Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Crystal Ball

*HISTORY*

1859 - First US commercial drilling

1969 - Peak world oil discovery

2005 - Peak conventional, rising prices

2014 - Saudis remove production restrictions, falling prices

*FUTURE*

2016 - Major market drop/correction, only affecting the economy in a tangental way (perhaps similar to 1987)

2017 - Oil prices rise again, US shale gets back in the game to some extent

2019 - Peak world production

2017/18-2020/21 - Increased world tensions, regional conflicts, hot wars of the proxy/"peacekeeping" variety, temporary solutions

2020-2030 - Stagflation, social chaos, looking for solutions to energy. High inflation, high energy costs.

2024/25 - Major economic crisis, geopolitical tensions begin to build in response

2028-2032 - world war, which will be rooted in resource issues although the official reason is something else.

2032-2040 - new normal takes hold, either:
1) Widespread nuclear destruction takes society back several hundred years, or
2) The energy problem is being solved and we looking for solutions to problems caused by AGW
Either scenario is equally likely. Ideally we find great replacements for fossil fuels before this, but it is not likely.

If scenario 1:

Population reductions ongoing from disease and malnourishment, successive generations not getting the benefit of modern schooling, mankind regressing, etc. Nuclear winter clears after several decades exposing human population to effects of AGW. If there are untouched, modernized cities, then modern amenities will eventually succumb to the fact that the global supply chain has been destroyed, besides being overwhelmed by refugees. Scenario 2 can't take place if global networks (supply, communications, etc.) and industrial capacity are gone.

If scenario 2:

2040 - this is us on the other side of this thing. Frameworks for long-term economic prosperity are in place. The 40s are a time of development and looking ahead.
2050 - Sustainability is reached. CO2 stops at 550ppm (3 deg. C rise by 2100 baked in), geo-engineering solutions for AGW are taking shape along with human migrations and technological adaptations.
2060 - Complete end of fossil fuels
2070 - Fusion reaches widespread deployment, opening a whole new level of human development.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Use Clonezilla with Yosemite / El Capitan

Before creating a Clonezilla backup with Yosemite (10.10) or El Capitan (10.11) you'll need to disable CoreStorage. Instructions here.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Fixing High Upstream Power on a Cable Modem

One cause of random cable modem disconnects is upstream power that is too high. The power levels on most cable modems can be checked by going to http://192.168.100.1 and finding the page with the signal levels on it. Signals should be in the following ranges:

Downstream Power (-15dbmV to +15dbmV)
0 is the "optimal" level

Upstream Power (37dbmV to 55dbmV)
Recommended: +35 to +52

Signal/Noise Ratio (SNR , >30dB)
Recommended: =<40 p="">
I was experiencing disconnects and noticed that my upstream power was at 59dbmV. The meant the cable modem was working too hard to communicate upstream. However, the downstream power and SNR were within recommended ranges.

On the end of the cable connecting to my cable modem was an amplifier. Since my downstream and SNR levels were very good, I removed it. This solved the upstream power issue, and upstream power levels moved into the 40s.

When we first had the cable modem, the line outside was not connected properly. The cable tech who came over put on an amplifier. It worked problem free, more or less, for almost three years until an outage. After they fixed that outage the random disconnects began. Evidently whoever fixed the latest outage bumped the signal levels making my amplifier a hindrance rather than a help. It is curious to me; if a cable tech thinks that an amplifier is needed it would be a better choice to fix the line.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Speed and Size Comparison of Clonezilla Compression Types

[Update 9/16/16: The test below was run on a 100Mbps Ethernet connection (an older building with old Ethernet wiring). Be aware that if you have 1Gbps or more on your LAN all the way from the client to the server, you will take more time using high compression methods as the network connection basically waits around for the CPU to crunch data. In that case just go with -z1p. Using NO compression seems to not provide any real speed advantage over -z1p, at least on modern systems.]


Description of tested compression methods from Clonezilla:
 -z1p, --smp-gzip-compress Compress using parallel gzip program (pigz) when saving: fast and small image file, good for multi-core or multi-CPU machine 
 -z2p, --smp-bzip2-compress Compress using parallel bzip2 program (pbzip2) when saving: faster and smallest image file, good for multi-core or multi-CPU machine 
 -z3, --lzo-compress   Compress using lzop when saving: similar to the size by gzip, but faster than gzip. 
 -z5p, --smp-xz-compress Compress using parallel xz when saving: slow but smallest image file, faster decompression than bzip2. 

Testing setup:
Computer: 13in MacBook Pro Mid-2012 / Core i5 2.5Ghz / 4GB RAM / 500GB HDD (5400RPM) / OSX Yosemite
Partition: HFS Plus / 22.9GB used of 498.9GB
Network: SMB NAS share (WD My Cloud EX2) over 100Mbps Ethernet LAN
Clonezilla Live USB [clonezilla-live-20150805-vivid-amd64.iso converted to .img and written out to USB (dd)]
No image encryption
Using final time for partition as reported by Partclone

Time to Save Partition and Compressed Size:
-z1p: 25:38 - 16.5GB BEST
-z2p: 26:36 - 16.1GB +0:58
 -z3: 27:08 - 17.5GB +1:30
-z5p: 33:10 - 15.0GB +7:32

Time to Restore Partition:
-z1p: 26:35 +3:34
-z2p: 24:46 +1:45
 -z3: 28:22 +5:21
-z5p: 23:01 BEST

Save+Restore Times:
-z1p: 52:13 +0:51
-z2p: 51:22 BEST
 -z3: 55:30 +4:08
-z5p: 56:11 +4:49

-z2p, or parallel bzip2, is the all around winner. Parallel xz (-z5p) restores very fast but it's backup time is very long, so it seems to be best suited for images that will be used often to restore lots of machines. The other options tested don't show any particular strengths.

