Monday, December 25, 2006
Any suggestions are appreciated.
Friday, December 22, 2006
It's all about the Palm. As in the PDA. Ilene got one for free as a promotion. It's a Palm Tungsten E, and I decided to fire it up and see how it works for e-mail and word processing.
I'm only using the Graffiti method of entering text with that little stylus. It's surprisingly easy, except for special characters, and then you can bring up a miniature keyboard.
What attracted me to the Palm was the promise of the Documents to Go software to read and write Microsoft Word-compatible files. So I could work on things on the Palm and then bring them into Word (or in the case of the office, Open Office).
The most impressive thing about the Palm is that you hit the "on" button and the thing turns right on. Maybe takes 1 second to boot. Then you find your application and launch it. Another couple of seconds at the most. No long waits for a PC (Mac or Windows) to boot, and then for an application to load. Of course this Palm has no Wi-Fi, and browsing on such a small device is probably more limited than what I can do with This Old Mac.
The way it syncs with the main PC is ingenious and complicated. Basically, all data, both applications and documents, is stored on a main computer and is backed up every time you hit "sync." A good thing. If the Palm dies/gets lost, you still have all your data and can sync it to another Palm in about a minute.
It does e-mail, either as POP or IMAP, or in some kind of sinister "helper" mode, interacting with applications on the host PC. So far it has worked seamlessly with the POP mail at DSL Extreme. It wouldn't work with Gmail, and I got only one-way mail with the Daily News' POP service (receive only). However, I managed to get it to work with Outlook Express for the LADN e-mail. The only problem with that: I have to sync at the office for the mail to go out, since there's no Outlook on the Mac. But it works. Does it work on Yahoo? They seem to say yes, but I found no evidence of that on the Yahoo! Mail help site.
But I can get e-main in and out through DSL Extreme, making this a credible platform for mail-blogging to Blogger. And the word processing through Documents to Go also works. But there's one problem.
I've blogged at length at how the lack of smart quotes is a killer in any application that has to kick out Word-format files. And here it seems you can type closed and open quotes, both single and double, but they don't do it the "smart" way, i.e. you have to pick the quote mark facing in the proper direction ... and they're under "special characters." Still, I think you can create your own keyboard shortcuts, perhaps even remap the keyboard itself (assoming I can get a keyboard for this thing), and if I can somewhat easily type smart quotes, I will be very, very happy with this free Palm and just might use it regularly.
One thing is for sure: It's damn liberating to carry around a 5-ounce Palm PDA as opposed to my 10-pound laptop bag o' junk. And the quick booting makes it great to get ideas down instantly, as well as set up, write a bit and close up without undue stress.
While this PDA doesn't have Wi-Fi, I believe it's available as a $99 add-on (I'll have to check on compatibility). But the more-expensive Palm T|X has built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b, not g) and Bluetooth, along with a specialized browser. At least if it could do Web-based e-mail and be able to grab photos off the Web, that would make it great for writing and blogging. As it is, I can get e-mail in and out with a sync operation, and the screen on the Tungsten E is remarkably clear and bright for such a small piece of equipment. It's way brighter than the Powerbook 1400.
I'm just so happy with the real PORTABILITY of this thing that I'm inclined to give it a chance to see if it fits with my style of working.
Or, as a public service, here's the direct Yahoo URL.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Even though you're supposed to need Mac System 8 to install Netscape 4.8 (and since I can't seem to get a clean copy of the 7.6.1-friendly version from system7today.com), I found another source for the elusive NS via www.pure-mac.com (go to www.pure-mac.com/webb.html for the site's browser selection).
My first attempt to dowload a clean, unstuffable copy in Netscape 4.7 failed, and IE 5 wouldn't let me do it at all. I gave 4.7 another try, and I got a good download. After unstuffing, the install program said I needed System 8-point-something to do the install. So I went into the Netscape Installer folder and clicked on the Netscape Installer icon ... and the damn thing ... installed. Brought all my preferences from 4.7 along with it.
