number_of_power_adaptor_variants + 1

I’m not wild about their idea for DC power strips. The I2R losses would be huge.
Also, dealing with the world of input voltages and frequencies, not to mention the many plug variants, would make the thing huge, heavy and expensive.
But the fact is, there’s already a standard low voltage power adaptor: the USB mini-B.

Categories
cars suck

Kross Bluetooth Hands Free Cell Phone Car Kit with FM Transmitter .

Kross Bluetooth Hands Free Cell Phone Car Kit with FM Transmitter – is this thing too cheap to be any use? I think its part number is BHK-204. I’ve found nothing about it on the web.

Categories
choons computers suck

the analogue hole

I have a bunch of Catherine’s old family recordings to digitise (do people still do that – sit around a tape recorder and make recordings?) and I had recorded one of Ken’s shows on minidisc, so I needed a relatively clean way to get analogue audio onto the computer.

I ended up getting a Griffin iMic, a small USB audio input device. The sound quality is remarkably clean; here’s a sine wave recorded from CD to minidisc, then recorded on the iMic:

tracks000.png

 

The  iMic seems to work with all Mac audio software as an input device. The free Final Vinyl recording sofware is pretty, but a bit buggy and annoyingly, only works when the iMic is connected. I just use Audacity, and have done with it.

Categories
computers suck

so-called wizard

Windows has just spent the last 15 minutes searching for a driver for my Garmin GPS. Y’know, the one I use with the computer a lot. It’s claiming it’s new hardware, but in the words of Syd, “I’ve had it for months”. Oh Windows, you really are very stupid. In fact, you are a silly wizard.

Categories
computers suck

a nerd whee!

The USB data transfer works flawlessly from the GPSMap 60CSx to GPSBabel.

Categories
computers suck

a small form of happiness is

… a USB key with the irritating U3 software uninstalled.

Seriously, U3 is a major annoyance if you:

  • use Mac
  • use Linux
  • work on a PC with locked-down permissions
  • work on a PC with a one-letter drive gap (like having D: and F:, but no E:); U3‘s read-only system will appear in the gap, but your data won’t be accessible.
    (It’s not really U3‘s fault. The fact that Windows still has drive letters amazes me; why don’t they go for the whole 70s thing and have punch cards and gargantuan 5MB hard disk packs?)

All four of the above apply to me, so u3 uninstall.exe is my friend.

Categories
computers suck goatee-stroking musing, or something

acned, yet inscrutable

acned yet inscrutable

(it’s actually the USB connector from my Kingmax Super Stick …)

Categories
computers suck

a pox on nonstandard USB cables and those who would create them

I’m trying to get all the bits of my Sony Cybershot P100 kit together, and I can’t find the dad-blamed USB cable. It’s a weird connector, and two reputable camera dealers have cried ixnay on the vailabilityay. So I have to find it.

I have already turned the house over looking for it. Yes, I know that the recipient could just use a card reader, but it wouldn’t be so good.

Gah! Things! They’ll get you in the end.

Categories
computers suck

nostalgia for something that never existed

The Verbatim FlashDisc seems to be a solution without a problem to solve.

verbatim flashdisc

It’s a cheap ($4) but very tiny (16MB) USB memory key in the vague form of some kind of magnetic media. There are problems:

  • $0.25/MB may seem cheap, but it would mean that a 1GB key at this price was $256
  • It neatly blocks most of the USB ports on a machine
  • Just what kind of media is it supposed to be? It looks closest to an old spool of mag-tape, but folks buying this wouldn’t remember that.
Categories
computers suck

pear shaped plan

I fear my plan to have the T21 as a home server has gone wrong. Looks like the mini-PCI network card has blown, leaving it invisible to the network. Since the screen backlight is dead, I can read no diagnostics … ;-(

Update: Aha! The backlight gods must’ve heard me, for the T21 actually graced me with a visible screen for a few hours. It was down to:

  • A bad line in my fstab which was trying to mount an unattached USB drive. This drops OpenBSD into single-user mode.
  • no dhclient configuration, so the machine would not automatically appear on the network. Since I swapped out the purportedly faulty mini-PCI network card for a spare (what?! you mean you don’t have spare mini-PCI network cards about the house? Tsk.) I had to tell the system that this was the new card to get a DHCP address.

So all works now, and I’m happy. Now to attack the LaserJet 4 duplexer, and swap it onto my refurbed printer …

Categories
Wind Things

it’s over ….

AWEA 2006, that is. Best swag was probably the places that had USB keys; yeah, they’re only 64MB, but these are big enough for tiny Linuxes or restore tools.

Freebies aside, it was a great show, and I guess a few hundred thousand business cards changed hands.

Categories
computers suck photo

zeiss it ain’t

fish sculpture

For no good reason, I bought a very cheap ($20) mini digital camera at the airport. Its limitations make it quite fun to use:

  • has the astonishingly high resolution of 352 x 288
  • fixed-focus lens chock-full of chromatic and spherical aberration
  • no display, except for a cryptic 2-digit LCD
  • takes 20 images, then it has to be downloaded
  • grossly inaccurate viewfinder, which shifts when you press the shutter button
  • images have pronounced scan lines
  • refuses to take images in low light
  • weird non-standard USB connector

It is very small, and can also work as a webcam. It also works as well as it could under OS X (use macam to download the pictures, or enable the webcam). Using the webcam does seem to delete the pictures, so make sure you download ’em first.

I’ve made a minicam gallery, which I’ll add to until the novelty wears off.

