The Essential Mac

Essentialmac homepage

I was looking for some SCSI-related information for an article I’m working on, and I stumbled upon a lovely website dedicated to the classic Mac OS: The Essential Mac. It’s like entering a time machine and being brought back to 1997, but definitely in a very good way. (Edited to add: The Essential Mac is actually a website that has been around since 1997, in case you’re wondering.)

I rarely feature other vintage Mac websites — my endorsement is usually made explicit by adding them to my blogroll on the sidebar, but The Essential Mac is worth a mention because it’s very well made. It covers a variety of topic in detail, it is organised like a beginner’s guide to the Mac (the pre-OS X Mac, of course), but most of all, it’s really well written. The writing style reminds me of those excellent printed manuals of the 1980s and 1990s: informative, concise, and a pleasure to read. Take a look at SCSI Voodoo, the section about the SCSI interface, to have an idea.

If you’re a Mac user who has no experience of what it was before Mac OS X, and who has just started exploring the world of vintage Macs maybe after scoring an old PowerBook for a few dollars, you’ll definitely want to check this site. And even if you’re an experienced or long-time Mac user, you’ll want to add The Essential Mac to your bookmarks to have a quick, useful classic Mac OS reference when you need one.

A real terminal

Although it doesn’t directly relate to vintage Macs or the classic Mac OS, I couldn’t not link to this: A VT220 serial console (circa 1983) set up as a terminal for a Mac Pro (circa 2010).

This post made me smile for a number of reasons: firstly, it’s a cool setup, and I’m glad it works because it took quite the effort on Justin’s part — this is far from being a ‘plug & play’ combination. Secondly, Justin’s explanation includes a precious link that I had lost during my recent bookmark summer cleaning: Paul Weinstein’s post about setting up an Apple IIc as a terminal (and here you have a vintage Apple link, so I’m back on topic!).

Last but not least, I’m in full agreement with Justin when he concludes:

I learned a lot about how terminals work over the last couple weeks and the final result is quite satisfying, a soft amber glow and one less window on my desktop. It’s also a nice reminder that we didn’t get to where we are overnight, user interfaces and software development have been evolving in an unbroken chain for a long time and some of the old ideas are so solid that they persist 30 years later. Why not use the proper hardware?

Ah, to think I could have done something similar! When I was still living in Italy I had been given an IBM 5291 terminal [like this one], but regrettably I had to dispose of it during my relocation: I had too much vintage gear to fit in my flat here in Spain, and at the time I had no real use for it, so it had to go. I’ll always remember his large, heavy, all-metal keyboard, giving a literal meaning to the phrase ‘built like a tank’…

Reader email: Performa 6320 and more

I have accumulated a bit of a backlog as regards to personal emails. I launched this weblog with very few expectations since it is obviously addressed to a niche readers’ base. Instead, it turned out to be more successful than I thought. An increasing number of readers have been writing me asking for tips and suggestions, even suggesting topics to cover. In the following weeks I’ll do my best to give more focus and attention to System Folder, and I’ll also try to get back more promptly to the nice people writing me privately.

Speaking of readers’ emails, every now and then I receive messages asking questions and opinions to which I can only provide an answer based on my personal experience. I feel it’s not enough. I may not know about some resources or possible uses for vintage Macs, so I believe it’s fair to share these requests and do some brainstorming in public, involving other readers (and possibly vintage Mac aficionados) out there.

Here’s an example at hand. Agostino wrote me two months ago. I’ve been terribly busy and therefore I haven’t been able to help him properly, yet. So I took the liberty to translate his email and share it with you. If you have ideas / opinions / suggestions, please chime in in the comments.

Hello, Riccardo

I have a Performa 6320. I’d love to put it back on its feet but I don’t know where to begin. For example, the PRAM battery will have to be replaced for sure, because the Mac doesn’t even remember the date and time, so I tried to remove it but the Performa’s case seems impenetrable. Not to mention how difficult it’s been to get hold of a bit of software… So for starters, I’m asking you if you know of online resources that can help me, because I do not find them or maybe I just do not know how to look for them.

