Using a MacBook with the lid closed

Here’s a solution for forcing your MacBook to stay awake even with the lid closed.

Why would anyone want to do this? Well you might want to use your MacBook as a server in a headless configuration.

Apple has a support article about this, but it didn’t work well for me and I found this to be a more reliable solution.

Download the Insomnia kernel extension, extract it from the ZIP archive and copy it to your system extensions folder:

/bin/cp -a Insomnia_r6.kext /System/Library/Extensions
/usr/sbin/chown -R root:wheel /System/Library/Extensions/Insomnia_r6.kext
/sbin/kextload /System/Library/Extensions/Insomnia_r6.kext

You will only need to use the commands above the first time you use this module. After that it will load automatically on startup.

To disable MacBook sleeping: /usr/sbin/sysctl -w kern.lidsleep=1

To re-enable MacBook sleeping: /usr/sbin/sysctl -w kern.lidsleep=0

To check status: /usr/sbin/sysctl kern.lidsleep

Return value:

0 = Insomnia is not active (i.e. MacBook will sleep when the lid is closed)

1 = Insomnia is active (i.e. MacBook will not sleep when the lid is closed)

-1 = Insomnia kernel module is not loaded

Google Notifier for Mac

Having discovered the Google Notifier for Mac application which checks Gmail email and calendar events without having to open a browser, I wanted to change the default polling interval. This isn’t something that can be changed through a settings menu, so if you want to do the same here’s how:

  • Click on the Google Notifier icon in the menu bar
  • Press & hold the Option (alt) + Command (cmd) keys, then click on Preferences
  • A pop-up Defaults Editor box will appear
  • In the Key field type in AutocheckInterval
  • In the Value field enter the desired check interval (in minutes)
  • Close the Defaults Editor box

Alternatively add or edit the AutocheckInterval string in ~/Library/Preferences/ using Property List Editor.

Quit all Google Notifiers and restart for the new settings to take effect.

Samba copy fails after upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6.3

Ever since upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6.3 I had been unable to copy files from my MacBook to a Linux Samba share, which had previously worked flawlessly. The file copy would fail and Finder displayed the error message: “The operation can’t be completed because you don’t have permission to access some of the items” or “The Finder can’t complete the operation because some data in xxx can’t be read or written. (Error code -36)”.ErrorI found several articles suggesting solutions, the only one that eventually worked for me was to add the line “unix extensions = no” to the [global] settings of the smb.conf file on the Linux server. After a restart of the SMB processes file copying is working again.

Thanks for all the time I wasted on resolving this one Apple!

Technika Smartbox 8320HD software builds

Software Update

Here’s a list of the software updates for the Technika Smartbox 8320HD and the bugs addressed in each build.

v4.7.47-10 (04/05/2010)

Launch build. IP Vision claim this was “an incorrect software version” installed due to “an error in the manufacturing process” – yeah, right!

v4.7.48-08 (07/06/2010)

  • the issue of loss of audio while playing back recorded HD programmes or timeshifted HD programmes will be resolved
  • when the SmartBox is in lower-power standby, the internal fan will be stopped

v4.7.48-09 (08/06/2010)

  • an issue with the remote control sensitivity (auto repeat too quick)

v4.7.48-11 (10/06/2010)

  • OK key show INFO bar rather than toggle pause/play

v4.7.48-16 (21/06/2010)

  • Pause key allows video to be paused (timeshift and video player)
  • PiP key shows last viewed channel and allows switching back to it
  • Improvements to recordings management and playback when handling multiple recordings
  • New “recordings todo” list to list upcoming scheduled recordings and series linking

    Technika Smartbox 8320HD

    Here’s the low down on the new Technika Smartbox 8320HD sold exclusively by Tesco.

    The box is made by IP Vision (UK), the company behind the Fetch TV service brand. The hardware technology inside the box is based on the Netbox N8000 series of digital set top boxes from Netgem.

    Below are some problems I have encountered to date and recommended solutions:

    How do I use the Smartbox 8320HD with a Logitech Harmony universal remote control?

    • In the Logitech Harmony Remote Software choose Cable/Satellite Box > Digital Set Top Box > Manufacturer: Netgem > Model: N-7680

    Problems with the remote control skipping two lines at a time when you use the navigation buttons?

    • If you have a Harmony remote, go into the Logitech Harmony Remote Software and select the Netgem device, then ‘Troubleshoot’ > ‘Netgem responds to some commands either too many times or only occasionally’ > ‘0’

    The message “This programme requires HDCP, but your HDTV doesn’t seem to support it” appears on the TV screen when attempting to view HD channels:

    • Power off the Smartbox and all devices connected to it, including the TV and any intermediate A/V equipment connected via HDMI. Power them all back on again after a couple of minutes.

