Home Automation Via Sonic Screwdriver

One thing that really annoyed me about the lights in my room is when I went to bed I would always forget to turn the lights off and have to climb out of bed and turn them off. That sounds like a first world problem, and well it is. But I had a solution in mind. Back a few years ago I would control my lights with one of those cheap remote outlets you would find at places like Home Depot or Lowes around Christmas time. I took the only one I had a long time ago to see what made it tick. Before I ended up frying the remote, I discovered that it was nothing but a RF transmitting remote and receiver. The receiver would get the signal from the remote and flip a relay.

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Run Boot Camp Within OS X

Recently a friend of mine, Josh Betz, has been trying to get his Boot Camp partition to run as a virtual machine (VM) from OS X. It’s a great idea and I would recommend, but there are a couple of disadvantages. Let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Able to access all of your existing files
  • Saves hard drive space by not requiring a virtual disk
  • Allows you to run Windows without restarting your Mac
  • Completely free (I will outline how to do this free with VirtualBox, but VMware can do this natively, but it costs $$$ and we don’t like that!)

Cons

  • Usually pretty slow at booting up
  • Must install Windows 7, and in a certain way (Only Windows 7 is proven to work, I haven’t tried Vista, but if you’re running Vista… well I’m sorry I just won’t help you.)
  • A few hacks need to be applied

Obviously the pros outweigh the cons, but hey, everything has some trade-offs. Anyway, this process isn’t very hard and should take the average Terminal junkie ~5 minutes. Now there are two ways we can go about this…
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Gaming in the Cloud

I’m going to have to start off this post with a little background story. Last night at approximately 8PM I lost all the data that was stored on my MacBook’s hard drive. That’s over 400GB of movies, TV shows, pictures, and music. I also lost the local copies of all of my websites. Lucky enough for me I work on all of my sites live with Coda, therefore nothing was completely lost.

How did I lose this, you ask? Well, on my MacBook Pro I had two partitions, one for Snow Leopard and the other for Windows 7.¬† Yeah yeah I know, an Apple fanboy using Windows, but let me just mention that I use it for the sole purpose of gaming. Anyway, back on topic, I noticed that my Windows partition wasn’t mounting in Snow Leopard any more, so I went to try to diagnose the problem. I went into Windows and set the active partition to the Snow Leopard partition (I deduced this solution from my days of a hackintosher), though this did not work and actually did not let me boot into Snow¬†Leopard OR Windows 7. I didn’t panic because I figured I could pop in the Windows 7 installation disc, open up a command line, and then set the Windows partition as the active partition. Little did I know that trying that would convert the whole drive to MBR, thus making both partitions unbootable and unmountable. I went through and tried to repair either of the partitions just so that I wouldn’t lose anything, but each repair procedure I tried ended in failure.

That’s when I just got pissed and frustrated and just decided to screw both installations and start from scratch. The only thing that I really REALLY wanted to save were my saved games for Oblivion. I was able to pop in the 7 install disc and grab the files off of the partition before I wiped everything. I mean, hey, I spent over 48 hours in that game. Anyway, I got everything reinstalled and kept thinking there had to be a better way to prevent this.

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