- Install OEM Windows 7 software
- Install 3rd-party drivers
- Setup TeamViewer
- Setup FTP server
- Check Windows Firewall Settings
- Install Microsoft .Net framework
- Install Firefox
- Configure Firefox (Adblock)
- Install XBMC
- Setup remote control
- Install Google Music Manager
- Install Deluge
- Configure XBMC Add-ons
- Install and configure LCD drivers
- Program LCD drivers for XBMC events
- Add Netflix and Hulu to XBMC
There has been a format war raging since the dawn of the personal computer, between Microsoft and Apple, for the best disk storage file system. Microsoft began with the FAT (File Allocation Table) which eventually evolved into NTFS (New Technology File System) in the early 2000s. Apple, on the other hand, has always stuck with the Unix-friendly Hierarchical File System (HFS)—barring the short-lived Macintosh File System from the early 1980s. This never seemed to be much of a problem until the late 2000s, when Apple’s growing market share made it increasingly apparent that there needed to be a way to bridge the gap between the two—especially since Windows XP could now run natively on Apple hardware. Open-source implementations of HFS-FAT had existed for some time now, but XP was an NTFS-based system. There needed to be a way to enable NTFS support in OSX.
Finnish outfit Tuxera was the foremost professional developer in the world of *Nix-Windows crossovers (Unix/Linux), having developed the best and most prolific open source tools to enable native FAT support in Linux. This led them to develop and publish NTFS-3G, a free and open source implementation of the native NTFS driver for Linux and OSX. Tuxera finally killed off official support for NTFS-3G in 2012, but the source code for the driver is still maintained on Sourceforge by volunteers.
Personally, I don’t recommend this method to enable NTFS support in OSX as it is extremely buggy now, you have to compile the driver yourself (which is always a pain in the ass), there is no support to speak of, it has paltry read/write speeds, and there are just better ways of doing it now.
It’s still free, and it’s still buggy, and it’s still tedious, but starting in OSX Tiger, Apple tucked away a developer option to allow write support via the Terminal. It’s an experimental feature, and not officially supported by the Coop, so I still don’t recommend it as your primary option. If you need to occasionally enable NTFS support in OSX or MacOS, you might go for it, but I use NTFS drives far too often to rely on this method.
First, connect the NTFS drive to the Mac, then get the UUID for the drive by invoking the following command in Terminal:
diskutil info /Volumes/DRIVENAME | grep UUID
Now, you’ll need to append the drive’s UUID to the NTFS read/write support list in /etc/fstab:
sudo echo “UUID=ENTER_UUID_HERE none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse” >> /etc/fstab
You’ll now be able to access the drive’s directory in Finder by invoking the following command:
You can also create an alias for the drive on the desktop by invoking:
sudo ln -s /Volumes/DRIVENAME ~/Desktop/DRIVENAME
Commercial (Paid) Option
Disclosure: this review is unbiased insofar as I have not received any compensation from either of these companies to review their products. I have used all the options in this article at one time or another, and I presently use a paid copy of Paragon’s NTFS for Mac.
Tuxera abandoned their free version of the NTFS driver in favor of a paid option, which is very popular, and comes with a Disk Manager utility for easy drive maintenance actions such as format, check, and repair. The software is $30, but is available for a trial period. Upgrades are free for existing customers.
Paragon Software also has a commercial NTFS driver, priced at only $20, but does not come with the disk management utility. Personally, I use this one as it will natively enable NTFS support in OSX utilities such as the stock Disk Utility app, eliminating the need for an extra application.
Both drivers enable NTFS support for OSX and MacOS at read/write speeds comparable to native HFS+ speeds, and offer full support in multiple languages. Both offer a two-week trial period and free upgrades for life.
As much as a fan of FOSS as I am, sometimes you do need to put a little money down for a proper utility—especially one that has had years of active development. My biggest argument for a commercial solution here is one of stability: The commercial drivers natively mount NTFS partitions and allow manipulation just like any other drive, and have been used and tested against data loss and corruption. If you have the coin, drop it on one of the commercial options. You’ll be glad you did!
If you need a simple backup scheduler, give Code 42’s CrashPlan a try. CrashPlan is available for Windows, Linux, and OSX and allows file backups to local, networked, and off-site locations with a simple, easy-to-use setup.
