Sunday, July 26, 2009

Playstation 3 - Converting PS3 incompatible MP4s into PS3 playable MP4s (no transcoding)

When it comes to consoles the gaming side is a toss but here at G0 Go we firmly believe the Playstation 3 is the most capable media center from the pack.

Below is our first look at hints, tips and hacks on getting the most out of media playback.

The PS3 has great playback capability but like the other consoles occasionally you have to massage your media files to get them to actually play.

Like many videophiles we appreciate quality and will do everything possible before having to transcode a file and lose quality.

MP4 playback on the PS3 will occasionally run into compatibility issues that arise from various factors such as file header information and profile levels.

Below are the steps you need to convert Playstation 3 incompatible MP4s into Playstation 3 compatible MP4s without transcoding.

1. Using mp4box, available for the Mac and PC, obtain the profile level.

2. Using your favorite Hex editor, many available for free, open the mp4 file.

3. Find the Profile Level hex string using the chart below and from mp4box info:

Right next to the ascii "avcC" string, you can find the Level hex code:

42E0xx: baseline

58A0xx: extended profile and low complexity aac

4D40xx: main profile and low complexity aac

6400xx: high profile

The xx is the level.

Level 5.1 is "33"

Level 4.1 is "29"

4. Do a Find and Replace All to level 4.1 since it is the highest the PS3 will playback (so if 640033 then change to 640029)

Your file should now be able to play!

Go Go

Check an MP4 file's profile level

From the Terminal on the Mac or CMD on the PC, type in:
mp4box -info

Sample Command:

mp4box -info samplevid.mp4

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to spoof a MAC Address on a Mac

We find this command incredibly useful for all kinds of test purposes.
However, this procedure only works on certain models of Apple's hardware.

Here at Go Go we have been successful with the current line up of Apple's Macbook Pros.

In the Finder, go to /Applications/Utilities

Open the Terminal

Type in:

sudo ifconfig en0 ether

Press enter.

A sample of this command would be:

sudo ifconfig en0 ether 00:10:3F:7C:53:CD

Now your Mac can masquerade as any network device of your choosing! This is useful when trying to force a router to hand out that initial lease that devices like printers and NAS boxes generally have trouble doing when set to DHCP (since they are not “chatty” enough).

To verify whether your Mac took the command, type in the terminal:

ifconfig en0

It should report back the MAC Address you entered.

To get the Mac back to normal, just restart.

Go Go

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RAID 1 on a laptop via USB? Kinda...: Rebit Review!

True RAID 1 can usually only happen with devices that support at least two internal hard drives.

However, Go Go does occasionally get requests from our clients on enabling a similar function for their single drive laptops. Impossible, maybe, but we found the next closest thing.


Take a Rebit external drive, plug it in, click okay and you are done.

That's it.

Any time a file changes on the computer it will back it up. It also backups up all the system files and drivers. If the computer fails, the Rebit drive would be the only thing you would need to
recover. It's basically like a RAID 1 setup and an incremental backup combined.

Our clients' feedback on this product has been incredible.

Optionally, you can just buy the Rebit software and supply your own drive but we recommend their specially tweaked hard drive as it will be the official vendor "supported" solution and will increase a person's chance of a successful restore (since backing up is only half the battle).

However, for those who want to go with more standards solutions then we recommend an "image" backup of their machine. Software such as Acronis or Norton's Ghost are up to the task. These applications have evolved over time and are now as much backup utilities as they are imaging programs. Both support scheduled backups. Here at Go Go we use and recommend Acronis as it's an intuitive, reliable and feature packed title.

Go Go

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Safari 4 - Beware of Top Sites

Safari 4 is indeed fast but only if you decide to not use Top Sites as your default New Window page.

As nice as it is to visually select your favorite sites, some of you have probably noticed the increased process and network activity that occurs when Safari is first launched and Top Sites appears. Symptomatically, Safari will be initially be slow to respond and load sites. In other words, our speedy Safari 4 takes a bit to warm up. This can be frustrating for a browser that promises top performance.

To facilitate Top Sites and ensure multi-tasking, Apple has created a completely separate process known as "Safari Webpage Preview Fetcher" to actually pull down the previews for your Top Sites. This is viewable in Activity Monitor.

