I live here in Denver where the weather can be unpredictable and I ride a road bike. Specifically, a Specialized Allez (and a couple of others) 2k or more miles a year. It's great in the summer. Weather is good, riding is easy. But in the Fall, Winter and Spring, that becomes less-so. My biggest hurdle is the darkness; with daylight savings time gone, there isn't much daylight when I get home from work, leaving really only the weekends for riding which isn't enough time for a week.

Enter the idea for a trainer. When I travel and use the stationary in hotels, often they have the bike with the screen and the riding routes. I like that. It helps keep me from getting bored. So when the idea for a trainer came up, I wanted something similar but on my actual road bike.

After much research, okay, maybe a few google searches, I decided on either Kinetic or Cycleops. But after more research, the choice became clear. The Cycleops Magnus. Why? Connectivity. This one will connect to cycling apps, namely Zwift and Rouvy.

So onto my Christmas list goes the Cycleops Magnus. With it, I plan to use both Zwift and Rouvy. I have a whole media system designed and ready to implement in our exercise room specifically geared toward this setup.

More to come as this one pans out.

After getting a bit of a Mac bug after my G3 and G4, I wanted something a bit more modern. After some research, I really liked the A1278 model and bought one (2.0 ghz Core 2 Duo, Late 2008) on eBay for a hundred dollars a few weeks back. It worked, had OSX El Capitan installed, and looked to be in pretty good shape with one exception; the seller noted that the keyboard was flaky. It came, looked good, and just like the seller said; the 7, u, k and , keys did not work.

I suspected that this was caused by spilled liquid corroding the traces on the keyboard and set out to replace the keyboard. This Macbook does not have backlighting and I thought it best to replace the keyboard with a non-backlit version (though now I wish I had purchased the backlit version as it isn't much more expensive).

So let's take a look at how to replace the keyboard on this thing. The general process for replacing the keyboard on this model is as follows:

Overall Process:

  1. Remove the bottom of the case
  2. Remove the battery, hard drive, fan and optical drive
  3. Disconnect the logic board connections
  4. Remove the logic board
  5. Pull out and replace the keyboard
  6. Reassemble

What you'll need:

  1. A new keyboard
  2. Replacement screws (trust me, buy these!) - I found them on Amazon as a set of 100
  3. Phillips #00 and #000 (PH00 and PH000) precision screwdrivers (to help you strip the heads off of those little screws
  4. A smudging tool
  5. Patience and cunning

And while you're at it:

  • Consider installing more RAM
  • Consider installing an SSD
  • Replace the processor thermal paste

Disassembly:

My A1278 is a late-2008 model. iFixit had a guide on disassembly of it but not including the keyboard. I found a guide for the late 2010 A1287 and, with a few exceptions, it worked for disassembly of my 2008 version. iFixit guide for removing the A1278 keyboard. The guide says 1-2 hours; I think that's about right, moving at a slow, careful pace.

I won't give you the full disassembly process as iFixit does a great job of this. Instead, I'll add some clarification as needed.

I did use a muffin tin to hold the screws. It worked much better than trying to put them in bags or cups.

Removing those damned little screws:

As I suspected, this keyboard was exposed to moisture. Many of the itty-bitty (teeny-weeny) screws that hold in the keyboard were corroded with one down-right rusty. This added difficulty to an already difficult task.

Even with the right screwdriver, those little screws are a pain. I found them to be somewhere between PH000 and PH00 in terms of size, with the PH00 often being too big while the PH000 often too small and pointy. I found that placing either one of these screwdrivers into the heads of the screws, rocking them back and forth to seat them and then pushing downward while unscrewing helped. But I still tripped out half-dozen with three being particularly stubborn. Don't plan on reusing the old screws; life will be much better if you have new ones to install.

Cleaning things up:

As with everything I pull apart, I chose to clean up the parts while disassembled. I found the fan full of hair/fuzz, the logic board covered in dust and the keyboard liner (white plastic thingy) covered in crumbs and grime.

For the fan, I blew it out using compressed air. A ton of nastiness came out.

For the keyboard liner, I washed it carefully in my sink using hot water and dish soap. This part has adhesive on it and that adhesive was covered in crumbs. The hot water and soap removes the grim and, surprisingly, leaves the adhesive sufficiently tacky.

For the logic board, case, and other parts, I used a soft-bristled paintbrush to wipe the dust free. This removed the dust, fuzz, crumbs and cat hair.

