The Mac Pro I got a few weeks ago was having some reliability issues. I was getting about 18 hours of uptime before it would decide to crash and reboot itself, so I dug around the Console and found that the memory was throwing errors constantly. I put some new memory in this evening and we’ll see how well it performs now. I also dug out a second 2TB drive and filled the last drive slot with it, so there’s a total of 5.5 TB of space on board. Let’s see how fast that 2 fills up.

Update: Uptime is 22 hours and counting, and the scheduled sleep/wake cycle is working.

While I was fooling around with that, I wiped the drive on an old iBook I had and set it up with a clean install of OS 9.2.2 so that I can run legacy software if need be; it was a challenge to dust off the cobwebs in my brain to remember how OS X worked with Classic, and it took some research. At some point maybe I’ll dust off the old hardware and do another laptop lineup.

Laptop lineup

Sadly, all of the laptops in that picture are gone; the Powerbook 100 and the 520 died years ago, the Pismo died after about 10 years of frontline service, and the iBook was sold to help fund a 17″ MacBook Pro.

Date posted: June 24, 2014 | Filed under apple, geek | No Comments »

So the Mac Pro I wrote about yesterday looks like it’s a done deal. Tomorrow I drop off a check and roll out a 44-lb. hunk of aluminum on a hand cart. I spent my short lunch break flattening the drive and installing 10.6 from a thumb drive, and updated that to the latest point release. Then I went to put Mountain Lion on it, but got stymied by its age; it’s too old to support 10.7 in any form, apparently. Which is kind of fucked up, because it was the most powerful machine they sold at that time. There is a workaround to install it, involving a new graphics card and some bootloading trickery, but I think I’ll pass on that for now.

Either way, it’s a better solution than the G5s we’re using now; it has 4 internal drive bays so I can consolidate a handful of external drives into one enclosure. It should be much more stable than the current machine and I’ll bet iTunes is actually functional in 10.6 (the one we’ve been using liked to corrupt its own database like a baby pooping its diapers), which means reliable audio streaming might be a reality again. We were using the G5s as print servers, because everything past 10.7 doesn’t support AppleTalk. This workaround allows us to talk to our ancient LaserWriter 4000N, which doesn’t support IP printing; I’d never thought of using HP JetDirect before.

Right now we have a 1TB and a 2TB drive working as file storage and backup, respectively; I’d like to buy a new 4TB drive and consolidate files spread out all over creation, as well as have some room to put our burgeoning video library.

And, with aluminum prices being what they are, I can gut one of the G5s and make the purchase price back by recycling it.

Date posted: June 4, 2014 | Filed under apple, geek | No Comments »

My Flickr account stats spiked last week, probably because I shared a bunch of the weekend’s photos with friends. Yesterday I got another strange spike, this time from the r/AbandonedPorn subreddit (don’t worry, it’s safe for work). There’s a lot of nice stuff on there, and someone added this photo of mine:

Drive-In Stop & Eat

It’s a shot I took of a diner in 1990 or so on 35mm film, somewhere on the west side of the Hudson by the Bear Mountain Bridge. Commuting to my parents’ old house in Putnam County, I used to find different ways to get across the river when traffic was backed up. At some point, I stumbled upon this place and had some film in my camera.

* * *

In the meantime, I inquired about a castoff Mac Pro at work today, and found that I can purchase it for a reduced price as a piece of depreciated equipment. Which means I’ve got a possible replacement for two balky 10-year-old G5s at a nominal price.

Date posted: June 3, 2014 | Filed under apple, photo | No Comments »

I found out, quite by accident, that the maker of my current password vault application was purchased by Facebook some time ago and hasn’t been updating it since then. Password vaults are handy for capturing all one thousand online profiles the modern human needs to have in 2014; I say it’s better to have your banking login secure behind 256-bit AES encryption than on a Post-It taped to your monitor. I’ve slowly been searching for a better solution to having all my passwords available on each smart device I’ve got, and having something that can securely share them is key to the future, but now the need is greater.

After seriously considering 1password, I found LastPass, which is basically a browser plugin but which securely keeps passwords in an encrypted bundle and decrypts locally (so you’re not zinging your info all over the web). It has an iOS app available and the “premium” version is an affordable $20/year, which allows sharing between multiple machines and apps. And why is this so important, all of a sudden?

Firstly, I’ve got two laptops now. My trusty MacBook Pro is chugging along, and remains my primary machine for getting things done. Now I’ve got a laptop through WRI, which isn’t decked out as well as this one, but which has my work email and applications installed—something I’d rather keep off my personal machine. Sharing all of the passwords between two work machines is key to happy telecommuting.

Secondly, Santa brought me a shiny iPad Air this Christmas, the idea being to leave my personal laptop here at home instead of lugging it to and from the office every day. As long as I can access my personal email, passwords, VPN, and basic online accounts through the iPad I think I’ll be in fine shape. I’ve already loaded a ton of books on it, and I’ve got most of the apps I need set up.


Leaving my laptop behind will feel like cutting off my left arm, but lugging two laptops back and forth has been less than pleasant. The only thing I can’t figure out is how to get photos from a phone downloaded and posted without going through my work machine. But that’s a small problem.

Date posted: January 3, 2014 | Filed under apple, geek, photo | No Comments »

I’ve had my MacBook Pro for almost 4 years and up until last night never realized the slot in the side is made to read SD cards. (This could be because it’s only been until recently that I’ve had a camera that uses SD cards).

