Tag Archives: Software

Syncing a Windows Mobile Smartphone with Mac OS X

When choosing a smartphone you have two OS options: Symbian and Windows Mobile. Nokia and Sony Ericsson use the Symbian OS, while HP, Toshiba, HTC and Samsung use Windows Mobile on their phones. No matter which OS your phone uses, chances are that the synchronisation software provided with the phone will be Windows only. So, if like me you’re a Mac user, how do you sync your phone with your Mac?

If you’re lucky, Apples iSync will recognise your device, in which case you’re pretty much good to go straight out of the box. However, if you have a smartphone that isn’t recognised by iSync, who’ll have to splash out on a 3rd party solution.

I recently purchased the HTC S710, which unfortunately, it isn’t recognised by iSync. After a quick Google search, I came across “The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile“. Missing Sync allows you to sync via your Network, Bluetooth or USB. Providing plugins for your Contacts, iCal, and all your multimedia content, Missing Sync has all the bases covered. If you have Microsoft Entourage installed, it will also provide a conduit to sync your data directly with Microsofts attempt at a PIM for the Mac OS.

Setting up your device is straightforward and I was up and running within minutes of downloading the program.

Costing $39.95 for download, or $49.95 for the CD version, it’s certainly worth it if you have to sync your smartphone with your Mac.

iPhone Sim Unlocked – Twice in One Day

Various media outlets are reporting that the iPhone has been cracked to allow any SIM card to be used.

First some back story, when Apple released the iPhone, they did so in the US only and with the condition that coverage was provided by AT&T. To ensure this, the iPhone was locked to prevent SIM cards from other mobile providers being used in the phone.

Since the initial release there have been plenty of attempts to circumvent the SIM lock on the iPhone. Today there were two announcements made in relation to the SIM lock being cracked. The first involves a hardware crack and the second involves a software update. Apparently the hardware hack takes about an hour to complete, while the software update takes a couple of minutes.

So what’s the fuss about? Half the planet went pretty much insane when it was released. But because the iPhone is SIM Locked, it can only be used in the US. With an unlocked iPhone it can be used anywhere in the world, and within the US, it can used with any provider.

Setting Up Apache, PHP, MySQL – The Easy Way

I’ve been experimenting with Content Management Systems recently, and after some research, I’ve decided to use Joomla for my next couple of projects. The idea is that I don’t need to spend as much time writing code, and I can get a website up and running quickly. In order to get more experience with of Joomla I decided to install it on my MacBook.

In order to use Joomla, you need three things: Apache, PHP and MySQL. Individually, these are easy enough to install, but getting them to work together can be a bit of a headache. Config files need to be edited, file permissions need to be changed, servers need to be started and restarted, and it can be a bit daunting, not to say time consuming.

That’s where MAMP comes in. An acronym for Mac, Apache, MySQL, PHP, it’s a collection of all these programs in one handy installer that does all the work for you. It took a couple of minutes to download and about 30 seconds to install. Once installed you have a full Apache server, MySQL server and PHP 4 and PHP 5 installation. Better still, it doesn’t interfere with any other Apache, MySQL, or PHP installations you may have running, and it’s controllable from a handy Dashboard Widget.

Once MAMP is installed and running, it’s just a matter of downloading the package and installing Joomla. A simple browser-based installer guides you through the setup, and within minutes I was up and running. The only issue I came across was that the permissions of the Joomla folder had to be updated to allow the installation. It was just a matter of selecting the folder, holding Option-I and changing the permissions for “Others”. Done and dusted.

For those of you not on the Mac platform there are also versions for Windows, Linux, and Solaris available, along with a Joomla Standalone Server (Windows based).

ATI Driver Flaw Exposes Vista Kernel to Attack

Security researchers have discovered a flaw with an ATI driver that allows unsigned and potentially dangerous code to be installed and loaded into the Vista kernel.

In order to increase security and to protect against attack, Microsoft have introduced a new driver signing requirement in Vista. By requiring that drivers are signed, Microsoft hoped that this would ensure that only drivers which were verified as being clean and compatible with Vista could be installed.

