Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dual boot Mini 9 MBR failure...or the wife is pissed

So the wife brings her Mini9 running OSX to me telling me it just died. First it froze, she rebooted it and the black screen prompt showed a couple of errors and "Operating System Not Found"

Of course there are many ways to fix this, boot from your windows CD and say "repair", etc...but this is a dual boot OSX hackintosh setup...there are 3 partitions, two are HFS and one NTFS, and the OSX was hacked to run on a standard Master Boot Record partition system.

For the question marks appearing, a short explanation. Imagine your hard drive is a vinyl long play record with (in my case) three songs on the side, and the quiet part between songs defines the partitions. Now imagine the chaos if those quiet spots disappear, and you don't know where one song ends and the next begins...Now imagine one song is quiet violin music, the next Henry Rollins Band, and the last, explosion and gunfire sound effects...

The MBR tells the computer where the partitions (songs) and how long they are...and even what kind of partitions they are...if it get corrupted or disappears, the data is still where you left just don't know where it is. And like the album without breaks, you can make a duplicate of the data, but you still can't use it.

Well any time you can see a drive, but it won't boot, assume MBR is the only thing you can fix that won't make things worse (for the most part).

So my big problem is HOW to fix these oddball partitions.

I knew that somehow I had booted the Mini9 before it had an operating system, and then partitioned the drive, installed the OS etc. So for roughly an hour I went about trying to retrace my steps to boot it of a USB thumb drive...then I remembered that I actually booted it off a linux boot I dug around and found the USB DVD drive...and the linux CD.

The one I had was actually a Gparted live CD (GNU Partition Editor). I booted it and ran sees a blank drive...or more accurately, it does not see any partitions. Now a mistake would be to create partitions at this point...'cuz now you HAVE made things worse, you will overwrite data, and it will be gone.

So drive is there (correct size) how to get the partition data back. I can't run a windows boot disk, it would puke over non windows partitions and probably trash the disk.

So I looked at the places I used to create the hackintosh that really helped...but someone did mention a program called Testdisk.

That program was on this Gparted live with much fear, I ran the program. The first time I told it to look for Intel/PC partitions...after a couple of error messages, it showed the three partitions, and their correct sizes, so I knew then that I has simply lost the MBR partition table.

However in front of each partition was the letter D that according to the text on the bottom means Delete (or perhaps deleted). So I went and changed the "D"s to anything else, P for Primary, L for Logical, E for Extended, or * for boot. When I did that, the first partition (used to fool OSX into booting) and the NTFS windows partition showed green...but the OSX partition had to remain D or the text on the bottom said something like "invalid disk" or something equally useful.

So I backed out of those menus to the top of Testdisk. This time I chose the Mac OS partition style...I didn't think it would work, but what the heck. It did its full scan and showed 2 partitions both in Green with P in front.

But the numbers didn't look quite right (locations on the disk) I backed out again and did the Intel/PC choice again. This time it showed all three partitions again, however this time all three were in Green, and the first one was a * (boot) with the other two showing P.

I hit apply, it did its thing and I rebooted. Of course it didn't boot. I actually didn't expect it two, because as I remembered, the actual boot was on the OSX partition, which also had the boot menu that allowed me to dual boot the computer to windows.

So I re-booted the Gparted Live CD, and this time when Gparted ran, it correctly showed the partitions...I simply set the OSX partition to boot, and rebooted...ta daa.

You may wonder how I knew which partition was which...the first partition is only about 100megs. The windows one was NTFS...that left the 19 gig HFS partition that was obviously the OSX one.

SO if you see 'No operating system found', try to repair the MBR first.

There is a down side to this...usually when the MBR fails, and you see slow downs in disk access, those are signs the drive is probably time to make a backup.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Android on the Nokia N800

I have let dust settle on my N800 ever since I got the iPod and my HTC TP2...shame on me.

Now I have a new reason to break it out. Nokia stopped updating the software on the older N series...and some things never worked the camera with the video chat capability...that only worked with other n800/810s.

I don't know when I will attempt this...funny enough, I do normally do stuff like this when I am at home, but now with work, I am in NYC more than I am I may do it in NY.

