The least pleasant aspect of collecting a few vintage machines is their maintenance. One of the bits of advice I often give to new vintage Mac enthusiasts is Don’t leave these Macs unused for extended periods of time; try to use them as often as you can. Usually the part that suffers most in a vintage Mac left unused for a long time is the hard drive. Over the years I’ve witnessed my good share of Macs whose hard drives didn’t come out of the long sleep (I call this phenomenon Dead On Reboot). With vintage PowerBooks another source of problems after long periods of neglect is of course the battery — this is especially the case with the Macintosh Portable and the PowerBook 100.
Another rather common problem with vintage compact Macs (from the 128K to the Classic II) are their capacitors on the logic board. With time (and neglect) these components fail and leak on the logic board itself, causing a few issues. I tried to follow my own advice, but since I own a fair number of vintage Macs and there isn’t much space for them where I live, it’s hard to keep them all in their best shape, despite my very good intentions. Having only a small desk devoted to my vintage hardware, I’ve had to resort to some kind of rotation system where, say, I use my Macintosh SE for three weeks, then I put it away and replace it with the Macintosh Classic for another three weeks, then the Colour Classic, etc. As I said, despite my best efforts, two of the compact Macs in my little collection — first the SE/30, now the Macintosh Classic as well — have started presenting the telltale symptoms of capacitor trouble.
Earlier today, after booting my Macintosh Classic, I noticed something weird: the system clock wouldn’t advance. After a bit of Web research, I found this page, Macintosh Classic Logic Board Repair with a few decent images of where the failing capacitors are located. It also has a good summary of the revealing signs of a Mac whose capacitors are starting to fail:
The Mac Classic range of computers often show a variety of symptoms but which have a common cause of failure, for example:
- Low volume or no sound.
- Real time clock not advancing.
- Power up problems with checkers and stripes etc.
- No serial or LocalTalk functionality.
My Mac Classic suffers from the first two symptoms, while the SE/30 is curiously mute only on boot (and sometimes it presents a chequered/striped screen, but restarting the machine usually makes the problem go away, at least for now). In the next days I’ll open up my compact Macs and take a look at their logic boards. The most frustrating thing for me is my lack of skills (and tools) when it comes to soldering/desoldering components. I’ll do my best to clean the logic boards and to perform some damage control. If you find yourself in a similar situation, probably a good place to ask for help/advice are the 68k Macintosh Liberation Army forums. And if you have some logic board cleaning tips to share, you’re welcome to chime in by leaving a comment. Thanks.
A few days back, I read with interest an article by Stephen Hackett called The Brushed Metal Diaries: An Introduction, a Trojan Horse and a History of Abuse. While many people believe that brushed metal appeared in the Macintosh’s interface with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, Hackett tracks its arrival back to 1999 and QuickTime 4.0:
1999 was a very interesting time to be an Apple fan. The Five Flavors were the machines of choice for many, and the Newton had been dead for little over a year. Mac OS 8.6 has just shipped, with OS 9 still several months away.
In these days, Apple released Brushed Metal in to the world. While eventually the UI would take over just about everything, its beginnings were quite humble: QuickTime 4.0.
It’s true, brushed metal started to replace the ‘platinum theme’ as the chrome of an application with QuickTime 4.0, but that got the long-time Mac user in me thinking. Somehow I wasn’t completely sure that was the first time I had seen brushed metal elements in a Mac application. As you can easily see by the awfully slow pace at which I’m keeping this site updated, lately I haven’t had much time to spend with my vintage Macs. Yesterday I finally found a moment to investigate a hunch I had, and I was right: brushed metal appeared in a Mac application as early as System 7.5.x (1994-1996), in Apple CD Audio Player’s UI:
This image in particular is taken from this page at guidebookgallery.org and it shows the Apple CD Audio Player application as it appears under System 7.5.3. (I verified by booting my Quadra 950 running that same System version, but this was an easier way to obtain a very similar screenshot). As you can see, the application UI emulates the interface of a CD player, and while the ‘Normal’, ‘Shuffle’, ‘Prog’ and ‘→’ buttons are simply faux-metal, the group of buttons on the right (Stop, Play, Eject, and so on) all present a more brushed-metal look. Apple CD Audio Player was also probably the first Mac system application to support customised skins.
(Note: I published this impromptu piece last week on my main website, but I think it’s worth republishing here due to the nature of its content, and also for the benefit of those who only follow this blog.)
Right now I’m writing this in TextWrangler 2.1.3. When the post is finished, I’ll copy & paste it in WordPress’ Web interface and publish it here.
I’m writing this on a clamshell blueberry iBook G3/300. It has both Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X 10.3.9 installed on it. It has 288 MB RAM. It has what now can be considered a tiny hard drive: 3 GB. Of those 3 GB, the OS X partition only has 803.4 MB of free disk space. But everything works fine. The screen is bright: brighter than, say, my other clamshell iBook G3/466 SE, which is a newer model.
