Hardware

Can we brick it? Yes, we can :(

A comparison of Nintendo DSi XL flash carts

After succumbing to unbearable pressure (e.g. my Mum mentioned in passing that she was thinking about getting one…) and buying one of the new DSi XLs, the next task was to find a solution to playing all of the games I’ve bought since getting my original DS Lite several years ago – without the hassle of carrying around, changing, and then losing hundreds of tiny cartridges.

On the DS Lite, the CycloDS Evolution was pretty much a perfect solution for me – it was fast, stable, customisable, and frequently updated with the latest fixes and upgrades. Unfortunately, it was also completely incompatible with the DSi, and so also the DSi XL.

In order to find an acceptable solution which works on the DSi (and therefore the XL also – the two machines run identical firmware, and only differ physically in form-factor) I ended up ordering one card, and then another – and so it occurred to me that a comparative review could well be useful… especially since one seems to be very popular but really doesn’t work at all well, whilst the other takes some effort to get working but is really very good once it’s sorted out!

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Apple Time Capsule 500GB Tear-down

Enterprise backup, it ain’t

In December of last year, after only nineteen months of use, my 500GB Time Capsule died of a dead PSU. As documented here (a great graph, sadly lacking a scale on the y-axis…) the average lifespan of a Time Capsule was, for these first generation units, nineteen months and 20 days – and mine was only eighteen days short of this.

In any case, Apple offered to replace my out-of-warranty unit free of charge – but noted that they had no backup service to recover the contents. When asked, they did say that they were happy for me to dismantle the Time Capsule and backup the data myself though. Them’s fightin’ words 🙂

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Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” Problems & Solutions

Having bought a Unibody MacBook Pro and running Mac OS 10.6, I decided to upgrade my Samsung NC10 from running Mac OS 10.5.8 to running the latest Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) from Canonical.

Canonical have completely revolutionised the concept of Linux on the desktop by packaging a distribution that is lightweight, fast, attractive, functional, and is – above all – actually usable as a day-to-day computing environment by your average computer user: as with OS X, the powerful underpinnings aren’t exposed and so don’t scare away the casual user.

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Foxconn A79A-S Final verdict: Unfit for use

I must admit that I forsook my vow never to build a PC again, and as a result am now more than convinced of its validity than ever…

Read on for a final look at the Foxconn’s flagship A79A-S AM2+ motherboard, and how it is eclipsed in almost every way by the Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P board with which I have now replaced it.

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FAQ: Should I install the 32bit or 64bit version of Windows 7?

… or, indeed, on a system with modern 64bit-capable processor(s) is it better to run the 32bit or 64bit version of any given OS?

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Foxconn A79A-S BIOS update fixes some issues

Foxconn recently announced a firmware update to BIOS 782F1P06 for the A79A-S.

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Fix problems with Vodafone 3G USB modems on Sony laptops

At work we have several Sony laptops and have recently upgraded to the latest Vodafone-branded Huawei 3G/HSDPA modems… and on all laptops we’ve experienced intermittent connectivity and constant errors.

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Definitive Mac OS X installation guide for netbooks

There is currently a great demand for laptops which provide the user-friendliness of a Mac without the cost and weight of a MacBook or MacBook Pro, or without the cost of size of a MacBook Air.

Given that the ever-increasing varieties of Intel Atom-based netbooks are low-cost and roughly equivalent in hardware terms to the original MacBook Air, they make a tempting target to conversions to “MacBook Mini”s.

Leopard desktop from a Samsung NC-10

Indeed, there are a large (and also increasing) number of guides which will tell you how to get OS X running using a variety of ISO images downloaded via BitTorrent and hacked kernels which then require extensive changes to the installed system and come with copious warnings not to upgrade the OS when Software Updater prompts you to… and even then it’s common for basic functions such as sleep or USB not to work (although it has to be said that no method is entirely free from caveats).

This guide doesn’t work like that. This guide will describe how to install OS X from an original Leopard installation DVD and how to end up with an entirely unmodified system (*) which will not break when Apple issues updates.

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Windows 7 βeta

A Windows Vista-running PC decided to implode the other day, crashing with random noise on the screen (or a really strange frosting-type effect, where slightly off-white static quickly encroaches from the edges of the screen) after Windows has been running for a while, for a few minutes after starting a DirectX game, etc.

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Mac OS 10.5.6 on the Samsung NC10

Well, good news and bad here…

The good news is that, with the DSDT fix (although in all honesty I’ve not tried without) the 10.5.6 upgrade does the right thing and reboots correctly. Even better, a modified SystemConfiguration is no longer needed in /System/Library. May be due to this, the screen is also no longer stuck at full brightness… although due to the following issue, I don’t know whether it can be modified.

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