Then I was wondering whether you believe a 1992 Performa 400 and a 1990 LC can still be useful today — and for what — or the game is simply not worth the candle and it’s better to take them to a recycling facility. It breaks my heart to throw them away! They are all equipped with many peripherals…

My usual workaround for vintage Macs with dead PRAM batteries is to keep them always plugged in. This way, they won’t lose track of date and time. (Of course I don’t keep all my vintage Macs plugged in, only those I use with enough frequency as to be bothered by having to change the date and time manually every time). As for buying new PRAM batteries, Other World Computing still sells some, and occasionally someone in the LEM Swap list comes up with these kinds of batteries, either new or used but still working.

For taking apart the Performa 6320, I have made available Apple’s Service Manual for Macintosh Performa 6200-6300 Series for download. It’s a rather complete reference.

As for software, that Performa can run System 7.5.3 to Mac OS 9.1, and that means a lot of classic Mac software should work. You can find a few relevant resources in the ‘Classic Environment’ link category in the sidebar, specifically System 7 Today, the Info-Mac archive, and the Macintosh Garden. The latter is a very good place if you want to use your vintage Performa as a sort of retro-gaming machine.

Regarding the Performa 400 (aka Macintosh LCII) and the LC and their possible usefulness today, well, firstly it depends on their configuration. I would try to maximise their RAM (10 MB is the maximum for both) and find a PDS Ethernet card to connect them to a LAN with more modern Macs more easily (especially for file transfers). I like the LC form factor because, even if it’s not an all-in-one Mac like the compacts, it doesn’t take much space on a desk, and a 14-inch Macintosh Color Monitor on top of it is the perfect match.

What would I do if I had to find a use for such Macs? Typically, with Macs of that vintage and capabilities, I tend to favour the following uses:

  • Distraction-free creative writing. If I hadn’t a Colour Classic, I would use my LCII for that task.
  • Something database-related. I’d look for an old copy of FileMaker and do something with it. I have created a small database to keep records of my books and the books I borrow from libraries, for instance, but the possibilities are many.
  • Retro-gaming. When I have time, I surely enjoy things like Half-Life 2 and Bioshock, but nothing beats playing Pac-Man, SimCity and other ‘oldies but goldies’ on a vintage Mac.
  • Data retrieval. Especially in combination with working peripherals of the same age, a vintage Mac can be very useful to retrieve old files, either residing on obsolete physical supports, or written by discontinued applications or in old formats that need vintage applications to be converted into something readable.

But this is me. Other people may have more specific, sophisticated, nerdy suggestions. It all depends on your disposition towards tinkering, generally. There are people who have been able to use such Macs as fax and print servers, as network bridges between modern Macs and a LocalTalk subnetwork, as scanning workstations (in combination with that great SCSI scanner that never dies and still makes great scans), and so on and so forth.

So, let’s hear your suggestions, and let’s help Agostino find some good resources and uses for his vintage Macs.

Internet via shared Bluetooth connection on a Newton MessagePad 2100

This does not aim to be a step-by-step tutorial, although you could definitely use it to set up such a connection, provided you have all the necessary hardware and software bits. These last two weeks I finally managed to connect my Newton MessagePad 2100 to the Internet via Bluetooth, and I just wanted to put together all the information for future reference. The essential steps to set up the connection, on the Mac side and the Newton side, are all Steven Frank‘s work. He posted the result of his efforts on the NewtonTalk mailing list four years ago, and subsequently in the WikiWikiNewt. I am reposting those instructions here, but also starting from the beginning, as they assume that you already have the right hardware and that you’ve already installed all the necessary software packages and paired the Mac and the Newton via Bluetooth.

