Category Archives: Apple

All things Apple Computer

iPhone maps icon is BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

There are a bunch of websites out there who found the “easter egg” that the maps icon on the iPhone is of Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, CA. The thing is, the pin drop is not on 1 Infinite Loop. It’s closer to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.

Here is where Google Map’s pin drops for BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

Here is where Google Map’s pin drops for 1 Infinite Loop

MacBook Air 2010 Faces of Death

My MacBook Air 2010 has been crashing a lot. Here is a sampling of some of the screens of death I’ve experienced over the past 3 days.

I’ve read that this is an issue with the Macbook Air’s when attached to an external monitor (link). It certainly does seem more common when connected to a monitor. However, I’ve got the crash when using the laptop without connector as well.

Also, when connected to some monitors with VGA, there is a wavyness to the screen image which look like jagged vertical saw blades.

Blue screen of death (no external monitor):

Continue reading MacBook Air 2010 Faces of Death

Fixing TinyUmbrella 4.1.4 on Mac OS X Error

If you are having errors with TinyUmbrella on Mac OS X

Something is wrong:
You don’t have admin privileges or
You have something running on port 80 or
Your hosts file is not modifiable
Please check Anti-Virus software or shutdown Skype/Teamviewer/etc as these apps block access to port 80.

Try this method:

sudo java -jar umbrella.jar

The previous commands will run TinyUmbrella as root which is what the application is expecting.

Running the by double-clicking it, or even via the Terminal with sudo open, it will run the java app as the non-privileged user which is what is causing the error.

Tricking out your AppleTV running Linux

Upset that your old AppleTV is left in the dust following the release of the new $99 AppleTV? Get Linux installed on that thing, and make it useful again!

After getting Debian successfully installed on the AppleTV, I wondered exactly how many services can run on it without overloading it. So far, the following services are running:

  • Netatalk / avahi-daemon
  • Samba
  • GKrellMd
  • OpenVPN
  • Apache 2 + PHP5
  • Asterisk 1.6 + Cepstral TTS + Lobstertech VoiceChanger + PHPAGI
  • ircd-hybrid – IRC Server
  • Nagios 3 with ircd-hybrid integration

Netatalk / avahi-daemon

This allows the AppleTV to show up on the network as a Macintosh OS X shared drive. We could easily plug in a USB external drive and this extra drive would also be shared on the network. If you want more information on configuring Netatalk on Linux, check my earlier blog posts on the subject.


This allows the AppleTV to show up on the network as a Windows shared drive.


My favorite little monitoring app for Gnome, GKrellM allows you to monitor the server in real time from a little desktop widget.


A simple VPN server which allows you to tunnel home from work or coffee shops.

Apache 2 + PHP5

A standard Apache 2+PHP5 install is running on this machine. Here is a screenshot of the default page I created for it:

In order to conserve memory, decrease some Apache config values:

<IfModule mpm_prefork_module>
StartServers 1
MinSpareServers 1
MaxSpareServers 5
MaxClients 50
MaxRequestsPerChild 0

WebDAV is enabled so I am able to quickly and easily edit this site using Coda.

Asterisk 1.6 + Cepstral TTS + Lobstertech VoiceChanger + PHPAGI

This AppleTV runs my VoIP phone server. Phone service is through Flowroute. If you call my phone number, it speaks out text to the caller using Cepstral TTS. Anyone placing calls using this phone system can spoof any outgoing number or change their voice with the help of the Lobstertech VoiceChanger module. Incoming spoofed CallerID numbers are “unmasked” and the true number is revealed. The main phone script is written with PHP code using PHPAGI. Surprisingly, the AppleTV CPU handles the Text to Speech very well and I don’t notice any CPU strain. Very flexible and fun phone system.

Here is a sample of what the code looks like:
function doMainMenu() {

global $debug;
global $fh;
global $agi;

$count = 0;

while ($count < 5) {
// Say Main Menu Script
$result = $agi->swift_get_data(‘Press 1 to ring the house phones or press 0 to leave a voice message.’);

// Capture which keys were pressed
$keys = $result[‘result’];
$key = $keys[0];
if ($debug) fwrite($fh, "Key Press:[". $keys[‘data’] . "]\n");

// Do something, based on which keys they pressed
if ($key == "1") doRingHousePhones();
elseif ($key == "0") doGoToVoicemail();
elseif ($key == "*") doLoginToVoicemail();
else {
$agi->swift("You didnt pick any options.");



The IRC server is used for Nagios 3 logging at the moment

Nagios 3 with ircd-hybrid integration

This is the newest addition, and a very sweet setup at that. Nagios 3 is an open source monitoring software. It monitors all of my equipment and servers and the services which are running on them. If CPU gets a little hot, or hard drive starts filling up, or website stops responding, it sends email/SMS notifications, and also sends a color coded notification to #nagios on the IRC server. Nagios uses Apache for the web front end.

General AppleTV tweaks

It turned out that the swap partition that I created was only 25MB or was only showing up as 25MB. This is a problem since this AppleTV only has 256MB of internal RAM. I ended up setting up a loopback swap file which basically allows you to have a ‘file’ on your main partition which will behave as a partition. This 512MB file is mounted as the swap for the system and is working perfectly.

dd if=/dev/zero of=swapfile bs=1k seek=512k count=1
mkswap swapfile
losetup -f
losetup /dev/loop0 swapfile
swapon /dev/loop0

You can verify that it worked with either of these:
cat /proc/meminfo | grep -i swap

Here is a screenshot of ‘top’ running on the AppleTV with all of these services running:

Check out the load average! This machine is simply kickin’ back!

If anyone is interested in more detail how any of these services are configured or if you have any suggestions on what other services should be added to this project, drop me a comment.

Running Debian on AppleTV

I decided to install the latest Debian to my old AppleTV in order to use it as a server in the house. It has 160GB hard drive, 256MB RAM and a 1GHz processor. I think it could work well for NAS and VPN.

I pulled the drive out of the AppleTV and hooked it up to my mac with a USB to IDE converter cable (All of this work is done on the Mac running Ubuntu under VMWare). It would be a little easier simply having a Linux machine handy. Then we wouldn’t have to deal with the virtual machine and host OS fighting for the USB devices. Anyway, you just need that AppleTV drive plugged into a Linux host to do these commands:

I used this method to prepare the drive:

Then booted up a Debian installer with VMWare, and installed Debian to partition #4 on the drive with partition #5 as swap. Do NOT install GRUB to the MBR, the recovery files that are placed in the two AppleTV partitions will search for menu.lst and boot that grub. You may need to install (create) menu.lst by hand, especially if your particular distro uses GRUB2 like the latest version of Debian does.

Here is a copy of the /boot/grub/menu.lst which I created by hand:
default 0
title DebianTV
root (hd0,3)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.26-2-686 root=/dev/hda4 ro quiet processor.max_cstate=2
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.26-2-686

After the OS install is finished, I sync and remove the drive from my Linux machine. Put the drive back in the AppleTV and booted it up. The AppleTV should boot straight to linux.