• apple //e,  mac mini,  mac os x server,  mac se,  macintosh,  vintage

    Restoration Projects Update

    Back in December (2021) I posted a picture on Twitter of a pair of Mac SE compact Macs and a Power Macintosh 7200/120.

    They were part of my Christmas break project to occupy my time while on vacation. A nerds gotta nerd.

    I also picked up an Apple //e. And, a Mac mini.

    So, I figured now is a good time to give an update on where these projects are.

    Mac SE Rebuild (January, 1987)

    My first Macintosh was the Mac Classic (1990). It was a great machine to have, and it felt like the natural, albeit without color, extension of my Apple IIgs and GS/OS. A few years later, once I got into the workforce, I was introduced to the Mac SE, the machine that the Classic was based on. I thought that it and the Mac SE/30 looked so cool with its Snow White design language. When I decided to do a rebuild of a compact Mac, the SE was the perfect choice since it represented my nostalgia for my Classic and a timeless classic of the compact Mac era from Apple’s history.

    The picture shows two Mac SEs because the first one was damaged in shipping and became the donor parts machine for the second, which was in better external shape.

    The case of the SE is cleaning up very well. I have used many cotton swaps, wipes, and IPA. Likewise, the motherboards cleaned up well also. I cut out the PRAM batteries before they leaked.

    The biggest problem is restoring the floppy drives. The three Sony 800kb floppy drives that I have need to be stripped down, cleaned, greased, and lubricated, and work needs to be done to carefully work on and clean the eject gear mechanism. This is clearly the most difficult part of the restoration.

    I believe that my Mac SE rolled off the assembly line as a dual 3.5-inch floppy drive model because it came with a third-party Microtech spacer in the top floppy drive position. On this project, I want to put the SE back into that configuration. I will be ordering the bracket that is used to secure two floppy drive cages together. With an open source BlueSCSI microSD card to SCSI interface board. When reassembled, the BlueSCSI board should sit nicely on top of just behind the stacked floppy drive cage.

    Apple //e Enhanced (March, 1985)

    As we saw in my welcome home video, the Apple //e is really good shape. At some point, I’ll need to remove the motherboard, clean it, and then reinstall a replacement set of plastic standoffs and screws. I’ll wait to do all of that work until I find the parts I’ll need.

    The //e is working fine, and it has pasted its built-in diagnostics test (hold down both Apple keys and then power the unit on). I can keep using with a Dell LCD monitor and my Big Mess of Wires Floppy Emu. While I don’t have my first Apple //e anymore, I do have the 5.25-inch disks that came with it, and I would like to connect a pair of disk drives to it. The card that is installed in my current //e uses the newer I/O Controller Card and connects to a DB19 disk port. I will be placing an order for a refurbished Apple 5.25-inch Apple 5.25 Drive (A9M0107). It will let me use my old disks again to boot up the computer. the I/O Controller Card can also be used with a Duodisk Drive. I liked it because it seemed to be more compact and had a spring loaded eject mechanism. My original //e had a Disk II controller card and a pair of Disk II drives. If I can find a working card and drives at a reasonable price, I would buy them. I didn’t know this at the time, but the Apple //e could use the 3.5-inch floppy drive that I had with my Apple IIgs. The //e needed an Apple LIRON disk controller card. Those cards are a bit hard to find on eBay, however, Big Mess of Wires has developed Yellowstone – a universal Apple //-series drive controller card. Think of it as one modern disk controller to rule them all.

    Power Macintosh 7200/120 (April, 1996)

    Of the current restoration projects, the Power Mac 7200 needs the least amount of work. It is running fine as is. I did run across an eBay vendor who had two 512kb VRAM (video RAM) chips at a reasonable price. The 7200 has three VRAM slots on the motherboard. With the two new chips, I’ll have 2MB of VRAM and will have filled all three slots. Nice.

    Looking ahead to other components, I may pick up a period accurate keyboard. My recollection of the Apple Design Keyboard was that it was supposed to be a less expensive all plastic replacement for the fan favorite Apple Extended Keyboard II. That wasn’t even a contest. I held on to my Extended II at work for as long as I could. I still have one, but I only use it sparingly as I am worried about RSI issues from prolonged use.