Everything looks just as it did in 4.7, but it seems a tad faster (could be the long day). I'll have to keep testing.
In other news, I installed Outlook Express 4.5 ... didn't work with DSL Extreme or Gmail. I haven't bothered to try Gmail with Netscape, but I just might do that. It's amazing that of all the programs out there that run on System 7.6.1, Netscape is the ONLY one that works for e-mail. I did get Usenet news through Outlook 4.5, but it didn't organize it as well as Netscape, and if OE can't do e-mail with today's servers, it's good for nothing. I suppose there are POP mail services out there that will work with these older programs, and I'm not saying I won't investigate, but if DSL Extreme won't run on it, I'm in serious doubt that much else will, either. (Even Yahoo lists Netscape 4 as being compatible with its POP service .. not so for OE 4.5 or 5).
Monday, December 18, 2006
I thought I was getting somewhere with Claris E-Mailer Lite and Eudora 3.1.3 when I found some hints on the Web about how to configure them, but so far I can get them to receive e-mail but not send it . I'm disappointed because Netscape 4.78 is pretty slow, although it has worked on e-mail and newsgroups from the very time I began the This Old Mac project (it was already on the hard drive).
And today I also learned that the Microsoft page that purports to offer Outlook Express 4.5 and IE 4.5 (the latter of which I don't need) leads to nowhere. As I said, I do have a CD with Office 98 on it, and I'm not sure which version(s) of Outlook is on there, but I'll have to get the CD drive into the Powerbook 1400 and try it out. ... Outlook Express, you're my only hope.
Briefly, 54.85 percent of visitors are using Windows XP, 36.19 using OS X.
The classic Mac OS accounts for 3.73 percent of visits, with 3.17 percent for Windows 2000 (which I have running on This Old PC), 1.12 percent for Linux, 0.56 percent for Windows 98, and 0.37 percent for Windows Me.
As far as browers go, 41.6 percent are using IE 6 (I'm using it right now), 25.93 percent are on Safari (that's a lot higher than I figured), 25.56 percent on Mozilla -- I'm assuming that means Firefox -- and yes, Safari nudges it out by a nose. Filling out the list: 0.56 percent on Netscape 7 , 0.93 percent on Netscape 4, 0.19 percent on Netscape 2 (holy cow! -- the Java errors drive me mad), a measly 1.68 percent on IE 5 (I guess everybody on Windows has gone to IE 6), 0.37 percent on IE 4, and 1.31 percent on AOL (what, AOL still has a browser?). Add to that 1.87 percent "unknown."
Remember, this is for mail systems where the incoming mail is POP and outgoing is SMTP.
In the newer e-mail programs, like Outlook and in Netscape 4.78, there's a place in the setup for both incoming and outgoing servers, but in the older programs, there isn't.
Finally, I came across a help page on the Web that clued me in:
To configure Claris E-Mailer Lite when the incoming server is mail.server.com, and the outgoing is smtp.server.com:
E-mail address: email@example.com
E-mail account: firstname.lastname@example.org
SMTP host: smtp.server.com
So far I've been able to get Claris E-Mailer Lite to work
- on outgoing e-mail only
- I thought this was a breakthrough, but so far it isn't. I have to run these tests with a POP mail account that isn't from DSL Extreme ... meaning Gmail.
I wonder, is it my setup, or does the signal level out of the modem vary? Would it help if I had a router connected between the modem and the PB 1400 (at least then I could see if they were connecting from an Ethernet standpoint). I've also had seamless connections through my AirLink 101 5-port switch ($7 at Fry's -- buy two, they're small). I'd have to run these tests at home to see what's really going on.
Gotta fire up the Powerbook 1400 and see how Blogger Dashboard in the Beta runs in System 7.6.1 ... if at all.