So which to use?

Consider an image that gets updated quarterly and restored 24 times in one year. Total Clonezilla times would be:
-z1p: 740.53 minutes
-z2p: 700.80 minutes
 -z3: 789.33 minutes
-z5p: 685.07 minutes

So then it makes more sense to use -z5p in that scenario. However, -z2p has the edge if you change that scenario to using the image only 15 times per year. -z2p also is better is you change the scenario for 7 updates per year and 24 uses. But I've never updated images more than 4 times a year without a good reason. So if you are going to use an image a whole lot, -z5p is the way to go. For occasional use or if you plan to update the image on a frequent basis, -z2p is better.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cloning Macs using Recovery Mode (or a USB Boot Drive) over a Network

Cloning Macs using Recovery Mode or a USB boot drive involves using Disk Utility to create an image of the drive. Where this gets complicated is when you need to do this over a network. Now let me stop here and say that in my testing, Clonezilla seems to be a faster option. However, you can do this with just the tools in OSX.

A prerequisite is that your file server must be configured to allow AFP or NFS protocols. You can't mount an SMB/Samba share in Recovery Mode because the Samba libraries aren't loaded. But AFP and NFS are core to OSX. A NAS is really great here because most NAS boxes allow you to enable many different file sharing protocols. Be aware that if you use NFS, your server might have a separate option to allow writing over NFS.

With that set up, boot to recovery mode or the USB boot drive, then go to the terminal. Enter the following command to set up a mount point:

mkdir /Volumes/Server

"Server" could be anything you want, it's just a name.

Now mount the network share:

For NFS:
mount -t nfs (ip address of the server):(share, such as /nfs/images or /images) /Volumes/Server
example: mount -t nfs 10.1.1.50:/nfs/images /Volumes/Server

For AFP:
mount -t afp afp://(username):(password)@(ip address of the server)(share, such as /images) /Volumes/Server
example: mount -t afp afp://username:password@10.1.1.50/images

Now quit Terminal and go into Disk Utility. Select the drive you want to create an image for, and click New Image. Find the down arrow next to the location drop down that gives you the Finder view. In some versions of OSX your Share will show here. Otherwise, drop down the "Look in" box and choose the computer. Then you will be able to select the share.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hiding the Wi-Fi password on a Mac

You can only hide the Wi-Fi password from non-administrative users.

1. Login as the user you want to hide from and remove the password from Keychain Access.
2. Login as an administrator and connect to the Wi-Fi network in question.
3. Open Keychain Access and drag the Wi-Fi password to the System chain.

All users will authenticate to the Wi-Fi network using the password in the System chain. They will even be able to see the username, if applicable. What they will NOT be able to do is show the password without administrative credentials.

Two Commandments after Cloning a Mac

1. Set the startup disk in System Preferences so the firmware doesn't take forever to find your boot drive.
2. Do a safe mode boot and login so it can clear system caches.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Make a Clonezilla Live USB Stick for Mac

1/7/16 update: The easier way is to rewrite the partition table as GPT. If you use the Apple Disk Utility, there is an option to write a "GUID Partition Table" which is what you want to do when you re-partition the drive. Then format the partition as MSDOS(FAT32). However if you create the drive this way you won't be able to read it under Windows. So if you are going to use it with PC and Mac then use the following method instead.

On the Windows side, go to a command prompt and do the following:
Type Diskpart, press Enter
Type List Disk , press Enter
Type Select Disk # (where # is the number your drive shows up as), press Enter
Type Clean, press Enter
Type Convert GPT, press Enter
Type Exit, press Enter.
Then go into Disk Management and format the drive with FAT32.

Once you've partitioned and formatted, download the Clonezilla alternative stable zip and unzip to the drive and you are done.

This way also allows you to modify the boot menu, which for an EFI boot is located at EFI\boot\grub.cfg.

EDIT 3/21/17: If you are interested in a custom Mac boot icon and label, see this post.

***Original post***

I spent days trying to make a bootable USB of Clonezilla to use with Macs in my organization. I tried a number of USB makers as well as trying to put it together myself. Finally, I found the solution.

1. Download the alternative-stable AMD64 Clonezilla ISO.
2. Follow the instructions at http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-mac-osx, referencing your Clonezilla ISO instead.

I have reproduced the steps here.

1. Open the Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/ or query Terminal in Spotlight).

2. Convert the .iso file to .img using the convert option of hdiutil e.g.,
hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o ~/path/to/isoname.img ~/path/to/isoname.iso
(Where "isoname" is the name of the downloaded Clonezilla ISO)
Note: OS X tends to put the .dmg ending on the output file automatically.

3. Run
diskutil list
to get the current list of devices.

4. Insert your flash media.

5. Run
diskutil list
again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2).

6. Run
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN
(replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 2).

7. Execute
sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m
(replace /path/to/downloaded.img with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img or ./ubuntu.dmg).

