iMac G3 Update

21. August 2019 20:35 by Cameron in Mac  //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

Well, after about a week's usage, it would appear that my flyback transformer died on my Graphite iMac G3. I verified by booting up the iMac with an external display and verifying that the Apple bootloader was present. The flyback dying is unfortunately a common occurrence with these late 90's early 2000's iMacs and CRTs. I looked at replacing this part, but they're very hard to come by these days and Apple used a variety of parts for the flyback. One part I found was about $50, but it would require a lot of work and would ultimately not be worth the effort.

I decided to buy one more iMac G3 to satisfy my classic Mac wants. It's either an Indigo or "Fruit" iMac G3, but I will need to wait and see. The seller didn't take a picture of the sticker on the bottom of the unit so I'm not sure. I purchased this model for $69.99 with the known issue of not having a hard drive. It did however have pictures showing the CRT in working order. I have accepted now that whatever happens with this iMac happens. It's possible I get a few years out of it, but it's possible I get a week. It just depends on the previous owner's usage.

There was no mention on condition of the CD (maybe DVD) drive so I will need to proceed with caution on using the internal disk drive. I will try putting in a blank CD to make sure it ejects disks correctly before attempting to use the internal disk drive. If the internal disk drive doesn't work, then I will use Target Disk Mode from my iBook G4 like I did on the previous iMac G3. I did see that there are some "salvaged" slot loading CD drives on eBay so I may give those a look at a later point. I didn't see any replacement DVD drives though. I did actually confirm that my external Pioneer Blu-Ray drive works on the USB 1.1 ports on these iMacs so that could work in a pinch.

For the storage,  will see about using a 250GB IDE HDD since it is the standard 3.5" form factor and should fit nicely without modification. There might be some compatibility issues preventing all 250GB from being seen. I've heard that you can just partition the drive into smaller partitions for it to be recognized by the system. If that doesn't work, I guess it will only be able to address the first 128GB of the drive. Another option will be to use my original SD to IDE adapter with the Class 10 128GB SD card. This should be fast enough with 80MB/s read and write.

Once I've confirmed installation of Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X Tiger, I will do a logic board swap (assuming the logic board needs swapping). Then, I will make sure that the PRAM battery is replaced and re-install the 2x512MB of RAM. I could get an AirPort card, but there isn't much point since it would be 802.11b which would heavily cripple the rest of my 2.4GHz network. I will likely keep it hooked up via 100Mbit ethernet on my desk. Hopefully after all that everything will still work!

Once all of the parts are salvaged from my previous iMac, I will need to see about taking the CRT to an ecycler which is kind of a bummer. I could also try to sell for parts first and then go the ecyle route if that doesn't work.

I will post an update following my reassembly of the next iMac shortly!

Getting Into Retro Macs

15. August 2019 13:16 by Cameron in Mac, Mac OS X  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments

I have a strong affinity for things that are from my childhood; things that are 20+ years old and now considered vintage! I recently stumbled upon a local FaceBook Marketplace listing for an iMac G3 for $22. The listing seemed too good to pass up so I picked it up last weekend. It's a 2001 Graphite iMac G3 clocked at 700MHz with 512MB of RAM, a 60GB HDD, and a CDRW/DVD drive.

This particular Mac is a bit of a fixer upper meaning that the DVD drive is broken and it was missing the keyboard and mouse. However, I have purchased a Graphite Mac keyboard from that era as well as a black optical Pro Mouse. Technically, the "puck" mouse is what most of these iMacs came with, but I haven't used a ball mouse in a long time and wanted something I could use without a mouse pad. Since the DVD drive was broken, I purchased an iBook G4 in order to use the internal DVD drive over FireWire Target Disk Mode to install Mac OS X 10.4 on the iMac. I now have a dual boot of OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X 10.4. The great guys at Mac OS 9 Lives! provide an easy to use method for setting up your Mac's HDD with 9.2.2.

My plan for this Mac is to use as a retro Mac gaming computer. I may also experiment with the Mac as a cheap audio recording setup since I still have FireWire 400 audio interfaces. I will be upgrading the RAM from 512MB to 1GB, upgrading the HDD to a 128GB SD card with IDE adapter, and replacing the DVD drive. 

Why Plex?

2. August 2019 14:45 by Cameron in Plex  //  Tags: , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

In the modern age of streaming movies and TV, we are faced with a growing problem of media fragmentation. No longer can you watch all of your desired shows under one subscription as all of the big studios seem to be fighting for a piece of the pie when it comes to licensing movies and TV across streaming services. The challenge too is that at any given moment, a publishing company can revoke these licenses from a particular service and switch to another service. Also, if the new service is something you don't subscribe to, you then need to make a decision of whether the cost of a new subscription is worth it for still having access to your show.

All of these subscription services add up. You might not think much of one or two services, but if you subscribe to several services, then you are likely paying close to if not more than a comparable cable subscription. The only difference here is that everyone is getting more money for their content by bypassing cable licensing fees. Streaming has changed the way we consume content by cutting out the middle man and allowing us to watch on our own time. However, don't be fooled that it is always cheaper than cable.

If you enjoy certain TV series but don't want to pay a monthly subscription to watch, you can opt for Plex and purchasing box sets of your TV series. There is more of an upfront cost by getting compatible hardware for Plex, but the good thing is that you can start small and plan for expansion as your budget allows. The box sets tend to be pricey up front too, but one series box set (~$200) will have paid for itself in about a year's time.

With the digital codes that are distributed with new movies, they used to be redeemed with Ultraviolet, but has shifted to Movies Anywhere. With the recent closure of Ultraviolet, I'm reminded why I don't like DRM. I'm a huge fan of buying physical movies and ripping them to my Plex server. While I like the concept of Movies Anywhere, how do I know that this won't ultimately have the same fate as Ultraviolet? With my own library, I maintain the original discs in boxes and I have access to my hundreds of movies with a click of a button. I don't have to worry about a service going defunct.

I'm not boycotting streaming services altogether, but I don't like having content I enjoy watching tied up in DRM platforms. I plan to keep my streaming service subscriptions to a minimum. Of the few, I will stick with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime (I mostly use for shipping) and probably Disney's streaming platform. As long as I can still buy physical media, that will be my preferred way of building a library for many years to come.

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