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Archive for the ‘Apple & Macintosh’ Category

Just like in 2017, my iPad Mini crashed yesterday. When I picked it up, wanting to catch up my personal email, all I saw was the Apple Logo – for several minutes. I tried shutting it down, but that wasn’t easy. Any attempt to resulted in a new boot cycle. In the end, I succeeded, but it took me more than hour to finally turn it off and launch DFU mode.

From there on, it’s a simple matter to have iTunes massage the machine back into working order. And then you can restore the backup you made – you do make backups from time to time, don’t you? One important tip: if you want to encrypt your backup on your local hard disk, don’t forget to write down the password you use ;-) Otherwise you can spend another hour trying all the passwords you might have invented when taking the backup!

When all that is in the past, the Mini is back as it was – I’m relieved. But I do wonder: iOS may be a reasonably stable operating system, but why does it go bonkers from time to time? The Mini did not fall, did not get bent, did not lie in the sun nor in a freezer, it just lay untouched on my desk the whole day, connected to a charger…

For the record, these are, in my opinion, the best instructions about entering DFU mode: “DFU Mode” on the iPhone Wiki. Thanks for helping me out!

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BoingBoing told me all about it: the “History of Mac startup chimes“.

For the impatient among you, here are the links mentioned over there:

And there are more videos like that, each with a few machines missing, or a few extras. The weird part of this story is that I never noticed the differences, although I have owned many Macs. Probably because I heard that startup sound so often that my brain no longer actively listened to it…

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As a fan of HyperCard, I am intrigued by the story Bill Atkinson tells about the origins of the product.

HyperCard was a precurser to the first web browser, except chained to a hard drive before the worldwide web. Six years later Mosaic was introduced, influenced by some of the ideas in HyperCard, and indirectly by an inspiring LSD experience.

Yes, you have read that correctly: Bill Atkinson says he was under the influence of LSD when he thought of the need of links between pieces of information as a tool to create better knowledge and wisdom.

What is ‘hypertext’?

On one hand, it’s strange that he needed an ‘acid trip’ to think of hyperlinks, because he could have read the work of Vannevar Bush, or talked to people like Ted Nelson or Douglas Engelbart who were already working on the concept for decades. But on the other hand, of course, the internet – which would have allowed him to discover those people – did not yet exist…

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One of the (many) computers in my home is a venerable Apple Macintosh SE/30. No, it’s not a Mac, it’s a Macintosh; if want to call him by name, you have to use “SeseSeko”. I haven’t booted that machine in many years, so I don’t know if I would fare better than Stephen Wolfram a few days ago…

Mr. Wolfram wanted to use an SE/30 to demonstrate the first version of Mathematica. That version 1 was published on June 23, 1988, exactly 30 years ago. As Mr. Wolfram notes, it’s quite unusual for software packages to live that long (especially in the personal computer space, of course). So he has a good reason to celebrate this anniversary – congratulations!

(Click on the image to go to Stephen Wolfram’s blog entry about this anniversary)

Wolfram speaks of “computational intelligence”, and I think he does so to distinguish his approach from “artificial intelligence”. Mathematica isn’t called that just for fun: it’s a product for computation in the widest sense of term. I know that I have long wanted to “play” with it, but I must admit that I either did not have the money to buy a computer powerful enough to run it (when I was a student and a young father), nor did I have much time to dedicate to a single program – I have been busy with computers and programming for forty years now, but always in al exploratory way, and never really dedicated to a single item…

Anyway, where is Mathematica going? Does it still have a future? Absolutely, says Stephen Wolfram. In his view, the story of Mathematica and the Wolfram language is only just beginning!

If one looks at the history of computing, it’s in many ways a story of successive layers of capability being added, and becoming ubiquitous. First came the early languages. Then operating systems. Later, around the time Mathematica came on the scene, user interfaces began to become ubiquitous. A little later came networking and then large-scale interconnected systems like the web and the cloud.

But now what the Wolfram Language provides is a new layer: a layer of computational intelligence — that makes it possible to take for granted a high level of built-in knowledge about computation and about the world, and an ability to automate its application.

And of course, now I’m starting to wonder – will SeseSeko still boot just like it did eight or nine years ago, when I even managed to connect it to the Internet and run a very old version of Netscape on it?

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Yesterday I discovered a failing WD MyBook; here’s what I did to replace it.

  1. I dumped the old MyBook enclosure;
  2. Since I still had a working Sitecom “no screws needed” enclosure for 3.5″ disks, I decided to use that rather than a new one. I just bought a new hard disk (a Seagate 1 TB if you must know – cheap, but good enough for a 10 year old iMac);
  3. I also bought a Sitecom “Hard Drive Docking Station” that offers 2 drive bays and a “clone a disk” function;
  4. Using the docking station, I cloned the original disk from the MyBook, which still had all the Time Machine backups from the iMac. This took a few hours, but other than putting in the disks and pushing a button for three seconds it was effortless on my behalf;
  5. Then I put the new HD into the enclosure, connected it to the iMac…

… and presto: the iMac recognised the disk, Time Machine got to work, and… nothing – things are back as they should be. Simple, heh?

The Sitecom docking station with the old HD in it

I can still use the old hard disk – or any other disk, for that matter – as an occasional external disk using the docking station. Even though I have just used it once, I like the docking station for its simplicity: it worked straight out of the box. The instructions take up only a single page of a little booklet. As someone wrote in an online review of the thing: ‘the only thing missing, is an “eject” button, that might save you from pulling out a disk while it is still in use by your computer‘. Well, if that’s the only weakness…

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We’re using a WesternDigital MyBook Studio to make TimeMachine backups of the family iMac in the living room. We bought this device around 2010, if memory serves me well. So when I noticed that it wouldn’t start up anymore, I immediately thought: how can I replace the disk with a newer one? After all these years, a hard disk failure is the most probable cause of trouble, no?

The enclosure of these MyBooks isn’t easy to open, but there’s at least one video on Youtube that explains the procedure:

Click to see the video on Youtube

While it’s not the exact same model as ours, it turns out that the enclosure is nearly (or even perfectly) identical. So I owe BenoniStudio many thanks for helping me. Be warned that you will inflict pain to your fingers while trying to find the right angle to pry the enclosure open!

Thinking I was ready to call it a victory, I replaced the original hard disk with another WD HD from my “stock”. The result, unfortunately, wasn’t what I expected: the new hard drive (which I knew to be OK) wouldn’t come up either. And a quick test with another hard disk enclosure confirmed that the original hard disk from the MyBook was still OK (or at least readable) – and that means it is the MyBook controller that fails.

Conclusion: I need at least a new hard disk enclosure. And perhaps it is even better to get a new hard disk as well – 500GB is no longer top of the bill… So perhaps a new MyBook – if they’re still called that – is the best solution. The old enclosure is ready to be dumped, that’s for sure.

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Rich Stevens has a point in his “Comic: Classic Mac Meltdown“.

Click to see the full comic.

But let’s face it: most of the old Macs are nice collector items, but not much use for actual daily use on the Web these days!

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