Thermal Paste: While I had the logic board off, I decided to remove the heatsink and replace the thermal paste. The original paste was hard, dried up and generally nasty. I applied a think layer of Arctic Silver and put the heatsink back on. This should help with heat, especially with the cleaned fan.

Reassembly:

While I'm at It:

I decided to upgrade the memory and install an SSD while I had the Macbook apart. Neither of these really required it to be this disassembled; it just gave me an excuse.

Memory Upgrade: I bought an 8GB (2x4GB) kit of Crucial 1066mhz DDR3L ram on Amazon. The ram is listed as copatible with 2010 through 2012 Macbook models but the specs are the same for the 2008 and 2009 versions. When I disassembled the A1278, I found it had a single 4GB module installed. I'd suspected it was 2x2GB. Had I known, I'd have saved some money and just bought a signle 4GB module. But I didn't. Anyhow, the memory popped in without issue and the system recognizes the full 8GB. If you happen to have an older A1278 and it won't recognize it or it runs like crap afterward there is an EFI firmware update that will fix the problem.

For the SSD, I used a Samsung 850 EVO. I took an image of the original hard drive using TransMac (on my Windows 10 PC) and saved that on my desktop. I then connected the Samsung SSD and used TransMac to format and image it. When done, I had a cloned drive, ready to install. If you do work on older Mac's and only have a Windows PC, I recommend you get a license for TransMac. I've used it dozens of times and it makes this sort of thing quick and painless.

Final Considerations:

With a couple of screwdrives, an hours worth of time and a spare computer with iFixit, you can replace your keyboard. The most difficult part was removal and installation of the tiny keyboard screws. But otherwise, disassembly and reassebly were straighforward and not particularly difficult.

On my A1278, replacing the keyboard did the trick and it's up and running, and running quite well. The SSD and memory upgraded made a noticeable improvement on boot-up though not much else that I can tell.

I own a 2001 Isuzu Rodeo Sport. It's a great truck and I use it every day, whether it be to haul goods from Home Depot, pull a trailer or just get me to work.

Because this is a two-door truck, there is limited space behind the rear axle to install a spare. So Isuzu mounted it to the rear tailgate. It looks good and fits the style of the truck.

But I've decided to do away with it and here's why:

  • It impedes the view out the rear window. About half of the rear window (when looking from the driver's seat) is taken up by the spare, limiting what you can see. It blocks the area directly behind you.
  • It increases the damage in a rear-end collision. Because it extends out beyond the bumper, a rear end collision, even a slow traffic 'bump' results in significant damage. Since these trucks are old and becoming more rare, finding a replacement tailgate would be difficult.
  • It reduces clearance for using the hitch. If you have a hitch and pull a trailer, having the spare there reduces the amount of space to allow access to a tongue jack or to open the tailgate when a trailer is attached.
  • It causes wear on the tailgate hinges and then rattles over bumps. Because its heavy, it causes the tailgate to move around over bumps resulting in a host of rattles.

The big downside to removing the spare is that you will have NO spare. This could be bad if, say, you get a flat.

For me, the Pro's outweigh the Con's and have removed mine.

To reduce the risk of not having a spare, I now carry two cans of fix-a-flat, a tire plug patch kit and a pair of Channel Lock pliers. In the event of a flat, I can use the fix-a-flat and patch kit to get me home or the nearest gas station.

Removing the Spare, It's Easy!:

The spare tire is held on with (3) wheel studs. Remove those with your lug wrench and lift the tire off.

The bracket for the spare is held on with (4) odd looking reverse-torque type bolts (???). To remove those, since I didn't have the right tool, I hammered a 14mm socket onto the head and then backed them out. It pretty much destroys the bolts but gets them out. When I decided to reinstall the spare, I'll use regular old run-of-the-mill hex head bolts.

Here's the truck with the spare tire bracket removed.

no_spare.gif

Note that you now have (4) bolt holes. After much thought, I decided to simply install bolts and rubber washers to fill them in. I used (4) M10 x 1.5 button head bolts, 25mm long, with (4) fender washers and (4) rubber washers. The sequence of assembly is something like this:

The bolts will give it a slightly more finished look and will keep water out of the gate.

So there it is, no more spare tire. The truck looks different without it, the rattles are reduced and I can see out of the back window, fully. It's great when backing a trailer or backing out of the garage. When I do have a flat, I'll let you know how my repair idea works out.

