Jake's Computer Blog

You probably got here from a search engine. This is a blog of computer problems I have solved for others to use.

Gimp polaroid script works with 1 character change

Avi Bercovich's Polaroid script was designed for Gimp 1.2, but it will work in Gimp 2.2 with a small tweak. Here is the patched polaroid.scm script that changes only one character. Put it in $HOME/gimp-2.2/scripts/ and it will appear under Script-Fu -> Decor -> Polaroid after you restart Gimp.

IOGEAR GUC232A USB to Serial Adapter on Macintosh 10.4.11

Update: This procedure does not work with Mac OS X 10.5.7. Some people have reported luck with the Keyspan USA-19HS.

It shouldn't be this hard to talk to a Cisco switch via RS232. I got most of this information from this post.

First, don't install the driver that comes on the CD with the product! You will need to install the driver from the Taiwanese manufacturer that makes the underlying chipset. If you need to uninstall the old driver, use something similar to the following (depending on version number), and if you mess up your system and render it unbootable, it's not my fault:

sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/ProlificUsbSerial.kext
sudo rm -fr /System/Library/Extensions/ProlificUsbSerial.kext/
sudo rm -fr /Library/Receipts/PL2303_1.0.8.pkg/
zmodem After installing the correct driver, reboot your system and follow the instructions where you edit the Info.plist file with the values reported by System Profiler. My decimal values were the same as in the article.

Access the network properties window in System Preferences, select "Network Port Configurations" from the "Show" pulldown list, and ensure that "usbserial" is listed and checked. You should now see the device /dev/tty.usbserial

Now download ZTerm and select "Settings -> Modem Preferences" and select "usbserial". Remove the Initialize field from "Modem Setup strings". Change the speed and parity in the "Settings -> Connection" pulldown. You're done.

If you're trying to access the console on a Sun via LOM Port A, you will need to modify the Zterm application to send the correct break signal by typing the following line in a terminal window:

defaults write com.mac.dalverson.ZTerm breakSim '300'
Then restart Zterm and you can type Apple-B to send a proper break signal.

Tivo Series 3 hard drive replacement

I replaced my failed Tivo S3 (model TCD648250B) hard disk with a 1TB Western Digital WD10EACS. I didn't have a backup of my S3 image (duh), so I went looking for an install image on the Internet. The 2GB "Supafly" image was purported to work, but I could not get it to work with mfstools or mfslive (I got decompression errors no matter what I tried). Back alley conversations in IRC led nowhere, so I decided to plunk down $40 and quickly solve the problem with InstantCake from dvrupgrade.com. The InstantCake CD contains a virgin Tivo image with software version 9.2a and works with SATA drives. You'll have to reprogram your season passes, but it works, and it will let you install on a larger drive than the original 250GB one.

Your CableCARDs may not sync until you download an update to the Tivo software that is installed by the CD. I could not access HD channels until version 11 software was downloaded and installed. Don't call your cable company to mess with your CableCARDs until you do this step. You can wait for the Tivo to download it automatically or initiate it yourself by going into the Network settings.


TivoTool allows you to watch and burn DVDs of programs stored on your Tivo Series 1 using a Mac 10.4 system. The beauty of TivoTool is that it is a monolithic program that does everything for you. You do not need to download any video libraries, become an expert in mpeg formats, or configure mplayer. The GUI connects to a small daemon called vserver that you install on your Tivo. TivoTool collects the list of programs stored there, you click "Burn", and then it downloads the stream and burns a DVD for you. You cannot skip commercials because vserver can only stream the data serially (you can download the stream and then edit it afterward if you wanted, though).

My Series 1 Tivo has a CacheCard with an Ethernet port. The CacheCard driver CD automatically installs the initrd hack that allows you to telnet and FTP to the Tivo. FTP the vserver program to the specified directory (mine was /var/hack/bin), add a line to /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit so that it starts on every Tivo reboot:

root# cat >> /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit
/var/hack/bin/vserver &
Be sure to use two >> to append to the file instead of overwriting it. Press Return and then Control-D to close the file and exit cat.

If you don't like TivoTool, you can also try this.

Installing Windows XP SP2 on Parallels Desktop 3.0

You need to install Windows from images on the hard disk, not CDs or downloads. Create an .iso of the XP installation CD using Disk Utility, then install SP2 in .exe format. If you don't, you will get bizarre errors and freezes during installation.

FreeBSD 6.0 /usr size

When you install FreeBSD, make /usr 4GB instead of the default 2GB so that make buildworld doesn't fill it up.

FreeBSD 6.0 Docbook compilation errors

The secret is to use Docbook within the confines of /usr/doc. If you try to compile a SGML file outside of that directory structure, the compilation will fail no matter how many environment variables you tweak.

FreeBSD 6.0, 802.11g, and D-Link DWL-G520 Rev.B3

Recompile the kernel to use the ath device (see ath manpage), kldload wlan_tkip so that authentication will work, specify wpa-psk in wpa_supplicant.conf, and run wpa_supplicant as a daemon.

# ifconfig ath0 protmode off

Turning off CTS protection prevents a bug in the ath driver from causing a kernel panic.

D-Link DI-624 Rev.C is junk

It wouldn't work no matter what I tried (firmware 2.42, mounting it vertically to help dissipate heat, reducing transmit power to 50% to reduce heat). Get yourself a nice Linksys WRT54G Ver.4 and below. Version 5 is known to be flaky.