Friday, May 10, 2013

Adventures in making a Hackintosh part 3

Day 3 This is the big one.

I spent the whole day at home on this to make a breakthrough.
I ended up with a working booting system 10.6.3 .


From yesterday I decided I didn't really know enough about things. The Sandy Bridge question nagged at me. I actually began the day looking for a Unix Distrubujtion that I could boot off to get some info. Also trying various Ubuntu Live CDs trouble is they were all too old.

Then I went looking for a live Knoppix CD too see if I could confirm my CPU details.

To feel like I was getting somewhere I setup the little Wireless card from my booting system.
I figured having access to the internet would enable ease access to information and spurn me on.


Eventually I think I found my CPU

BIOS Version                     1.35
BIOS Date:                           2011-02-01
Embedded Controller Version:     1.14
Machine TYpe Model:             2516 CTO
System Unit Serial Number:         R8W4R6Z
System Board Serial:             1ZJJ113Y67Y
Asset Tag Information            No Asset Information
CPU Type:                         Intel (R) Core (TM) i5 CPU M 560
CPU Speed:                        2.6GHz
Installed Memory:                 8192MB
UUID:                            076ca881-5131-11cb-95f8-d8ab91325286

I still had the mystery of what Bridge my system was using.
It was this post:

That lead me to Speccy and in general encouraged me to think about my hardware.


While following the line of thought that if I could roll myself a custom DSDT then all my problems would go away as all the hardware would be described I stumbled on the DSDT database at from a screen shot.

I was also trying to find out a whole bunch of IO PCI Errors I was seeing.

The response in that forum opened the box of useful information: Dean Wray Youtube videos
Hackintosh - Basic Overview - YouTube:
Hackintosh - Basic Intro to Kernel Panics and Hangs - YouTube:
Hackintosh - Basic Intro to Bootloader flags and repair - YouTube:

This inspired me to find once and for all what the hell kind of Bridge I had as all the stuff I had till now inferred that
I needed to know Sandy or Ivy Bridge. Even to know whether I had a sandy Bridge would be good.

I started looking for system information tools.

It was reading this blog entry
That lead me to SystemInfo on the PC and then System Info on the Mac. This would in time lead me to the breakthrough of understanding what bridge I had.

Meanwhile though I learnt alot about architectures from the Wiki which as it turned out would be my architecture
Ivy Bridge Buyers Guide

BIOS Features To answer the BIOS question to answer the S3 question.
Extensible Firmware
Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) and Unified EFI (UEFI)

Bus Clock Multiplier.

Just to explain quickly as sometimes these links go away. Take your clock speed in Mhz and divide by 133 then round to the nearest whole number.

Front Side Bus

The final breakthrough came when I used this table.

Model Processor architecture Release date PCI ID Execution units
HD Graphics Arrandale 2010 8086:0046 6
HD Graphics Sandy Bridge January 2011 8086:0106 6
HD Graphics 2000 Sandy Bridge January 2011 8086:0102 6
HD Graphics 3000 Sandy Bridge January 2011 8086:0116 16
HD Graphics 2500 Ivy Bridge April 2012 8086:016A 6
HD Graphics 4000 Ivy Bridge April 2012 8086:0166 16

Then with the System Info Utility I used the Hex numbers to conclude once and for all that my bridge was an Arrandale one.


Final Link of the day

A nice boot loader to motivate me when I get the whole thing together:

That's all I realise this page is full of links. I realise some of them may expire. Though you get the idea the more you know about the hardware and things are you are supposed to be changing the more confident you will feeel about selecting options. My recommendation watch the brilliant Brian Wray youtube videos they will inspire you to know what you are doing and then to know your hardware and then to success.

That's all for now.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Adventures building a Hackintosh Part 2

Adventures building a Hackintosh Part 2

Keywords: Hackintosh Install. IBM T410 Arrindale. i560M
In this Part 2 I will take you through at least the first days worth of install and maybe the second day as well.

