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Apple

Huawei EC226 & Snow Leopard

imagesIf Snow Leopard can no longer see your Huawei device, you will no doubt need to visit this page – http://www.huaweidevice.com/resource/mini/200910149695/testmobile1014/index.html.

It seemed a little confusing at first, installing the software, but what you need to do is run the installer and when it asks for the application to install, you need to point it towards the mobile partner application on the internal drive.

There is also another method which involves removing some Kext files and then re-installing them, but this way is far easier.

Once done, there are three Huawei interfaces in the network preferences.

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Magic Mouse

mouse

Magic Mouse

Awesome. Being a sufferer of the previous (mighty) mouse, I have been waiting a long time for this device. The Magic Mouse is effectively an extension of the glass touchpads on the iphone, the new macbooks and macbook pros, to the mouse. The same glass surface has been ported to the mouse, giving the user a multi-touch interface in their hand.

Apple no doubt think that this will open new worlds for people, but quite frankly I can’t see it. People will continue to use a mouse as a traditional point and click device. Numerous mice have come and gone with millions of buttons and wheels, but basically 99% of people use the mouse for nothing more than point and click.

The magic mouse is not a revolutionary device. It is evolutionary. Apple realised (belatedly) that mechanical parts are useless. Things go wrong with them. The mutli-scroll wheel on the old mouse was forever sticking and frustrating the hell out of me. I even attempted an unsuccessful operation to open it up try and clean it.

So what is so good about this new mouse? And why should you shell out the cash for it? Maybe you are like me – I for one was so frustrated at the previous mouse that I was desperate for the new one. But that should not be the sole reason to buy one! The mouse I find, is ergonomically sound for general use. And as you would expect with any Apple product, it is slick in it’s design.

There is no scroll wheel with this mouse, but that is because the whole mouse is a scroll wheel! The surface, being touch sensitive, allows you to run your finger over the whole mouse and it will detect your motion as scrolling. This eliminates any problems as explained above. The mouse has one button but depending on where you click will activate whether you want right or left mouse click – depending on which hand is your preference.

Another nice feature is that although the mouse takes two batteries, they are not in series as most mice – but are actually in parallel. Meaning that you only need one battery in it for it to work!

Out of the box the multi touch features do not work – it does require that you have a connection to the internet to do a software update for it all to work. After the update is installed then all the multi touch features work.

One down point is that I do not like the fact that there is no ‘middle click’. This is a bit of a let down for me, but thankfully this is not a mechanical issue as the mouse can be programmed (in future) to accept something like two finger click for middle click.

I cannot see how the multi-touch features will catch on. I find it tricky and unnecessary for things like ‘swiping’ to be honest – but overall the size of the device, the design and the new surface is a huge plus for me. I am enjoying it very much but I am very scared about dropping it – being made of glass and all…


Snow Leopard

images-5Finally did the upgrade to Snow Leopard this week. At the first look you would would be hard pressed to notice much difference between Leopard and Snow Leopard. There are many, many reviews about the changes – by people far more geekier than I, and they will tell you ALL of the differences. So I will restrict this post to the things that I found interesting or important.

Time Machine – It is a lot quicker than what it used to be, especially for new time machine setups.

Startup / Login / Sleep – All a lot faster.

Bluetooth Menu Bar – This used to be a real pain in the backside, but now it seems to work properly.

Some of the other things that I discovered was:  Upon investigating why my Cisco VPN client no longer worked, there is now a built in CiscoVPN client in the network preferences.

CiscoVPN Client

CiscoVPN Client

Similar to what is already available on the iPhone, Snow Leopard now has native support for Cisco VPNs. Something that ‘The other OS’ will never have! It supports certificates and group authentication, just as the iPhone does.

The last thing which almost put a spanner in the works was that my Huawei EC226 modem no longer worked. Fortunately there is a work around and I was able to get it working again.

I removed all the connections to the Huawei modem in the network preferences and then went to :

 /System/Library/Extensions

I removed the HuaweiDataCardDriver.kext and the USBCardCantWake_Huawei.kext extenstions.