Some preliminary observations

First and foremost: it’s complicated. Not impossible, but not a user-friendly process, either. Few Bluetooth PCMCIA cards work in the Newton, and those that work do not seem readily available. But, if you do own such a card and you can easily connect your Newton to install all the packages needed to use Bluetooth, you should try this method of wireless connection to the Internet with your Newton. I prefer it over using a Wi-Fi 802.11b card because it’s less battery-hungry. The downside, of course, is that you are limited to your home network since you’re using the Internet connection shared via Bluetooth by one of your Macs, while with the Wi-Fi solution you have more freedom of movement and you could theoretically connect to the Internet from a public hotspot. I say theoretically because all the Wi-Fi cards supported by the Newton have limited encryption abilities — WEP — while most public and office access points nowadays use wireless WPA encryption.

Anyway, I can say I’m quite happy I’ve managed to connect my MessagePad this way. Of course my primary use is not browsing the Web on the Newton — despite some great software it’s still a very crippled experience — but reading some RSS feeds and checking email, definitely a more rewarding experience.

The hardware

On the Newton side, you’ll need a MessagePad 2000/2100 or an eMate (although I’m not sure if you’ll get a good result performance-wise). As for the Bluetooth card, since you’ll have to download and use Eckhart Köppen’s Bluetooth software (Blunt), you are limited to the few options that have been tested and proven compatible. In the Hardware Compatibility section of Blunt’s page, Köppen writes:

Blunt has been tested on US and German MP2100 MessagePads. It requires a Bluetooth PCMCIA card with the following characteristics: PCMCIA Type II card (no CardBus card), UART interface, HCI protocol support. This should cover those cards which are supported via a UART driver under Linux or BSD. It has been tested with the following hardware:

  • PICO Bluetooth PCMCIA card
  • Taiyo Yuden internal UART modules
  • AmbiCom Air2Net BT2000CF CompactFlash card (new model with purple antenna). Note: It seems there are two revisions of this card, and only revision A is working at the moment.
  • AmbiCom Air2Net BT2000E CompactFlash card (older model, black antenna)

Not working is the following hardware:

  • Belkin Bluetooth PC Card (a CardBus card)
  • 3com Wireless PC Card (incompatible serial chip)
  • IBM Bluetooth PC Card (incompatible serial chip)

Might work at some point:

  • Conceptronic Bluetooth PCMCIA card (requires special serial chip initialization or firmware reprogramming)
  • Xircom Bluetooth PCMCIA card (requires special serial chip initialization or firmware reprogramming)

I own probably the best Bluetooth card of the group, the PICO Card, purchased four years ago. Here are some photos:

Newton and PICO Card
My Newton MP2100 (in a 2000 case), the PICO Bluetooth card and box.
PICO Bluetooth Card
A close-up of the PICO Bluetooth Card

When inserted, the card is not flush, the whole transparent green section sticks out, but it doesn’t really bother me:

Newton MessagePad with stand and keyboard
My MessagePad, with stand and keyboard.

Activity is clearly indicated by a LED inside the green section.

The software

I have installed Blunt (not Blunt 2, since it’s still in alpha) and all related packages mentioned in the Blunt page, that is, the NIE Nitro & Blunt Support, plus Nitro, Neo, IC/VC (this is for iCalendar and vCard import/export, not really needed for Internet connection via Bluetooth, but I figured it was a nice addition to have), and then Courier (Web browser), Raissa (RSS reader), which in turn need NHttpLib and ntox. All these software packages can be retrieved starting from the main page of Eckhart Köppen’s 40Hz site. As the page for Nitro will remind you, you’ll need to download and install the patched NIE Modem support module to obtain mobile Internet over IrCOMM.

For the uninitiated, NIE stands for Newton Internet Enabler and it’s a series of essential packages that should reside on the original floppies that came with your Newton, if you bought it in the 1990s or second-hand from someone who sold you all the original accessories. Otherwise, you can download it from this page on unna.org (UNNA is the United Network of Newton Archives). Before installing Köppen’s software, you should install NIE in your Newton’s internal store.

To give you a visual summary, here is a screenshot of all the extensions installed in the internal store of my MP2100:

BTConn1.jpg

Of course, you don’t have to install all this. The essential packages for the present discussion are Newton Ethernet, Blunt, Neo, Nitro, Ntox, NIE Nitro & Blunt, NIE Modem & Serial, NHttpLib.