I swear, this blog isn't only about computers. Just so happens that they are on my mind right now. But I promise to tell you about other things.

But not today.

Today we are going to talk about upgrading an iBook G4. Specifically, I'll be installing 1 GB of RAM, upgrading the hard drive to a Toshiba mSATA SSD and replacing the half-dead keyboard.

To give this computer a formal introduction, I bought this one on eBay. It was listed with a $30 BIN by a seller who got it at a recycling center. The seller didn't have a power cord and coul dnot test it. He had it listed as a 12" A1133 1.3ghz model but when I got it, I found it to be a 14" A1134 1.42ghz model.

Upon initial inspection, I found it to be in good shape, dirty, with only one small crack in the case near the front left corner. There was a username and password written in Sharpie in the battery compartment and the battery was dead. Otherwise, though, great shape!

I plugged it in and the battery charge light lit up. When I pressed the power button, I was greeted with the Mac chime. It then booted into OSX 10.4.11 and prompted for a username and password. I entered the credentials that were written in the battery compartment and it let me right in.

Everything works. The DVD drive even. It appears that it used to belong to a school district in California and its former user was a girls PE teacher. I found her dissolution of marriage form on the desktop. Clearly it wasn't wiped before recycling.

It has the Microsoft Office X suite installed and, not wanting to lose that, I chose to clean up the OS and delete the files. So I removed all personal files on the drive, created a new administrator and deleted the prior one, renamed the drive main partition and restored the login screen. It took a while to get all of the school district's personalization off of the machine. But I did get there.

I did also note that, while using, about half of the keyboard is dead. Upon further inspection, it looks like the traces on the board for certain keys is damaged.

I really like this little machine. And it has the same personality as the G3 with a whole lot more oomph.

So here's the upgrade plan:

  1. Replace the existing hard drive with an mSATA drive in an adapter tray
  2. Install 1GB of ram
  3. Replace the keyboard
  4. Load OSX 10.5 (Leopard).
  5. Give it a right-good cleaning

More updates to come. Stay tuned.

Why Not Just Get a New Computer?

While searching this very topic, the common answer seems to be "just replace it" or "it's crap; get a new one". I don't like that answer and here's why:

Just because a computer is old, doesn't mean it isn't useful. Most of the time I use a computer for the internet and email. While I do have processor-intensive applications like AutoCAD, Solidworks and Adobe Lightroom, I don't use those that frequently and I have a dedicated workstation to run them. An old laptop is perfectly capable of running most of the web applications. This blog, for example, is perfectly usable on an old computer (and in fact, I've written this post using my old iBook G3 from 2002).

We spent a lot of energy, both in terms of resources and environmental impact, to build that old computer in the first place. Throwing it out and buying a new one only contributes to the energy and resource usage of the planet. No point in adding a usable computer to the landfill (or in a pile in India) if you can extend its life. At some time, we need to give up on the newer, newer, faster, better, must-have-the-latest-device mentality, if for no other reason that a depletion of resources.

And then there's the financial reason. New computers are still expensive. Parts for old computers are cheap, especially on eBay. Ram is cheap. Displays/LCD's are cheap. And even laptop cosmetics are cheap. Especially when a computer gets to be 8, 10, 12 years, or even older. A new SSD and some old ram can make a big difference and often the total for the upgrades is at or less-than $100.

Lastly, sometimes you just want to do something for the fun of it. I have several old laptops laying on shelves that I've purchased over the past 20 years. And it's good to pull them down and see what I can do with them. I enjoy the challenge.

Best Types of SSD to Use in Older Computers?:

IDE Hard Drives: If you are installing a drive in a machine with an old IDE hard drive, there aren't many good-quality options for SSD's if you look for one which is made specifically for the IDE (or PATA) interface. Drives such as Transcend, KingSpec or Mercury are expensive and have questionable reliability. In these circumstances, I prefer to use an mSATA drive with an adapter. Adapters are available for IDE to mSATA on Amazon and generally work well. If your machine has an IDE drive or if it uses a very early SATA I drive, one of these adapters will give you lots of options for SSD's and you can use one with proven reliability (such as Samsung's 840/850 drives).

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SATA Hard Drives: If your machine has an SATA interface, installing a SATA specific SSD is generally best. I have had great success with Samsung's 850 EVO SSD and recommend it; currently you can buy one for about $100 for a 256GB drive which, doesn't suck.

