AirPlay Through pfsense Bridge

Network Packet Capture for AirPlayHowdy all, geek-mode enabled.

So I’ve been fighting somewhat to get my AirPlay enabled device (Apple TV) to function perfectly. I use pfsense to run my router and in so doing I’ve got a Wireless and Wired network that are bridged together. I found with the AppleTV that only devices on the same physical media could stream to it, though all devices could “see” it.

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iPad FTW?

iPad
iPad Promo Images

Yesterday Apple introduced their massively anticipated iPad tablet device. For those who haven’t yet heard about it, it’s basically a hudge iPhone (that doesn’t make phone calls). The iPad is meant to unlock a “new” market segment for small computing devices that is somehow not already met by the iPhone and netbooks.

What does it do, anything new?

The iPad doesn’t bring new functionality to the computing world, but it does consolidate and simplify use particularly of eBooks. There have long since been many very cool eBook readers out there built around providing simple means for people to read electronic books.

Amazon's Kindle eBook reader

With the release of iPad, iTunes will expand to include support for buying eBooks and of course that functionality will be easily available for regular computers and perhaps for the iPhone as well, unless Apple decides allowing that would result in you buying less stuff.

Beyond books, the iPad does all the stuff you expect from an iPhone. It runs the exact same applications (with rare exceptions), it will play back music and movies. Of course one major distinction is screen size. The iPhone’s screen is made up of 480×320 pixels where as the iPad provides 1024×768. So in the case of browsing documents, this will make a major difference. The iPad’s resolution however is like that of a standard TV – so all our new HD/widescreen content won’t fill the screen (unless you like cropping out much of the scene).

Like some of the better eBook readers, the high end iPad offers 3G connectivity. This enables those users to be connected to the internet via the cell phone network (like our smart phones). The sad part here is the extra ~$130USD for 3G is well on it’s way to paying for an Amazon Kindle or a Barnes & Noble Nook (both $260USD) which are optimized strictly for reading eBooks but both include 3G as well.

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Snow Leopard Upgrade on a Triple Booting Macbook

SnowLeopardHowdy World, so last friday was release day for Snow Leopard, woot! I went out and grabbed a copy and rushed home to upgrade my macbook… Here’s the tale of a bit of resistance I met and how I resolved it.

Yellow Triangle of Rejection

So the problem I quickly encountered was that my “Macintosh HD” partition had an ugly little yellow symbol over it rejecting me from updating my OS X install. I forget (unfortunately), the particular error message. Nevertheless the short version was that regardless of how I launched the installer or a number of other things I tried, it wouldn’t let me run the upgrade.

Quest Accepted

Well, I wasn’t about to settle for reformatting – though that is a decent option. I decided to ‘be a man’ and directly address my challenger.

I tried calling Apple support, but they were closed, as was it was late at night. I googled around and found someone’s suggestion that for those who had changed their partitioning scheme around could just get Disk Utility to resize their target partition. The idea here was that when using a tool like gparted (which I adore) to change around your partition scheme, it’s easy to emerge with a working structure that’ll cause the OS X installer to consider an otherwise perfectly healthly partitioning scheme unusable for installation.

“Fixing” my OS X partition

So the best help I found online was suggesting to resize partitions with the Disk Utility (which as of Snow Leopard has an option for doing that). But for me, that didn’t work, I got some lame error messages that I can’t recall.

The way I did the resize was with the command-line version of Disk Utility – ‘diskutil’.

diskutil

In my caption there, you can see me make a call to diskutil list to show my partitions. As you can see, I’ve got 6 partitions on my drive. You can see on the second line a call to resize my OS X partition. All I did to get the Snow Leopard installer to play nice was decrease the size of that partition slightly. I’m sure after the install I could just as easily increase the size too.

After this it was smooth sailing. The upgrade went as expected, my data was all there and happy and so on.

Upgrading my Mac Pro

Several days later, I decided to upgrade my Mac Pro as well. What concerned me about this is that on that machine I setup Leopard to live across a 3 hard drive RAID. I wasn’t sure if the upgrade would have been able to accomodate that configuration.

Well, I did the upgrade and it went well, only thing to report there was that when I tried to run the installer from inside Leopard, it didn’t list my RAID volume. It only showed it when I rebooted off of the Snow Leopard DVD. Other than that, it was very simple.

Afterthoughts

So far I’m really liking Snow Leopard. As Apple has said, it’s not a redesign. So the learning curve isn’t really present, especially if you’re a Leopard user. This is in my mind a massive set of regular improvements bundled with some minor changes to the UI workflow and the introduction of some new libraries that I suspect won’t really matter for awhile yet. I love the $30 price tag and we’ll see if the 8 cores in my Mac Pro show better overall use, though I think that’ll probably require some additional application side support.

If you’re thinking of upgrading, go for it. It’s inexpensive and gives you access to some sweet new features. If you want a glossy list of the details, go look at Apple’s page on Snow Leopard here.

iPhone Endowed Life Begins

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I’ve finally pitched my brilliantly ancient Blackberry (deserves an award for surviving this long). I decided the only way for me to go was to get an iPhone. It’s now been nearly a week and I must say this platform is a must have for any computery geeky types out there. It makes me antiquated Pocket PC cower in submissive fear and continues to impress and delight me a every turn.

When iPhone was first released I shyed away on account of two factors. First I thought the price was completely unreasonable, that’s long since been fixed. Secondly, I felt it to be too cruel for Apple to provide such an awesome platform, but lock it up with no public development tools. That too, has now long since been addressed quite masterfully.

I’ve been watching a through set of introductory development videos for iPhone this morning and they’ve been quite informative. Apple has clearly got their head’s in the right space to provide an outstanding mobile device that offers a carefully designed balance of functionality, stability, entertainment and room for customization.

So at this point, if you don’t have an iPhone or at least an ipod Touch and you like playing around with embedded systems of any kind, I HIGHLY recommend you take a very careful look at this platform. Apple’s massively well presented documentation can help get you far long in developing your own tools as well, so check them out. Also, check out all the apps floating around in the iTunes store.

Using a Clone PC Video card in a Mac Pro

Howdy World, I seek your input. I want to run a clone PC video card in my 2008 Mac Pro machine. In particular, I was thinking I’d get something as close to the $280.00 Apple provided NVIDIA 8800 GT card as possible. My current first choice is the $180 eVGA e-GeForce 8800 GT.

I expect the potential major problem to be that a clone video card may be unaware of the boot process of a mac machine. I’m speaking with particular respect to EFI. That said, I’m also aware that clone PCs are intended to be able to use EFI instead of BIOS – so I’d expect decent newer video cards to support this.

So, my question is has anyone tried this? I suspect if I have a driver problem I can use the nvinject project for OSX86 to help me figure out getting my card supported. I’m okay editing the odd kext or something if I have to. But of course, I don’t want to really have to work my butt off just to have semi-functional support on the card. So if anyone has tried this and can comment, please do!