Thursday, September 23, 2021

Slower than I thought

Progress is progress, right? Well, Ye Olde Macintosh Project (YOMP) has moved even slower than I expected. Which doesn’t mean that nothing’s happened, just that not much has happened. Which makes a short post all the more possible, for a change.

in my first post on the project, I talked about some of the things I needed in order to be able to get the Mac Classic working. There are updates on two of those.

I said I needed a long-handled Torx screwdriver, and I thought that Nigel might have some. I haven’t found any, and I’ve since realised that what I pictured in my head were probably hex drives because they were used for the machines that Nigel built, like his CNC router and his (many) 3D printers. Torx are kind of a specialty thing in computers, and I can’t think of a reason he’d have needed one.

So, I started searching for them in New Zealand, but true long-handled Torx screwdrivers weren’t available here. I bought an ordinary one from the home centre, even though I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work for the two screws that need the long-handled screwdriver, and I was right (though it did work for the other two, not that it helped anything with two than couldn’t be reached).

It was back to the search, and I finally relented and went to order a set from a New Zealand site that imports them from the UK, only to find they were out of stock. I surrendered: I ordered a set from Amazon, and they should be here on October 6, give or take. Oh, well, I tried to buy in New Zealand. As I learned from watching Nigel, it’s all too often impossible to source specialised tech stuff in New Zealand, and now it’s even worse because of all the Covid-related disruptions.

Another thing I mentioned was that I needed a keyboard and mouse that could connect to Macs of that era (they use a standard called “ADB”). I also said that the only place I found vintage keyboards was in the USA where prices could be many hundreds of dollars. Then, my luck changed.

Someone put an ADB keyboard on the New Zealand auction site, Trade Me. It was from Power Computing, which I knew had manufactured “Mac Clones” in the mid-1990s (until Steve Jobs returned to Apple and killed off the clones market, acquiring Power Computing’s assets). I knew it was a Mac keyboard from that alone (the listing didn’t say), but it had a photo of the connector, which I could see was ADB (because of the number of pins and their configuration), plus the key combinations to the left and right of the spacebar (I used one every day for years, after all). The asking price was $15 (!).

I was all set to bid on it in the last few minutes of the auction—and then I forgot to go there and the auction closed with no bids. I sent a message to ask the person to relist it. Then I got an email from Trade Me touting various auctions, as it does, and one of them was for the same sort of keyboard from the same person, but not as yellowed (a topic in itself). Another lucky break! I got that one (photo up top) for $15, plus $10 for shipping (it was in Auckland, and I couldn’t go there to pick it up due to Covid restrictions). It took six days to get to me because of local shipping delays (apparently caused by people buying lots of stuff online during the Covid lockdowns).

I was sure that the delay didn’t matter, because without the Torx screwdriver, I can’t open the Mac Classic to see why it won’t boot (I’m betting the logic board is munted). Nevertheless, I hooked up the keyboard (after giving it the first clean it’s getting), and, as I suspected, nothing happened. Back to waiting for the screwdrivers.

A keyboard alone isn’t enough: I’ll need an ADB mouse, too. I keep having visions that I still have an ADB mouse packed away, but I don't know if I do or if it's a displaced memory or something. I looked through some old boxes where I thought it might be, but so far nothing. I did, however, find the AC power adapter for my Zip drive that I brought from the USA (once here, I had to get one that would work in New Zealand), and also the US power cord for my old Mac Performa 637 that I brought from the USA. If I kept those, then the mouse, if I do have it, will be packed away somewhere—and so, too, there may be some SCSI hard drives I had back then, too. After all, I still have the modem I brought with me.

Meanwhile, in my first YOMP update post, I talked about not being able to access old diskettes. I said that “somehow getting access to a working vintage Macintosh” was an option if I can’t get the Mac Classic working. The jury’s still out on whether that Mac Classic will work or not, but I made progress on the back-up option, something I’ll talk about in a few weeks (those same Covid restrictions are delaying the completion of this mysterious development). But I think it’ll be a good development.

So far, though, that’s all that’s happened—or not, depending on your point of view. And there’s much more yet to come—or not. For me, the not knowing is part of the fun of the whole thing.


Roger Owen Green said...

The disruption in the supply chain means there are shipping containers waiting outside Los Angeles so that we should buy our Xmas gifts now!

Arthur Schenck said...

I saw that some shop in Chicago was overcrowding their shop because they knew they wouldn't be able to get stuff in before the actual selling season starts. I honestly think that this supply chain problem is one of the things the "international community" should be focusing on as much as the health side (but using different experts, one hopes). The specifics of what vital things are imported may vary, but every country needs stuff they can't get any other way. Then, there's the need to export for the cash the country needs. Sometimes I think that politicians don't pay much attention to the problem because it's something that capitalism can't fix—"free" markets are irrelevant when so very little's getting shipped.