The more Top Sites you have (using the "small" view for example), the longer it will take for this process to pull down the information. This process will disappear once it has finished its task. However, while it is running it will take about 25% of the CPU resource (Mac Pro 2.66Ghz Woodcrest) and about 300k in download bandwidth (DSL 3.0Mbits). Closing the Top Sites page in Safari will not close the "Safari Webpage Preview Fetcher" process as it will run in the background until it has completed its initial tasks.

Recommendation: For those looking for the absolute fastest Safari 4 experience, don't use Top Sites and definitely don't have it set as your default New Window page.

Go Go

Friday, July 10, 2009

Macbook Air and kernel_task - Apple speaks

Happy Friday everyone!

As promised our sources at Apple have forwarded information to us regarding the Macbook Air and the "kernel_task" process spike.

According to them the kernel_task process basically under clocks the CPU by running in the background (we can only assume similar to a "system idle" process). This allows temperatures to be reduced or to be maintained at safe levels.

Our Apple contacts recommended that we make sure the Macbook Air is on a smooth surface and the vent ports should be free of obstruction. They also mentioned there should be no unexpected processes running in the background.

Now, the above is not public information and so we are as usual grateful to them for what they were able to send to us but we do wish they had gone a bit further and at least hinted as to why Apple has not made this information public after such a long period of time. Or even why Apple chose to replace the default Core Shutdown safety feature with just another under clocking method (kernel_task). Readers of our previous article will note that here at Go Go we have a few ideas on this subject...

Go Go

Monday, July 6, 2009

Macbook Air - kernel_task process and overheating

Although here at Go Go we are specialist at both Apple and Windows technology we definitely have a bias towards Apple hardware.

This case is no different for Apple's thin and luxurious Macbook Air.

However, like many Apple designed products some sacrifices are made for aesthetic purposes. In the case of the Macbook Air, things like sufficient amount of vent holes or an appropriately sized heat sink got in the way of Apple's Macbook Air design plans.

This is at least the case for the first generation Macbook Air in which the user community has documented overheating issues. These overheating issues can happen when doing intensive or even moderate tasks such as playing back video or surfing flash enabled sites.

At Go Go we are lucky enough to have access to 3 first generation Macbook Airs. Each of which was bought at separate times and so are not off the same assembly line. However, two of these are configured with 1.8Ghz CPUs and one is a 1.6Ghz. All have the SSD option.

Each one, when pushed with moderately intensive tasks or exposed to less than absolutely stellar environmental factors (rooms temperatures above 79 degrees), will exhibit heat issues that seem to induce the dreaded "kernel_task" process spike (kernel_task CPU usage can reach a steady rate of 150% from the Activity Monitor).

In one test, we had the 1.6Ghz Macbook Air in a room setting of 75 degrees on a nice flat desk surface area clear of any obstructions (so as to not block the vents) and connected to an Apple Cinema Display. We went to Apple's Movie Trailer site and decided to try to run a 1080p trailer. Using the Activity Monitor we set our timers to see how long it would take for the "kernel_task" process to spike in CPU usage.

Two minutes. Two minutes is all it took in playing an H.264 trailer from Apple's own site to bring the Macbook Air literally to its knees.

We also took the time to run temperature benchmarks and noticed that the CPU and Heat Sink temperature was almost directly correlated to the kernel_task process spike. When running normally the CPU and Heat Sink temperature were 134 and 125 Fahrenheit respectively but when running things such as video the CPU and Heat Sink reached levels of 147 and 134 Fahrenheit. Each time the kernel_process would spike in CPU usage when temperatures reached these levels. Even after quitting the video playback it would take sometime for the kernel_task to come down in usage levels until temperatures were back at nominal levels.

It's painfully obviously that Apple's cooling system for the Macbook Air is inadequate.

This is probably related to the almost useless thin heat sink employed in these Macbook Airs and the lack of adequate amount of vent ports to circulate air.

I should note that prior to the "kernel_task" issue was the Core Shutdown issue. Essentially, when Macbook Airs first shipped if the CPU would overheat the Macbook Air would shutdown one of the CPU cores as a safety measure. Obviously, customers complained and so Apple released a "fix" for this in the form of a firmware update.

Except that Apple didn't actually fix the overheat issue but instead stopped the CPU core from shutting down and implemented another type of fix to seemingly achieved the same results while keeping both Cores alive. Confused? That was Apple's point unfortunately in this scenario.