Inserted the Modem and waited for the internal disk to mount. There is usually a mobile partner application supplied with the modem on the internal drive that you can drag into the Applications dir, but if you right mouse click and select view package contents, you can navigate and find the installer pkg and re-run it.

I have not included the details as it will look different to every modem / provider. My one is  MultiLinks Telkom branded application, but the are all probably similar. After running the installer, I was able to now see the Huawei interfaces again in the network preferences.

It does require that you reconfigure your dial-up settings, but it is better than it not working at all.

Overall, Snow Leopard was all the changes that are necessary for the next big upgrade. Really Snow Loepard was primarily done to remove all of the legacy support for PPC and pave the way for the next big cat. But there are some really useful tools and enhancements that have come along with it.


Linux & OSX – Side by Side

Time MachineAfter my bonjour woes yesterday, I started to fish around and read up some more about bonjour. It is a very useful protocol but what stood out for me was that services can be advertised on linux via bonjour. I knew that this was possible but did not fully appreciate the capabilities. I have hacked around before to get a time machine disk that has been shared using samba from linux, working on Mac, but I never knew that it would be so easy to do it via bonjour using avahi and netatalk – both opensource tools.

Install and configure netatalk. I used Fedora 11, so yum install netatalk. Do what you need to do on your distro to install. The edit the config file:

# vi /etc/atalk/netatalk.conf

# Set which daemons to run (papd is dependent upon atalkd):
ATALKD_RUN=no
PAPD_RUN=no
CNID_METAD_RUN=yes
AFPD_RUN=yes
TIMELORD_RUN=no
A2BOOT_RUN=no
# Set which daemons to run (papd is dependent upon atalkd):
ATALKD_RUN=no
PAPD_RUN=yes
CNID_METAD_RUN=yes
AFPD_RUN=yes
TIMELORD_RUN=no
A2BOOT_RUN=no

papd is used for sharing attached printers on your linux box to other Mac boxen. CNID_METAD_RUN=yes is very important as it is likely your file systems are not hfs+, so you need this to handle the metadata.

Next edit the file /etc/atalk/afpd.conf and check that the last line at the bottom is:

- -transall -uamlist uams_randnum.so,uams_dhx.so -nosavepassword -advertise_ssh

Time MachineNow you need to add a shared volume. Here I will show you how to share users’ home directories and how to add a volume that you wish to use for time machine backups. Edit the /etc/atalk/AppleVolumes.default file and add a ~ to the bottom of the file if it is not allready there:

# vi /etc/atalk/AppleVolumes.default
~

The above will allow users’ to share their home directories to their Mac machines. To add a volume for Time Machine, Add the following line (editing it to your prefs) to the same file at the bottom:

/Volumes/TimeMachine	 TimeMachine allow:username1,username2 cnidscheme:cdb options:usedots,upriv

Where username1 and username2 are the users that are allowed to access the volume. You can now start netatalk and set to start at boot –

# /etc/init.d/atalk start
# chkconfig atalk on

The next thing is to configure avahi daemon – install first if not already done so:

# yum install -y nss-mdns
# yum install -y avahi-compat-libdns_sd
# yum install -y avahi

Edit /etc/nsswitch.conf to look as follows:

hosts: files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns mdns4 mdns

Avahi needs to be configured so that it knows which services it should advertise. Just for now, we are only advertising the afp sharing service. To advertise the service we add the following service config file:

vi /etc/avahi/services/afpd.service
<?xml version="1.0" standalone='no'?><!--*-nxml-*-->
<!DOCTYPE service-group SYSTEM "avahi-service.dtd">
<service-group>
<name replace-wildcards="yes">%h</name>
<service>
<type>_afpovertcp._tcp</type>
<port>548</port>
</service>
<service>
<type>_device-info._tcp</type>
<port>0</port>
<txt-record>model=Xserve</txt-record>
</service>
</service-group>

Thats it! All you need to do now is start the avahi-daemon

# /etc/init.d/avahi-daemon start

Opening up your finder in mac should now show your linux machine in the ‘Shared’ section on the left:

Finder1

If you look closely, you will see that the icon is not a BSOD windows icon, but actually an Xserver icon

