2014-01-12 Good Night, Pyrobombus

I’ve used this Mac Mini since the summer of 2006 on a crappy 1024x768 monitor and loved it. But now Claudia has a !PowerBook and Apple doesn’t allow me to run Mac OS 10.9 on this Mini and there seem to be no more security patches. It’s too old. It has become a security risk. This is the machine that made me switch from PCs to Macs. I called it [NamingScheme Pyrobombus]. Bye bye, Pyrobombus. Perhaps I shall one day install Debian. But right now we just don’t have a need for another computer in the house. Also, the keyboard sucked.


Add Comment

2014-01-11 mkhexgrid

My Old School Hex Map Tutorial tells people to use mkhexgrid, if they can. It’s what I’ve been doing for years, now.

On my wife’s laptop we now run Mac 10.9 (“Maverick”) and it no longer builds. As I’ve switched to using Homebrew, I recided to write my own Formula.

If you want to try it, save it as /usr/local/Library/Formula/mkhexgrid.rb and run brew install mkhexgrid. The only tricky thing is that it requires the GD library to be built with FreeType, apparently. If you don’t have GD installed, great. This Formula will do the right thing. If not, you might have to brew uninstall gd before proceeding.

require 'formula'

class Mkhexgrid < Formula
  homepage ''
  url ''
  sha1 '3b8e0be3636f90a3217a5e3556bdaf7bb0c49116'

  depends_on 'gd' => %w{with-freetype}

  def install
    inreplace 'Makefile' do |s|
      s.change_make_var! "DESTDIR", prefix
      s.change_make_var! "CC",
      s.gsub! /install (.*) -o 0 -g 0/, 'install \1'
    inreplace 'mkhexgrid.cpp' do |s|
      s.sub! 'catch (exception &e)', 'catch (std::exception &e)'
    system "make" # needs to be separate
    system "make", "install"

  test do
    # test the example from the man page (but without inches)
    system "mkhexgrid", "--output=ps", "--image-width=2448",
    "--image-height=1584", "--hex-side=36", "--coord-bearing=0",
    "--coord-dist=22", "--coord-size=8", "--grid-thickness=1",
    "--coord-font=Helvetica", "--grid-grain=h", "--grid-start=o",
    "--coord-tilt=-90", "--centered", "-o", ""


Comments on 2014-01-11 mkhexgrid

These days, it’s part of Homebrew:

alex@Megabombus:~$ brew search mkhexgrid
homebrew/games/mkhexgrid ✔
alex@Megabombus:~$ brew install mkhexgrid
Warning: homebrew/games/mkhexgrid-0.1.1 already installed
alex@Megabombus:~$ brew reinstall mkhexgrid
==> Reinstalling homebrew/games/mkhexgrid
==> Downloading
######################################################################## 100,0%
==> make
==> make install
🍺  /usr/local/Cellar/mkhexgrid/0.1.1: 14 files, 214.9K, built in 28 seconds

– Alex Schroeder 2016-04-13 05:41 UTC

Add Comment

2013-08-02 Fetchmail and Gmail

I’m using fetchmail to keep a copy of all my Gmail stuff.

defaults mda "/usr/bin/procmail -d alex"
  fetchsizelimit 0
  limit 0
poll protocol
  username ""
  password "..."

The reason for the mda lines up there is that I don’t have a working mail installation on this machine, I think. I haven’t touched this file in a long time.

Anyway, I’ve noticed this output:

fetchmail: Server certificate verification error: unable to get local issuer certificate
fetchmail: Server certificate verification error: certificate not trusted
577 messages (451 seen) for at (59586522 octets).
skipping message not flushed
skipping message not flushed
skipping message not flushed
skipping message not flushed
skipping message not flushed
skipping message not flushed
reading message of 577 (15255 octets) not flushed
reading message of 577 (3280 octets) not flushed
reading message of 577 (29028 octets) not flushed
reading message of 577 (4631 octets) not flushed
reading message of 577 (2284 octets) not flushed
reading message of 577 (47301 octets) not flushed

What are these 451 “seen” messages doing? Can I get rid of them? Have I downloaded these before? Rerunning fetchmail keeps telling me about the 451 seen messages and downloading a new set of mails. It’s weird.


Comments on 2013-08-02 Fetchmail and Gmail

“Seen” are emails in the inbox that fetchmail knows about – it probably caches the headers/msg ids locally, pop3 doesn’t really support this, but clients can hack around. So, basically, if you have emails lingering in the GMail Inbox, they will be listed over and over again whenever you poll via pop3. This may be clearer if you switch to a protocol that actually considers syncing mailboxes and state, i.e. IMAP rather than pop to get your messages from GMail.

