What if you have many retro consoles/devices and just one SCART on the back of your TV? You need a switch, of course! But nowdays it’s hard to find a good one… So why not build one!?
Since me and a friend of mine have 20-30 retroconsoles, which sometimes we likes to power on and play a bit, we need a solution to have a sort of “plug & play” system.
I found on YouTube and web that some people that built one by themself with some digital switches and a microcontroller and, with my partner in science, Dom, just drafted a sort of circuit to test if the project could be possible and it gave us good results.

Here we go!
Since I never handled this kind of signals I’ve done some research on how to draw the right traces on the PCB to avoid any serious interference as best as possible for me. Fortunately it was pretty easy.

The project is based on a mainboard composed by a PIC microcontroller, a main switch/selector and eight multiplexer, and a daughterboard (to be designed) to add eight more ports (up to two for a total of 24 inputs, not guaranteed until I’ll produce a prototype for the right tests). On the mainboard can be connected an 8×2 LCD character display (or biggher by modifying the firmware), two buttons for the input port selection and an IR receiver (not implemented yet firmware side, need to write the NEC IR library). The board can be powered by USB or by external 9-12V (adjusted to 5V by a stepdown IC)
The firmware is in MikroBASIC (yes, I’m lazy and this language isn’t the best for microcontrollers, I know).

(The board in pics is the prototype/rev 1.0)

The box works successfully! Except for some little problems that I’ll try to fix in a future revision.
– Initially a device with just A/V RCA had problem with another RGB SCART device connected. It should be fixed in this revision but need more tests.
– Two pin of muxes are not used yet, I’ll try to add other two pins to make them available for extras (es SCART + S-Video) for the next revision.
– Blanking and Aspect Ratio does not have any switch, they just use two diodes per port, so they are really not disabled. I’m thinking for a solution that I’ll test on a simulator before putting it on the next revision.

You can find PIC sources and EAGLE project on GitHub!

NOTE: I’m planning, for the next revision, as said, two more pin in/out to support also S-Video, and (probably, but not sure) a better management of blanking and aspect ratio pinout. If you’re planning to build one by using my schematic please try to wait a bit. :)
Unfortunately I cannot give you a release date, because I’m busy in real life, but I’ll do my best to fill that.

This project is “as is”. I’ll NOT assume any responsability on how you use this project and on any damage it can cause to any device of yours, people or things. Use it at your own risk!

All you know what happened with Intel security last months and I’ll be short with this post.

Thanks to Win-Raid Forum I obtained new CPU microcodes (unofficially released yet on Intel website, maybe not fully tested, but signed as PRODUCT, so they should be reliable) and new ME Firmware (with updater!) and made a new release of the R1170Y8 BIOS for VPCEB4C5E.

InSpectre Intel SA-00086

NB: To make sure protection works Windows MUST be updated to the latest availables security patches on Windows Update!
Of course if newer CPU microcodes and ME firmwares will be released I’ll update this post ASAP.

IMPORTANT: Before flash, check which BIOS version you have. To check this: shutdown your laptop, power it on and press immediately and repeatedly “F2” button on keyboard, you’ll enter in the BIOS menu. Read “BIOS Version” and check if it’s “R1170Y8”. If your BIOS IS NOT named as these DON’T GO FORWARD! DO NOT FLASH ANYTHING!!!
To prevent any problem close all programs, and also disable the antivirus. Some programs can interfere with the BIOS flash and in result you can BRICK your machine!
Note: You’ll hear the fan spinning to the maximum speed and in some operation (read or write) your mouse and keyboard will be temporarily disabled, this is normal.
Open AfuWin (select 32 or 64bit, depends on your OS), and first make a backup of your current ROM by clicking on the “Save” button. Write a name for your BIOS (eg. my_bios_ok.rom), if you want, and save in a known location to easily retrieve it if you need to. Be sure to make multiple copies of this backup (on external drive like USB pendrives, etc).
WARNING: This updates are EXPERIMENTAL! This means that you COULD BRICK. Make sure you have a way to recover your original full BIOS (ME+BIOS) with an SPI dump!

