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NVMe Drive in a MacBook Pro

It turns out that putting an NVMe drive into a MacBook Pro to replace the proprietary Apple blade is possible these days. Since macOS High Sierra, NVMe support has been officially included with the IONVMeFamily kernel extension and v10.13 also updated the EFI firmware of most of Apple’s current systems to include boot support for these drives. Thank you very much, Apple!

That doesn’t mean you can just fling an NVMe SSD in to replace your standard drive, though. You do need an adapter, but luckily these are relatively inexpensive. I plumped for this Sintech one because it mentioned Samsung 950 PRO support. It’s simply a physical converter; there are no electronics on it of any kind, which I thought was pretty interesting. It would appear that the socket on the logic board is simply a miniaturised PCIe expansion slot. The proprietary Apple SSD (manufactured by Samsung in all of the cases I’ve seen) actually shows itself as a SATA device on the PCI bus, so there must be some SATA conversion happening on the blade itself, because that’s not how the Samsung 970 EVO blade shows up. I’ll get to that in a tick.

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Amazon Fire TV Licence Error

I recently picked up an Amazon Fire TV Stick; seeing as I have a Prime account, it seemed like a reasonable plan to make the most of it. However, I hit upon a problem pretty much immediately. After successfully registering, I first noticed that there was no sign of the BBC iPlayer app. Then I realised that any film or TV show I tried to watch would fail miserably with a deeply unhelpful ‘LICENSE_ERROR’ message.

I contacted Amazon and received a canned response describing something that wasn’t quite my issue, but reassured me that other people had reported it, they were working on it, but they couldn’t give me an estimated time for fixing it. Great. I know when a company is kindly telling me not to hold my breath for help.

Solution

This evening, the penny dropped. All of the prices for paid content were being shown in dollars instead of pounds sterling. Obviously something about my account was being American and I was being blocked from the US content when I tried to play it. If you’re also having this issue, head over to this link:

With any luck you should see a box just under the Amazon banner telling you that your Kindle account can be moved over to amazon.co.uk from amazon.com. Now, I had no idea that I had an amazon.com Kindle account; I don’t own a Kindle and it’s not obvious that the Kindle store and the Prime system are tied together. But it would appear that they are.

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Oculus Rift Over Fibre Optic

Well here’s a niche article if ever there was one.

In our recording studios, we have no computers. Rather, the computers are kept in a separate room, connected to each studio by a mixture of analogue audio cabling, CAT5e and fibre optic. The fibre is used for FireWire and any display connectivity we may need, using whichever converters are suitable.

This results in super-silent rooms with no whirring or squeaking or clicking, but it does present some odd challenges. Not all conversion systems are made equal and not all devices will happily get along with the adapters we use, for whole host of reasons. So when we started exploring the world of immersive 3D with Oculus Rift, I suspected I may have some headaches.

Display Chatter

Adding a new display in most places involves nothing more than plugging it in, but in our setup we first have to program the transmission end of the fibre converter with the EDID of the display we’re about to use. This way the computer knows what it’s talking to without actually being connected to the real thing. Seeing as the Rift’s video is nothing more than a display on a HDMI cable, you might assume that the same technique would work just fine. This is not the case.

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