• mac os x,  macintosh,  security,  vintage

    Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger’s Java Updates

    Running Mac OS X Tiger? You’ll have some Java updates to apply!

    When restoring vintage Macs, I like to upgrade Mac OS / Mac OS X / OS X to the latest release to make sure that I have the very latest software on my gear. For my latest project, I am installing Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and all of the available updates from DVD and Software Update. Looks likes Java has had quite a few updates.

  • apple,  emulator,  newton

    Newton OS 1.0 Emulator In Your Browser

    Booting up a Newton in a browser

    I have been talking about the Apple Newton a lot lately. If you want to skip all of the soldering and just take a stroll down memory late, Pablo Marx has created a web-based Newton OS 1.0 browser-based emulator on the web called Leibniz.

    Leibniz lets you relive a stock Newton OS 1.0 playing with the software that comes bundled in ROM. The mouse pointer acts as the stylus for touch screen input. If you mouse to handwriting is as bad as mine, you can bring up the on screen keyboard and use the mouse to peck out typewritten input.

    Experience the thrill of Notes in a vNewton in your browser

    If you are so inclined, you can also download a version of the Leibniz emulator for your modern Intel or Apple Silicon Macintosh. To legally use an emulator like Leibniz, you need to dump a copy of the ROM chip from a Newton you already own. As many iin the Newton community have found, dumping your Newton ROM can be a bit of a pain, so Pablo Marx links to several ready-to-go ROM images for you.

  • apple,  messagepad,  newton,  vintage

    Patch Newton OS 1.0 to Use the Getting Started Card

    An Original Newton MessagePad with the Getting Started PC Card

    Over the last year, I have gotten into retro computing. More specifically, restoring vintage computers to keep myself busy. Since the start of 2020, I have restored a 2001 Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver, a 1997 eMate 300 notebook, and a 1993 Original Newton MessagePad (OMP).

    When I got my OMP, it was sold as-is, broken, and incomplete. To get the OMP working again, I just needed to put in a few hours of research, another couple of hours for electronics soldering work, and a pair of inexpensive electrolytic capacitors. I still have lots of room for improvement with my soldering skills, but as far as my OMP was concerned, the hard part was behind me. Now, it was time to find the missing pieces for my little green guy.

    Front and back of Apple’s 1993 Getting Started Newton Card

    One of the accessories that I have been searching for is an Apple Getting Started program card. After several months of searching eBay, I finally won an auction for one of these cards. These black and red credit card sized PCMCIA cards, PC Cards for short, include a few little programs that new Newton owners use can use to get to know their device better. For example, on the 1993 version of the card that I have, are the Handwriting Instructor (Instructor), Newton Tour (Tour), and CalliGrapher (Game) applications. When my card arrived, I early loaded it into my OMP. I was created with an error message that stated that the card couldn’t be read and prompted me to erase the card.

    I was not expecting this error message.

    I also tried the card in my other Newtons and my eMate and got similar results. I was starting to think that the card might be bad or the previous owner might have tried to use it for something else. Still, this is a ROM card, which can only be read, so I started to thing that my recently refurbished OMP, specifically, it’s card reader, might have been bad. So I started searching the Internet for clues.

    One real possibility was that I was jut holding it wrong 1. I started to get the hang of Newton OS 2.x and the MessasgePad 2×00, but I am less familiar with Newton OS 1.x and the 100-series MessagePads.

    I found a NewtonTalk.net archive that lead me to a blog post by Pawel over on his AppleNewton.co.uk blog. Pawel was having a an issue where his cards weren’t being recognized by his OMP either. Thankfully for Pawel, his solution was an easy one. Unlike the MessagePad 2×00 and eMate devices, the OMP requires that the card lock switch be re-engaged before the card can be read. But, that wasn’t my problem because I had inserted the card and engaged the card lock. So, what was my problem then?

    The OMP had a PC card lock switch in addition to the eject button.

    Fortunately, the solution to my problem was also straight forward, if not slightly more difficult to implement than flipping a slider on the OMP.