Ok first thing in the morning I had some things todo go get some blood tests afterwards I went and bought some Dual Layer DVDs as they are not available at the supermarket. A USB memory stick 8gigabytes for moving files between my two laptops.

I then proceeded to make a start.

Step #1 Make some space.

I realised I needed a free partition on my hard drive fortunately it had already been broken up alot as I have had Linux on there in the past and even space for  a Virtual Machine partition.

So I moved some documents to one partition and then zapped my Linux partition as it was in the nice Primary partition sweet spot where I wanted my Mac OS to be. This moving data around took quite a while actually.

Tip #1 Allow time to free up disk space

Step #2 Burn software
First thing burn the iBoot 3.3.0 to a CD the image was tiny only 23 megabytes.
I proceeded to dig out my old CDs for burning where did I leave them again.

Tip #2 Have some CDs ready as it's not just iBoot that you burn to a CD but also ModCD later too.

The annonying thing as well not having a CD pen that worked. My two had dried up so tip #3 have a CD pen.

Tip #3 Have a CD pen that works rather than having blank CDs laying around with no names very confusing.

Step #3 The first install attempt.

After making a note of which partition this thing was to go too.
I then read the notes and went looking for the BIOS options mentioned in the install guide.

I found the SATA AHCI one no problem it was already set that way infact. I checked my boot order no problem there. I couldn't find the HPET option or the  ACPI suspend type. Later they would turn out to be okay. So if your doing an install and can't find them don't stress it.

Now having taken care of my BIOS options I did my first boot into the installer.  I formatted the partition no problem. I then went to install and discovered the first thing I didn't read a warning that you need to install to a GUID partition table. So this leads us to tip #3

Tip #4 You will need a blank hard disk drive.

To get around this in the short term I found an old 60gigabyte 2.5inch drive to swap over. It was so old and tiny it was perfect for experimenation on shame it was only 5400rpm. When I was ready and had a sufficient working system. I would either buy a nice new SSD drive or a Terrabyte drive and install it over. Come to think of it a 64gigabyte SSD might be a nice idea for experimenting on as it will be super super quick and you could keep documents /DVD images on it when done.

The Second Install

I did this one by the tutorial guide. Though one simple line in the instructions would later turn out to be very important more on this later.

With the new disk. I partitioned it into 1 big 60gigabyte partition this would turn out to be a mistake. You are better off with lots of small partitions to experiment on. One guy reported doing  100 installs over a 3 week period to get everything going. This leads me to Tip #5.

Tip #5 Partition the drive into 15 gigabyte chunks large enough for an install a few updates and some basic software.

Anyway with the drive partitioned correctly I could now do my first install. I went through all the steps. It did take an age to install actually I later learnt the speed up use the Customisation option and remove languages and X11 you can always install them later.

Tip #6 Use Customisation option and remove languages and X11 and printers to speed up the install process.

It then went through merily and rebooted and I was able to configure my Mac. The mistake I made configuring my Mac was too select video camera to take a picture. I also went creating a Apple account. I did select Ethernet for Internet.

Tip #7 Don't select any more options than you need. Espeically don't do video camera snapshot during install.

I then had to wait until the installer died I then ran Multibeast with all the options ticked on, mistake #2 it was a bit silly. It leads me to the top tip with Multibeast which I have seen in videos also.

Tip #8 Select the minimal options on multibeast to get going.

Upon rebooting for the final time I could not get into my Hackintosh no dice it would just sit there spinning.

It was on this day I also ended up researching new hard drives nice fast SSD ones , allow some time for that unless you fancy backing up 320gigabytes of data and re-installing WIndows and everything.

I also did some research on my laptop via various Wikis and watched a Multibeast demo video.

Tip #9 Watch Multibeast demo videos  they will ensure you do the right thing.

I also experienced my first boot0: done error.

