Mucho Macs 'n stuff
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Several months ago I found a super bargain on a Digital Audio logic board through eBay. I bought it thinking I could play around with overclocking the bus speed per this guy's instructions. After some tedious wire and resistor placement I soldered everything into place and put the board into my Digital Audio. It worked! OS XC even seemed to boot faster. System Profiler didn't recognize the change but after running X bench I noticed a fairly big difference (668 to 748). But then reality set in. I started getting asked if I wanted to permit various programs to run and the system clock couldn't seem to hold the right time after every reboot. Sadly, I had been defeated. Oh well, it was worth trying. Now if I could only get the L3 cache on that dual 800mhz processor to register...
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Apparently there is a team at MIT that wants to build computers based on the Apple II for developing countries. The price for 30 year old technology? Just $12. In the same vain as the One Laptop Per Child program (which has failed miserably) this project aims at teaching people rudimentary skills instead of providing play toys (although with Apple II's I'm imagining there will be lots of required programming, which isn't so rudimentary). I say good for them! This is a great idea that will reach a ton of people. Thinking back to my own computer skills history, I actually started out on an Apple IIc circa 1985. It wasn't until 1997 that I was introduced to modern computing platforms in the form of Windows 98 and Mac OS 8. What a design that can last 30 years and still have such a following.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
After my overclocking mishap I'm back in business with a dual 800mhz processor! I scored this marvel from eBay at the astonishingly low price of $81 shipped. Normally these go for $100-$130, I got lucky. I have it installed now and it's running like a champ. The half-breed lives to fight another day.
Monday, July 14, 2008
My Wife is frequently on my case regarding the slowness of one of our G4s. It has the dreaded 733mhz Quicksilver processor that lacks an L3 cache. Although this is bad for performance it's good for overclocking. I've seen websites as well as ebay listings that support this processor running up to 933mhz. Since my Wife and I just got hired on to do a big translation project I decided I better get things running faster so we can make more progress. With the best intentions I broke out the soldering iron and mapped out my plan. I had previously desoldered one of the resistors on this processor to bump it to 800mhz so I felt confident I could make the necessary solder drip for 867mhz. I was right. I put everything back together and it worked like a champ. Yay! But I got to thinking that if 867mhz was good, 933mhz would be great. Out came the soldering iron again. Surprisingly I was able to lay down two more solder blobs with little difficulty. I again reassembled everything and BAM, it wouldn't start up. Kernel panic. Oh well, I had to do it, otherwise I would constantly wonder. So with that gone I tracked down a new processor on ebay. I'm not sure how but I was able to find a dual 800mhz for $81 shipped! Hopefully that works out, otherwise I'm a computer down.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Ebay is a very dangerous tool. I was checking things out the other deal when I found a deal too good to refuse, a G4 Digital Audio motherboard for only $10 ($20 with shipping). That was too sweet of a deal to pass up, especially since I've been thinking to attempt a bus speed bus like this http://jonathanrenaud.g.googlepages.com/home2
Now that I have an extra motherboard I guess I have no excuse but to try for 150mhz over the 133mhz stock speed. Well, I guess I do have the excuse that I can't solder very well. But that's beside the point.
Friday, May 16, 2008
At 768mb my G4 hack project (DA computer with QS processor oc'd to 800mhz) has never been well endowed with RAM. Until now. I decided to spring for 2x 512mb sticks from other world computing . I decided to go with OWC for compatibility reason. I didn't expect any issue with other major brands but I wanted to be sure that in the severely unlikely event that it didn't work on an Apple that I could get a refund. Not much to say about it besides it's RAM. Now I'm sporting 1.25GB of crushing random access memory. It definitely helps performance but it's still a dog with the Quicksilver 733/800mhz processor (stupid lack of L3 cache!). I'm tempted to through in a dual 1.0ghz but those are pricey ($200 on ebay). My other thought was to do a dual 533mhz. Less numbers but more processors. Given Leopard's love of multiple processors that might be the way to go.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I run Leopard on my unsupported G4's and I think it works great. Personally, I don't think there should be a mechanism to prevent you from installing Leopard on your computer, it just doesn't make any sense. My two unsupported Macs, an 800mhz Digital Audio/Quicksilver (DA computer, QS 733mhz processor, overclocked to 800mhz) and a 500mhz Dual Gigabit, run it just fine. In fact, there isn't much difference from Tiger. If anything I think the dual 500mhz runs BETTER with Leopard. So if you want to install it on your G3 266mhz iMac and have nothing work and blindingly slow performance, that should be your call. That said I'm all for programs like Leopard assist, which helps you get Leopard going on your unsupported Mac.