    Early Newton devices, including the OMP and it’s 100-series siblings have volatile memory in them. Unlike or iPhones or later model Newtons, when the batteries deplete, the contents of memory are lost on these old devices. To save your data from being lost, there are three ways to protect your data. The first is a backup coin cell battery in the Newton that can preserve the contents of memory while you are changing out the main battery. You can also plug-in the Newton to achieve the same effect if you don’t have a coin cell battery installed. A bold move, but some people like living life on the edge. Secondly, you can back up the contents of the Newton to a backup PC card. These cards were available from Apple and third-parities. The third option is to use the Newton Backup Utility (NBU) to save the contents of the Newton’s memory to your Classic Mac OS or Windows PC. All of this is to say that my OMP had lost the contents of RAM memory long before I received it. As a result, when I was able to finally start it up again, it had reverted to the software that was loaded into it’s ROM, which included Newton OS 1.00.

    Turning to the good folks on the NewtonTalk list lead me to the answer that Newton OS 1.00 is just too old for the Getting Started card that was included with the OMP. Matej pointed me to an old Newton FAQ that was written back in 1995 by Jean-Christophe Bousson that documented the fact that Newton OS 1.01 or later is needed to use the Getting Started card. The Newton OS 1.05 and 1.11 update packages are available for download from the United Newton Network Archive (UNNA).

    The Getting Started card needs Newton OS 1.01 or later to work.

    With the answer in hand, I turned my attention to the task of actually installing Newton 1.01. Like a fool, I read the release notes for the Newton OS 1.05 update. It specifically mentioned that users should backup your Newton before installing the update as installing any of the 1.0x updates erases your Newton. Except, I couldn’t get my OMP to backup to any of my computers. Not my vintage Power Mac G4 Quicksilver; not my iMac; and not my M1 MacBook Pro. It also didn’t matter which tool I used. Newton Connection Kit (NCK), Newton Connection Utilities (NCU), macOS Newton Connection (NCX). I decided to give up on the backup step since I didn’t have any data to save. I put NCX into Newton 1 install mode and the 1.05 update package immediately transferred to the OMP. From there, I was able to run the update without issue. Once the upgrade to Newton OS 1.05 was complete, when I loaded the Getting Started PC card into my OMP, everything worked as expected.

  • ios,  iphone,  troubleshooting

    Force Reboot an iPhone

    My Dad has this knack for getting himself into trouble with his computer equipment. iPhones. Macs. iPads. You name it. He can find some crazy edge case that will send you searching for answers.

    To be fair, this past Friday’s problem wasn’t really something that he did wrong. He sent me a text and followed up with a call to tell me that he could’t use his iPhone 12 Pro Max. It wasn’t registering any touch input.

    Here’s the problem, he knew to reboot his iPhone by holding down the hardware Volume Up and Power buttons, but had no way to use the Slide to Power Off option.

    On ‘old style’ iPhones, like the iPhone 6/7/8-series, you can force a reboot by pressing and holding the Home button and the Power button together for a few seconds.

    That doesn’t work on an iPhone with Face ID.

    After several attempts at searching the Internet, I finally found the Apple manual page for performing a forced restart on an iPhone. The procedure varies by model depending on whether or not a Home button is present. To force restart an iPhone that has Face ID, you need to the the following:

    Press and quickly release the volume up button, press and quickly release the volume down button, then press and hold the side button. When the Apple logo appears, release the button.

    Source: Apple, Inc.

    I had to try this a few times to get the timing right, but, as ‘They’ say, the third time was the charm. Just make sure you aren’t on a phone call when you try it.

    Source: iPhone User Guide – Force Restart iPhone

  • apple,  messagepad,  newton,  vintage

    Restoring a Newton MessagePad to Working Order

    My restored Apple Newton MessagePad (1993)

    I recently picked up an as-is Apple Newton MessagePad on eBay. I mostly wanted it for the accessories: a pair of third-party game PC cards, a 9W AC adapter, and the original Apple Mac OS (Classic) and Windows 3.5-inch floppy disks.

    When I got the Newton, I realized that it powered on, but there was no sound and the display was on but not displaying an image. As it turns out, this is a common problem with vintage Newtons and can be fixed with just a couple of new capacitors.

    To fix the original Newton MessagePad (OMP), also known as the H1000, you need a PH00 Philips head screwdriver, a spudger, a soldering iron and a small amount of solder, 1x 100µF 16V capacitor, and 1x 3.3µF 50V capacitor. I used the capacitors from the OCR 24Value 500pcs Electrolytic Capacitor Assortment Box Kit I purchased from Amazon.

