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Snow Leopard users, beware T-Mobile USB sticks!

I was attracted by T-Mobile’s new £15/month offer (first three months £10) with the new Mobile Broadband USB Stick 620 (capable of HSDPA 7.2). The box clearly states “Mac OS X v10.4.x or above”. However, when I installed the supplied software on my nice new Macbook Pro (which came with Snow Leopard, that is v10.6, installed) my system was rendered unusable on the next reboot. I am extremely grateful to David Glover for his workaround.

To get my machine back I had to …

1) boot in firewire target mode (hold down T while powering up)
2) attach to another Mac using a firewire cable
3) download the libcurl.4.dylib archive from David Glover’s post
4) install the above file in usr/lib/libcurl.4.dylib on the target machine
5) unmount the target machine
6) boot the target machine normally (it works)

But to get the T-Mobile broadband to work again I had to …

1) save a copy of the “good” libcurl.4.dylib
2) run /Applications/T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Manager/Uninstall_T-Mobile Mobile Broadband
3) insert the USB stick
4) run the installer from there (I had previously used the CDROM that came with the stick)
5) copy the “good” libcurl.4.dylib back into /usr/lib
6) restart T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Manager

I have a call outstanding with T-Mobile (who were unaware of the problem), and will post an update as and when the fix the problem. It is astonishing that third party software should overwrite vital system files! As of now I don’t know what else they’ve broken, although I was alarmed to find other files in /usr/lib with the same timestamp …

$ ls -l /usr/lib/ | grep Feb
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    163616 27 Feb  2009 bkLib.dylib
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    179412 27 Feb  2009 libAgent.dylib
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    208640 27 Feb  2009 libTinyXml.dylib
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    522284 27 Feb  2009 libcurl.4.dylib.broken
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff     25464 27 Feb  2009 libmd5.dylib

More news as it happens.

Harman turns fire on Sun decision

Nice headline, but just to clarify, it’s not this Harman or that Sun :)

“You know something about computers…”

I hear those dread words too often from friends and family. Despite my personal crusade to convert the world to UNIX — “Friends don’t let their friends run Winduhs” (TM) — the call is invariably a plea to rescue some dire Redmond-infected platform from oblivion.

And so it was that the door bell rang a couple of days ago. On the door step stoop a neighbour clutching an over-sized (if you sat in the middle of the keyboard, you probably could get the advertised 5.1 surround sound), top-of-the-range, Blu-ray-equiped, totally-plastic, ACER aircraft carrier. In fact, it was the very same laptop I helped setup a few months ago. And what a good thing it was that I’d taken the time to burn the three recovery DVDs, because some rascal had set a password on the internal SATA boot drive!

Once a password is set on a SATA drive, you’re hosed if you don’t know it. I phoned up ACER, who were very nice and picked up the call immediately. However, they such situations are outside of warranty, and that it would cost £50 plus the cost of a new drive to fix the machine. Googling around, I discovered HDD Unlock, which claims to be freeware. I moved the drive into a USB/SATA enclosure, but quickly discovered that HDD Unlock only works on directly attached IDE and SATA drives.

Dusting off a old XP machine that hadn’t been booted in years, I attached the drive and “Hey presto!” HDD Unlock said it could unlock the drive … for a fee. Normally, I take exception to those that take advantage of others in dire straits, but it seemed like a good deal: £16 to unlock a 320GB drive (the bigger the drive, the more you pay). Being a top-of-the-range computer, it had a pretty decent hard drive (WD3200BJKT), which would have cost around £60 to replace.

One PayPal transaction and 90 minutes later (the bigger the drive, the longer it takes), the drive was unlocked, and I was able to reinstall it in the ACER monster and complete a full factory fresh install from the media I’d previoiusly created. I only record this here, because you may know of someone in a similar situation, or you may be in such a situation, and if you’re in a situation like that …

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