Posts categorized “lowend”.

Matt’s Macintosh: 1984

February 27th, 2012

Matt over at Matt’s Macintosh has a lovely office setup.

[via Stephen Hackett.]

Return of the Mac

October 19th, 2011

Golly. I’ve really done it now.

This little project started last fall, after the “Back to the Mac” Apple event. I collected a few Apple product videos, scoured YouTube for the highest quality PowerPC-era Mac commercials I could find – even asked Twitter where to find good, high-res files.

But I made do. And so here it is: a goofy, super geeky take on “Return of the Mack” – dropping the “k” of course.

What I like is that Apple videos make their machines fly – lots of swooping and dramatic angles and shadows. Tons of product rotations. All (except for the PowerMac G5 vid) against a brilliant white background.

For variety, I threw in some random stuff like the chip manufacturing shots. And some Apple reps doing some bad lip syncing.

Anyway. Glad to be done with it. It’s nothing like a pro job: there are still little hints of YouTubeness and window frames in there. But it’s just a fun little music video for us Macintosh geeks.

Apple.com, circa never (but we can wish)

March 7th, 2011

Apple.com, circa never

It was soon after the iPad 2 announcement that the trouble started brewing.

Thomas Brand on Twitter: “If you think the white iPad 2 looks cheap you should see the Bondie Blue model with pinstripes.”

Neat, I thought – I’d take a Bondi Blue one any day. So Thomas made one. And then another. And then more.

We had so much fun watching all of Thomas’s retro iPads come through that, shucks, why not make a retro Apple.com page again? So there you have it: Apple.com, circa never.

This time, I used the OS X 10.2 Jaguar-era Apple.com, with a fun iPhone fake mockup and an announcement that will never, ever come.

As far as the iPad goes: the white iPad 2 is the first time I’ve actually considered wanting an iPad. I still don’t have an iPad-shaped hole in my life, and the $499 could be used more productively in a lot of other places, but who knows. It’s a wonderful-looking product, and put me down as a fan of the white versions of Apple’s mobile devices.

Another side note: Thomas has been on fire over at Egg Freckles. Not only is his the best-looking blog on the web, but he’s cranking out great stuff lately.

Interior design with iBooks

February 14th, 2011

ibook in room

Nice to know that, even a decade after its launch, the iBook is still used in interior decorating – at least by the folks at Target.

The iBook G3 was one of the few classic Macs I’ve kept. Dan Benjamin and John Siracusa were talking about the lack of durability in modern Macs. I think that the G3 iBook is one of the toughest little machines Apple’s ever made.

So tough, in fact, that it can survive in a hypothetical teenager’s bedroom, as seen above.

How to fight feature creep

December 1st, 2010

Allen Salkin at the New York Times:

Newest is not always best. For Andre Ribuoli, the director of Pamplemousse Press, a fine-art printing studio in Chelsea, there was never a better inkjet printer than the Iris 3047. Capable of rendering perfect full-color images on sandpaper, fabric or anything else that can bend, the lifeboat-size machine was made in the early 1990s by an Israeli company that is now defunct.

“If I have to be the last man in the world running a 3047,” Mr. Ribuoli said, hands on his hips and gazing lovingly at the beige and black machines one recent afternoon, “I will be the last man running a 3047.”

Isn’t that true with all of us who appreciate the finer, older things in life?

Reviving an iMac G4 for every day work

November 23rd, 2010

simple_imac

Dave Caolog on breaking out his 20″ iMac G4 (my dream machine):

As my MacBook Pro slowly dies, I’ve called my old G4 iMac back into service. Years ago, that machine was wiped clean and given an install of Mac OS X 10.5 before being boxed in the basement. On Friday I will wrap up one week of using it as my primary work machine. In that time I’ve found that it’s slow, beautiful and perfect. Here’s why.

Caolog notes that things run a tad slower on the iMac, but “waiting a half of a second isn’t the end of the world.”