Text Stationery and Paper Stationery are two extensions needed by Mail V, the excellent software I use to handle email on my Newton.

Setting up Bluetooth

Once installed all the aforementioned packages from Eckhart Köppen’s site, you will need to configure Bluetooth on the Newton and pair it with the Mac. I simply followed Köppen’s instructions outlined in the Blunt page. In the preferences for the Bluetooth Setup app (tap [i], then Prefs), my settings are as follows:

  • Name: Newton
  • Device Location: Top PC Card
  • Speed: 230400
  • Driver: PICO Card

I paired my MessagePad 2100 with my PowerMac G4 Cube (after plugging a Bluetooth USB adapter in the Cube). It’s definitely a trial-and-error process: in my attempts, I noticed I was more successful when initiating the procedure from the Newton using the Pair and Get Services commands in the Bluetooth Setup:

BTConn2.jpg

It’s important to ‘Get Services’ because otherwise the Bluetooth connection via serial port you’ll setup later will not work. You’ll notice that sometimes, even when everything is set up correctly, the Newton will lose the ‘Modem Port’ and ‘OBEX Port’ information, showing ‘None available’. In that case, just tap Get Services while keeping the Newton in range of your Mac, and all will be fine:

BTConn2b.jpg

That ‘Name: Q-bert’ is the name of my G4 Cube on the home network.

Sharing the Mac’s Internet connection over Bluetooth

The following part (in italics) was written by Steven Frank in 2006, and it’s the core of the matter:

It is assumed that you already have worked out the kinks in your Newton Bluetooth setup. You should be paired with the Mac, and have done a service discovery. Make sure you select the Mac’s Serial Port service in the Newton’s Bluetooth Setup (there was only one in my case).

Next, you’ll need to go to Terminal on the Mac, and carefully enter these commands:

sudo /usr/sbin/sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=1

sudo /usr/sbin/natd -interface en1 -use_sockets -same_ports -dynamic -clamp_mss

(Note the “en1” here. If your Mac is connected to the internet using AirPort, use en1. If it’s connected using Ethernet, use en0 here instead.)

sudo /sbin/ipfw add divert natd ip from any to any via en1

(Same deal with the “en1” here.)

sudo named

sudo named

(I’m not sure this has to be done twice. One site I was reading suggested it.)

sudo /usr/sbin/pppd /dev/tty.Bluetooth-PDA-Sync 230400 noauth local passive proxyarp asyncmap 0 silent persist :10.0.1.111

[Note: it’s one long line]

This starts a PPP server on the Bluetooth-PDA-Sync serial port. Note the IP address here. I’ve used 10.0.1.111. This will be the address assigned to your Newton.

This can be anything you like, but it should be a valid IP address for your LAN. If you use, for example, 192.168 addressing, you should use a 192.168.0.x address instead. Make sure it’s not an address that’s in use by something else!

Now, you need to set up an internet connection on the Newton side! Whew!

Create a new Internet Setup called whatever you like.

Protocol: PPP
Configuration: Manual
User ID: [none]
When closing, disconnect: [your preference]
Local IP Address: (whatever IP address you used in the pppd command above!)
Gateway/Router Address: (the IP address of the machine that’s sharing its connection — in my case, the Mac. NOT the address of your actual router!)
Primary DNS: [an actual working DNS address] (Using 0.0.0.0 doesn’t seem to cut it.)
Secondary DNS: [optional, up to you]
Domain Name: [none]

Now, cross your fingers, and initiate a network connection from the Newton. With a little luck, it should connect to the PPP server running on your Mac, and get online.