R1170Y8 Modded BIOS v0.5
R0300Y8 Modded BIOS v0.4 (Untested)

New Microcodes (August 2018):
R1170Y8 Modded BIOS v0.5-2
R0300Y8 Modded BIOS v0.4-2 (Untested)

Since I had just one freeze during stress tests with August microcodes I decided to not remove links to previous version, in case you need to downgrade. At least for now.
PS: Now Intel declared our CPUs as Legacy :P

– Removed all engineering CPU microcodes (they’re pretty useless unless you have an engineering sample CPU…)
– Updated existent CPU microcodes to latest available version taken from Win-Raid.

Use AfuWin to update with the same parameters as in the screenshot below:

AFUWin Parameters

ME Firmware Update v6.2.50.1062
– Update to, use the batch “update”, as admin, to start the updater, if not works use this command as admin “FWUpdLcl.exe -generic” (without quotes).

ME Firmware Update

Since there was some discussion about performance drops after microcodes patch I made some benchmark before and after the patch, and here are the results:
As you can see the performance drop is really low, and maybe they also depends on some Windows updates too.
The hardware used is the current:
VAIO VPCEB4C5E: Modded R1170Y8 BIOS v0.4-v0.5 / Intel Core i5 580M / ATI Radeon HD5650 1GB / 2x4GB Crucial RAM 1333MHz CL10 @ 1066MHz CL7 / 256GB Crucial M4 SSD / 1920x1080p internal display.
Software used: Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 2016 / PassMark Performance Test 9.0.1023 (Trial) / 3DMark Basic Edition


Do you remember when Sony denied me support for my VAIO laptop?
After some research I’ve found a way to do some modifications and discovers on my VAIO BIOS. Thanks to my partner in science I’ve bought, for a bunch of euros, a very good USB SPI reader/writer and finally decided to make a full dump of my BIOS just to try some mods and updates.

VAIO ROM Flash Memory chip

My first attempt was to dump the BIOS with the laptop set to Off and, as a result, I only got bad dumps. After looking a YouTube guide I decided to remove the chip and do a full dump again. And I got, finally, good dumps.

VAIO ROM Flash Memory slot VAIO ROM Flash Memory on SPI reader/writer SPI reader/writer UI

But since I have to flash and test many variants of the BIOS mod, why don’t we add another “feature”?
If you have read the Dreamcast BIOS hack article you will probably remember that I decided to put a second flash memory on the mainboard to have a Dual-BIOS solution! (the original flash memory with the original BIOS, the second flash memory with the development/final BIOS mod.)

Winbond Flash Memory Flash Memory in development mode... :D

With a bit of research I found that the BIOS is divided in two parts. The first part is the ME Region and the second is the AMI Aptio BIOS. Some other OEMs have the ME Region in a second flash.

Note: The BIOS is a unique file of 4096KB, I virtually split it in two parts of 2048KB each just to easily understand how my VAIO BIOS is made.
The ME (Management Engine) region is a firmware provided by Intel to manage communications between the chipset, the devices and the OS and, on some VAIO models, is not directly upgradable. The full SPI dump has given me the ability to update it, thanks also to some tutorials found in a forum.
To begin with, we’re going to have a look at the second part, the AMI Aptio BIOS.
A reliable dump is very important, because I’m certain I can modify all that I want (to the best of my knowledge. First I’ve opened the ROM image with AMIBCP. AMIBCP (AMI BIOS Configuration Program) is a tool that let the dev/user to modify the existent menu in the AMI Aptio BIOS, to set new default values and to hide/show some menus. I’ve just unlocked some menus and changed default settings to some limits that could improve performances a bit (also regarding VT-D function… If you’re a VAIO user you sure know what I mean).

AMIBCP with some changed parameters

I will not write here how many things I’ve changed and tested with a lot of reflashing, I spent about 1 month to consider my work as “final”.
Once I was done with this, I decided to upgrade, wherever possible, my O-ROM modules and to do this I used AMI MMTool Aptio.


Valid O-ROM modules were Intel HD Graphic, ATI Mobility Radeon (HD5650) and Marvell LAN. I found a good guide for Intel HD O-ROM modifications/upgrades, because it needs to be set before replacing in ROM file.

Intel BMP

But that’s not all. By looking at some other BIOSes with my same CPU, I’ve found that the Intel HD Graphic O-ROM module name is “8086, 46” (8086 is Intel’s VendorID, 46 is ProductID), mine had two O-ROM (VBIOS, in this case), both with the same config, and the module name was “8086, fff” and “8086, ffe”. What’s that?
After two weeks of hard research and tests I found that the Intel HD Graphics NEVER existed! Why? Simple! SONY PERMANENTLY DISABLED IT VIA HARDWARE!!!