– Harald 2013-08-02 21:05 UTC

Incorrect Harald. The same thing happens with IMAP, except I have 740,000 messages in my inbox!

fetchmail: skipping message not flushed
fetchmail: skipping message not flushed
fetchmail: skipping message not flushed

Is there a better solution than using fetchmail? It seems to be very wasteful when polling, maybe there is something I am missing.

poll protocol IMAP and I use ssl and idle options

Rad 2013-10-24 18:25 UTC

Add Comment

2013-05-07 WMA to MP3

This is based on How to Convert Unprotected WMA Files Into MP3 Files. I’m leaving the instructions here for my future self. :)

for file in *.wma; do
  mplayer -vo null -vc dummy -af resample=44100 \
    -ao pcm:file="${file%%.[Ww][Mm][Aa]}.wav" "$file"
  lame --preset standard "${file%%.[Ww][Mm][Aa]}.wav" \

Use locate lame|grep 'lame$' and locate mplayer|grep 'mplayer$' to find the location of your executables. On a Mac, they’re probably not on your PATH… I installed MPlayer OSX and iTunes-LAME to get the executables. You’ll need to do something similar.

This is the result I just used for some files with upper case file extension:

for file in *.WMA; do
  "/Applications/MPlayer" \
    -vo null -vc dummy -af resample=44100 \
    -ao pcm:file="${file%%.[Ww][Mm][Aa]}.wav" "$file"
  "/Applications/" \
    --preset standard "${file%%.[Ww][Mm][Aa]}.wav" \


Add Comment

2012-10-21 Streaming from a Mac to the Xbox 360

One word: Vuze can do it! It’s not what Vuze’s main purpose is, but it works. 👌


Add Comment

2012-05-30 New Router

Note to self: Today I replaced my AirPort Express with a new one. The old one was simply unreachable and resetting it made no difference. I bought it back in 2005. It lasted for seven years. That’s pretty good.

I’m once again dreaming of an OpenWlan, specially in the light of recent decisions:


Add Comment

2011-11-06 iTunes iPad Backup

The media on this iPad cannot be backed up because there is not enough free space on this computer to hold all of the backed up files (31.30 GB required, 3.57 GB available). Would you like to continue to update this iPad? Continuing will result in the loss of all media on this iPad.

I hate you! My external disk drive has 214.03 GB available. Now what?

I think what I’ll try is move all my existing backups from ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ to my external drive and link the new location to the old location.

  1. it did not work – even though this is what other people suggest as well
  2. tried it with a symbolic link instead of the links Finder creates, but it didn’t work, either
  3. tried moving !MobilSync to the external disk and symbolic linking it, but it didn’t work, either

iTunes keeps telling me that there’s not enough space. > }}

I noticed that you might have to call this repeatedly because at particular points in time the process might not be writing backup files.

Anyway. What does this tell me? iTunes checks the available disk space on the default drive where it thinks the backup will be created, even though I moved the directory to an external disk. 👎

Well, I was hoping this fixed the stupid problem, but not so:

An error occurred while backing up this iPad (-50). Would you like to continue to update this iPad? Continuing will result in the loss of all contents on this iPad.

Now what? Retry? I wonder what that means, exactly: Loss of all in-app purchases? What if the app is no longer supported—are the in-app purchases that I am unable to download lost forever?

Another question poses itself: Do I need a backup as part of this upgrade process? When I sync the iPad before doing the upgrade, I see that it is doing a backup. When I check iTunes Preferences → Advanced → Devices → I see “Alex Schröder’s iPad – Today 11:20” (not quite what I expected but close enough). Perhaps I can just upgrade the iPad and then restore this backup?

Googling for this error leads me to a thread where a user is saying “I had my MobileSync folder symlinked…” This is exactly what I did to avoid the first error. Needless to say, this makes me very unhappy.

What I’ll try next is deleting the symlink without moving the backup data back to the main drive and upgrade. We’ll see about the various backups after the upgrade. Perhaps the 31.30 GB required are just a temporary thing. I sure hope so.

