My Macintosh Story pt. 2

A Power Macintosh G3 Desktop like mine

My Favorite things about vintage Macs

Vintage Mac Web Sites

Low End Mac
Mac-based email lists
Other World Computing - a great source for RAM and other upgrades for vintage Macs
The Mac Observer - You'll get your Mac news here from now on!

Headline: Six years later...
When I wrote the first version of my Mac story page, I was a relative newbie to the Mac world, complacent with my then-ancient compact Macs. Over the years, however, I had begun to want a more-decent Mac. My quest has led me to where I am now.

My first step was a relative's old Mac Quadra 610. It was said to be in good working shape, and came with plenty of peripherals, but the floppy drive was messed up, always asking to format a disk which wasn't there, so into the pile it went. My second attempt was a couple of old IIvx/Performa 600s (one labeled as each). Unfortunately, if being Road Apples weren't enough, both of them were dead in the water after being stored in an attic for years. The third attempt was an LC III. While it (unlike the previous two) actually worked, and counted as my first working color Mac, it's stats were far too weak to make it of much use in today's world.

The Find
Fast-forward to July, 2005. While searching a flea market, I spotted a pair of PowerMacs. One was an 8500/120, capable of running OS X 10.2 using XPostFacto, it seemed far too slow for my efforts. The other one, however, intrigued me: a nice PowerMac G3 "beige" desktop, technically capable of running up to OS X 10.2.8 right out of the box. Both were priced at ten bucks. Though I didn't buy the G3 at first, at the end of my visit, I decided to see if the Macs were still there. Seeing as they were, I bit the bullet, handed over a tenner, and acquired my first quasi-relevant Mac.

First Glance
Once I got it home, I hooked it up using the monitor left over from the LC III (only supports up to 640x480 resolution, which is all but useless in today's world), and booted it up. It had a 300MHz processor, OS 9.2.2, 192MB of RAM, and two hard drives (the stock 6GB ATA drive, as well as an added 4GB SCSI drive). The hard drives were loaded with graphics programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat/Distiller, QuarkXPress, and several others, as well as Microsoft Office. After a few days of experimenting with OS9, I decided to install OS X onto it, figuring that it would be an easy install. Boy, could I ever have been more wrong...

Trials and Tribulations
After putting in the OS X 10.2 install disk, I opened the install program, clicked it's restart button, and... got an error! "Startup Disk could not set the CD-ROM drive as a startup disk. (-2)" After querying some friends, as well as the members of the G-List, I attempted multiple zaps of the PRAM settings, replaced the internal PRAM battery, pressed the internal reset button (also known as the CUDA button), but nothing helped. Then, I decided to use XPostFacto, which was meant for installing OS X onto pre-G3 PowerMacs, but supported the Beige G3 series primarily for installing OS X version 10.3. After selecting to install from the 10.2 install disk, and setting the secondary (SCSI) hard drive as the destination drive (it wouldn't allow me to install to the primary (ATA) drive, because it's formatted as HFS Non-Extended), it restarted, and I got something I'd been waiting to see: the OS X install menu! The installation failed the first couple of times due to the current formatting of the drive (it was already Extended, as required, but OS X apparently didn't like something about it), so I had the install program format it first, which worked. A couple of hours later, I officially booted into OS X 10.2 for the first time with it.

Not Quite...
After finally getting 10.2 to boot, I then discussed my upgrade path. The Software Update menu came up with a Combined 10.2.8 Update, which looked nice, but some of the folks on the G-List had reported screen-blanking problems with that particular version. I figured that it couldn't be true on all machines, so I decided to tempt fate, and run the 10.2.8 update. Not more than a couple of hours after the install, it happened: while the computer was optimizing the hard drive after a further software update, I heard a soft sound from the computer's speaker, and the screen went dead. No amount of mouse-moving or button-pushing helped, so I reset the computer. Afterwards, every time the computer attempted to do something processor-intensive, the screen would go dead, and the hard drive would seem to cease all operations, leading to yet another reset. Eventually, this took it's toll on the boot drive, causing errors that Disk First Aid couldn't repair, so I took my lumps, re-formatted the drive once again, and reinstalled 10.2. I then was given a link to a Combined Update for 10.2.6, which was said to be stable on the Beige G3s, so I installed that, and it hasn't given me any screen blanking issues as of yet.

So Far, So Good
Since the update, I have acquired a better monitor (able to display 800x600, at least), and have upgraded the RAM to 256MB. It's not the swiftest system out there, but it works pretty well. For over a week now, I have been using it in place of the Sony Vaio I used to use as a main computer, and though it has been a bit taxing at times, it runs fairly well for what it is. Sure, it doesn't take the place of the Mac I want to buy (likely a mini or an iBook, once they upgrade the stats), but for now, it's a good placeholder.

But wait, there's more! Check out Part 3 of my Mac odyssey here.


Coming Soon!

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