2018 in review

Power Mac G5  Technical knockout

2018 was not a good year with regard to my passion for vintage Apple technology, and this blog has suffered for it. Not that I was updating it very frequently before, but this is the third post in a whole year! You’d be forgiven if you thought this place had been abandoned.

True, I could have kept it a bit more alive by publishing link-posts to other articles that may be of interest to other vintage Mac fans (i.e. Did you know that a guy made his own Spotify player for his Macintosh SE/30? Check it out), but I never intended System Folder to be a vintage linkblog. I mostly wanted to talk about my experiences and investigations related to older Mac hardware and software. And well, in 2018 I simply haven’t had the time — and sometimes the energy — to carry them out.

To add insult to injury, my small collections of vintage machines suffered a few blows this year:

  • My Colour Classic’s hard drive failed. This is the third drive to die on me in about fifteen years. It’s not a bad statistic, per se, but I loathe having to go through the hard drive replacement process once again.
  • The Macintosh SE/30 has become unreliable. On a good day, it turns on and works just fine. Most days are bad days, though, and it shows the infamous simasimac issue. I suspect capacitor failure, but the SE/30’s motherboard is squeaky clean (at least, compared to other motherboards I’ve seen of SE/30’s developing similar problems). I must have missed something, and hopefully I’ll make some time to investigate further. I really want to use this Mac more frequently.
  • When I last performed the routine checkup of all my vintage machines, the Macintosh Classic, sadly and unexpectedly, didn’t turn on. I heard strange fuzzy sounds and a faint burnt smell was coming from inside its case. This left me so disheartened I just put the Classic back in the closet. Again, I’ll try to find out what happened here.
  • The plastic shell of my PowerBook 5300’s display assembly just crumbled after two deep cracks suddenly developed at the hinges. Now I basically can’t open the laptop without destroying everything. If anyone has a complete display assembly for the 5300, or a non-working 5300 unit they’d like to donate, I’d be truly grateful. This Mac still works well and it’s a pity leaving it inside a drawer to rot.
  • The PowerBook 1400 has started developing a similar problem (short hairline cracks at the hinges), but it’s still quite usable. I’m being extra careful when I open and close the lid, for now. But I plan to replace the shell of this machine’s display assembly, too, just in case.
  • The power supply of the dual 500 MHz Power Mac G4 I salvaged in 2016 failed sometime last year, and I haven’t been able to acquire a replacement yet. This bugs me a lot, because in the short time I could use this machine, I had managed to max out its RAM (2 GB), add two 80 GB drives, and find a working internal ZIP 100 drive. I had plans to put this workhorse to good use, instead it’s still tucked away in another closet.

At least, in addition to the four most used PowerPC Macs (the same machines I talked about in my 2016 in review post), this year I’ve managed to give some love to my two clamshell iBook G3’s (a blueberry 300 MHz and a graphite SE 466 MHz) and to the PowerBook Duo 280c. And of course I’ve been using my Newton MessagePad 2100 regularly (it obviously survived the bad battery leakage of two years ago).

You’ve got the wrong kind of collector…

Another rather sad thing that happened during the past year was how some people approached me via email — specifically, people who landed on my Vintage Wishlist page — and made me some ridiculous proposals.

Now, I don’t expect people to donate me stuff outright, although I had my share of pleasant surprises in the past; but asking me stupidly high prices for vintage hardware I’m looking for simply because you think I’m ready to pay whatever price to get what I want… well, that’s not okay either. Here are the Top 5 Nonsensical Proposals I received in 2018:

  1. An original iPod with a dead battery for $400.
  2. A PowerBook 2400 for €1,300 (but “negotiable” — LOL).
  3. A black 2006 MacBook in good cosmetic condition, but with malfunctioning Wi-Fi, in exchange for my iMac G4.
  4. An original 4 GB iPhone in exchange for my Colour Classic.
  5. Not on my wishlist, but someone contacted me asking if I was interested in their first-generation MacBook Pro (early 2006), “good as new”, for $550.

I invite you to read again a piece I wrote back in 2011, A few more words about my vintage Mac wishlist. In the “So you’re a collector…” section, I wrote:

Some people have this idea about collectors in general: that they’re all rich, eccentric and gullible fellows, willing to pay whatever price to get their hands on what they’re looking for. Some of them might be like that, of course, even in the vintage Mac market, but from my experience they’re not in the majority. If you decide to contact me because you own an item in my vintage Mac wishlist, don’t assume I’m that kind of collector. I hate when people have stuff in their attics, left there to collect dust and rust, stuff that evidently has no value to them, stuff they won’t give a crap about, but that suddenly becomes ‘rare, precious, expensive’ only because I’m interested in it. I could in part excuse this attitude if I were the one to contact you first, begging you to give it to me.

Also, eBay is misleading if you base your asking price just by looking at a few random Mac-related auctions there. Don’t assume that a PowerBook Duo 230 can be priced at $400 only because some fool on eBay let himself be ripped off and paid that price for an auctioned item.

That piece is still very much valid seven years after.

Thank you

On the other hand, I’ve also been contacted by people who wanted to thank me for this blog which they found interesting and informative despite the obvious lack of updates. I want to thank you in return, as I want to thank everyone out there who’s still following System Folder and keeping it in their RSS feeds. I hope I’ll manage to be more active here in 2019 and share more interesting content. Thank you all, and may you have a very Happy New Year!

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2 thoughts on “2018 in review

  1. Good to know there are other nuts out there. My collection is reasonably extensive, about 20 working machines (but including some non-working PowerBooks – 140, 145, 145b) but most other stuff is working well. My 5300 is also now junk, sadly, but the display casing and hinges are like yours, so not much use to you. Just hit a prob you might help with. I have an external SCSI HD attached to a Mac Plus. There’s an OS on it, so it will start up the Plus, but then the Finder complains that I can’t open the disk from its icon, because there’s not enough Finder memory. It doesn’t seem to make any difference if I start up instead from an early floppy like OS 5.0 – it still says it’s out of memory when I try to open the external HD. Scratching my head here. Any ideas?

  2. Adrian: Just a quick reply to let you know I’ve read both this comment and the email you sent me. I’m presently puzzled as you are, but this is the kind of issue that never fails to pique my curiosity, so I will certainly investigate the matter during the weekend, and I’ll get back to you. Meanwhile, as always, if any of my readers have ideas or suggestions, they’re welcome to chime in!

    Cheers,
    Rick

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