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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