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A Note on Hard Drive Interfaces

There are several interfaces used on older drives.
True EIDE interfaces have a bandwidth of 16 MB/s.
PATA (commonly also referred to as IDE): PATA interfaces range in bandwidth from 33 MB/s to 133 MB/s depending on their standard.
SATA interfaces range extend from 150 MB/s up to 6 GB/s.

Why is this important? Well, the slower your interface, the less bang-for-the-buck you'll get from an SSD upgrade. The 16 and 33mb/s interfaces generally don't provide a marked improvement in speed when upgrading as the bandwidth is just too small.

Examples of SSD Upgrades in Older Laptops

Mac G3 iBook - This computer uses a PowerPC 800mhz processor and has an IDE 33 interface (slow). For this one, I installed an Ablecon IDE to mSATA adapter with a Toshiba 64gb mSATA SSD and reloaded OSX 10.4.11 (pictured above). Boot time noticeably reduced as well as internet performance. Improvements not as good as I would have hoped for. Given the cost of installing an SSD and the general obsolescence of this machine, it is not what I'd consider a worthwhile upgrade. Though fun to try.

Mac G4 iBook - This computer has a 1.42ghz PowerPC processor and uses an ATA133 interface (much faster than the interface on the G3). I used the same Ablecon adapter with a Samsung 850 EVO 256GB mSata SSD. On this machine, again, boot times substantially reduce. Computer feels much more responsive and internet performance is notably better. Adding a SSD allows this machine to use the entirety (or mostly) of it's ATA133 bandwidth and reduces hard drive seek times. For this machine, the SSD upgrade makes a substantial improvement and allows the G4 some usability in 2017. Since these machines are cheap on eBay, if you find one, consider both the 1GB memory upgrade and the SSD and have a computer that is usable.

Macbook A1278 Core 2 Due (late 2008 aluminum) - I'm still working on this one and most excited about it. Keep an eye out for a subsequent post (which I will link to later).

Dell Latitude E6400 - This machine has a Core 2 Duo T9400 processor and uses a SATA interface. The old Fujitsu 80GB hard drive died so I replaced the drive with a 256GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD drive. This made a substantial improvement in boot times, overall Windows 10 responsiveness and Netflix streaming. We also saw an improvement in YouTube streaming for higher-quality videos (720 and 1080). If you want to extend the life of one of these old Dell laptops (or if you find one cheap on eBay), installing an SSD is a worthwhile upgrade.

Conclusion

If you have an older laptop/computer with a mechanical hard drive and you wish to upgrade to an SSD, you'll notice the best improvements on machines with faster drive interfaces. Installing an SSD on a machine with an EIDE or slower ATA interface isn't worthwile as the bandwidth too greatly limits the speed of these drives. Replacing a mechanical drive in a machine with a SATA, I, II or III interface will provide the best improvement.

Now if you have a hard drive fail on a machine with a slower IDE interface, mechanical drives are not easy to find, new. In that case, the SSD could make a good replacement simply to provide options.

This is a transfer of an older post from a web forum I run (XJRider.com).

Back in July, I went and did what was likely a really dumb thing. I bought a Royal Enfield, sight unseen, two states away. Specifically a 2017 model with 2200 miles on the clock. I live in Denver and the bike was located out in Sturgis.

Why an Enfield? Well, despite being new, these things aren't noted for being the most reliable and much of the technology dates back to the 50's. I like that. A simple bike, easy to work on, slow and a joy to ride. That's why I wanted one. Cruising top speed, realistically, 60 mph. 450 miles at 60 mph on a thumper. Miserable? Probably. Fun and exciting absolutely.

With very short notice, like two days, I managed to talk my sister and mom into driving me out there so I could get the Enfield and ride it back to Denver. In total, I paid $3400 out the door. It's a fuel injected chrome model with questionable reliability, a likely 55mph top-speed, and what I hoped would rekindle a love of riding. Here are the dealership photos from the ad:

Bright and early on a Saturday morning, mom and sister stopped by and picked me up. My daughter decided to come, too. A road trip if only a short one. It took us roughly 7 hours to get there from Denver. Not a bad drive. Not a great drive.

enfield_trip_5.jpg

I stopped by the dealership at picked the bike about 3:30 Saturday afternoon. The transaction was easy since I was paying cash; a few signatures on a title application and out the door we went.
enfield_trip_3.jpg

I brought a little roll-bag I had in the garage with me; a Prima branded large bag designed for the back of Vespa scooters. Surprisingly, it straped to the Enfield's rear rack like it was made for it.

enfield_trip_2.jpg

The bike had both keys, the original tool kit was there and complete, and it even came with a manual. I suppose that shouldn't have surprised me given that it is a 2017 model, but I've never had a bike with the original items still included nor have I ever had a bike this new:

enfield_trip_1.jpg

enfield_trip_4.jpg

The bike looked great in person, especially with the chrome and black paint shining in the sunshine. The overall quality seemed good and it was in good shape, not perfect, but good. It needed a bath, a polish and wax, and a bit of touch-up; something to look forward to when I get home.

