Friday, 30 May 2014

Identify boot drive on a Mac

If you have more than one drive in your Mac you may find you need to identify which one is the startup volume (boot drive, boot partition, etc).
The easiest way I found was to open Disk Utility and see which one was top of the list in there. For further confirmation, click on the volume there and look at the mount point displayed at the bottom - the startup volume is mounted at '/'. Other HDs will be mounted at /Volumes/drivename.

But why would you need to check that?

In my case, it's because both drives are bootable.
I was wondering why my SSD equipped iMac wasn't as fast as I expected. When I had a look it turned out that my old HDD had become the startup volume again - I'm guessing that a system update reset my startup volume for me.
It's simple to change back via System Preferences > Startup Disk and a reboot so not a major problem. 

But why do I have two bootable drives?

Well... whilst it's possible to take an iMac apart and muck about with drives on the inside, it's an utter faff and frankly it seemed easier to get a thunderbolt / sata adapter, plug it in the back and use a cable tie to keep it neat. Thunderbolt is fast enough that an external SSD is just about as fast as an internal one. 
I decided at the time to leave my internal drive as is just in case the change didn't work and never got round to changing it.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Found a use for my Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is brilliant, awesome and in all ways cool. Like many geeks, nerds and other awesome dudes I grabbed one as soon as I could.
Like many geeks, nerds and other awesome dudes I soon discovered that I didn't need to actually use it for, well, anything. It's mostly sat uncherrished on the side for the last couple of years.
I tried. I really did.
I set up a desktop and didn't use it (because I had a decent PC and a better Mac).
I thought I'd (re)learn how to program on it (see above)
I set up RaspBMC... but didn't use it because I already had a more powerful box running pure XBMC hooked up to my TV. I've replaced that with Plex and a couple of Rokus as it happens.

I've finally found something to do with it!

I got fibre broadband recently. It's only fibre to the cabinet, but since I can see the cabinet from my house it's >70mb and OH BOY IS IT FAST! Getting it showed me something really clearly though: it used to take a second or so to load up a webpage and after fibre it started taking about .6 seconds to do the same. Which was better... but it got me thinking about why a 10 x faster connection only added a .5 x increase in page load speed.

It was because the first 400 - 500 ms of the page load was  taken up by DNS working out where to take me.

That's like a gazillion in dog years.

Pi is now a caching DNS server, so it speeds up every client on the network and forwards unknowns to first my ISP and second to google public DNS.

That's not the cool thing though which is why I'm not detailing is (google for BIND and webmin). The cool thing is that I'm powering it from the USB socket on my router, and that is what is making me smile.


Monday, 17 March 2014

The iPhone is NOT primarily a phone... although that is why we buy it.

This was going to be a rant about reviewers who say "first and foremost the iPhone is a phone", because it isn't and because making phone calls is not even in the top 20 things I do with my iPhone... but quite frankly the number one thing I need it for is to be a phone or I'd have bought a 3G 7" tablet instead.
I don't use it as a phone very often, but it's a bit like having a car with a boot big enough for two bicycles - I only occasionally use my car for carrying bikes (I use it for carrying me and shopping far more) but I wouldn't have bought a car that couldn't carry the bikes.

 Because I made the list though, here are the things I do more with my iPhone than talk on it:
  1. Calendar (synced with Exchange at work and with Google for me and Mrs Darth)
  2. Alarm clock
  3. Internet browsing
  4. Email
  5. SMS / iMessage 
  6. iPod
  7. Casual gaming
  8. IMDB app
  9. Weather apps
  10. Social media
  11. Shopping lists and reminders
  12. Photography (converting whiteboards to PDF, OCR, etc)
  13. Shopping apps (e.g. ebay, Amazon)
  14. Remote control for TV, Roku, HiFi, etc
  15. Photography (actual photographs of things)
  16. Maps (not navigation)
  17. Transport apps
  18. Siri for setting timers
  19. Calculator
  20. Scrum poker cards
  21. Phone calls
  22. Maps (navigation)
  23. Siri to see if it works well for anything other than setting timers yet

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Comiserbrations

Darth Andy is 40 today.
Youth has died. No flowers - donations to your favourite video game retailer.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

How to get Outlook appointment reminders to pop up in front of other windows again using some simple VBA.

If you’ve got Windows 7 and Outlook, you may have noticed that the Outlook reminders window doesn’t pop up and steal focus any more… which means that if you’re an every window maximised kinda guy, then you don’t always notice the reminders anymore and sometimes miss meetings.
If you’ve not noticed, then you probably don’t think it’s a problem, and as it happens, this new behaviour is by design so that you don’t unknowingly dismiss the reminder window by hitting enter.
I prefer the new behaviour, but then I only really use Outlook at work and have it up in its own dedicated monitor there. Also, I'm not an every window maximised kinda guy.
If like several of my colleagues you want something like the old behaviour back, this is what I pulled out of my hatch for them - it's not elegant but you're welcome to try it and see if it works for you:

Thursday, 10 February 2011

New HD in my Macbook

Upgrading the HD in my beloved Macbook was surprisingly simple:

Step 1 - Buy a new drive and prepare it with Disk Utility: 'Erase' the new disk and let it format as the default (Mac OSX Extended Journaled)
Step 2 - Download some cloning software. I used Carbon Copy Cloner (donationware).
Step 3 - Clone that bad boy. CCC lets you do this whilst the drive was active so there's no need to reboot into a live CD.
Step 4 - Give it some time . . . about a minute per MB. It took a little over 3 hours to clone the 200 GB or so I had, so being a little drunk by this point I went to bed and left it going.
Step 5 - Optional: blessed sleep followed by mild hangover.
Step 6 - Test it's ok by rebooting and holding the 'option' key so I can boot from the drive in the caddy.
Step 7 - Swap out the drives.
Step 8 - Compulsory: bask in the glory of just how 'on' your geek was.


After you're done:
If you used the defaults, your drive is probably now called 'untitled' instead of 'Macintosh HD'. If you want to change the name, you can do it via 'Get Info' in the context menu. I called mine Rosebud.

Assumptions:
You have the wit to find alternative instructions if this didn't tell you all you needed to know.
You have some kind of USB or SATA caddy you can use to connect the new drive to.
You can find Disk Utility.
You have the wit to find out how to remove and refit a drive.