Friday, May 2, 2008
We NEED YOU Mighty Mouse! Or at least I need you. I don't understand why my wireless mighty mouse doesn't always connect to my Mac Book Pro. It's always iffy and many times I have to manually connect it (I know, the tragedy of it all!). Does anyone else have this problem? Seems worse since I installed Leopard. I suspect it's something with the mouse, not the computer or OS. I've updated the software so I guess there's not much else I can do besides bitch on a blog about it.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This weekend I popped a hard drive with Leopard into my old 500mhz Dual Gigabit. I've contemplated installing Leopard on the machine's 'real' hard drive but I want to be sure Leopard will run like Tiger does. I really expected Leopard to be sluggish and irritating. Much to my surprise it runs great on Leopard! I think Leopard is designed to run best on dual processor setups, even if they are a scant 500mhz each. The running duties seem to be nicely distributed to each processor, allowing for even distribution of resources. Currently I have 1.5GB of RAM in it and it runs great so I think if I can do 2GB it will be that much better. I know Leopard loves RAM. I have to say that I have a soft spot in my heart for my Dual 500mhz Gigabit G4. It's an absolute pristine representation of a G4. Used by a local graphic designer for many years and then left for recycling at the university repair shop, it's virtually scratch free and in perfect working order. For being 8 years old it's still chugging away like a champ. I wouldn't run Photoshop or anything crazy like that on it but for surfing the internet and working office apps, it's just dandy. It's funny to think that it was originally released with OS 9 and still runs the most current OS without problems. For being 8 years old it also still has all the right features to keep you going, like a max of 2GB of RAM and 3 Firewire ports. Here's to you Dual 500mhz Gigabit, you Graphite Warrior of Digitalization.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Yesterday at work someone was attempting to use one of our G5s to view video files. First they couldn't get the optical drive door open (no biggie), then they complained about not knowing how minimize a window (to which I responded, there are only 3 buttons, try one of them), and after that she just didn't like Macs. What really griped me about this comment is the fact that she made zero effort to TRY and expected things to work on their own. I don't get it. But this made me think about how to explain how a Mac works and why you should use one. Here it is:
A Mac is like the metric system and a PC is like the old standard measuring system. The metric system is much easier to use, it's more accurate, and you can figure out manipulations pretty easily. The standard system works but it's cumbersome, prone to error, and difficult to manipulate. Using the standard system you might have to measure twice. Both will get the job done but one is more logically based, easier to use, and more efficient. It's science :)
Friday, March 28, 2008
My old CRT Apple Studio Display that I picked up at a university auction 3 years ago finally gave up the ghost last week so I've been in the market for a new monitor. I guess I got my $10 out of it. I really didn't want to fork over a lot of cash for a new monitor and I was seriously considering a used 17" Apple Studio LCD. I was talking to the computer repair guys about my monitor situation and they informed me that the university shop might have some new old stock LCDs like the one I was looking at. After a quick chat with the manager he pulled one from their stock room and presented it to me. "$100", he said. The price floored me. I was amazed that I could purchase a monitor that originally retailed for $599.99 in 2004 for $100. He offered me a 22" for $350 but I had to pass. I don't know why, but for some reason I've always been fascinated with new old stock items. I finally got my chance to unbox a piece of my own. I forgot to upload the pictures last night but I will later. So far I love it!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I've typed the code in openfirmware to overclock the bus speed like 15 times and it still doesn't work! Does anyone have any advice or alternate code to use? I swear, I can't be that stupid. I tried the magic code into the openfirmware of my Dual 500mhz Gigabit multiple times but it made no difference on each restart. The system profiler still reads 100mhz and nothing changes. I even tried the code to overclock it to 167mhz. I think the issue might be the particular models I have. I wonder if certain revisions were able to do it and others not. Or maybe I'm just not that good at typing in code.