VAIO Service Manual (Confidential... Ahahahahah!)

Why Sony would disable switchable graphics? Why not a software solution (in BIOS) but a hardware one? Of course, Sony will never tell us why.
After this I’ve looked for the ATI Mobility Radeon HD5650 O-ROM module (VBIOS, also in this case) and I found that another, but older, VAIO model have the same GPU, so I searched for the BIOS on the internet and dumped the VBIOS. I’ve also found VBIOSes about HD5650 on other laptop brands, more recent than mine, but I had some troubles with video outputs: that’s because Intel HD was permanently disabled as described before, so I’ve made some test just with the other VAIO VBIOS.
I’ve found no differences and improvements but some people on the internet suggested me to remain with the stock VBIOS because the older one could have different VRAM timings and other parameters that could make my machine unstable or damage it, and so I rolled back to the stock VBIOS.
Sony not only has disabled Intel HD GPU, but also DOWNCLOCKED the ATI one!
I asked myself: why not having the Intel HD too, as it does not use much power when on battery?

After reading many forums and doing a lot of research I’ve found how to increase stock clocks (450MHz for GPU @ 0.90V and 790MHz VRAM) with RBE (Radeon BIOS Editor ) and some Hex editing to the right frequencies, same as ALL OTHER LAPTOPS BY OTHER BRANDS! (550MHz for GPU @ 1.00V and 800MHz VRAM). It was hard because I’ve never managed things like this (the voltage table made PowerPlay always stuck on max frequencies), but hey! Now I can have more FPS in games! :D

ATI VBIOS Hex Editing

Now the simplest part, Marvell LAN O-ROM.
By looking at Marvell LAN I’ve found that it was an “alpha” build. It worked very well, never a problem, but why not a stable? Never an update by Sony… Not a problem, I’ll dump from another BIOS ;)
After a bit of search I’ve discovered that EVGA made a 400$ motherboard that use the same Ethernet chip (Woah!). Grabbed the updated BIOS from official support site, opened with MMTool, grabbed the new O-ROM and replaced in my modded BIOS. It works perfectly :D
I’ve also updated some CPU microcodes. Maybe they are not essential, because OSes like Windows just update microcodes via Windows Update, so they will be loaded on boot.
Let’s go back to the first part of the BIOS, ME firmware update.
As I said before, I’ve found no differences between the old and the new firmware, but why we shouldn’t update it? Like Intel HD Graphic here we have a tool that can read the original values and copy to the new vanilla firmware, called Intel FIT (Flash Image Tool), but implementing it is a bit different.

Intel FIT

As suggested on some forums, the only way to do this is hex-editing, in my case, the first part of the BIOS. The only important thing is to select the right output format, so you can obtain the firmware file in the right size and then replace easily the older one.

Intel ME Firmware replacement operation

The last thing: UEFI Boot.
Unfortunately it was pretty impossible to enable it, because it was permanently removed from the BIOS. Maybe it can be added via modules, but I don’t know where to grab and how to enable it.

As I said, after a month of research and tests I’ve just made these changes:
– Dual-BIOS solution. Good for brick-free tests.
– Updated Intel VBIOS from v2009 to v2120 (Without results, because it’s disabled)
– Updated Intel ME Firmware from v6.0.31.1208 to v6.1.20.1059
– Updated i5 480M CPU Microcodes from revision 02 (2010) to revision 04 (2013) (also updated microcodes for some other CPUs)
– Updated Marvell 88E8059 O-ROM from v6.65.1.1 (alpha) to v6.68.1.3
– Unlocked advanced BIOS submenus and options (but they’re not visible, don’t know why)
– Increased ATI VBIOS frequencies from 450/790MHz (0.95V) to 550/800MHz (1.00V)
– New bootlogo B-) (Oh, yeah! I’ve just improved the old one!)

About the Dual-BIOS mod: here is the schematic according to the flash memory datasheet:
The SPI Chip Select (/CS) pin enables and disables device operation. When /CS is high the device is deselected and the Serial Data Output (DO) pin is at high impedance. When deselected, the devices power consumption will be at standby levels unless an internal erase, program or status register cycle is in progress. When /CS is brought low the device will be selected, power consumption will increase to active levels and instructions can be written to and data read from the device. After power-up, /CS must transition from high to low before a new instruction will be accepted.