Xserver

The last couple of things that you must do is instruct your Mac to use ‘unsupported network volumes’ :

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Disk UtilityAnd a bit of hack – but if you have an issue writing to the backup disk for the first time using Time Machine, then you may need to create a sparse image locally and then copy over to the mounted image. Creating the sparse image is easy enough. Open disk utility and from the file menu select – New -> Blank Disc Image

To get the file name that Time Machine wants to use – It is simply the joining of the machine name and the MAC address of the device that the backup will be performed over. In my case the name would look like – bonobo_pro_00236c8e678c.sparsebundle

Save SparseBundle

It can be seen that I changed the image Format to sparse bundle disk image. Once the file has been created, it can then be copied to the volume that you wish to use for your time machine backups – and then Viola! You can enable Time Machine.

As I find out what else I can do with bonjour, mac & linux – I will post up here…


Airport Extreme – Not so ‘easy to use’

Airport_Extreme

Thanks to a friend that recently went back to SA, I now have an Apple Airport Extreme. Opened the box, read the instructions and installed the Airport utility software. It turns out that you need the software to configure the device. There is no web interface – effectively ruling out configuration from any other OS other than MacOS or Windows. I did find an old java based utility, but whether it works on newer base stations – I have no idea. Fail 1.

Anyway, software installed – time to plug the bad boy in. Being Apple, I made the (incorrect) assumption that it would ‘just work’. The utility found the base station and then asks to change wireless connections so that it can be configured. As soon as it changes connection, it fails to read the configuration from the base station. Fail 2.

It is possible to manually connect to the BS by selecting file -> configure other and input 10.0.1.1 as the IP address and leave the password blank. Bingo – connected. From here on in, everything is straight forward. Click on Airport and the usual wireless router options are available to you. Some nice features I have come across are support for multiple profiles and time based access. It also has the ability to share printers and discs connected to the device. At R2000, it is very, very well priced for a dual band, wireless N router.

After the router had been configured I saved the config and the router restarted. I re-ran the utility and now it cannot even find the  base station… Another fail. I have tried restarting the station many times, yet it still does not show up on the list of stations on the left:

Failure of Airport Extreme

Failure of Airport Extreme

So as it stands, I can only connect manually by selecting ‘configure other’ from the file menu of the airport utility. The other fail is that the router is supposed to support a ‘Guest Network’ to allow guest users internet access but prevent access to the primary network. There does not seem to be anywhere in the airport utility to configure this feature. According to the mac site the guest network is as simple as clicking a check box – although I cannot find the check box on the wireless configuration section:

Wireless Utility

I added a disc using the utility and that seemed straight forward enough. The disc access can be setup with a password or you can add users to the device and only authenticated users can access the disc. All straight forward enough. After the disc was added, I could not see it anywhere. I had to manually add the disc by using <cmd>+k and then selecting smb://192.168.2.2. The disc then shows up and then authentication is required. Nothing was straight forward and simple though. I was thinking that if my wife were to set this up, and all due respect to her, she would not have been able to get it working.

But after all that – The reason I bought the router was for speed. It is a dual band 802.11n router and in theory should be able to pump some serious (wireless) throughput. On a quick test I transferred a 700Mb file from an attached disk to my local machine and it took approx 60 seconds. This is quite impressive, but the true test will be when I stream HD!

All in all I am satisfied with the features and the functionality of the device, but I am no way impressed with the ease of use and the lack of options to configure the device. It is currently the cheapest and most featured 802.11n wireless router on the market at the moment, yet it is limited to winbloze and mac.

** UPDATE **

Having scratched around to see what could be the cause of the issue with the BS, I recalled that I could not see my wife’s macbook either. I thought about how the device communicates over the network and decided that a restart of the bonjour service might help. Unfortunately there does not seem to be a (relatively) simple way of doing this. After some searching around, this is what is required to restart the bonjour service:

sudo launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.mDNSResponder.plist
sudo launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.mDNSResponder.plist

After running the above commands, this is what I now see:

Airport Utility Working

Happiness.


