Category Archive

Posts in hacking

September 3rd, 2010

Get Automator working again in iTunes 10

Macs have a wonderful system-wide scripting tool with a GUI interface called Automator. Many people use Automator to take care of repetitive tasks involving iTunes.

iTunes 10, the latest version, breaks Automator for a trivial reason: Automator checks to make sure that iTunes is new enough to be compatible. So it looks for version 4.6 or later. iTunes is at version 10. Even though the number 10 is larger than the number 4.6, some part of Automator is treating “10” and “4.6” as text. Since when treated as text, “10” comes before “4.6” for the same reason “ant” is before “bee”; the leftmost characters are compared; if they are equivalent, then the second-leftmost are compared, and so on; “1” is before “4”, so the comparison algorithm halts there. Automator considers the latest version of iTunes too old.

Anyway, the title links to an article about how to fix the problem. It involves hacking some XML files. If you’re not comfortable with that, you should probably wait for Apple to issue a system update. And you should probably notice that this indicates how few people within Apple can be arsed to use Automator unless required to.

August 7th, 2010

Jailbreak Responsibly

A neatly concise, even-handed summary about jailbreaking an iPhone, covering both the advantages and disadvantages, free of axegrinding. This would be the tl;dr version of anything I could say on the matter, if I were to jailbreak my iPhone, which I probably won’t. [via Tom Boutell]

June 2nd, 2010


Interprets Flash files entirely in Javascript. Not only a remarkable accomplishment in its own right, but also because it’s primarily one person’s work. One of a couple similar projects I’m aware of, but this one seems to have the most traction.

It’s also interesting to speculate why Adobe isn’t attempting anything like this, or why they’re so closed-lipped about it if they are.

February 11th, 2010

IPhone frenzy in the mini-sausages…

The iPhone’s touch screen works by conducting a small electronic charge through your fingertip; most gloves that are effective insulators from the cold are also pretty good at electrical isolation, so you have to take your glove off and your hand gets cold.

South Koreans have solved the cold-weather iPhone problem: Buy a particular brand of mini sausage that’s approximately the same shape and conductivity of a human finger.

Clusterflock has a concise summary of the iPhone sausage finger. The Google-translated article leaves us with this thought: “Maekseubong tagitcheung and this just fits the iPhone user base, while the poisonous celebrity, Max is on the stick.”

January 11th, 2010

iPhone headphone mic works with [late 2008 Mac] laptops

This evening I wondered whether the four-conductor iPhone headsets (headphone plus microphone) could be used as conventional headphones on my computer, nevermind the mic. As it turns out, they not only work on Apple’s laptops, the mic does as well, as does the play/pause clicker. Now you can use Skype without taking off your earphones. (They’re also compatible with almost all of Apple’s iPods.)

Apple’s own documentation is sparse bordering on nonexistent. Product descriptions for their iPhone headsets only mention iPods. The most Apple has written about this is on page 25 of a PDF of the MacBook Pro user’s guide: “Audio out port: Connect external speakers, headphones (including iPhone), or digital audio equipment.

If you haven’t got a compatible laptop, you can make an adaptor that splits into Mic In and Stereo Out plugs, or buy one.

November 17th, 2009

Mac netbook wrap-up, cha cha cha

The rather dark grey legality and tenuous maintainability of netbook hacktintoshes aren’t things I want to blog about incessantly, but enough has happened in the two weeks since the last post to call for a sequel. For good measure, there are also some further impressions regarding the hackintoshed Dell 10v. And for reference, here’s the original Mac netbook post from November 4. For further information, many of the websites linked to in this and the previous post are excellent resources.

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November 10th, 2009

MyDellMini: OS X 10.6.2

Following last week’s epic post about running Mac OS X on a Dell netbook, this link is obligatory now that the news has dropped. Rumors of problems with 10.6.2 were widespread while it was in beta but there no useful confirmation of the problem was possible until last night, when the public release shipped.

In a nutshell, Apple’s latest update to Mac OS X (10.6.2) disables support for the Atom CPU common in most netbooks, including the Dell Mini 10v used in my review. Whether it was a side effect in fixing an unrelated issue or because Apple is now actively trying to inhibit hackintoshing, the result is the same as far as the Mac hacking community is concerned: From here on out, every Apple OS update is going to have to be reviewed and possibly modified by the hackintosh community before it can be safe for installation on non-Apple hardware. For my thoughts on the matter, see the late addition to the long Mac netbook post.

November 4th, 2009

How desperate are you for a Mac netbook?

Ever since the surprise success of the Asus EEE netbooks, Mac users and fans have been hoping and wishing that Apple will ship an ultra-small laptop form factor of their own.

This MacBook Nano, for example, by Mickphoto

This "MacBook Nano", for example. By Mickphoto

Apple hasn’t. So motivated hackers have been busily wedging Mac OS X into other company’s laptops as well as they could. This is not as easy as it might sound; options are limited to those computers with technical specifications closest to what Apple supports in its own products, patching the system to accommodate, compensate for, or ignore the remaining differences.

Enough progress has been made that even people who have no clue how to diagnose BIOS or edit kext files can do a passable job of putting Mac OS X on computers not made by Apple. Some do it purely out of being able to, some do it under the illusion that this will be an easy way to have a Macintosh for a fraction of the price of a real one. (Edit, Nov 4: An addendum about how the Apple taketh away and the Apple giveth back at the end of this post.) (Edit, Nov 17: There is now a second post with more news about Apple vs. hackintoshing, updates, and further impressions.)

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October 19th, 2009

Why can’t we figure out what Google Wave is good for?

Google Wave is… something. What it is, exactly, few people have been able to agree on. Google’s own PR about Google Wave is a frustratingly imbalanced information overload, their publicity effort centering around an 80 minute video of the developer preview at Google I/O, earlier this year, entirely burying their slick, short product demos.

Apple can routinely, in 80 minutes, tout its sales figures, announce three revolutionary consumer products, demo them, preview yet another devastatingly witty TV commercial starring an affable PC and bemused Mac, and have a surprise musical guest run through a number or two. Even Microsoft’s execs can put on a reasonably tight show when announcing new products. So how does Google’s new product announcement compare? It’s thorough and boring. It’s unrehearsed, heavily padded by presentation failures, presenter fumbles, and an excruciatingly long introduction by one of Google’s research unit executives.

The Wave video is a fine tech conference presentation. But it’s a lousy public product demonstration, and it’s the entirety of Google’s sales pitch. Sales pitches, product sheets, whitepapers, short demonstrations of single features are all missing from Wave’s PR. In their place is a long video of people fumbling with their demo equipment. I watched it in 20 minute chunks, because if this is The Future, The Future is awkward.

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