Even better? “This is the most beautiful computer Apple has made,” he says.

Not only do I agree, but after using a 15″ iMac (and at a paltry 800 MHz) for an entire year as my main workstation, it more than served its purpose. Caolog kept his needs simple: TextEdit, Preview, and a few other apps. That’s it.

When your needs are simple, a simple (and gorgeous) Mac is all you need.

[Via Shawn Blanc.]

Simplenote on Mac OS 8.6

November 11th, 2010

Riccardo Mori at System Folder wondered if using a handy tool like Simplenote was possible on a classic Mac:

Things start getting trickier if you’re on a Mac with older versions of the Mac OS. I couldn’t do tests with Mac OS 8.5/8.6, though I suspect that if you have a capable Mac and a suitable version of iCab or Opera (or maybe even Internet Explorer 5), you could still be able to access the Simplenote Web interface.

Having set up my dream dual Mac OS 8.6/9.2 system, it was possible to test Mori’s suspicion.

Using my PowerMac G3 running OS 8.6 and the latest build of Classilla, with JavaScript turned on, I could access Simplenote’s interface. The trick, I thought, would be if it was a useful interface. So I typed in an easily-checked addition to my grocery list:

simplenote screenshot os 8.6

The note, “Try out SImplenote on OS 8.6,” did, indeed, appear on my OS X 10.6 version of Safari – synced and ready for action:

simplenote screenshot safari

The other browsers? Internet Explorer 5.1 on the PowerMac threw up a Typekit certificate error and wouldn’t let me past the login screen. iCab 3.0.5 loaded the login screen fine, and even showed the basic outline of the notes page (posting the Fusion ad, for instance – something Classilla wouldn’t do until I turned on JavaScript), but failed to load any actual notes. When I tried creating a new note in the text entry field, it didn’t send the note back to the server.

opera 6 screenshot

Both Opera 5 and 6 treated Simplenote much like iCab did (above), loading an empty text field for a new note, but nothing else. And the formatting looked awful.

Classilla, it seems, is the Simplenote trophy winner on Mac OS 8.6 – a good thing to keep in mind for the lowend Mac users out there who want to sync notes between their Mac and iPhone or iPad.

Success: docking the eMate with the PowerMac G3

October 18th, 2010

Now that the iMac G3′s hard drive was installed into the PowerMac G3, it was time to see if my Newtons would get along with the new setup. My hope was that, since the OS 9 drive and OS 8 drive seemed to share a common Desktop, maybe the OS 9 drive would share some of its Entrega serial-to-USB adapter driver love. But no such luck:

USB not recognized!

As before, the PowerMac wouldn’t recognize it or the Keyspan adapter I plugged in. The Keyspan adapter drive I downloaded (USA-28XG) didn’t even recognize the adapter I plugged in. But then I remembered: back when Keyspan was gobbled up, I saved a backup copy of the USA-28X adapter installer. Maybe the one I saved would work.

After transferring the file over to the PowerMac, the installation process went smoothly. In the Control Panels, there sat both Keyspan 28-X controls:

Keyspan control panels

The 28-XG hadn’t worked. Would the 28-X?

Keyspan found

Sure enough it did. It recognized the Keyspan adapter and allowed me to mess with the advanced settings:

Keypan prefs

I had no idea what half of this stuff meant. The real question was, would it work with the eMate? And it did. Finally – although not before I had to remember to set up Newton Connection Utility to recognize the port:

NCU prefs

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Before, in the run-up to the System 7 experiment, the lack of a Newton driver was all that was keeping me from going through with the plunge into obsolescence.

With the ability to sync the Newton, I can work more on the whole Claris Organizer project, and keep backup files of all the eMate’s packages on the PowerMac’s HD. If I need it, I can use the iMac’s HD as a backup system. It’s beautiful.

This whole deal taught me two lessons: how easily I forget, and how important it is to keep backups of files. Especially ones you can’t get on the Internet any more.