Huawei EC226 EVDO on a Mac

images

This is not really rocket science, but I thought I would put this up here for my future benefit as well as anyone that happens to stumble upon this site looking how to set up their EVDO connection.

As I understand it EVDO or EV-DO is the CDMA equivalent of HSDPA (3G) of the GSM networks. Here in Lagos where I am using it, it flies. Connection speeds of up to 3.1Mb/s and decent coverage means that I am never bored when I am stuck in the traffic going to Lekki for 2.5 hours!

Anyway here’s how you set it up:

The first thing that will happen when you are in network preferences and you plug the device in is that it will pick up the new network interface. Mine was named HUAWEI Mobile. You may also notice that when you plug it in it tries to mount a drive but fails. Don’t worry about that – just ignore it. The device has a small flash drive that stores the windows drivers.

Select the HUAWEI Mobile interface on the left and then click on advanced at the bottom right. On the modem tab select Generic Vendor and Dialup Device as the model. Click OK to return to the network preferences.

You should see a telephone number box – here you must put in #777 This seems to be the generic number to get connected. If you require a username and password then fill in the blanks.

Thats it. So easy. Now to connect go to the menu bar and you should see a little telephone icon – click and select “Connect HUAWEI Mobile”. 5 seconds later you should have high speed mobile access.

UPDATE for Snow Leopard

 


Telkom Media

If the reports are to be believed R500m has been flushed down the plopper with this venture into media and broadcasting. There are probably a million and one theories as to what went wrong and why it was such an epic fail. I cannot accurately comment because I do not know what the overall strategy was in the first place. Rumour has it that one of the first things that they wanted to do was build an ISP… sheesh.

The press releases about not obtaining quicker returns on the investment in the media market seems a like hogwash to me. I think that there is good money to be made in the media space – the key, I believe, is how you go about it.

Telkom / Telkom Media found out to their detriment that it is hard to compete with an already established player, especially one who has the market completely cornered already. It’s not so nice when the shoe is on the other foot eh?

Multichoice offer almost all there is to offer in the broadcasting space. They do it well and successfully. But they do have a weakness, one in which Telkom Media failed to exploit.

Telkom had / has the ability to replace the traditional satellite+decoder medium. Dish receivers and decoders are static, ugly and cumbersome. I believe that this could have been Telkom Media’s niche. Having a sound strategy to provide content over IP is where they could have quite easily have stolen ahead.

It would be foolish of me to think that DSTV/Multichoice do not have an ace already up their sleeve with this regard, but I believe that a sound strategy would have been to partner with a company such as Apple to provide top quality video and music that is currently on offer in the itunes store, locally.

The world is changing. People want services on demand. The itunes store is now selling and renting High Definition content at the click of a button, as well as the vast array of music, videos and applications that they already offer. At the moment, this is out of reach for most South Africans due to the high costs associated with international bandwidth. A 40 minute show is about 1Gb is size, total cost of an episode would be approximately R80 if you factor in the R60 that has to go towards data costs.

But by providing local caching as well as offering the opportunity to purchase / rent locally produced content, Telkom Media would have definitely gained a share of the market – albeit a small share initially.

I always like to use my wife as an example of a typical user. If it works for her, then it would be safe to say that it would work for most. She is not computer illiterate, far from it, but rather she likes things to work simply, with the minimum of fuss.

She enjoys watching the soapies in an evening, but her biggest gripe is that she does not have the luxury of revolving her life around the times that the show is broadcast. I asked her that if she were to pay R5-10 per episode and was able to watch it whenever she liked, she said ‘of course she would’. The question seemed a bit silly for her! It was so obvious.

Now, why can’t that happen? Yes, you can have PVR and set it all up so it records when and what you want… But that is still hassle and fuss.

We are not talking about splitting the atom here. Maybe Telkom Media identified the above – I don’t know. What I do know is that they failed to execute any plan and they also failed to sell on the license that they obtained, and by winding down the business, rendering it void. As I understand and don’t understand it, Telkom Media were looking for investments in the billions of rands… How and why, I have no idea. That would be off putting to any investor.

Complete waste of an opportunity if you ask me.