December 29, 2007: 11:40 pm: Technology, Work

Give me enough time off and I’ll go off and do something silly. Like attempt to re-write A Christmas Carol in a modern-day setting.

But if there is enough time after that, I’ll circle back to doing something halfway more reasonable.

And so, I present to you the Buzz Town Wiki

This is our own Wiki for the people of Buzz Town. Here we can create bios for the various citizens of Buzz Town (without risk of violating notability standards), document organizations like TM Analysts, Buzz Air and Space Command, etc.

I’ve seeded it with a few articles, but I encourage you to jump in and add your own. Even add yourself. If we get more than 20 active editors we can graduate from a scratchpad mini wiki to real full-fledged Wikia Wiki just like Wookiepedia. And isn’t that what every Wiki dreams of?

So what do you say Shalin? Dave the psychologist? Tripp? (Are you alive Tripp?) Let’s get some articles on DRM, Perception of difficulty, the chance we’re a simulation, and anything else that strikes your fancy — and relates to Buzz Town.

Maybe even a map!

December 19, 2007: 2:19 pm: history, Technology, Work

Russ Pitts, former Half Price Books Computer Section Manager, Head of Insomnia Productions, Producer of SuBBrilliant TV, writer for SuBBrilliant News, and one-time Line Producer of The Screen Savers, wrote a long, involved, insightful reminscence of his years at TechTV.

This paragraph sums it up:

I laugh now when I hear the phrase Web 2.0, not because I think it’s an inherently stupid concept (it isn’t), but because back when Web 1.0 was barely in its adolescence, The Screen Savers was already pushing the envelope, stretching that bitch at the seams and wanting more. So we created TV 2.0, in which you were part of the show, and even if you never called in, never logged in or sent in an email, watching other people do so, you knew that you could. You knew that we cared. Because we did. It was all for you. Yes, we were having the fucking time of our lives, but we were doing it for you, because we’d been there on the other end of that TV screen thinking nobody understood why these things were so important to us, and we knew how lonely it could be. And we wanted you to know you weren’t alone.

Thanks for that Russ. I mean it. It makes me even more proud to have worked there to have it expressed that way.

Read the whole thing at

July 26, 2007: 11:46 pm: Technology, Work

There’s been a running debate in the CNET forums about whether it’s legal to run OS X on a PC, and if it isn’t should it be allowed as a discussion. It certainly seems to violate the EULA, but I believe it should be allowed to be discussed. I tend to put the burden of proof in speech maters on the party who wants to restrict speech. I don’t have a lot of faith in EULAs, and as long as you’re not pirating OS X, why shouldn’t you be able to run it on a machine of your choosing. However, not everyone agrees with me and I see their point too. But should a software maker be able to restrict what you do with software if it doesn’t break any other laws?

In any case, all this discussion got me motivated to try running OS X on a PC. I plan to shoot a video on it for CNET. Here’s the script in progress outlining the steps I took.

What, this? It’s OS X runnig on my ThinkPad. Well, I mean, OS X runs on Intel now, so why not? Actually there’s a reason. I’m Tom Merritt from I’ll tell you how I did this, and tell you why you might not want to, on today’s Insider Secrets.

So yes this is really OS X. I know I’ve showed you how to make Windows LOOK like a Mac before but this is the real thing, see.

There’s a group of hackers called the OSX86 project at who have a whole wiki about how to run OS X on an Intel machine.

Before we get to the how part, let me remind you this WILL break your EULA. And so it remains murky as to whether you’re allowed to do it or not. Apple’s mostly concerned with manufacturers not being allowed to pump out PCs with OS X, but be forewarned.

This is a pretty nice bit of hackery, but you should know you risk really messing up a computer if you don’t know what you’re doing. So don’t try this at home.

So when you’re not trying this at home here’s what you need.

A hard drive,

A LEGITIMATE copy of OS X. NO piracy. THAT my friends is most DEFINTELY illegal.

And a couple of downloads I’ll show you along the way.

The first one of those is called MacDrive 7. This program lets your PC read the Mac files on the CD.
Move the files from the CD into the root directory of your C drive.

I’ve created an IMG of the OS right here.

Next you’ll need Forensic Acquisition Utilities from This is pretty powerful tool we’re going to use for a mundane purpose. Writing the OS X IMG to a hard drive in such a way that it’s bootable.

You’ll unzip the FAU files to the C drive as well.

Now here’s what I’m doing.

I’ve got a ThinkPad hard drive here in this case. I’m going to use DD.exe from the FAU to image this hard drive as a bootable OS X.

Then I’ll put the hard drive in this ThinkPad here and boot it up.

I need to make sure I know the actual fphysical drive address of this drive in order to use DD.exe.

