Monday, May 30, 2016

Twitter Mobile on TenFourFox

You may have noticed Twitter recently updated their mobile site when accessing it in TenFourFox. It used to look like this (old convo, don't know if anything came of it):

And now it looks like this:

The problem, as with most website "upgrades," is it's slow as molasses. Gone is the zippiness. Instead, we get a mobile site that's almost as slow as the regular site. So I boxed with FoxBox to see if it helped, and I found something interesting. I get a paired down, much faster version of Twitter:

Then I went back to TenFourFox and used User Agent Switcher to change the user agent to an iPhone 3 and found the same paired-down site. Interesting, so it's a user agent issue. The iPhone 3 solution isn't wholly satisfactory as it breaks some other sites, but after some trial and error, I found that the user agent for TenFourFox 37 gives me the same stripped-down, fast Twitter, so apparently Twitter Mobile only gives you the new layout if your user agent is TenFourFox 38 or higher.

I wanted to change the user agent to v. 37 permanently so I wouldn't have to switch user agents back and forth between sites, but User Agent Switcher has a bug/feature where it reverts to the default version after closing a window. So I did it the manual way, which is to enter about:config in the address bar and press return, type useragent in the search field, right click on some white space and choose New --> String from the menu. Enter this for the preference name:


Then enter this for the string (no line breaks):

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; PPC Mac OS X 10.4; rv:37.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/37.0 TenFourFox/7450

With this I'm all set, until sites warn me my version of Firefox is too old*, please update, etc., etc. Maybe by then there'll be some kind of site-specific user agent switching available, either built in or as an add-on. I'm sure Dr. Kaiser or somebody can whip that up on a lunch break, ha ha.

Anyway, this has been another episode of cling to PowerPC forever. I recently weighed my upgrade options, looking at a Mac Mini, a Macbook Air, and a Thinkpad, but I didn't find them appealing. With new Macs, I'd have to accept no Firewire, no Classic, no PowerPC support, not even Rosetta, and Apple's increasingly buggy software. With a Thinkpad and Linux, it'd be much the same.

I'll just stay right here in my lawn chair.

*this may also interfere with add-ons auto updating until you update the version string to a version the add-on supports.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Cool Mac Book in the Making

No, not MacBook, Mac book. As in someone's writing a book about gaming on the Mac called "The Secret History of Mac Gaming." As the title suggests, it's going to be a narrative-style retelling of the history of Mac game development and draws on all sorts of interviews with key players from the 68k era through the early 2000s. What could make this interesting is these were for the most part indie developers who followed their own muses and came up with some really creative UIs and gameplay, so I'm sure they have great stories to tell.

The author, Richard Moss, emailed me drawing my attention to this and has some serious credentials, having written for Ars Technica, Edge, Mac|Life and several gaming sites as well as producing a podcast, Ludiphilia. There's a crowdfunding site for both digital and deluxe print editions of the book which you can visit here. There's also a pitch video on Youtube. Both links will tell you a bit more about the project and how you can contribute, so I'd encourage you to check them out.

I'm in for £10 for the ebook, so I'll have my name in the back of the book. Finally I get my name on a book that sells :)))))))

Saturday, April 23, 2016

In Case You're Having Problems Accessing Macintosh Garden...

For a couple of weeks I couldn't access Since the site is prone to going down on occasion I didn't think anything of it until more and more days passed and still no luck. So I tried it on a browser besides TenFourFox and the site worked. Huh?

Turns out switched to https for a few days but then reverted when it was causing some hitches, but TenFourFox would automatically try to connect to a nonexistent https site even if you typed http in the address bar.

Click for full size:

After purging my history of all macintoshgarden links and clearing out all macintoshgarden cookies, I still couldn't get TFF to connect to http. Finally this was the solution to my problems:

Click for full size:

"That's done it. I edited the SiteSecurityServiceState.txt in my Firefox profile, deleting the macintoshgarden entry. Now I'm back in."

