The never ending story – How to Download YouTube Videos

YouTube again changed the way you can easily download your favourite videos to watch them offline. I already posted twice how to do it – you just need to create a Bookmark in your browser and click on it when watching the video that you want to download. Quite simple. But the target of this bookmark changed again. Here is current version:

Download YouTube Video

Just right-click on this link and select “Save as Bookmark”.

openSUSE 11.2

openSUSE 11.2 is now available

OpenSUSE_11.2_468x60Are you new to linux and want to learn about it or have never used it before? Then now its your turn to download openSUSE 11.2 and give it a try. Besides the installation DVD images you can also download LiveCD images to run linux on your computer without installation – the harddisk will not be touched. Find more information in the openSUSE wiki about whats new in this release.

Download YouTube Videos as MP4

In February I wrote a post and offered a JavaScript code snippet that helps you to easily download a YouTube Video by adding this code to your bookmark list. The API of YouTube changed a few days ago, so the script no longer works.

Here is the new updated code snippet. Please update your bookmark or just right-click on the following link and choose “Bookmark this Link”:

Get YouTube Video


I still don’t believe what I did last night :)

On Friday I’m going to upgrade a friend’s computer and install two new hard disks. In order to save some time I wanted to preinstall the operating system (the one of my companies’ cooperation partner). Up to then it was a good idea. But then I connected one new disk to my computer and booted the XP Home installation CD. No hard disks installed was the short message after the installer probed the system. I realized that this CD must be so old that it had no SATA drivers – or at least not for my mainboard.

I searched for the driver CD of my mainboard and – thinking like a developer who wants to be nice to the users – booted again, pressed F6 when prompted to include 3rd party drivers, inserted the driver CD and found that the only way to hand new drivers to an XP installation was via floppy.

But I have no floppy drive in this machine. Nor has my PC in the living room, nor has my Laptop. A month ago I cleaned up my cellar and got rid of my last PC with a floppy drive – a Pentium 133 machine that I got in 2001, when it already was used (Siemens wanted to get rid of it back then). Well … no way to solve that, it seemed. I didn’t want to give up that easy and crawled though my board with PC components and really found a lonely floppy drive. But then I recalled that I also disposed my collection of SCSI and floppy cables – nobody uses floppies any more and everything is SATA nowadays, I kept some IDE cables as my file server still has an IDE drive.

So the next objective was: get a floppy cable. When I almost gave up on this I had a look in an old ASUS mainboard box where I keep some manuals in – and amazingly there was a brand new floppy cable still in its original package. Ok, great, now I could connect the floppy drive with my mainboard … but stop, it needs a small power plug – but there was none. As my power supply has cable management there must be some power cords left in its packaging … so again, searching for a cable – but that one was easier to find.

But what is a floppy drive without a floppy. Those I disposed about 5 years ago after I created a last backup of thier content on my file server. So now it became quite hard. I even had to search in those tow boxes with unused stuff that I left untouched for three years now since I moved into my current apartment. And astonishingly there were about 10 floppies left.

Then the amazing thing happened. After over 5 years it was the first time I logged into my own workstation with a floppy drive connected. Ok, the workstations changed in the meantime from a custom built one to a MacMini and now I’ve got a custom built one again (does not look as nice as Apple products but its a lot cheaper and much more flexible).

Well, the rest of the story is short: formatting the floppy with KDE was easy, installing wine to extract the SATA drivers on the CD from the self extrating *.exe archives went smoothly as well, and so did the installation of XP in the end. It just was so curious to use a technology again after such a long time (5 years can seem long). Maybe I now start to understand what it feels like for the computer poineers to touch a Zuse or to power on a DEC PDP-7.

Hacking a Seagate hard disk

I will document here how to hack a Seagate hard disk that ran into one of these annoying firmware bugs that affected the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 series lately. If you want to know more about the background you may want to start with the first part of the story.

The friend who brought me the disk kindly came by the next day to help with the operation. According to the recipes I found here and here, we had to connect the hard drives service port to a serial console via a RS232-TTL converter. My friend prepared the RS232-TTL converter, brought a stable power supply as we needed 5V to operate. My task was to prepare the operating table, find a serial cable and a computer with a serial port, a two-pin-connector with wires and to get to know minicom.

So and here is how we did it:

RS232-TTL converter
RS232-TTL converter

First we connected the converter to the devices. The docking station of my notebook has a serial port, so I connected it via a serial cable to the converter. The three wires coming from the converter had to be connected the hard drive directly. We fixed the ground wire with a screw of the board. The Rx and Tx connectors had to be connected to the Tx and Rx connectors of the drive (so just cross them). Thats where we used the two-pin-connector. On the drive the pin next to the SATA connector is the Rx and next to this one is Tx. The other two are reserved and we did not need them.


The most tricky part was about to be next. We had to interrupt the power supply for the motor of the platters but keep everything else connected properly. And it must be possible to remove this interruption during the operation. We unscrew all screws a little and pushed a piece of paper between the contacts of the board and the connector, and fastened the screws just a bit.


So much for the preparation. Let’s start. Here is my minicomrc I used to communicate with the drives firmware:

$ cat minirc.seagateBug
# Machine-generated file - use "minicom -s" to change parameters.
pu port             /dev/ttyS0
pu baudrate         38400
pu bits             8
pu parity           N
pu stopbits         1

Now we connected the the SATA power cable to the drive and let minicom establish the serial connection. And really, I got first contact with the drive:

img_6584Even the error codes the drive dumped to the screen were correct according to the recipe. So we were on the right track. Now it was just about to properly retype the commands into minicom and patiently wait for the drive to complete the commands. Here is a screenshot with some comments in it.

Hacking the firmware (commented)
Hacking the firmware (commented)

Then finally we were done. But we did not repair the drive, but only reactivated it. Now it can run into the same bug again any time (but only on startup, so we would notice). So we tried to prevent as many restarts as we could. The first thing I did was connect it to an external SATA-2-firewire case and use the first startup of the disk to backup all important data. The second thing I did was connect the drive to the onboard connectors of my workstation and boot from the firmware upgrade CD I downloaded from the Seagate website the day before and deployed the new firmware to finally get rid of the bug.

In the end the disk felt quite well back in its original machine. Fortunately we had nothing more to fix within the installed system (yes, it was the other operating system).

Btw. the commands we sent to the drive took serveral seconds each to process, so we had to wait for for them to finish. Disconnecting power too early would have broken the disk. Thats why I connected all vital systems to my UPS for this hack. If you happen to have such a Seagate drive, my deepest regrets to you and good luck for your recovery hack.