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”.

“E Text Editor” – TextMate for Windows

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

E Text Editor logo

I’m working in Windows at the moment
(my development Mac hasn’t arrived at work yet)
so I’m looking around for replacements for things I use on the Mac.
I found out today about the
“E Text Editor”
(and also the free, Monaco-like font
E is the closest thing I’ve seen to
my favorite Mac text editor.

What really struck me about the author’s description of the editor was that:

  1. He has a powerful revision-control system embedded in it (in fact, the editor was just a test app at first for the revision control app library)
  2. He
    actively sought out
    Allan Odgaard, the author of TextMate, and talked with him about making a Windows-based editor with a lot of compatibilty (being able to use TextMate plugins, etc), and Allan was highly in favour of the idea (the TextMate page mentions it will never be available on Windows, after all).

So I have downloaded the app and will give it a 30-day tryout.
Maybe I’ll post a review here or something.

Does anyone have any other Mac-replacement recommendations?
And why, after all these years, does
installation still suck so much?
They need to be like a Linux distro and have a single, massive installer with everything in it, instead of forcing everyone to separately download everything as part of the install.

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*!”

QIP – popular Windows-only multi-IM client

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Ran across this one in
a mention on Slashdot
is a freeware, Windows-only multi-IM client, like

Alas, it is not open source like Pidgin is, so I don’t see a point unless it’s a lot more featureful or something.

DirectX Revisionism

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Iain dugg
an article about the upcoming DirectX 10 specification.

Let me rephrase the opening of the article more accurately. The original reads:

Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API) was first introduced in 1995. DirectX was designed to make life easier for software developers by providing a standard platform developers could use to easily make multimedia software and game programming for the Windows Platform.

Before the arrival of DirectX, developers had to program their software titles to take advantage of features found in each individual hardware component. With the wealth of devices on the market, spanning from input devices to graphics and sound cards, supporting every hardware device on the market was a tedious, time-consuming process.

The only fatual part of that is the first sentence about DicrectX coming out in 1995.
Here is my rephrasing.

Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API) was first introduced in 1995. DirectX was designed to lure software developers into using a proprietary, Microsoft-owned API, providing vendor lock-in and reduced availability of games on other platforms.

Before the arrival of DirectX, developers were using OpenGL, a cross-platform, standardized 3D graphics library that allowed developers to take advantage of 3D graphics without requiring deep knowledge of that hardware.

Open Source panorama software

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006
Tony’s Cottage

I am asked every now and again what I use to make the panoarmas I occasionally post to Flickr.
Well, until recently I used some OEM software – Canon PhotoStitch.
Then my brother-in-law Tony told me that Photoshop could do it.
I was flabbergasted because he was right!
So I used Photoshop to do this picture, which is Tony’s new cottage, appropriately enough.

Tonight I discovered some open source software that may also do the job.
I haven’t used them yet, but thought I would post about them in case anyone else was interested.
They are

I (or maybe Iain if he beats me to it) will post more when I’ve tried them out.
Or maybe Jeff will give it a shot.
Who knows?

TechTok 06: MacPro speculation, future Apple/CPU upgrades, Intel vs AMD, CPU sockets, Ubuntu

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

In an atmosphere of speculation due to the about-to-begin Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference, Iain and I
speculate about many things
in a taxi, and later at Annabelle’s Restaurant, across the street from our hotel, the Marriott San Francisco.
(13MB, 27:56)

Live OS-switching with 3D transitions

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Virtue Desktop



Below is the movie I was showing at gaming Friday night.
It shows a Mac running OS X, Windows XP and Red Hat Linux.

Desktop switching is being done with VirtueDesktops,
an awesome workspace-switching program for the Mac (finally!).
Actually, I just installed it after typing the first 5 words of this paragraph, and I am very impressed.
highly recommended.

The OS stuff, however, is being done with
a $40 app similar in some ways to VMWare.

Note that there are performance drawbacks to this software, in that you wouldn’t be able to run 3D games at full speed.
Everything else is pretty much full speed though – MS Office (Mac or Windows version), databases, Excel, etc.
Anything compute-intensive (as opposed to video-intensive) will fly at full speed.

Note also that this consumes other hardware resources for each OS too, like CPU and RAM.

I’m looking forward to getting a quad-core Mac Pro (or whatever awful name they give the new Power Mac) later this year!

Download BitTorrent podcasts in iTunes

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Very cool.
iTorrent is a Python script that simply turns itself into an RSS proxy for BitTorrent downloads.