• [Powerbook Power!]

    I love my PowerBook. I have a 17″ 1-GHz G4 AlBook. This isn’t my first PowerBook either. I have an old 333-MHz G3 “Lombard” in a bookshelf acting as a file server and remote connection box. There’s an even older PowerBook 1400 also floating around. As you might guess, I’ve been laptop-empowered for a number of years now (it’s almost ten!) where I don’t have a desktop computer. It’s very convenient being able to take your life with you on the go, especially when your life involves multiple areas: web development, university-level teaching, and Ph.D. research.
    My only complaint about PowerBooks is the chips in them are usually well behind the desktop in terms of power. Apple’s just released a speedbumped PowerBook, but it’s still only a G4 chip and 1.6 GHz at that (OK, it’s faster than mine, but still!). Compare that with the desktop G5 offerings or even the dual G4 towers. My two-year-old PowerBook is only a little above the minimum specification for playing World of Warcraft. (-: So, as you might gather, this isn’t much of a complaint. My Lombard stood me in good stead for all three of my spheres in life for just over three years. This one will probably go that long too. I’m not sorry about the investment in the least, even though laptops are more expensive. Go for it!
    Do strongly consider buying AppleCare for your laptop. The only things you can cheaply replace in them are memory and hard drives. Everything else costs big bucks if it has a problem. AppleCare is expensive, but it’s worldwide coverage and good peace of mind. I’ve never been sorry about AppleCare on a portable product.

  • [Hoary Hardware]

    I ran across this Joy of Tech comic the other day and it started me reminiscing about old hardware sweeties in my life.
    Someone mentioned to me, while discussing this comic, that they had a paper white monitor on their old DOS box. I had a few of those paper white monitors. They were so crisp compared to the green screens. I picked them up dirt cheap one day (in the 90s) back at a computer flea market. Siufai and I used to go down to these things on the weekends and then build cheap PCs out of components we’d pay next to nothing for. Do people still do that or are cheap pre-built systems integrators so ubiquitous that it’s unnecessary?
    While hardly ancient, my old Apple “Lombard” G3 PowerBook from 1999 has been turned into a roving iTunes server for the house, hooked up to our swoopy stereo system in the living room–a poor man’s AirPort + AirTunes. We can control it via a web-based interface or use a VNC to pretend that we’re right in front of the machine. It’s a little awkward (have you noticed how awkward this word is itself?), but it gives us access to a lot of music and to playlists without leaving our chairs.
    Our other slightly faster “Lombard” we traded to EinSweetie’s mother for her old stationwagon so we have a car when we’re in Canada. She’s using it to do e-mail and to surf the web, enhancing her guerilla gardening activities.
    Someone else commented that their Commodore 64 had the beautiful “blue screen of life”. Ah, the blue screen of life, so bright, so vivid! Ah, those were the days. I have a working Commodore 128 packed away in Canada with a working 1571 drive. When nostalgia really hits me hard, I fire up one of my Macintosh C-64 emulators and play games. “Kill him, my robots”, anyone?
    The most useful piece of kit from my C-128 set-up, though, is the RCA monitor that Commodore branded and shipped with it. That monitor was an excellent RCA television and mine has travelled from Edmonton, to Vancouver, to Regina, back to Edmonton, and is now with me here in England. It had standard RCA inputs, so it makes a good video monitor when hooked up to a DVD player or a VCR! We used it here in England, when we first moved here, to play my North American PlayStation games! It’s still going strong!
    While newer stuff may be (currently) dearer to our hearts, what are we doing with our former equipment sweeties which is cool/interesting and makes them still useful? Tell us your Hardware Sweetie Stories!

  • [X11 Xghghg!hfgdg!!!]

    I was trying to get X11 launching applications from the department’s Solaris server again. As before, I couldn’t immediately get it to work because of “magic cookie” authentication issues. I reviewed my previous notes which pointed to an article at MacWrite.com which might have helped before, but it was suddenly unavailable. The WayBack machine to the rescue. As soon as I had edited my /etc/ssh_config file to include the following information, I was good to go again:

    Ciphers blowfish-cbc, aes128-cbc, 3des-cbc, blowfish-cbc, cast128-cbc, arcfour, aes192-cbc, aes256-cbc
    Compression yes
    ForwardX11 yes
    Protocol 2,1
    RhostsAuthentication no
    RSAAuthentication no
    UseRsh no

    Note: It may be necessary to take out the extra spaces between items in the Ciphers list.

    That, of course, assumed I had already had an entry in my ~/.cshrc file to the effect of:

    setenv DISPLAY :0.0

    Then, I can simply use a variant of the following to, for example, launch dtterm:

    ssh -X eingang@machine_name.com /usr/dt/bin/dtterm

    MATLAB, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to work at all. It used to generate all kinds of font errors looking for various Sun fonts, but it did launch. Now it launches with all the font errors (see sample below), shows the graphical about box and then we’re in the command line environment instead of the GUI development environment.

    Font specified in font.properties not found [ urw itc zapfdingbats medium r normal * %d * * p * sun fontspecific]
    Font specified in font.properties not found [ urw itc zapfdingbats medium r normal * %d * * p * sun fontspecific]

    Note: All the ‘-’ characters appearing inbetween [] above have been changed to spaces to render better in HTML.

    I’ve mailed the Mac technical support person to see if they have any ideas as to why it no longer works and how it might be possible to fix the font errors.