Tools of the Trade

Chtzrik, Andrew Hill's Power Mac

Andrew W. Hill - January 2002

My main machine is a Blue and White Power Mac G3. My father made the initial purchase for me as his contribution to my college education. We bought it in August 2000 from the Apple MUG Store as a "new, old stock" system for around $1,300. It came stock with a 450 MHz G3 processor, 128 MB RAM, and a 9 GB Ultra2Wide SCSI hard drive. It had a CD-ROM, but no Zip drive or modem.

This was exactly what I wanted. I don't know how much I would have paid for this machine if I had bought it new in 1999, but I suspect it would have been well over $3,000.

I am currently a sophomore at the University of California, Santa Cruz, studying chemistry and computer engineering. I needed Yosemite designa machine that would let me do my assignments, as well as be able to continue my Web design work in a feeble attempt to pay my way through college. I didn't need a top of the range machine, but I needed something that I wouldn't have to worry about it not being good enough in four or five years time.

My computer, now named Chtzrik, is customized to the level I like it. There are a few things that I would like for it, but mostly it now does everything I need it to do.

The most important change I've made in the last year was the switch to Mac OS X. I'm currently running version 10.1.1, and I'll upgrade to 10.1.2 when I return to Santa Cruz in January.

The first thing that happened was a RAM upgrade. I've done this several times in the year that I've had it, and I now have 1 GB of RAM. It wasn't that expensive, and it made life much easier in Mac OS 9.

Mac OS X makes it much faster. I pulled all but one of the 256 MB RAM sticks, then put back the full gigabyte to test. The difference is, well, I wouldn't call it amazing, but it's definitely noticeable.

I also managed to get ahold of a Griffin gPort, which I reviewed for Low End Mac a little over a year ago. This adds a Mac serial port in the place of a modem. This is how I connected to the Internet over the summer, and it previously helped me a great deal in some situations. The gPort is not OS X compatible yet, but it doesn't seem to be conflicting with anything just sitting in my modem slot. I suppose before the summer I should either buy one of the Global Village internal modems for my G3 or just return to Mac OS 9.2.2 for a few months.

I bought the version with the Ultra2Wide SCSI hard disk because the advertisement for the machine said "SCSI" on it. I thought that meant it had the Ultra SCSI Compatibility Card, not that the internal hard disk was SCSI. Naturally, I don't mind, but I had to have something to run my Zip and DAT.

After some research I discovered that the Adaptec AHA-2930cu UltraSCSI was the one to get. Being UltraSCSI, it had the HPDB-50 SCSI connector. To use my Zip drive, I needed a cable to convert this to a DB-25. I went down to CompUSA fully expecting to pay an exorbitant price. It turns out they wanted $64.99 plus tax. I had only paid $45 for the card. I stormed home and called Kyle Hansen, a Mac reseller who I had met on the Low End Mac Swap list earlier that year. Two hours and $10 later I was connecting my Zip drive.

*** Dan, if its okay by your policies and all, it'd be cool if you'd put a link to "Frankenmac.com" on Kyle's name. Its his consulting business. I have no financial interest in doing so, but he is a friend. I'm guessing that might get in the way of your ad policy or something . . . but I thought I'd mention it. ***

While I was at Kyle Hansen's place, I also picked up an ATI Xclaim VR. This card had video input and outputs as well as a Mac video port.

I love using two monitors. The extra space is amazing. For a while I was using two 17" monitors at 1024 x 768. I could run my instant messaging systems, pallets, and a Web browser on my secondary screen while I ran a word processor, spreadsheet, or DreamWeaver on the other monitor. The ability to have Web references open and viewable at the same time as a word processor is one that many people underestimate. No more clicking back and forth trying to take quotes or remember citations.

Alas, the Xclaim VR is not OS X compatible, and will actually cause a kernel panic. I ended up selling the Xclaim VR and giving the 17" monitor to a friend. I'm currently in the market for a cheap video card that is OS X compatible, so I'm thinking of getting an old PC Radeon and doing the Macintosh conversion.

I ran out of space on my 9 GB drive! Okay, I do have 3.5 GB of MP3 music files on my machine - but I don't own a stereo system, so I use my computer for listening to music.

In return for doing some work for a client I received an 18 GB IBM UltraStar, a 10,000 rpm Ultra2Wide SCSI drive like my 9 GB Seagate Cheetah. I later traded a 4 GB 50-pin SCSI drive from an 8500 to a friend in exchange for a 10 GB UltraATA drive from his old PC. I keep my music on the UltraATA drive, as it certainly isn't important enough to take up space on my high performance SCSI hard drives.

Last year I used a LaserWriter IIntx that I had put together from the carcasses of three machines. I upgraded the RAM from 2 MB to 12 MB and connected it to the local network with an Asanté EtherPrint-T. I was never able to get nice print from it, despite using several toner cartridges and fuser assemblies. This year I purchased a LaserWriter 12/640 PS. It is a 600 dpi laser printer that prints at 12 pages a minute. I am finalizing a deal on a duplexer and a 500-sheet paper tray for it. Unfortunately, I get horizontal streaks on my paper about eight inches apart, which I believe is the fault of the toner cartridge. I've tried cleaning the fuser. When I received the printer it had 4 MB of RAM. Since I upgraded it to 64 MB with two 32 MB SIMMs, it spools and prints much faster - like two minutes instead of eight.

The story of my CD-RW is interesting. I saw a 4x QPS Que!Fire listed for $100 in April 2001. It apparently crashed the computer when creating a CD, but worked fine reading CDs. I read that and assumed that it was caused by an extension conflict. When I received it, it turned out to not be an extension conflict at all; it was an actual hardware problem. QPS happily replaced my 4x4x12 Que!Fire with an 8x4x24, which I am very pleased with. I would recommend a QPS CD-RW to anyone. LEM

Processor PowerPC 750 (G3) @450 MHz
1 MB L2 cache @225 MHz
RAM 1 GB 2-2-2 PC100 SDRAM
Storage 9 GB Seagate Cheetah (10,000 rpm, Ultra2Wide SCSI)
18 GB IBM UltraStar (10,000 rpm, Ultra2Wide SCSI)
10 GB Western Digital Caviar (5,400 rpm, UltraATA)
Removable Drives 24x ATAPI CD-ROM
External Iomega SCSI Zip
2/4 GB Sony DAT
8x4x24 QPS Que!Fire CD-RW
VST USB floppy drive
230 MB magneto-optical drive
Expansion Cards ATI RAGE 128
Adaptec AHA-2930cu
Adaptec AHA-2940u2b
Griffin gPort
Input Devices Generic ergonomic ADB keyboard w/ trackpad
4-button Kensington Thinking Mouse
Logitech webcam
Umax 2010U scanner (600x1200 dpi @36 bits)
Jabra Earpiece w/ Microphone
Output Devices Samsung SyncMaster CRT (0.20 mm, 120 Hz refresh)
Apple LaserWriter 12/640 PS

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