It worked! When I came back this morning I saw Syncing Photos to “Alex Schröder’s iPad (Step 6/6)—Copying photo 16600 of 19540”



Comments on 2011-11-06 iTunes iPad Backup

I love Apple - until it doesn’t work…

Jovial Priest 2011-11-06 20:33 UTC

My thoughts exactly! sigh I switched to Apple after having used various GNU/Linux distributions for years. I spent a lot of time tinkering with the system. Apple appeared to offer a fix to this problem, and it just works—most of the time. When it doesn’t work, though…

AlexSchroeder 2011-11-06 23:04 UTC

Sorry to hear you’re in iPad hell. I just brought on line a 2 TB external (2 TB … and I recall the days of tape) for my media. In my case, it was the prior drive going down, taking all the music with it (and nearly the !MacBook, whose hd was also entirely full). Managed to recover an old episode of the podcast, plus (thanks to iCloud, I’ll admit) a ton of music.

Brian Isikoff 2011-11-07 15:28 UTC

Episode 60 was good! The amount of work producing a sound track for every player is staggering, however. Wow!!

AlexSchroeder 2011-11-12 09:16 UTC

Add Comment

2011-10-16 Installing Ubuntu 11.10 on my iBook G4

Upgrading my iBook G4 to Ubuntu 11.10 went without a hitch. But as the system rebooted, I ran into a problem:

WARNING boot device may be renamed. Try root=/dev/sda3 Gave up waiting for root device. […]

Now what? The Ubuntu forum got me the answer I was looking for:

  1. at the first boot prompt, answer l because you want to boot Linux
  2. at the second boot prompt, answer Linux root=/dev/sda3
  3. if that works, fix your config by running sudo yabootconfig -r /dev/sda3 from the command line

Thanks, Internet! ❤ :D

There is one strange, tiny problem I do have, however: The trackpad will not work if the laptop boots with an external mouse connected. When I run sudo trackpad show I get back no trackpad ! Weird, but not really a problem. :)

Update: For those of you coming here via Google search—if you are wondering how I got Unity to work—I did not. I switched to Xubuntu! Back when I was using Ubuntu 10, I made my switch: From the command line, I ran sudo tasksel install xubuntu-desktop. then, in order to save disk space, I ran sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop and sudo apt-get autoremove. I haven’t tried it in a long time, but upgrading my Ubuntu system still works. Yay! :)


Comments on 2011-10-16 Installing Ubuntu 11.10 on my iBook G4

Thanks, exactly what I needed to fix an errant Mac Mini server. :)

– Kirk 2012-11-26 20:58 UTC

Awesome. :)

AlexSchroeder 2012-11-26 22:57 UTC

Add Comment

2011-10-10 iPhoto Crashes On Startup

Spinning Wait Cursor I connected my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 to the newly booted Mac, started iPhoto, and got the spinning rainbow ball. Killed iPhoto and tried it again. Three times. Force Quit Applications → iPhoto (not responding) frown

Then I restarted iPhoto while pressing the alt and command key and told it to “repair” the library database. It did that, finished, and gave me the spinning rainbow ball. I am reminded of Comments on 2011-07-12 Mac OS X Problmems. This sucks.

I restarted iPhoto while pressing the alt and command key and told it to “examine and repair” the permissions. It did that, finished, and gave me the spinning rainbow ball. Truly, what a thing to come home to after a long weekend. Thanks, Apple.

Tried fixing ownership and permissions myself:

chown -R alex:alex /Volumes/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library
chmod -R ugo+rw /Volumes/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library

That didn’t help.

Removed ~/Library/Preferences/ and ~/Library/Caches/ and logged out and back in. That helped! I had to start iPhoto while pressing the alt key to pick my photo library, and got to click around. Encouraged, I connected the USB cable and switched on my camera. And I got the spinning rainbow ball again.

What the hell? Switching off the camera and restarting iPhoto gets me the spinning rainbow ball. Apparently the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 can destroy iPhoto. :(

Ok, just deleting the cache and restarting iPhoto without logout and login:

rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/

That didn’t help.

Try removing both without logout and login:

rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/ ~/Library/Preferences/

That still doesn’t do it. I will try removing both and logout and login again.

That helped. I identified some faces, quit iPhoto, restarted it. No more problems. Except for one: How will I get new images from the camera into iPhoto?

I file copied them all to my desktop and removed most of the files on the camera:

rm -rf /Volumes/CYBER-SHOT/*
rm -rf /Volumes/CYBER-SHOT/.Trashes/

(This left a few things on the memory card.)

Now switching the camera on. Interesting: iPhoto no longer starts. The camera has no pictures on it and thus no longer registers as a camera? Let’s give it a try… Taking a picture or two… Connecting it again… iPhoto starts… and asks if I want to import the pictures!

Apparently I broke the cycle.

So, what was different? What did I delete? I can think of only one thing: I rarely record video with the camera, but today there was a video file on it. Perhaps that caused iPhoto to die?