When you are all done, and you want to turn off the Internet sharing on the Mac, try the following commands:

sudo killall pppd
sudo killall named
sudo /sbin/ipfw -f flush
sudo killall natd
sudo /usr/sbin/sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=0

A FEW NOTES:

  • I’ve only tried this on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
  • At one point I went into the Bluetooth system preferences pane, Sharing tab, and changed the Bluetooth-PDA-Sync serial port from “Modem” to “RS-232”. I’m not sure if this is required, but it’s something to try if it doesn’t work for you.
  • Because this runs a PPP server on the Bluetooth-PDA-Sync port, it will conflict with anything else that tries to use that port, such as Palm HotSync.

Further notes and clarifications

I have followed Frank’s method to the letter and it worked. Not after a few attempts, though. At first I started getting error connections and the Newton seemed unable to negotiate a PPP connection. I turned off Internet sharing with the Terminal commands listed above, restarted the Cube and restarted the PPP server on the Bluetooth-PDA-Sync serial port. I kept having problems, until I discovered that I had some old connection profiles in the Newton’s Internet Setup (located in Extras > Setup). I deleted every other profile that wasn’t the Bluetooth profile created as per Frank’s instructions and all went well.

Some other things to remember:

  • When Frank says “Create a new Internet Setup”, it means specifically creating a new ‘Generic Setup’ in the Internet Setup app. When you start configuring the setup, in the first pane of your New Internet Setup, choose Connecting using: Bluetooth. Not Serial, not Modem — don’t get confused by the terminology.
  • It’s important you enter the correct IP address of the Mac that’s going to share the connection. In my case, the Cube’s IP was 10.0.1.3, so that’s what I entered in the Gateway/Router Address item of the Newton’s setup profile.
  • Also, Steven Frank is right about the DNS. It must be a working address. In my settings, I put Google’s address (8.8.8.8) as Primary DNS and one of my ISP’s DNS addresses as Secondary DNS.
  • I, too, have tried this only on a Mac with Mac OS X 10.4.11. I think it can work under Mac OS X 10.6 as well. In the future I’ll try with my Intel MacBook Pro and report back.
  • It should be nice to have some kind of automation to simplify the turning on/off of the PPP server on the Mac. For now, since I’m not a programmer, the only thing I managed to do to speed up the process was to write all the Terminal commands on one line, separated by a semicolon, in a text editor. Then it’s a matter of copy/paste them into the Terminal and using the up/down arrow keys (the UNIX history feature) to initiate and shut down Internet sharing sessions. If someone wants to write a script or a small app, I will make it available for download here.

So, Internet on the Newton…

Just a couple of screenshots to give you an idea. My Inbox using Mail V:

BTConn4.jpg

This very blog rendered in Eckhart Köppen’s Courier:

BTConn3.jpg

I hope this information can be useful to someone else. I tried to write this as clearly as I could, considering the many steps and convolutions, but feel free to ask questions and share your doubts or difficulties. I’ll try to help you out as much as I can.

Apple Easter Eggs

Recently, the hard drive on my Colour Classic failed unexpectedly. That was a sort of wake-up call, which urged me to go back to my dear vintage Macs and revive them a bit. I did a sort of rotation check, turning them on, verifying their hard drives’ health, checking cables and whatnot. I created a temporary setup with my Power Macintosh 9500/132, because it needed more attention than other vintage buddies. Sadly, the internal hard drives in this Mac keep dying like flies. Luckily, I managed to find a 525MB spare — perhaps the last SCSI drive I have in decent conditions — and reinstalled the system. When I finally installed Mac OS 9.1 (after following the Mac OS 7.6.1 > Mac OS 8.1 upgrade path), I reconnected the trusty SyQuest 5200 drive and went down memory lane checking the contents of my old archive, stored in six 200MB 5.25″ SyQuest cartridges.

Among the things I had totally forgotten was a stand-alone document, created with the wonderful DOCMaker (one of my next articles on this blog will be about this forgotten software), and called Apple Easter Eggs 1.6. I don’t know if I should call this find a ‘gem’, but I did enjoy reading its contents. Every long-time Apple user has certainly heard about ‘Easter eggs’ — they’re jokes, credit screens, little treats hidden inside the Mac (and Newton), and old versions of the Mac OS were full of them. There were so many of them that at the time it was easy to read about them in Mac-oriented magazines, and it was also rather common to find e-documents like this on the magazines’ CD-ROMs.