For the first day, I decided to pick up the bike, stay at a hotel and then spend the Sunday riding it home. This would give me time to look it over and fix anything before embarking on the journey.

The ride was fantastic. It's small, lightweight and nimble. The ergos are spot-on for me. The seat height is good, the bars in the right place, and the seating position upright.

The little engine thumps along and it has a nice exhaust note. Quiet at idle, a bit of grunt when you twist the throttle. In the 30 miles from the dealership to the hotel, I puttered along at 60mph down I-90. It is happy to cruise at 55 to 60mph. Ask it to do much more than 65 and the vibrations become quite pronounced. Don't even look for 70mph; it isn't there. And this is exactly what I wanted.

Sunday would bring 50 miles of black hills and 300 miles of Wyoming grasslands. For those unfamiliar with the area or those outside the US, here's the route I chose:

We made it there with enough time to pick up the bike on Saturday afternoon which was good since they didn't open until 10 on Sunday. Here's the bike waiting for me at the Sturgis Indian Motorcycle dealership. I used that Prima bag that I bought a while back and it fit the Infield's rear rack well:

I rode the bike the 30 minutes up I-90 to the hotel, which was in Spearfish. That evening, I gave it a look over and lubed the chain. I didn't have the bike parked 15 minutes before an older gentleman came over to ask me about the restoration. "How long did that restoration take" he uttered as he came closer. "Actually, its a 2017 model" I told him as he looked it over. Later, a guy with two new Harleys popped in to check it out. He was in the middle of replacing batteries discharged by his Lo-jack devices.

Here we are, ready for the next day's ride:

The temporary tag they gave me is pretty cool. Its made of plastic and they include the dealership name on it. I'll probably save it and frame it for the garage wall:

These good people were my support crew. My sister, mom and daughter rode out with me. My mom wanted a Sturgis tee-shirt so we all bought one:

The first leg of the journey took me through the Black Hills of South Dakota:

This area was beautiful and felt much like the mountains of Colorado though more lush and much lower altitude. I had the road to myself and nowhere to be. The Enfield handles beautifully and the thump from its exhaust fits it well. We lazily tooled our way up through the mountains:

Yeah, this is awesome. Good running bike. Cool crisp weather. Open roads. And the sweet smell of pine trees and wild flowers. I'm happy!:

I noticed here that white wild flowers grow along waterways. They lay out like carpet and are quite fragrant. My attemps to capture them on film were less than stellar?:

The road awaited:

And the bike gleamed in the sunlight:

So on I rode. The peak extended to 6 1/2 thousand feet. Not much by Colorado standards. The little Enfield chugged right on up it:

On the way down, I had to stop for the obligatory Welcome To signs:

The Black Hills gave way to grasslands and I rode down into Newcastle, Wyoming, for gas and a snack. The Enfield managed 109 mpg on the first leg of the journey. From there, I headed south toward Lusk, Wyoming:

This section took me along US 85 with a 70mph speed limit. Now this is a good time to talk about the Enfield's speed. It has a 500cc single which is rated at 27hp and 31 ft-lbs of torque. Not much by modern standards. I read somewhere that its 0-60 was 12.4 seconds and that feels about right. It's not meant for speed. It will do 75mph but at the necessary RPM, the engine vibrations are so strong its not comfortable. I found it likes to cruise in the 55-60mph range, quite comfortably. With a 70MPH limit on 85, you get the tourists blowing through at 80, 85 or even 90-mph. I spent much of this section of US 85 being passed by cars, trucks, trailers, RV's and, I even think, a bicycle. Not my favorite leg of the journey but I still made the best of it.

Here we are roadside while I let some cars pass. The scenery has changed to red dirt and bluffs. It looks like New Mexico with more vegetation. Almost exactly like Tulsa.

