Getting from A to B and Having Fun Along the Way

2007: One of the more frustrating aspects that still plagues me with computing is the amount of time spent trying to get from A to B before actually getting to the task at hand.

Mac Metamorphosis

Take your average writing project, perhaps a résumé. I was contacted short notice for a killer job and only had about 72 hours to put together a résumé. In my mind, certain requirements for its appearance stood out in my mind for this résumé to stand out against the competition.

  1. It can’t be more than one page.
  2. It needed color and tasteful fonts.

By comparison, most résumés – especially for the IT Industry – are quite boring with many pages and paragraphs of basic text badly formatted and written as if it were transcribed twice before getting into your hands.

My résumé (in MS Word format) was also guilty of this. It needed to radiate from underneath a stack of competitors, getting its point across in one page. For the project, I chose Apple’s Pages from iWork ’06, broke out my 17″ 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4, and five hours later I had the résumé that I had visualized in my mind.

MS Word was notoriously bad at this. I’d be working hours and hours only to print out or email my completed work and have it looking nothing like what I saw on my screen.

It’s very easy to take a crack at the PC, Microsoft, Dell, and so on. In my youth, I was very idealistic and gravitated to this absolute “that sucks, they rule” way of thinking. Amongst my peers, I still encounter this way of thinking more often then I would like, which I’ve found hinders the process of just geeking out and having fun.

Projects That Have No Purpose and Benefit Nobody

Experimentation and “wouldn’t it be fun” moments are the flip side of the coin to being productive and creative. It’s an outlet for having fun, discovering new things, and making interesting attempts for no other reason than that it sounds interesting.

An example would be my web server project which, had I used a PC, would have gone something like this: “There’s a computer on your kitchen counter.”

That’s about the extent of it. No matter how hard I would try, it would still be a gray, generic, odd-looking PC on my kitchen counter. Add a display, keyboard, and mouse – and it just looks plain silly.

The Value of Old Macs

But use a well cared for Macintosh SE/30 running A/UX 3.1, and you have a tiny, self-sustaining project that has a small footprint and complements a wood kitchen counter with white refrigerator backdrop very nicely. Beyond that, A/UX (Apple’s Unix from 1988 to 1995) is just plain fun when I’m in the mood for a junk-food-like project.

Resale value and appearance also continue to be one of the bigger factors for buying and continuing to be involved with old Macintosh hardware, restoring it, and then either putting in on display or selling it.

A near-mint condition SE/30 on eBay can sell for up to $175. Throw in the original box, carrying bag, and other things such as the original system disks, and it can easily hit $250.

After all these years of working with Macs, I consider them more of an investment than just a purchase because of how steady the resale value stays on Macs. This continues to afford me many opportunities to do unique projects and recoup my funds should I not be satisfied with the end result.

Getting involved with the Mac and having the chance to explore and research each model and generation of Mac OS via Low End Mac has been quite the journey for me. It continues to be a constant resource for fun, entertainment, productivity, and experimentation.

Moving forward, I continue to enjoy restoring and doing all sorts of things with old Macs. Be it a PowerBook 3400 acting as a wireless router, a PowerBook G3 WallStreet playing DVDs on Gentoo Linux, or an Apple Network Server 500 running NetBSD, it’s always a pleasure.

Publisher’s note: It was great to have Eric DeStefano back to celebrate Low End Mac’s 10th anniversary in April 2007. Eric is anything but a Mac fanboy; he’s an honest-to-goodness Unix geek who loves old Macs for a very good reason – they’re fun to work with. dk