Perhaps you have a copy of this document (or a similar one) somewhere in your own archives, anyway I decided to share my little discovery with you:
Download Apple Easter Eggs 1.6

You will need either a vintage Mac or a modern Mac that supports the Classic environment to see the file. It is compressed in a StuffIt archive (.sit) created with DropStuff 8.0.2. If you have problems with the download or unpacking the archive, let me know.

Credit where it’s due

The Apple Easter Eggs document has a creation date of March 1, 1999. I believe I’m doing nothing wrong by making the file available. Here’s the author’s disclaimer:

Traveling Far and Wide!
My easter eggs have been put on many CDs throughout the world, mentioned in E-zines and chats, the book Maclopedia and Macintosh (a Japanese book), and all major Macintosh magazines including “MacAddict”, “MacWeek”, “MacWorld”, and “MacUser”. The file has reached places such as Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Costa Rica, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia.

Publishing This File
If anyone decides to use my easter eggs for any reason at all, I ask that you tell me where to find it. Please don’t pass it off as your own work; mention my name, e-mail address, and web site. If this file is published on a disk, CD-ROM please inform me. That also includes publishing eggs in any public publication. I usually don’t care if it is done; I just like to know where this list is going. You may not, however, use the information in this collection to develop your own easter egg list. Thanks.

So, credit where it’s due, the document was edited by Heath Hewitt. I’d also add the website URL, but the site doesn’t exist anymore. (You’ll find the link inside the document anyway).

Some interesting bits

As a teaser, here are some of the Easter Eggs contained in the document. I’ve chosen some of the ones I did not know about.

Apple Portable
Macintosh Portable Code Name: Laguna, Riveria, Malibu, Esprit, Guiness
Macintosh Portable (with backlit display) Code Name: Aruba, Love Shack, Mulligan

Remember that portable computer released a long time ago that was about twice as large as today’s LCs. No? Well, I don’t either, and was surprised when I found out about its very existence. Here is an easter egg for anyone (I can’t imagine who) that still has a Mac Portable:

Kevin Schoedel tells me the hardware etch, where the programmer’s signatures are etched in raised lettering, is also to be found on the Mac Portable, released 2 years after the SE. The names are inside the bottom (base) of the case. There are 62 signatures (if I found them all, and counted correctly), plus 7 names in ‘type’ under the heading “Product Design Team”.

Apple’s eWorld On-line Night Lights
eWorld Code Name: Aladdin

In eWorld’s Town Square window, if you clicked in the extreme upper-left hand corner, it changed to a night scene. This worked for version 1.1 and possibly other versions. Sadly though, after April 1st this easter egg was put to rest with eWorld’s end. I guess it would be too much to ask for a moment of silence. Oh well…

Does That Make Sense?
From: Albert Zeeman

Let’s hear what Albert had to say:

During March/April I had a Newton 120 to test. The first night I did the HWR part for almost a hour. I noticed that after a while the separate words which I had to type in almost seemed like sentences. One part struck my attention and I really had to laugh. The words which I had to type were:

“Bill”
“Gates”
“products”
“don’t”
“sell”

Newton: Easter Egg Graceland
(MessagePad 100 only)

1) Go to: Extras:Preferences:Personal
2) Change the country to “Graceland” (you will have to type it because it is not in the directory).
3) Power down the Newton
4) While watching the startup screen, power up your Newton. You will see a little Newt instead of the light bulb.

Note: Doing this will bring up something different in the U.S. on an American system then it will on a German upgraded (possibly 1.3) system. Be sure to change the country back before dialing. This egg should work on a MP100 if it doesn’t have a 110 ROM. It will not work on other Newtons. I have had a report that it will not work on the 120 w/ v1.3. The effect remains until you change the country to something else.

Newton: Temperature
(MessagePad 100 only)

On the original Messagepad (now called the Messagepad 100), tap the clock in the lower left-hand corner of the display, and hold down on it. The display will show you the current temperature! The temperature display will only work with a program called Screen Contrast.