So I downloaded WMI tools from Microsoft. And I’m using WMI Object Browser to determine that the E drive is actually Physical Drive 1. See that string there. That’s what I need to remember.

Now I’ll call up the command prompt.

I type in dd if for input file dd if=c:\tiger-x86-flat.img and then of fro output file and the physical address of my external drive of=\\.\PHYSICALDRIVE1 then finally because it’s a local drive I add the switch –localwrt

When I press enter, the drive begins copying the image to the external drive.

Drag and dropping it won’t make it boot right so you have to do it this way, bit by bit.

Once I’ve got it copies, I take the drive out of the case.

Put it in the ThinkPad.

Boot Up

And voila, here’s OS X running on my ThinkPad.

WiFi doesn’t work but Ethernet does and it’s a little sluggish because it’s an old machine.

But the fact of the matter is, it’s OS X on a ThinkPad.

The osx86 project has a wiki where you can check on the device compatibility.

A quick shout out to where I cribbed the steps when I tried it the first time, and to all the folks out there that hacked away at making this work in the first place.

Worth reminding you again, it’s a nifty trick but it does break the EULA, so be warned.

August 29, 2006: 4:59 pm: linux, software, ubuntu, Work

It started so innocently. I was going to record an episode of’s The Real Deal about Ubuntu.  So I decided to install Ubuntu on the company ThinkPad as a dual boot with Windows.  Know going into this story, the laptop in question has a piece of screen capture software on it we use for making videos. Not that it couldn’t be reinstalled.

So the installation goes fine, and I intentionally let Ubuntu choose all the settings.  My point was to replicate how easy Ubuntu is to install for the average user.  I boot into Ubuntu, start surfing the web, all is well.

Then I reboot to check the Windows partition. Grub loads up several boot options including the Windows XP partition. I choose that and in the next moment my stomach falls to the floor. A file called hal.dll has been corrupted and needs to replaced. Oh that’s just dandy.  I reboot again and get the same result, so offf to the Web.

After a bit of searching I find that the Hal.dll problem comes up quite often when folks install dual boot systems on a pre-existing Windows machine.  Seems Windows does not like to be the second partition.  The solution however, is fairly simple.  Whew.  I just need to alter the boot.ini file to have a number 2 instead of a number 1, so that Windows can understand it is now on the second partition.  No problem right?  Wrong.

Turns out Linux has issues reading an NTFS partition.  I try messing with fstab and cannot get the Ubuntu to browse the files.  Finally I try cgoing to the command line.  Frankly, if I’d been too afraid of the comman dline I would have never got this fixed. I learn that to mount a drive one must create a folder for it either in the mnt or media directories. (I suppose you could make it anywhere, you’re just pointing to it). I create the directory and can mount the drive from the command line.  However, when I try to browse it from the GUI, I get nothing.  I’m told I do not have permission to do that.  Back to the command line and I whip out a sudo command.  A little something I picked up on awhile back. Sudo is what you need at the command line in order to run a command as root.  Apparently in Ubuntu they wisely keep you out of root as much as possible.  Good for them. I cd to the windows directory I created and find the boot.ini file. Then I throw down a sudo gedeit boot.ini.  Ah-ha, there’s the little sucker int he text editor now.  I just need to change those two (1)s into (2)s.  No problem.  Except the save button is greyed out.  I try to save as which lets me try but fails.

At this point I decide to track down a Windows XP boot disk and try to launch off that and edit from within Windows. Not a single boot disk off the Interent works for me.  So I get one fromt eh CNET labs. It works but I need the admin password.  Turns out I don’t have the admin password.  Even though I’m the admin.  See, this is a work computer so there’s  a super secret admin password only IT knows about. That kinda sucks because I don’t want to go to IT and explain all this.  Besides, they won’t fix it, they’ll just blwo out the hard drive and reinstall Windows.  At least that’s what I’d o in their situation.  So back to Ubuntu.

I’ve given up on fstab by the way as I’ve gotten enamoured with trying different command switches on the mount command.  That leads me to learn the umount command of course as I need to unmount every time I want to try a new combination of mount switches.  No luck.  I cannot get the darn thing to write to NTFS.

Most of what I’ve read implies that you can write to NTFS as long as you have the 2.4 kernel or later. But there’s also ntfsprogs.  This little package of utilities promises to let you read and write to an NTFS partition with mroe success.  Not COMPLETE success mind you, but more. SO I download the tar and unpackage it but it cannot run.  ./ configure does not work. Well I realize I’m running ubuntu so that didn’t work.  I need to use Synaptics right?  But when I look in Synaptics I don’t see ntfsprogs available.  So I surf around some more and find a .deb of 1.12.1 of ntfsprogs.  Not the most current package but it’s a deb right?  But I still can’t see how to install it with synaptics. So I try installing it the Windows way by double clicking on it.  It opens and give me an install dialogue, but no it’s run into a FUSE library that doesn’t have a satisfactory dependency.  Well darn.  I download that lib and when I install it, it says it’s unsatisfied with the libc dependency.  When I install THAT it says a later version is already installed.  Damn.  I obviously am not doing this right.

