Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Can't Stand The Suspense!!!!

After months of lamenting my bad luck concerning my inability to afford a new Mac, I won a Mac Mini on eBay. It wasn't just any Mini, either. I am waiting on my brand new, shiny, late 2009, 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 160 GB hard drive, dual layer DVD+-RW, NVidia GeForce 9400M GPU Mini to arrive. Granted, my savings weren't all that great considering I used a 10% coupon and still payed $517.50 for it, but that's below the $599.00 Apple would have hit me for it. When it arrives....I'm going to tear it to pieces! Bwah-Hah-Hah-hah!!!!!

Seriously, I'm going to retrofit an old G4 Cube with the Mini's innards. Why? Hmmmm.... let's just say I'm looking forward to having the most bitchin' Mini on the planet, okay? I will be adding 8 2TB HD's and a Blu Ray drive to the mix along with 8GB of RAM. A friend of mine is going to bump up the wattage on the external power supply to ensure I don't have any power issues with all the extra hardware.

Still not impressed, you say? Did I mention it's sitting in a custom paint carbon fiber cage that fits snugly inside the original acrylic casing? Oh, yeah.... it's gonna be awesome. When next we meet, I will have the Mini/Cube hybrid build on here. TTFN.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Choking On Bad Apples

All right. I took a step backwards yesterday and tried to reason with Apple. I spent the day on the phone with them trying to get them to sell me the necessary parts I need to make my aging G-series machines viable once more. Like you, I like the direction Apple is taking with Snow Leopard and it's phenomenal potential for RAM expansion. Naturally, me being a die hard MacHead, I wanted in on the action. Unfortunately, I am not made of money and cannot afford a Mac Pro, the only truly upgradeable Mac there is. So, I found myself pleading my case to a cadre of Apple reps who were obviously instructed to be unsympathetic to my plight. I say instructed because they all tried to help at first, then changed their tunes when a supervisor got involved in the background. One of those supervisors was rather rude to me. After thinking about my situation, I started thinking about some of the differences between Apple and most PC manufacturers....

1. Apple is like a Totalitarian Regime that restrict freedoms at every turn. You cannot buy parts to upgrade your Apple machines to make them Intel units. With any PC, you can buy a new motherboard and processor from a myriad of sources, keeping your machine viable for decades.

2. Apple does not offer any upgradeable economic models. The Mini is a joke. It has one HD...two if you forgo having an optical drive, and no expansion slots whatsoever. Most mini ITX boards, mobo's the same size as the Mac Mini's HAVE expansion slots and usually come in a mini tower that can house at least two drives and, thanks to the EFiX dongle, can also run OSX.

3. Apple's EULA is a monopolizing tool. Microsoft doesn't tell you what hardware you can or can't run Windows on, does it?

All of this leads me to think Apple has totally no interest in being the people's computer company I'd always hoped it would become. It's a shame Steve Jobs and company are that greedy. On the positive side of things, it did inspire me to make a new comic strip......I've added dialogue for those who don't have a 42" monitor.

PC: Hi. I'm a PC and he's a Mac.
Mac: MINI!!!!!'re so tiny and not user upgradeable. In fact, no inexpensive Macs are...if there's such a thing as an inexpensive Mac.
Mac: MINI!!!!!!

PC:As A matter of fact, Apple recently launched an operating system that rendered a lot of older Macs obsolete. What do you think about that Mac?
Mac:ROWR!!! MINI!!!!!

PC: Dear lord. I'm working with a retard.


PC:What the hell? (Dude, that's so unprofessional.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Build On Hold

The G4/Mini retrofit I was working on is now on hold. I took a rather nasty spill and smashed all the connecting tissue in my left wrist. It could be over eight weeks before it heals, or so the doctor says. I hope others will take heart and go forth with their own projects. On that front, I have some interesting news: ExpressHD is now offering the EFiX Dongle which allows you to run Snow Leopard on hardware readily available from most online computer stores. It is possible for us to retrofit our old Macs with third party gear to bring them into the new age. The EFiX Dongle sells for between 130 to 250 dollars depending on which model you buy. Here are some links to builds using the new technology. I've added the pros and cons views on it to let you make an informed decision.

