Monthly archives for April 2006

Published on April 18, 2006

I love hearing about people finding clever ways to beat idiotic systems, and this article is a perfect example. The author bought a brand new Xbox 360 game which was affected by a programming bug which made the game unplayable. The store he purchased it at would only allow him to exchange the game for a shrinkwrapped copy, but wouldn’t give him a simple refund or permit a trade for a different game. So, he simply accepted the shrinkwrapped copy and turned around and asked for a refund on the now unopened game in his hands. What a brilliant way of working around stupid policy red tape. Read the full article here, or digg the story.

Published on April 11, 2006

A while back, when working on my Spotlight-style search field, I created a small image modification for iChat which I’ve decided to share. When using groups of contacts in iChat, the headers for each group are a dull gray color. Thanks to OS X’s application bundles, I was able to easily open all the pieces that make up iChat and modify the header images to look like Spotlight results. Why? I just think it looks better. If you think so too, you can get the files and instructions right here.

Published on April 5, 2006

If you’ve worked inside an iPod before or were simply curious how the little white devices work, you’re already aware of the smaller than usual hard drives used to store your music, videos, and other media. What you may not know is how to determine if one of these hard drives is functioning 100%, or on its last legs. Damage to the hard drive can result from any of a number of ways, but may not be immediately apparent.

All iPods except the Shuffle have a hidden diagnostic menu which includes, among other tools, the ability to run a full disk scan and report the status of the its hard drive.

The absolute best way I’ve found to test iPod hard drives is to actually open it up, attach the drive to a desktop computer using it’s native IDE interface, and run a full suite of disk tests on it. A while ago, I mentioned an adapter from Addonics which converts the iPod’s 1.8″ connector (seen here) to a standard 2.5″ laptop drive connector. (Several people commented on my iPod Super hack that any old laptop to desktop hard drive adapter will do, but the iPod does not use a standard laptop drive). From there, a second adapter will bring your iPod drive in line with a regular 3.5″ computer hard drive connector, ready for testing.

Once everything is hooked up, the assembly looks like a serious hack, but there’s no trickery involved other than the changing of connector sizes. The iPod’s drive is pin-for-pin and signal compatible with the hard drive in your computer right now, and is easily recognized like any other hard drive. At this point, you can run any disk scan on it you prefer. Personally, I swear by Hitachi’s Drive Fitness Test, which can be easily run as part of the Ultimate Boot CD (PC required; sorry Mac-only buddies!). DFT will run a quick interface test, a S.M.A.R.T. report, and then do a lengthy surface scan for bad sectors and other errors which could mangle your music or cause your iPod to fail at startup. I’ve tested dozens upon dozens of iPod and desktop drives with DFT, and I’ve never had a single false positive report. As such, DFT is my gold standard for all iPod, laptop, desktop, and SCSI hard drive tests. Best of all, it finishes with a concise and colorful status screen — green is good, red is bad.

With some fundamental technical skills, a couple of adapters, and some free software, you too can easily determine the health of your iPod’s hard drive… IF you’re willing to void its warranty by opening the case. However, if your iPod is already out of warranty and having issues, this procedure will put an end to questions about the most expensive part of your favorite music player.

Published on April 5, 2006

Apple is now officially prepping a technology to allow Windows XP to run on Intel based Macs. Currently called “Boot Camp,” the software will ship with the next major release of Mac OS X. For all the details and beta software, visit Apple’s Boot Camp beta page. You’ll have to provide your own Windows XP SP2 CD, of course, but Apple intends to make a multi-boot Mac a legitimate reality.