Download and install CrashPlan Free to each computer you want to backup and one the machine you will use as a backup server. You can have any number of machines connected to your “cloud” with the only limitation being the available space on the server. I have it backing up my Macbook Pro and VCR to an external hard drive connected to the VCR. These backups are also mirrored in an encrypted folder on a computer at my office across town.
Cloud backup storage is also available from CrashPlan for a nominal fee, but with off-site storage being as easy as connecting your work computer, I don’t see much need for it.
I’ve been looking for a good solution for run Windows apps on Mac for a while now–going so far as to employ a virtual machine for some of my needs, but Bootcamp and VMs are often resource-heavy or time-intensive, requiring reboots or simply taking a long time to initialize. WINE in OSX is cumbersome at best, and not ideal for quickly deploying small applications (like my all-time favorite MP3 player, Winamp). Enter CrossOver.
CrossOver is a commercial version of WINE that has many of the settings “pre-tweaked” for each application that can be installed in its own “bottle”, much like the app structure for OSX itself. It should be noted that CrossOver, like WINE, is not a virtual machine or an emulator. The utility creates a compatibility layer on top of OSX, adding Windows-specific libraries and redefining the directory structure so that the application can work in the Unix-based Macintosh environment. Since CrossOver builds a Windows compatibility layer on top of Unix-based systems, it can be used to run Windows apps under Linux as well.
Install CrossOver on Mac like any other application, then run the app to install Windows applications. You will be prompted to choose the application from the database of known working applications (which is updated fairly consistently), then to locate the installer executable, and finally to create the “bottle” that will hold the application-specific libraries. So far, I have used CrossOver to run Winamp with great success (playing MP3 files from my former iTunes library and adding skins), and I will try to update as I use more software from my archives.
I was working on a new laptop for a client (preapring a basic setup and installing some software solutions for his business) that came pre-installed with Windows 10 and no support media. After a nominal wait for the OS to perform its “first run” checks and setup, I was presented with the Windows 10 login screen, but the only user account available was this “defaultuser0”, which I did not have the password to. Normally, I would refer to the manual (or quick start guide in a pinch), but the refurbished Acer from Newegg came with only a single slip of paper explaining the warranty. My years of experience with Windows taught me that the first step in troubleshooting is to reboot (possibly into Safe Mode) which you can technically only do from inside Windows, so I did the next best thing: a hard power-off reset.
Yes, I know you’re never supposed to do that. Sometimes you have no alternative but to use a little brute force.
Upon the reset, Windows returned to the initial setup screens, asking me for language, keyboard layout, and prompting me to leak as much data as possible back to Microsoft (to which I always opt out). So far, so good; however, after an unusually long “Just a moment…” screen, the monitor dropped to a blank screen with only a cursor. All the information that I was able to locate pointed to a driver problem and that the screen would initialize after a prolonged wait. That was a sucker test. I waited an entire day before giving up the ghost on that idea.
After much gnashing of teeth, I was able to assemble a solution from several partial solutions scattered through the Windows 10 fora, but lucky you, I’m going to share the fruits of my labor!
First thing to do in this situation is perform the hard reset. Hold the power button until the computer turns off. Wait a few moments for the hard drive(s) to stop spinning before powering the computer on again.
Once Windows gets as far as the Regional Settings dialog (the screen asking for language, time zone, and keyboard layout), press CTRL+SHIFT+F3 to reboot the computer into audit mode. Once you’re finally “properly” into Windows, ignore the System Preparation Tool window, open the Start Menu, then click “Power”. Hold down the left-hand SHIFT key, click “Restart” and keep the SHIFT key held until the reboot options screen appears.
Click “Troubleshoot”, then “Reset This PC”, and finally “Remove Everything”. You’ll drop to a black screen with the word “Preparing” in the large, friendly letters characteristic of Windows 10. Eventually, you will return to a blue screen asking if you want to clean the drives as well. Click “Just remove my files” and then the “Reset” button on the next page. The screen will go black again and display the Windows 10 progress indicator while it chugs through the reset process.
Grab yourself a beer and watch some cartoons because it will take a while to finish, but when it completes Windows should be ready to play nicely during setup, and not throw you another defaultuser0 error.
