i spent the day feeling detached for some reason, on a day when i should've been more focused. for one thing, the temperature was soaring, reaching a local high of 79°F by day's end. already by morning it was 64°, so i went around the house opening as many windows as possible to air out the place. this may be the day where we finally transition from winter to spring, hard to imagine it snowing again after such a beautiful day.
i tinkered with michael's macbook pro for a little bit (still not resolution) before working on an item from my todo list: prepare my dell mini 10v hackintosh. i've decided i'd bring the OS X netbook instead of my macbook pro because it was more portable. sure, it's nowhere as fast, but it's still a usable computer. half of my year in china was spent on this machine. in a perfect world, i'd have the money to simply buy a macbook air, but i don't have the budget for one at the moment. a netbook would be good enough; if i spent most of my time on the computer while in china, then i must be doing something wrong.
it's been ages since i opened the dell mini, and when i plugged in the power adapter the battery only had 5% charge left. there was just 5GB left on the hard drive; when i went to go check on the size of the disk, i was surprised to find there was a 1TB drive inside. of that 1TB, 950GB of that were just half a year of china photos.
refamiliarizing myself with the machine, i noticed it had an outdated version of chrome. when i tried to upgrade, it gave me a warning that chrome would stop supporting future updates for my particular hardware because it was too old, but still allowed me to download the installer nevertheless. when i did open the installer however, the app was crossed out because it wasn't compatible with the computer. was it just the system? i was running 10.6.7, and the last update for 10.6.x was 10.6.8. so i ran the software update.
in the back of my mind was a slight echo, warning me "what if 10.6.8 isn't compatible with a hackintosh?" but i ignored it, or when i did realize what i was doing, it was already too late, and the 10.6.8 update was in progress. all seemed fine, until the installation finished and the netbook rebooted. it showed the dell netbios screen, then the apple screen, then go back to the netbios. and it'd repeat this over and over again, cycling between the two. i was stuck in an endless boot cycle.
i thought i hosed the machine. there wasn't anything so important on the dell mini that i needed, but it would've been nice to double check that i'd backed up all the photos, or any personal files. now all seemed loss. the only thing i could think of doing was to wipe the drive and reinstall the system. that meant i'd have to bring my macbook pro to china with me. that wouldn't be so bad, because i'd definitely save a lot of time using the MBP instead of the dell mini. the only downside was the MBP is a lot bigger, a lot heavier, and less portable. but i didn't see myself wandering to remote areas, and even for little weekend excursions further away i wouldn't necessarily have to bring the MBP. it was a workable solution. but regardless, i still wanted to see the dell mini get fixed.
but i went online looking for answers, and read something about a recovery mode, "recovery=y". but isn't recovery the r-key? so i booted up holding down the y-key and nothing happened, and likewise nothing happened when i pressed the r-key. later i read you had to press shift first, which brought me to OS X's boot selection screen. then it hit me: i was supposed to type "recovery=y" to get into recovery mode. i did that and it stopped cycling, eventually bringing me to the desktop after about a minute of startup.
that seemed like it'd be good news, but for some reason i could move the mouse but couldn't click anything. likewise, the keyboard wasn't working either. i thought maybe it had something to do with the input driver, so i looked for a corded mouse. the closest i could find was a wireless logitech mouse. it could move the cursor, but like the trackpad, it just wouldn't register any clicks. i rebooted the machine a few times to see if it'd fix the problem but it was always the same. i could see the desktop, i just couldn't touch anything, which was good as a hosed computer.
i went researching online again. there were solutions to get out of the boot cycle (i could only get into the desktop in recovery mode), but it all involved being able to use the mouse and click things. i thought about making a boot disk on an USB drive and erase/replace any offending files that might be causing the bug, but that would take hours to create a boot disk and i wasn't sure what i was even looking for. i gave up, or at least until i could find a corded mouse, my final option.