    If the original Quantum Fireball SCSI hard disk fails, I will switch to either a SCSI2SD or BlueSCSI board. The only other upgrade that I might to do the 7200 is to install a PowerPC G3 accelerator card. At some point, my 7200 had one, as the third-party upgrade badge sticker was affixed to the front of mine. Since the card was removed, I removed the badge. I feel that installing Apple upgrade kits keeps the purity of the computer. I still haven’t made up my mind about third-party accelerators. In my past experience, they seemed like more trouble than they were worth requiring that you follow a maddeningly specific OS and extension software recipe to keep it running well.

    Mac mini (Mid-2011)

    While old, I would call my recently acquired Mac mini “vintage”. This wasn’t a restoration either. Think of it as recycling an old PC by giving it a new purpose. In my book, saving old equipment from a landfill is a noble cause.

    I wanted to build a home server to host selected videos and music that I purchased over the years from the iTunes Store. Yeah, I know I can just stream purchases from Apple’s server, but I grew up in a time when you had to pay for your bandwidth, and I remember what some of my monthly America Online and Verizon bills looked like. So, when possible, I like to stream video and music across my home network.

    With that in mind, I upgraded the RAM on the Mac mini to 16GB using a Crucial memory upgrade kit. Then, I installed a fresh copy of Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.6 and the corresponding Mac OS Server 5 software that I had previously downloaded from the Mac App Store. Sure, it’s not the newest or fastest computer on the block, but it was dirt cheap. The mini and the memory upgrade, all in, was just about $200. I connected an extra USB 2TB RAID box for file serving and downloaded iTunes content. Boom! Home server on the cheap.

    Future Projects

    Once I get the Mac SE and the //e fully restored and running again I plan to take a break from restore projects. I have learned a lot from these projects so far and I’m sure that there is still more to (re)learn from using and enjoying these machines again.

    As the weather turns cold again in the fall, the hunt will resume for more machines to restore or rebuild. My short list includes a Macintosh IIci, a Mac SE/30, and an Apple IIgs. If I happen across an Apple //+, Apple //c or //c Plus, Mac Classic, II-series, or Quadra 840av, well, I’ll probably scoop them up to be stored for refurbishment at a later time.

  • apple,  mac os x server,  macos

    Content Caching for macOS

    Turn on Content Caching in Settings > Sharing

    One of the interesting features of macOS is Content Caching.

    Jesus Vigo, writing for TechRepublic, states that when Content Caching is turned on, the Mac will begin storing local copies of Apple software to speed up downloads to clients on your network.

    The benefit to you is that software updates for your Mac and iPhone, for example, will download to your Apple device faster. Without Content Caching turned on, if you have, say, two iPhones (persona and company issued), once cached, iOS updates are downloaded from the cached copy on your Mac rather than having to go out to the Internet twice. The more Apple devices you have, the bigger the benefit to you is.

    Some of the kinds of Apple software that macOS Content Caching holds, includes:

    • macOS and Mac Internet Recovery images
    • iOS/iPadOS/wachOS/tvOS updates
    • App Store app updates
    • iCloud photo and document cache
    • Apple TV screen savers

    The complete list of cached content is published on the Apple Support website.

    To enable Contact Caching, go to: Settings > Sharing > Content Caching = Checked

    Once configured, devices running Mac OS X 10.8.2 or iOS/iPadOS 7, will be able to detect the local cache server and use the content cache. If you are setting up Content Cache for a school or enterprise network, you should use a wired Ethernet connection for better performance. If you have multiple subnets or need peer cache repositories, read the macOS What is content caching on Mac? online Help article.

    Content Caching network map, Source: Apple, Inc.

    Since the internal storage space on your Mac is expensive (you can’t upgrade your disk after purchasing your Mac), I decided to use the Options button to pick a USB attached external disk and carved out a 32GB cache limit.

    If you are really interested, you can learn more about the Content Caching feature by clicking the question mark button in the lower right of the Settings window to bring up the macOS help. The plist file is /Library/Preferences/com.apple.AssetCache.plist.

  • apple,  el capitan,  itunes,  mac,  mac os x,  mac os x server

    Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.11.4 Update, Other OS X Software Updates

    Following today’s “In the Loop” event, Apple has released a number of software updates for Mac OS X, including the El Capitan 10.11.4 Update, iTunes 12.3.3, OS X Server 5.1 and Apple Configurator 2.2.