ATI duly had their drivers signed by VeriSign so that they could be installed on a Windows Vista system. Unfortunately, their was a flaw in one of the drivers. Apparently the flaw was originally intended as a shortcut in the driver that allowed ATI developers to load modules into the driver for testing. When the driver was released, either no-one thought to remove the shortcut or ATI forgot about it.

In order to close the hole, ATI will have to patch the flaw in their driver, have it signed with a new certificate, roll-out the update via Windows Update, then have the original signing authority revoke the original certificate. It’s not a straightforward process and it’s by no means foolproof either.

Sherlock

I’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know my Mac. Coming from a Windows background, I’m more au fait with Windows utilities, settings, and setup.

Because I’m so new to Mac OS X, I spend a lot of time looking up ways to do things with my Mac that to longtime users seem simple. Until now this research involved a lot of time on Google and a lot of time just playing with different programs and utilities, just looking at what they do. One of the programs that I discovered recently is Sherlock.

Sherlock is basically a search interface connected to several different internet sites. Within Sherlock, these connections are called channels. So there is an Internet Channel, an Ebay Channel and an AppleCare Channel among others.

From my point of view, the most useful has to be the AppleCare Channel. This allows you to search the Apple database for articles on all aspects of your Mac. Think of it as the Apple version of the Microsoft Knowledge Base. So far it’s proven invaluable in finding out about my Mac, what I can do, and how I can do it.

As Sherlock aggregates various online resources, you do need an Internet connection. But once you are online, it’s definitely worth using. There’s a wealth of information available out there, it’s just a matter of getting to it.

Reinstalling Windows on a Dell Dimension 2400 Part II

I eventually got around to installing XP on my friends Dimension 2400. As he did not have any restore CD’s, I had to use a copy of XP that I had myself. The install itself went fine, and after about an hour or so I had a working install. The only problem was that XP wanted to be activated. As the product key was an OEM one, it’s not going to activate. So now I’m stuck. I can either use a crack to bypass the activation, or I can try to get a copy of the restore cd’s.

As this is a perfectly legal install, I’d prefer not to resort to have to use a crack. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be any way to order restore CD’s from the Dell website.

I have created an image of the hard-drive, so I can restore that back if I need to, but that isn’t going to do a whole lot except get me back to square one.

I’ll have to think about this one a bit, and see if there is anyway that I can get the original Dell OS back onto the system.

Using a Screensaver as Desktop Background

I found this on a Mac OS site. It allows you to use your screensaver as your desktop background:

  • Open the Terminal app.
  • Type (all on one line): /System/Library/Frameworks/Screensaver.framework/
    Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background &
  • Hit enter.
  • Terminal will return with the process ID
  • If you want to stop the screensaver background, in the Terminal, type kill followed by the proces ID.

Protecting Your PC

As anyone who uses Windows on a regular basis will tell you, security is a problem. It’s a problem because Windows is the biggest target out there, and every script-kiddie, virus-writer with half a brain can write software to exploit it.

It takes time and effort to lock down a computer. More than time and effort than most end users are willing to dedicate to the issue. Securing your computer is more than preventing unauthorised access, it’s about protecting your private data, and ensuring that your computer continues to work the way you want it to. So here’s my basic guide to securing your home PC.

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U3 Crapware

Why do manufacturers insist on installing crapware like U3? I just bought a new flash drive, and this is the first one of many that I own that came with this program pre-installed. When the drive is connected it automatically installs and launches a program that apparently is designed to manage programs and data.

I don’t want another program to manage my software or data. I certainly don’t want to install or launch software like this on somebody else’s system. Who thought that this would be a good idea? Whoever it was, also thought that it would be a great idea to store the program on a CDFS partition. A read-only partition that cannot be deleted or modified.

Luckily there was someone else that thought it would be a good idea to provide an uninstaller. Here is where you can get it: U3 Launchpad Uninstaller