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picoPSU Atari ST replacement guide

August 6, 2014
picopsu_done

I just did a writeup on how to replace the original PSU in an Atari ST/E with a modern picoPSU. I’m quite satisfied with how it came out – click the link for some pretty pictures ;)

 

 

How to run Mavericks on too old hardware

July 18, 2014

or: Why my Mac Mini from 2008 (model 2,1) went from Snow Leopard to Lion to Mavericks in the last 24 hours.

 

macmini_mavericks2

 

I like my Mac Mini. It’s the first Mac I ever bought, on a whim, and it’s served me well both as a workstation and lately more of a combined NAS, Minecraft and darknet server. I populated it with 4 (3.3 usable) GB RAM from the outset, and a few years ago I switched out its 5400 rpm hard drive for an SSD. If I remember correctly it came with Leopard but I bought Snow Leopard on the same day, or just afterwards.

Earlier this year Apple stopped supporting Snow Leopard with security updates (in my opinion, I know others disagree). Understandable, somewhat, and while I knew I could update it to Lion I had never really come around to doing so. The amount of apps not compatible with SL (Github, I’m looking at you) were quite low and often they seemed to require Mountain Lion anyway.

But. As a somewhat Internet facing machine I felt I needed to make sure it at least got security updates, and thus I upgraded it to Lion yesterday. It was a huge pain freeing up enough space on the internal SSD to be able to remove the per user FileVault encryption – but eventually I got it done.

And realized way too late that turning on full disc encryption with FileVault 2 kind of defeated the purpose of having a headless NAS in a closet – since any reboot now meant I had to connect at least a keyboard, possibly a screen.

A quick search realized that I wasn’t alone in feeling cheated – apparently in 10.8.2 (Mountain Lion) and Mavericks Apple added a possibility to pre-authorize an account when scheduling a restart because of this.

Lion is the end-of-the-line when it comes to OS support for my Mac Mini 2,1. It’s a 32 bit EFI system, and Mountain Lion onwards require 64 bit EFI support.

Enter a hacker under the alias Tiamo and a script written by a Mac Sysadm named Oem, called SFOTT. Sixty Four on Thirty Two. The script takes a valid Mavericks (or Mountain Lion) installation .app and patches it to consider the target hardware valid. It also uses a shim layer (Tiamo’s boot.efi) to patch through the 64 bit kernel syscalls to the 32 bit EFI on too-old hardware.

My Macmini2,1 is now running the latest version of Mavericks. That’s pretty awesome. Not yet headless with full disk encryption though – the pre-auth functionality has its own hardware requirements and still does not work.

Bummer.

Use an HP Compaq L2311c with Mac

June 18, 2014
tags: ,

The L2311c monitor is a “desktop hot-swappable” monitor to which you connect USB devices and ethernet, where you’re supposed to only then have to connect it to your computer via a single USB cable to access all of its functionality.

On Windows.

Out of the box, the integrated webcam as well as USB keyboards and mice connected to its port work fine. The USB Ethernet (LAN7500) as well as USB Graphics (UFX7000) does not work however.

LAN7500 Ethernet drivers are available here, and UFX7000 drivers are available here. (The latter link leads to a corrupt image and I’ve been unable to source a replacement. Thus I’ve not been able to get USB Graphics to work).

However, even after installing the LAN7500 drivers the Mac will not detect the network adapter. The reason is HP having changed the vendor and product ids – and this is what you’ll manually need to edit:

  • Open Terminal, cd /System/Library/Extensions/LAN7500.kext/Contents
  • sudo pico Info.plist – find the idProduct and idVendor keys
  • Change idProduct to 1351 and idVendor to 1008
  • cd back to /System/Library/Extensions and do kextload LAN7500.kext

The network adapter should now pop up in Network Preferences.

Disclaimer: I’ve only tested this on a Mavericks late 2013 Macbook Pro Retina. I’m assuming it’ll work on many more configurations.

(This post will be edited once/if I get USB Graphics working as well)

Projects

March 7, 2014

At the top right of this site a new page has been added: projects. It will over time contain information on various software (mostly) and hardware creations of mine.

Right now it contains three:

  • Courier – a Minecraft Bukkit plugin I made in late 2011 that at its peak had an estimated hundred thousand players
  • LoSTE – an Atari ST demo from 2013 showcasing my 1337 low level coding skills
  • Dallas RTC – software written in 2014 to synchronise an Atari ST with a modern RTC, including a Y2K fix

If you’ve listened to one of my talks (see the media & appearances page) on disruptive innovation you’ve surely heard me talk about how doers are much more important than thinkers. A while back I realised that I was on the verge of only researching and implementing strategy – which while I’m very pleased with the results of is not what I want to be doing exclusively.

Always implement change starting with yourself.

R U SAD?

December 23, 2013

Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD. [wikipedia]

also known as winter depression, winter blues [...] or seasonal depression, was considered a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter [...]

I’ve known for years the difference in how happy I am during the warm nice summer, short as it is in Sweden, and the slightly more introvert and quiet me during the long dark winter months. It’s been part of my personality for as long as I can remember, and I guess I never gave it much thought.

Until a few years ago. Thanks to people close to me I realised that this didn’t just affect me – it affected them as well. I even found myself having made some very bad life choices at times that seems to have been a direct result of a very negative outlook of the future – and they all correlated with late autumn/winter.