Categories
choons

music of 2005

It’s getting towards the end of the year, so I’m thinking about what albums I enjoyed most. These are the 2005 albums I have in my collection:

  • A Hawk And A Hacksaw — Darkness At Noon
  • Aimee Mann — The Forgotten Arm
  • Animal Collective — Feels
  • Beck — Guero
  • Bettye Lavette — I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise
  • Bright Eyes — Digital Ash In a Digital Urn
  • Bright Eyes — I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
  • Calexico / Iron & Wine — In the Reins
  • Caribou — Marino Audio
  • Dan Jones — Get Sounds Now
  • The Decemberists — Picaresque
  • Deerhoof — The Runners Four
  • Devendra Banhart — Cripple Crow
  • Dressy Bessy — Electrified
  • The Duhks — The Duhks
  • Eels — Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
  • Fiona Apple — Extraordinary Machine
  • Gorillaz — Demon Days
  • Grandaddy — Excerpts From The Diary Of Todd Zilla
  • Jennifer Gentle — Valende
  • John Parish — Once Upon a Little Time
  • Kate Bush — Aerial
  • Kate Rusby — The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly
  • Kimberley Rew — Essex Hideaway
  • Lazerlove5 — Flicker Mask
  • Lemon Jelly — ‘64–‘95
  • The Lollipop People — We Need a New F-Word
  • Malcolm Middleton — Into The Woods
  • Marbles — Expo
  • The Mountain Goats — The Sunset Tree
  • My Morning Jacket — Z
  • Of Montreal — The Sunlandic Twins
  • Sigur Rós — Takk …
  • Sleater-Kinney — The Woods
  • Sufjan Stevens — Illinois
  • The Vanity Project
  • Wolf Parade — Apologies to the Queen Mary

I know there are some that won’t make my list (Aerial, for one) but the rest of them all have their moments.

Categories
computers suck

completely not feeling the love for the iPod Shuffle

Shuffle mode on the iPod Shuffle isn’t random. It seems to play the same tracks in the same random order every time you restart the device. It only seems to get a new randomization when you sync with iTunes.

Oh yeah, and it’s too wide to fit alongside a standard USB plug on an iBook. I’ll check the BestBuy returns policy, ‘cos this thing just ain’t doing it for me.

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something Wind Things

review of CanWEA 2005 swag bag

So I’m at the 2005 CanWEA conference for the next few days. The swag bag is a standard nondescript nylon thing, thankfully big enough to take my iBook and a few other bits and pieces. The contents are a bit disappointing, though:

  • a very plasticky flashlight that I may discard after harvesting its batteries.
  • a small bag of jujubes.
  • a copy of North American Windpower magazine (which in itself is quite a decent magazine, so is actually one of the highlights).
  • a trade show guide, but no conference program (they were held up in customs; can’t we print ’em here?)
  • various company brochures, zzzz.

You’ll note an absence of useful pens, pads, USB keys, model turbines, or other special swag. I was hoping for more …

Categories
computers suck

world’s slowest USB

I tried copying about 180MB of files from my old Thinkpad onto a USB key using the mini-ITX box last night. It’s supposed to have USB 2.0 High Speed, but it certainly hasn’t; it took several hours. It managed a little over 5 Kbytes/s on a single file.

By comparison, the iBook moved the same amount of data from the key to the desktop in under four minutes. That’s more like it.

I wonder what could make the mini-ITX box so slow? As far as I can tell, there are no USB1.1 devices on the bus. Unless the device was mounted ‘sync’ (where every write isn’t buffered, but immediately written to the USB key), it’s a mystery.

Categories
computers suck photo

iRiver standard cable, yeah!

I may eventually stop raving about the iRiver H120, but not any time soon.

One of the only annoyances I have with the H120 is that I’m nearly always leaving the USB2.0 cable for it at home. I was running an errand in a nearby computer store, and found that they had a USB2.0 to digital camera cable. It looked similar enough, so I bought it.

And it works just fine. Maybe I’m too used to old and weird proprietary cables from the past.

Anyway, if you want a spare/replacement cable for your H120, you want a “USB2.0 A to Mini USB2.0 5 pin” cable.

Categories
computers suck

SanDisk Cruzer + Gentoo

Sandisk Cruzer 256MB USB key

I love it when stuff just works. Plug it in, check dmesg to see what it says:

hub.c: new USB device 00:02.2-1.1, assigned address 7
scsi3 : SCSI emulation for USB Mass Storage devices
  Vendor: Generic   Model: STORAGE DEVICE    Rev: 1.02
  Type:   Direct-Access                      ANSI SCSI revision: 02
Attached scsi removable disk sdb at scsi3, channel 0, id 0, lun 0
SCSI device sdb: 512000 512-byte hdwr sectors (262 MB)
sdb: Write Protect is off
 /dev/scsi/host3/bus0/target0/lun0: p1
WARNING: USB Mass Storage data integrity not assured
USB Mass Storage device found at 7

So we know from the /dev/scsi/host3/bus0/target0/lun0: p1
line that the filesystem is at
/dev/scsi/host3/bus0/target0/lun0/part1. Create your
mountpoint as root: mkdir -m777 /mnt/cruzer, then edit
/etc/fstab, and add:

/dev/scsi/host3/bus0/target0/lun0/part1 /mnt/cruzer vfat noauto,user 0 0

Any user can mount the device with mount /mnt/cruzer,
and next time Nautilus starts up, the device can be mounted from the
desktop. Easy!

The hardest part was opening the packaging, but you know what I
have to say about SanDisk packaging
 …