Mac: use a Windows ATi Radeon 4870 in your Mac Pro

Monday, March 16th, 2009

The price for Windows 4870 cards is substantially lower than Apple’s.
The Canada Apple Store currently
lists one for $420,
Canada Computers has one for $210.
this MacRumors forum thread
people are discussing how to do this and what the pitfalls are.

Basically, download and flash the ROM from

One person said:

I just tried it on my Sapphire HD4870 (the 1st gen one, based on
ATI’s ref design).

I flashed using freedos and the following command line:
atiflash.exe -p -fs -fp 0 4870.rom
note: -fs and -fp are used to ignore SSID and P/N mismatches

And it works!

EFI driver is initialized correctly, (I don’t have the leaked MacOSX
drivers for this card, so I can’t tell if this one works too), and
bootcamp stil works (currently writing from GNU/Linux on my 2006 Mac

Only problem is : only one output is active, no dual-head, it seems
(at least using ATI’s linux driver)

I should note that doing this seems to make the analog output (SVGA) not work. DVI is fine, though one person reported the “top” port as only going up to 1024×768.

Be careful out there. Read the thread for info on which cards work, and what possible side effects there are.



Git – it’s just that simple

Monday, February 9th, 2009

sudo port install git-core +doc +gitweb +svn +bash_completion

The above is my command-line command of the day.
I’ve been doing some research over the weekend, reading up on all the current source control systems
(for which, by the way, there is no consistent acronym. The closest I can find now is DVCS – Distributed Version Control System)
and have come to the conclusion that:

  1. The developer behind Shoes is one intensively creative fucker
  2. Git is as good as it gets

The kicker came when I found the script git-p4, which allows me to use Perforce at work in conjunction with all of git’s way-cool features!

What are these features you ask? Well, if you’ve ever heard of SVK, you will love git. Because git does what SVK does natively. And SVK is known to be like a castle on shifting sand in terms of stability. Git is rock-solid.

For the uninitiated (which would be most of you), SVK lets you check out code from a Subversion (svn) repository, and then do local-only checkins and checkouts. Then once you are happy with your changes (perhaps after 20 revisions, all tracked locally by SVK), you can “push” your changes to the main svn repo.

In the same way, git lets you “pull” changes from a central repo, do many modifcations, checking them in to git each time, and do a final “push” back to the central repo. Indeed, the concepts of “central” and “non-central” repos is not embedded into git. The central repo is only central by convention. All repos are equally “central”.

Mac OS X command-line gotcha: path_helper

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Ran into an issue where my terminals were coming up **really** slowly.
It ended up being a line in the script /usr/libexec/path_helper.

It turns out Apple has set up a whole process for modifying users’ PATHs by adding text files in /etc/paths.d, which is really a good idea, since install/uninstall scripts can just add/remove text files instead of mucking around with users’ login scripts.
For some reason it was taking about 30 seconds to execute this line of bash:

[[ /Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin:/Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin-i386:/Users/t_ellir/bin/noarch:/Users/t_ellir/bin/osx-rae:/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/X11R6/bin:/usr/lib:/Developer/Tools:/usr/X11/bin:/Applications/ccollab_client:/Users/t_ellir/mudbox/dev/bin/macos:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin = *(*:)/usr/local/bin*(:*) ]]

But it had no problem zipping through other directories, e.g.:

[[ /Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin:/Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin-i386:/Users/t_ellir/bin/noarch:/Users/t_ellir/bin/osx-rae:/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/X11R6/bin:/usr/lib:/Developer/Tools:/usr/X11/bin:/Applications/ccollab_client:/Users/t_ellir/mudbox/dev/bin/macos:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin = *(*:)/usr/sbin*(:*) ]]

so it has something specifically to do with it being /usr/local/bin.
I didn’t have that directory so I created it, but that didn’t help.
I finally kludged around it by removing the directory and then patching the script to test for the existence of the directory before trying the test:

--- path_helper 2008-11-04 11:54:18.000000000 -0500
+++ /usr/libexec/path_helper    2008-11-04 11:54:47.000000000 -0500
@@ -15,6 +15,7 @@
        for f in "$DIR" "$DIR".d/* ; do
          if [ -f "$f" ]; then
                for p in $(< "$f") ; do
+                       [ ! -d "${p}" ] && continue
                        [[ "$NEWPATH" = *(*:)${p}*(:*) ]] && continue
                        [ ! -z "$NEWPATH" ] && SEP=":"

Props to
for having a blog post about this.

Uploading video

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Luisa shot some video of her parents making some wine with a grape press and wanted them uploaded. So I went through a few iterations of encoding+uploading to see what worked best.

Pre-encoding files means you only upload about 1/10th as much, saving tons of time.

I used ffmpegX to encode and eventually found that just using H.264 mp4 encoding at the original size worked best, giving me the much-coveted “Watch in high quality” option on YouTube.
I’m uploading the videos to my YouTube account now,
and then I’ll upload them to my Vimeo account,
which shows them at much higher resolution.