Now I’m a person of a very positive mindset and consider everything that happens in life to be part of the experiences that make up who I am. However, having understood the way my SAD – because that’s what it is – caused negativity around me I decided to take action. I had learned to live with it, to hibernate through the winter, but that’s no reason to force the same upon others.

Since two months back I’m on so-called anti depressants, SSRIs. And besides the quite interesting swings between ecstasy and utter boredom that are known side effects at the start of the treatment, I’ve now gotten myself back even though we just hit the darkest part of the year.

Almost 10% of the population in Sweden suffer from SAD to some extent. The number is easily verified by just going through the Facebook updates by friends of mine – yet I almost never see anyone talking about it, or getting treatment.

I’m a migraine basket case. When I suffer from a migraine attack I become a horrible person – extremely irritable. Luckily I’ve found medication that works and I wouldn’t consider for a second not taking it when I’m in the situation of others having to interact with me.

I posit there’s no sane reason for thinking about SAD medication differently. Besides the social stigma of yesteryear where “sickness of the mind” was something to be ashamed of – of course – but we’re a lot more enlightened than that today.

Aren’t we?

Oh and btw – if SSRIs happen to contribute to increased neurogenesis and synaptogenesis I’ll likely continue taking them all year round ;)

Bitcoin – pulling the curtains on computer security

April 19, 2013

All software contain bugs. All complex software contain numerous bugs. Some of those bugs are security holes.

When you hear that a software vendor has found and fixed a security problem that means that somehow that specific bug came up one someone’s radar. People who find these holes for a living, and there are quite a few, sell them to others who then exploit them to create massive botnets, extract credit card information from unsuspecting users or in some cases try to attack online banking accounts.

A regular “zero day” exploit into a computer system connected to the Internet can be sold for tens of thousands of dollars making it a worthwhile occupation for crackers.

However, while many regular computer users have had their computers taken over it’s often not something they themselves notice. If their system it’s just used for drive by DDoSing as part of a botnet, encrypted communication forwarding in a virus control protocol or activities otherwise not disturbing their normal computer usage, they have no reason to ponder the fact that any Internet computer system can be broken into. Even if their online banking account gets accessed the banks replace the balance, sometimes without the customer even knowing, since it’s worse for their reputation having to admit security problems. Crackers, on their part, are content with selling exploits on the black market for regular fixed prices.

Until Bitcoin.

A fully digital currency, kept either stored on a regular Internet connected home computer, mobile Internet device or with a cloud service provider is a much more juicy target for a security exploit finding cracker. No profit taking middle men, no traceable transactions in regular national currencies and with the possibility to target many such wallets in a very short time.

All software contain bugs. All complex software contain numerous bugs. Some of those bugs are security holes.

I’m a Bitcoin proponent. I support decentralisation and the removal of the banking and finance tax on human to human monetary transactions. I do have a strong background in computer security though and the above argument has me worried as a serious hindrance to Bitcoin adoption. In short, the only reason you currently still have control over your bitcoins isn’t because you’re better at keeping them safe compared to everyone else – it’s because no one has made you a target. Yet.

(Yes I’m aware of the concept of brain and/or paper wallets – but the currency of the Internet still has to surface when a transaction is to be made and an exploited system could well switch out the target of that transfer then)

I believe, if Bitcoin continues to gain general acceptance, we’ll see for the first time since computers became a household item an awareness of just how insecure such systems really are. It’s not a fault of Bitoin – its protocol still hasn’t been broken – but a fact of complex software. The only solution is to completely redesign our current computing paradigm.

Yeah that will happen.

Sustainable economics

April 9, 2013

Bitcoin press has gone through the roof in the last few weeks. So has the exchange rate between traditional currencies and bitcoins – a fact that has seen as many different explanations as I’ve seen people wrapping their heads around the Bitcoin concept and writing about it.

One of the explanations is that there’s a cap on the number of bitcoins that will ever be produced – 21 million (divisible to eight decimals). While the rate at which bitcoins are produced right now makes the currency inflationary, speculation on future worth combined with the influx of people wanting to hold or use the currency can be said to have already brought out its deflationary aspects.

Some predict doom and gloom because of that deflation, essentially proclaiming that a currency that cannot expand, inflate, with the economy will cause it to contract instead – putting a stop to investments when they’re deemed necessary.

There’s a different tack to that argument. In an inflationary economy, like the one we all live in, money in the bank becomes less worth over time. The interest rate I’m currently paid on my savings is less than the rise in the consumer purchase index, effectively meaning that there’s pressure on me to spend that money sooner rather than later.

(The argument that I should “invest” my money is a fallacy. Since it’s been statistically proven that financial managers aren’t able to outperform chance the best you can do is to place money in no-fee index funds – which over time should keep up with inflation. Investments more narrow than that carry higher risk – like betting in a casino. But I digress .. )

A Bitcoin economy on the other hand, when it’s large enough for the regular ups and downs to lessen in magnitude, is one where I would expect my savings to grow in value over time. Thus there’s pressure on me to only spend money when I really need to.

It thus seems Bitcoin is the solution to wasteful Consumerism, making it well placed to be at the centre of discussions on Sustainability.

That cannot be a bad thing.

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