My new Mac is not even a Mac: Building a Hackintosh

For quite a long time, my personal computer was a 17” Macbook Pro. I was satisfied with it. Especially considering that it’s a 9 years old model, the performance was still good enough for general stuff and for making music. (It had 16 Gb RAM, SSD, so it was properly maxed out.) But, even this good ol’ laptop was not perfect: probably because of the subpar cooling system, the GPU tends to leave the motherboard. The only way to fix is a fairly complex process called BGA reflowing, and this laptop was already survived one such attempt - trying another round might or might not work for long.

After this intro, I think you will understand it well enough how I felt when on a nice May afternoon, the GPU just gave up while we were playing with friends online. Suddenly, my daily driver machine got unusable, not even being able to boot. What could I do? Continue reading to see how I managed to solve this 😉

Melodics - My experience with learning to play pad controllers

I’ve been wondering quite a lot nowadays about what I would need to get more into making music. One painfully obvious thing for me was that I’m quite weak in making / playing beats. This was something I learned way back in music school, and I knew that it would be a good idea to work on this. (But still, as a piano player, this was not exactly the strongest requirement.) I guess it’s no surprise that this didn’t help much in making electronic music, but what can be done with this?

Launchpad is still quite a nice toy.
Launchpad is still quite a nice toy.

Back then when I was in New York, I bought a Novation Launchpad MK2, mostly to control Live. Even though Launchpad is an excellent controller and it works splendidly with Ableton Live, it ended up somehow underutilized. (Even after finding such nice software as Launchpad95, which backports a few functionality from Ableton Push.) Of course, I did not manage to make music as much as I wanted to, so this is not a surprise at all, but I still feel a bit guilty about this 😅

Even after all of this, I had to run into Melodics multiple times to realize that this might be a solution to both issues. Now, after playing daily for around a month, I can already feel how useful it is. Read on if you’re interested!

HDMI switches: you need to pay attention to this

HDMI switch
HDMI switch

Currently, I use two computers: my company laptop, and my personal desktop PC. (I will write more about this one later, because it’s quite magical.) Thanks to COVID, I still work fom home, and during that, I would like to use my desktop’s display as a secondary for my laptop. Well, you can do this by plugging HDMI back and forth between the two, but that gets old quite quickly, so I decided to buy an HDMI switch. Here is when I found this problem.

If you check such switches, you will find out that a lot of the different types made for average consumers (e.g. not 40-input mosters) does not have external powernal. They can get away with this, because theoretically, HDMI feeds some power - so if the switch has anything connected which satisfies this, everything should be golden. But let’s check my case.

  • I have an HDMI coming out from the desktop, everything is OK here.
  • I have a display, which only has DVI, so a DVI → HDMI adapter is used here.
  • I have Macbook Pro, using Apple’s default USB-C → HDMI + USB 2.0 + USB-C adapter for HDMI.

If you plug those together with the switch, the following will become apparent: the display does not provide power to the switch (could it maybe?). The desktop gives power nicely - if you turn it on! From the Macbook, it doesn’t get any power either, because the Apple adapter does not solve this. (This is a fairly common issue based on what I’ve read, as people with PS4s tend to have similar problems.) In the end, I can only use the switch if I have my desktop running while I use my laptop, oh yeah 😆

HDMI power inserter cable
HDMI power inserter cable

The solution to this: a weird-looking cable, which picks power from a USB and feeds it into HDMI. Obviously, you can’t buy this in Hungary, so I had to order from Germany. It wasn’t expensive though - but whether it will work? Now that’s a blogpost for another day… 😆

Hello 2020, hello new blog engine - but how did it happen?

Yeah, I still remember that I was actually blogging at one point of time 😂 This is actually the fourth time I’m getting started with this - and actually the first time when I have a place to do English blog posts properly. More than two years passed since my last post, and I’ve felt that this needs to change now. But obviously, before that - not surprisingly as an engineer - I just had to rework everything 😉 Based on this, the blog got a new stack, replacing Hexo with Hugo. Continue reading if you want to see why and how this happened.