The main reason I couldn’t go through with my Seven Day of System 7 experiment was because I couldn’t get the eMate (or the MP110) to connect with the PowerMac. Shuffling between the iMac and the PowerMac seemed like a hassle in an already full-of-hassle experiment. Now I only lose the bulk of the iMac, not the brains.

Really, I was waiting to find that stupid Entrega driver CD. Since it never surfaced (notice I’m blaming the disc), the experiment never happened.

But now? Man, it’s on. I have everything I need: my iMac’s games, files, and configurations; the ability to connect and sync my Newtons; a faster, more expandable machine in the PowerMac.

My plans still include buying a flat-screen monitor to save space – probably some refurbished Dell el-cheapo LCD. In the meantime, the Studio Display will be an workable stand in.

You know what I really like? The hum of the PowerMac. More delicate and softer than the PowerMac G4′s fans, the Blue and White provides a nice, steady white noise that I find relaxing. It’s something you never hear on modern Macs; the noisiest thing on my desk now is a pair of external hard drives. You can hear and feel those things kick on, especially during Time Machine backups.

A room full of PowerMacs might be a bit much, but the one I’m keeping produces a soothing whir that’s not obnoxious or distracting.

So by transplanting my iMac’s brain and finding a Keyspan adapter driver, I’ve turned the PowerMac G3 into an all-I-need Macintosh – the best of all worlds in one complete package.

Two G3s in one: iMac brain transfer

October 11th, 2010

Since I made the decision to retire some of my classic Macs, I had some thinking to do: what parts, if any, would I keep? And would I miss any functionality?

I thought about all the hard drives, with their drivers and software, that were going bye-bye, when it hit me that I could install a hard drive or two into the PowerMac G3 I was saving. And since the iMac G3 was the only Mac that would work with my serial-to-USB adapters, maybe a brain transplant was in order. So that’s what I did – took out the iMac’s hard drive and installed it into the Blue and White, just to see if it would work.

This meant opening the iMac and getting to the hard drive. I’ve covered how to get into an iMac G3, but getting to the hard drive was a bit trickier since it sits snugly below the motherboard tray in some infernal metal sleeve.

iMac hard drive tray

There were screws to unscrew – quite a few of them. The CD-ROM drive also sat on top of the hard drive:

iMac CD-ROM tray

To top it all off, there are power and connection cables snaking around both drives, squeezed into that metal tray pretty tightly. So I had to figure which cable went to which drive and yank them out:

Yoink!

After I unplugged the cables and got the CD-ROM drive out of the way, I had to remove a few more screws in the side of the drive and get rid of the little metal prong that held the drive in place. A little bit of wiggling and the hard drive was out.

iMac HD in the PowerMac G3

From there I placed the iMac’s hard drive in the second bay of the PowerMac (above), set the screws in the side to hold it in place, and plugged in the connection and power cables. After the installation was complete, I got the question mark Mac folder on startup, meaning either one drive or both were conflicting. The iMac’s drive was set to be a master drive, which is a no-no in the ATA world. So I set the original PowerMac drive to master and the installed iMac drive to slave, and the issue went away.

iMac HD on desktop

When the PowerMac did start up, it booted into its usual OS 8.6 drive, and what do you know – there was the iMac’s hard drive on the desktop.

Something weird that I never expected: the PowerMac and iMac desktops were combined. Looking at the desktop above, the Entrega file, Doom.jpg, and Grackle file were both on the PowerMac’s desktop, not the iMac’s. But each time I reset the system with a different startup disk, both environments seemed to share the desktop files. Pretty neat.

One weird issue that hasn’t gone away, however, is my iMac’s tendency to not shut down or restart. Heading to Special > Shut Down or Restart made the iMac’s screen flash, the icons blink out for a second, but then no restart or shut down would happen. To turn the thing off, I had to put it asleep and then unplug it.

Maybe installing the hard drive in the PowerMac would help, I thought. But no dice. After setting the iMac HD as the startup drive, the restart/shutdown problem was still there.

