Category Archives: Interesting

Mac OS X Virus help and tips – And a Walled Garden for OS X?

ZDNet’s Microsoft report has a hyped report today on malware hitting the Mac.  This issue in this report is not a virus or a worm, but a trojan.  A trojan does not exploit any security hole in Mac OS X, it relies on social engineering. This means that it tricks people into installing software that then does something to the computer.  This trojan tricks you into thinking it is an “official update” when it is not.  In this case the malware calls itself “Mac Defender” or “Mac Protector” when it is exactly the opposite to further confuse people.

One solution for Apple is that they may end up going to a completely App Store approach for installing software eventually for OS X.  I suspect that Apple will start by making the App Store the default for software installation.  Apple will likely leave an option for users to turn that off, perhaps in the Accounts section of System Preferences.  This gives a compromise where people who need to do so can use whatever method they want to install Mac OS X software and naive users will be much more protected.  Remember that 99% of computer users out there know very little about computers.  They think a Computer Science degree or Computer Engineering degree means you “know how to fix computers” when it means nothing of the sort.  Kind of like an “electrical engineer” can come and wire your house or a “mechanical engineer” knows how to fix your car.  It is a question of lack of knowledge.

The question here is: how much do you protect users from their own naivety/credulity/stupidity (depending upon how you want to phrase it)?  I believe that in the long term, like it or not, the trend will be that Mac OS X (and most operating systems) will migrate to the walled garden approach for just this reason.

In the mean time, some steps you should take to help keep your Mac safe from viruses, trojans, worms, and other malware:

1. You should never run as an “admin” account.  This means that in the Accounts section of System Preferences your user should not have “Allow user to administer this computer” checked.  You should have one account, perhaps named “admin”, that can administer your computer.  Your regular account should not do so.

2. You should not type that “admin” account name and password in unless you are absolutely sure that you know why you are being asked to do so.  For any trojan to be installed and infect your computer, you have to have typed in the admin name and admin password.  And then the first time you launch it you have to click okay to launch something downloaded from the Internet.

3. Run software update automatically and frequently.  Daily, automatic is best.

4. Do NOT click on unknown links in emails.

5. Do NOT open unknown email attachments.

6. Only download software from the Apple Mac OS X App store or from known, trusted websites.

7. Do NOT ignore warnings from Safari, Firefox or other browsers about sites that contain malware.

8. In Safari, turn OFF “open ‘safe’ files after downloading”.

9. Use HTTPS – secure encryption when possible.

10. Some anti-virus software to consider:

ClamXav is free anti-virus software (real anti-virus)


(* I use the word ‘virus’ in the title merely because most people do not know the difference between a virus, worm, trojan or other malware.)

Samsung WB700 review – missing vivid mode

The Samsung WB700 digital camera has been out for a few weeks now, and while many of the features are nice, it does not perform as well as the HZ30W and HZ35W.

I can only give it an “OK” rating. Compared to the HZ30W and HZ35W the pictures are not as vibrant and the colors are not as true to life.  I have to also say that the same is true compared to the TL34HD. Photos are plenty clear, and certainly the zoom function is good, but the colors just don’t look life-like, unlike the HZs and the TL34HD.  The better parts are, of course, the 18x opitcal zoom and some other little improvements in the camera. The zoom on the WB700 works well and the camera itself feels a bit more compact and solid than the HZ30W/HZ35W.

One thing that it is also missing one function I liked on the HZ30W/35W (and TL34HD) and that is the “vivid” mode. I believe all the other modes are all still there, but not “vivid.” Seems like a strange thing to leave out and it would be helpful in order to get the camera to record the colors closer to what the eye sees, since the Samsung WB700 isn’t doing that on its own.

In general, the camera is an okay upgrade to the HZ30W. Personally though I would keep my HZ30W and wait until the next upgrade before buying. Hopefully Samsung will realize that the vivid mode is handy and add it back in.


iPad USIM9997 error

If you are on a 3G iPad and check your “Cellular Data” and click “View Account” and get a USIM9997 error, it could be a simple fix.  I was connected to the internet via WiFi since it is fast.  Apparently if you are not connected via the AT&T network, you will get an error.  So, it turns out that turning on “Cellular Data” so that you are using the AT&T 3G network fixed the problem for me.  Just a helpful hint.  😉

Apple TV 2 (2010) review – a bit disappointing.

While some of the features in the new Apple TV will be appreciated, it is a BIG step back in terms of sharing your own content around your home.
Previously content from your computer was easily shared via “My Movies,” “My TV Shows,” photos, music and the like.  In the new version all that content is under a “Computers” menu with sub-menus there.  The sub-menus are organized, but not in a seamless way.  Nothing like having “MY” [continued] Continue reading Apple TV 2 (2010) review – a bit disappointing.

