Adventures with my Apple IIc Part 2 – Using ADTPro

Ordering the parts

The best way to communicate to the Apple is via a brilliant piece of software called ADTPro, firstly we need some bits:

  1. DB9 Serial to USB Adapter – there are two main types, one with FTDI chipset, one with Prolific chipset.  The ones with FTDI chipset tend to be more expensive.  I used the one from ATEN that uses a Prolific chipset.
  2. 5-pin DIN to DB9 Serial Null Modem – Everywhere I looked, on Google and on forums where pointing me to retrofloppy.com, but their postage cost to Australia was astronomical.  I instead bought the cable from raphnet.net.
  3. 5.25″ Floppy disks – Amazingly people are still selling these things on eBay.

Configuring ADTPro

I had a bit of trouble at first, but I was able to communicate from my iMac running Mountain Lion with my Apple IIc using the following settings:

ADTPro 1.2.8 ADTPro1 ADTPro2

Success!

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Adventures with my Apple IIc Part 1

The Apple II was the first computer that our family owned, it was the first and only computer in my life from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. When the opportunity came up recently to re-acquire one from eBay for around $100, I jumped at the opportunity.

appleiicebayApart from playing retro games on it, I decided to integrate into my daily life as a Macintosh technician.

Inspired by the many people who have already done so, I’ve decided to turn my 30 year Apple II into a text terminal, serial console, teletypewriter for my Mac.

Paul Weinstein, Blake Patterson and Brandon Hockle

When I brought the Apple IIc home however, I discovered that it was not going to be a easy  and straight forward process.  Firstly the first letter row of letters was not working on the keyboard.  I dismantled the Apple IIc, throughly clean the insides and reassembled and to my amazement, all the keys now work!!

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My favourite keyboards

Apps-preferences-desktop-keyboard-iconThe keyboard is the part of computing that we interact with the most, yet most people are content to use the keyboard that the computer originally bundled with.  The emphasis of most computer packages is towards minimising cost and this has resulted in cheap, sub-optimal keyboards.  The majority of keyboards supplied as standard are membrane keyboards.

I’ve previously written about tactile keyboards for Macs and iOS.  This post is a followup to that post.  In my quest for a better keyboard, I have narrowed down to a short of three keyboards that I own and I enjoy using regularly, listed by date of acquisition:

  1. Apple Desktop Bus Keyboard – the one that shipped originally with the Apple IIGS, I have one attached to my iMac via a Griffin iMate ADB to USB adapter.  This keyboard is undoubtably the best keyboard Apple has ever produced.  The switches are the clicky white Alps. Cost of acquisition: $92 for the keyboard, $50 for the adapter.
  2. Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2 – The most polarising keyboard in the world.  People who hate this keyboard will say that this is the small keyboard that is way too expensive for what it is.  People who love this keyboard will say that it is the best keyboard money can buy, it has all the keys and functions of a full sized keyboard in a very compact form factor.  The switches are topre, tactile but non-clicky. Cost of acquisition: $330
  3. Ducky DK9087 Shine 2 Tenkeyless – most people will rave on about the LED features of this keyboard, I think the LED lighting is a nice touch, but I like this keyboard because it is tenkeyless and the ease to convert the keycaps to a Mac layout. The switches are Cherry MX series. I chose the Cherry MX Brown switches. Cost of acquisition: $130
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How Apple, Google and Microsoft seek to be the centre of our digital lives

digital-brainThe answer to this question comes down to how each of these three tech giants view the world.

Look at how these company make their money:

  • Apple – Device focused
  • Google – Advertising focused
  • Microsoft – Windows focused

Apple seek to place their device at the centre of your digital life, iPhone, iPad, Mac.  Value is placed on making the device the centre of your life.  This is the reason why Apple are constantly striving to create the most desirable products in the world.  The more products Apple sells, the more value it creates.

Google seek to place their place at the centre of your digital life by offering Google search, Gmail and other ad supported internet based services.  The more people that use their services, the more eyeballs Google has to sell to the its horde of advertisers, in Google’s view of the world, the people that are the most important are the advertisers.

Microsoft seek to place Windoze at the centre of your digital life. Windoze on your PC, Windoze on your phone, Windoze on your tablet.  The market is proving that, other than on PCs, no one really wants to use Windoze.  People use Windoze for the same reasons people continue to smoke, they fear change. That’s why Microsoft is failing in the post PC world.

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Farewell iMac G5

iMac-G5-475538

It is with a tinge of sadness that write this piece…  My faithful companion is now in a different place…

The iMac G5 holds a special place in my heart.  It is the first Macintosh that I brought brand new.  Sure I have older Macs in my possession (like my collection of SE/30s), but I did not buy them brand new.  Everybody who loves Macs and has unboxed one can tell you there is something special about your first Mac.  It is the Mac that brought me into the Mac fold and now my living is derived from installation, troubleshooting and repairing Macs.