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Well I've done CPU overclocking so now it's on to other types, like front side bus overclocking!! I've found various articles on www.XLR8yourmac.com and other places on how to change the bus speed on older 100mhz systems (like the Power Mac G4 Yikes!, PCI Graphics, Gigabit Ethernet) and I've really been wondering if that truly works. Basically you boot into open firmware (Apple-Option-O-F) and you type in a bunch of code. (I'll have to posts the links later as they're on a different computer). The code basically tells the computer to run a script to bypass the ROM and read from it to adjust the bus speed. Since I really wanted to try this but didn't want to mess up the Gigabit Dual 500mhz that my wife always uses I decided to give it a shot on my already modified Digital Audio 800mhz. But since this system is already running a 133mhz front side bus I decided to go to 167mhz, like what's found in later Mirror Door models. So I opened things in openfirmware, typed the code in, rebooted and crossed my fingers. It started fine, everything looked good. I opened system profiler for the moment of truth and.....it still read 133mhz. HMMM. I ran Geekbench and Xbench to be sure it just wasn't registering. Sure enough, no difference from previous runs. But I have to say, and maybe it's just a mental thing, it did feel a little faster. But that might also be the difference from the 733mhz to 800mhz overclocking. I haven't had much use with it since I modified it. But we'll see. Maybe later this week I'll change the bus speed on the Dual 500mhz Gigabit. I think I might have better luck with that. I have a feeling the modified Digital Audio doesn't register the changed bus speed because the memory isn't fast enough (SDRAM 133mhz). Problem is, the next step up is DDR RAM which won't physically fit in the slots. Maybe, maybe not.
update: I talked with the apple repair guys and they believe this might be try. They think it's plausible.
Helpful links if you want to try this (for 100mhz-133mhz):
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Well tonight I tried my hand at overclocking, with mixed success. I've been looking up a lot of info on the internet on how to overclock the 733mhz Quicksilver processor that I put in my Digital Audio. Since it doesn't have an L3 cache, it needs it. There's a lot of info out there on how to boost it to anywhere from 800mhz to 933mhz. The best info I found was on this site.
It took me a while to wrap my head around it but it's pretty easy. Basically you need to pull off one of the connecting tabs between two of the lines on the processor. Depending on which ones you modify, by either pulling it off or soldering one shut, you modify the multiplier which in turn modifies the speed. Since I knew I wanted to make the 733mhz processor the end product I decided to practice on the stock 533mhz that came with it. I got a little greedy on this one and went for 667mhz. This also was the easiest modification to do, just clip off one resistor. Well I clipped off one resistor and booted it up. IT RAN!!! For a while. After I put Geekbench on it froze and had to be restarted. On each subsequent restart it would think for along time, then flash a message saying it needed to restart. Rats. So I decided to back it off to a more reasonable 600mhz. This required soldering a resistor bridge. Well my soldering skills aren't the greatest and I ended up making a big mess. I still put it all back together and gave it a shot. Nothing. Wouldn't even boot. I think I soldered it to another resistor.
So with this failure under my belt I decided not to get greedy and keep things simple with the 733mhz. Although I've seen these processors on ebay clocked to 933mhz I decided that a modest boost to 800mhz would be safe enough. I desoldered the resistor and, after putting things back together, it ran! Surprisingly the extra 67mhz DOES make a difference. I ran xbench and geekbench in both Tiger and Leopard. Below are the scores. I'm really surprised that there's almost no difference on the geekbench scores between Leopard and Tiger. I think if I ever try overclocking again it will only be in cases where removing a resistor is necessary. Soldering sucks.