Comments on 2011-10-10 iPhoto Crashes On Startup

A friend of mine has a similar problem, and of yet I haven’t figured out what went wrong – so I might try some of your suggestions.

As a workaround, we used Image Capture (“Digitale Bilder”) to import the images – which usually works and allows the pictures to be imported into iPhoto as well (and does it flawlessly).

xeophin 2011-10-15 08:19 UTC

Hmpf. My wife returned from Namibia, I plug in the camera, iPhoto crashes again. I remove the two videos in the MP_ROOT/101ANV01 directory and restart iPhoto. Still crashes.

rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/ ~/Library/Preferences/

Now logout and login again. iPhoto starts. But you need to say yes to the map and you need to Alt-start iPhoto to pick your library file (since I don’t use the default location).

That worked.

Stupid camera. Stupid iPhoto.

AlexSchroeder 2011-11-06 07:33 UTC

Add Comment

2011-07-12 Mac OS X Problmems

Somehow a software update managed to stop my Mac Mini from booting. It was stuck in the light gray background and dark grey apple logo screen. Rebooting didn’t help. I was worried.

You can hit ⌘V to boot in verbose mode. I saw something like this:

Bug: launchctl.c:3557 ...
Running rack on the boot volume...
Executing fsck_hfs ...
launchctl: Please convert the following to launchd: /etc/mach_init.d/dashboardadvisoryd.plist

I waited for a few minutes but nothing happened.

You can hit ⌘⇧S to boot in single user mode. I ran /sbin/fsck -fy manually and got the message The volume ... appears to be ok.

You can hit ⇧ to boot in safe mode. I did that (it takes a long time to start up) and ran Disk Utility, verifying the disk. The output looked very much like the fsck output. Next, I tried repairing disk permissions and rebooted.

Wohooo… problem fixed!

Today, I was wanted to format an external hard disk in order to give it to a friend of Claudia’s. When I ran Disk Utility, I got an out of memory error while partitioning the disk. Confused, I tried the command line:

Pyrobombus:~ alex$ diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk2 1 MBR ExFAT EXTERN R
Started partitioning on disk2
Unmounting disk
Error: 12: POSIX reports: Cannot allocate memory


Tags: RSS

Comments on 2011-07-12 Mac OS X Problmems

Did you try “sudo diskutil …” on the command line?

– Harald 2011-07-12 11:48 UTC


AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 12:25 UTC

Grrrr. iPhoto is also giving me the spinning rainbow wheel – something is seriously wrong with this box. :(

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 12:41 UTC

Going to backup the iPhoto libraries and then I’ll try rebuilding them. :(

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 12:52 UTC

Hm, my wife installed the update. My wife can now look at her iPhoto library after “repairing” it (using her account). I cannot look at her iPhoto library (using my account) → spinning wheel of rainbow death. Now I “repair” my iPhoto library (using my account) and try to open it → spinning wheel of rainbow death. W00T I ask myself and go back to her account. And lo and behold, I can open my iPhoto library using her account. I “repair” my library (using her account). Switch back to my account → spinning wheel of rainbow death.

This software update is terrible.

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 20:27 UTC

Downloading iPhoto Library Manager and setting the permission for the library to Read and Write for the owner (me), the group, and others, did not help either.

I tried “Rebuild the iPhoto Library Database from automatic backup” and got a totally borked library. iPhoto would start, but all the events had the same image, all the faces showed nothing, clicking on one of them crashed iPhoto… Bad idea!

Time passes.

Ok, I restored the borked version from backup (before any “repair” attempts) and suspecting some ownership issues, I ran the following:

rsync -av /Volumes/Backup/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library /Volumes/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library
chown -R alex:alex /Volumes/Backup/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library
chmod -R ugo+rw /Volumes/Backup/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library

Result: fixed it. I can open my iPhoto library.

My thinking is that with Claudia running the software update, and the two of us sharing the same iPhoto library resulted in some ownership issues.


I am having similar problems. How can i change the permissions in just a couple of folders (my iPhoto ‘11 crashes when i choose Preferences and it comes up with this error MALLOC_LARGE 00000000380b3000-0000000038208000 [ 1364K] rw-/rwx SM=PRV --> __TEXT 000000008f002000-000000008f7a5000 [ 7820K] r-x/rwx SM=COW /System/Library/Extensions/GeForceGLDriver.bundle/Contents/MacOS/GeForceGLDriver

– ToddJ 2011-10-16 15:02 UTC

It would seem that your problem is related to a graphics card an it’s driver, not the permissions of your library.

AlexSchroeder 2011-10-16 21:32 UTC

Add Comment