I am feeling squirrely about moving my four Blogger
blogs over to the Beta, even though eventually it'll
be mandatory to join them up with the greater Google
world. So in the interim, I decided to start a new
blog in Blogger Beta, called This Old Browser
(http://thisoldbrowser.blogspot.com), to focus on the
browsing experience, specifically how to use the
Internet with older browsers, mail clients and other
Internet applications when it's not feasible or
desirable to upgrade hardware and software.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I did a search, and I can't believe it. You can download Outlook Express 4.5 for Macintosh (and get IE 4.5 with it, though IE 5 works in 7.6.1 and is way, way stable.)
I didn't bring the Powerbook with me today, but I'll have to try this as soon as possible. There are a ton of Web pages out there on how to configure OE 4.5, and from the looks of it, you CAN set up multiple POP accounts.
If you're running System 8.1 to 9.x, there's also Outlook Express 5. It almost ... almost ... makes me want to upgrade.
If I could get the Claris e-mailer to work, I wouldn't bother, but it doesn't work.
What I don't have: working SCSI. Since this Powerbook was never used with a SCSI device in its "prime," it probably never worked. Now that I've collected various and sundry SCSI devices (which people are abandoning or giving away because nobody uses the problematic SCSI in the USB era), I can't use any of them. And there are lots of programs I'd like to get onto the Powerbook -- and you can't upload them to an FTP site and download because they lose their Mac-ish attributes and will no longer function as programs (I've tried it). So I've got stuff on Zip discs that would be great, principally Outlook 4.5, which hopefully is a more responsive mail program than Netscape 4.78.
Even though Web surfing with these old browsers is a limited, frustrating experience (don't expect too much), there are plenty of Web sites where they work well, and at least having a laptop that has Microsoft Word AND a swiftly working e-mail client would be useful. I haven't checked Outlook 4.5's specs, but the ability to tap into more than a single POP account without reconfiguring would be very, very welcome.
Now if only SCSI would cooperate. I have one other idea -- networking the Powerbook with another Mac and transferring the files that way, and I will try it soon, but SCSI would be so much easier. Especially because backing up all essential files is the only way to go. I wouldn't want the PB 1400 to die and lose anything. If I can get the Ethernet networking going, that's one way to skin it, and then I really wouldn't need SCSI and Zips so much.
So far, I did enable file sharing on the 1400. I think the computer had to make a log of every file and folder, because it took literally five hours to turn on. Now I have to hook it up to the iBook G4 and seek what happens. If I can get the files over with their attributes, success will be mine. I know it works with SCSI, because I've tested that on other Macs with USB (and a hot-pluggable Zip drive).
Still, I have to crack open the Powerbook and see what's happening around the SCSI connector and pray for a visible loose connection, broken PC board trace or cold solder joint. Otherwise the only way to get SCSI going is a replacement of the entire logic board -- basically the guts of the computer. Now whole Powerbook 1400s are cheap, especially if you don't need a working battery, the CD drive, (or any battery or any drive) or the AC adapter, and the board itself would also be cheap, but the idea of having to pull and replace it -- I'd rather not, since every other damn thing is working so well.
Of course, if it was a faster board -- a 133 or 166 MHz with built-in Ethernet, that would be all right ...
Thursday, December 14, 2006
That's my worry. Google Docs, for instance, works on Firefox only for Mac -- not even Safari. So no OS 9 even if you want to use it.
And as smooth as things get on this Powerbook 1400, that's how the Blogger Dashboard is at the moment. (Not that I can get automatic links or formatting, but just being able to post at all is something I'd rather not give up any sooner than necessary.
Anybody who uses Blogger can pretty much see the writing (on the wall) -- the new Blogger Beta doesn't offer much more than the old Blogger.
Probably the biggest thing is the ability to change and modify templates without knocking out any minute changes you've already made. Other than that, the whole thing is pretty much a shameless boot in the ass aimed at getting all Blogger users to sign up for Google accounts and get with the mega-search company's world-domination program to use more Google services.
Since I already have a Google account and use those services, it's academic. I just wish they were actually offering something exciting in the new software (on-the-fly blog building is different, not necessarily better).