    I don’t have any formal electronics training, so I relied on Colin’s This Does Not Compute video, Fixing a Common (and Inevitable) Apple Newton Problem as a general overview of the work that needed to be done. Once I had a basic idea of the repair job, I used EkriirkE’s Restoring/Repairing an Original Apple Newton MessagePad 100 (OMP H1000), start-to-finish video as a detailed repair guide.

    I hope that if you come across a Newton OMP / H1000 in a similar condition as mine, that you can use this information and repair yours also.

  • apple,  classic mac os,  emate,  newton

    Connecting a Newton to a Power Mac Running Mac OS 9

    Newton Connection Utilities v1.0 for Classic Mac OS 9

    This post in one of a series of posts that I am writing for retro tech and vintage Apple enthusiasts on how to use your Apple Newton MessasgePad or eMate in 2021. The collected information from these posts can be found on the SPF Newton page.

    One of the things that I have been wanting to do with my Newton OS devices, and my newfound interest in them was connect them to a vintage Macintosh using the software that shipped with them. For me, that meant getting my Newton MessagePad 2000, 2100, and eMate 300 connected to a Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver using an Apple mini DIN 8 serial cable. Here’s what I used to my Newton OS 2.1 devices talking to my Classic Mac OS 9.2.1 Mac.

    The first thing I needed to do was get my G4 back into working condition. That was no easy task. But the Quicksilver lacks mini DIN 8 serial ports. My next task would be to track down one of USB-to-Serial adapters that were popular accessories for Mac owners who upgraded from a beige Mac with two built in mini DIN 8 serial ports to the colorful iMac G3 or later Macintosh that only had USB-A ports.

    I ended up picking up a beige Keyspan USA-28 Twin Serial to USB-A Adapter on eBay. Keyspan was later acquired by Tripp-Lite. The adapter I purchased didn’t come with the packaging, manual, or software driver. It turned out that the Keyspan USA28-GX adapter was the far more popular model, and its drivers were much easier to find. I tried using the USA28-GX Mac OS 9 driver with my USA28 adapter and I was disappointed to find out that the USA28-GX driver installer was not backwards compatible with the USA28. Thankfully, I eventually found a copy of the Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X Keyspan USA28 drivers on the archive website MacintoshGarden.com.

    With the adapter and driver situation sorted out, I needed to get the original Newton synchronization software called Newton Connection Utilities (NCU). It is important to take a moment here and call out a difference in Newton synchronization software.

    If you have a Newton OS 2.0 or 2.1 device, like I do, you need NCU. Apple-branded Newton OS 2.x devices include the MessagePad 2000, the MessagePad 2100, and the eMate 300. If you are trying to connect the original Newton MessagePad, or any of the other Apple-branded MessagePad 100-series devices, you need to use Newton Connect Kit (NCK), which all run Newton OS 1.x.

    Normally, NCU or NCK come bundled with the MessagePad or eMate on 3.5″ floppy disks or a CD. Since my second hand MessagePad 2000 didn’t come with its software or manuals, I needed to turn to Internet archives to find the installers I needed for Mac OS 9. Both NCU and NCK, as well as the Newton Package Installer and Newton Backup utilities, can be found on the United Network of Newton Archives (UNNA) repository since Apple removed the downloads from their website a long time ago.

    Once you have your adapter driver and connection software sorted, the last thing you will need is a mini DIN 8 Male to mini DIN 8 Male cable and a Newton Interconnect Adapter if you are using a MessagePad 2000 or 2100.

    To initiate the connection between the Newton and the Mac:

    1. Plug in the USB-A to mini DIN 8 seral adapter
    2. Plug in one end of the mini DIN 8 serial cable into the port 1 on the adapter
    3. Launch NCU (Newton OS 2.x) or NCK (Newton OS 1.x)
    4. In the NCU Preferences box, I checked all of the connection types
    5. Plug in the serial cable (and Newton Interconnect adapter for MessagePad 2×00)
    6. On the MessagePad or eMate, tap the Dock icon, select Serial, and tap Connect
    Success! The Newton has connected to the Mac!

    After a few seconds, if everything is in order, the Newton OS device will connect to your Mac and display the sync tools slip on the Netwon and show a Connected status in NCU/NCK.

  • classic mac os,  restoration

    Apple Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver Retrospective and Restoration

    Apple Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver

    During July 2001’s MacWorld Expo, then Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the next entrant into the fruit company’s line of professional desktop computers: the Power Mac G4 “Quicksilver”.

    The 2001 Power Mac G4 came in three configurations using the PowerPC G4 processor: 733 MHz ($1,699), 867 MHz ($2,499), and a high-end dual 800 MHz configuration ($3,499).

    Steve Jobs introduces the all-new Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver in July 2001 at MacWorld Expo. Source: Pinterest

    In the Apple press release for the Quicksilver, Jobs remarked that:

    “These are the fastest Macs ever, with 867 MHz and dual 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processors,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With the 867 MHz processor and our revolutionary SuperDrive together in a system costing just $2,499, more users can now afford to create professional quality DVDs.”

    As an IT pro, working on the Power Mac G4 tower was really nice. You knew going in that you would be able to make quick work of installing more RAM, expansion cards, or disk drives. Lift the release latch on the right side of the Mac, and you had access to all of the major components of the system. Other Macs, including the IIci, a favorite of mine, and Power Macintosh 7600, made it easy to get inside and work on, but the G4 towers were my favorite to maintain because it was so easy to get at internals.

    All of the Power Mac G4 towers kept the same exact shape and size. On the outside, the first generation mid-1999 Power Mac G4 featured darker graphite front and rear panels with lighter grey side, top, and bottom panels – borrowing a similar color scheme from the gumdrop iMac G3 special edition computers from that same time period. For 2001’s G4 Quicksilver tower, the front and rear panels were also grey, but they were a darker grey than the other panels keeping the same two-tone aesthetic as the 1999 model. The third, and final generation of G4 towers, was 2002’s Power Mac G4 Mirrored Drive Doors. As the name implies, the front panel of the 2002 G4 received a makeover, shifting the built-in speaker to the top of the chassis, sliding the new mirrored drive bay doors to the middle to make room for the four new air intake openings near the front bottom foot.

    The grey color pallet of the G4 series towers were a marked departure from the playful color schemes of the compact gumdrop iMac G3 series and 1999’s blue and white Power Mac G3 tower. The use of color would be part of Apple’s strategy to delineate personal computing appliances, like the all-in-one iMac, from the more expensive professional series of modular tower computers. This dark color scheme philosophy would carry on to the current day with Apple’s Pro products being available in muted colors including Graphite, Grey, Space Grey, Jet Black, Midnight Green, and Pacific Blue. Blue, Purple, Green, White, Yellow, Rose Gold, Coral, (PRODUCT)RED, and Silver would all be reserved for consumer products.

    In June of 2003, Apple released a spec bumped version of the Power Mac G4 Mirrored Drive Doors tower. The time of the Power Macintosh G4 line of computers was coming to a close. The 2003 G4 tower would be the last Mac capable of running Classic MacOS for business customers who needed extra time transitioning their workflows to Mac OS X. That same month, Apple introduced the all-new aluminum Power Mac G5 featuring the straight lines and flat sides that would come to dominate product designs for years to come.

    Fittingly, the Power Mac G4 would be the last Mac I would use professionally on a day-to-day basis.

    In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic started closing down the northeast section of the United States. With the lockdown in place, I started looking around for something to work on. Way in the back of my junk closet, I remembered that there was a G4 Quicksilver that I had rescued from the dumpster that I never got around to repairing. Making my old Power Mac run again became my lockdown project.

    Easy access to the insides of the G3 and later desktop Power Macintosh computers was a tentpole feature. I have years of experience supporting and upgrading Macs from this era. Surely, I could get inside my G4 and replace the components that were bad, right?

    When I plugged in the G4 and tried to turn it on, the computer would not boot. The fan inside the power supply would start to spin, the power button LED would come on and stay on. Inside the computer, a small red LED light lit up telling me that the system board was getting power. I figured I would start the repair with the easy fixes first. The obvious fixes of using a different power cord and different wall outlets didn’t work. Reseating RAM and PCI cards came next. Still, the result was exactly the same. Power would come on, but the Mac would not boot.

    Newly manufactured 3.6V suitable PRAM battery replacement.

    Searching Internet support forms and old Power Mac G4 service documents suggested that the PRAM battery likely needed to be replaced. This Mac was certainly old enough to need a new battery. Compatible PRAM batteries for my Power Mac are still available online from specialty Apple parts resellers and on Amazon. The first replacement battery came, and I swapped it in. For good measure, I plugged in the power cable and let the Mac sit for 30 minutes. And, again, the Mac still would not power up and boot. Attempts to reset the PRAM on the Mac as well as performing a system board reset by pressing the CUDA switch, as suggested on the iFixit forums, didn’t work either.

    Power Mac G4’s CUDA Switch

    An Apple discussion board thread listed the same tests that I did. An astute reader commented that the replacement PRAM battery wasn’t tested before installing it. And that was true, I hadn’t tested my replacement battery. I didn’t have the knowledge or tools to test it. Further, I had no idea how long my replacement battery had been sitting on a shelf. I found a second compatible battery on Amazon from a vendor who was selling new batteries. I bought a two pack. The batteries came and still the same result. I crossed PRAM batteries off my list.

    Next, I turned my attention to the power supply. I started to think that it was possible that one or more internal power supply components had failed. With no electrical engineering training at all, I started looking for sources of replacement power supplies. There are several people who sell rebuild services on the Internet. You purchase a repair service, ship them your power supply, and they will replace the internals to get it working again, and ship it back to you. I wasn’t 100% convinced that the power supply would be the root cause of my power issues, so I found a parts reseller that claimed that they sold working replacement parts.

    Getting access to the inside of G4 is easy as long as you want to access the system board. The hard drive bays aren’t too hard to get to either. Getting to the SuperDrive and the power supply are a bit more difficult.

    The upper drive chassis is right up against the power supply.

    It took some elbow grease, but I was finally able to remove the upper drive chassis and disconnect the power and data cables. It was a tight fit! As I was disconnecting the cables, I was reminded that I was not the first person to work inside this particular Mac. There was a tear in the SuperDrive cable pull tab. Not a great sign.

    The SuperDrive pull tab has been torn. Someone’s been in here before.

    I was eventually able to get the original power supply pulled out, but not before nicking one of the wires on the cutout that divides the upper and lower sections of the Mac chassis. There was no going back now, I was committed to making my replacement power supply work. Before installing the new power supply, I put some blue painters’ tape on the inside of the chassis to protect the wires from another nick while threading in the cable bundle.

    With the drive chassis removed, the power supply can be accessed.
    Blue tape helps keep from nicking the cables on the replacement power supply.
    A replacement Power Mac G4 power supply.
    Power Mac G4 waiting to have the new power supply installed.
    The new power supply, blue tape included, finally installed and ready.

    With the replacement power supply and upper drive chassis installed, I was ready to hear the Power Mac G4 start up chime. After all that, the Mac still refused to boot, but this time, the result was different. Previously, after pressing the power button, the LED light would stay lit, the fan would run, and the system board’s red LED would come on. Now, those things would only happen while I was holding the power button down. The minute I pulled my finger away, everything would stop working.

    More researching on the Internet and I found a MacRumors discussion forum thread that discussed my exact problem. Naturally, I was disheartened to think that I had another bad power supply on my hands. Reading further into the thread, commenters suggested that it could be any number of failed parts. With nothing but time on my hands in the coming months, I would set out on a journey to buy many replacement parts, including a replacement system board, a replacement processor board, and the power button control board that hides behind the face plate. I started a systematic parts swap of the components, including removing individual component parts like the SuperDrive, the hard disk, modem, RAM, and PCI cards. I figured that once the system was stripped down to the power supply, speaker, and PRAM battery, that I would at least get a sad Mac icon or a screeching tires and broken glass sound effect. Nothing worked.

    A replacement button and power LED control board that goes behind the front plate.

    I also went to the effort to scrubbing both system boards down and soaking them in 70% isopropyl alcohol. After their bath, both boards looked great, but the Mac was still refusing the boot up.

    Eventually, the repair effort got pushed to the back burner. I wasn’t able to isolate the cause of the power up issue and I started to think that I was fighting against two failed components, such as a bad power supply and a bad PowerPC CPU processor card. Spring rolled into summer and summer into fall. The Power Mac G4 could be seen out of the corner of my eye, taunting me, while working at my desk.