800mhz Quicksilver (in Digital Audio) 768MB RAM
Leopard - 22.02
Tiger - 28.56
Leopard - 433
Tiger - 430
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Here's proof that you CAN get Leopard running on a non-supported machine. I think the easiest way to do it is open the computer in open firmware, type in a few lines of code that make it think there's a bigger processor inside and bam, you've got Leopard. Here's the link to the procedure I used from Lowendmac.com
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
As promised, here are the benchmarks for my G4s, including the scores using Leopard. One thing I should note is that the 733mhz Quicksilver processor in the Digital Audio machine DOES win out over the original 533mhz processor. I posted previously that the 533mhz won but it doesn't look that way after I reviewed the numbers. I also included the numbers for the 733mhz QS processor in the DA board with a cooling fan (from a a Quicksilver). That seemed to make a difference in performance. I should note that there really doesn't seem to be a big difference in subjective performance ratings between Tiger and Leopard. Leopard occasionally takes a little longer to load Safari or Firefox but I think this is more due to low system memory (768MB). I haven't had much time using Leopard on the Gigabit Dual to see if it's an issue with greater memory installed.
One other thing about running Leopard on these machines is that I haven't experienced any problems so far. I've read some people using unsupported Macs are having trouble with DVD playback, Front Row, etc. So far I haven't found any issues. My guess is the people who are having trouble are the ones using the old ATI Rage Pro 16mb video cards.
Gigabit 500mhz Dual Processor (1GB RAM)
Xbench Tiger - 34.66
Xbench Leopard - 24.74
Geekbench Tiger - 504
Geekbench Leopard - 455
Digital Audio 533mhz (Single) (768MB RAM)
Xbench Tiger - 28.95
Xbench Leopard - 16.33
Geekbench Tiger - 368
Geekbench Leopard - 317
Digital Audio w/733mhz Quicksilver (768MB RAM)
Xbench Tiger - 26.63
Xbench Leopard - 16.42, 20.97 w/fan
Geekbench Tiger - 414
Geekbench Leopard - 357, 380 w/fan
Monday, March 10, 2008
Last week I was finally able to get a copy of Leopard. To be completely honest I was less than impressed at first glance. I didn't feel like it was performing as well as Tiger did and the new theme didn't feel right. But after a while the new look seemed to grow on me. I also decided to do a complete erase and install set-up rather than the upgrade I had previously done. The re-installation made a HUGE difference. Things definitely felt faster and more to my liking. I would highly recommend the erase and install method. After getting my Macbook Pro squared away I decided to try to get Leopard to run on my old graphite G4s (Gigabit Ethernet 500mhz dual, Digital Audio 533mhz/733mhz QS processor hack). I'll write up a post on exactly how I did this but the end of the story is a happy one, I got it to work :) So is Leopard worth the upgrade? That's debatable. Tiger was rock solid and really didn't have too many issues by version 10.4. It certainly wasn't perfect but there weren't many compelling reasons to make the change. For what I do, the upgrade is mostly cosmetic and to say you have the latest OS. Features like time capsule, stacks, expose, etc. aren't things I'll use every day but it's nice to know they're around.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Pictured above is the machine that Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first browser, World Wide Web. So if it weren't for Steve Jobs leaving Apple and forming Next Computer we wouldn't have the internet. Well, not really but kind of. It's not like the Next was the only computer out there.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
So here's what I've learned. You can stick a 733 mhz processor from a Quicksilver into a 533 mhz digital audio motherboard. Yes, it's true. But here's the kicker: You get NO performance gain. As a matter of fact, the 533 mhz DA BEATS the 733 mhz. (I'll post the xbench and geekbench results later). Seriously, I was stunned too. But this is logical as the 733 has no L3 cache. Why, I don't know. So there's something you can try at home. Just be aware that you need to add 12v of power to the fourth mounting point of the processor. This is easy to do, just buy a power connector extender, cut the wires from the connector, take the yellow one and put a loop wring on it (shield the other wires) and attach it to the card with a 5/16 screw/nut combo. Fires right up! From what I've read you can do this magic trick with ANY processor from a Quicksilver (mirror door procs. don't work). But if you do this and screw up your computer you didn't hear it from me. I give no guarantee for your actions! You can only do this with a digital audio motherboard, not with a Gigabit or AGP graphics board. Well, technically you can do it with those boards but you need to hack off the motherboard side IDE connector for the DVD rom for clearance.