Over the weekend that just past, I migrated just under 500Gb of data from my faithful iMac G5 to my upgraded Aluminium Intel iMac.  (Sidenote: Firewire 400 is terribly slow! Especially for large data transfers)  The iMac G5 has now gone to digital pasture and serves my young sons’ play “poota” (as my 3 year old son calls it).

I purchased the iMac G5 on 1st November 2004 for $2,885 including the optional memory upgrade to 512Mb RAM, 160Gb Hard drive, Airport and Bluetooth modules (when they were still optional items), it ran Mac OS X Panther.  Years later, I upgraded to  1.5Gb RAM, 1Tb hard drive and Mac OS X Leopard.  I would say that my experience with the iMac G5 was the gateway to my decision to purchase an iPod and eventually iPhone and iPad.

Farewell faithful iMac G5, you have served your master well.  If I didn’t have such an emotional attachment to you I probably would have replaced you sooner, but the time has come for us to depart.  Enjoy the rest of your digital existence.

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Tactile keyboards for Mac and iOS

Tactile KeyboardsI was in the market for a new keyboard for my Mac and iPad I only had a short checklist:

  • Mac specific – if the keyboard had a Windows key, it would immediately be struck off the list.
  • Tactile – no mushy keys please, if I wanted a standard Mac keyboard, I would have bought the standard Mac keyboard available from Apple.
  • Tenkeyless – nice but not essential, I like compact keyboards, just a personal preference thing.

To my surprise there were only three keyboards that satisfy this criteria.

  1. Das Professional Keyboard for Mac – full sized keyboard uses “clicky” Cherry MX switches, only available in black.
  2. Matias Tactile Pro (and Quiet Pro) Keyboard – full sized or tenkeyless, this keyboard uses the classic Alps switches, available in white or black and silver.
  3. Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2 – the little keyboard with a cult following, uses the patented Topre switches. Available in white or black.

Picking a keyboard is such a personal choice.  My reasons for liking a keyboard are not the same reasons you will like your keyboard.  I eventually choose the Happy Hacking Keyboard, the premium keyboard from Japan.

On the subject of a tactile keyboard for iPad, there are has already been people that have tried to make their Happy Hacking Keyboard work on their iPad, with mixed results.  Personally, the way to make this work on the iPad is to turn the keyboard into a Bluetooth keyboard via  a USB-to-Bluetooth adapter.  I’ll post more about this topic later.

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Backup and Storage on a Mac

The issue of storage and backup is critical.  Storage and backup is where data lives.  If data is lost, business can be lost or worse, personal memories are lost.

The two main issues of concern with data:

  1. Faster access (the faster the better)
  2. Data integrity (no data loss, ideally with access to previous revisions)

In this business of backup there are only two types of people, people that backup and those that wish they did.  Eventually drives will fail, computer will be stolen or lost, files can be deleted or overwritten, whatever the scenario data will be lost.

Single drive is not the solution

  1. Speed – varies, can be Ethernet, Firewire 800, USB 3, eSATA.
  2. Integrity – if the drive fails, you lose data as simple as that, however, backup with a single drive is better than nothing.

NAS is not the solution

  1. Speed – Despite all the claims by the manufacturers it is linked by a gigabit 1Gbit/s connection.  Actual transfer speeds much slower.
  2. Integrity – Good as long you are mindful to keep on eye on your storage and replace failed drives.  Most NAS are actually embeddded Linux computers which has an EXT filesystem as opposed to the native HFS+ filesystem for Mac.

Cloud backup is not a solution (not a full one)

It’s like “cloud” is the new buzzword.  Cloud is just a new name for a service that has existed for a while now.  Cloud is just space on a remote server, generally someone else’s.

  1. Speed – Internet speeds vary, in the country I live in, the bandwidth is not high enough to backup any significant data volumes.
  2. Integrity – excellent, however, once you choose a backup supplier, you are essentially tied for life.  Good for cloud backup business, not so good for your finances.  Also what happens if the cloud backup you choose goes out of business?

The best solution is one that offers great speed and great data integrity.  In my humble opinion:

Thunderbolt with hardware RAID is the best solution

  1. Speed – Thunderbolt storage devices offers 10Gbits/s connection speed.
  2. Integrity – Thunderbolt storage device configured in either a RAID 0 or RAID 5 array ensures data integrity.  Thunderbolt devices can be formatted in HFS+ to ensure compatibility with Macs.

There is a need to have two backup sets, one “onsite” for rapid data recovery, one “offsite” to protect against fire or theft.

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