Monday, March 31, 2014

Quick Tip: Calibrate Your Monitor!

If you are using your Hacktintosh to just check email once in a while, this post is not further importance to you. However, if the computer is used for any sort of visual work, such as processing of video or still photography, artwork or design, you may want to consider calibrating you screen.

Of course there is the relatively pricy option of screen calibrators which you connect via USB and all the magic happens.

As to Apple's OS-X, there is a calibration mode provided for free, which uses even more precious sensors, namely your very own eyes.
For using this tool, you want to open the "Displays" option in "System Preferences". Go to the "Color"-tab. Now you want to click on "Calibrate...", which will open another window. Be sure to check the "Expert mode" box! As of now, lean back (as the instructions will tell you) and follow the instructions!
My experience told me to do this exercise a couple of times in order to get the hang of the tool and a  precise calibration. Mind you, you are using parts of your very own body to calibrate an electronic device. Using your senses always involves learning.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Ultimate Touchpad(s)

Not that I did so much myself concerning IT lately. However, there is always stuff to discover.

Lately, I bought a Wacom Bamboo Pad (the wireless version). The initial plan was to have a graphics tablet to go along with the HP ProBook 4540s (the one with OS-X on it) for photo editing, i.e. retouching.

The Bamboo comes at a price comparable to Apple's Magic Trackpad. The Bamboo, however, has a huge bonus over the Magic Trackpad, it comes with a stylus, which is really helpful for retouching photos.

The silver-ish design of the Bamboo nearly matches the ProBook's looks.

Hooking the thing up to the computer leads to instant functioning as tablet w/ a stylus. Don't stop here! Install the latest driver from Wacom, your tablet will now function as a touch-pad.

The interesting bit about the Bamboo is that it functions in two different modes.
  1. When using it with fingers (touch) it reacts relative to the input, just like expected from a touch pad.
  2. As soon as the stylus is used for input, the tablet reacts in absolute mode, i.e. the position of the stylus determines the position of the cursor on the screen.
Having used the Bamboo for a while and really enjoyed it when working on photos, I decided to also buy the Wacom Intuos, to pair up with my workstation. Although I have not yet done a lot with it, I love the eraser option on the far end of the stylus! Really cool when working on masks in GIMP.
The Intuos does not seem to work a priori at all. Installing the proper driver is mandatory. However, with the driver installed, an entirely new world for controlling a Hackintosh arises!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Disable or Not Swap on Your M(H)ac(k)intosh

Why would you want to do that?! Well, simple, today, RAM does not cost a thing, 8GB or 16GB are plenty for most applications, and there still is the option to go to 32GB. Virtual memory, it seems, is not that important any longer.

Most of the recent Macintosh, or Hackintoshs respectively, have the operating system on an SSD, for quick boot-up times. I believe real Macintosh computers employ SSDs only nowadays, but I am not sure...
We all know, that the easiest way to wear down your SSD is, to use it as a swap (virtual memory) device.

Given that your computer is supplied with sufficient RAM for your tasks, you may want to try this:
and disable swap all together.
Presently, with my most recent build (16GB), I am actually trying this.

Hackintosh computers usually employ a regular HDD for mass-storage (or scratch), next to the SSD boot drive. For those boxes, one may consider using the magnetic HDD for swapping. This is a bit more complicated, but still doable:
  • boot your Hackintosh into Single user mode using "-s" (no quotation marks)
  • mount your HDD, using something like (depending on your setup, disk1s2 is my HDD, mounted on the mount point /Volumes/HOME/):
    mount -t hfs /dev/disk1s2 /Volumes/HOME
  • now lets make a hidden "vm"-directory:
    mkdir /Volumes/HOME/.vm
  • link the new "vm" directory to the expected place:
    ln -s /var/vm /Volumes/HOME/.vm
    you may also link "/private" if you want:
    ln -s /private/var/vm /Volumes/HOME/.vm
  • for good measures it created empty files (probably not necessary):
    touch /Volumes/HOME/.vm/swapfile0
    touch /Volumes/HOME/.vm/swapfile1since those were the files found first...
  • to enable swap, I entered:
    launchctl load -F /System/Library/LaunchDeamons/
When you're done with that, you just want to make sure all data are written using the command sync. Now, just type reboot.

A from now, my system uses swap (virtual memory) on the magnetic disk, leaving the SSD alone.

Of course, running swap of the HDD might be possible w/o switching off swap in the first place. I have not tried this, but I am certain that (in Single User mode) creating the hidden directory first, copying the swapfiles to it, deleting the previous /var/vm location and finally linking the hidden directory to /var/vm will do the exact same thing.