We will be contacting our sources at Apple to investigate the issue as standard support channels do not even acknowledge that an issue exist even though the first generation Macbook Airs have been out for a year and a half.

Our hope is to at least understand the role of the kernel_task process and see whether Apple is internally aware of the problem but publicly denying it.

Go Go

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sony BRAVIA VPL-VW70 Projector Review

Sony BRAVIA VPL-VW70 Full HD 1080p 3 SXRD VW Series Home Theater Projector

The Good:
Quiet, so quiet for a projector. Very few like this. The optional anaphormic lens lets you take full advantage of Scope formated films

The Bad:
Lots of price but not lots of screen. Still most people aren't trying to run an actual movie theater out of their house. Could use more than 2 HDMI inputs.

The Ugly:
The price, Ouch! Also, missing some features in comparison to the Aussie VPL-VW80

Go Go Verdict:
The Sony VPL-VW70 has great picture quality, nice blacks and good overall dynamic contrast thanks to its Auto Iris but it's price can send people into immediate sticker shock. However, its as advertised whisper quiet operation sets it apart from most projectors. The latter feature makes it well worth the price in our opinion.

Go Go Review
We're big fans of high-end HD projectors here at Go Go so when the chance came up to review the Sony VPL-VW70 we jumped at it pretty quickly.

Sony is a company full of genius but who so often rarely achieves its full potential. However, in the world of HD projectors, Sony is King. So does the VPL-VW70 carry the torch?

Let's look at what you get:

Full HD 1080p with 3 SXRD 1920 x 1080 Panels
200W Ultra-High-Pressure Lamp
BRAVIA Engine 2
Advanced Iris 2
24p True Cinema
Deep Color
ARC-F (All Range Crisp Focus) Lens
Noise reduction functions
Panel Alignment function
Anamorphic Zoom Mode
1.6x Zoom Lens
Motorized Lens Shift
Ultra Low Fan Noise 20dB
HDMI™ Inputs x 2
RS-232C connectivity
RCP (Real Color Processing) function

Out of the box the aesthetics of the VPL-VW70 are quite elegant and certainly something that can blend well in a custom home theater setup.

Once on, the first thing we noticed is that the noise levels were extremely low.

Even after being on for an hour it was still incredibly quiet. We've seen quite a bit of quiet projectors but never in combination with a stunning picture.

With the price at hand, the picture quality should be incredible and it did not disappoint in our opinion.

Contrast levels were higher than previous incarnations of Sony projectors with black levels being very nice. This was helped with the Auto Iris function which can reduce or increase the light output depending on sequence to make whites whiter and blacks blacker.

For bright sequences the light output is high and for black sequences the light output is low. However, because the light output can only be increased or decreased as a whole and not in localized areas, mix sequences do not benefit as much.

This is similar to LCD Flat Panels using dynamic contrast in which the backlight can only be brighten or darken in whole.

The one thing that could be disappointing in terms of picture features is the exclusion of Motionflow 120Hz and black frame insertion which is found in the non-U.S. version VPL-VW80. However, importing a VW80 is not easy and warranty coverage is suspect.

For the VW70 we were happily surprised with the inclusion of an optional anamorphic lens that can take advantage of scope formatted movies. In this manner, the entire resolution can be put to use. In our tests this made a quite a difference.

Our wall is quite high and so we took the projector back as far as we could but we noticed that its light output is limited. A 150 inch screen seemed to be the sweet spot and this is typically big enough for most setups.

We connected our Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 via HDMI. However, just with that all the HDMI ports were filled.

The VPL-VW70 needs more HDMI ports.

Those who have invested in HDMI switchers should not have a problem.

At the end of the day, sticker shock will be the limiting factor for the Sony VPL-VW70 Projector but prices have been coming down as pending product cycles near.

Go Go

The Sony VPL-VW70 projector is available at retailers such as and speciality electronic stores.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Remove ACLs recursively in Leopard 10.5

Have a folder in Leopard with many sub files and sub folders that each have their own set of unique ACLs and don't want to remove each ACL one at a time?

