Mac OS X: Notes On Upgrading A Bootable Hard Drive With Boot Camp Support

by Jon Davis 27. November 2008 22:27

I lost last weekend to a hard drive upgrade for my Mac Mini, the last "pimpage" I will do to this Mac. My Mac Mini now has 4GB RAM and a 320 GB hard drive (the largest I could find in 2.5" laptop hard drive class while retaining 7200 RPM), upgraded from 2GB RAM and 150GB 5400 RPM drive.

This was supposed to go smoothly. Oops.

First while doing the physical install, it was about 1:00 am. I snapped off the orange ribbon at its base--as in, permanent destruction, pins yanked from their soldered sockets. Mac Mini computers have these ribbons and they look kind of like old PATA ribbons for laptops so I was pretty much convinced I lost my computer altogether. I Googled a bit and discovered that this was an audio cable, not a hard drive I/O cable. Whew! I also discovered that you can replace the board for much cheaper than the cost of a new machine. First I ordered this and then I realized that it is probably this that broke on the opposite face so I ordered that.

Creative Xmod is a safe way to get audio back if you break your Mac Mini orange ribbon.

But I canceled both orders and realized, hey you know what, I don't need no stinkin audio ribbon in this thing. I do need audio, but I'm quite content with my Creative Xmod which works fine on the Mac.

I used Disk Utility to copy the actual bytes over from one drive to the other. OS X booted on the new drive fine, but then I noticed that VMWare Fusion didn't see the Boot Camp drive, and of course Boot Camp itself didn't work.

I think I repartitioned and reformatted at least five times over the weekend. Googling didn't seem to help, forum threads mostly led to "You have to reinstall OS X and set up from scratch," which I thought was an awful notion. Nonetheless, after so much time wasted, I started down that path. The whole time my original hard drive was untouched so I had nothing to lose.

But then the OS X installer disc refused to install. Looking it up online, Apple's site said that I have to repartition the drive using a GUID Partition table. Buried in one of the advanced settings in Disk Utility (and easily overlooked), there it was, the radio button that let me choose GUID Partition table. The default was Apple Partition table, which is intended for PowerPC computers I suppose. (WHY IS THAT THE DEFAULT IF DISK UTILITY IS ALREADY RUNNING ON AN INTEL?! EARTH TO APPLE??!) I repartitioned again, then I realized rather than doing a byte-for-byte data transfer from my old hard drive I should restore all using my Time Machine backup. Time Machine literally backed up my entire system, something I didn't expect because the Time Machine backup consumed much less space on its drive than the data on the original hard drive (even accounting for excluded files such as VMWare Fusion VMs); I guess Time Machine uses compression, which makes sense.

The Vista partition did not have a backup, though, and attempting a byte-for-byte transfer from the original hard drive failed. Vista was there but it refused to boot. I tried using the Vista installer disc to "Fix startup", "bootrec /fixmbr", "bootrec /fixboot", "bootrec /rebuildbcd", etc. (I should have looked for this rather than just randomly flip switches LOL..) I also got stumped by another problem: Boot Camp refused to give me a boot drive selector when I held the Option key down. This ended up being caused by having too many USB peripherals and a race condition resulting, so I disconnected everything except for my keyboard and mouse and it worked fine. Ten or so reboots later, I gave up, deleted the Vista partition, and reinstalled Vista from scratch. It's okay though, I wanted to claim the extra space and get a fresh OS start anyway.

This blog entry is posted from my fresh Vista partition on my Mac Mini.

Finally, I had to manually restore my iTunes Music library, including the XML files. Somehow that didn't make it onto my Time Machine backup; might be because I had excluded it, I don't remember.



New York Times proves out Silverlight integration in a native Mac application

by Jon Davis 24. May 2008 19:46

New York Times has migrated their popular WPF-based New York Times Reader to the Mac, using Silverlight and native Cocoa windowing and application logic, and using the Safari / WebKit API as a Silverlight wrapper. (Darn it, I knew it was both doable and legal!) 

It doesn't have the text flow feature that WPF was so fantastically good at, but being as text flow is rumored as "coming soon", either for NY Times' reader or for Silverlight, I'm pretty excited about the future of that. 

I blogged about the feasability of this (native, non-web cross-platform apps with Silverlight rendering) just days ago, motivating myself to outright buy a Mac since I didn't see anyone bothering to try. Now that someone has not only tried but succeeded and released a significant product based on it, I feel a little mixed -- part bummed that I didn't get to post first-discoveries, but part excited that Silverlight has potential for an Adobe AIR-like wrapper, both technically and legally.

The NY Times Reader for Mac sure isn't running on WPF, though, and it shows. The user experience is clunky and the lack of text flow is painful (try resizing the window or scaling the text). The whole thing is nothing like the WPF version, except only for the initial screenshot appearance (without interacting) and, perhaps, the actual content.

kick it on

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Microsoft Windows | Web Development | Mac OS X | WPF

"Things OS X" link

by Jon Davis 20. May 2008 18:49

A friend gave me this link for great introductory reference to Mac OS X. This for my reference:  

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Mac OS X

My First Mac-Ported C# App

by Jon Davis 17. May 2008 22:10

Here's a screenie of my little GDI+ (System.Drawing) based game engine ported to the Mac using MonoDevelop. The sandbox "game" instance is just some bouncing balls that collide against the walls, the rectangular blocks, and each other, with fairly realistic physics, emitting dual-light draw drop-shadows, etc. In Windows, DirectSound is also used to create stereo "bump" sound effects that make the bumping balls feel a little more realistic.