Making Wine 2 from Reid on Vimeo

iPhone: NetShare success, and running AppleShare

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

On Saturday I successfully shared my iPhone’s 3G internet connection with two laptops we brought with us to Thorold.

It was a bit tricky, because the iPhone seemed to latch on to the WiFi connection provided by the peer-to-peer network created on the laptops.
The trick turned out to be running Safari on the iPhone, which would kick it into using the 3G network (since the peer-to-peer network had no route to the internet).

Once the iPhone was on the 3G network, I ran NetShare.
Both laptops set the iPhone’s IP address as their SOCKS proxy, and we were off to the races (although Firefox was a bit stubborn about it – I had to use Safari to browse).

So it’s good to know that should we ever need internet access in Thorold, we can use the iPhone.
We can probably also use it in Wasaga, but I suspect that we would only get EDGE networking there, which is 10x slower than 3G.

I should note that even if you don’t have the NetShare iPhone app, you can achieve the same thing (on a jailbroken iPhone)
using ssh.


I also found another major reason to jailbreak your iPhone: running AppleShare.
My iPhone now shows up under AppleShare over the WiFi network, which allows me to transfer files back and forth with ease.
(Sorry Mike!)

It’s pretty cool to bring up a network browser and see “Reid’s iPhone” in the list of available file servers. :-)

WWDC 2008

Monday, June 9th, 2008

It’s WWDC-keynote-day!
I’ll be adding to this post over the day.

Rumour: Mac Fusion

has some murky screenshots of an ad for a new Mac, the “Mac Fusion”, appreantly targetted at developers.

mac fusion

Sort of a super-Mac-Mini?

“Live” Web Sites

Here’s a list of web sites that will be tracking the WWDC keynote.

Let me know of any others.

Woah, live video feed from a phone!
Pretty impressive.
There is also a full-screen version of Viru.
Very cool!

So we have:

8 GB $200
16 GB $400

There will be a white model available, apparently.

Okay, so overall, this was a really long and boring keynote.
Nothing we didn’t already know for the first 70-80 minutes.

Finally the 3G iPhone is rolled out, and all it seems to be missing is video.

Using osascript to work around a Spaces bug in Leopard

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I had started up Toast and dragged a video file to be burned to DVD.
This takes a long time, during which Toast is unresponsive (won’t hide or minimize).
I recently installed Leopard but hadn’t yet set up “Spaces”, which is Mac OS X’s version of virtual desktops.

I created a 2×1 setup and ctrl-right-arrow’ed to the “right” desktop to continue working without clutter.

After about 15 minutes, I was forcibly switched to the “left” desktop in mid-keystroke (this is something Mac OS X does that **really** bugs me — OS 9 never did it) when Toast had finished importing the video.
Since Toast was now responsive, I decided to move it to the right desktop and everything else back to the left one.
I don’t know why, it just felt better.

15 minutes later I decide I want my usual 3×2 virtual desktop setup, so I fire up Spaces and make it so.

Fast forward another ½ hour or so, and I realize that I really should burn that DVD.
I click on the Toast icon in the dock (which I belatedly notice is dimmed like a “hidden” app), and I’m zapped over to desktop 4 (first on the bottom row). But.. no Toast.

After about 5 minutes of attempting to get Toast to reappear I am ready to give up.
But then i realize I will have given up all that time Toast took to analyze/re-encode(?) the video, and it would be really, really good to save my work before quitting.
Unfortunately, Toast does not have a “Save As” contextual menu on its dock item.

So after a few unsuccessful tries, I finally type this in iTerm:

% osascript
tell application "Toast Titanium"
    close front document saving yes
end tell

This pops up a “Save As” dialog and I save my file, after which I have no compunction about choosing “Quit” from the Toast Dock icon contextual menu.
Day saved (well okay, 15 minutes), a little bit learned.

Microsoft and Bungie “devolve” relationship

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Microsoft is spinnging Bungie off to be an independent company again.
Shane Kim, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios said “We saw ‘Halo 3’ and we were all, like, WTF? This is just Halo 2!! We are *so* *done* with them”.

Harold Ryan, talking head for Bungie was heard to cackle “Hehehehe, the plan *worked*!”


Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Panic, the creators of “Transmit” and “Audion”, have released
a new web development IDE.
It has a slightly steep price at $US 79.

They’ve licensed
the SubEthaEngine
the Coding Monkeys,
so multiple people can collaborate easily on a web site.
I think this was an excellent idea.
Small developers should be helping each other out like this more often.

The IDE includes a terminal you can put into pane in the IDE.
It knows how to ssh to sites and upload all your files.
It looks pretty nice!

installing wordpress on a Mac using MacPorts

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Note to self: when setting up mysql on a Mac using MacPorts (formerly Darwin Ports), install mysql with the following:

% sudo port install mysql5 +server

That bloody little “+server” part was a royal pain in the ass, let me tell you.
I would think that mysql installs would be servers by default.
There should instead be a special “+client” flag to prevent server installation!

Oh, and for some reason, the wp-config.php did not like the host name localhost.
Instead, use