Kind of ironic the solution was in a thread I temporarily couldn't access in TFF, but all is well now.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

CorePlayer Un*ucked

So this happened in the MacRumors Forum yesterday:

For a little background, user lotvai77 is the one who compiled Transmission 2.84 for Tiger PPC several months back, and CorePlayer is near legendary among powerpc users as the most cpu efficient video player (zen at PowerPC Liberation was one of the few who had a registered copy).

Now I can see what everyone was raving over. I previously found Mplayer from the shell to have the best playback, though for some 720p videos I had to disable the loop filter to avoid framedrops and this slightly degraded image quality. With CorePlayer this is no longer necessary and it has handled every 720p vid I can throw at it. I don't have any 1080p videos handy at the moment, but I've read from others CorePlayer can handle 1080p on faster Macs with ease.

Caveats: CorePlayer is the master of h.264 playback, but some mkv's I tried with it were wonky and avi's with AC3 audio didn't play any sound. Zen previously reported "little support for AC3 audio," so that's definitely been my experience!

One tip, if your cpu's too slow and you're still getting framedrops, go into Tools --> Settings --> Advanced and check "Disable AVC deblocking filter". I think this is the same as disabling the loop filter and it'll speed things up.

h/t Adam Albrec

Also: CorePlayer File Association Icons

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Android and Your PowerPC Mac

A week ago my wireless provider texted me saying they'd no longer support their 2G network and I needed to upgrade my phone. Up till now I'd been living my namesake and happily using my candy bar 2G phone, but now that reality has come crashing down on me and I have to join the 21st Century or something. So I thought I could buy another dumb phone that supported 3G, but then I thought for a little more I could get an Android phone and maybe milk it for a blog post or two about using Android with our PowerPC Macs. So here we are!

I got an unlocked Motorola Moto E, which was the least expensive smart phone that still got good reviews. I don't expect to be a heavy user, so it suits my needs. I'll miss my lighter than air Nokia whose battery lasted forever and also didn't nag me about software updates every five minutes. Apparently progress means being a perpetual beta user. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to share data between the Moto E and my Powerbook, and not just over a wireless connection. It works through USB, too.

Right out of the box with no additional software, you can upload photos through USB by tapping the notification that appears when you connect the USB cable and then changing the transfer protocol from Media device (MTP) to Camera (PTP). If the notification doesn't pop up, you can also go to Settings --> Storage and tap the upper right button and select USB Computer Connection. There you'll see the same MTP and PTP options. Shortly after you select PTP, your default photo importer in OS X such as iPhoto or Image Capture will automatically open and you can select which photos to import. So far so good!

However, to transfer all other data such as music and documents, you need MTP which doesn't play natively with OS X. Fortunately there's a piece of software for Tiger that allows you to connect via MTP and transfer all your other data. It's called XNJB, and though the official version 1.5.9 claimed PowerPC support, it doesn't work. That's where Cameron Kaiser came in and compiled his own version that works and has made it available for download through Floodgap. It must be noted, though, he offers absolutely no support for this. So please don't bother him with bug reports or feature requests--he compiled it for his own use and is throwing it out there in case anyone else finds it useful.

Those disclaimers aside, I found it works perfectly (just make sure your phone is set to MTP, not PTP). You start the application with your phone connected and you're shown two browser panes for uploading and downloading. You can also create new folders on your phone with the Create Folder button. The "X" button predictably deletes items.

With that, I can move all the data I want back and forth. As for sharing data over wifi, you can set up your Mac as a Remote Login server in Preferences --> Sharing and then use an Android file manager that supports SFTP to establish a connection and move files. I tried it with ES File Explorer, and it worked fine.

For transferring via USB, Linux users don't need to do much except install gvfs-backends if they don't already have it, and their Android device will mount in their file manager. A supported operating system does occasionally have its charms.

