Tag Archives: Technology

Installing Mac OS 10.5 – Leopard

It’s been a while since I did a proper technical post, but lately I’ve had little time to devote to the techie side of my life. So to help me get back into the swing of things, I ordered Leopard from the Apple website last week. At €129, it’s a lot cheaper than Windows Vista.

I usually don’t go for installing new operating versions until they’ve had time to settle down and the developers have had a chance to release updates for the bugs that invariably crop up. This time I decided I would bite the bullet and go for Leopard straight away.

I’ve never installed Mac OS before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Coming from a Windows background, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to reinstall Windows – and what a tortuous experience that can be. (After working tech support for so long, I have the Windows mantra down pat: “Backup, format, reinstall.”)

As it turned out, installing Mac OS was a lot easier than installing Windows: pop the disk in the drive, double click the installer icon, and click the restart button. The machine automatically boots from the DVD drive, and the install process begins.

There are three options to choose from when installing a new version of Mac OS:

  • Upgrade,
  • Archive and Install, and
  • Erase and Install.

The first option installs Leopard over your existing OS, keeping your data and applications intact. The second makes a backup of your previous installation and installs Leopard, and the third wipes your current installation and then proceeds to installation.

I went with the Upgrade option as I didn’t want the hassle of reinstalling my applications and starting again from scratch. Once you click the “Continue” button, that’s it, no further user interaction is required. In all, the process took about an hour to complete, and when my MacBook rebooted at the end I was straight into Leopard.

Some users have reported problems with their installs hanging after the reboot, but apparently the problem is due to an unsupported extension for Logitech mouse drives. More seriously, there have also been issues with the built in firewall, so if you’re using your Mac on an unprotected network, you might want to invest in a full firewall product. The only problem I had was that I had to re-enter the encryption key for my wireless network connection, even though it was already stored in my keychain. Apart from that, I had no installation problems. Now it’s time to play with the new OS.

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.


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.

Government wants all Pre-Pay Mobiles to be Registered

The Irish Government announced today that as part of their fight against crime they want all pre-pay mobiles to be registered.

As it stands, anyone who purchases a pre-pay mobile is not required to register any of their details – not even their name. Most operators provide an incentive to do so, generally in the form of free phone credit.

While the need for a phone register is being justified a being part of a co-ordinated attempt to reduce drug dealing and criminal activity, no details have been released as to how the register will be used or implemented. What documentation will be required to purchase a pre-pay mobile? Who will have access to the database? Will a court order be required to access the information? Who will be ultimately responsible for maintaining the database?

The question remains though if a mobile phone register will have the effect that the government wants. It will no doubt inconvenience the “normal” mobile phone user, and no doubt those that want to keep their identities off the register will do so.