As I continued along this stretch, the land became more dry and transitioned into grassland and prairie:

Here, the roads straightened out becoming the long, lonely stretches of highway you'd expect in the western United States. In that regard, Wyoming did not disappoint:

With the drier climate came heat. 80F, 85F, 90F. As the heat increased, so did my desire for water and shade. The Enfield didn't seem to notice but I did. Finally, somewhere near Lusk, I pulled of at a rest area and took a bit of a break. Did I mention it was hot?

I rolled into Torrington, tired, hot, with an aching back and an empty stomach. I filled up on on Arby's and topped the bike's tank up. This leg provided 78mpg which I attributed to wind, heat and a higher speed (62mph roughly).

The last leg of the journey took me through Cheyenne, down into Colorado and back home.

This stertch of the journey gave way to greener gasslands and must receive more moisture:

Just after Torrington, I pulled off to chase a gnat out of my helmet. The little bastard kept crawling inside my ear and it drove me crazy:

About an hour north of Cheyenne, I noticed a thunderstorm rolling in from the west. By the 30 mile mark, it was puring on Cheyenne and I was getting wet. Luckily, I was able to skirt the storm and missed the brunt of it. I was quite happy to make it to Cheyenne, though, and stopped for gas again. One the to note about the Enfield. It doesn't have a trip meter and it has a fuel pump. No reserve. So what you get is a low-fuel light. But that's not particularly helpful if it lights up 80 miles from a gas station. So I filled up the bike at each 100-mile mark (or so) just to be safe. I don't yet know its fuel range.

Finally, I made it to Colorado:

I was in the mood to be home and made the last 80 miles without stopping. I must say, Colorado sucks. Of all the drivers, they were the most difficult to deal with in Colorado. They tailgated impatiently. They didn't go around or pass when the road was clear. The cut back in front of me with only a few feet to spare, kicking up rocks from the back of their turbulent SUV's. They didn't use turn signals. I'm ashamed to admit I come from this state, from a driver's perspective and how they treat people with out-of-state license plates.

All in all, I'm glad to be home and I'm glad to have made the trip. I enjoyed the Enfield and its personality and I had a great time that I will remember fondly. Flying out and riding a strange bike a large distance is always a risk and I think that makes it more enjoyable. I love the challenge. Look forward to many more adventures on the Enfield.

I mentioned my iBook G3 in a prior post. I bought this little iBook with a dead hard drive. While repairing the logic board, I installed a used 60gb ide drive that I had laying around. Because this drive was a Windows drive, it had no HFS partition. When booting, the iBook wouldn't recognize the drive and would display the file folder with the question mark on startup.

I set about to fix it. I don't own another Mac so the first hurdle involved partitioning and formatting the drive. I needed to be able to do that work using my Windows PC.

The first step was to get my hands on a version of OSX 10.4 Tiger since this is the most-recent OS that the iBook can run. After some searching, I found a downloadable copy of OSX 10.4. It extracted to a .dmg file which is a Mac disk image. Not usable in Windows 10. I needed a way to create a disc using that .dmg file and do so in Windows.

I need a way for a Windows machine to write Mac software and format drives with Mac partitions. Enter TransMac. TransMac does just that. It could read the .dmg disc image and burn it to a DVD. More importantly, it could create HFS images and write discs that a Mac would recognize.

Loading the OS took a couple of tries. Trial and error. For the first attempt, I created a DVD using the .dmg image in Transmac. The DVD burned without issue. I loaded the DVD into the iBook's CD drive and rebooted it. Holding down the C key, the Option, key, etc, I couldn't get it to boot from the DVD. Bummer.

For my second attempt, I thought, "what about USB"? Could I boot the iBook using a USB drive? Now that's a good idea! I used TransMac again to format a USB to HFS and imaged the DVD disc image onto the USB. Doing so gave me a bootable OS install USB drive.

I removed the DVD and plugged in the USB. I rebooted. The iBook loaded the same file-folder-question-mark icon. That's doesn't help. I sat and stared at it for a few moments. Then, the apple logo loaded. A few more moments, a spinning circle . . . What??

I made it clear into the OSX install screen but couldn't see the drive. I tried running the Disk Utility but it would hang when opening. So I shut down the iBook and cleared the PVRAM.

I restarted the OSX installation, went into Disk Utility and could see the drive. Yay! So I formatted the drive to Mac Extended and partitioned it. From there, I was able to start the OS installation process and install OSX 10.4.