    Smartbox goes into standby mode every night, even when ‘Screensaver timeout’, ‘Auto standby delay’ and ‘Energy savings delay’ are all set to ‘disabled’ in the display preferences:

    • Response from FetchTV support 17/06/2010 – “Unfortunately it is not possible to stop the box from going into stand-by mode whilst it is not in use.”

    Will I be keeping my Smartbox? Well surprisingly yes I think I will. Despite the bugs and multiple software updates, this box has the potential to be rather great. The integration of iPlayer and SkyPlayer is slick and for the money and features there is nothing to compare with it.


    • The problem with the remote control has been addressed in the v4.7.48-09 software.
    • Tesco have withdrawn the 8320HD from sale

    Migrating from iPhone to Android

    It is possible to migrate from iPhone to an Android device and not miss out on all those ‘fantastic’ apps that Apple would have you believe are only available on the iPhone platform.

    Below is a list of my favourite apps that are available on both platforms:

    • Google Maps (but Android version also includes Navigation) [Google Inc.]
    • Google Earth [Google Inc.]
    • Dropbox [Dropbox, Inc.]
    • Evernote [Evernote Corp.]
    • Ocado [Ocado Technology]
    • Shazam [Shazam Entertainment Limited]
    • Sky News [BSkyB]
    • Twitter [Twitter, Inc.]
    • WordPress [Automattic, Inc.]

    Here is my list of alternative apps where a direct Android port is not yet available:

    • Seesmic (I chose this over the official Twitter app as it supports multiple accounts) ~ Tweetie
    • Where’s My Droid [alienmanfc6] ~ MobileMe Find My iPhone
    • Record It [Austin Reid] ~ Sky+
    • Pkt Auctions eBay [Bonfire Media, Inc.] ~ eBay Mobile
    • Astrid Task/Todo List [Todoroo Inc.] ~ Todo
    • PicSay Pro [Shinycore] ~ Cropulator
    • Squeeze Commander [flattermann, Chr. Erpelding] ~ IPeng
    • Fring [fring] ~ Skype
    • National Rail [croworc] ~ National Rail Enquiries
    • Barcode Scanner [ZXing Team] ~ Red Laser

    How about some apps that are only available on the Android platform?

    • RingScheduler [CellAvant, Inc.]
    • Handcent SMS [handcent_admin]
    • Sipdroid VoIP [i-p-tel GmbH]
    • LED Light [picolyl]
    • beebPlayer [David Johnston]
    • Astro File Manager [Metago]
    • BatteryTime Lite [Motalen]
    • Wifi Analyzer [farproc]

    What else is great about the freedom of Android?

    • Widgets! – active content on your home screen(s), this is a genuine game changer
    • Printing via Bluetooth to a Polaroid Pogo photo printer
    • Choosing any notification sound I like (not the small selection that Steve Jobs approves)
    • Not paying £59/year for MobileMe

    Do I miss my iPhone? Not a jot. I have been using an iPhone for nearly three years solid, so that really surprises me. After a few weeks of using an Android 2.1 device the iPhone looks and feels antiquated. Will the much heralded iPhone OS 4.0 bring iPhone back level again? From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t believe so. If I were Steve Jobs, I would be a worried man.

    Fedora 12 hangs during large file transfers

    Burning Fedora

    Ever since I replaced a Belkin network switch with a new D-Link DGS-1216T gigabit switch my Fedora server has been crashing when copying large files to it using Samba or Secure FTP. There was nothing in the log files or console messages to suggest the cause, so I scoured blogs and forums for answers. What I discovered is that I am certainly not the only person suffering from system crashes during large file transfers on Fedora 12. The most common suggestion for is to disable ‘scatter-gather’ in the ethernet card settings (ethtool -K eth0 sg off), but this did not address the problem in my case.

    I suspect there is a bug in the Linux sky2 ethernet driver for the Marvell 88E8057 NIC, which is embedded on my Shuttle SA76G2 XPC barebone. Quick solution – disable the onboard Marvell NIC and install an Intel Gigabit PRO/1000CT PCIe adapter which uses the e1000e driver.

    Since installing the new Intel NIC I’ve not experienced a single lock-up so far. This is unfortunately just the latest example of Fedora costing me money to work around the instabilities of supposedly supported hardware.