If you see the error dd: Invalid number '1m', you are using GNU dd. Use the same command but replace bs=1m with bs=1M
If you see the error dd: /dev/diskN: Resource busy, make sure the disk is not in use. Start the 'Disk Utility.app' and unmount (don't eject) the drive

8. Run
diskutil eject /dev/diskN
and remove your flash media when the command completes.

9. Restart your Mac and press alt/option key while the Mac is restarting to choose the USB stick.

If your external USB drive does not show up in Clonezilla, instead of choosing the local dev option, choose shell. Enter the following command to list your drives:
sudo fdisk -l
Your drive will be /dev/sdx, and the partition will be /dev/sdxn, such as /dev/sdb1.
Mount the partition to partimag with the following command:
mount -t auto /dev/sdxn /home/partimag
Then the following command to get back to Clonezilla:
exit

Friday, July 24, 2015

Download Error on Adobe Creative Cloud for Mac

Problem: You log into the Adobe Cloud and select to install an application but wind up with a "Download Error"

Solution:

1. Completely exit the Adobe Cloud app.
2. Enable root user per https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204012
3. Log out of OSX (not just switch user, you need to log out)
4. Log into to Mac as root and whatever password you set in the first step
5. Log into the Adobe Cloud app and select to install the application.
6. When the download gets to at least 1%, cancel it and log out.
7. Log back in with your normal account and you should be able to install the applications from Adobe Cloud now.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Keynesian Economics and Peak Oil

As I read articles on the web about our economic malaise beginning in 2008 and continuing until now (stock market moves notwithstanding) I am constantly confronted with scathing condemnations of "Keynesian economics" and how it has failed us. Usually these are conservative commentators who deride the Federal Reserve and call their continued activity in taking on debt through Quantitative Easing "extend and pretend".
If you've read my blog at all you know I subscribe to the theory that our economic malaise is a result of the end of cheap oil. I am currently reading "Energy and the Wealth of Nations" by Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard which, among other things, helps put the issue of "Keynesian economics" within the backdrop of energy. I will summarize what I believe is their understanding.
Through several permutations of prevailing economic theory we have based our understanding of economics on the resources and constraints in existence at the time. Classical economics was much more concerned with limits, while Keynesian economics is very much unconcerned with limits of natural resources. Keynes could get away with such a theory because of the ascendancy of cheap fossil fuels. Essentially, it was assumed that cheap energy was here to stay, therefore growth is here to stay. Economic downturns were merely the result of market imbalance and could be corrected through government spending/debt in order to "goose" the economy back into line. The government could also act to restrict the economy if it overheated.
That is all well and good if the assumption of unlimited cheap energy remains valid. The stagflation of the 1970s presented a big puzzle to mainstream economists at the time because, within a Keynesian framework, inflation and stagflation never go together. However, when resource limits constrict the ability to grow in a debt-fueled system, stagflation is exactly what you get.
Now, a country can ignore the reality of limits to cheap energy and continue to apply Keynesian tactics anyway. This is what has been called "extend and pretend" by many commentators. It still works, but only halfway... it keeps the economy from totally imploding but only results in limited growth while fueling inflation which may or may not extend across all sectors at any point in time.
What such government action fails to take into account is that government spending during a time of economic trouble is also predicated upon the availability of cheap energy. In this case, government debt is the appropriate action because continued growth is sure to follow which makes the debt a very good return on investment. It is a cycle of debt and growth that exists at the private and public level and defines what is known as the typical "post-war" economy.
Keynesian economics is ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE against a backdrop of never-ending cheap energy. It is SUICIDE without it.
The occurrence of US peak oil in 1971 and the occurrence of conventional peak oil around 2005-2006 both generally coincided with an increase in the growth of debt both public and private that had to be taken on in order to keep the "ship afloat." A day of reckoning is coming where debt and credit will collapse in the face of persistent economic stagnation.
There are no easy answers. I think one very worthwhile project that must be undertaken is to combat economic inequality. Unfortunately, I think when the whole house of cards comes down, economic inequality will correct itself very violently. The powers that be could correct it now, take the hit to their fortunes, and help everybody get the resources necessary to help weather the shocks ahead. As it stands, the American people know who to blame for the desperation that is to come. First name "One," last name "Percent."
The "One Percent" also better be prepared to take the blame for inaction on global warming as well, which will start to become very obvious over the next 10 years. Through their religious right lackeys and their Fox News propagandists they've hemmed and hawed and doubted and stalled and tried to confuse the American public. But global warming tends not to occur in a linear fashion but in a stepwise fashion and we now in 2015 are at the beginning of another bump up.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Energy and the Economy: From Slavery to Oil to Fusion

