I spent almost the entire weekend nose-deep in various laptops, attempting to get one or all of them to wake up and tango again. My first patient was a client’s 700mhz iBook, which had stopped booting up after sleeping down its battery to empty. After spending an hour attempting the various revivification techniques, I called it dead and got the OK to pull the hard drive. Apparently this was the most complicated, difficult model Apple ever designed, because it took two hours, three different websites, a package of bamboo shish kebab sticks, and a lot of patience to crack the case. Once I’d gotten it out, it was a no-brainer to slap in an external drive, and the files appeared normally.

The second patient was a $40 Powerbook 1400 I got off Craigslist for reasons I still can’t explain entirely; it has something to do with having a working OS 9 machine that doesn’t take up half a desk’s worth of space. (I own a Powerbook 100, which is essentially a Mac Plus, for the same reason.) It came with an ethernet PCMCIA card, and I’ve got a compatible wireless card scavenged from a dead AirPort Base Station, but the complicating factor is that this unit came with a floppy drive and no built-in Ethernet. The version of OS 9 on the disk is faulty and it won’t load the PC card drivers to activate ethernet or wireless. I don’t have a SCSI CD drive anymore (my No More Beige rule is skirted by the fact that these laptops are all Powerbook Black) and Apple stopped shipping OS installs on floppies back in the OS 8 days. So I pulled the hard drive and spent hours attempting to install a fresh copy of OS 9.1 on it via a FireWire enclosure, but the 9.1 update kept hanging, resulting in an incomplete System Folder and a flashing disk icon at boot.

I hate it when I can’t solve a problem on my own.

So I’m going to borrow a SCSI CD drive from a client down the street and see if I can get this @$*!&! thing to install. Then, providing it works, I’m going to get the wireless working and set it up as a support machine to run all the OS 9 apps I still use (PhotoVista being the latest in a long line.)

Finally, I set up Jen’s father’s new laptop to work with his wireless network, installed Office, and made sure his email was set up correctly. Vista seems nice, but at first blush, there are a lot of useless bells and whistles that get in the way of what I want to do. I’m happy I’m still running XP here.

For now, I have a small mountain of obsolete Apple iron beside my desk, waiting for some non-billable time I can waste making old things useful again.

Update: No luck. DRAT!

Update Update:This link doesn’t really help much (I want OS 9, not OS 7) but I’m wondering if I can connect it via SCSI disk mode and install from another Mac (My B/W G3 here has Ultra-Wide SCSI, which means I’d need to score a MiniD68 to DB25 cable somewhere—an expensive proposition, most likely) but it’s hard finding any documentation on this. Also, it looks like drives above 4GB aren’t supported on the 1400, which dorks that avenue. So I’m back to an internal CD drive on eBay.

Date posted: February 19, 2007 | Filed under geek | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to Bill’s Laptop Barn.

  1. ren says:

    Don’t forget about my stockpile of random Mac hardware too (featuring a 6100/60 and a PB100)…please either make something useful of it or bless its journey to a computer recycling center.

  2. the idiot says:

    Hey, don’t ditch that stuff. I’ll find a use for it somewhere! I need a backup for the PB100, actually. And don’t you have the floppy drive for it too?

  3. ren says:

    Lord only knows–I haven’t looked at that stuff in approximately forever. Next time you’re up, bring the Jeep…

  4. tbtine says:

    The question the universe is asking is: How many computers does Bill Dugan *really* need?

    The answer is that it goes up beyond eeeleven.