Mac Fallout Shelter

Configuring a PowerBook for Months in Iraq without Internet Access

- 2005.12.13 - Tip Jar

What do you need to keep yourself entertained and be able to work for months without Internet access?

A Mac.

Here is the hardware I used with my Mac in Iraq, a continuation on last weeks article on my field computer, PowerBook G3 Lombard.

RAM: The Lombard I bought came with an extra 128 MB for a total of 192 MB of RAM, which was more than enough than my original plan of having just 128 MB (which is the minimum for running Mac OS X 10.3 Panther). The maximum Lombard supports is 512 MB, and it's very easy to upgrade.

Hard Drive: a 6 GB hard drive was okay for Mac OS 9 - but not for OS X, so I upgraded to a 40 GB drive, which was bigger and a bit faster. With 10 GB for Mac OS 9 and 30 GB for Panther that met my requirement for of both OS's, games, software and music.

Wireless: The Lombard doesn't have a slot for Apple's AirPort card, only for the Pismo and later. I did some research and got a Belkin F5D7010 Version 1. The good thing about this card is that it uses the same Broadcom chipset as Apple's AirPort cards, so it's fully compatible with Apple's AirPort drivers. There are a few other brands that also use the Broadcom chipset, but be careful with different versions of the same card that may not work with OS X.

Zip Drive: I needed a reliable, durable way to do minimal backups. I know CD-RW discs are cheap, but I really liked the fact that I found a Zip drive that would work with the internal bay of my Lombard for only $10 on eBay. Another fact is that you're limited to only Military Post Exchange (PX) stores for your shopping, and they tend run out of blank media very quickly. Lastly, Zip disks never get scratched, you can erase them very easily, and they are easy to store.

USB to Serial: Working with routers and other communications equipment, an RS232 connection is a must. IOGear UC232A was my choice. It was short, easy to store, and proved to be very reliable, even in mission critical situations.

GamePad: I play a lot of first person shooters, and the Lombard's keyboard looks great with its bronzed clear look, but it wasn't cutting it for game play. Instead of getting a normal keyboard, which was too big for my storage space, I got a Belkin Nostromo n52. Its like a small keyboard with just the right keys and very ergonomic.

Mouse: After ordering an Apple Pro Mouse and receiving it in pieces, I picked up a cheap two-button mouse with a scroll wheel.

DVD-ROM: the stock DVD-ROM drive worked very well. Later on, near the end of the deployment, it started giving problems when reading original media. In future articles I'll touch on the topic of upgrading to a CD-RW and even a SuperDrive.

AC Adapter: if you still have the black square power adapter that came with many G3 PowerBooks, please contact Apple. They might send you a new yo-yo style adapter. Apple sent me a new one, and I kept my old one (which eventually died, just as described in the recall article).

Next week is going to be a long article on software, the software that kept my mind and soul on track in the combat zones of Iraq. LEM

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