Wow, this only took about ten minutes, from "I wonder if .." to "wow, look at that, it's working!" My steps:

  • Add my home Subversion server as a SCM repostitory in MonoDevelop
  • Check out my game engine (called "Level1Engine") to ~/Documents/dev/Level1Engine
  • Watch MonoDevelop puke on the absolute UNC path of one of the project references
    • Manually add the missing .csproj file to the solution
      • MonoDevelop exits unexpectedly
    • Reopen MonoDevelop, reopen solution
    • Create a new project with the same name/directory as the broken project
    • Remove the generated sample .cs file
    • Add the existing .cs files to the project, in-place
  • Comment out the DirectSound references from the game engine class library. (Sadly, that means there's no sound yet.)
  • Let 'er rip

Overall, this blog post took me about twice as long as porting my app!

The result is not flawless, though. Rendering performance is about 1/3 what it is in GDI+ (in Windows), and apparently the 2D matrix transformations (which I had to touch for the drop shadows) are a little buggy in Mono because that text on the top left, which is rendered with System.Drawing, jiggles around erratically by about two pixels.  

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Pet Projects | Software Development | Mac OS X

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) + VMWare Fusion + Mono = Bliss

by Jon Davis 17. May 2008 15:13

I have been using my new Mac Mini for less than 24 hours and it already looks like this:

In the screenshot I have VMWare Fusion with Unity enabled so that I have the Windows Vista Start menu (I can toggle off the Start menu's visibility from VMWare itself) and Internet Explorer 7. (I also have Visual Studio 2008 installed in that virtual machine). Next to Internet Explorer on the left is Finder which is showing a bunch of the apps I have installed, including most of the stuff at On the right I have MonoDevelop where I can write C# or VB.NET applications for the Mac, for Linux, or for Windows. And of course, down below I have the Dock popped up because that's where my arrow actually is.

I also, obviously, have an Ubuntu VM I can fire up any time I want if I want to test something in Linux. 

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) comes with native X11, not out of the box but with the installer CD, and it's the first OS X build to do so (previous versions used or required XFree86).

This point in time is a particularly intriguing milestone date for the alignment of the moons and stars for blissful cross-platform development using the Mac as a central hub of all things wonderful:


  • X11 on Mac OS X 10.5
  • MonoDevelop 1.0 is generally gold (released, it's very nice)
  • System.Windows.Forms in Mono is API-complete
  • VMWare Fusion's Unity feature delivers jaw-dropping, seamless windowing integration between Windows XP / Vista and Mac OS X. And to make things even more wonderful, VMWare Fusion 2, which comes with experimental DirectX 9 support, will be a free upgrade.
  • For game developers, the Unity game engine is a really nice cross-platform game engine and development toolset. I have a couple buddies I'll be joining up with to help them make cross-platform games, something I always wanted to do. This as opposed to XNA, which doesn't seem to know entirely what it's doing and comes with a community framework that's chock full of vaporware. (But then, I still greatly admire XNA and hope to tackle XNA projects soon.)
  • The hackable iPhone (which I also got this week, hacked, and SSH'd into with rediculous ease), which when supplemented with the BSD core, is an amazing piece of geek gadgetry that can enable anyone to write mobile applications using open-source tools (I'd like to see Mono running on it). The amount of quality software written for the hacked iPhone is staggering, about as impressive as the amount of open source software written for the Mac itself. Judging by the quantity of cool installable software, I had no idea how commonplace hacked iPhones were.
  • Meanwhile, for legit game development, the Unity 3D game engine now supports the iPhone and iPod Touch (so that's where XNA got the Zune support idea!) and the iPhone SDK is no longer just a bunch of CSS hacks for Safari but actually binary compile tools.


Embeddable Cross-Platform Silverlight

by Jon Davis 15. May 2008 00:02

I've been wanting to start discovering cross-platform development with Mono, MonoDevelop, Gecko#, C++, XPCOM, XUL, XULRunner, WebKit, et al. I have a couple vaporware apps in mind and I have just purchased a Mac Mini and an iPhone mainly for this purpose. And meanwhile since Silverlight happens to be cross-platform as well, I was curious about its licensing. Theoretically, one can accomplish an Adobe AIR-like cross-platform application implementation using Silverlight and XUL or WebKit. Problem is, I had heard that Silverlight was explicitly written to disallow it from being used on anything but a standard HTML web browser (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer).

After spending an hour or so poking at the n00b tutorials on XUL and XPCOM, I went to the Silverlight site and spent several minutes looking everywhere for the darn EULA. (Sadly, after finding it, once I hopped on this blog editor I lost it and it took another 15 minutes to find it again.) and

I didn't see any such limitation there, nothing about "thou shalt only use Silverlight in a 'standard web browser', namely Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari".  There are some limitations, of course, such as perhaps redistribution, which theoretically if the app is a XUL app can be deal with using HTML+JS+XUL+XPI, getting Silverlight into thinking it's downloading and installing itself through and onto Firefox. (All theory, of course.)

On a side topic, if anyone out there is reading this, can someone tell me why there are almost no open discussions correlating XUL and XAML/WPF? They seem to attempt to do the same basic function--create apps using XML and components--albeit WPF is far more powerful and versatile in itself as a tool in its niche, whereas XUL is Javascript/HTML friendly and is cross-platform.

UPDATE: After discussing with a buddy who's done cross-platform .NET programming with Mono, apparently Glade + GTK# has an XML markup language that also meets the same objective.

On second thought, maybe I just wasn't searching hard enough. I see a lot of hits here:

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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