So back to the drawing board.  I prowl around on the Ubuntu site and discover ntfsprogs should be available in the universe area.  Hmm.  I eventually go back to synaptics and look at the repositories.  I ran into the term repositories somewhere on the web.  Turns out not all the repositories are turned on by default.  I turn on all the binary repositories and voila!  What do I find but ntfsprogs 1.12.1? Gloriousness. Synaptics installs it and all is looking fabulous.

I happily launch terminal and try the ntfsmount command.  Doesn’t work. Says the drive is dirty.  Happily there is a force switch I can turn on at the command line.  I do and it forces itself to try to mount the Windows partition.  Alas it still fails.  It needs fusemount or something and it just can’t find it.  Taking what I’ve learned I turn to synaptics again.  I search for fuse and find a package of fuse utilities that among other things, appears to contain fusermount.  It installs in beautiful synaptic fashion.

I go back to the command line and try out ntfsmount again.  Hurrah!  I CD over to the windows partition and sudo gedit boot.ini.  Hurray! The save buttonis NOT I repeat NOT greyed out. I let out a yelp.  I change those (1)s to (2)s and save. The text editor warns me that it can’t save a backup of that file and am I really sure I want to do this.  I say caution to the wind text editor, do your worst.  t saves and I reopen in gedit and it looks to have taken just fine.

Now comes the real test.  Restart. I choose Windows XP at the Grub screen and I get the most beautiful site since I left my wife this morning.  A Windows logo.  never thought I’d think that but I did.

Then the sky blue screen of death says it’s checking the drive for integrity.  I can understand that.  It goes about its checking and I turn to my other laptop to check mail.  At one point I turn back to see it’s checking the indecx and is 92 percent done.  However when I turn back I see it’s booting into Ubuntu.  My heart skips a beat!  Just the autoboot, it must have restarted itself.  I power down and reboot, and choose Windows XP.  I get the nice slightly darker than sky blue screen of login and life.  I login and there’s the desktop.  I run the screen capture program.  It works!  I surf the Web.  It works!  It’s amazing.

I immediately search for how to change boot order in grub, reboot into Ubuntu and change a default number to the Windows partition.  Now I can safely give this laptop to otheres int he department to do screen captures on.  And nobody will have to worry that Ubuntu is bootable.  And we now have a dual boot laptop ofr other videos that may require it.  Huzzah!

The rela moral of this story however, is that, while obviously not a Linux master by any stretch, even with my knowledge I found it quite frustrating to learn how to install programs in Ubuntu.  And most people won’t find the command line as exhilerating as I did.  Judgement?  UBuntu’s good.  very fgood.  In fact if you get it set up right, it may be good enough for people who don’t need to intsall programs much.  Or at least not install odd programs.  Liek Linux has been for years, it’s getting better on the desktop, but is not quite all the way there.

August 14, 2006: 12:58 pm: blognotes, software, Work

Supposedly this new free blogging software from Windows will work with almost any blogging service and be as easy to use as a word processor.

It set up with Word Press very easily and seems fairly intuitive though I was confused at first where the body of the text was supposed to go. It was TOO easy in that sense.

You can try it out at Winbdows Live Spaces site.

This part added in WordPress – I didn’t see how to make a category so I came into WordPress and gave it one. Maybe it’s there. I didn’t look that hard.


Categories were in the dropdown menu to the upper right.  But I didn’t see how to add one.

July 6, 2006: 4:22 pm: Work

I’m in the midst of shooting a video about blogging for the website. I’ve been making jokes about how I’m blogging right now, so I figured, why not? It’s going to be a very super simple explanation of blogging. Go to blogger/wordpress log in, follow the wizard, write your stuff. Not for the geeky by far but hey. Sometimes you need to do the super simple stuff.

January 7, 2006: 8:48 pm: Work

I just got done with a week of covering CES 2006 for I suffered a sore throat, sinus infection, hangover, chills, and swollen small toes. However, I did get to play with the iRobot Scooba, automatic floor cleaner. What kind of fool am I, that that is worth it? I don’t know. I will have to ask my room service waiter, as he is the only one I’ve spoken with in person after 8 O’clock every night, and hence the only opinion I truly trust. And he brings a tasty petite filet.