3TB Barracuda XT Seagate drive performance on a Mac Pro

After testing the first version of the Seagate 3TB with xbench on a 12-core Mac Pro, here are the results.  It should be noted that this is the first version of the 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT and that the widely available versions due out soon(?) will likely have improved performance characteristics.

Four 2TB Seagate Barracudas on RAID Card, RAID 5:
4 x 2TB Seagate Barracudas on RAID

3TB Seagate Barracuda on RAID Card (single disk, not RAID 5):

3TB Seagate Barracuda on RAID Card

3TB Seagate Barracuda Drive not on RAID Card:3TB Seagate Barracuda Drive not on RAID

1TB Western Digitial Black not on RAID:


3TB internal hard disks on the Mac Pro and 3TB drives on the Apple RAID

We’ve been experimenting with the Seagate Barracuda XT 3000GB on various Macintosh configurations. In the past one could take out, for example, four 500 GB drives and replace them with four 1TB, 1.5TB, or 2TB internal drives.

The result for four 2TB drives configured in RAID 5 is a drive that is about 5.23TB with redundancy.

With the release of 3TB internal hard drives, such as the Seagate Barracuda XT above, many Windows PCs can’t make use of more than approximately 2.2TB due to the use of MBR (see 1, 2). Apple on the other hand, has been using the GUID partition table (GPT) for some time (since 10.4.0 in early 2005) so the Mac OS X should be able to make use of larger than 2.2 TB hard drives.

In some respects the tests so far demonstrate this. The results so far:
1. On a 2008 Mac Pro (MacPro3,1 Quad-Core Intel Xeon, 3 GHz, 2 processors, 8 cores) with RAID Card (1.00, M-, the drives only show up as 2.2 TB.
2. On a 2008 Mac Pro (MacPro3,1) without the RAID Card, the drives show up as 3.0 TB.
3. On a 2010 Mac Pro (MacPro5,1) with RAID Card (2.00, E-, 0018) the drives show up as 2.2 TB.
4. On a 2010 Mac Pro (MacPro5,1) without the RAID Card, the drives show up as a full 3.0 TB.

In short, Mac OS X appears to have no difficultly using hard disks that are larger than 2.2TB, except when those drives are connected to an Apple RAID Card.  Apple does warn “Do not assume that the block size is always going to be 512 bytes” and does not support SSD with the current RAID card.  Apple states that “Solid-state drives are not compatible with the Mac Pro RAID Card in either RAID or Enhanced JBOD mode.”  My hypothesis as of now is that Apple did not heed their own warnings on block sizes on the Apple RAID card which is why hard drives attached to the RAID Card seem to be limited to 2.2TB.

Some performance notes on the 3TB Seagate Barracuda’s will follow shortly.

iPhone 4 on T-Mobile USA

I’ve been running an iPhone 4 with iOS 4.0.0 and 4.0.1 on the T-Mobile USA network for about 2.5 weeks now so thought I’d give an update:

Here are the steps so far:
1. Had to cut down my mini-sim to micro-sim size. That was not difficult. If there is interest, I’ll post the pictures from the process. Took about 20-25 minutes to get it to the correct dimensions, primarily shaving off the last little slivers to make it fit snuggly.
2. Had to get it from Europe (UK) so it was factory unlocked. Not difficult, but not subsidized. However, if you think you spend $70-100 more per month on the plan (about $154 from AT&T to get a plan close to what I have with T-Mobile) it does not take long to make up the difference. And you end up with an unlocked phone so you can use it anywhere.
3. Works nicely except only on EDGE, not 3G – presumably due to the frequency differences. In theory, it should be relatively easy for Apple to open up the new frequency (e.g. no additional antenna/chip needed etc, just tuning to another frequency like a regular radio). Hopefully the chips support it, if Apple wanted to support T-Mobile and it didn’t violate their exclusivity with AT&T.
4. No visual voicemail. Not a big deal so far for me.
5. T-Mobile on iPhone 3GS (on 3.x and 4.0.0) was having trouble receiving MMS, but sending okay (e.g. Google “the media content was not included due to a picture resolution or message size restriction”). Not sure if iPhone 4 running 4.01 is still doing it.
6. Since it uses EDGE and not 3G, I can’t using internet/mail etc while on the phone. Not a big deal for me.
7. Gets equivalent or better reception in the areas (Florida only so far) I use it with iPhone 3GS’s on AT&T – e.g. same areas, bars etc. (EDGE vs 3G of course).
8. iPhone 4 has performed equal or better in reception and dropped calls in the 2.5 weeks I’ve been running it on T-Mobile US as compared to previously with iPhone 3GS.

All in all, it (and 3GS and 3G) have worked great on T-Mobile USA with the exception of 3G vs EDGE so far.