I hope the information on these links will give you a better insight on this remarkable little device. I'm looking forward to getting back on track in the weeks to come and continue mt own build.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mac Retrofitting

Like a lot of other Mac users who own dated hardware, I have looked for ways to keep my machine up with the latest and greatest technologies available. After Apple's decision to exclude pre-Intel machines from utilizing OSX 10.6, Snow Leopard, I grew a bit distraught. Why, I asked, can't I also have the computing power the newer machines were capable of without shelling out thousands of dollars on a new computer? Where was an Intel motherboard upgrade for my G4, or any other vintage Mac for that matter? It quickly became apparent Apple wasn't concerned with my plight so I've decided to seek an alternate means of making my Mac viable doing it myself. It may surprise some of you to know that every component needed to build your own Mac Pro can be purchased directly from the third party sources that supply Apple. In fact, the ONLY difference between a PC and a Mac is the I/O format. PC's use BIOS (Basic Input Output System) to tell their machine what software OS to run while Macs use EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface). It has come to my attention that a number of EFI motherboards will soon be on the market. According to my sources, this will allow native OSX booting from an unhacked disc. If this proves to be the case, I am going to send a set of board specifications to my step-brother who builds motherboards for a company in Austin, Texas to see if they can engineer solutions for our Snow Leopard problem. Who knows? Mac Retro may become a hardware company as well as a blog site.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Here! It's Here! Woohoo, It's here!

My G4 Cube came in via UPS today after an undisclosed delay. It didn't include a power supply, but I'm not too unhappy about being denied the chance to play with it before I tear it apart and turn it into the coolest Mini ever. I'm not alone in my quest, either. I joined up with a group of visionary MacHeads on Stephen Foskett's blog site and, I have to tell you, I was blown away by their innovative thinking. Several of them have already begun making their own G4 cube conversions and given me insights I otherwise would never have thought of for how to approach my own build. I'm probably one of the least experienced members of that noteworthy group, but I have more than enough style and imagination to make up for my technical shortcomings. I've invited them to post their builds here for your enjoyment and help with your own projects. I hope all of you hot rod MacHeads will join up and help me create a new underground movement in the Apple world.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Mod Squad

Inspiration abounds, my friends. In my previous post, I showcased a Mac G4 Cube another MacHEAD built. Ever since Apple's unfortunate decision to drop support for G-Series Macs in their latest OS, I have been looking for a solution to my Intel conundrum. I own a PowerMac G4 tower Dual 450MHz Gigabit Ethernet and an iMac G3 so old it's processor speed can't be seen with the naked eye. As of today, however, I am also the proud papa of a G4 Cube 450MHz. My goal, now, is to make all three of them sporting Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz processors on Mini mobos. Of course, I will make them shine, too. I really like EL wire, so I'll be putting it in them to highlight my works of art. Viva La Retrolution!

I think I will post some different themes here for members to vote on for the Cube build.

That's What I'm Talkin' About!

I had a thought to put the guts from a Mac Mini into a G4 Cube. I, however, did not have the money to do so, but a gent named Andrew did. Moreover, he did so with aplomb and a sense of style I don't think I could reproduce. In my quest to find the middle ground between Mini and Mac Pro, this is the closest I've seen yet.

With any luck, my own forthcoming attempt will also be a success. I am hoping to improve a bit on this design and add multiple hard drives and a second optical drive by stacking my components horizontally instead of vertically. Also, my unit will sport strategically placed EL wire and a more powerful power supply and distribution bus to allow for the addition of multiple drives. With any luck, and my electronic expertise, I should be able to envision my own Mini dream.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hot Mods....The Hot Rodders of Mac

Recently, I've been skulking about the world wide web in search of fellow visionaries who want their Macs to look as good as they perform. I found a few such people in my search, thus far. Indeed, there is even a site dedicated to Mac modifications called Resexcellence. Of course, I immediately joined this community. The link will be below along with a few others.

For those of you just looking to spruce up your desktop, you may want to browse The Apple Collection, Interfacelift, or Mac OSX Applications. You can find everything from awesome wallpapers, to apps, to cool icons on these sites. Check them out. In the meantime, I will continue my search for more cool computers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Elitist Fear Shines Through

I just got removed from a forum for spreading my brand of "heresy". The insufferable elitists who try to lord it over the rest of the Mac community can't silence us, though. The genie is out of the bottle now. Mac OSX can run on just about any PC that has the specs to drive it. You can stick your fingers in your ears all you like, denial does you not a bit of good. I started doing this to find a solution for people who want to get the most out of their older Macs. Apple's snubbing us by switching to Intel processors had lead to more than a little resentment. Still, now that we are aware we can build our own machines for far less than Apple offers, not all is gloom and doom.

