Last night, after much wrangling, reading, dissecting, and cursing, I finally got a working copy of OS 9.1 on my Powerbook 1400. Bored readers may recall that I was having problems because the machine didn’t come with a CD-ROM drive, so anything I was installing internally had to come on floppy discs. Thus, a long process of pulling the hard drive and putting it in a FireWire enclosure, then swapping it back into the machine or testing began, always resulting in a flashing floppy icon (OS 9 speak for “I can’t find a System Folder.”)
Last night I finally had my eureka moment: for whatever reason, after installing the OS, the system folder wasn’t “blessed”, and therefore not viable. I read up on blessing system folders and followed the proper proceedure while booted into OS 9 on my old blue and white tower, and then swapped out the drive one last time: Success!
After that, it was frighteningly easy to get it on my wireless network: I have an old Lucent silver card pulled from a dead AirPort Base Station, and Proxim still has working drivers (behind a login/password, unfortunately) that install quickly and painlessly—I was up and running in minutes. Because it’s a newer, larger hard drive, response time is much zippier.
Pageloads are painfully slow, but I wasn’t expecting lightning speed. My MacBook Pro can see the drive when it’s shared and I can dump files on it (Photoshop 3! Illustrator 5.5! Streamline 4!) so that it can back up my emulated copy of OS 8.5 here on the MBP. I have yet to test out webmail or Movable Type yet, but that’s coming.
I have a perverse love for old electronics, and an even stranger love for fixing them. This old Powerbook was giving me fits because every ninja method I tried to get around its limitations (and believe me, I was ninja) failed for some reason or another. I’d all but given up on it until some spare brain cells began firing in a different way, and once I’d given it some time and thought, a simpler, easier solution presented itself. One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as I’ve grown older is to be patient and wait for solutions to percolate, instead of rushing ahead and getting myself into more trouble down the line: I was the kid who put my plastic models together way too fast because I wanted to play with them NOW, not wait for the stupid glue to dry. This seems to be my M.O. as I get older, from everything to mantle construction to website building to illustration concepting— a little time, patience, and waiting for the tinkering part of my brain to come up with alternate solution usually pays off in the end.