Based on what I learned above, here are the actual steps to do this:

  1. Download OSX 10.4 from Macintosh Garden. Specifically, you want the one that's mid-page down labeled: Mac OS 10.4.6 DVD - (Download #30)
  2. Download and install TransMac
  3. Connect a blank USB drive
  4. Run TransMac as an Administrator
  5. On the lefthand side, you'll see your USB drive. Right click on it and select "Restore with Disk Image"
  6. Select the disk image you want to use. In this case, select the DMG file you downloaded in step 1.
  7. Let TransMac finish creating the USB disk. It will let you know when done.
  8. Insert the USB into your G3/G4 and power it on
  9. Your iBook should boot up from the USB drive
  10. Follow the On-screen Instructions to Install OS-X

When we bought the house in Broomfield, one of the biggest eye sores, at least for me, was the old, nasty stove/fireplace in the living room:

Broomfield_stove_1.jpg

I mean, look at that thing? It's a log-cabin stove in an 80's passive solar home. And if the big soapstone stove wasn't enough, they lined it, floor to ceiling, with brick. The worst part is, it doesn't even work.

So while I worked on the rest of the living room, I decided to do something with the stove.

I began by tearing it out. Piece by piece. Because at 600#, it was just too heavy for me to haul out whole. Let me tell you, tearing apart a soap-stone cast iron stove is nasty and tedious.

After that, I was left with the brick. My original idea was to skin the brick with drywall. But I didn't like the idea of having the wall jut out nor having the floor look like a little stage. It'd be a lot of work to have something that looked like a covered-up fireplace.

Broomfield_stove_1.jpg

While on a phone conference call on a Friday afternoon, I got the whim to see if I could knock out a single brick. A couple of the upright bricks near the bottom were loose and so I started there. Twenty minutes later, I had done this:

Broomfield_stove_1.jpg

Well, now that I've come this far, I suppose skinning is out of the question. So let's pull the rest of it down.

Broomfield_stove_1.jpg

Now, I learned a lesson here. See, the brick is held to the wall with small metal strips which are embedded into the mortar. On the one wall, the mason installed many of these and nailed them to the studs. I made it nearly to the top before the last few rows came crashing down. You'd think that would teach me, "tear down a brick wall from the top, down", right?! But no, I didn't learn that lesson. On the second wall, they only used three metal tabs and one wasn't even nailed. When I started removing bricks, I made it about two rows and then the entire wall came down. Of course, I was sitting at the base of the wall:

Broomfield_stove_1.jpg

I realized the wall was coming down about half a moment before it did. Just enough time to assume the "oh-$h*% position; hands in the air, protecting my valuable bits. A few bricks caught me in the back, leaving a good number of scrapes and bruises but 'oh man' was I lucky. Crazy stupid lucky. Life affirmatively lucky. This could have ended much worse, in a mister-mister sorta way.

Unscathed by my near-death experience, I pulled down the remaining bricks and hauled them out using my heavy-duty wagon.

Broomfield_stove_1.jpg

What a difference having the brick gone made to the feel of the room. Totally worth the work.

Broomfield_stove_1.jpg

To finish the room, I had a carpet installer come in and seam in a new piece of carpet to fill in the hole where the brick was. I also patched and textured the wall, removed the chimney (and repaired the roof), added trim and extended the dining room floor.

Still awaiting paint but looks so much better!

Broomfield_stove_12.jpg

DIY

While searching for a replacement logic board for my trusty Dell E7240, I came across this little guy in one of my auto-generated recommendations. It's an early 2002 model iBook A1005. They wanted $2.99 and $8.08 shipping.

Hmm, that could be a fun late-night or snowy day project. So, $11.07 later, I had an iBook. Now i'm a PC person. I've been using them since 1984 with my first machine being an Amstrad PC1512. I can do just about anything with a PC. But this is a Mac and I know bumpkiss about Macs. I did have a Powerbook 640 a gazillion years ago but never used it much.

Anyhow, a few days later, the little iBook came, wrapped in bubble wrap and housed inside a Priority Mail box. First thing I noticed, it stank. Like cigarettes. Like year's of cigarettes. Maybe a cat too. If the cat smoked cigarettes. Cats and cigarettes. Not like the Dog's Playing Poker. More like Cat's Playing Oregon Trail. But they're drinking and smoking. Anyhow. I digress.

Opening up the iBook, it looked exactly like the photos and the description was good. Not necessarily a common thing in the whole $2.99 used-computer market. The screen had some wonkiness to it; it sat crooked and someone had tried to pry the upper lefthand corner with something. The screws were missing from the display sides.