I will continue to try to push for a median Apple desktop to give us, the die hard Mac users, the means to join the Intel community without resorting to O.P.C.'s. I am still a fan of OSX, whether it likes me or not. Is it simple economics that is driving our Retrolution? Partly. It's also Apple's refusal to offer a computer for the average Joe that has made it come about. None of us wants to build a "Hackintosh", mind you, we just can't afford anything else that will reasonably fit our needs as computer consumers. Apple has become akin to Cadillac in regard to branding. Case in point: You can go to an auto parts store to get an alternator for a Chevy car with a 350 engine and it might cost you thirty dollars. An alternator for a Cadillac sporting the same engine will cost you nearly two hundred dollars. The difference? The cost. People have become accustomed to believing their brand is better than others simply 'because'.

Look beyond the myth people, for it is a lie. Apple buys it's computer components from the same manufacturers as Dell, HP, Gateway, and others. Many times, they use the exact same parts. There is nothing inherently Mac about the processors used in a Mac Pro. They are readily available online from several retailers. Simply put, what Makes a Mac a Mac is the ROM on the logic board....that's the only difference aside from the casing. Don't get me wrong, Apple's engineered an awesome case. I just wish they'd make one toting a souped up Mini brain, 2GHz at least and 8GB RAM with front loading, hot-swappable HD's and a pair of Blu-ray optical drives....all for around nine hundred bucks.

The main problem we, the income challenged face, is there are way too many people out there with more money than common sense who are willing to shell out fortunes for a high end Mac. Apple is comfortable in it's niche and, why shouldn't they be? With the success of the iPod and iPhone, they really don't need to care what modest income people need. I just wish Steve Jobs and company could remember what it was like back when they had nothing but hope, a prayer....and a dream.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How To Build A Monster, Baby.

After the vast amount of snooping in cyber-space I did today, it would appear as though I have found the answer to the problem of the missing mid-level it yourself. Que the ranting from the Peanut Gallery! Impossible you say? No. It is not. I humbly offer this entry as proof. But first, a brief recap of what started it all....

Not long ago, Apple introduced Boot Camp, a way to run Windows natively on a Mac. Since then, several third party offerings have released, most notably Parallels. I, then, asked an innocent enough question: "If a Mac can run Windows, can a PC run OSX?" Oh....the naysayers lined up by the tens of thousands to chastise me for even daring to think it, let alone postulate it upon their sacred forums! You'd be surprised at how naive that proud elitist group really is. (OSx86 aside.) I chose to ignore their insane rantings, much like Christopher Columbus did in 1492, and set off an a voyage of discovery to find my elusive dream. Mission accomplished.

I took a Michael Moore approach to answering the other words, I asked Apple. It's amazing how uncomfortable an Apple support technician gets on the phone when you ask them the secret to what makes a Mac a Mac. Fortunately, they are like police officers: They don't necessarily like the laws they are sworn to enforce so, I finally found a maverick who was willing to share his knowledge of Apple's alchemy.

First off, before I tell you what he said, let me give credit to a few of my detractors for inadvertently pointing me in the right direction when they stated Apple does not make it's own hardware.... They were right, of course, which is the very reason I can now build my very own Mac.

Apple buys it's hardware from third party sources. Anyone can readily buy every component, sans the Mac tower and fittings from various places across the internet. I chose to buy my parts directly from their manufacturers. The savings I accumulated are noteworthy, to say the least. Let me give you an example: Intel's Core i7 Nehalem 920 2.66GHz processor, the very same processor used in the base model Mac Pro, also can be purchased for use in a PC, as can the other two variants, but at a bit more cost. Two of these processors can be bought for $560.00 and added to the motherboard at no additional cost prior to shipping. The motherboard costs $194.00. I cannot divulge the way to make it a Mac here, however. I do not wish to be sued. It IS readily available knowledge, if you know how to Ask the right questions on a net search. Inexpensive, third party memory is readily available, as well. Now, let me hit you with the shocking can use a Blu Ray drive! How, you ask? It's a simple matter of a few individuals reverse engineering Paralells. This machine will run Windows AND OSX, but in reverse order. You only have to boot up in OSX, unless you wish to take advantage of the Blu Ray, of course. OSX still isn't Blu Ray friendly....but I bet it's coming soon.