Open up the Terminal and do the following:

sudo chmod -R -N

Example, "chmod -R -N myfolder"

Go Go

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Samsung LN55B650 55-Inch LCD Review

Samsung LN55B650 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV with Red Touch of Color

The Good:
Very good black levels, four HDMI ports, precision colors, great judder reduction technology and a host of other built-in media centric features

The Bad:
Somewhat expensive for a non-LED TV and the screen glare can be a problem when near windows

The Ugly:
Suspect as whether its unique styling can pass the test of time. However, it looks nice in 2009

Go Go Verdict:
The Samsung LN55B650 is a bit expensive but at 55 inches it gives you enough "Pow!" to separate yourself from the standard issue 52 inch models that are currently dominating the scene. Although some of its technology is not as cutting edge as the new LED based 240Hz models it still has a top quality picture and a great viewing surface. Recommended.

Go Go Review

Samsung has been popular with HDTV users for a few years now and continues to pick up good momentum. Although their lineup is a bit crowded and occasionally frustrating to choose from they prefer giving a buyer choice versus a one size fits all mentality. We decided to start our reviews somewhere in the middle of the road so in comes the Samsung LN55B650 55 inch LCD.

Let look at what you get:

Screen Size: 55 inches
1080p Resolution
4ms response time
Built-in digital tuner
Auto Motion Plus 120Hz: Reduces Blur
Glossy Screen
Picture-in-Picture (PIP)
USB 2.0 port
Speakers: Two 15-watt stereo speakers
SRS TruSurround HD
Content Library (2 GB Flash Memory):
Warranty: 1 year parts and labor with in-home service; Samsung toll-free support

Although still based on a CCFL LCD and running at a 120Hz, the LN55B650 may be considered a bit expensive. However, when the price is compared for its size (55 inches), then the price of entry becomes more enticing especially since it moves past the usual 52 inch market that currently dominates the scene.

Following a trend it also comes with DLNA technology to allow your TV to serve up content stored on your PC or any other DLNA supporting device. Although this features works well it was somewhat slow at times. However, we appreciate the value add of it but don't believe that their implementation or execution are deal breakers in the minds of most buyers.

More and more devices use HDMI so the inclusion of 4 HDMI ports is good. However, considering that most users may now have at a minimum 4 HDMI devices we think that 5 HDMI ports might have been better.

Starting with the basics, how's the picture quality? The black level is very good (although not the best from this year's models but certainly in the top ten). A comparison to our base benchmark Sammy 71F series model showed a drastic difference between black levels from that older generation. Although the black levels are nice we did see that in black heavy scenes there was a slight purple tinge that was noticeable.

The judder reduction or "dejudder" technology is also very good and is quite customizable but when turned up to high it caused our sample movies to look less film like and introduced noise. We recommend a moderate level.

Samsung likes their screens glossy and apart from the obvious product placement advantages they tend to introduced a considerable amount of glare when near windows. The LN55B650 is no exception. However, a glossy screen will create a better overall contrast and colors that pop.

We were hopeful for high contrast and color accuracy and we got both. Color wise the LN55B650 is nearly ready out of the box and requires very little calibration. A big plus for normal users who may never calibrate. The stated 100,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio was outstanding especially considering that it is a non LED based TV. Bright colors were very bright and blacks were very black.

As far as it's styling goes the "Red Touch of Color" is nice but may be a bit distracting if emphasis should go on its performance. However, Samsung did a good job to separate themselves for an endless sea of black frames. Our main concern is whether such bold styling will make it past 2009.

Having seen quite a bit of competitors this year we are happy to say that the Samsung LN55B650 55-Inch LCD looks to be a solid entry and a win for Sammy, Inc.

Go Go

The Samsung LN55B650 55-Inch LCD is available at retailers such as and all major electronic stores.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Creating Groups, Adding Users and Sharing Out Folders in Leopard 10.5

We get this question asked frequently as techs. For the uninitiated, here it is:

You go to System Preferences in the Apple Menu and to Accounts Preference Pane.

Click on the "+" button and choose Group from the New Account pop down menu.

Create a Group name and check off the members you want to add.

Go to the folder you are sharing out and do a Get Info. Under permissions click the "+" sign and add the Group you just created. Choose the correct permissions (Read Only;Read/Write). Use the Action button to Apply to Enclosed folders.
Check off "Shared Folder" if you haven't done so already.

That should be it. Now, regardless of whether a connecting user is in the Staff group or not as long as you have added them to your custom group they should not get any kind of ownership or permission issues..