I also clicked around and found the details of 10.6.3 as I figured I am installing Snow Leopard 10.6.3 retail maybe there are some update issues.

I also discovered the wonderful  and signed up for an account as they have a wonderful amount of goodies. This site will turn out to be vital in my efforts and in future efforts.

So Tip #10 Sign up for 

After failing to get my first install I went on a hunt for information about my laptop. This actually gave me what turned out to be my big breakthrough more on this later.
which has a link too:

The link above recommends Nawcom Mod CD 0.3 I would do this tommorrow.
This is a key tip as it proved to my breakthrough of getting my first booting working system

So Tip #11 Research your computer before attempting install.

The reading of the tutorial

mentioned one key line this would turn out to be very important. If you have a Sandy Bridge system, please follow these specialized instructions to update to 10.6.8.

This would turn out to be a key question doing the install. I highly recommend doing some basic hardware research before installing. So my tip #12.

Tip #12 Use windows to get a few hardware details before install. 

This is because I actually went on a wild goose chase believing that the reason my install didnt' work was because I had a Sandy bridge system.

Finally at the end of the day I discovered with iBoot CD I could get a booted system. I used basic options and then a UpdateHelper to get a system I could get into.

With the download of ModCD at the end of the day and a bootable 10.6.3 system I finished.
Because I half expected to have a working system I decided there must be a better way ModCD seemed to be that way.

More on this in Part 3.

Adventures in making a Hackintosh laptop Part 1

My Adventures in Installing a Hackintosh Over a Back Holiday Weekend

I will break these posts down into a few days.

Part 1 Preperation Research

Why? Because I have a rather nice IBM laptop which I love. It will run Linux very nicely. It has hardly been used. If I sell it on ebay then I would lose a lot of money and it is a i5 Core and would run Hackintosh quite nicely.

The Initial attempts: I tried running Snow Leopard in a Virtual Machine as you do. There were a couple of problems with that and a potential show stopper. First it was slow dog slow and I needed it to do photographic stuff. Secondly I couldn't see my external drive. That would mean reformatting it to something else. Thirdly for me it just felt wrong to run it in Windows.NB: I may come back to this because it has one redeeming feature that may prove to be the killer it will run easily on a 1920x1080P monitor.

The research:

After watching a few videos on Youtube this was some time ago. I discovered that Hackintoshes invariably have trouble with Wireless. Since my hope is to make a Mac that act as a fully functional system. My first problem before install acquire a Dongle so that this will work. These two links helped me.

TonyMacX86 on Wireless Dongles

and this handy table which hopefully will still be there.
Wiki OSX86  

Any way that helped me decide on this little beauty worlds smallest.
Edimax EW-7811UnDabs Edimax
While on the subject of hardware I also bought some memory a 4gigabyte top up to my laptop to make it 8gigabyte. Well if the worst comes to the worst I will just run my Hackintosh probably in Linux.

The next problem which OS to go for.

I decided after talking with friends and doing some research to go with Snow Leopard.  I figure it's been around a while 10.6.8 is a nice mature number most of the bugs have probably been ironed out and I should have a good road to victory. So I decided in the end to get a Snow Leopard copy off ebay and placed an offer and then went for next day delivery.

 Now I planned todo the install over the Bank holiday weekend when the World Championship snooker is on a nice time to leave installs running. I figured first day I would get everything ready.

Day 1  Wednesday the First. Downloading...

I viewed the TonyX86 guide to Snow Leopard installation and proceeded to download from: there is a downloads link for Software in the top menu
  • MultiBoot
  • iBoot 3
  • Mac OS 10.6.8 Upgrade
  • A couple of pieces of lovely software motivational. Trials of Light Room. Photoshop.
  • A copy of Snow Leopard as the legal one I bought on ebay did note it had a scratch. 
I then went for a nice  long walk figuring a day at home watching snooker and resting my legs while installing would be nice.

