My long road to the Mountain

Today, finally, I have a working laptop. What happened? It’s anybody’s guess. I recently upgraded from Lion to Mountain Lion on my Mac. In doing so, large parts of the OS stopped working, specifically, apps such as Safari, System Preferences and the App Store. Needless to say, work cannot continue without accessing the settings.

So, I began the long and arduous journey to re-installing my OS from scratch. Initially, it was pretty painless, I quickly setup Time Machine and took multiple backups and I booted my Mac into it’s recovery partition. The recovery partition is a good feature, albeit inspired, and allowed me to test my main hard disk, to wipe it clean and start over. Continue reading

Rethinking Folders in iOS

When I first came across the Mac OS X, one of the reasons that immediately set it aside from other OSs I’d used was the way the UI was constructive towards doing work better. A simple example of that was the way I could scroll the window which was behind my work window without needing to click on the background one. This meant that I could refer to a document and type in my current window at the same time.

The other feature that really struck me was the concept of stacks in the Dock. The way stacks work is that I can choose recent documents, recent applications or just a list of favorite items to sit in the dock for easy access. That’s not all. The best feature of stacks is that they’re highly unobtrusive. Stacks don’t need a window for themselves, they’re just floating on the screen and as soon as your attention goes elsewhere and you click, the stacks disappear. That way they’re really hidden, but at our beck and call. Compared to a folder, that requires your full attention and even needs to be specifically closed when not needed, stacks are a great resource in the OS X. Continue reading

Consoling a network device from a Mac’s Terminal app

Hello All,

Ever since my blog went down, one of my best posts, this one to be precise, is unavailable. This is an upgraded and a more complete version of the same.

The method of consoling into a network device (router/switch/firewall/Load Balancer) from Windows is pretty well explained. Download PuTTY, connect a serial cable and you’re good to go. But how to do the same in Mac? Well, Mac’s Terminal.app has inbuilt ssh and serial abilities. You just need to extend it with a small plugin. The plugin for your device can be downloaded from this website or, for the lazy and impatient, from here.

Please note that this tutorial works for Mac, Linux as well as the Windows command line, you just need the right drivers from the website. You will also need this –

This is an RS232 to USB adapter that you can find on Amazon or at the Telecom Lab at CU Boulder.

After you’re done installing the drivers, connect the cable and fire up the Terminal app.

Then, run the following command –

ls /dev/tty.*

This will give you a list of all the ports that you can console with. (Observe the keyword tty, it’s the basis for the name PuTTY).

The port you’re looking for will look like – tty.usbserial-A4008Ywd (the name could vary)

After you know this port, run the following command –

screen /dev/tty.usbserial-A4008Ywd 9600

(replace the tty… with your port name)

Screen is the inbuilt program used to console into devices from terminal. 9600 is the baud rate of the device and is also often configured differently for each device in PuTTY.

Once you see Screen running, you’re in! You can now see the exact same result you see using PuTTY.

Update

Screen has it’s own quirks that you must remember –

1. To exit the program, press Ctrl+a and then Ctrl+d to get back to terminal

2. Often, you need to use a break sequence when booting up a device in order to get into password recovery mode. The sequence for Screen is – Ctrl+a and then Ctrl+b Ctrl+b Ctrl+b (note that after pressing Ctrl+a, you will need to press Ctrl+b about 3 times to go into recovery mode.) Thanks to EtherealMind for this tip.

That’s all folks! You now have the freedom to console into network devices using your Mac!