Dual BIOS mod circuit diagram Final work!


To mod/reflash your BIOS you do not need the Dual-BIOS mod. Dual-BIOS mod is only for hardcore users :-)

Here are the ME firmware, VBIOS and O-ROM used for this mod:

Original+Modded VBIOSes/Modules/ME Firmware

And here there are the already modded Aptio ROM images for both VAIO models (Only AMI Aptio Image, 2nd part. If you want to also update the ME firmware you will have to make a full SPI dump and replace it via hex-editor by yourself). Remember that YOU MUST compare with your laptop original ME firmware and check if there are some bits to sets via Intel FIT, otherwise your machine could work badly or not work at all.

AMI BIOS/Firmware Update Utility 32/64bit (Directly from AMI website)

R1170Y8 Modded BIOS v0.4
R0300Y8 Modded BIOS v0.3* (WARNING: NOT fully tested on real hardware! I can’t verify if it works correctly!)

* Due to missing original Intel HD script file I was not able to update the Intel VGA O-ROM module. If anyone own the “ilm_1930.bsf” script file (Ironlake Mobile v1930) please contact me on Twitter.

Note: I can’t public software like AMIBCP, MMTool, Intel BMP and Intel FIT, because of copyright. Try search them on Google! :P

How to flash:
IMPORTANT: Before flash, check which BIOS version you have. To check this: shutdown your laptop, power it on and press immediately and repeatedly “F2” button on keyboard, you’ll enter in the BIOS menu. Read “BIOS Version” and check if it’s “R1170Y8” OR “R0300Y8”. If your BIOS IS NOT named as one of these two DON’T GO FORWARD! DO NOT FLASH ANYTHING!!!
To prevent any problem close all programs, and also disable the antivirus. Some programs can interfere with the BIOS flash and in result you can BRICK your machine!
Note: You’ll hear the fan spinning to the maximum speed and in some operation (read or write) your mouse and keyboard will be temporarily disabled, this is normal.
Open AfuWin (select 32 or 64bit, depends on your OS), and first make a backup of your current ROM by clicking on the “Save” button. Write a name for your BIOS (eg. my_bios_ok.rom), if you want, and save in a known location to easily retrieve it if you need to. Be sure to make multiple copies of this backup (on external drive like USB pendrives, etc).

AfuWin Save button AfuWin BIOS read operation

Then click on “Open” button and select the ROM with the name as your BIOS version. DO NOT SELECT THE WRONG FILE, YOU COULD BRICK! Then check “Do Not Check ROM ID” and “Restart After Programming” and press Flash. Click on “Ok” when AfuWin asks if you want to continue and wait until the flash is done.

BIOS Flash! BIOS Flash! BIOS Flash!
Your PC will reboot and you should see a new logo! Press immediately F2 to enter BIOS options, go to “Exit” and select “Load Default Values” and then “Shutdown”. Power on your laptop and check if all is working good!
If you have any trouble you can reflash the backup ROM you made before.


Guys at Guru3D have found a workaround to fix ATI video playback problems on newest drivers! There are two files, made by Sony, that are not shipped with newest drivers anymore so drivers cannot recognize the VGA at all. Just put this two files in System32 and SysWOW64 (in case you have a 64bit OS) and reboot. That’s all!
Works Windows 7, 8.x and 10 (for now)!

You can download the two files here.



Thanks to Snake, my partner in science, for helping me with my bad english!

Back in 1998 SEGA released a 128-bit console called Dreamcast.
It was a really pretty console, slim and powerful, unfortunately dropped early by SEGA because a REALLY BAD marketing.
The Dreamcast is still one of the most favorite hardware by geeks, after the PSX, and one of the coolest hack around is the BIOS replacement.
The Dreamcast DevKit, in fact, have a more beautiful BIOS boot animation than the retail one. Some rumors affirms that SEGA had in plans to release an update for the retail Dreamcasts to replace the boot animation.

This never happened.

After the pretty failure some people had the luck to obtain a DevKit machine and dump the BIOS out. The DevKit BIOS is pretty the same, in size, as the retail one and seems it is stored in the same chip. The only differences, animation apart, it’s region free and there are a bunch of bytes that after some hex edit permits it to run on the retail console.
After founding a Dreamcast at the flee market for only 10€ (but without any cable) I decided to find an how-to guide to try this mod: http://www.mmmonkey.co.uk/sega-dreamcast-region-free-bios/

I’ve bought the EEPROMS (MX29LV160TMC-90) on eBay, they’re really cheap!