Across the table there is a PowerBook G4 12” burning a CD-RW of stuff to archive (mostly documentation and manuals in PDF format), and a PowerBook 5300ce performing a backup on a few ZIP disks.
I’m writing this with three other apps opened: Preview, NetNewsWire 2.1.5 (which is very snappy and configured with some essential feeds I want to be able to read even from this machine), and Opera 10.10, which is the last version of this fine browser that is compatible with Mac OS X 10.3.9. It has six tabs open at the moment, two of which let me keep an eye on Twitter and App.net.
I’m writing from this old iBook because 20 minutes ago I decided to boot it with the intention of downgrading it to just a Mac OS 9 machine. Once this Mac had a very long-lasting battery (more than 5 hours) and an AirPort card. But I neglected it for a long time with the battery drained, and last time I tried reviving it was all in vain. The AirPort card was removed and given to a Titanium PowerBook G4, which needed it more than this iBook.
I’m writing this while connected to the Internet via Ethernet cable. It feels quaint, but I still smiled at how quickly the iBook connected to the Internet just four seconds after plugging in the cable.
I’m writing this while the battery — oh so magically, oh so surprisingly — is recharging after refusing to do so for so long. It’s at 11% now, and in 3 hours and 35 minutes the battery indicator says it will be fully charged.
As I’m writing this, I feel my writing flowing out rather effortlessly: is this vintage, minimalistic setup? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s just how I roll, no matter where I am, or which device I’m writing on. But now I’m having second thoughts and maybe I won’t wipe Mac OS X. Maybe with a full battery, I’ll still find some use for this iBook. Its design may look dated, but boy is it comfortable to write on. My wrists just rest in the right position. My fingers reach every corner of the keyboard without effort. I even like the feel of this keyboard more than when I type on my MacBook Pro’s keyboard.
When you browse the Web, you realise how cramped and slightly impractical a screen resolution of 800×600 is today. But in some sites it somehow helps you focus more on the articles, while ads, banners and other visual interferences remain hidden outside the browser window’s width and height. There’s more scrolling, there’s just a bit more effort, but it’s not as annoying as you’d expect. Not for me, at least.
I’m writing this and I’m thinking about all the obsession about workflows and frictionless setups and I’m thinking “Screw it, sometimes the best workflow is what you have with you” or something like that. Maybe a bit of friction is necessary to make you go just a wee bit slower, enough to make you think about what you’re doing and not simply do stuff in auto-pilot.
I’m writing this and I’m thinking about all the obsession about when to write, and how often, and that inspiration is a myth, and that you just have to sit and write everyday, and so on. I still think that inspiration is what makes you write a bit more meaningfully. But everything works. Why does a method have to be better than another? Perhaps something starts in the most unassuming, trivial circumstances, and ends up being more meaningful than something else you’ve been mulling over for days, while consuming dozens of cups of coffee.
I’m writing this on this iBook because I love vintage technology and thankfully when it comes to working with text, I’m lucky enough to be able to use any of my Macs or devices, no matter how old, in a productive way. And that feels good.
I’ve been a huge supporter of the TenFourFox project since its inception. If you still use PowerPC Macs (G3, G4, G5) and you want to browse the Web with a modern, secure Web browser, you’d be a fool not to use TenFourFox. Go visit the site, you’ll find all the information you need to understand where TenFourFox comes from and where it’s headed.
When Cameron Kaiser — TenFourFox ‘founder’ and main developer — introduced me to this project, I proposed to contribute by creating a new icon. The default icon is fun and all, but I thought TenFourFox deserved something more descriptive and easily recognisable. Cameron liked my ideas, but politely declined and preferred to keep the original design. I kept my custom icon and have been applying it to subsequent TenFourFox updates ever since.
Now, with Cameron’s permission, I decided to make my custom icon available to the community, in case somebody else prefers to use a different icon than the canonical ‘Fox with a tiger tail behind the globe’. Here it is:
The two graphic elements composing this icon are both in the public domain, so I don’t think I have infringed any copyright here (I’ll be happy to pull the icon if proven wrong). You can download the 512×512 .icns file here.
To customise the icon, you can:
- copy the .icns file once downloaded,
- select the TenFourFox app in the Finder,
- select Get Info from the Finder menu (or press ⌘-I),
- in the Info panel, select the TenFourFox icon,
- paste (⌘-V) my .icns file over the original icon.
or you can rename my TenFourFox.icns file to firefox.icns and replace the original firefox.icns file located in TenFourFox.app/Contents/Resources. (You can get to the Contents folder by Ctrl-clicking or right-clicking the TenFourFox app icon).