In today's society it is common to think of slavery in the context of human rights. This context is a very modern development and is not entirely helpful when understanding the issue of slavery throughout history. Slavery has been an economic force for a majority of mankind's history, and it has not always been associated with kidnapping or racism. Societies in the past have allowed slavery as a matter of debt repayment or criminal sentencing. Of course, as with any economic asset, when legal means are not sufficient to satisfy demand, other means are employed. The point is that throughout history, the needs of human economies in relation to labor have been supplied in a large part through slavery.
Another modern conception that clouds our view of pre-industrial economies is that of energy. Energy in pre-industrial economies was resourced from human and natural sources. That is to say, they burned combustible materials like wood or oil but these fuel sources were very small in comparison to modern fuel sources. The majority of pre-industrial energy needs were met through human labor.
The result is that pre-industrial slavery was an essential component of a growing local, regional, and even global economy. The end of slavery in the US involved a Civil War that pitted an industrialized, free North against a much more agrarian, slave-owning South, with the industrialized North winning, of course. The backs of slaves were no match for the industrial might of the Union.
The advent of the steam engine and the exploitation of fossil fuel energy in industrial processes made human labor too expensive for the kinds of basic manual labor slaves were used for.
Fast forward to today. Our society has become ever more energy intensive. See this video of an Olympic cyclist, unable to provide enough cycling power to even fully toast a piece of bread. Toasting a piece of bread requires 2 minutes at 700 watts, or .0233kWh. The average cost of 1 kWh in the US is 12 cents. So then the Olympic cyclist couldn't provide sustained energy to equal two-tenths of a cent of electric power. Now consider your 1500 watt microwave that runs for 5 minutes to heat your frozen dinner. Or my "ultra-efficient" heat pump that pulls about 2600 watts to heat or cool my house for hours on end. Modern man takes the enormity of our power consumption for granted. And you can see why machines are better than slaves.
The very existence of "jobs" in modern society is a consequence of the deployment of ultra-intense energy sources making basic human labor relatively expensive. The rise of industry and the development of manufacturing as a driver of economic growth meant that human employment was now best deployed in the operation, care, and maintenance of industrial processes. Such jobs require more than energy, they require thought and computation.
Enter the computer age. Much of the operation, care, and maintenance of industrial processes is now performed by computers which, if they are not capable of semi-intelligent decision making, are at least capable of operating logically within a set of predefined parameters. This made a whole new set of human labor relatively expensive. Now, human employment is best deployed in the operation, care, and maintenance of computers, networks, and their peripherals.
Rather than pontificate on what the next step in this evolution will be (it has been done a lot already), I find it more important to consider that our economic system, and the human civilizations and cultures that now depend on modern society, are like an airplane. It's great as long as you have fuel. The question of what fuel we can use for energy and what impact it will have on our economy and environment is THE defining issue of our time. Don't let low oil prices distract you...they are representative of market forces and NOT supply. We are heading towards peak oil, and market forces will have no power to stop the calamity once the world realizes Saudi Arabia has hit and passed peak production. If that doesn't mean much to you, consider the fact that if we burn the fossil fuels all the optimists think we have, our civilization stands to be shattered by geological and meteorological phenomena resulting from all of heat that released carbon dioxide traps in our atmosphere. To ignore both of these impending dangers is insane.
What is one to do, though? Cheap energy of the intense kind like we have in fossil fuels is directly related to the economic well-being and growth of the world. But let's take a moment and clarify what we mean by "cheap". If a $4 billion dollar investment yields an amount of energy to fuel the entire world as current economic levels of activity for 10 years, that's cheap. It's one of the arguments to be made for harvesting Helium-3 from the Moon and bringing it to Earth for easy fusion power. Sure, it takes a lot of money to get it here, but the energy production (theoretically) would more than justify the price.
We need to take this concept into a little more technical territory. The concept is return on investment, or specifically energy returned on energy invested (EROEI). If I spend 5 units of energy extracting 5 units of energy, that's an EROEI of 1. If I get 10 units of energy for my 5 units of effort, that's an EROEI of 2.
Cheap energy, defined ECONOMICALLY, is energy that has a high EROEI. The EROEI of all world oil sources has come down from near 100 at the beginning of the oil age to around 30 in 1995 to 18 in 2006. Regardless of the prices at the pump, oil is getting more expensive in economic terms. This is due to decreasing resources and the subsequent shift towards lower quality sources (off-shore, shale, tar sands). Our society is paying an ever higher price for energy; where it is not being reflected in higher prices it is being reflected in diversion of investment assets from the economy as a whole towards energy requirements.
So now we can consider the standard of living issue regarding energy. The political backlash against carbon pricing and controls is rooted in the adverse economic effects of making the exploitation of fossil fuels more costly. On the high end, it's about corporate bigwigs protecting profits. On the low end, it's about the average Joe who doesn't want to lose their job or pay more for fuel or other goods. It seems everybody has a stock in delaying carbon pricing and controls.
But here's the rub... collapse of today's "cheap oil" paradigm is already occurring through an EROEI that is going ever lower. Do we as a society want to ride this train down the hill pretending we can fix it until we realize it's game over? Or do we as a society want to preempt what is coming?
Solar and wind are waiting near the bottom of the hill with EROEIs of 10 and 18, respectively. They aren't the answer because they bring down the combined EROEI of our energy base instead of raising it. This is why the intense deployment of renewables is always accompanied by government subsidies and increased electric rates. We're at something like 5% of our electric generation from these sources, nationally. I'd hate to imagine my electric bill if they were a majority! We have a term for this issue in Information Technology: scalability. The economic scalability of renewables is horrible, unfortunately. (Geothermal is also low EROEI, and nobody wants nuclear anymore.)
The solution? Fusion.
OK back to reality. No seriously, fusion is THE answer. But since it is not going to happen on a wide scale within our lifetimes, we need another strategy. And it is this:
WE NEED TO TAKE STEPS TO REDUCE OUR ECONOMIC ACTIVITY BEFORE ENERGY SUPPLY ISSUES FORCES US TO, RESULTING IN SUDDEN, SEVERE ECONOMIC HARDSHIP.
And the perfect catalyst for this activity is concern over climate change, because the only way to mitigate climate change is to reduce the use of fossil fuels by making it more expensive, usually through market disincentives, taxes, and regulation.
Action on climate change will result in higher prices and greater unemployment as EROEI drops even further. But again, it is expected, it is a controlled descent. It's called LANDING THE PLANE BEFORE YOU RUN OUT OF GAS. Nobody wants to stop flying but there is no other choice unless you WANT to crash.
The hopeful upside is that somewhere along this controlled descent, we'll perfect fusion, or make solar PV cheap AND ultra-efficient, or find some other breakthrough. And it will allow us to fly our civilization higher again. In the meantime, we will have made a meaningful effort towards limiting climate change.
I hope I am alive when that energy breakthrough hits. Our society will take off to a whole new level. All the old 1950s/60s optimism about the progress of mankind and the awesomeness of the future? Of mankind's continual and rapid progress? The optimism that was shattered in the energy crises of the 1970s? It will come back. Because it's all about energy. It always was. With an energy source with a high enough EROEI, you can provide fresh water for the world by desalinating the oceans. You can run machines to actively pull CO2 from the air. Things we can't do right now because the energy cost is too high will suddenly become possible. It will be called the fusion/solar/whatever revolution and it will be spoken in the same breath with the Industrial Revolution.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Preparing for Written Exams for Computer Technology Support Technician Jobs

Know your A+ type of information; you should probably already have your A+. Grab the Pearson Exam Cram guide for A+ if you need it.
In addition, here are some extra resources to pay attention to.

The difference between BIOS and CMOS:
http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001360.htm
Understand IRQ basics (more of a reminder, hopefully):
http://www.pgmusic.com/tutorial_irq.htm
POST beep codes (AMI, most common on tests):
http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/38515/beep-codes
Soldering basics (why? I have no idea! just have a passing familiarity):
http://electronicsclub.info/soldering.htm
GBIC and SFP modules:
http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/routers/7200/install_and_upgrade/gbic_sfp_modules_install/5067g.html
Fiber connectors:
http://www.cablestogo.com/learning/connector-guides/fiber-networking
DCPromo:
AirPlay:
Cram for the Mac Questions (study the Answers sections):

More in-depth training on Mac (prepping for the ACSP 10.10 cert):

Friday, May 08, 2015

Installing OSX Yosemite on VirtualBox

[note] - The OSX EULA limits what physical machine you may virtualize OSX on. See http://www.apple.com/legal/sla/ for the appropriate EULA.

***Creating a Yosemite ISO***

Download the OSX Yosemite installer from the App Store on a Mac, which will place it in the Applications folder.
If you try to download from another source you take your chances with someone hijacking your OS, besides it being an illegal copy.

Run these commands in the Terminal:

hdiutil attach /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg -noverify -nobrowse -mountpoint /Volumes/install_app
hdiutil convert /Volumes/install_app/BaseSystem.dmg -format UDSP -o /tmp/Yosemite
hdiutil resize -size 8g /tmp/Yosemite.sparseimage
hdiutil attach /tmp/Yosemite.sparseimage -noverify -nobrowse -mountpoint /Volumes/install_build
rm /Volumes/install_build/System/Installation/Packages
cp -rp /Volumes/install_app/Packages /Volumes/install_build/System/Installation/
cp -p /Volumes/install_app/BaseSystem.* /Volumes/install_build/
hdiutil detach /Volumes/install_app
hdiutil detach /Volumes/install_build
hdiutil resize -size `hdiutil resize -limits /tmp/Yosemite.sparseimage | tail -n 1 | awk '{ print $1 }'`b /tmp/Yosemite.sparseimage
hdiutil convert /tmp/Yosemite.sparseimage -format UDTO -o /tmp/Yosemite
rm /tmp/Yosemite.sparseimage
mv /tmp/Yosemite.cdr ~/Desktop/Yosemite.iso

***Getting the ISO to your other machine[see note]***

Format a USB drive with exFAT. Drive should be at least 8GB. Copy the ISO to there.
OR.. if both machines are on a LAN, share out a folder on your other machine[see note] and connect to it from the Mac. (smb://IPADDRESS-OR-HOSTNAME)

***Working with VirtualBox***

Create a New VirtualBox machine, choosing the latest version of OSX listed as the OS you will be installing. Allow at least 2GB of RAM.
After the setup wizard, once you are back at the main VirtualBox screen, under the VM settings for System change the chipset to PIIX3.

Before booting, execute the following commands replacing Yosemite with whatever you named the new VM. The VBoxManage tool is with the VirtualBox program files, and can be accessed on a Mac in /usr/bin
Change to the appropriate directory at the command line and run the following.

VBoxManage modifyvm "Yosemite" --cpuidset 00000001 000306a9 04100800 7fbae3ff bfebfbff
VBoxManage setextradata "Yosemite" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemProduct" "MacBookPro11,3"
VBoxManage setextradata "Yosemite" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemVersion" "1.0"
VBoxManage setextradata "Yosemite" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiBoardProduct" "Iloveapple"
VBoxManage setextradata "Yosemite" "VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/DeviceKey" "ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc"
VBoxManage setextradata "Yosemite" "VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/GetKeyFromRealSMC" 1

Set your Yosemite ISO as the CD/DVD drive in the settings for your VM.

***Installing OSX***

Boot the VM. (At one point it may say LPC device initialization failed and appear to hang; just a wait a minute or two.) At the installer, go to Utilities>Disk Utility and create one Mac OS Journaled partition on the VM hard drive.
Then complete the installer, choosing the hard drive partition you just created.
When I did this I had installation hang at a particular spot for like half an hour. Come to find out that I could not longer find the ISO on the USB drive.
Either the USB drive went out or something deleted the ISO. I got a new copy, put it on my hard drive, and set it to read-only. Then the install went fine.

***iCloud won't work***

iCloud activations are tied to the system serial number. There are some advanced tools that attempt to modify the OSX system files to change this.
Google Chameleon Wizard if you are interested. Not covering here because of the high risk of borking everything and having to start over.

***Disabling Visual Effects***

On the new OSX install, download and install BeamOff. This will need to be run on every boot to work. The visual effects don't get along with the VirtualBox driver.

[note] - The OSX EULA limits what physical machine you may virtualize OSX on. See http://www.apple.com/legal/sla/ for the appropriate EULA.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Replacing a Mac Hard Drive

Choices for migrating your Mac files and settings to a new drive:

1. Boot into Recovery Mode (Command-R) and use Disk Utility to copy the system partition to the new drive connected via an external enclosure.

OR
2. Remove the drive and duplicate using a duplicator.

OR the option I think is best:
3. Install the new drive and reload OSX. Then use Migration Assistant to pull in files and settings from the original drive connected via an external enclosure.