partly because i was trying to fix a hosed computer, but partly also because my sister's godmother arrived last night and my parents was chatting with her, i didn't go to belmont today. in fact, i didn't go out all day to take advantage of the nice weather. the only time i went out was to reposition the wireless transceiver for my desktop weather station. otherwise i spent the whole day indoors, a little depressed that i might've inadvertently crashed my dell mini.
sometime in the early evening i remembered reading something about one guy who discovered that his non-registering dell mini hackintosh trackpad (a problem exactly like mine) would begin working 8-14 minutes after starting up. i decided to test that out. i booted in recovery mode, and waited. i closed the lid, which didn't do anything, as the machine didn't know to go to sleep. i opened it back up, sort of at a loss as to what to do next. when i went to go close the lid again, i saw the menubar flashing. the trackpad was suddenly working again!
i quickly found instructions on how to fix the boot cycle bug. it involved running NetbookInstaller 20100616212351, installing a legacy 10.6.8 kernel package, rerunning NBI again, and installing the sleepenabler.kext. the version of NBI i used was built for a dell mini 1010 (i had a mini 1011). it didn't matter though, because after running it i finally got out of the boot cycle, and could restart like normal. wifi was working again, but there was no audio.
next i installed the kernel package and restarted, but that seemed to trap me on the apple screen with a forever circling icon. i logged back in with recovery mode, then ran NBI again. that fixed the stalling bug. wifi was working, audio still broken. i installed the sleepenabler.kext using the kext helper app, the dell mini was able to go into sleep mode. i then went online and found several other versions of NBI: 20100616212351 (not mini 1010 exclusive), 0.8.4RC1, 0.8.5pre. 0.8.4RC1 made it worse, losing both wifi and audio. 20100616212351 was like the version i used initially, wifi but no audio. still, if it meant my machine was now usable, i could learn to live without audio, or find a fix later, it wasn't critical.
one of the instructions said to edit the NBI app's plist, replacing "Inspiron 1011" with "MacBook4,1", which supposedly would fix the audio issue. it took a while to figure out, but the plist in question was at a lower level in the package contents. once i made the edit, i ran NBI one more time before a reboot. viola! wifi and audio back, running 10.6.8 as if none of this ever happened. by that point it was already evening and i'd already finished dinner, which came in the form of a can of soup sprinkled with some frozen chopped kale.
to further my detachment, at some point in the late afternoon my mother called me asking if i knew how much it cost to add another line to our family plan (they wanted to include my sister's godmother). i was deep into dell mini debugging, but still had time to call verizon and to browse their website. one problem was the account is in my sister's name for some reason, even though she's the last person who should be managing our family plan. i had to get the login information from her.
while looking over the bill, i noticed some discrepancies. like someone increased the data plan from 6GB to 12GB ($20/month increase). most likely it was my sister, who last month used up 3.5GB worth of data in just 2 days, even though she only averages about 1GB of data monthly. when i called my sister to ask her about it, she said she'd take care of it without giving me any details and hung up. my then i'd already gotten her login information and added myself as an account manager so i could adjust the bill myself with verizon. plus the webcam i went to go fix yesterday was crashing again, and i instructed my father to move it to a different (sunless) location to see if it'd crash there.
so on this really nice day when i should be outside enjoying the weather, i was indoors the whole day instead, fixing things. by day's end i was exhausted.
i spent the evening chatting with alex in japan. he said something that got me feeling depressed: all my friends from college are now married with children, making six-figure salaries. what a disappointment my life has been, barely getting by, no job prospects, about to run off to china to waste away 2 months. maybe they are as jealous of me as i am of them. you think by age 40something i'd have everything figured out by then. all i know is once i come back from my trip, i have to find a job. this past decade - although there's been some highlights - doesn't reflect well for my future well-being. hopefully i can be as passionate about finding work as i am about fixing a broken computer.
i finished watching episode 3 of the night manager this morning, my new favorite show. it doesn't premiere in the US (on AMC) until april, but it's currently broadcasting in england, with a series run of just 6 episodes, so i've already seen half. it got me so hungry of spy thrillers that i downloaded a most wanted man (2014), also based on a john le carré novel, in philip seymour hoffman's last movie role.