But since the e-mail-to-blogger feature sometimes works instantly, other times taking hours, sometimes not working entirely, all they have to say is, "Hey, this feature you will work better," and I'd switch my four Blogger blogs over in a second. Instead, I worry that the e-mail feature will either be worse or not there at all.
I guess I could start a dummy blog in the new software, with a new Google sign-in, and test it. I just might do that. Eventually we'll all have to come overto Google's way of thinking. I just wish it wasn't so lipstick-on-a-pig bereft of real improvements that bloggers want and need.
I admit that the ability to create categories for posts is enticing, but I could care less about all the privacy features, which I find intriguing and which probably are of use to some. But most bloggers, me included, are inviting the world to read and comment, so that's the furthest thing from our minds.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I ordered a 300 GB drive from them recently. It came with ALL cables (FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB) and was a very good value. I'm using it with Superduper to backup my mom's G5, and all has worked perfectly. So I do trust them to deliver a good product.
The fact that they still bring so much money on the used market is a testament to the value of Mac equipment in general. If you don't believe in the "This Old Mac" ethos, you can easily keep yourself in new hardware by selling off the old before it gets too, too old, and plowing the money back into the latest and greatest. Of course, since Macs that aren't the Mini seems to start at $1K, you'll have to keep plowing money in ... and then there's all the new software and peripherals you'll need. It can run into some money.
In fact, software alone is both a plus and minus for older computers. On the plus side, you get more use out of old applications that either you or the computer's previous owner purchased and installed. The presence of Microsoft Office 6.0 on the Powerbook 1400cs was a prime motivator in the project that led to this blog. Sure, you can't get a modern browser on the thing, but there's little you can't do as a writer with the 1995-era Microsoft Word. You might not be able to open MS Word docs created in the most modern versions, but your documents can be read by those newer versions, and you can always a) convert or read those docs on a newer computer or b) ask the person to "save as" in a version that you can read.
And for Windows PCs, I've been pretty happy using Open Office to crack open every MS Word doc I've come across. My spreadsheet skills are rudimentary, but OO's version of that application has come in handy as well, since there are lots of spreadsheet documents on the Web (like Nielsen Media Research's TV ratings, which I access at the Daily News).
I wish SoundEdit 16 was still on This Old Mac (Ilene used it in her record company days), but it's mysteriously disappeared. And I don't think this PC is the ideal photo-processing platform, but if I came across a copy of Photoshop, I might install it. I'd love to find Dreamweaver, the Web-publishing program, for Mac's System 7.6.1 -- that I could use.
Trolling around for this old software, either on eBay or on swap lists like LEM Swap, often leads to such old software at very attractive prices. A search yielded an old listing for SoundEdit 16 for $5 (the program is still available new for $15o or so) ... but the listing was months old, and the CD was sold. You just gotta keep looking. And if you have old, unused software that you think is obsolete, check the market for it on eBay -- you could make some idiot like me very happy while making yourself a few sheckels richer besides.
After Friday's successful Orinico Silver card wireless test (with a known router, set up by me, about a foot from the Powerbook 1400), I tried to replicate at home, but we don't get a whole lot of good, non-password-protected 802.11b into the house itself, and in the absence of a signal, the software doesn't handle it well (and in this version, there's no way to tell the SSID name of the network to which you are connected, unless you type it in to the WaveLAN control panel box yourself and successfully connect -- therefore I'm relying on networks that accept connections for "Any" name).
One thing -- if you leave the TCP/IP configured for wireless and there's no signal, launching Netscape will crash. You must either set Netscape to work offline before shutting down during the previous session, or switch the TCP/IP to a wired-Ethernet configuration (whether connected or not) before launching Netscape. Internet Explorer 5 is OK either way. But if you want to write offline e-mail in Netscape, you'd better not launch it until you a) have switched off wireless in the TCP/IP control panel, or b) have previously switched Netscape to work offline (the best feature added in version 4, in my opinion).