Date posted: November 27, 2013 | Filed under apple, photography, shortlinks | No Comments »

I did some surgery on my Powerbook 160 last night. Apple, in its wisdom 20 years ago, soldered the clock battery to a daughtercard, and from all I’ve read the machine won’t boot if the batteries are dead. So I busted out the iron and got the original battery off (with some difficulty), then put a new one in. Unfortunately it still didn’t come on. No bong, no whine, nothing. I have a working G3 Pismo in the basement for any OS 9 needs, but it would be fun to have an working monochrome Mac in the house, for old time’s sake.

Rooting through the basement a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a tupperware full of unused black and white film. Never one to waste money or pass up a challenge, I dusted off my Minolta X-700 and found it, too had dead batteries. With the clock battery order I got two new cells for the camera, and dropped them in. It fired right up and I started shooting pictures again. Having practiced about 10,000 digital shutter actuations on the D70, I knew exactly how to use it, and I’m hoping the film is still good so that I can develop some film. I have a scanner at work with a negative attachment, so I’m going to plug that in tomorrow and try it out. If I get good results, I’ll start scanning boxes of negs we have sitting around the house.


This Minolta is actually my second. My father has always been a camera nut, and he bought me the first when I left for college. I used it through most of my freshman year, until my asshat second-semester roommate invited a homeless thief to stay in our apartment for a few days. Predictably, it went missing. My dad replaced it that summer with a new one, and it served me well through four years of college and afterward as my primary camera until I bought my first digital. It’s a shame I didn’t learn to master it then as much as I wanted to, but I hope I can now use my digital experience to improve my film skills.

Date posted: February 12, 2013 | Filed under apple, geek, photography | No Comments »

So we can only have five computers authorized for Home Sharing and visible to the AppleTV, which makes using my work computers and home computers difficult. I’m trying to bridge the gap, and this thread might help.

Date posted: February 5, 2013 | Filed under apple, shortlinks | No Comments »

We have about three years of Flip video we can’t watch on our AppleTV because the Flip file format (a strange AVI variant) won’t load in iTunes, Handbrake, or most other conversion applications. I found MPEG Streamclip, a video converter for Mac OS X, which looks dodgy when judged upon the website, but which works like a charm in practice.

Date posted: January 27, 2013 | Filed under apple, geek, shortlinks | No Comments »

Interesting. Our music server in the basement can’t stay up and running for more than a day without disappearing off the network completely; some sleuthing reveals the iTunes (10.5) database getting is continually getting corrupted. This drives me nuts and Jen even nuttier—she’s the one working from home. Apple’s boards are predictably quiet about my problem, so I had to do some heavy Google-fu to find answers elsewhere. This one looks promising: Deleting the Genius database.. The author goes on to suggest turning Genius off completely, because it seems to the the root of iTunes evil. So I know what I’m trying this evening.

Date posted: January 25, 2013 | Filed under apple, music | No Comments »


How did I spend my three-day weekend? I organized. Picking up where I left off over the Christmas break, I cleaned up piles laying around the basement earmarked for donation, disposal, or consolidation. The Scout is loaded up with a pile of crap to go to the dump (along with our Christmas tree, which never got taken by the County even though it was on the curb within the week specified). I moved my new tool chest, a gift from my father, into a new open space and consolidated two toolboxes, two tool caddies, an entire workbench, and one shelf of handheld electrical tools into one easy-to-access area. I pulled an ancient section of pegboard out of the attic, painted it white, and backed the second half of the tool bench to get oddly shaped and easily lost items off the bench and into view. I still have a mountain of small hardware bags that need organization as well as a crate of loose hardware in jars from my father, so I’m going to have to buy a plastic divider box or two and sort through all of that to get it out of the way. It’s kind of a shock to go down there and see so much open space again.

I also inherited a couple of old Macs from work: a white G4 iBook and a G3 Pismo Powerbook, both models I formerly used to own. The iBook may become Finn’s computer (it’s between that and the lampshade iMac) and the Pismo will be my backup OS9 machine. Spurred on by my burst of OCD, I made a Google spreadsheet with all of our house Mac information to keep things straight, and for insurance purposes. In digging through hardware, I found my Powerbook 160 is refusing to start, so I did some sleuthing and found that a dead PRAM battery is usually the culprit–especially since the machine was working when I got it. So I pulled it apart and hunted down a replacement.

I brewed a Nut Brown ale on Saturday night, knowing both my kegs are close to exhaustion. It went easily–it’s hard to fuck up an ale, really–and my starting gravity was only off by .002%.  So I should have something new to drink in about four weeks. Next up will probably be another batch of Chinook IPA.

Sunday was game day, and it did not disappoint. I was pleasantly shocked at the outcome of the Patriots/Ravens game, frankly, because I figured it would end like most Baltimore playoff games do, but it’ll be good to see them in the Superbowl again. We had C&G come over to grill up some food and watch the game, and the whole thing was really good. As always, I’m going to be sad to see the season over with, no matter what happens in two weeks.

Meanwhile, with the temperatures plunging into the single digits, we are battling our local mouse population, which has been much more active in the last few months. The first night I put out traps with dabs of peanut butter and we got one kill, but they wised up after that. Last night I made improvements to our arsenal by tying small pieces of chorizo to the bait arms on our traps, and within an hour or two we got another one. There was no other movement after that, so I may need to switch to cheese or some other smelly foodstuff, but it’s nice to know my theory worked.

Date posted: January 22, 2013 | Filed under apple, geek, house, photo | No Comments »