usb

Mounting a Raspberry Pi's ext4 SD card on Ubuntu 14.04 inside VirtualBox on Mac OS X

Since I'm running a Mac, and don't have a spare linux-running machine that can mount ext4-formatted partitions (like those used by default for official Raspberry Pi distributions like Raspbian on SD cards), I don't have a simple way to mount the boot partition on my Mac to tweak files on the Pi; this is a necessity if, for example, you break some critical configuration and the Pi no longer boots cleanly.

To mount an ext4-formatted SD or microSD card on a Mac, the easiest option is to use VirtualBox (and, in my case, Vagrant with one of Midwestern Mac's Ubuntu boxes). Boot a new linux VM (any kind will do, as long as it's modern enough to support ext4), shut it down, go into Settings for the VM inside VirtualBox and enable USB, then reboot.

Follow these steps once the VM is booted, to mount the flash drive:

Hum or Buzz with a Logitech USB Headset

Logitech USB HeadsetProblem: I've heard from a lot of people about hum or background 'buzz' in recordings and Skype conversations when using a USB headset (like the one I have, the Logitech USB Headset H350). Almost every time I hear someone having this trouble, they're having the problem while using the headset with a laptop.

Solution: about 99% of the time, the problem is fixed by simply plugging the laptop into a grounded (3-prong) outlet.

Review: Kensington Wireless Presenter with Laser Pointer

Jeff's Rating: 5/5

tl;dr: Besides practice, there's nothing else that will help your presentation more than a rock-solid, handy, simple remote. And this one shoots out LASER BEAMS!

I've been giving presentations here and there for the past few years, and in the past, I've been tethered to my computer as I've needed to present slides, play videos in slideshows, and generally control things.

Kensington Wireless Presenter Remote with Laser Pointer - USB
(Embellished with my little 'property of' sticker.)

Running a Windows XP VM in Parallels (Mac) from a USB Flash Drive

I thought I'd post my experience here, for the benefit of others, because I couldn't find a whole lot of information about this specific use of an external USB flash drive.

I have a MacBook Air with a dainty 128GB SSD drive, so I try to keep large files that I rarely use on external drives. I have plenty of external USB and FireWire storage (over 6 TB), and running VMs in either Parallels or VMWare Fusion works great (very highly performant) off any of these external drives.

However, there's no way I'm going to lug around an external hard drive and USB cable (and maybe power adapter) just so I can test things in Internet Explorer (basically, the only use I have for Windows).

Flash Drive to the Rescue!

I found a cheap 32GB USB flash drive that only sticks out of my MacBook Air half an inch, and copies at a consistent rate of 30MB/second (which is quite sufficient for most tasks). Also, the little drive should have very good read performance, since it's not a spinning platter. Write speed wouldn't be anything to brag about, but writing shouldn't happen all that often when simply opening up Internet Explorer—I hope!

Trouble Printing in Mac OS X Lion? Reinstall the driver

It always seems to happen after a major OS upgrade—no matter what the operating system... You go to print, and all the sudden you get a warning saying your printer drivers are not up-to-date or are not installed correctly.

In my case, I tried printing to my trusty and reliable Brother HL-2140 (laser printer), and I got a warning that Apple needed to update its drivers via Software Update. I let it try, but that failed. Any time I sent a new print job, the printer dialog simply told me there was an error, and the drivers were out of date.

I then deleted and added the printer in the Print & Scan system preference pane, which sometimes helps, but in this case did not. My printer is listed as being compatible with OS X 10.6 / Lion (check your own printer here), so that shouldn't be a problem. But, as is the case almost always, giving things a big konk in the head works.

Review: MaxConnect USB External Enclosure for Unibody MBP Optical Drive

Jeff's Rating: 3/5

tl;dr: A good way to get some use out of a displaced internal SuperDrive. Case design has its flaws, but it works pretty well.

If you want to make your MacBook Pro a true mobile workhorse, there are few things you can do that are better than adding in a second hard drive (for capacity or RAID), and/or swapping out the main hard drive for an SSD and loading your OS onto that (it's ridiculously fast!).

Using the Plextor PX-B120U Blu-Ray BDROM Drive with a Mac

A few notes from my initial use of the Plextor PX-B120U external USB BD-ROM drive (you can pick it up for under $100!):

  1. You need to plug the drive directly into your Mac, or use a USB hub capable of providing enough juice to power the device directly. Since the Plextor drive doesn't actually have an AC adapter, it needs all its juice through the USB port. (I was trying to plug it into my weak Belkin USB hub, and that wasn't working).
  2. You can use the drive with VMWare Fusion, but it seems you need Windows Vista or Windows 7 to be able to actually do anything besides read DVDs or CDs with the drive.
  3. I don't have Windows 7 (yet), so I can't yet test how well a new iMac can play back Blu-Ray discs using the included CyberLink PowerDVD 9 BD.
  4. I am evaluating MakeMKV (a native BD/DVD ripper for the Mac) to see if it will be able to do what I did for my HD-DVD collection—back everything up in full HD, including the surround sound tracks (I'm okay with Dolby Digital 5.1...)

I'll post back here with any new updates I find.

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