Friday, February 15, 2008
So I was updating my website last night,
in iWeb when the strangest thing happened, something very un-Mac like. It froze. I couldn't believe it. It just froze. I didn't know what to do, surely it was a mistake, surely I was just being impatient with my beloved machine. But no, it was indeed a freeze. NOOOOOOOO!!!! I cried. But it still didn't unlock my machine. Then I restarted it and everything was fine. I guess even Superman has bad days.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
None of This on any of that, OK? I was thinking today that there are linux distributions that run on Mac hardware. Then I thought, that's dumb! Why would you buy a Mac and then put Linux on it? You buy a Mac for the package deal, not just the hardware, especially since the hardware costs a fortune! It just doesn't seem right to me. I guess to each his own but it's definitely not my cup of tea. Stupid thought I know but it's something I wanted to post. I guess I don't have much of a rationale for it, just how I feel. Oh no, feelings! This blog is making me all mushy and stuff.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
As expected, a lot of people are jumping from the Microsoft ship after the Vista debacle was unleashed. The issues don't seem to be bugs or problems, most people are used to those by now, but price. No one wants to pay big bucks for an OS and the hardware requirements make buying new computers pricey. Read this from the French
Everyone thought that there would be more Mac adopters after Vista but it seems people are going the freeware route. Given the main issue of people using Vista seems to be price and the cost premium of Macs it doesn't seem surprising. Their loss, I guess.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
So I've been playing around a lot with Linux lately, and I do mean a lot. Ubuntu, Mandriva, Freespire, gOS, Xubuntu, Dream Linux, Fedora. The list goes on. A lot of these had some good stuff about them but I came to one conclusion, I love OS X. There's only one and there's a reason I love it. It works, very well. Yay OS X
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Well it's been a while but that doesn't mean I'm short on things to say. Much to my chagrin Windows has been taking up a good bit of my time lately. While visiting my in-laws for the holidays a power outage occurred while their computer was transferring files. It made Windows go bye bye. I tried to reinstall Windows on one of the drives but it wouldn't boot from the CD. I couldn't figure out how to access the bios so I decided to try it on the other drive. That just sent me in a vicious circle of partitioning, formatting, and copy the install files. Windows would just go through the motions and reboot, landing right back in the install. For the life of me I couldn't get it into the graphical phase of installing Windows. Eventually I figured out how to get into the bios, although that was pretty freakin difficult trying to figure out what I needed to set as everything was in Spanish. I eventually I got it. On my return I set to work on the old THinkPad that I thought I fried. My magic hands revived it but the random reboots persisted. I cracked open an old laptop I had on hand and took out the cooling fans to try and replace the ThinkPad's. That was a bitch to do. Then the fan didn't even work. So I put in the original fan, still have the random reboot problem. I even tried running it with 3 different power supplies. It seems to run fine off the battery, all 30 minutes of it's remaining life, so it must be power related. But what? HMMM. I even ordered a new processor for it. I got myself a Pentium III special on ebay for cheap. I'll go from 300 mhz to 600 mhz. Talk about power!
Then my brother calls. Even though I told him to get a Mac he bought a Dell box with Vista. He couldn't install his new game, apparently he didn't have admin rights, even though he did. So then he bought another game. That gives him a memory dump error when he tries to run it. I swear. I told him it's just a Vista problem. He didn't like that. I explained that Vista is like an autistic child, let it alone in the corner to do it's thing and it's fine. Try and alter it or make changes and it will freak out! At least one of my brothers listened to me and bought a Mac.