But here are the links

Short article at Android Authority...with video of it in operation on a N800.

Short article at Symbian Guru.

Nitdroid N900 entry (how to)...the port being actively worked on.

Nitdroid N8xx on this port temporarily halted until N900 is stable.

Nitdroid N8xx installation guide.

N8xx how to update firmware tutorial videos by Internet Tablet School.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Amateur Radio links and info

The basic Amateur Radio Licence level is Technician. It allows you 70CM (UHF), 2M (VHF), and 6M...and not much else.

The VHF and UHF radio/antenna install isn't too difficult of a deal, pretty straight forward.

However in the HF (shortwave, 6M on up) range, antenna design and installation becomes a large factor in your ability to get contacts.

I decided to move on up to the HF range, so I am working on getting my General licence to many more HF bands (not all but most).

I am also researching antenna design and installation.

For now I only plan on installing a Transceiver in my truck, so I need an antenna that can handle the mobile environment. The standard compromise antenna is a 'screwdriver'. Essentially an adjustable coil antenna. I said a compromise, because antenna design is based around the wavelength you are operating on...for example 10M means the wavelength is around 10 Meters long. So a full wavelength antenna is 32 feet long...a bit large for a vehicle...even a 1/4 wave antenna is 8' long. The 'screwdriver' antenna coil is tightly wound wire to give you that length in a small package.

Within the 'screwdriver' style, there are 4 big brands, High Sierra, Hi-Q, Tarheel, and Scorpion. There are fans of all the brands, I won't get into that.

I want a 'screwdriver' that is more compact, so I won't break it off if I drive my truck into a parking garage etc. That leaves the High Sierra Sidekick, and the Little Tarheel HP, and the Scorpion Shorty.

Now the screwdriver part of these antennas is the coil is motorized and that is what makes it adjustable for the different bands. So the hard part is how to adjust that coil to the best position to match the radio and frequency. So you need a controller.

There are 2 big brands (other than what the antenna companies include) Turbo Tuner, BetterRF. Both of those brands interface with the radio to correctly tune the antenna.

As far as radios go...I have narrowed it down to the Kenwood TS-480SAT, with the Icom IC-706MKIIG as a very close second (or the IC-7000 if I was rich).

For antenna I am looking at the High Sierra Sidekick, and the Turbo Tuner to control it.

So that is the equipment...but again, HF setups require some work to get the maximum operation out of that investment.

Alan R. Applegate (K0BG) has a ton of info on his website on antenna choosing, install, wiring, etc. If you are installing an HF system you MUST read through his site.

Hank Breedlove has a machine shop and makes some nice hardware that you might need in your antenna install. Personally I am looking at the EZ Over Antenna Mount & Quick Disconnect.

BTW, if you are planning to buy something Amateur Radio related...then visit the reviews at

Finally, a friend of mine is planning to launch a balloon to space (or near space) loaded with cameras and an amateur radio setup with an Arduino board running APRS.

That sparked my curiosity so I found a couple of web sites...BEAR and ARHAB. The ARHAB site has a list of all the future balloon releases and links to the project with tracking or video info. Both sites list the hardware they are launching. But a bunch of it is sold here Argent Data Systems.

...hours go by...

So I was trying to find info about using the D710 and the 480SAT together in a cross band repeater setup...

And I come across A site full of hardware mods to radios...
Like this one that extends the transmitter frequency bands of the TS-480.

Some interesting websites and videos.

Just some websites that don't fit any of my here they go...

It is always time for pushups. How about 100 pushups at one time?

How to download MegaVideo videos.

GPS Underground-a forum with data and hacks for GPS hardware.

This is a visualization of the housing bubble pop...Jonathan Jarvis does a terrific job turning data into visuals...look at some of his other projects.

The Credit Crisis - Animatic from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Next is a website that came out about 6 years ago that shows the connection between the various board of directors and other top level have to play with it to see. I don't know if the data has been updated, but it is still eye opening.

They Rule

Astromart - If you want anything from a actively cooled camera to a house sized telescope and everything in between...for sale.

Super Mario Bros. on a sidewalk...a student at the University at Hannover Germany displayed the whole game on a have to see it to believe it...but even better is how he did it.