The temperature appears because the MP100 tells the temperature to determine the screen contrast. It will not work on the 110 and 120 because there is a contrast dial on the side.

Putting a 2GB PCMCIA hard drive in a Newton MessagePad 2100

As I anticipated in my Quillink tumblelog, some days ago I tried a little test to see if my 2GB PCMCIA Toshiba hard drive would work in my Newton MP2100. The PCMCIA card has the correct voltage and is 16-bit, so I thought that at worst I would receive the ‘card not recognised’ warning from the Newton.

Before even starting, though, I remembered to install the ATA Support drivers, written by Paul Guyot (too bad he has stopped Newton development for now, I miss him). Later, when I inserted the card, I was happy to see these screen:

Newton-ATA-Toshiba-2GB.jpg

I requested information about the card by tapping on [i] and I was pleased to see it was correctly recognised:

Newton-ATA-Toshiba-2GB-2.jpg

In the compatibility table that was previously available on Guyot’s website, this particular drive is listed among the “Recognised but abnormally slow cards”. As I previously wrote, I don’t think I’ll ever need 2 gigabytes with my Newtons — my biggest flash card is 32 MB, and it’s more than enough for my needs — nevertheless I wanted to try a little experiment to see to what extent such PCMCIA hard drive is actually usable.

Before starting any test, I needed to replace the batteries, because as you can see in the screenshots my MessagePad was running on empty. After putting some fresh alkalines, I inserted the PCMCIA hard drive and started fiddling with it. Four days ago I wrote:

I suspect the major drawbacks will be: 1) slow reading/writing speeds; 2) high battery consumption. I’ll keep you posted.

My suspicions were true. I first attempted to partition the hard drive in two volumes, one very small (4 MB — a Newton-friendly storage capacity), and the other… well, of more than 1900 MB. After starting the partition process, the Newton looked frozen, then self-restarted. I thought the operation aborted, but when the reboot completed, the two partitions were correctly recognised as two different cards.

The slow reading/writing speeds problem was immediately apparent when I tried to file some Newton Works documents on the smaller partition. That could be tolerable anyway if it weren’t for the other issue I had anticipated: that hard drive is quite power-hungry. Before partitioning and writing some files, the battery indicator was at 100%, but it soon dropped to 85%. The only way to make good use of this PCMCIA hard drive, I guess, is by putting a rechargeable battery pack and leaving the Newton connected to the AC adapter. Perhaps those who set up their Newton as a Web Server might take advantage of the large storage space of hard drives like this, but in that case I do suggest they look for a faster device in the ATA compatibility list I linked to earlier. I’d really like to try the PCMCIA Compact Flash adapter + CF card combination myself. If you already use it and want to share your experience, please do by leaving a comment. I hope this little bit of information can be useful to other people.

The iPhone’s success benefits vintage Macs

One of the consequences of the huge spread and success of the iPhone is that a lot of popular Websites have started implementing a mobile interface, so that it’s better displayed on portable devices with smaller screens, and most of these scaled-down versions are rendered beautifully in iPhone’s MobileSafari. Not only that, they retain all their major features and are more accessible at the same time.

A very nice side effect is that mobile versions can be quite useful if you’re using a vintage Mac with a vintage browser. They usually load faster (especially Gmail), render better, and are overall more compatible with the limited capabilities of older browsers. What’s more, they’re usable: from my PowerBook 5300 with Mac OS 8.1 and iCab 2.99 I can tweet, read and write email using Gmail, enjoy a decent experience in Flickr, and so on. See some examples below:

Search Results in Google mobile
Search Results in Google mobile -- iCab 2.99
A stripped-down Gmail interface. But it's usable and Gmail doesn't complain about browser compatibility...
A stripped-down Gmail interface. But it's usable and Gmail doesn't complain about browser compatibility...
The flickr mobile interface is much better on the iPhone, but iCab 2.99 on my PowerBook 5300 now loads my photostream and my friends' photos much faster; admittedly, the page looks unattractive, but it's definitely usable.
The flickr mobile interface is much better on the iPhone, but iCab 2.99 on my PowerBook 5300 now loads my photostream and my friends' photos much faster; admittedly, the page looks unattractive, but it's definitely usable.
"What are you doing?" -- Twittering from my PowerBook 5300, of course.
"What are you doing?" -- Twittering from my PowerBook 5300, of course.
And a quick look at the news, why not?
And a quick look at the news, why not?