This ends the initial part.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Buying a monitor... for photography though

Ages ago I bought a Mac G5 this was because of my desire to have a box that was fast and easily upgradeable I can add Blueray writer internal HDs and even internal RAID something which I've yet to do admitedly but I will do in the future.

The final component is a monitor previously I was using it with a KVM switch to switch between my laptop and the Mac. Recently though have re-discovered the joys of working in the lounge in the warm with the TV doing it's thing in the background.

Anyway as I've done a fair amount of research on this thought I'd share some. Like most I started out with a search for cheap monitors that is monitors around the £100 mark. I ended up looking at Iayama which are good to be sure but I started doing some research and most interestingly TFT monitors or TN panels do not produce up to 16 million colors they typically do 6bits per pixel and then use dithering tricks to create the rest.

Here is the page I found but as links break I'll do a summary here as well. There are basically three types of panels. Actually there is even better info on Wikipedia.

IPS-Panels (Inter Plane Switching)

These come in two types. H-IPS Panels (Horizontal IPS) and S-IPS Panels (Super) which are based on Hitachi Panels.  As Wikipedia says on H-IPS Improves contrast ratio by twisting electrode plane layout. Also introduces an optional Advanced True White polarizing film from NEC, to make white look more natural. This is used in professional/photography LCDs. Hence my interest. As of writing January 2009 the most affordable seems to be the  NEC EA231WMI-BK. A brilliant site is TFT-central which has a buyers wizard as well to find good monitors. They also do the most excellent reviews.



Part 1
Introduction - The Motivation

Well my recent project has been to learn IPV6 after all we are running out of addresses 500 odd days now due to happen April 2012.
The BBC Article and the real time IP remaining counter which suggests April 8th, 2012 as the D-Day.  This article is being written on May 14th,2010.

Anyway so with that in mind I did some research.  I wanted Linux for stability and IPV6 compatibility. I wanted a USB port to plug in my printer and so convert it to an IPV6 one. I wanted Wireless N as it's the future and as I'm investing time in it.

So this is the one which is faster than the ASUS Premium v2 one by the way. I also figured 3 aerials is handy as can use one for an external aerial for amplification etc.

Here is the info page on the OpenWRT wiki both versions at the moment are supported. Look on the back to get the detail mine is a v1.5.

Step 1 Out the box

So normal procedure check the thing I bought works ok powersupply etc. I did this for 24 hours and then thought sod it. I'll bite the bullet on the firmware. Though I did have a spare router so this wasn't as stressful as it might have been if I was replacing a broken one.

Step 2 Firmware Replacement

The version I used is the Backfire 10.3 one which I got from here 

The one to download is the upgrade was smooth  Upon reboot you can access the box via telnet. plugging in a ethernet cable of course.

Upon telneting in. You can go passwd and change the root passwd at that point  telnet is disabled and ssh is activated. I fired up another putty session to login.

Step 3 General Configuration

This first steps page is most useful to know howto login etc.
I would recommend setting the time zone.  Then you can use the web interface to change the configuration of the drop bear server. Change it to some port well above 1024 make it hard work for the port scanner man to find you. And then paste in a ssh key.

I used the line from the authorized_keys on a host I ssh too. Though I gather you can just past an BEGIN block and that will work also.

Step 4 Getting the WAN internet working.

For me I'm on a virgin cable box so the first step was to figure out howto clone the MAC address.  I did try the wizard which was nice to explore around. I couldn't find howto set it though.

You can do it using these nice instructions 

uci set network.wan.macaddr=""
uci commit network
ifdown wan && ifup wan

or alternatively do it to the configuration network file /etc/config/network

config 'interface' 'wan'
        option 'ifname' 'eth0.2'
        option 'proto' 'dhcp'
        option 'defaultroute' '0'
        option 'peerdns' '0'
        option 'macaddr' '00:02:3F:21:D6:9E'

I quite like the uic commands though. If you do also then you can read more about them here.

