SSD Boot drive of my Mac Mini broke after 8 months: OWC 120Gb Mercury Electra 6g

Only 8 months after I installed a brand new OWC 120Gb Mercury Electra 6g SSD in my Mac mini my system started to behave poorly and slow. It took a while before I figured out the Disk utility showed this:

Smart status failing

Hmm not good. Some more tests while S.M.A.R.T. status read out utilities I found on the internet:

bad sectors

More trouble

Since there seemed to be a firmware update (mine was not at the latest), I went through the trouble of upgrading. But that didn’t clear the SMART status and performance was still very poor.

So after creating a final Time Machine backup run I took the drive out and send it to the supplied .  The drive was pretty bad so I couldn’t wipe it properly…hmm… They kindly replaced it of course. But since this is my main desktop machine it was a long 2 weeks, with my Mac Mini sitting with its parts inside out on my home desk….

Once more I was amazed how easy it was to restore a mac, booted more or less with the OS downloaded from the internet automatically during re-install. Half a day later I was up and running. Safe and sound with a fast SSD. I do hope the next on lasts a bit longer them

After: Performance is back!


Noteworthy: my backups worked. This is my second SSD still fail in one year, and hardly ever had an HDD fail on me. Mac OS X is very easy to recover.

Great sunsets on Sal, Cape Verde

Sundown with lifeguard seat

Sundown with fisherboat

My photo equipment


Previously owned:

  • Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR (Sold because I found a really good excuse the buy a full frame camera, 7D hardly has any flaw)
  • Canon 40D Digital SLR (Sold because I wanted the new 7D AF, shooting a lot of sport and AF had a lot of room for improvement)
  • Canon 30D Digital SLR (Sold because I got tired of the sensor dust corrections in lightroom, 40D has “auto sensor cleaning” )


Owned but now sold, Lenses:


Tripod and monopod

Remote control

  • Phottix Cleon Wire/Wireless Remote C8 for Canon (Bought on Ebay +/- 35 euro, works great)
  • Pro Wireless Hot shoe Flash Trigger 4ch for Canon 430EX (PT-04 Version 2, works less then great. Seems to be because of RF leakage of the EX 430)


Sold Bags

Joomla too high maintenance, move over to WordPress

Stay tuned – also testing google adsense

UPC Horizon box wifi connectie problemen

Via de TV interface lukte het me niet om een UPC Horizon box toe tevoegen aan mijn bestaande WIFI netwerk. Het password is het correcte password maar de box wilde geen connectie maken. Dus maar een ethernet kabel achter in de Horizon box gedaan en via de web interface login: admin password: admin op .

Om aan mijn redelijk default WIFI network (Linksys 4200) te kunnen verbinden moest ik de Authentication (WPA2/PSK) en Encryption (AES) goed instellen, dus hezelfde als op mijn WIFI router. De UPC horizon box detecteert dit dus niet automatisch correct in mijn geval.


Working from home: Extra phone line to dial into conference calls

As a work-from-home person I do a lot of conference calls at home. I have a broadband connection and my home phone line is private. So basically I only need a dial out line to attend conference calls. Here is how I found this can be done most cost effective:


  1. Ebay: Buy a LinkSys PAP2T (21 euro inclusive shipping)
  2. Using my analog Siemens euroset 2015 with Netcom GN8210 headset, which I already owned.
  3. Created a VOIP account with . This was a bit of work and figuring out. Download Windows client and make create a login.
  4. Get 10 euro voipbuster credit (This will last for 4 months, you don’t actually consume anything because most local calls are free)
  5. Configure the Linksys PAP2T box
    1. Plug it into your network (Make sure you have your router providing DHCP addresses)
    2. Find out which DHCP adress it got (IP scanner) and surf to it etc
    3. Find “Line 1″  in the web interface and configure the following: Proxy: – User ID: [voipbuster username] – Password: [you get it ]
    4. Plug analog phone in “Line 1″ connection.
    5. Check if you are getting a dail tone.
  6. Now you can make free local calls for 4 months (until your 10 euro / 120 days credit runs out). So 2,5 euro per month…not bad.

For generic help with Voipbuster and SIP devices (aka Linksys PAP2T) read this [Link to SIP devices]

PS Note this is a dial out only solution. If you want a phone number it will get more expensive rapidly.

PS2 Voice quality has been just fine

PS3 I know there are all kinds of software client solutions but for long conference calls I prefer a dedicated phone device for various reasons.

Kai en Ilona, jumping

Jumping photo session March 2011

Slideshow [here]

Firefox addons

Firefox addons I use:

  • Echofon – Twitter
  • Evernote webclipper – Indispensable evernote
  • Greasemonkey – To script away are misbehaving web-apps
  • Lastpass – Gotten really tired of entering passwords
  • Quickproxy – Getting in and out of the corporate VPN kept reaching me for the proxy settings. Now a butting in the status bar
  • Xmark – Sync your Bookmarks, brilliant.

Free online photo recourses, magazines and blogs

Online (free, gratis) photo resources that I follow and recommend:

Many of these have the “how this was shot” section of a featured photograph which teaches me how I could take it.

I use the online Google new reader for my RSS feeds, give it a try if you are not using it yet. You may be hooked soon. Much more efficient then checking website occasionally.


Android Galaxy S: Steep learning curve of how to flash your Samsung Galaxy S

What do you need to understand before you can flash your Android phone, in my case Samsung Galaxy S with a new version. I suggest you read all of these questions and answers and familiarize yourself with the concepts. It will go a lot smoother and you won’t hit so many roadblocks a long the way.