Strategies to make the new drive work well under OSX:

- Use SSD Chameleon to enable TRIM if the new drive is an SSD AND your OSX is 10.6.7 and above. If this software refuses to enable TRIM you need to wipe and reload OSX. If your OSX is 10.10.4 or greater just use the trimforce command built-in to OSX.
- Use SSD Fan Control to quiet the fan if the new drive doesn't support temperature sensor connector

Don't forget to reference the relevant repair guide on ifixit.com so you know how to get to the drive and reassemble things with a minimum of fuss.
Don't forget a 2.5" to 3.5" bracket if you are installing an SSD into a Mac with a desktop hard drive such as the iMac. Avoid brackets that support more than one drive as they might be too large fit in cramped Mac interiors.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Network Folder Question Mark in OSX Dock

Problem: Network folders show up in the dock as a question mark and can't be opened.

Solution: Create a file nsmb.conf with the following two lines:

[default]
smb_neg=smb1_only

Save it to the desktop. Open Terminal.
Run the command "sudo bash"
Enter your sudo password. If you don't know it, look HERE.
Enter the command "cp ~/desktop/nsmb.conf /etc/nsmb.conf"
Run the command "exit" and then exit the Terminal.
Restart.
The folder should show up properly now.

This forces SMB back to version 1 of the protocol for all users.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

An Important Principle to Remember about the Future of Oil

"The value of effectively every asset class on Earth is influenced by the assumption that a fossil fuel-based economy will persist for so long that any potential for future change to asset values can be ignored. That assumption is wrong. The global industrial economy operates on an assumption of available and relatively inexpensive energy, either in the form of electricity or liquid fuels. If the form, availability of, or cost of, those energy sources changes it will fundamentally change the cost to use and produce virtually every other asset on Earth. And that will necessarily change the value of every one of those assets. There will be both positive and negative impacts, and understanding this change, in both scope and speed, will provide insight on one of the largest wealth shifts ever experienced.
The owner of the most valuable fossil fuel reserve on Earth [Saudi Arabia] just started discounting for a future without fossil fuels. While they would never state this reasoning publicly, their actions speak on their behalf. And that changes everything."
-Elias Hinckley

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Windows Ecosystem is now Ad-supported.

The Windows Ecosystem is now Ad-supported.
...at least for anyone outside of a business. And it has gotten much worse than the average boatload of crapware these manufacturers are known for. It is extraordinarily sad how heavily laden with advertising the entire Windows experience has become. Let's say you buy a Windows 8.1 PC today. As it turns out, your Metro start screen is littered with dozen of tiles for third-party services and apps that have paid $$ to the OEM for placement. Removal requires the user to delete all the tiles, and any new user on the machine will have to delete the tiles for themselves as well. It takes going into Powershell to remove these "provisioned apps" on a machine-wide basis.
Now let's move past Metro. You get to the desktop, only to find more shortcuts for third-party stuff. There are multiple programs installed (whose developers have paid $$ for placement) which are "lite" versions or trialware intending to get you to spend $$ to buy the full version.
Perhaps the worst is whatever anti-virus is included. The computer will usually come with a 1, 3, 6, or maybe even 12 month Norton subscription. Which is fine until the subscription runs out, at which point the AV becomes nag-ware trying to get the user to pay $$ to re-up the subscription. The average user doesn't necessarily grasp the importance of this and figures if the program is still there it must be doing SOME good. But it is actually exposing the user to risk. The user is unlikely to know that they can UNINSTALL the AV and use Windows Defender.
It doesn't stop there. The user goes online. Invariably they end up at a site serving ads that trick the user into installing crapware such as false anti-virus programs, media players, you name it. Stuff they don't need. But even worse, these installs also go ahead and install additional crapware in addition to the crapware that the user was tricked into installing.
So the user might choose to go download something reputable like VLC or PDFCreator or even Adobe Flash. Well now they have more crapware because the download site they use for these programs install other stuff by default. Choosing not to install this extra stuff means knowing that the grayed out "Decline" button, or the grayed out "Custom install" option, really is clickable. Or some other weird user interface trick that makes the user think they CAN'T opt-out.
And this, my friends, is why in addition to the normal crapware cleanout I perform on my family and friends PCs, I also uninstall the antivirus, and I install Firefox and Chrome and configure ad-blocking for IE, Firefox, and Chrome. I don't have a problem with ads, but no possible moral obligation to view ads is worth 2-hour crapware/spyware/malware cleanout sessions every other month.
Macs may not come with crapware but they are increasingly getting targeted by online advertisements that lead to Mac malware.
For a long time, Linux enthusiasts have said the best way to clean and repair Windows is to format and install Linux. Given that malware has become a virtually unavoidable structural component of the consumer Windows ecosystem, I finally have to say they are right. It is high time for the techies in people's lives to burn a Linux Mint install disc and use it regularly.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Figuring out CFM and Grille Sizes (including Return Grille) for Central HVAC systems

A HVAC system is sized for the volume of air in your home. If your house is 1200 sqft and the ceilings are 7 ft tall, the air volume is 8400 cubic feet. A properly sized HVAC system will perform at least 6 full air changes per hour, so it would need to move 8400x6=50400 cubic feet of air per hour. 50400/60 minutes then would equal 840 CFM.
(A real HVAC installer would also want to measure leakage to tweak the CFM rate for your specific house construction but that's beyond the scope of this post.)
To find the size of the compressor in tons, divide 840 by 400 (400 CFM per ton), giving 2.1 tons. Always round up, in this case to a standard size 2.5 ton unit.  If you are going to use a heat pump you've already done your heater sizing. (A house with no insulation or poor insulation should be figured at 300 CFM per ton.)
How big to make the return air grill? You don't want so much air rushing past the grill that it is noisy but you don't want a large grill either. The grill should be sized for an air speed of 300-500 FPM, or feet per minute. 400 FPM is the usual target.
We know you'll need to push 840 CFM. We'll divide by 400 FPM giving 2.1 sqft as the necessary filter face size. Convert to inches: 2.1 x 144 = 302.4 sqin. Take the square root of 302.4 = 17.389. So let's look at some standard size filters near 18in:

18x20 = 360sqin
16x20 = 320sqin

A 16x20 return grill would provide the necessary air flow and actually take us a little under 400 FPM.