So with that my wan came up with DNS etc ping and all is well. Next stop getting the wifi working.

Step 5  Wifi LAN enabling

As it turns out the drivers for the card in the router are not installed fortunately there are handy package commands. This is also a handy trick if your like me and your inclined to completely bugger install commands you can use opkg install --force-reinstall to get thnings back to the defaults.

opkg install kmod-ath9k wpad-mini.

Now you can create a wifi default configuration by deleting the wireless  file /etc/config/wireless and then running wifi detect

root@OpenWrt:/etc/config# wifi detect
config wifi-device  radio0
        option type     mac80211
        option channel  5
        option macaddr  00:23:cd:19:0d:3a
        option hwmode   11ng
        option htmode   HT20
        list ht_capab   SHORT-GI-40
        list ht_capab   DSSS_CCK-40
        option disabled 1

config wifi-iface
        option device   radio0
        option network  lan
        option mode     ap
        option ssid     OpenWrt
        option encryption none

It does seem odd doesn't it but mac80211 is the correct name I was expecting atheros myself but still. 

The next step is to remove that line to enable it.You can go wifi and it will start.

Step 6 Wifi Making visible and my final configuration file.

To make visible the trick is to add the line.

option hidden   0

Step 7  Configuring Encryption

This is straightforward when you know how. In my case it was a nightmare as I tried to wing it. Basically if you set encryption as wpa and don't have the correct librarys installed your router will seem to disappear. It's at this point it's worth nothing the command to read log files is "logread". What you need is

opkg install hostapd 

I got my information from here but don't you hate links so I'll paste my configuration file and the two key lines.

config wifi-device  radio0
        option type     mac80211
        option channel  5
        option macaddr  XX:XX:XX:XX:XX
        option hwmode   11ng
        option htmode   HT20
        list ht_capab   SHORT-GI-40
        list ht_capab   DSSS_CCK-40

config wifi-iface
        option device   radio0
        option network  lan
        option mode     ap
        option ssid     OpenWrt
        option encryption psk2
        option key      "mykeytext"

        option hidden   0

This is as it stands at the moment I'll be changing the SSID just as soon as I'm happy with everything. The key line is psk2. If you use just psk one you get all sorts of nasty dependencies openssl etc being some of them and then if you reboot you'll find your router unaccessible by wireless again.

You could also do it using uci but I didn't so can't comment.

root@OpenWrt:~# uci set wireless.@wifi-iface[0].encryption=psk2
root@OpenWrt:~# uci set wireless.@wifi-iface[0].key=
root@OpenWrt:~# uci commit wireless
root@OpenWrt:~# wifi
The channel line made me go out and seek a wifi scanner since it's been a while  since I checked my local area out. 
inSSIDer is the lastest one for WIndows VISTA that looks well nice you can get it here  
and it's free. 
On the option htmode HT20 the 20db thing I don't know either I've left it as is.

Step 7 Configuring DHCP tricks for SIP and mobile phone.

What I did for this was to take a dump of my old configuration  of the main router. There are a couple of gotchas. I'd backup the configuration file. I put 24hrs instead of 24h for the lease time same applies for minutes 720m not min. The other thing is to watch for duplicate IP addresses.

Another tip I do recommend long leases as it prevents the log file being cluttered up. Type logread you'll see what I mean at one stage mine were set to 1 minute because of that config error so couldn't see old messages.

The problem I had was getting my mobile phone and my SIP phone connected as they use primitive DHCP the trick is a flag which is documented here. The trick is to   remove the "filterwin2k" line from your configuration that will sort it out.
Step 8 Configuring reserved addresses

For this I used the web interface alot easier to see what's going on. You can use custom from the drop down to enter them or pick from ones already present. I used my existing configuration file and typed them in and then powered stuff up and verified.