I can't get the router configured for 64-bit encryption (I used to have it set up this way) -- it won't auto-generate a key. I'll have to check the manual again and possibly configure it with a computer that isn't This Old Mac before I try encryption with the Orinoco card.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Among the unlucky losers: Netscape 2 and 3, Eudora Light, Claris E-Mailer -- all which would be faster than Netscape 4.78, if they only worked.
I think one of those old Netscapes will read and write Usenet news (the only reason not to delete them wholesale, though even that's not much of a justification).
Friday, December 08, 2006
I don't think that either of these blogs has a daily following, and it's mostly through searches that people find their way here. Nothing wrong with that. If you do manage to drop in due to a Google or other search, there's lots here to read/comiserate with/learn from.
If you've benefited in any way from these blogs, I am grateful. And if you've decided to rehabilitate an old PC or Mac, I hope you're having more fun than frustration (c'mon -- even the frustration is fun, admit it.)
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I don't have it active now, and it hasn't been active for the last hour,
but sometimes its lights are flashing, sometimes not. Maybe after it has
no connection for some time, it goes into "sleep" mode.
I seem to have it communicating with the Powerbook 1400, but will I be
able to connect to an actual Wi-Fi network?
The only online guide to configuring the software is for version 7 (which doesn't work on System 7.6.1), so for version 6 of the WaveLan wireless software, which is available from System 7 Today, I pretty much had to follow Dan Palka's instructions for using the Internet of a wired OS X computer via wireless (which is cool -- you don't even need a router).
Since there's no Wi-Fi in the room where I am at the moment, I had to be satisfied with getting blinking lights on the Orinoco Silver card, which I did finally by setting up a new configuration in the TCP/IP control panel, setting it for "Ethernet Slot O," and selecting the same in the AppleTalk control panel. At least in Open Transport (as opposed to MacTCP) you can have multiple configurations and switch between them without restarting the computer. So ... theoretically ... I should be able to switch between Ethernet and 802.11b networking through the TCP/IP control panel.
One potential problem: when clicking on the desktop icon for the wireless card, you get relevant info for choosing a network and setting up encryption ... unless you have both the wireless card and Ethernet/modem cards plugged in. In that case, clicking on either card brings up the PowerPort Platinum info. So does it work? Well, I'm getting blinking lights, so I have to plug in the router at home and test it under those conditions.
Nothing's easy, that's for sure.
In other news, I'm downloading Netscape 4.8, an 11 MB download that's taking about an hour and a half. I'd love for 4.8 to play better with the PowerPC processor and be faster than 4.78 ... but I'm not holding my breath. And it's probably time to delete Netscape 2 and 3. I think they both will receive e-mail but not send it, and while they are quicker for newsgroups, they won't work offline, and I'm pretty happy using Google Groups for that task (though I haven't checked whether Google is ending support for IE5).
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Blogger must've fixed the e-mail bridge, and barring a few bad line
breaks in the message below, the whole thing made it.
Next: Getting some HTML going in these messages (gotta check the Blogger
help pages) ... and possibly using Netscape Composer to make this
(Note: This post was sent BEFORE the last two posts, but arrived AFTER them via e-mail. So this thing's a little shaky.)
I almost forgot about Netscape 4.8, also available at system7today.com.
It's supposed to be faster than 4.78, it's the latest to run under
System 7.6.1, and it includes the whole Communicator suite (browser,
e-mail/newsgroups and Web design with Composer).
While 4.78 is dog-slow -- even though it's supposed to be optimized for
PowerPC, it's the only version of Netscape that still sort of works
(especially on e-mail and for Web browsing). A speed-up of any sort
would be most appreciated.
The first post went up almost immediately, the second (and much shorter)
one didn't ... and all the tests I sent last week here and to This Old
PC? They all went through, although it took a very long time.
Either it's got to be instant, or at least with a delay of known length
(and not more than 5 minutes).
I can see myself at the non-Starbucks coffee joint on Victory Boulevard
in Van Nuys, bombing in these e-mail posts over the free Wi-Fi (because
businesses that need business give it out for free, the best being
Panera) ... that'll be sweet.