Note that with this method you’ll only customise the TenFourFox app icon, not the original icon that appears in the welcome/search window inside the browser. But I’m sure the most tech-savvy users among you will find a way to customise every instance of the icon. (And I invite you to share that method in the comments section, thank you!)
I’m not a graphic designer, but I hope you’ll enjoy this little creative effort of mine. Long live Firefox!
While I was looking for more vintage Italian Apple brochures and leaflets, I also found some printed material from other manufacturers — mostly leaflets, small booklets and mini-magazines printed exclusively for the tech trade fairs I used to attend. While most of such non-Apple material isn’t very striking, imaginative or otherwise memorable, I stumbled upon a few little gems lovers of vintage technology will surely appreciate…
The 10 Best Things about QuarkXPress 4.0 (Front) — A cardboard leaflet from 1997. Apologies for the evident crease across the middle: since the leaflet isn’t standard A4 format, I foolishly folded it when I stored it 15 years ago.
The 10 Best Things about QuarkXPress 4.0 (Back)
Iomega Zip 100 Drive (Front) — A leaflet from circa 1996.
Iomega Zip 100 Drive (Back)
Iomega 2 GB Jaz Drive — A leaflet from 1998.
Two last-minute Apple-related bonuses:
A generic Macintosh Italian ad. Judging by the type of PowerBook the guy is holding (a 190 or 5300), I’d say this ad is from 1995-1996. I didn’t remember having this among my stuff and I certainly don’t remember seeing it around much at the time. Translation: “Take it to the max. Get Macintosh. TODAY.”
Front cover of the 1996 Italian brochure “Masters of Media”. Quoting from this press release, Masters of Media was an initiative introduced at Seybold San Francisco 1995:
Perhaps the most important single place to visit at the show will be Apple’s Masters of Media Showcase, reportedly produced at a cost of more than $1 million and featuring several Seybold Hot Picks within its walls. It will include multiple vendors with real-world workflows (print, CD-ROM and the World Wide Web). Visitors will participate in authoring, editing and distributing content across all media. The theme will be integrated marketing based on a 1984 Macintosh commercial, including the making of a video, a magazine insert, a merchandising catalog, an in-store CD-ROM kiosk, customized direct mail, a newspaper, point-of-purchase displays and Web sites.
It has three primary components: Digital Brand Building; Cross-Media Authoring and Network Color, which will rely on ColorSync 2.0 as the universal translator so that color can be consistent across a desktop network.
Among the Hot Picks appearing in this Showcase but described below are the Canon ColorGear color-management system, the Agfa Chromapress digital press and the Indigo E-Print 1000 digital press.
Like many Apple printed advertisements, the tag line started on one page and ended on the next. Here the translated message is “Should we communicate more…” and turning the page you can read “…or better?” in big black letters set in Apple Garamond in the middle of a blank space.
And that’s all — for now at least. As I revisit my archives, I may find some other materials of this kind. If I find anything worth sharing, I’ll definitely scan it and publish it here.
Here are some more vintage brochures and advertising materials I’ve scanned from my archives. Enjoy.
I was probably given this at a tech trade fair in Milan around 1996, but a brief Web search informs me that the ‘Apple Multimedia Festival’ took place earlier than that. On the Advisory Group on Computer Graphics (AGOCG) website, I found this bit: “The Apple Multimedia Festival in November 1993 was a precursor to a nationwide attempt to raise awareness of multimedia among prospective customers. Everybody who attended the Festival was given a free pack including a brochure of the Apple product range and a free CD which included, among other things, film trailers and video guides to British cities. Much of the importance of multimedia was sold on the idea of interactivity, a buzzword almost as powerful and ubiquitous as multimedia itself.”
This leaflet is very easy to date: October 1998, when I attended the SMAU trade fair in Milan. Translation: “For those who don’t want to stop thinking — Apple Expo 98: The biggest Macintosh-centred event ever organised in Italy. SMAU, Pavilion 8, 22 to 26 October 1998.”
This brochure is from 1996, and it was meant to advertise the Power Macintosh ‘pro’ lines of the period: the Power Macintosh 7600, 8200, 8500 and 9500 series. Translation: “Those who do serious work take Macintosh very seriously. Here’s why.”
This is the Italian version of the famous Power Macintosh G3 (Blue & White) ad, “Another year. Another revolution.” (1999)
…And this is the Italian booklet introducing the Power Macintosh G4. The literal translation is “The speed of light? Not enough for us.” But it’s probably derived from the original tag line “Move over, speed of light” featured on Apple’s website in 1999 (see it via the WayBack Machine)
This is a bit of an oddity: it’s a small, A5-sized leaflet from late 2001 promoting the then-new 10 GB iPod (1st generation, scroll wheel). I say it’s an oddity because it appears to be a smaller, more minimalist version of a longer 12-page booklet that I remember seeing circulating around that time. On the outside, just the iPod (front/rear). On the inside, just the Jimi Hendrix photo. No tag lines, no words whatsoever. Yet still quite effective if you ask me.
