Mucho Macs 'n stuff

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Projects, Projects, Projects

Alright, it's been a while since I last posted. You know how it is, with the holidays and stuff. I've had lots of little projects going on so here's the skinny.
I still haven't loaded Ubuntu Studio (mentioned last post) on my PC. The old school DVD-RW I had would cause Windows to stall at startup when connected (Ubuntu Studio is only DVD installable, no live disc like other Linux distros). So I tried it with other drives (CD and DVD) I had laying around. No go. I finally got so frustrated I took it to the computer repair guys. They concluded the DVD drive wasn't compatible and then proceeded to play games on it for the 1.5 days they had it. I can't complain, they didn't charge me anything. So I ordered a new drive from It's even got lightscribe. I'm top shelf, it's who I am.

Although Ubuntu Studio has been going no where fast I have been able to test drive other Linux distributions aimed at the 'creative folk'. I've been using 64Studio, Dyne:Bolic, Musix, and the venerable Ubuntu/Xubuntu. My brother gave me his old ThinkPad so it's now my Linux machine. I haven't used the creative Linux versions too much but I have been feeling out Ubuntu. I like it! It's pretty cool. Although it keeps crashing for no reason. So I tried Xubuntu, it's like Ubuntu light for slow computers (with a Pentium II 300mhz I'd say it falls in that category). I don't like it as much. It's based on a different desktop version and it's not as fun. Plus it doesn't come with OpenOffice, just AbiWord.

But in addition to my Linux adventures I've been keeping up with my Mac projects. My QuickSilver 733mhz processor finally arrived from ebay. After winning the auction I realized it wouldn't work on my AGP G4 due to voltage differences. I found instructions on how to provide the needed additional 12v but after I made all my preparations to install it last night I found out it wouldn't fit. The instructional I found online show the project on a Gigabit board, not an AGP. Damn. So I thought about putting it into my pristine Gigabit dual processor and put the Gigabit's DP into the AGP. But that seems wrong. So I guess I'll try and sell it back on ebay. Unless I find another use for it. HMMMM.....

My stupid media server project is in a similar state; the stalled kind. I've made a little (underline LITTLE) progress on transferring all of my music onto it. So far so good, it's just slow going. Several weeks ago I traded the Mac repair guy a PNY nVidia 6200 for an Mac card with S-video out that he was going to obtain somehow. I plopped one on my desk yesterday but it has no S-video out, and it's a flashed PC card. ARGH. But he did locate a video transfer thing on ebay that I bid on. Only problem is it hasn't been tested, could be DOA.

And to top it all off I was freaking out about my MacBook Pro. My wireless router died and when I tried to hook up the ethernet cable to the MB Pro it wouldn't recognize a signal. It also wouldn't read a USB card on the same side. DEAD MOTHERBOARD I feared. But after having the same network problem on my other machines I wonder if it's the modem. You have to restart the stupid thing every time you want to connect. HMMM. I'll have to call Time Warner. I brought the MB Pro to work today to try and connect. I think I still might have the repair guys replace the one speaker while it's under warranty. It kind of rattles.

So there's the project status for the moment. Lots going on and lots of fun. Although I did cut my finger on my PC's cooling fan last night. Ouch. Keep your fingers clear when it's on. Seriously.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This is Sweet!

My wife is really into graphic design as a hobby so I was poking around to see how much an old license of Adobe CS3 would go for. Too much is the answer. So I started looking for freeware alternatives and there are some cool ones! Then I found this version of Ubuntu called Ubuntu Studio ( It's a Linux distribution for people who are into music, video, and graphic design. And it's free! It looks great but we'll see how it works. I need to figure out how to get my PC to boot it like a dual operating system. That could be hard. I was all excited to install it on my old G4 but it looks like that might not be possible. What I've found so far indicates it's pretty much for intel processors only. HMMMM....

Are you kidding me?

Our servers at work have been really struggling. Our main one was down for a morning, our FTP has been down for a while (the port died). I talked to our IT guy about it and apparently the Windows updates from last week crashed all of the servers on campus. Nice. Here, download this file, it will help your computer. CRASH. Funny.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Beautiful on the outside but...

Man, G5/Mac Pros are BEAUTIFUL computers. I really love the way they look with the swiss cheesed front and back, beautiful aluminum skin, and neatly painted logos. The inside is equally as beautiful in a technical view, cooling fans everywhere with well thought out air flow. But man, have you ever tried working on one? Ouch! One of our G5's at work was low on hard drive space so I pulled an unused hard drive from another computer to put in the G5. GEEZ! Getting the stupid SATA and power connectors from the tight spot in the case was kind of hard. Sliding the drives in was a little tricky too. I guess I'm used to the ease of my old G4 Graphite. You open the case with ease and everything is at your disposal. Regardless, I was able to get everything working. I formatted the drive into the HFS format, set up a partition (or lack there of I guess) and installed it. Nice! Say hello to 149 GB of extra storage space. What really amazed me was how easy the computer recognized it. No pins were necessary, the computer didn't get confused over which drive to use, it just worked. I love it! The computer I took the drive out of, a Dell, threw a fit when I removed the drive. It kept asking where drive 1 was. I actually had to change the BIOS to make it stop. Not like that was a big deal but it's a lot more work than the G5 install/removal.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


As everyone knows, there's no such thing as a perfect product. The Mac is no exception. One thing that gripes me is the lack of availability of 3rd party parts. I'm not sure why this is, probably because of profitability issues, but there just isn't much out there for upgrades. I've been scrounging around lately trying to find a video card with s-video out for my media server project. You'd be surprised how difficult it is! Sure, there's stuff out there but a lot of it is REALLY expensive. Sure, you can buy a cheap PC card and flash the ROM but then you've got issues with reliability. Jump on or another computer supply store and you'll see that NONE of the cards say they're Mac compatible. I'm sure I'll resolve my lack of video card situation but I find it odd that it's so hard (that's what she said).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

New addition

Guess who just scored a vintage Powerbook 170? This guy! A vintage laptop has just been added to my collection. It's awesome, everything works on it and it really takes me back to the heyday of early laptops. System 7 is pretty fun to play with. It has a surprising amount of software on it for such a small hard drive. Funny thing is most of the programs are publishing type programs. It even has NetScape on it! My goal is to get it on the internet. My secondary goal will be to rebuild the battery. It looks easy enough online so I'll try it. It would be so sweet to bring that thing into a ritzy Starbucks location and start working on it. Sweet.