Once I had the router functioning as day to day router for work  then the fun can begin adding ipv6 functionality,  wake up on lan, dynamic DNS etc.

Step 9 Browsing the packages


Less seems cripped on this box so I vi the file and then forward searching becomes possible. You can also do opkg list, opkg list-installed to see what you've got. 

Before you get carried away installing stuff there is the Gargoyle interface which adds QOS lots of nice bandwidth graphs and what not. The requirement however is 2M of free space.

Step 10 Backing up Configuration

I use the web interface it makes a nice little .tar.gz file of the config directory. And come to think of it opkg list-installed would be useful as well. You can then scp it off there is no sftp btw.

Closing Thoughts

I could have choosen DD-WRT but it seems that is such a feature loaded distribution you don't have room for IPV6 according to the latest forum entrys. X-WRT is based on OpenWRT anyway. Tomato not sure about it might be fringe anyway. This brings me to the end of the initial configuration. Next part I'll discuss the juicy stuff

The end of part 1. 


Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Choice iPhone or Google Android HTC Desire

Well this is a tough decision as I'm both a Apple fan and a Linux fan. I aplaud Steve Jobs ingenuity in creating the iPhone. I fear that yet again the closed nature of Apple versus the open nature of Google will once again prove their undoing.

By being open and encouraging competition and creativity the Android world will leapfrog the Apple world even though it is a late starter. It's already started really there are numerous Android devices which are getting better.

The HTC Desire for instance has it's own Sense UI which itself is an innovation.

To run through some key features for me.
  • The display 800x480 AMOLED this makes it ideal for videos and picture showing actually it has as much resolution as some digital photo albums.
  • The Sense UI  I do use facebook and twitter. What I like though is they have thought this is a communication device first it's built to tie all your contacts information together. This is very good and has required some thought and recognition of the way the internet and the world is connected.
  • The camera 5 megapixels ok it's not all about megapixels but it sure is nice to have that bit extra. Perhaps nicer is you can record 720p video.
  • Cost cheaper £30 a month verus £35 a month for iPhone. This can translate into more minutes for the same money also.
  • Works with GoogleMail and Google Mail is free and also open. You have to pay for Apples email service.
  • You can change the battery yourself. This could be very handy on holidays not to mention adding to resale value later on.
  • You can change the SD card this could be very important later microSD 64GB anyone? But anyway 4x 16GB cards is 64GB I'm thinking already one for movies and one for music.
  • MULTI-TASKING I really do find it ironic that Steve has a Unix underneath but chooses to only run one thing at once. I'd like to be able to write an email . Change the content of a document before uploading it without having to restart the email writing process. Or make a note while reading an email copy key text out of it. Or perhaps log entrys from a shell. I guess all this is impossible on the iPhone.
  • Little things like inbuilt FM radio nice no add-ons here. The iPhone will start to look ugly with such addons.
  • Simple Open USB charger. This will make life easier later.
  • Macromedia this is a biggy really. Steve has just said no what's he thinking Flash is out there. Flash is important for Youtube and rich content.
On the downsides I put.
  • Not as slick as an iPhone in the sense of applications
  • Not yet as popular as the iPhone yet so some apps might not happen.
  • Constant changing device specifications. I wonder if the same thing that happened to windows will happen to the Android. Diversity creating buggy drivers and all sorts.

  • Popularity might affect other things like availability of hard covers nifty sexy ad-ons. Video Glasses Projectors and what not.
Weighing up the pros and cons though I think the HTC Desire wins for me.

Prior experience.

I did become an iPod owner though once it was out of warranty I decided to put Rockbox on it. I thought it was crazy not to be able to use the iPod as a storage device.

As an aside note I actually got fed up with iTunes because it was always crashing I ended up putting  Rockbox onit because it was simple and less buggy.

So my HTC Desire is now pre-ordered roll on April the 12th is it. I ordered it with 16GB microSD card which should be enough.