Pressing the power button, the iBook came to life with the chime and displayed an image on the screen. Hmmm. That works. It continued to work for about 25 seconds, then the display started to get wonky and then went black. Yep, that's more like it.

Upon further investigation, a good bit of pressure on the left palmrest would make the screen work again. A sure sign of a failing GPU, or more specifically, failing GPU solder connections on the logic board. Wee! So its time to pull it apart and see what we can fix.

Apple uses about a hundred itty-bitty tiny screws to hold this together. It's surprisingly well designed and well built if not a bit overdone. A lot overdone. Excrutiatingly so. But that may be why this 15-year old computer is still working, kinda.

With the help if iFixit and my Surface Pro, I managed to find and remove those hundred tiny screws and take the laptop apart.

No real surprises found during disassembly. The display hinge assembly, a cast component, had broken on the left-hand hinge. There was no ram in the slot (though it has 128mb on board; remember when they used to do that?) and the HDD was a 40GB EIDE IBM Travelstar. The keyboard has yellowed and stinks, again like cigarette smoke.

After scraping off the thermal pad, here's the offending chipset. This is an ATI Radeon Mobility 7000 series GPU. Remember ATI? They were bought by AMD sometime in the past 20 years. I haven't seen ATI on a chipset in ages.

I found a new hinge assembly with bezel (used, actually) for $14, shipped, on eBay and ordered that. No real way to patch the old one.

While I waited on that hinge assembly, I decided to try reflowing the solder on the logic board. I stripped off as much of the board as I could and then cut and attached small bits of silicone hose:

I put it in the oven, set the oven to heat to 250F and left it in there for 10 minutes. Once at 250F, I raised it to 350F and then 405F. I finished with a few minutes at 420F. Even on a $3 laptop, baking a motherboard is scary. Every part of your being says you shouldn't do it. I mean, we try to keep boards cool for a reason. But anyhow, I baked mine. Like a good set of stinky sugar cookies. Smoke rose off the board as the flux and solder melted. After those 8 minutes, I opened the oven door and let it air cool for about 45 minutes.

After pulling it out of the oven, I carefully connected the bare minimum number of components to get it to work. That included the power board, the display and the power button. I pressed the power button, relieved to hear the chime. A few seconds later, the display came on. I pressed all around the board and couldn't get it to flash or freeze or go black. Hmm. This might have worked.

While in the oven, I cleaned up the other parts. The palmrest, port cover and vent covers cleaned up nicely with a magic eraser, removing the yellow nicotine residue.

The keyboard had yellowed and it was quite obvious against the cleaned parts. A few youtube channels (8-bit guy) show a process they dub retrobriting which removes yellowing on old beige keyboards and cases and I thought I'd give it a try. I put the fully assembled keyboard into a pyrex dish and added enough hydrogen peroxide to cover it completely. I then set up a couple of flood lights we had in the basement. I let it set like this overnight.

In the morning, I rinsed it in the sink and then used my compressor to blow it dry. Here's the results:

I'm quite impressed. I actually can't believe that worked. The keyboard is white.

I then spent a great deal of time assembling the computer. I had to take it back apart twice to install parts that I'd missed. I installed the new hinge assembly and bezel and that really cleaned up the display. The original had a silver cast and this one is white. But I think it looks just fine.

I also installed an old 80gb IDE drive I had. I removed it from my Thinkpad T42 a few years back when I upgraded it and it was just laying around waiting to be used. Now that I think about it, it may have some bad sectors . . . I might need another new hard drive, maybe an SSD, depending on how this thing works.

Here's the end result. It boots up to the missing-OS symbol and the screen lights up like it should. (That's my old Thinkpad T42 in the background, providing support. It's still on Windows XP Professional and quite functional, even with its single-core Centrino processor).

Here's the current price breakdown on this little guy, not including the fun-factor (its the same 'fun' you get from assembling a puzzle). I bought a couple of things to make it more usable including RAM and an Airport (wireless) card. Parts are surprisingly cheap for this:

  • iBook, as purchased, $11
  • Hinges and screen bezel, $14
  • 512mb PC133 memory chip, $6
  • Airport Card. $5
  • ---
  • Total: $36.

I managed to find a downloadable version of OSX Tiger (10.4). Getting that OS onto this iBook was a challenge especially given that I don't own a Mac, but only Windows 10 machines. Here's how I did it: