Tag: mac

Retro Battlestation (update 2): dialing up a local BBS with the 2002 Power Mac G4 Quicksilver

Since my first post after receiving my 2002 Power Mac G4 Quicksilver, I’ve learned a number of things about this machine.

Following the Retro Battlestations subreddit, there was a group activity a while back to dial into the group’s BBS using, yes, a real dial up modem, from your retro machine of choice. So I thought I’d give it a go.

The internal modem is on a board

Internal modem missing

about the size of a pack of cards, and it’s normally screwed to standoffs on motherboard in the top left of the motherboard in this photo. It was obviously removed in this machine, so that explains why an internal modem was not showing up as installed.

Not to be deterred, I noticed you can pick up an Apple USB modem for just $10 online so I ordered one. Wanting to give it a go truely old-style, I wanted to dial in from OS 9 – this is when I found out that this USB Modem is a ‘soft’ modem, in that it works mostly in software, and no, it’s not supported on OS 9.

In OS X 10.4 however, it gets recognized correctly as an External Modem in the System Preferences panel:

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a dial up terminal emulator for the Mac, I found most references pointing to ZTerm , so got it downloaded and installed, and it sees the USB modem. Got the BBS number configured, and off we go!

 

 

Success! Dialed in to the Level 29 BBS! I was expecting to see ANSI colors in the text display, so not sure if I need to change a setting in ZTerm, but so far pretty excited this works!

 

Retro Battestation: just received my 2002 Power Mac G4 Quicksilver

I just picked up a pretty good eBay deal on a 2002 Power Mac G4 Quicksilver. It was sold as working, and yes it does boot up and it did come with OS X 10.4.11 installed as advertised.

 

Inside, it looks almost new. When I recently took some old PC towers to the electronics recycling inside they looked like they’d accumulated 100 years worth of dust and god knows what. By comparison, for a 15 year old machine, this looks like it was kept sealed in a box for most of that time – it’s spotless with no dust in sight.

Clean!

It looks like it has 10.4.11 cleanly installed, but I also picked up a used OS X 10.4 Tiger DVD to do a clean install myself.

The DVD drive in the machine does not want to open. It whirs and clicks when you hold F12, but no go. I used the paper clip trick in the manual open hole on the front of the drive, it opens up and there’s nothing jammed in there, it just doesn’t want to open. I tried putting the DVD in there, manually closing the drive and then powering on, but it doesn’t spin up and read the disk.

By the way, on this Power Mac G4 Quicksilver, the DVD manual open hole is obscured by the front of the case, so the only way to get a paper clip in the hole is to physically remove the drive from the case to get access to the hole.

Given the issues with the DVD drive, I discovered that this machine will boot from a USB flash drive (there’s a discussion in this thread about all Intel Macs will boot from USB, but this feature apparently was supported on some G4 and G5 machines but apparently not all).

To install Mac OS 9 I copied the ISO from OS9Lives universal installer to a USB using Infrarecorder on a Windows 10 desktop, and holding down Option/Alt to get the boot menu, it shows the USB, and clicking on it starts to boot. I wasn’t sure about using the ‘Restore’ option on the OS9Lives universal installer, as it seems from the instructions that it wipes your partition.

 

 

Instead I’ve read in a few different forum posts if you just copy the ‘System Folder’ from an OS 9 image to the drive, along with ‘Applications’ (rename it ‘Applications (OS 9)’ if you’re dragging them to the same partition as OS X, if it’s a different partition then the name can stay as Applications).

 

Interesting that this just works – if you select the OS 9 System Folder as the Startup Disk in System Preferences, then when you reboot it just starts up.

To get a copy of the OS X 10.4 DVD onto a USB flash drive, I used Infrarecorder again to make an image, and then used ‘dd’ on my MacBook Pro to write the image to a flash drive.

I’m going to do a fresh install, but booting it up and looking around at what’s already on there, OS X 10.4 on a single PowerPC cpu machine, not a dual, and only 800Mhz with 512MB, performance is not bad, it’s pretty responsive. Both Tiger and OS 9 boot pretty quick (Tiger boots a few seconds faster which is surprising).