It wasn’t hard to install the new chip over the older, like in the guide linked above. Just use a good soldering iron and a thin solder wire with a good flux, it REALLY helps!

Flashing DevKit BIOS on the new chip with a modified DreamShell present on the same link…

Switch cables to select original or DevKit BIOS

Since the console is open, why not add more “hacks”?
The Dreamcast was the FIRST console that supports VGA output natively (but games must be compatible, otherwise you’ll see only a black screen instead), so I’ve looked for a VGA hack guide.
There are on eBay also VGA cables, they should work really good and out of the box, but are very expensive (about 20€ actually). A VGA female port costs only 1-2€ and as well as a good pair of RCA female plug. Why RCA female plugs? Well to have stereo output to connect with an external amplifier! :D
On the same site I’ve found the schematic to install the VGA port, with the complete pinout to connect also the two audio channels: http://www.mmmonkey.co.uk/dreamcast-internal-vga-mod/

Some tests…

Yes there should be another switch there. It’s to select “VGA out” and “Normal A/V out”.

And there’s the final result! (With a blue power on led mod! B) )

Thanks to Snake, my partner in science, for helping me with my bad english!

Some months ago I found on a flea market a very interesting toy: A Grunding hifi 15010 with Elac Miracord 625 Turntable directly from 70’s!

Grundig 15010 with Elac Miracord 625

The young guy sold me it for 35€ (great deal!) because, I think, he didn’t understand soo much about those things. I had to buy a new stylus, because the original one was broken and do some internal modifications that I’ll show in some pics.

For first we have to find how to power it! Due to its age, it used an old ugly connector for power. Since I was planning to also reduce a bit the 50Hz noise I decided to replace the entire connector by using one of this also used in classic tower computer.

Aftert this I’ve immediately checked grounds and some soldering points. Actually the preaplifier ground was on the SAME wire that transport the music to the main amplifier, it was really thin! I’ve Immediately bought a bigger cable and replaced it, checked and fixed some spoiled soldering points and also replaced the two RCAs from the tone arm.

Finally the turntable sounds perfect, but needed some regulation because the tone arm doesn’t lift correctly on the disk many times. Found the original manuals on the internet, oiled some gears and calibrated the arm.

By the way my father asked me if he could record some vinyls on PC with this turntable. It can’t, of course, because it doesn’t have any output from the preamplifier, only the classical DIN connector for loadspeakers… for now. So I’ve added two RCAs and a switch in the backpanel to select the preamplifier output! Now we can record our favorite vinyl on PC! But we could also connect it on a more powerfull amplifier!

Of course my dad was super happy, and so did I!


A little test with one of my favourite tracks :)



Original manuals, founds on the internet, converted in PDF (print ready!):

First manual

Second manual


Thanks to Snake, my partner in science, for helping me with my bad english!

As many of you know, there is a tool named “Koala“, which helps you to make a bootable USB thumbdrive with Windows NT 6.x (Vista, 7, 8.x, Server 2008, Server 2012, etc) installer on-board.

Koala 2.0 by Jacksoft and Snake

This tool originally was made by my partner in science Dom, under the brand of FreeModding. Unfortunately this brand does not exist anymore, it was a great community, and I wanted to host this tool on the main website to help Dom to maintain it alive.
One or two years have already passed since then, and I asked Dom if he could update Koala to better support the new builds of Windows, and him replied that is not really satisfied how the actual Koala works and he would to rewrite it totally with also a new interface (UI).
I fastly dropped him a draft made in MS Paint (Yes! :°D ) about how the UI could be, and asked him if I could give an hand to build it up. He accepted and together we had completed the draft… even in MS Paint.
We chosen, this time, to use Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) instead of classical Windows Form because it allow a better user experience in making and using graphically-based UIs.
I never wrote a project in WPF (this was my first!), and initially was a bit hard because some animations and customization must be made in XML, others in C#. Well you have to cross use XML and C# if you want really better results.
After several weeks of works and minor testing I’ve finally wrote about the 90% of the entire UI. I’m still trying to optimize the code and, at the same time, test it on various OS (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8) to make sure it works correctly and fast!

