Waaaay back in 2007 I traded an inoperable Powerbook 100 for a working Powerbook 160, which was a welcome upgrade allowing me to open and view legacy files from my early days of design. The 160 worked for a couple of years and then died around 2013. I did some reading at that point and replaced the PRAM battery, hoping that would fix things, but it had no effect so the unit went back in the box. At some point recently I learned that there are inexpensive power supplies available for early Powerbooks, so I got one on Amazon for $10 and tried it out. Amazingly, I was greeted by the comforting early Macintosh startup chime, and the screen lit up for a brief moment before going dark, and then all of the pixels on the display smushed over to the right side of the screen.
Clearly there’s something amiss with the display, and from what the Interwebs say it’s a pretty common thing for the capacitors on passive-matrix grayscale monitors to fail, leading to these issues. I contacted a guy who streamed a repair live to see what he’d charge to fix it; we’ll see if he gets back to me.
Update: there are several videos on how to disassemble and recap the display online; given that I don’t have a lot of winter projects lined up, this is something I’ll tackle myself. I’d need a sharper soldering iron and the proper solder, but this isn’t anything I’m particularly scared of. The problem is that several of the capacitors aren’t in stock at Mouser or Digikey, so I’ll have to revisit this project in the summertime.
I also think I’ve got an old Powerbook Display Adapter in my antique computer bin somewhere; I’ll have to dig it out today and see if I can hook the unit to a monitor for testing.
Last summer I was moving plants around in the greenhouse and a branch on one of the tomato plants caught and pulled the AirPod out of my left ear and flung it out of sight. After searching for five minutes, I couldn’t find it anywhere and began to panic. Somehow I thought of Find My app on my phone; both AirPods appeared there immediately but the location tracking wasn’t precise enough to pinpoint the missing unit. I noticed a button on the app which said Play Sound, and I was able to toggle that to have the missing pod play an audible tone. This led me to find it behind a stack of pots in a far corner, someplace I never would have looked otherwise. That alone would have made the purchase price worth the money—beside the fact that they are awesome.
Apple announced today they’re opening up the excellent Find My service to third-party manufacturers. This could conceivably mean I could put a Find My tag in all three of my cars, on my bicycles (ahem Finley’s bicycle), and on my car keys, and use their system to keep track of them all. What I don’t know yet is how it would connect to dumb unwired devices—would I have to charge a battery on the tag on my bike, for example—or would it be a dumb chip like Tile? Either way, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this, and when the car versions come out, hardwiring one into each of our vehicles.
There are several tomatoes coloring in the greenhouse, and I am READY for them. The cherry plants are still producing fruit randomly; every week I go out and bring a handful in for the girls. I’m going to have to go out and consolidate a bunch of stuff this weekend and finally put the panel in the back wall to keep things warm overnight. Winter is coming…
Here in the office I finally took the time to go through some drawers and bins and boxes full of old computer gear and set aside a bunch of crap to get rid of: ancient CD-RW drives I scavenged from old towers, a pair of AirPort Base Stations that date back 15 years, miles of old Cat-5 network cabling, first-gen iPod FireWire wall warts, old manuals…there’s certainly more to get rid of, but I’ve found that if I’m going to keep old machinery it’s critical to have the gear to support it. So I’ll still hang on to the AirPort Express that will talk to the G3 Powerbooks that will still run OS9 so that I can access design files from 1997…
One of the things I dug out of the archives is a Sony Watchman MD-10, something that came out of the unclaimed personal property of a repo when I was in college. I took it back with me junior year and it allowed us all to stay current on Seinfeld episodes when we were on break during late night classes. For its time it was an amazing little device, and I wish it had DC input, because as I recall it ate AA batteries pretty fast. It’s useless these days with the advent of digital broadcasting; I could theoretically hook a digital antenna up to an RF modulator and broadcast local analog signal to it, but it’s really not worth the trouble. Interestingly, Gizmodo just did an article on this very model a few months ago; I share the author’s hesitation to get rid of his.
Hazel has been battling various side effects of the medication she’s been prescribed for side effects of medication she was prescribed since we’ve had her. To recap: she was given all manner of vaccinations as a puppy, some of which she developed allergies to, and they started breaking down the blood vessels in her ears. We were prescribed different medication to help with this condition only to find it lowered her immune system, causing her to break out with warts across her body. We got the ear thing under control, finally, and her dermatologist decided we were going to take her off that medication and switch to a different one. It’s been a month or so since the switch, and her ears are still clear and the warts are finally disappearing. Meanwhile, the Easy Lead we bought a couple of weeks ago, while not her favorite object in the world, makes walking her about a million times more enjoyable. We’re doing about three miles daily, a long walk in the morning and a family walk in the evening, and it seems to be great for everyone’s mental health.