One suggestion had me dumping the OS preferences and emptying the trash. Trashing the Mac OS and Finder prefs didn’t help. Others suggested a complete reinstall of OS 9, which is a method that sounds more like a Windows thing than a Mac thing.

I tried a series of boot-up key combinations to no avail. The only thing that worked reliably was setting the iMac HD as the startup drive, and boot with extensions turned off (holding Shift on bootup). That let me turn off and reset the iMac HD.

The other weird issue: I set up Multiple Users on the iMac, thanks to OS 9′s then-new feature, but a while back the iMac started booting into the Owner account automatically – there was no login required and no Multiple User welcome screen. Heading to the Multiple User extension manager, I found the strangest thing: there wasn’t one. Well, the extension was there, but it wasn’t working. It showed up in the Applications menu as an option, but offered no interface for managing the actual extension.

It’s hard these days to find reliable troubleshooting information for OS 8 and 9, and a lot of my searches have come up empty. But really, I have the iMac’s hard drive in the PowerMac – saving both space and time. And I can still accomplish most of what I need without the physical iMac being present. So mission accomplished.

Next up: connecting my Newtons to this new setup.

Cleaning out my Mac closet

October 4th, 2010

Updating to OS X 10.3.9

It’s decluttering time around Newton Poetry headquarters, which means I’m cleaning out Macs that I either rarely use or that have become redundant.

This includes my PowerMac G4, iMac G3, Mac SE, and Apple Studio Display (the above CRT model that matches the G4). All of them are taking up more space, and less attention, these days.

The Bondi blue iMac may be the exception. It’s an always-on machine for testing Newton stuff, playing games, and doing my household budget. But after digging into the PowerMac G3, I find that a lot of what I do with the iMac can be done with a more flexible, powerful G3 in the Blue and White. It’s not important to have a Mac with every OS on it anymore. The PowerMac G3′s Mac OS 8 can do most of what the iMac’s OS 9 can do (run games, test software). And even though the iMac takes up less space, I’ve been thinking about getting a flat-screen monitor to use with other computers and recycle the ungodly-heavy CRT.

My plan is to either give away or recycle all the Mac stuff. I have to warn local friends that these are older Macs, and so maybe aren’t appropriate for anyone but a dedicated hobbyist.

Except for the PowerMac G4, since it runs OS X 10.3 Panther and handles web browsing and basic computing pretty well. I’ve even tackled some graphic design projects on it using Adobe CS2, which it handled nicely. Having that G4 as an everyday machine, as loud as it is, is still better than having no Mac at all.

These days I’m finding less and less time to devote to my Mac hobby, so weeding down the number of machines will help me dedicate the time I do have to the remaining Macs. To me, there’s a twinge of guilt that happens when a Mac is left off for too long – especially when I can’t think of a good reason to turn it on.

My original plan for the Mac SE, one of two that I own, was to turn it into a Macquarium. But that’s a project I don’t want to think about for a long time, and I’d rather scrap a non-working classic than this perfectly capable Mac.

All this leaves me with my new iMac, an iBook G4, an iBook G3 blueberry clamshell, the B&W PowerMac G3, the other Mac SE, the LC 520, and two Newtons. That’s a collection with a good mix of OSes, software, and desktop-vs.-portable variety. Most of all, it’s a collection I can handle.

With these Macs out of the way, I’m getting ideas on projects to tackle next, like stealing one of the PowerMac G4′s hard drives (or even the iMac’s, with OS 9 on it) and installing it as a second drive in the Blue and White. I’m using the one Mac SE as a writing station, the iBook G4 as an iTunes jukebox in my bedroom (With a fantastic JBL Creature speaker system), while the iBook G3 mostly collects dust.

Newton Poetry readers that are interested in getting their hands on one of these machines would only have to worry about shipping, if you’re interested. Drop me an e-mail and I’d be glad to send you one.