Archive for August, 2012

Apple Mac iBook Makeover — Never Say Die!

August 5, 2012

Just Needed A Little TLC…Okay, A LOT of TLC…!!!

A client handed me this old, dead iBook, and I was about to toss it when I looked at it and said, “you know, this thing is cute!  Why don’t I try to bring it back to life?  It’s gotta be cheaper than a new $1,000 Macbook Air!

So I took the machine apart and saw that it needed a new “DC Connector,” a common failure point on these machines.  When I replaced that part and put the machine back together, viola!  Life!  And where there’s life, there’s hope, right? 

But I wasn’t done yet, oh no.

This machine was shipped by Apple with a 10GB hard drive, incredibly tiny by today’s standards.  I was going to replace this drive with something bigger, say a 40GB drive (still tiny, but big enough for this white dinosaur), when I thought, “wow, what about a solid state drive?  That would be cool, and the super fast drive speed would help compensate somewhat for the slow processor, about which nothing can be done.”

Whereas most SSD drives sold today use the newer “SATA” interface, it turns out that there are actually some SSD drives available using the older “PATA” interface.   So I sourced a 32GB PATA SSD, and installed that drive inside the system.  It wasn’t any fun taking the machine apart AGAIN, but the results were worth it.  The system worked REALLY well now…sort of…

Turns out the operating system in the computer was really ancient, MAC OSX 10.01.  The only web browser was a beta version of Internet Explorer that was incapable of rendering most contemporary web pages accurately.  If there was any Java or Flash at all, they were from the Bronze Age.  There was no Safari browser to be found.  So I did some research and saw that this machine could accept Mac OSX Tiger 10.4, plus updates.  I didn’t know what I’d get for a browser on 10.4, but I figured it had to be better than this.

So I sourced a Mac OSX 10.4 Tiger disk and was ready to install the “new” OS…

…when I saw that the optical drive in the iBook was a CD Burner, but the Tiger Software arrived on a DVD.  What to do?  Well, I could hook up an external DVD drive and boot from there…but how?  Would the ancient iBook even recognize the new drive?  After all, an external DVD drive doesn’t qualify as an “Apple ROM device” and so can’t ordinarily be recognized, even when you hold down the “C” key when booting. 

But some deep Mac research revealed that if you start up the system holding down FOUR KEYS SIMULTANEOUSLY (!), you can boot from a new external DVD Drive.  Those young Mac software engineers must have had nimble fingers.  And so MAC OSX Tiger 10.4 was finally installed…looked great…Safari Browser, even! 

Time to run updates…

But when I tried to grab the internet to run updates, I realized the machine didn’t have a wireless (“Airport Card”) inside — it was shipped without one.  Gotta have wi-fi.  So I sourced an Airport card, popped it in, ran all the updates…about 20 for Java, which sounded good…

…and now, finally, here’s a nifty little notebook, useful and fun, at a fraction of the cost of something much newer and cooler.  It has OSX, Safari, iTunes, and everything else.  Enough RAM to get by (576MB, the Max), and two USB Ports!  Don’t ask about processor speed; I don’t wanna know.  It runs fine.  Built like a tank, no planned obsolesence here, they don’t make them like they used to, why is everything built in China nowadays, etc., etc., etc.

With vintage machinery, as any motoring enthusiast will tell you, the fun never stops:  I just ordered a copy of Microsoft Office for OSX (Word, Excel, Etc.), and once that’s installed, this little machine should finally be ready for prime time.  If you’d like to adopt it, contact The Guru.

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