    Mac OS X El Capitan Update 10.11.4

    New in “El Cap” is the ability to passcode protect notes stored in the Apple Notes app.  This feature addition is in-line with today’s iOS 9.3 system update which brings the same feature to iOS devices.  The Notes app also gained new sorting capabilities too.  If you are an Evernote user, or more correctly, an Evernote user looking to escape, Notes can now import Evernote files.  Evernote importing is a feature that Microsoft recently released for the PC version of OneNote with the help of an optional Microsoft OneNote plug-in.

    Also of note for Mac users is the addition of Live Photos being shared between OS X and iOS in the Messages app and AirDrop.  iBooks also received an enhancement that allows iBooks to write PDF files into your iCloud account – making the PDF files available to all of your iCloud connected OS X and iOS devices.

    iTunes 12.3.3

    iTunes 12.3.3 is a minor update that adds support for the new iPhone SE and the iPad Pro, the 9-inch flavor, to iTunes.  iTunes is the only cross-platform software update that is also available on Windows 7/8.x/10 PCs.

    OS X Server 5.1 and Apple Configurator 2.2

    Both, OS X Server 5.1 and Configurator 2.2 received updates that add new features to support the new Profile Manager and iPads with shared configurations.

  • mac,  mac os x,  mac os x server,  mavericks,  upgrade

    Apple Rolls Out OS X 10.9.2 Update, Includes SSL Fix

    Earlier today, Apple released the Mavericks OS X 10.9.2 update that closes the SSL security bug that was patched last week on iOS devices.

    FaceTime & iMessage Learn New Tricks
    With the release of Mac OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks, Apple has taught FaceTime how to make audio only calls and call waiting for video and the aforementioned audio calls.  With the 10.9.2 update, iMessages finally received a nice little update that allows you to block messages from individual senders.
    General Fixes and Enhancements
    In addition to fixing the “goto fail” that everyone has been worried about over the last few days, Apple also included a number of fixes and enhancements across the board.
    Ever since the release of Mavericks, many customers have been unhappy with the bugs in the OS X Mail application, specifically when used with a Gmail account.  Apple continues to make those corrections in this release with six fixes directly related to Mail.
    This release also brings fixes to networking features, including improved support for SMB2 shares, VPN connections, and OS X Server NetBoot services.
    Lastly, there was a website compatibility update for the AutoFill feature of Safari.
    Apple also gets a Smartphone Fanatics “Wait, what?!” award for including a fix for a Windows XP shared printer problem. Huh?  Windows XP is Microsoft’s 13-year old desktop operating system which they have been trying to desperately trying to kill of since the release of Windows 7.  (Microsoft released Windows XP on Aug 24. 2001.  The last day for extended support for Windows XP is scheduled for Apr 8, 2014.  Windows 7 was released on Oct 22, 2009.  We won’t event talk about Windows Vista.  Seriously.)
    You can read the full release notes for Mac OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks and the related security fixes release notes on the Apple support website.
    Mavericks 10.9.2 is a free update for anyone who is already running a previous edition of Mac OS X 10.9.  The update can be installed from the Mac App Store > Updates tab.  You will need to reboot your Mac as part of the upgrade process.  I recommend that MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro owners plug-in their notebooks before attempting the upgrade.
  • apple,  ios,  mac os x,  mac os x server

    MacWorld Explains the SSL Bug in Apple Operating Systems

    MacWorld Magazine does a fantastic job describing the SSL security bug that was recently discovered in iOS and OS X.

    “News of a serious vulnerability within Apple’s implementation of a key encryption technology has been making the rounds this weekend. Read on to find out more about what the flaw is, and how it affects you.”

    Read more at MacWorld.com

  • apple,  ios,  ipad,  ipad mini,  iphone,  ipod touch,  mac,  mac os x,  mac os x server,  macbook air,  macbook pro

    Apple Continues SSL Security Fixes, OS X Patch Coming “Soon”

    Apple is continuing their push to deploy patches for their iOS and OS X operating systems to plug a hole in the way their devices handle SSL security.

    Late on Friday evening, an update appeared on my third-generation Apple TVs presumably to address the same SSL patch.  After applying the update, both of Apple TVs now show as having OS version 6.0.2 (6646.81.1) installed.

    In a statement to the Reuters news agency yesterday, Apple indicated that there would also be an updated made available for desktop and laptop computers running Mac OS X software.

    “We are aware of this issue,” said Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller,  “and already have a software fix that will be released very soon.”

    The defect in the security software could allow unauthorized access to documents, email, and other personal information stored on iOS devices and Mac OS X computers.  The revelation that these publicly unscheduled software updates shows how serious the SSL software defect really is and how responsive Apple is to ensuring their customer’s safety.

    Apple’s second and third-generation Apple TVs run a version of the company’s iOS software.  As previously noted, Apple deployed over-the-air updates to iOS 7.0.6 to current model iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners, while iPhone 3GS and iPod touch fourth-generation owners received iOS 6.1.6.

    There also has been talk that these security vulnerabilities and/or weaknesses had be intentionally left in iOS and Mac OS X as a kind of “back door” for government agencies to use to snoop on American citizens.  I for one believe Apple CEO Tim Cook’s statements from earlier this year when he said that Apple has not worked with U.S. government to compromise the computer security of their customers.  I think the speed at which Apple has made these patches and rolled them out to customers confirms that.

    Apple’s latest security patch information can be found on the Apple support website.

    [Via Reuters.com…]

  • apple,  mac os x,  mac os x server,  virtualization

    Virtualizing Mac OS X

    With the beta version of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks out – or for the curious – you can virtualize Mac OS X and start playing or running a second virtual Mac.

    There are some restrictions as you might expect.  The following is directly from the vmWare website:

    You can create a Mac OS X Server virtual machine, with these restrictions:
    For more information, see Creating a Mac OS X Server Virtual Machine in VMware Fusion in the VMware Fusion Help.

    I have both Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion on my Mac.  I’ll have to try this out sometime and install Mac OS X Server 10.8 in a VM.

    You can read more on the VMware website.

  • app store,  apple,  lion,  mac os x,  mac os x server,  macbook pro,  mountain lion,  Uncategorized

    Apple Launches Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

    On Wednesday, Apple lunched their next major version of Mac OS X, Mountain Lion.

    With over 200 new features being added to Mac OS X, Mountain Lion brings even more features of iOS to the Macintosh further unifying the experience across multiple Apple product lines.  The major new features of Mountain Lion include:

    • iCloud support
    • Reminders (OS X version of the iOS app)
    • Notes (OS X version of the iOS app)
    • iMessage (replacing OS X iChat)
    • Notification Center (as seen in iOS)
    • Power Nap (requires a Mac notebook with build in flash storage; ie: MacBook Air)
    • Dictation (voice recognition, but not Siri)
    • Sharing button (as seen in iOS)
    • Twitter integration
    • AirPlay (requires a mid-2011 or newer Mac)
    • Game Center
    • Gatekeeper
    • Safari 6
    Mac OS X Mountain Lion is available now for $19.99 on the Mac App Store for users of Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.7 Lion.  If you just purchased a new Mac, perhaps a new MacBook Air or the new super sexy 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, you can upgrade to Mountain Lion for free using the Apple Up to Date program.
    Business users, ‘techies’, and just about anyone else who is interested, can also purchase and install OS X Server, an add on application module for Mac OS X Mountain Lion that adds server features such as Wiki Server, File Sharing over and above the sharing features in Mountain Lion, network Time Machine backup Support, email and calendar servers, iMessage server, web server, and network OS X software installs and updates.  Previously priced at $49.99, OS X Server for Mountain Lion is available now for $19.99 for the Mac App Store.
    Mountain Lion is a great addition to any Macintosh that is capable of running it.  I would, however, suggest that anyone running a mid-2007 or 2008 edition Macintosh upgrade their Mac to the maximum amount of RAM memory possible before installing Mountain Lion.  Yes, the software will run, but if you only have 2GB of RAM, you may not get the experience you want.  (Read: lots of spinning beach balls.)  I’m running Mountain Lion on an 8GB mid-2009 17-inch MacBook Pro and things seem to be running well so far.