As for where Mac OS X keeps all its directory information it is now under /var/db/dslocal/
(versus localdb as in the NetInfo of past)

The precise location of the group listings is /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/groups/
(kept in plist files).

Go Go

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Playstation 3 Review

Sony Playstation 3 Game Console

The Good:
Gaming, Blu-ray, Media Player, and an assortment of hidden hacks and features that make it the best all around entertainment center for your HDTV with quite the bargain price.

The Bad:
A bit hot and noisy at times (though much less than the Xbox 360). Gaming library could be bigger.

The Ugly:
Cheap for its features but still expensive in comparison to its more game centric competitors.

Go Go Verdict:
The Playstation 3 is the technically superior entertainment center but that has not translated well in market share numbers and it's evident by its smaller gaming library in comparison to the Xbox 360 and Wii. However, if things like Blu-Ray and media center capabilities are high on your list, then the decision is a no brainer: Get it.

Go Go Review

As much as consumers long for the days in which a single console stood firmly on top, and made the choice simple, this is presently not the case.

After nearly four years, the current console war has not yet been decided and making a hard choice between the Wii, Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 is still needed.

In this first part of many reviews to come on the Playstation 3, we will focus on its main aspects and give a preview to other less advertised but surprising value-add hidden features.

Why Playstation 3?

Let look at what you get:
2.5 inch SATA HD for storing video, music and pictures
Blu-ray player (DVDs and CD Playback as well)
Two USB ports
HDMI for up to 1080p resolution
Cell Broadband Engine CPU
DUALSHOCK 3 wireless controller

PS3 Gaming
Playstation Store
Playstation Home
Divx Certified Player
Web Browser

Considering the cost of a stand-alone Blu-Ray player the machine pays for itself just with that single spec. It's worth noting that Sony has been releasing software updates to the PS3 that keep updating and elevating its Blu-Ray player capabilities.

As for gaming the added advantage of Blu-Ray's storage (up to 50GBs) can allow for massive games. Sadly, because most game developer release simultaneously for several gaming consoles most games have to have their storage scope within the range of under 4.7GBs.

The Playstation 3 has a great finish as to be expected from Sony but it still seems a bit bigger than what would be desired; but it's about the same size as the Xbox 360. However, the Xbox 360 cheats a bit by having the power supply as a giant external brick that still gets in the way. So the PS3 we would say is smaller. The PS3 runs quite a bit hot and this is due to the IBM based PowerPC chip that traditionally runs hot (ask any Power Mac G5 user). It definitely is a system that cannot be hidden inside an entertainment center as the ventilation would be insufficient. Due to its high temperature, this has occasionally made the fans on the PS3 rotate quite vigorously depending on the task and creates a noise loud enough to be noticeable while watching movies. In its defense however the Xbox 360, also IBM PowerPC based, seems to run even hotter and is twice as loud.

Gaming library is still smaller than the Xbox 360 and could frankly benefit from more exclusives. However, the exclusive titles it does have such as Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, Metal Gear Solid 4 and the upcoming God of War III do make it quite enticing.

However, some of the true killer features of the Playstation 3 are hardly advertised. These features are media centric and Sony has been shy advertising them since they could been seen as condoning controversial consumer-centric formats and delivery methods.

Although in this article we won't discuss in detail how to achieve each one of these hidden features we will have followup reviews and info articles later on with more information. Here are a few samples:
Please note that none of the listed features below will require any kind of special tinkering on the PS3 itself (software or hardware)

  • Play Blu-Rays without Blu-ray - The PS3 can actually allow you to play hard drive backups of your Blu-Ray discs. You can even configure it to have a jukebox like capability
  • Stream M2TS, VOB, MP4 and Divx files without transferring them to your PS3's hard drive and without transcoding or even sacrificing forward or rewind capabilities
  • Play MKV at full quality with only simple lossless remuxing

We believe that although the gaming library on the Playstation 3 still lags behind the Xbox 360, its media centric features are a value add that should tilt your wallet towards the PS3.

Once again, please look forward to future articles detailing the Playstation 3 's hidden feature set.

Go Go

The Playstation 3 is available at retailers such as and all major electronic stores.


Go Go Technology will be serving up expert Gadget reviews & analysis on Apple Technology, Windows, Playstation 3, HDTV, Blu-ray and more.