    In January, after the holidays had passed and things started to settle down into a pandemic normal, I found an eBay auction for an as-is Power Mac G4 Quicksilver just like mine. It was being auctioned off as part of an estate sale. The previous owner or owner’s family had removed the disk drive and RAM from the machine. It was being sold as untested. If I could win the auction at a reasonable price the shipping wasn’t going to be too expensive. I won the auction, and about a week later, my second Quicksilver arrived.

    Yes, there is another ‘as-is’ G4 in the box. No, seriously.

    As it turned out, this second Quicksilver was free from whatever was ailing my original G4. The second Quicksilver powered up, but, without a disk drive, couldn’t boot. Encouraged, I took stock of the components that I had between the two Macs. One was booting but had some body damage. The other, wouldn’t boot and was cosmetically in better shape. I was able to collect three 512MB RAM modules for a maximum RAM size of 1.5GB. I removed the VGA AGP card from the booting G4 and installed the DVI AGP card from the original Mac. I also transplanted a Belkin USB 2.0 card from the original.

    An Adaptec 2930U for Mac SCSI card has been installed to read my old SCSI disks.

    I had some old Seagate SCSI disks that I had used in a white box Windows 2000 PC that I built. Wanting to see what was on them, I purchased an Adaptec 2930U Mac card, and a new internal SCSI cable. I installed the SCSI controller and drives.

    The OWC SATA SSD to IDE upgrade kit installed and ready for Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.

    Finally, the rebuild was coming along nicely. I pulled out a set of Power Mac G4 Quicksilver discs, which included both a Mac OS 9.2 disc and Mac OS X factory install disc set. I used the Mac OS X install disc to boot off of the SuperDrive. I discovered that previous owner of the original G4 had never wiped the disk drive. I used the Mac OS X installer disc to securely wipe the drive. I didn’t want to know anything about what might have been on that hard disk. I purchased an OWC SATA SSD to IDE conversion kit that included a new SATA SSD and accessory adapter board that is SATA on one side and IDE on the other. I booted the Mac up using the Mac OS 9.2 disc, formatted the drive, and installed the OS. Once Mac OS 9 was installed, I pulled out the Mac OS X installer disc and installed Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar. Then 10.3 Panther. And finally, 10.4 Tiger – the latest version of Mac OS X that a PowerPC G4 Quicksilver can run. I was pretty surprised at how quickly an SSD equipped Quicksilver could boot up. Back in their hay day, the boot time was a constant complaint about these machines. My recollection was that my work G4 took forever and day to get booted up and ready for work. Clearly the IDE chain and disk drives originally used in the G4 at the time where a bottleneck.

    Testing the reassembled Power Mac G4 with the factory restore DVDs.

    With the Power Mac reassembled and buttoned up, I pressed the power button and braced for more disappointment. I was surprised to finally, after many months of work, hear the Power Mac G4 startup chime! I was up well after midnight that day getting my working Quicksilver reassembled, the hardware tuned, and software installed. It was a good thing that I was working from home the next day, as I needed to take a nap a lunchtime.

    Classic Mac OS 9.2 and Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar install discs.

    The Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver restoration project ended up taking much longer and costing much more than I was expecting at the outset. In the end, I am glad that I was able to see the project through. I have been learning about and exploring other vintage Apple hardware from the Newton MessagePad and eMate product lines. The dual-booting Quicksilver is an excellent bridge computer that runs Classic Mac OS and Mac OS X allowing me to work with modern .iso and disk image files .dmg and run Mac OS 9 compatible applications in the ’emulated’ Classic environment at the same time.

    This restoration was anything but simple. At least it was a fun project in the end.

    Over the last few months, the Quicksilver has been the computer I have been using to tinker with Apple’s Newton Connection Utilities, the software that is used to manage and synchronize data with a Newton MessagePad or eMate 300. And while my friends and family may not understand my obsession with computer technology that is over 20 years old, it is fun to rediscover, upgrade, and enhance yesteryear’s technology.

  • lifestyle

    Memorial Day

    On this Memorial Day 2021, let us set aside politics and be thankful for those women and men who service in the United States Armed Forces and, really, all those who protect the citizens of our country. Especially keep in mind those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life.

    Thank you.

  • apple,  dell

    A Tale of Two Batteries

    iPad Pro 10.5-inch batteries, Source: PowerBookMedic.com

    I recently requested battery service on a Dell Latitude 7490 laptop and a 10.5-inch iPad Pro. One battery was serviced for free. I couldn’t get the other one serviced. This story does not end the way you might expect.

