Monthly archives for February 2006

Published on February 26, 2006

Of all the laptops I’ve worked on, IBM ThinkPads are by far the easiest to disassemble and fix. They’re also pretty tough machines, as they survive substantially more damage than most of the Dell laptops I’ve seen. If I were a full time Windows user (and I’m not, despite the recent number of PC related posts), I would probably consider purchasing a ThinkPad. If it weren’t for one tiny problem… Most newer ThinkPad models have a Mini-PCI slot and antennae, ready to be equipped with a standard wireless card. Mini-PCI may be unfamiliar to Mac users reading this blog, just as it was to me several months ago. Think of Mini-PCI as an AirPort Extreme sized connector, but standardized such that any manufacturer can create a compatible communications card. While the slot is standardized, IBM insists on crippling it via software to only accept “IBM brand” wireless cards — which are really just OEM cards made by Philips and others. Upon booting a machine with a non-IBM card installed, the following POST error will be displayed:

1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in
Power off and remove the miniPCI network card.

What a sneaky way to lock people into buying an expensive wireless card, when others can be bought for much much lower prices. (I suppose I can’t complain, though, as AirPort Extreme is even more proprietary. Although, I’ve never had the need to use a different wireless card in my PowerBook — I just bought the “whole widget” from Apple and that was that.) Luckily for ThinkPad owners, there exists a small fix for this “1802″ error: a DOS program which will flip a single bit in the CMOS and allow use of any Mini-PCI wireless card. The program, no-1802.com by Tisheng Chen, can be found here. To make running this program easier for myself and others, I’ve prepared a bootable CD ISO and floppy disk image.

Both files will require unzipping before use (use the free 7-Zip or WinZip). Once unzipped, the CD version can be burned with Disk Utility or Toast on the Mac, or ImgBurn or Nero on the PC. The floppy disk version can be written with Floppy Image for Windows, or dd if=no1802.img of=/dev/fd0 in a *nix environment. The floppy image is a bit-for-bit copy of what I actually had on disk, and the CD version boots and loads the very same floppy into RAM, using a highly customized Ultimate Boot CD. Hopefully this will allow ThinkPad owners to use any wireless cards, and not just those offered by IBM.

5/17/06 Update: I’m glad to see that people are having success with my pre-made wireless card fix. A list of some of the models affected by IBM’s decision can be found here, thanks to Matthew Garrett. He also has few pages with useful technical details on this topic, as well.

8/30/06 Update: For future reference: IBM “high rate” wireless+56K modem combo cards with FRUs 12P3637, 12P3863, 26P8472 and 91P7661 require separate modem drivers (that aren’t part of the “high rate” package). The cards are made by Actiontec, but the the modem portion is made by Agere/Lucent, and the drivers can be found in IBM’s list of downloads for the R32.

9/10/06 Update: This page was linked to at ThinkWiki, where you’ll find even more information on the 1802 error.

Confirmed Working

  • A31, A31 2652-Q3U, A31 2652-1U6
  • A31p, A31p 2653-CU5, A31p 2653-R3U
  • G40 2384-EHU
  • R40 2682-HU2, R40 2682-K2G, R40 2681, R40 2896-GZU
  • R50 1830-48G
  • R50e 1834-BZG
  • R51
  • T30, T30 2637
  • T40, T40 2373, T40 2373-8CU, T40 2373-94G, T40 2374-GG2, T40 2374-DG1
  • T41, T41 2374-7JG
  • T42, T42 2373-BX9
  • T42p
  • X24
  • X30
  • X31, X31 2672-U31
  • X40

Confirmed Not Working

  • R32
  • R60
  • T60
  • Z60t
  • X41 2525-6NH
  • Lenovo x100e
  • Lenovo x120e
Published on February 21, 2006

A few days ago, Jon Maddox and I found the need to make iTunes to subscribe to a podcast with one click from Safari. After a few guessing attempts and some meager Googling, we were unable to come up with a solution. Today, I ran across a tutorial on how to do just that. The pcast:// prefix, instead of http:// will make the Mac version of iTunes open and subscribe to the podcast URL immediately following the prefix. For the Windows side of things, there are several more steps which involve the creation of an XML file linking to the podcast. With a little server-side user-agent switching or some other per-client trickery, it should be relatively simple to produce a Mac or Windows “one click subscribe” link. Check out the full details at Podcast Shuffle.

Published on February 11, 2006

Connecting a Mac to an original Xbox is a great feature for users of Xbox Media Center, as there are a number of ways to stream your content to your TV. Network shares, iTunes DAAP access, and several streaming programs can all be used to get your stuff from “here” to “there.”

With the release of the Xbox 360, though, there are no easy ways to achieve the same results. The 360 is limited to communication with a Windows Media Center powered PC — software I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Luckily, NullRiver Software just released Connect360, a small $10 shareware Mac application which can eaily share iTunes and iPhoto libraries to your networked Xbox 360. This should tide us over until the 360 is truly as hackable as the original Xbox is. Thanks to Olly for the tip!

Published on February 6, 2006

Recently, I found the (legitimate) need to pick a computer case lock on a PC tower in a situation where the hard drive resided in a hot swap bay, but the key was not included. Computer keys are most commonly found as a short, tube-shape piece with a stubby handle and a small bump to put torque on the lock. Upon initial inspection, nothing looks to be unique about case lock keys. I actually tried two “homeless” keys, but with no avail. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that there were four small cuts in the outer edge of the key tube, sliced at different heights. Comparing one key to another, I found that they were indeed different, and were quite similar to the bumps on a household key. The locks work the same way, but the pins are simply in a circular arrangement instead of linear. With every pin exposed instead of hidden deeper and deeper into the lock, it should be far easier to pick than a household lock. I just had to try.

With a pair of thin needlenose pliers clamped on to apply tension to the lock’s center tumbler, I pressed a straightened paperclip into each pin location. After a few gentle presses, the lock turned just slightly. The first set of pins was then picked. Without removing pressure with the pliers, I moved on to the next three sets of pins, doing the same procedure to each. Upon pressing in the fourth pin, the lock tumbler turned completely, and the drive was freed. Not terribly secure, but I’m guessing they’re not meant to be.

Published on February 6, 2006

If you’re comfortable trying out new software and familiar with the command line interface in Mac OS X, you may want to try out the DarwinPorts package management system. Justin Mayer has written a great tutorial detailing how to get up and running with DarwinPorts and the latest OS X 10.4.4 update.

In the past I’ve used Fink, but following this article, I’m going to give DarwinPorts a try. With Mac OS X built on a Unix foundation, a great library of free software has become readily available for the Mac. DarwinPorts helps out by doing any necessary tweaks to ensure that it all works smoothly, as well as providing an uncomplicated setup system.