If you already have an HVAC system you can work the numbers and see how well your system is sized. Also nice to know if you are planning on adding square footage somehow (new floor, finishing the basement, enclosing a porch, etc.) You can check your HVAC guy's recommendations this way.

You'll want to further assure you can get a full 840 CFM by checking the technical documentation for the air handler. You want to find the max external static pressure drop (intake resistance to air) that still allows the air handler to deliver 840 CFM. Then purchase filters that do not exceed that drop. Ideally, purchase the filter with the highest MERV rating that has a pressure drop for your size filter that is below this value. Most filter manufacturers don't provide detailed pressure drop information, unfortunately.

The air handler will also not push the right CFM if the pressure is not balanced throughout the home. This usually happens in a closed room with no air return (very common). All closable interior doors leading to living spaces (office, bedroom, bathroom, den) should be shortened by 1 1/2 inches on the bottom, or have an air vent installed in the door, or a jump vent.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Diagnosing CPU Thermal Throttling

Computer processors are designed to run under specific environmental conditions, including temperature. With an Intel processor, the responsibility for ensuring a processor does not overheat is split between the motherboard and the CPU, and the motherboard constantly monitors CPU temperature by way of a temperature sensor next to the CPU, and alerts the CPU if that temperature exceeds certain threshhold. This is known as a PROCHOT signal. The CPU receives the PROCHOT signal from the motherboard and immediately drops down to it's lowest multiplier. This reduces the speed of the CPU, causing it run cooler. With an AMD processor, this is all handled by the motherboard, which forces a lower clock on the CPU.
It may not be apparent that your processor is having overheating problems. As mentioned above, the system is always ready to compensate by slowing down the CPU. If you don't perform many processor-intensive tasks, it may not be noticeable. The reason is that once the processor cools down, throttling turns off until the processor is put under stress again.
Where it becomes noticeable is when CPU-intensive programs are run. For most people, this means Netflix. However it could be any HD video playback including YouTube HD and Blu-ray. It could also occur when running distributed computing clients like Folding@Home, doing video editing, or playing 3D games.
In a nutshell, a properly built and working computer should have a CPU that is capable of handling any load thrown at it without overheating and/or triggering the PROCHOT signal from the motherboard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you suspect thermal throttling, there are two programs that can be used to test this on Windows. First, you need a program that will push your CPU to the max, like Prime95. Second, you need a program that will display CPU speed in real-time and allow you to block the PROCHOT signal temporarily for testing purposes, like ThrottleStop. It would also be helpful to search online and find the maximum temperature listed for the processor.
Before running tests, go into the Control and into Power Options, which may be in the Hardware category. Drop down the list of extra power modes and choose High Performance. This will ensure that Windows isn't the one bringing down your processor speed. If this is a laptop, make sure it is plugged in.
Run Prime95 and choose Stress Testing, and choose the test that is listed as generating maximum heat (sometimes they change around which test is good for what between versions). Once the test is running, open ThrottleStop. At the top right of the main ThrottleStop window, the processor speed will be given, as well as the multiplier and frequency. The processor speed should not drop lower than 10% of the rated speed for the processor. It may go over if the processor supports Turbo Boost. The processor model and type are also listed so you can search online to find out what the rated speed is if you aren't sure.
If the processor dips farther than 10% below the rated speed you likely have thermal throttling. To be certain, uncheck the box that says "BD PROCHOT". IMPORTANT: ONLY LEAVE THIS BOX UNCHECKED LONG ENOUGH TO OBSERVE WHETHER IT SOLVES THE PROBLEM, THEN TURN IT BACK ON. Unchecking this box basically "muzzles" the motherboard PROCHOT signal and leaves the CPU blind as to how hot it is running. Any overheating can potentially damage the CPU and/or motherboard, so this is all at your own risk.
(If you have an AMD processor, you won't have the capability to disable this. You'll have to diagnose based on throttling patterns alone.)
Assuming that disabling the PROCHOT signal solves the problem, you need to correct the issue(s) causing the processor to overheat. Consider the CPU fan and heatsink, as well as the case fans. If the room the computer is in is uncomfortably hot that might also be an issue. But probably the most common culprit would be dust bunnies inside the computer. You'll need to blow out the internals with air.
If you've eliminated dust as the issue and the problem remains, consider case temperature, unless it is a laptop. Any desktop computer should have these fans: a fan on the CPU heatsink, a fan on the back of the case, and the fan inside the power supply. Are the fans fighting each other, especially if you have more than these three fans?
If it's not dust and the case temperature is fine, remove the heatsink/fan from the CPU, and clean off and replace the thermal paste. Then remount the heatsink/fan.
If all of the above fails to correct the problem, consider a more robust heatsink/fan for your CPU. If you are overclocking, maybe also consider water cooling.
I should also mention that it is entirely possible that the motherboard temperature sensors are bad. If you suspect this, try a BIOS upgrade first, if available.
I know all of this because I had a problem with this on a laptop. It all started with Netflix HD movies not playing right. I went through all kinds of drivers and software and BIOS updates before realizing my problem was CPU thermal throttling. It's been a long road. The laptop is under an extended warranty and the repair tech barely understood what I was talking about. I would hazard a guess that a not insignificant number of professional PC technicians don't even really understand the issue of thermal throttling. Hopefully this post will be a help.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Unable to Open Secure https Sites in Internet Explorer