Quick observations:

  • Safari on OS X is terribly slow, practically unusable
  • Ten Four Fox on OS X is usable but sluggish on scrolling any page. Makes you appreciate how fast modern day machines are
  • Classilla on OS 9 is pretty snappy. Of the browsing options available, this is the better choice on this machine so far.

Next up I’ll be trying to boot from the image of the 10.4 DVD and doing a fresh install. More to come later.

2002 Power Mac G4 Quicksilver from eBay – on it’s way

For no other good reason than “why not” I just picked up a Power Mac G4 800Mhz from eBay for < $100, with OS X 10.4 installed. I’ve been shopping for a G4 MDD for a while, but as the highest spec’d G4 that can still run Mac OS 9 these seem to go for a pretty penny on eBay given their age. I almost picked up an MDD without a HDD for a decent price, but for a working machine with a fresh OS X install this G4 seems a pretty safe bet, so fingers crossed, now waiting for my new toy to arrive.

MacOS: Opening a Terminal from a folder in Finder (plus, taking and annotating screenshots)

In Windows I like that you can Shift-Rightclick in Explorer and select “Open command prompt here”. During development I often want to do the same on my Mac, and this feature is provided too, but not enabled by default. To turn it on, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts, select Services on the left, and then check the option “New Terminal at Folder”:

If you want to go in the other direction, you can easily open a Finder at your current folder in Terminal by running ‘open .’

A couple of bonus tips:

  • To take full screen screenshot on the Mac, press Shift-Cmd-3. A file will be saved on your desktop. To take a screenshot of a selection of the screen, press Shift-Cmd-4, then drag to outline your selection.
  • In the Preview app, there’s a neat feature under Tools > Annotate where you can annotate your screenshots with highlighted sections, boxes, arrows, text etc. Just open your screenshot file in Preview, and then you can easily annotate and save the image:

Phones, tablets, laptops, desktops – different form factors with different usage styles. Why Apple won’t compromise and merge iOS and MacOS

Following Apple’s announcement of the new MacBook Pro models today and the impressive looking Touch Bar, cnet have a fascinating interview (and timeline of Apple’s laptops from the original PowerBook through to the latest MacBook Pro models) with Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller, software engineering lead Craig Federighi and Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive.

Although the media focus is predominantly on the new Touch Bar, there’s several interesting quotes in the article on why we won’t be seeing a combined or merged OS or hardware device from Apple that combines iPhone/iPad touchscreen functionality with the laptop format of the MacBook product line – Schiller said:

“We did spend a great deal of time looking at this a number of years ago and came to the conclusion that to make the best personal computer, you can’t try to turn MacOS into an iPhone. Conversely, you can’t turn iOS into a Mac…. So each one is best at what they’re meant to be — and we take what makes sense to add from each, but without fundamentally changing them so they’re compromised.”

I’ve agreed with this line of thought for a while, and discussed this last year when Tim Cook said something very similar.

While it might be immediately obvious to some that the way you interact with a smart phone that fits in your hand is a completely different experience to how you interact with a computer while sitting at a desk, Microsoft’s (failed?) attempt at combining both of these usage styles into a single phone device with Continuum that you can use as a phone or plug into a dock and use as a desktop has always seemed to me to be a massive compromise. How you use a phone with a small screen and limited input capability is so completely and radically different from how you interact with a desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse and large LCD screen, why you would even try to combine these two experiences into one device is just beyond me.

Anyway, I’m pleased to heard Apple reiterating on their understanding of how different devices have different capabilities. Until a radical new approach comes along for how you interact with your devices where the reduced physical size of a portable device is no longer a constraining factor, a phone is still best as a phone, and your desktop or laptop is still best as what they do. Even in this “Post-PC” era, there’s still a place for both.