Geek moment ... over.
(Posting -- or trying to -- via Netscape 4.78 e-mail)
With the help of System 7 Today (http://system7today.com), I updated Open Transport to version 1.1.2 with the near-term goal of taking the Powerbook 1400 wireless.
There are two ways to get the 1400 on a wireless network (actually three ways, but I'll discuss that later*).
The first thing to remember is that the PB1400 will NOT work with Cardbus PCMCIA cards, but only with the plain PCMCIA, and that leaves out all 802.11g cards, as well as all that are available under $50 new.
The sole source for new 802.11b (11 MB/s) PCMCIA cards that will work on the PB1400 and other pre-Cardbus Macs is www.macwireless.com, which offers its MacWireless 11b PC Card in two power levels, the high-power 200 mW ($119.98) and regular-power 32 mW ($89.98). These work with anything between System 7.5.5 and 9.2.2 (and NOT with OS X), and they come with drivers that will work.
But who wants to spend $90. Not me.
According to the many PB1400 and System 7 Web sites, the Orinoco or WaveLan Silver and Gold cards WILL work. Not the Bronze, though. Not the new ones either. They have to be the old kind, with a "squarish" black
plastic piece on the end, not the more rounded kind. So you pretty much have the LEM Swap list (where I've rarely seen one) and eBay (where there are many).
The problem is that computer stuff tends to get bid up on eBay. I've tried to "win" one many a time, but I won't pay over $20, and they usually go for between $30 and $50 (more for the Gold version, which supports 128-bit encryption, not just the 64-bit of the Silver).
But I got lucky, finally, a week ago and snagged an Orinoco Silver card for $15.50. The drivers are available a bunch of places online, including system7today.com, and there are detailed instructions on the
Web for getting the wireless configured. So I updated the OT in preparation for installing the wireless driver. I really don't want to kill out the Ethernet access I have over the PowerPort Platinum modem/10-BaseT card, and I'd ideally like to switch between wireless and Ethernet, since I'm not always (and probably not even usually) near a Wi-Fi hotspot. And the Daily News, where I work, is not a wireless networking environment, but there's enough Ethernet here to fill an Olympic-size pool. (Don'cha love a metaphor?)
So the wireless card is here, the Ethernet still works with OT 1.1.2, and all I have to do is download the driver (from system7today.com) and see if the whole thing works. Key for me, as I said, is being able to go
to the TCP/IP "control panel" for a quick switch between wired Ethernet and wireless networking. I already do this fast switch to reconfigure the PB1400 for either my home DSL connection or the office network, and
given that I'd like to have more than a single Wi-Fi configuration on tap, I'm hoping for the same thing with the Orinoco card. I'm also hoping to keep the Ethernet/modem card in the lower PCMCIA slot, the
wireless card in the upper one (the black plastic antenna portion is too thick to be on the bottom if two cards are in use).
So if all this works, it'll be slightly miraculous and pretty freakin' cool -- getting a 10-year-old Powerbook on Wi-Fi.
After that, I'll have to deal with the SCSI problem, i.e. it's not working. I'll open up the PB and look at the connector, praying that there's a cold solder joint or something like that. This PB, in its entire life, was never connected to a SCSI device, so it's probably been dead to SCSI since its birth. Othewise, the conventional wisdom is to replace the entire logic board. Now a PB1400 logic board -- or an entire laptop, for that matter -- isn't all that expensive, but I don't relish the process that I'd have to go through to tear the entire thing apart
just to get SCSI working.
And then I'll tackle further software updates (principally SpeedDoubler 8, the Motorola LibMoto math update).
*For any Mac with Ethernet (any PC too, I imagine), MacWireless.com offers an Ethernet-wireless bridge that turns any Ethernet-equipped box into a wireless-connected one. I can't believe it works, but they say it
does. It would be a cool way to get any old Mac with 10base-T Ethernet to hook up with a wireless network (which, to the old Mac itself, probably looks like a standard Ethernet connection ...)