And this is it for Part 2. In the next and final installment I’ll upload non-Apple brochures (from Iomega and Quark) of the same vintage.
The other day I was going through some old folders and I decided to take a look inside one in particular, containing various catalogues and brochures (by Apple and other companies) I had picked up while visiting some tech fairs in Milan during the 1996-2000 period. I scanned those I found most interesting to share with you, I hope you’ll like these.
Page 2 of a 1998 Italian Apple brochure introducing the iMac G3, the PowerBook G3, Mac OS 8 and related software.
Last page of the aforementioned brochure. I always loved this image of the PowerBook G3. It had a really attractive and innovative design for the time. Compare it against the earlier PowerBook 3400c, for example.
Small brochures from 1996-1997 to promote the Performa family of Macintoshes. Translation: “Learn – Create – Communicate.”
While the brochure on the right is newer, and part of the same Performa advertising campaign as the two brochures above, the one on the left is actually from 1994-1995, and introduces the most affordable Performa line ‘for home users’ (Performa 200, 400 and 600 series). Translation (left) “Apple Macintosh makes you feel at home”; (right) “Learn – Create – Communicate – With Apple Magic Collection.”
Two brochures from 1997-1998. The one on the left introduces the Power Macintosh G3 ‘beige’ series (Desktop and Minitower) and it also contains a photo of the first PowerBook G3 ‘Kanga’, which had the same design of the PowerBook 3400c. On the right, a thicker booklet to outline different business solutions involving the various Power Macintosh and PowerBooks available at that time. Translation: (left) “The new generation – Power Macintosh G3 Series – The new computers sporting supersonic speeds”, (right) “Apple: products, systems and solutions. From the success of the Macintosh to the power of the Power Macintosh.”
Another brochure from 1996-1997 to advertise the Macintosh Performa 6400 line. Translation: “Macintosh Performa has taken all family needs to the letter.”
It’s all for now. In the following days I will post more of this kind of stuff, so stay tuned if you’re interested.
Cameron Kaiser, on the Mac OS 9 List:
It’s been a long time coming, but Classilla 9.3.1 is (finally) released. Due to TenFourFox taking up a large amount of time to stay on the Mozilla treadmill, plus my MDD [Power Mac G4] blowing out its second power supply during development, this took around seven months to get out and I do not intend to let it slip that long again.
It is also not as far as long as I would like it to be, and I did not have time to incorporate the French localization a user sent to me, nor was I able to complete the security rollup in full. Still, all security updates between 1.3 and 1.7.12 (and a bit of 1.7.13) were reviewed, over 100, and nearly half were actual vulnerabilities that were repaired in 9.3.1.
In addition, several crash bugs were fixed, some minor layout updates made, flyout and CSS hover menus are more reliable, Byblos properly works when you back up to a parsed page, and you can change your mail client in about:config to use an external agent.
There are three major changes/updates as well:
- Classilla can now use its HTML parser to parse WML and Mobile XHTML pages, which means a lot more mobile sites work properly.
- You can now change your user agent by site. The “branch” is anything under classilla.sitecontrol. If you create a preference classilla.sitecontrol.www.floodgap.com and give it the value a (a single letter a), the generic Classilla/CFM user agent is sent instead. There will be other single letter aliases available later.
If you make the preference more than one character, that becomes the user agent sent to the site.
Otherwise, the default user agent is sent. This pref branch will be exposed to the interface around 9.3.3 or 9.3.4, but you can change it from about:config now. There are three defaults in there already (the hard whitelist from 9.3.0).
- Classilla no longer automatically imports your Sherlock search services since they are tragically out of date and worse, could leak data. You can turn them back on if you really want, but it will be no longer supported. A new, refreshed set of search engines is now being included and built.
9.3.2 will continue the security rollup through 1.9.2 (Firefox 3.6) and 9.3.3 hopefully bringing the entire browser finally to security parity with Firefox and TenFourFox.
9.3.1 was tested on my MDD G4, my Power Mac 7300 with G4/800, my Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh with G3/500 and my PowerBook 1400 with G3/466, all running 9.1 or 9.2.2.
There is still a long way to go, but it’s getting there.
I’m proud to be a small part of this project, since I’m taking care of the Italian localisation. That, too, is (slowly) getting there, and I’m looking into a few issues that arose upon reassembling the localisation files while Classilla was between version 9.2.3 and 9.3.0. Hopefully, by the time Classilla reaches version 9.3.3, Italian users will be able to browse the Web using a browser that speaks their language.
For more information on Classilla and for downloading the latest version, head to Classilla.org.