 

Replacing a MacBook Pro optical drive with a SSD: stripped screws a-plenty

Older model MacBook Pros typically came with a rotational hard disk and an optical  disk. Some models had a 6Gbps SATA controller for the HDD and a 3Gbps controller on the optical drive bay. It’s worth checking in the System Information tool if the controller for the optical bay is not slower than the HDD bay. If it is then you might want to consider swapping out your HDD for the SDD. If both bays are 6Gbps on both sides, then it’s ok to put an SDD in the optical bay and not limit it’s throughput.

My mid-2012 MBP has 6Gbps on both bays:

HDD:

Optical bay:

 

I used an OWC drive doubler bracket to put my SSD into my optical bay. Here’s the patient open and ready to receive it’s new drive. Existing HDD at the top right, optical drive bay bottom right. The bag of tools comes with the OWC bracket:

 The OWC bracket is more pricey at $29 on Amazon, compared to the cheaper alternatives at < $10, but the difference in price seems to be you get everything you need in be box, including tools, replacement screws, and a manual. The manual is incredibly detailed and covers step by step with photos for each MBP model that the bracket fits. Find you model, follow the steps, done.

The replacement probably should take you less than an hour, but I ran into one of the soft black screws that wouldn’t budge and it stripped pretty much instantly. I tried the elastic band trick, I tried supergluing a screwdriver to the screw.., no good.

Drilling out a stripped screw is probably the last resort, unless you can reach it with a dremel and cut a slot into the top. This one was recessed, so did some reading around and a ‘Grabit’ seemed to be the way to go.

The screw in question for me was the larger one in step #8 in iFixit’s instructions here. The instructions even say:

Take care, as these screws are unusually easy to strip

Yep. I think that should actually say:

These screws are guaranteed to strip. Make sure you have tools at hand to remove them when stripped.

The Grabit Micro #1 and #2 did the job for me. The #1 seemed the one to use. Using the drill end, it took a while to drill a whole into the top of my stripped screw. Flipping the drill bit around to the extraction end, it didn’t catch like it was supposed to. At that point I thought my only option was to drill the screw out, so I swapped the next up size and started slowly drilling, but the drill bit end actually caught inside the hole. Since the drill and extractor ends both turn anticlockwise, it immediately started to remove the screw. Phew!

So hows the SSD? It’s awesome. Whereas before El Capitan seemed to take more than a minute (I hadn’t timed it, but roughly) to cold boot on my i7 2012 MacBook Pro, from a clean install on this SanDisk SSD, it boots to logon in around 6 to 7 seconds. Pretty damn incredible. It boots from cold it the same time it would take to come out of sleep from my HDD. And using OS X is incredibly damn fast and fluid. My 2012 MBP has a couple more years of life to go 🙂

Creating an OS X El Capitan install flash drive

Format the USB Flash Drive using Disk Utils:

http://www.macworld.com/article/2990837/storage/how-to-format-a-startup-drive-in-el-capitan.html

The volume name in the next step is /Volumes/name-you-gave-the-volume-in-the-first-step.

Copy install files to the Flash Drive using createinstallmedia:

http://www.macworld.com/article/2981585/operating-systems/how-to-make-a-bootable-os-x-10-11-el-capitan-installer-drive.html

To boot from the flash drive, reboot your Mac holding down the Option key and the choose the icon for the flash drive.

Weblogic Portal 10.3.6 generic installer on Mac OS X – Insufficient Disk Space error

Trying to use the portal103_generic.jar installer on Mac OS X 10.11.1 gives this error even though you have plenty of free space:

A quick Google turns up this question and answer. Quick fix, run passing this option: -Dos.name=unix, so:

java -Dos.name=unix -jar portal103_generic.jar

Although others reported this avoided the issue, I then got this issue instead:

Exception in thread "chmodFile" java.lang.Error: Unix is not a supported OS platform.
 at java.lang.UNIXProcess$Platform.get(UNIXProcess.java:164)

Following additional suggestion here, using -Dspace.detection=false instead avoided the issue.