Messing with Macs.

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to pick up a couple of old Macs from a friend. I’ve been collecting some retro machines over the last couple of months, tinkering with them to relax from the long days of lockdown home working. One of the items on wish list was a a bondi-blue G3 Powermac. The iconic tower with the milky semi-transparent casing and pretty blue/green front. Except for misplaced nostalgia, there was no real good reason to preserve it as a working machine (I have a couple of G4”s running OS9 and OSX) so I did the unspeakable: I gutted it.

Hoist is pretty impressed with his cleanup of the whole rig.

A screwdriver, a couple of pliers and some pent-up frustration from the workweek was all I needed to turn rip out the insides of the machine, until I had but an empty shell left. Some more tinkering and I had even removed the plastic handles and sidepanels that I unceremoniously dumped into the dishwasher for a good clean. A couple of hours later I had a beautiful (empty) G3 tower.

But to use it only for decorative purposes would be a waste of space. I looked at the corner of my desk where a switch and a couple of raspberry Pi’s had been forming a tangle of cables that looked like a pool of barf from the flying spaghetti monster. So, I arranged everything nicely into the old case and closed it up.

Grapple is far from impressed with Hoist’s shoddy work.

The end result of my “trojan horse” is a happy spouse (no more clutter) + a decorative machine that now houses about 5 times the processing power (even more I think) then it used to by the addition of a couple of pi’s. Whenever I add another one of my favourite single board computers to my collection, it too will find a home inside this classic enclosure.

Re-use, Re-Cycle, Re-Vive.

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I dont know how to quit you.

I dont Know how to quit you

Mac Its been here for over a year now, and when you measure its uptime against the rest of the systems I have , one would think its a lampshade or some fancy ornament for the living room. Yet .. its a computer none the less. Its poor and meager 350 MHz power-processor is four times slower then even the lightest computer around here .. but still this old geezer has not been sent to oblivion as most of its peers have been. So what in hells name propels me to keep this little bugger ? It doesn’t really DO anything, If it did , it would be SLOW at it .. and it isn’t even modern anymore. So why is it still here ?

Simple answer.
The answer is as simple as it is baffling : Its pretty !  and for some unearthly reason I have grown fond of it. The story began over a year ago when I managed to buy two Mac G4’s. As I was loading them up in my car ,the guy says, “Well , those are the last of the working macs around here”  “ Oh” , I asked “ Do you have any broken ones too ?”  The guy nodded and pointed me to a dark and gloomy shed “ Still got an old G3 in there, its broken so I’m gonna take it to the scrap-heap”  All of my “Save the wales, the puppy’s, the baby seals and the old computer ! “- alarms went of in my head as I said , Well , just give it to me and i’ll do that for ya too. My head was thinking: “yea ! spare parts”  Next thing I know the guy pops an old bondi blue G3 in my trunk and tops it of with an old 17 inch bondi blue cinema display. “Broken too” he mumbles.

Don't tell me its broken.
Now .. telling me something pretty is broken and cannot be fixed is like slapping me in the face with a leather glove. I feel challenged, compelled to prove you wrong and fix it. Wether its my God-like itch (to create life from lifelessness) or my Ferengi greed (moooore computers .. mooore !)  I do not know. But 3 days later the Little G3 was up and purring. Replacing the power supply , taking apart the ENTIRE casing in order to clean it and popping in 512 megs of ram revived the little bugger. The screen miraculously healed itself and ( it drew power from the broken power-supply , so DUHUH) and I had kittens from joy.
So now what ? Mac Os 10 would NOT install on it. I spent hours to get it working , tried and tried again , but to no avail. Even my expert mac geek friend gave up and said .. let it go my friend. But i was not going to quit .. Like a regular doc frankenstein I huddled back to my layor with the lifeless hulk and downloaded the one potion that would surely revive even the most simple systems.  I summoned the power of ubuntu !

Running smoothly.
So now i’m more than happy to report the latest distro of Ubuntu is running smoothly on this hand-me-down given-up-for-dead G3. I don”t know what makes me more happy , the fact that it looks cool and runs at a very decent speed or the simple realization that I have made something productive out of a system that would have been sent to the dump.
The funny thing is I have some other way faster computers in the house , yes I remain facinated by this old G3 and keep spending time on it. As said in “broke-back” mountain : I don”t know how to quit you .. and quite frankly I don’t know why that is. But what I do know is that it not only will make a very nice linux testing system it will also be the prettiest ubuntumachine in the house.

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The Knightcast Episode 32 : My Macbook.

 The Knightcast Episode 32 : My Macbook. 


Direct link to the show :


This week we do an in depth 'Knightcast Style' review of the 13,3 inch tinkerbell of technology called "The Macbook". Is it all that its cracked up to be ? Is it realy that great or is it all just a fab ? We dive down into the bowels of this Mac laptop and see if it can tune tech into your way of life.



Part one.

Part Two.

Part Three.

For more information visit our website : or subscribe to the knightcast in Itunes.

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MAC OS X – Learning the OS X Ropes

MAC OS X – Learning the OS X Ropes. Posted by Sebastian Prooth 

A small lesson from a beginner MAC user on how to optimise your MAC OS X system! 

A few days ago I told you about buying the iBook G4 and some of the problems with the airport extreme wireless system. Yesterday, I found myself reconfiguring the iBook as I felt like it was running way too slow!

found the program activity monitor (click picture on the left), for those of us still using PC's that would be the TaskManager, it showed all the different attributes of programmes taking up system resources such as CPU, System Memory, Disk Activity, Disk Usage, and Network Traffic. I was checking the programmes that were running and I discovered to my horror that the Dashboard widgets actually take up absolutely huge amounts of system memory and resources even if your dashboard is not being displayed at the time! If your dashboard looks like, this, this article applies to you.

I did some hunting around on Google and I came across several people who were talking about ways to optimise the speed of OS X Tiger. The obvious such as turning off animations and turning off the minimise “genie” effect, freeing up Hard Drive space, and the not so obvious such as removing the dashboard from active running and taking all the widgets out. Once I removed the widgets I freed up over 150 meg of system memory and instead of 100 meg free ram at idle the iBook now has 339 Meg free.

I continued to explore the settings of OS X and as new MAC user I was pleased when I found I could change the system colours such as the highlight colour, which is now a brilliant orange, and the menus to a lovely chromy grey. There are also settings that you can alter the “warmness” of the display so that colours appear more true, or to more suit your personal preference of how you like to see the colours. Just because it is an accessibility function doesn't mean you have to be disabled <!–[if !vml]–>Spotlight<!–[endif]–> to use it.

One last thing I want to talk a little about its the Spotlight feature (picture click picture on the right), spotlight allows you to search for things on the MAC from options and settings in the OS to actual files hanging around on the disk. It was really helpful yesterday to find PC only files and remove them as they are superfluous. The spotlight worked perfectly for this!

As a result of actually reading and exploring my new iBook I now understand more fully how it does and doesn't work and can use it more effectively as a tool for business which is its sole purpose in life.

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