Tip from the past: Removing Finder quirks

Another ResEdit-related tip!

Taken from MacUser, June 10, 1994 issue. At that time, MacUser magazine used to keep a Help section titled Quick Tips, where Peter Jackson published tips and tricks from the readers. This tip is from Donald McLintock from Oxford.

When I switched from System 7.0.1 to System 7.1, I found that the Finder had reverted to some bad habits. The Window zoom animation and the delay before an icon name can be changed after clicking on it, which I had removed from my old System using the SevenFor7 utility, were back. And the same utility did not work on System 7.1, presumably because the new Finder stores data in different places.

However, you can use ResEdit to get rid of these quirks. To remove the zoom rectangles, open a copy of the Finder in ResEdit and open the CODE resource with ID 4. At offset 78 you will find the sequence 48E7 1F38 — you can search for this sequence to find the right one. Change this to 6000 00E6, and the rectangles will be gone.

Similarly, the icon-naming delay can be removed by opening CODE resource 11 and changing the 5DC0 sequence at offset A34 to 50C0.

Tip from the past: Quick reprint

This is taken from MacUser, Vol. 9 No. 16, August 6, 1993 issue. At that time, MacUser magazine used to keep a Help section titled Hints and Tips, where Peter Jackson compiled readers’ tricks and shortcuts. This tip is from Graham Tyers, of Oakham, and is intended for those who reprint documents regularly.

When you print a document using background printing, make a copy of the spool file that appears in the Print Monitor Documents folder in the System Folder. To print this document again, option-drag it into the Print Monitor Documents folder and it will print instantly, although you may have to click OK in a dialog box, depending on your printer. This method will print documents from hefty applications in a fraction of the time taken to launch the application and then spool the file. The down-side is that the spool files take up a lot of space, especially if pictures or other graphics are included.

Tip from the past: System error codes explained

At least the most frequent.

Taken from Personal Computer World, May 1996 issue. Written by Chris Cain.

One of the most annoying things about the MacOS is its lack of proper error messages. How many times has your Mac crashed with “an error of type X”, without telling you exactly what “X” means? To help you out of some of these situations here’s a list of the most common error numbers and their official meanings, as listed by Apple in its Technical Info Library. If you have access to the World Wide Web you can get a more complete list from Apple’s web site (www.apple.com). There are some errors that even the Apple technical documents don’t explain, specifically Type 11. If I find out what these mean I’ll let you know.

  • ID 01 = Bus Error
    A type 01 error usually occurs when the computer tries to access memory that doesn’t exist: you can get this error on almost any Macintosh. In my experience, assigning extra RAM to an application, using its Get Info dialogue, can help prevent it.
  • ID 02 = Address Error
    The Motorola 68000 microprocessor can access memory in increments of one byte (8 bits), or one word (16 bits), or one long word (32 bits). This microprocessor can access a byte of information at either an odd or an even memory address. But it mustaccess one word or one long word at an evenmemory address. So, when the microprocessor attempts to read or write a word (or long word) at an oddaddress, you see this error. Since that’s a 50/50 proposition when running random code, this one shows up quite often.
  • ID 03 = Illegal Instruction
    The computer has a specific vocabulary of machine language instructions it can understand. If it tries to execute an instruction that isn’t in its vocabulary, you see this error code. It’s less likely than error 02 but is nevertheless common.
  • ID 04 = Zero Divide Error
    This error results if the microprocessor divides two numbers, and the divisor is zero. Sometimes a programmer puts these in as debugging aids and forgets to take them out.