Why the Desire and not the Nexus?

Money was the simple answer. At the time of writing I can get the HTC Desire on two networks with 900minutes on T-Mobile and unlimited internet.

I would probably prefer the noise cancelling facilities of the Google Nexus but reality I really like the idea of HTC Sense I feel I will personally use this more so am keen to get it from the source with it's updates.  I believe the Desire also comes with a FM radio and a better media player which is important to me. Also having widgits will make it more useful. I'm not too bothered on OS updates though I'm sure Googles will be better for this. Once I have things all setup with games I like and music and contacts and what not I will be reluctant to take the chance of breaking my device by risking an upgrade to say Android 3.2 by the time that happens I'll probably be thinking of a new phone. I doubt I'd want to upgrade to Android 3.0 that'd be risky a completely new version and I'd have to wait for my favourite apps and what not to be migrated and/or tested.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Recent musings on cropping

Active readers will notice I've been alot on my workflow last year and this year.  First I made the switch to DNG and iViewMedia to catalog and organise my files in a way that they can grow infiitely and solved my ahh nightmare I lost all my photos issues with a RAID array which I can back up as I have a spare module and as the folders are DVD size I can burn them to DVD also.

Anyway the last step is publishing to paper and screen. First I've looked at paper which I actually wrote up in a forum post which I will reproduce here:

I was doing some research on getting photos printed it seems the most useful crop aspect ratio is 3:2 as it more closely matches a wide range of prints you can get at your local photo printing place.

In the UK we have Jessops and actually most others seem to do these sizes as well but anyway they do sizes in inches.

6x4 which is of course 3:2 and
9 x 6 that's the normal print choices
12x 8 is the first enlargement size also 3:2
18 x12 which is a poster size and also
24 x 16
30 x 20

As you can see that's a good amount of choice for one crop ratio.

There is the 7x5 size which doesn't fit but ahh well 6x4 albums are very common and 9x6 albums are available and a decent impressive size too boot and the advantage is then the small print is the preview of the larger 30x20 print.

Also I have a D300 and the resolution 4288x2848 is very close to the 1.5 aspect ratio or 3:2. In fact 4272 x 2848 is an exact match so you lose the least pixels from the original this way.

At first I thought there were no 3:2 aspect photo frames but 720x480 is a resolution that is 3:2 aspect.  Size 800x600 isn't but still you could always use the existing crop and then add a frame around it with a caption so the pic would be 600x400 say 3:2 aspect with a 100 pixel border left right  to make 800  and a  100 pixel border top and bottom to make 600 or 750x500 works as well that's only 25 left/right 50 top bottom which should work quite well with same for a caption at the bottom.

As for the big daddy photo digital display such as using a 16x9 tv well to be honest I'd forget about the 16:9 crop and use the TV as a preview for a 30"x20" print a 42 inch LCD TV has enough width and height to show you what a print would like this size as in life size you just have to do the dpi calculations and work out the size. My TV alas is a Sony 40inch and as it's only 500mm vertical picture height not 550mm so it's not quite big enough to display the 20 inch side of the 30x20 inch print.

Just thought I'd share my research. I'm also currently writing shell scripts on a Mac using software from Macports and NetPbm and ImageMagick to do the image conversion and captioning on mass. I'm sure the Caption Maker scripts are very good but I hope to produce multiple perhaps even 10 or more types of output format with one command.

Some recent research.

The size of Jessops prints appear to be really in inches. Admitedly I've only had one set done which is 7x5 inches and it really is 7x5 not 13 x 18cm in mm the size is 25.4 * 7 = 177.8 and it is indeed 177mm and abit on one side
and 5 * 25.4 = 127 mm and it is indeed 12.7cm on the shorter side. So despite the claims of 13x18cm it is not that size. Next time I'm in I'll take a ruler and measure to see if they other two 6x4 and 9x6 are also in inches.

I'll just publish this now and write some more later.