    The Dell Latitude 7490, released in 2018, is a business class notebook computer. Similarly, the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro can be considered, by way of features, a “prosumer” tablet. Recently, I had reason to call Dell and Apple for replacement battery service.

    The Latitude was purchased with a multi-year ProSupport Plus service plan for multiple years. Oddly, the optional battery replacement service only ran for years one and two. The iPad Pro on the other hand, was purchased by me without an AppleCare service plan. Why would I need one? I baby my hardware and my iPad Pro looks to be in out of the box condition except for a small scratch in the glass from a small grain of sand or table salt. (And yes, I’m still salty about it.)

    When I called in for service on the Latitude 7490 to take advantage of the battery replacement coverage, the Dell support staff kindly told me that this particular Latitude was out of its battery coverage range by about four months. I apologized for my mistake and offered to call my Dell sales representative to order a replacement battery. At this, the Dell support staff offered to replace the battery for me as if the battery service coverage had not expired. I was surprised by this and thanked the support staff. The service request was processed and a few days later I received the replacement battery. Twelve screws later, the Latitude had a new battery and was ready to go again. All-in-all, a delighted customer will continue to use Dell products in the future.

    If I have learned nothing over the last year, it is that my go to Apple product is my personal 10.5-inch iPad Pro. And while I love my Mac and use it for “real” work, my iPad Pro is the device I use most often. More than my iMac and more that my iPhone. I love reading the newspaper, watching TV and movies, and surfing the web on my iPad.

    Late last year, I started getting the feeling that my 2017 iPad Pro just was not holding a charge like it used to. I felt, without any hard evidence, that I was having to charge the iPad more frequently. Since Apple does not offer the Battery Health tool (Settings > Battery > Battery Health) on iPadOS, I was left to wonder if I was just imagining worse battery life or if I was actually getting worse battery life. During the pandemic I was using my iPad Pro more, do doubt, but I has been working at the office most days for the past 10 months.

    I downloaded and installed iMazing, a general-purpose Apple device management and IT supervision tool from a company called DigiDNA SARL based in Geneva, Switzerland. One of the claims that DigiDNA makes is that they can show you the relative battery health on an iPad. What I saw when I plugged in my iPad Pro to my iMac was not good and supported my assumption that the battery had degraded and was no longer holding a charge as well as I did when it was only a couple of years old.

    Not wanting to spend about $1,000 on a new 11-inch iPad Pro, I decided to stick it out with my current iPad Pro for another year. More recently, I decided to setup a Genius Bar appointment to have my iPad Pro’s battery swapped by Apple and continue using it for another two years before thinking about upgrading. A five-year service life for an iPad Pro feels about right to me. I backed up my device to iCloud and again with an encrypted backup using the Finder in macOS Big Sur, turned off Find My tracking, signed out of iCloud, and hard reset my iPad Pro. Then, I set up the iPad taking the generic options just to get it up to Springboard without configuring any of my settings. I made the Genius Bar appointment, and then visited my local Apple Store. So far, so good.

    When I got to the appointment, the Genius Bar person I worked with was very polite and connected their iPad to mine to run a diagnostics suite. I reiterated the comments that I put in the notes for the appointment that I was looking to do and out of warrantee battery replacement because I felt that the iPad Pro wasn’t holding a charge and it was, in my opinion, impacting the usefulness of the device. After a few minutes, the results of the diagnostics test came back – the battery was fine. What?! In November, iMazing was reporting the battery at about 78% capacity and the Apple tool was reporting the battery capacity at 89%. With the battery rating from the Apple support tool above 80%, Apple would not send the iPad out for battery service unless I paid the $449 swap fee. No, thank you!

    All of this to say that I ended up getting the exact opposite of what I was expecting. I was expecting Dell to hassle me about the out of coverage battery swap and I was expecting Apple to honor a service request to swap out the battery on my iPad that I was willing to pay the advertised price for.

    Would things have turned out differently with my experience with Apple had the ideas discussed in the recent FTC report The Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions had been implemented? I have to say, I am weary of most mall kiosk repair shops. But, had there been a repair center that offered first party authorized parts by Apple trained repair technicians, I think that in this case, I would have gladly paid $200 to have my iPad Pro serviced. Now, I use an iPad which I feel that I have to constantly charge in between every couple of uses.