First the game

Super Mario Bros. from Andreas Heikaus on Vimeo.

Now the how to

Super Mario Bros. on a Sidewalk - Making Of from Andreas Heikaus on Vimeo.

How about a video mapping all of the Nuclear Explosions from 1945 to 1998

How about a how to on making your own Ballistic Gel.

Charity Navigator - background and info on your donation does the most good.

ReadyNAS NV+ revisited

I have had my ReadyNAS for a few years now, and still like fact I am thinking about getting another one, stuff some 2TB drives into it as a video server.

Newegg is selling them with 2 1TB drives installed for $390 with rebates and free shipping. But I will get an unpopulated one and stuff in 4 2TB drives.

Before I decided to buy another NAS, I found some web sites that made me decide to stay with the NV+...mostly because there is a huge price jump to the next models...but partially because the NV+ still holds its own.

While I was surfing around I found this blog Bott's Thoughts.

Bott has a ton of info on setting up and running the NV+ as well as quite a few other things/hacks you can do with/to it. The above link goes to a tutorial on setting up the NV+, very handy!

If you decide to get the NV+ (or many other NASs ) you need to make sure the drives you buy will be compatible, or you may have reduced or no performance.

For the ReadyNAS, on the Netgear website you can see the current list of compatible drives.

For the NV+ there are currently 4 2TB drives to choose from.

Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2 TB 3Gb/s 64 MB

Hitachi Ultrastar A7K2000 HUA722020ALA330 2 TB 3Gb/s 32 MB

Hitachi 7K2000 HDS722020ALA330 2 TB 3Gb/s 32 MB

Seagate Barracuda LP ST32000542AS 2 TB 3Gb/s 32 MB

Saturday, October 9, 2010

iOS 4.1 on my iPod Touch

Knowing that early adopters seem to have pain and suffering, I now wait to do BIOS/Firmware/OS updates.

iOS4 has been out for a while, and out for the iPod for a few months...but since my iPod is Jailbroken, I knew that at that point, there was no Jailbreak for an OS above 3.1.2.

Well Apple released 4.1, and in September a Jailbreak was released...I don't know how many devices are correctly broken etc...but I do know that my MB model iPod Touch 2G IS!

I simply followed this guide at . No muss no fuss. The Apple things were backed up and reinstalled automatically (apps/media/settings), however the software I installed using Cydia had to be manually reinstalled, but I did not have to re-buy anything.

I didn't want to upgrade the OS, but the new apps I wanted required OS4 or higher...

But there is another reason to upgrade...if you have a 3GS, you get built in multitasking. (which you also can get if you jailbreak). However, everyone get the new folder option. You can dump app icons together and create a folder icon that you can drag around and rename. Of course I couldn't figure out how to do this simple I found this quick explanation. The quick summary is put an app icon over another one, and you get a folder...taa daa.

I am still waiting on some apps to be updated to OS4 (from Cydia), but the apps I use all the time work just fine.

A couple of quick notes...

I use Handbrake to rip DVDs to iPod files and drag and drop using iTunes...but a funny thing about how iTunes works...I can't pull those same files off. So I had to found a Guide (that I lost the link to) and installed Mac software Senuti. The trial version was all I needed so copy the movie files back off.

Monday, October 4, 2010

AR.Drone not ready for prime time?

The AR.Drone was finally released for sale in September. Folks have been buying them, flying them with their ipods/iphones/ipads and either crashing or completely losing them.

A common problem seems to be the AR.Drone suddenly climbs out of control and is either taken by the wind, or the user is able to hit the Emergency button before it goes out of range and it drops like a rock into pieces.

So I want one...but not quite yet.

But I am following along and seeing if the number of these flyaways drops as the company (Parrot) updates the hardware and firmware.

Meanwhile...some links...

The AR.Drone main website.

The AR.Drone official forums (that apparently are not moderated very well...nor do the tech folks show up)

ar.drone flyers, an enthusiast site.

This website is mostly about the owners cycling experiences...but there is a large AR.Drone section with some mods and tech info.

air, a German (language) enthusiast site with some good mods
-specifically this mod of a linux based controller for the AR.Drone with video recording.