After fucking around with multiple different approaches to installing OX El Capitan on my 14-year-old Mac Pro, I decided to give up on janky scripts and poorly written directions and just clone the copy of Leopard I had running on it before to test that the SSD was viable, which did work. Now I’m going to have to buy a copy of 10.7 Lion from Apple (it is not available as a download anymore for reasons I can’t fathom, and among the hundreds of archived backup and install discs I’ve got in my collection, I don’t have this installer) and put a clean copy of the last officially compatible OS on the drive.
There’s a wealth of information out there about Mac Pros out there, which is super handy for keeping the original 2006 version I own (and the 2010 version I use at work) running smoothly. It’s hard to believe my work tower is that old, but it still cranks along happily, earning its keep. I see people complaining about the high cost of pro Apple gear, but if I amortize the purchase price over the time I’ve used it, it’s an incredible bargain.
Tomatoes are officially in season here in the greenhouse and the girls haven’t been able to keep up with the harvest. We have a bunch of Cherokee Purples ripening on several different plants, and they’re all about due to be picked. I pulled several beautiful Chef’s Choice on Saturday with a bowl full of cherries. At the same time there are several basil plants getting fuller with the heat.
Along with a fancy camera, there’s another tool that’s equally important for any photographer: photo processing software. In my early days of shooting I used Photoshop exclusively, and fixed and saved photos one at a time. In the mid 200’s, Apple and Adobe came out with products that were designed to catalog and process photos in batches, so that a photographer could download a couple hundred shots from a camera and quickly browse through them all for the best picks.
Apple’s Aperture was a great product during the years they supported it. From a UI/UX standpoint, it was incredibly intuitive to use as a beginner, and only offered tools as the user gained experience. I used it happily and built several fast, powerful workflows to process photos—especially handy when I was shooting daily. It was discontinued in 2015 and I used it for several years afterward until I was forced to switch to Lightroom. I had nothing but praise for the frontend of the application, but but the filing job it did behind the scenes was so fucked up I’m only now digging out of the hole it put me in.
Two weeks ago I bought an enormous 8TB NAS drive for our basement server and consolidated all of our photos to the new drive. This included an existing 4TB photo drive and two external drives I’ve had bumping around my desk for three years (shame on me). Most of that work involves manually moving photos into properly organized folders. This is, in practice, as boring as it sounds, and should have been done years ago.
See, the way that Aperture did things for a while was to dump photos into a dated folder not based on the date the batch was taken but the date it was imported. Sometimes it split photos up, out of order, and put them into subfolders with long date-stamped names—sometimes 30 or more folders in one main folder, and most often empty. Later, after an update, it stuck random photos in successively named folders called “Roll XXX”, with no connection to date or batch.
What I want is to catalog photos by each year, month, and day they were taken so that I can see a photo from a particular batch without depending on photo processing software, and so that I can tell immediately if I’ve got multiple copies of a photo on the same drive (something else Aperture liked to do). There were a couple of cases where I had five or six copies of the same batch of photos for no reason.
So, I’m going through each year’s folder and splitting out the months and days and re-filing everything, and it’s taking forever and giving me carpal tunnel syndrome as well as a satisfying sense of accomplishment, because when this is done, I’ll have a real sense of what’s here and what’s missing—and then I can go and look for the missing files in my binders of DVD backups.
Hazel had me up at 6:15 this morning and as I rose from the bed I got an alarm bell from my head, which told me the barometer was pogoing around and that we were steering for a headache. Jen took Hazel and I went back to bed until 9, which was a lovely treat. Unfortunately my head felt worse when I woke up, so I made coffee and took two Advil in the hopes things would calm down.
It’s sunny but cold outside and the wind is howling through the trees, so Hazel isn’t keen on a walk and I’m not keen on getting out to the porch and continuing work, but the show must go on. I’ve got some painting and patching to do, and then we have to focus on the floor. Jen and I assembled a bunch of furniture on Thursday night in the backyard and left it out there to offgas (the oil they used in the teak stinks) for a week or so before we move it inside. Besides Finn’s bed, this is the first new furniture we’ve bought in probably 10 years, and it was fun to put together.
On my desk in the office there’s a shiny black iPhone SE2 in the final stages of pairing with my Apple Watch. They arrived yesterday (Jen and I both upgraded) and they are everything I hoped they’d be: faster, shinier, and the same size as our 6’s. I could actually use the beat up old case from my 6 for this phone, but I think the case has seen enough abuse—and this time Jen and I are going to buy different cases to avoid grabbing each other’s phone.
Pairing the watch was a little rocky last night—it took several tries and failed for various reasons so I let things sit overnight and let the two of them talk things over before forcing them to get married. The getting-to-know-you time seems to have worked because they’re currently planning the honeymoon and picking out appliances together.