Solution from HERE, sans pics and with some modifications in italics:

Re-register following dll files
Click on Start button and go to Run (Press and Hold windows key + press once R key)
Copy the following one line and paste it into run box one by one and press enter
Register all the dll files as same. Don't worry about any errors that come up.

regsvr32 urlmon.dll
regsvr32 wintrust.dll
regsvr32 initpki.dll
regsvr32 dssenh.dll
regsvr32 rsaenh.dll
regsvr32 gpkcsp.dll
regsvr32 sccbase.dll
regsvr32 slbcsp.dll
regsvr32 cryptdlg.dll
regsvr32 shdocvw.dll
regsvr32 mshtml.dll
regsvr32 browseui.dll
regsvr32 jscript.dll
regsvr32 vbscript.dll
regsvr32 oleaut32.dll
regsvr32 softpub.dll
regsvr32 urlmon.dll
regsvr32 actxprxy.dll

Check Security settings under trusted sites zone in internet explorer
Open Internet explorer and click on Tools menu and go to Internet option, then expand Security tab

Tool menu >> Internet Option >> Security Tab >> Click on trusted Sites >> and then click on default level
Add Secured website as your trusted website, under security tab click on trusted sites and then Sites button will be activated click on that add button your website what do you want.
then do apply and OK to get effect the changed.

Check the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) slate.
Open Internet explorer and click on Tools menu and go to Internet option, then choose Content tab.
Tool menu >> Internet Option >> content Tab >> Click on Clear SSL State
You will get a message that the SSL cache was cleared Successfully, click on OK

Check that Internet Explorer set as default to use all SSL states
Open Internet explorer and click on Tools menu and go to Internet option, then expand advanced tab
Tool menu >> Internet Option >> Advanced Tab >> then Under security >> all SSL and TLS boxes should be checked. (If those were not checked so please make them checked and click on OK.

Check your computer date and time.
Check your date and time because it might a possibility if date and time are not correct. Correct your date and time
Click on Start and go to control panel and find the tool name as DATE & TIME, and Set your current time

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On the Movie "God is Not Dead"

I want to go through some of the important bits of this movie, which is hard to do because it is a bit ham-fisted, with the debate scenes wildly overplayed. Also, I just cannot stomach the evangelical subculture that permeates the movie, between Christian Rock groups, Franklin Graham, and Duck Dynasty cameos.

I have a verse for the hapless student, Josh Wheaton. Proverbs 27:12 - The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. The poor guy got warning after warning that the professor was a jerk. Even with all of that he could've dropped the class. I thought God calls Christians to peace, not conflict.

The movie comes straight out of the burgeoning conservative evangelical movement. Besides the evangelical subculture cameos listed above, the Scripture quotations are all from the ESV (English Standard Version). More formal and more conservative than even the 1984 NIV, the ESV represents a new evangelical center composed of rightward drifting classic evangelicals and the majority remains of fundamentalism. (For the record, I quote from the NRSV.)

Speaking of the Bible, I found it unfortunate that, in all of his preparation, Josh Wheaton never picked up or studied the one book that the professor recommended to the rest of the class in preparation for the debate: Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell. Instead he is shown reading a bunch of the world religion books. Unfortunately this is a common tendency among Christians to not really examine the other side of whatever the debate is, even if it is among Christians themselves. I ran into this debating King James Onlyists.





So Josh's two main arguments are the argument from design and the argument from morality.

In the argument from design he puts forward intelligent design, admitting the big bang and leaving the question of evolution open, attributing all of these things to God. The problem is, the time scales of the events as given by fossil records and radiometric dating completely shred any concept of these events borne out of an evangelical, inerrantist view of Scripture-or borne out of the most likely views of the early church contra Epicureanism. We're not just talking about contradicting six-day creation. We're talking about the gospel itself and Christ as a Second Adam. We're talking about repetition of the argument from design throughout Scripture in ways that imply a very literal reading of Genesis 1.

As a matter fact, Christian organizations have used Intelligent Design not as a good faith answer to modern scientific evidence, but as a wedge to introduce traditional creationism. It is beyond the scope of this post to go into documenting this. However, even if conservative evangelicals held to ID in good faith, the fact remains that it is highly inconsistent with their own theology.

The argument from morality is also not so straightforward. Anyone who has taken Sociology 101 understands the concept of utilitarianism, in which morals are part of cultural development of a society in the interest of self-preservation. Only in today's highly individualistic society can people uncouple their existence from broader social norms. Morals, purpose, and meaning all find their import in sociological terms and suffer under the influence of individualism. To restore these to an individualistic society requires personal relationships to a transcendent rule giver--God.

The fact that this is A way out doesn't mean it is the answer, as squabbling Christians and dueling denominations will attest. As a matter of fact, a Christian's relationship with God prior to the Reformation and the Enlightenment was a much more corporate affair (think "church") and continued to be quite the corporate affair until American Revivalism came on the scene. Under such a corporate conception of divine relationship, culture and morals can just as easily find its footing in national identity as it can the church.

I give the movie way too much credit by discussing these points in detail. The movie was not anywhere close to being a serious apologetic work. What it was was a rally for the (evangelical) faithful, complete with "faith-affirming" cultural references, and lumping Atheists, Left Wingers, Professors, and Muslims on the bad side.