  • What is “to root your phone”?
    • This means getting Administrator or SuperUser access to your phone so you can do things to it that are normally blocked.
    • More access also means more risks, but also greater control if you know what you are doing. It is always a balance. It is understandable phone vendors don’t like this much because it may cause a lot more problems for them to deal with. They can be very strict… a phone rooted….no warranty.
  • What is a “Lag fix” ?
    • Some very advanced users have found a way to make the software on the phone a lot faster and published this as add on software. Getting it installed may be tricky and also upgrading to a new version of the official vendor firmware may become a lot more complex.
    • It can however speed up the phone a *lot*. Some user may not see a lot of improvement, they simply don’t use apps were it makes a big difference.
  • How do I test how fast my phone is compared to other models and firmware levels?
    • Go to the Android Market and download an app called Quadrant. This will give you a score and show how it compares to others.
  • Is this firmware flashing risk fee?
    • No! Specially if you don’t know what you are doing. Worst case you can “brick” it and you’ll have to send it back to the vendor to try to revive it. Please note at time people think they have bricked their phone but really they were just panicking and there still was a way out.
  • Does my phone vendor like what I am going to do to my phone?
    • I recommend you check with the contract and warranty rules and regulations you have with your vendor. I am not so sure that allow/like/support all this cobbling and tinkering.
  • Back up all your phone’s data. NOW!
    • Look in the Android Market for an app called “Titanium backup”. There are free and paid version. There may be other good backup tools.
  • What software do I need to use to flash my Android phone?
    • Odin [download] is the software used. It is not from Samsung, unsure who made it but it is widely used. Use at your own risk. It has not failed on me.
  • How do I get my Android Samsung Galaxy S in recovery mode?
    • Switch phone off
    • Press a finger on “volume up” and hold.
    • Press a finger on the “home” button and hold.
    • Press a finger on the power button and hold.
    • Now you are holding three button if my instructions were clear :-)
    • Wait for the First screen to appear and release all buttons
    • The phone will now enter Recovery mode, if not try again.
    • This is a text menu with various options. Some of which will completely wipe the phone of all data. And sometimes that is just what you need.
  • How do I get my Android Samsung Galaxy S in download mode?
    • Switch phone off
    • Press a finger on “volume down” and hold.
    • Press a finger on the “home” button and hold.
    • Press a finger on the power button and hold.
    • Now you are holding three button if my instructions were clear :-)
    • Wait for the First screen to appear and release all buttons
    • The phone will now enter download mode, if not try again.
    • Download mode is a mode were the phone just waits for a firmware to be uploaded via the USB port.
  • How do I wipe all data of my Android Samsung Galaxy S aka Factory reset?
    • See “Recovery mode”.
    • Does Factory mode wipe everything: No!
  • Where do I get my new firmware versions?
    • The supported way is install Kies. Kies can be very cumbersome and its big and starts up very slow. And some people report that they simply cannot get it to work. It can be download for free.
    • There are tweaked, enhance, early hack version of the Android os in various languages for various . To be clear: it is messy.
    • I have had great success downloading and installing versions from this site: [need to create a login to be able to download][They also have good instructions on how to do it in various languages]
  • I had rooted my phone, now I do a factory reset and still the SuperUser app is still there, how it this possible?
    • The SuperUser app has been installed into the firmware of the phone it simply doesn’t get removed by doing a factory reset. Flash a clean new firmware to get rid of it.
  • What is CSC and why does it matter?
    • CSC = Country/Carrier Specific Code. So it matters greatly you get the CSC file for your country or Carrier. If you get the wrong one the phone will boot but connecting to the phone/GSM/3G network may be broken/impossible. On one occasion I managed to get a Korean CSC file flashed on my phone and it booted but it couldn’t make a data connection. After finding a Dutch firmware on my phone was back in working order, much to my relief :-) . On a Samsung Galaxy S “*#*#44336#*#*” will give you the installed CSC type/version.

I’ll give you the main steps to get a firmware flashed in a Android Samsung Galaxy S. Some may or may not be needed but this to give you a general guideline

  1. Backup data blah blah (do it!!)
  2. Charge phone up to 100%
  3. Write down current FW levels and CSC etc “*#*#44336#*#*”
  4. Un lag fix phone (if applicable)
  5. Unroot phone (if applicable)
  6. Remove SD card
  7. Remove SIM card
  8. Do a factory reset
  9. Set the phone USB debugging on [Settings app, Applications, Development, Check “USB debuging” box] [visual instructions here]
  10. Locate and download the firmware you want to flash, make sure that is the one you really want!
  11. Start Odin and feed it with the setting and filenames and locations
  12. Put phone in download mode
  13. put USB cable in to PC running Odin
  14. Odin will indicate it finds the phone
  15. Start flashing
  16. Waiting until the phone has rebooted and Odin told you all was fine.
  17. At times it was needed to do a Factory reset after the flash. Sometimes by phone hung during boot and vibrated every 9 seconds….brr…..scary. A Factory reset fixed it!
  18. Use you phone, log into your google account, it will sync your contacts back :-)

This [LINK] gives you are rough idea on what Odin looks like and how the Download mode should look.

Some great sources of information on Android and the Samsung Galaxy S in particular:

Samsung Android secrect phone codes [link]

Great FAQ: Samsung Galaxy S Android FAQ: Updated: 20/11/10


I hope this information helps you to get started and make the learning curve a bit less steep.