Needless to say, you still need a Hard Drive, video card, keyboard / mouse, and tower (and a power supply if the tower doesn't come with it.) to finish the basic build... all of which can be had for less than $400.00 total. Then, you have to buy your OS's to complete the journey. The rest, you'll have to figure out by Asking the right questions, just like I did. Of course, there IS that stupid end user agreement garbage that any court in America will throw out as monopolistic. Macs are running Windows now, after all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Vs. New

I started this blog to gather people from all walks of life in an effort to prolong the working life of our beloved G-Series Macs. I haunt more than a few Mac forums, looking for insights into the best possible way to solve this conundrum. One of the most broached topics is the Old Mac Vs. New Mac debate. On the one side, you have a bunch of well to do people and folks who were given shiny new Intel Macs. However they got them is a moot point. They have them, we don't. That group of haves tend to be rather unsympathetic to the plight of the rest of us....the have not's. Let's make something perfectly clear, I don't want a Mac Mini.

I'm not saying Minis are bad machines, far from it. They just lack a key element I consider a must have in any computer I own....expandability. Oh, sure you can have Apple load one from the factory with a 2.26GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB HD, but that will set you back $1,049.00....and that doesn't include mouse, keyboard, or really over-priced Apple monitor. Ouch. I don't know about anyone else, but that's a bit of a stretch on the old budget at my house. That's why I came up with the idea to retrofit old Macs with mother boards that had Intel processors. For the price of, say, a base Mini ($599) Apple could sell a 2GHz Dual Core set-up with four memory slots and an equal number of PCI slots to fit the many G-series units currently gracing the desktops of homes throughout the world and turn a hefty profit at it. People say Apple isn't a hardware company. Well, somebody sure makes mother boards for them.

If old Macs were given this new lease on life, the so-called Hackintosh market would soon be non-existent. Barring the release of an $800.00 expandable tower, (I can hear the powers that be at Apple rolling around hysterically on the floor, laughing their guts out) I really don't see another option.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Viva La Retrolution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi. I'm a Mac. If you're reading this, most likely, you are, too. Like many a Mac user, I proudly own an older Macintosh work horse due to the fact I cannot afford to upgrade to a newer, Intel driven model. Don't get me wrong; I can afford a Mini, but why would I want to? I am a proud papa to a Power Mac G4 Gigabit Ethernet and have all but maxed it out. I could still slap another 512Mb of RAM in that baby, but it's a moot point now. Apple has decided to practice a little tough love and render our noble machines truly obsolete. A lot of software developers, such as my beloved VLC, have followed suit. Now, we owners of aging G-series computers are being left in the dust, watching enviously as newer Macs continue to amaze the world with their ever evolving capabilities. What I want to know is, Why?

Why hast thou abandoned thy faithful, O' Cupertino? Why did you replace my highly adaptable, and more pleasingly aesthetic machine with cold steel and Intel processors and leave me without means to keep up? Do you think I am the only one lamenting this decision? Well, that's why I've created this blog: To share my pain, and the pain of so many others, with you. We, the tried and true Mac users, are tired of being outcasts. We are rising up and giving voice to our desires. We want Intel for OUR machines!

Welcome to the "Retro"-lution. We want Intel processors on mother boards to retrofit our older G-series computers. You, Apple, no longer make a computer that fulfills our need: That of an upgradable, economically priced tower. Minis and iMacs don't fit the bill. Mac Pros are WAY too expensive. Give us what we need! We aren't asking for equal footing with the Mac Pro....... 2GHz Dual Core processors are fine for a start, but give us some real least 8GB! We'd like to see what we could do with some of the advanced video cards that are out there, too, so we'll be wanting more PCI slots and more USB and Firewire ports. Also, we'd like to be able to incorporate more hard drives without resorting to externals. My G4 could easily hold four. That leaves us with the issue of optical drives.....Can you say Blu Ray? I knew you could! Give us Blu Ray!

We are not the misinformed miscreants some think us to be. We are concerned with the environment, as YOU claim to be, Apple. If you are so green, why have you condemned so many of our machines to a date with the landfill? Oh, I've read the articles on how to make your old Mac into a jukebox....a video scrapbook.....a home entertainment center...blah, blah, blah. News flash! IT'S A COMPUTER!!! You don't junk a classic car when it gets old, you restore it. This idea will only create a new capital stream for you and give you great PR as you prove beyond doubt you truly do care about the environment. It'll also boost resale value on all Macs and shoot your stock margins up. Let us help you envision your green dream. Give us the parts we need to do it. We will be petitioning you for them.

Those of you who are reading this, that are affected by Apple's decisions as I am, join with me in our Retrolution. Post your Mac's specs, dream specs for your retro mods, and voice your displeasure with the rest of us. Help us win over Cupertino.