Koala 2.0 by Jacksoft and Snake

Now Dom is rewriting all the engine that makes the USB bootable. We both, especially him, are busy and the work on Koala 2 is going very slow. But out expectations are great, and we hope you all will appreciate the work we are putting on this tool!

Note: The UI is not 100% completed yet. Some layout and icons could be changed.

We need translators! So if you want to contribute and help us please contact us at: koala -at- jacksoftlabs -dot- com


Thanks to Snake, my partner in science, for helping me with my bad english!

Back in 2011 my dad’s friend gifted me a Windows Phone 7 device: LG Optimus 7 (E900). Not a bad phone, maybe one of the best between WP7 devices.
LG E900 - Optimus 7
It worked well until the day that… ehm, it had a bath in olive oil (please don’t ask me how it happened!).
I immediately removed the battery and wrapped up with some absorbent paper. After I disassembled it and tried to remove all the oil with some isoprophilene, demineralized whater and spirit; I’ve just spent over three days to make it pretty good.
I was lucky, the phone booted up, but of course some problems still remains. In fact the speaker was less loud than before, the display have some spot and… WiFi and Bluetooth not works anymore.
What happened?
Here is where Samsung join us.
Maybe was my fault, because of the oil bath, but the WiFi/Bluetooth chip was in short and the phone goes a bit unstable, overheated and of course the battery life was reduced to one hour… MAX!
To properly charge it I needed the original power adapter (that is about 1Ah), and it took about six hours. Though a PC it was pretty impossible.
But by searching on Google I found something of interesting. In fact this phone seems suffers from a BAD hardware bug that could just appear from a moment to another, without symptoms. The WiFi/Bluetooth chipset fault and the phone never startup again (it stuck on the LG logo). XDA guys have solved in different ways. Someone had cut off the PCB piece where the chip is placed, some other just done a re-heat of the chip at about 380°C.
Unfortunately mine wasn’t just desoldered, but BURNED, and I just decided that to make the phone works back again, in the best way possible I had only to remove that chip.
Ah… just forgotten: the chip in question is made by SAMSUNG!
Honestly I really don’t like Samsung product, because the quality of product is really poor and the support is more poor. (A day I’ll tell you my misadventures with a friend’s Samsung Monitor!). So now, I suspects, also components lacks of quality…

And here how I’ve just fixed the problem:

Of course I’ve disassembled the entire device, and looked for the board where the chip is on.
LG E900 - Optimus 7

After discovered it (the one in the center) I’ve removed tha protection plate and looked at the chip.
As you can see the chip is literally BURNED, and there’s nothing to do, except changing the entire board.
LG E900 - Optimus 7

Then I’ve just grabbed a pair of pliers and powered on the “SMD Rework” on my soldering station, by setting the airflow temperature at about 350°C.
LG E900 - Optimus 7 LG E900 - Optimus 7

Maybe I had to reflow at highter temperature (maybe 400°C), but after some minutes the chip was desoldered and removed. I have to polish the BGA connection from the remaining solder lead.
LG E900 - Optimus 7

And as final result… The phone works again! Of course I’ll never able to use WiFi and Bluetooth again, but SIM card, phone operations, data over 3G works pretty good, and the battery life was restored! Better than nothing! :D

LG E900 - Optimus 7


Thanks to Snake, my partner in science, for helping me with my bad english!

How about if you discover that your PC is EFI compliant but without… EFI?

All started about one or two years ago, when me and my partner in science Dom (Snake) discovered the beautiful world of Hackintoshes.

We started to try to make OS X boot on our machines; me on my Sony VAIO and him on his desktop (that have the same motherboard as mine), with Chameleon as bootloader. To make OS X works good you need very much time to spend on it, to try various bootloader configurations and drivers (called Kernel Extensions or simply “kexts”). After some MONTHS we had our Hackintosh working at 99%: it’s a great goal!

In this months we switched to Clover Bootloader (firstly me, because with Chameleon I had some difficulties to make the most of the hardware working good, after him for some reasons like mines), and the results was very impressive. Clover is a very great bootloader, that works both in EFI (preferred) and in Legacy mode.

Since our machines are legacy we have to use Clover in legacy mode.

What are the differences?

Dom discovered, by testing on a newer machine with UEFI BIOS, that Clover in EFI mode is REALLY faster and OS X doesn’t need so much drivers/kexts like the Legacy one.

And here is were I got mad. By entering in my VAIO BIOS Setup Menu I discovered the label “Aptio Setup Utility”, and with AIDA64 (A software for Windows that show you ALL the information about your hardware) I discovered that is an AMI EFI BIOS.

So immediately I thought “EFI BIOS without EFI boot?” and made a really vaster search on the internet.

Meanwhile I searched for the BIOS of my VAIO, because Sony NEVER released it and NEVER have released an update! (Instead of other brand that full support users with BIOS updates).

Then I’ve asked directly to Sony support and of course they replied… “We are sorry, but your model is too old!”
A VPCEB4C5E bought in 2011 IS TOO OLD!?

Thanks to various communities we discovered very much about how a BIOS is made and how it works: O-Rom modules (discovered by flashing modified BIOS for our desktop motherboard), DSDT (discovered by working on Hackintoshes), MSR Registers, etc.


The good thing to have an updated BIOS is that firstly many possibles bugs could be fixed, secondly (and not less important) is the upgrades of O-ROMs.

O-ROMs are little modules provided by hardware producers (Intel, AMD, Marvell, etc) that are substantially the firmwares of each microchip we have in the computer. By testing modified BIOSes, made by KET, for our desktop motherboard (P5Q-E) we discovered firstly great improvements in performances (especially in games!), but also more stability in overclocking! So BIOS updates are really important.


Now what to do? I just searched on the internet for the “right tools” to dump, explore and modify my BIOS!

Firstly I’ve downloaded tha AMI Flash Tool (AFU for the Aptios), and dumped my BIOS. One time via Windows and another via DOS, for security purposes.

AMI Firmware Update utility(APTIO) for pure 64bits WINDOWS

As you can see the tools just dump 2048Kb from my ROM instead of the 4096Kb which is. The tools open correctly the ROM image, so I assume it’s ok. I’ve also tried with another thirdy part tool, that just dumped all 4096Kb, but by inspecting him I discovered that there are soo much empty bytes (0xFF), so I discarded it. I think that in the first 2048KB there are very important and untouchables things (maybe a self recovery?).

By the way I’ve just opened the ROM with the right tools and started investigating. All menu options seems visible (unlocked), and there are soo many options that not appears in the Setup Menu. By reading on the internet some users says that this options probably are locked thought NVRAM or by a BIOS module. Unfortunately I’ve not found a good tool to dump my NVRAM, edit it and rewrite, maybe I can unlock all these features, or at least some of the more important (Have I told you that my VAIO does NOT support the auto-switch between Intel HD Graphics and ATI Mobility Radeon when is needed? No? Well, my machine have always the Radeon active, and the battery life is about 1h and 30min, in idle, when I’m REALLY lucky. *SIGH*)

But no EFI boot options… So I continued to search on the internet for more information, but nothing…

Recently I had an idea. Just try to search the version number of my BIOS, to see if there are others from others brand. I’ve searched everything, so why don’t try?

I was right. I found a thread where a guy asked help for a boot in UEFI mode, and… He have an ASUS with THE SAME IDENTICAL BIOS AS MY VAIO! But with the differences that he can boot in EFI mode, because there are the options available in the Setup Menu, me not, because I don’t have any option!

Look at differences with AMIBCP. The first one is my BIOS menu, the second is that of the ASUS machine, with UEFI boot options!

Aptio AMI BIOS Configuration Program

I’ve found the module that have the BIOS menu and replaced in my ROM, but when I try to open it with the AMIBCP it crash. So it can’t be replaced. One more thing. In another thread some guys used a “Phoenix Tools” to unlock some restrictions of AMI Aptio BIOSes, and… The ASUS one have the recovery thought USB (when you open the ROM with that tool it search for the right string that should be the name of the ROM that you have to put on the USB stick in case of bricking), my SONY not. Could be because I dumped the ROM, and not downloaded it… But I don’t believe it.


By this, I’m afraid to do any serious modification and to flash, especially now that my machine COULD NOT have a recovery system, better don’t try.


In the ends:

Sony does NOT want help me and all the peoples that have a the same BIOS mounted on their VAIO (2011 machines are too old! Really!), Sony does NOT provide original ROM or an updated one, wich could improve system performances (new O-ROMs), stability, EFI boot (we need it!) and self-switchable VGA to improve BATTERY LIFE, I cannot modify the BIOS to unlock all these menu, or I don’t know how, and I do not want to risk my machine.

And… Next machine of course will be not Sony. I would try an Apple instead, because the battery life is very long (about 7-8h in idle, and with the next OS X “Mavericks” should be around 12h, WOW!), Apple support for serious their users and products, OS X works natively (without any hack), and because I’m thinking about to learn some programming for iOS (yes, I know I can also do with any Hackintosh).


So, if you was planning to buy a Sony, think about these words… I ever loved and trusted Sony, but after this, I’m feeling cheated.

Ah, did you know that Sony told me that I CAN’T install Windows 8 because my machine is inadequate? Well I’m waiting Windows 8.1 RTM and I’ll post here if is true!


See you!


Thanks to Snake, my partner in science, for helping me with my bad english!

Hello World, I’m Giacomo aka “Jacksoft”, and I’m italian.

It all began many years ago, when I was a child. My dad often likes to fix all the broken (and therefore fixable) stuffs, and when he was younger he usually bought some kits from “Else Electronics” where you build “DIY” little circuits capable to do different things. Even now he has a box full of those circuits! I always loved my father, I’m really proud of him, and loved how he was capable to fix, built or invent all these electronic things, so I inherited this passion. Some years later my dad came at home with a BIG box: A COMPUTER! One day, at his workplace, they changed all the computers, and many of them were dismissed, and maybe trown in the dump… It was an 8086 from IBM, with a 5 inches floppy reader, 30MB HDD (WOW!) and a super brilliant green-phosphor screen! And yes, with MS DOS 2.x on-board, I guess, no games, only Wordstar and some other office programs, but it was still awesome. Two or three years after my uncle gave us our first 486: COLORS! So we started with DOS 3.x, Windows 3.11 and tons of floppy disks with… GAMES!!! And when my dad bought a newer computer (AMD Duron 600MHz), well… Wolfenstain 3D, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D… What else should I say? :P

But that’s not all, I also love videogame consoles, even though I was not very “lucky” this time. I began with a Nintendo NES clone, bought for a bunch of bucks, after many and many years my first 32bit console, the PlayStation. Only a few years ago I started to collect videogames and console, of course the main problem is being an expensive hobby…

However in the following  years, beyound games, I learned many things on computers. I discovered what an HexEditor is, how Windows OS works, and when we had our first 56k modem… Does anybody know paradogs.com? Well, learned so much on PSX architecture, a bit of hacking/cracking and… PROTRACKERS! Tons of protrackers downloaded from web! Ahhh… I still love it! And you can’t imagine how many times during the year my dad had to format the computer because of my… experiments, ehm…

While growing up I also learned how to use the soldering iron, what electronic components are and how they work, especially during my high school years. I was lucky, because in my high school (Electronic and Telecommunications, of course) there were very great teachers, that taught and helped me with passion, this is exactly how a teacher should teach.  You can’t imagine how wonderful is to know how a little component like transistor works… SO SIMPLY! (That’s because I always said to myself: “how can I get this to work with 3 pins?!”). After graduating, I continued to study electronic by myself, discovering “new” components like PIC Microcontrollers and doing many experiments on breadboards and on simulators like Multisim and recently Proteus, and also started computer programming, in Microsoft C# .NET thanks to one of my best internet friends, Domenico aka “Snake”, to make PC interfaces for my projects.

Years passed. I opened Jacksoft Labs because I wonted to share with all my knowledge and my experiences, but… As you can see I don’t update it very often, because lack of time. Just started to work, and continued to study to get a technician degree, or something like. A few month ago I moved to Germany, to look for a bit of luck and to see if my studies can be appreciated. How can you feel if the job of your dreams could be easily embraced but your homeland try to cut your legs because they want a nation full of ignorant peoples? Well, this is Italy.

Now I’ve just decided to open this little and simple blog to show you what I, or me with my IRC friends, discover or study while we NOT update the main website. We have ALWAYS something to learn… And even less time to do that!


What I wrote until now maybe doesn’t sound very interesting, I know, my life was so much filled with studies and experiments, and I’m still continuing to do this. I need more knowledge!

I’m sorry for my poor english, I’ll try to do the best I can. (And thanks to “Snake” to helping me fixing my posts, both in italian and in english. :P )

I hope you’ll enjoy this blog, follow me!

Cheers! :-)


Love the Anaglyph!