I ran across a special on Boing Boing for a bundle of Mac software that I couldn’t resist (Paragon NTFS For Mac alone was worth the discounted price), and made an impulse buy. I’ll write more about each application later as I play with them, but I wanted to give special recognition to this Synergy app from the mind of one Nick Bolton.
I have been working on Project Magnavox for almost 2 years now (It’s an ever-evolving project, as you dear readers have no doubt figured out), but I have always had to juggle between my laptop or tablet and the wireless keyboard that I have attached to the VCR. With Synergy, I am able to interact with the VCR using only the keyboard and trackpad on the laptop! Think of it as a sort of KVM switch, but instead of flipping a physical switch, you simply drag the mouse to the screen you need to interact with and you’re ready to go. Seamless.
Installation is a snap. Once you sign up and pay for an account, simply download the application to each computer you wish to connect. Enter your credentials on each computer, decide on a “host” machine (whose keyboard and mouse you will be using), and position the clients relative to the host’s monitor position. For example, my laptop is the host machine, and I simply drag the mouse off the top of the screen for it to appear on the TV connected to Project Magnavox. The best part is that I can sit comfortably at the table across the room, work on Project Magnavox, and need not worry about staying within range of my el cheapo wireless keyboard.
Synergy is software for sharing one keyboard and mouse between multiple computers.
Building Project Magnavox into a genuine all-in-one entertainment system is more than just being able to access all my videos, music, and streaming media on one device. To round-out the feature set, we need to take a page from Microsoft’s playbook and add videogames to the mix. Granted, I could install all my game consoles underneath the television, but that takes up more room than I actually have in my small apartment. Besides, outside the aesthetic benefits of having a veritable museum in my living room, it’s frankly more trouble than it’s worth to rig the wiring, route the cabling, and squint at a screen stretched beyond its original aspect ratio. As awesome as James Rolfe‘s basement is, until I have my own library, I’d like to keep my setup as space-efficient as possible.
This leaves me with one of the most polarizing concepts in classic gaming: emulation.
Now, I’m no stranger to the debate, and let me first say adamantly that it is the opinion of this reporter that, legally speaking, you may make backup copies of software that you have legitimately obtained for personal use [emphasis added]. This is the only application that we will be dealing with here. Secondly, I advocate for emulation in this sense because it does make playing the games much easier and convenient, contributing to my own enjoyment. Thirdly, the so-called “collector’s market” has driven the prices for games through an unsustainable ceiling, and because young millennials would like bragging rights by being able to “own” a copy of a particular game, all the carts and discs worth playing have been bought up only to appear on eBay at ten times or more their original price. Much like the market for vinyl has all-but ruined the casual collection of original-run albums, the market for cartridges and discs has similarly eroded the enjoyment from the hobby.
Enter Libretro, a handy piece of software that seeks to pull as many different emulator “cores” into one central application, running almost any classic game as close to original quality as possible in a convenient package. The Libretro API uses a custom front-end called RetroArch to set up and run the roms for each emulator core. The pair are installed simultaneously as a package, and each core is installed as an add-on from within RetroArch itself.
To install RetroArch in Windows, simply download the latest stable RetroArch build from the website, then unzip the downloaded file to the location of your choosing. If you’re still running Windows 7 (because fuck Windows 10), you may run into a missing file error. Specifically, you may be missing d3dx9_43.dll from the DirectX runtime, so you should follow my instructions for fixing that error here.
That’s it! RetroArch is completely self-contained and should run without incident. Use the arrow keys, Z, and X for most of the navigation (you’ll see a control map on first run), download an emulator core from the Online Updater menu, open your freshly-dumped roms, and get playing!
Setting up WinLIRC for an FTDI-driven blaster is as simple as selecting the “SerialDevice.dll” plugin and the appropriate config file.
The WinLIRC config files are available from the WinLIRC remote database on Sourceforge. Download the one that matches your receiver or device, and place that file in the “Config” dialog. If your particular device is not available from the database, you will need to create your own config file. WinLIRC includes a tool that will allow you to capture commands using a USB IR receiver and play them back using your blaster. Click the “OK” button and WinLIRC should have no trouble connecting to your blaster.
Testing your USB IR blaster with WinLIRC
In the WinLIRC control window, you can select from two dropdown menus, one for remotes and one for commands. Choose the appropriate selections from each menu, and send the command to verify that your settings are correct.