I haven't really looked into pure syncing for things like contacts and calendars, but perhaps there's a way to do it by using Google services as a go-between. Syncing email is easy if you have IMAP.

So I hope this blog post served you well and was worth me giving in to the smart phone fascists. I've been tempted to throw it into a wall a few times, but maybe that'll subside. I still have a few weeks left to return it for a refund ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting an SSD for Your PPC? Here is Some Important Info That Might Help

(Ed. note: The following is by Adam Albrec, author of PPC Media Center, cross-posted here from various other places. It's about SSDs, and since there's virtually nothing on this blog about SSDs on PowerPC Macs, I thought I'd include it here with his permission.)

I just got an OWC 'TRIM-Free' ssd for my MDD DP 1.42. At first, this was easily the best performance I've EVER had on this machine - OS9 level peppiness even running Tiger with heavy apps like TenFourFox. Opened 2 9000x6000 pixel images in Photoshop and doubled them by 10% increments, then opened TenFourFox with 50+ tabs - could move between PS History-states and then back over to TenFourFox and cycle tabs with no-more than 1/10th second delay!!!! Was ROCKIN' 11GB of Virtual Memory!

BUT it all came crashing down in less than a day.

The drive became completely unresponsive and I could not get any further than boot. Thought: "Knew this was too-good to be true!" Well OWC tested the drive and reported back it was fine!?!?!? To be on safe-side they sent another knew one and adviced me to attach to newer machine (Linux in my case) and verify it had newest firmware before using. Well this meant having to partition to MBR so Linux could see it. Well, once it was verified, I repartitioned back to APT to put in the Mac, but suddenly it was unresponsive again like the 1st one! Well to use the parlance of our time - WTF?

So it was time to get me some edumacation into this stuff. The reason Sandforce controllers don't need TRIM is that they do it themselves when the drive is idle. On a modern system, with copious amounts of RAM, the only time the 'Garbage Collection' function is noticeable, is when large numbers of blocks are being reclaimed. In older OSX systems with 2GB RAM limits, this becomes much more likely than in newer systems.

So what to do? In this case, the drive was 120GB (for $64 = Good Deal), I had initially partitioned it into 2 sections (80GB for OSX and 40GB for OS9). On a light day, maybe this would be fine, but on those 'Heavy-Flow Days', I can easily push 20GB or so onto VM, so I either plan on allowing for periodic down-time or give the drive all the room it can support to enable maximum paging flexibility. The second idea has been great and no more problems. Also, some have said that with Sandforce's drives this also makes sense in wear-leveling, because the more of the drive is available, the more it can spread the data around, and the drives also auto-recopy data periodically to make sure it stays fresh.

Boot-times/program load times aside, one of these SSDs are the best investment you can put into your classic PowerMac. Like having virtually limitless RAM. But you need to allow it more openspace to auto-maintain (for G4/32-bit systems at least 40GB).

Also while they do still offer the 'Legacy' IDE/ATA versions, there is no reason to pay the extra $40 when an IDE/Sata adaptor (at least if you are on a desktop with the room inside) like this one is available for about $6 and works like a charm.

Happy PPC Computing Folks!!

•• Note on IDE/SATA adaptors: The smaller inline ones like mentioned above, generally have a 2TB limit. Larger drives often require a PCI card. Also, they sometimes add an additional 1-second delay to Access/Spin-Up times. Once data starts moving, there is no delay, but if your only drive is an SSD, it might make sense to experiment disabling 'disksleep' on pmset in Terminal. Even in this case, however, there will occasionally be a momentary searching during bootup for the system folder as the card comes to life. This is normal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On Reviving Dead Power Supplies (Or How I Just Got Lucky Doing Any Random Thing the Internet Told Me To)

My Power Mac 7600 died. At least I thought. It was a dead power supply, and also extremely disappointing (Do you hear that, 7600? I'm not angry, just disappointed.). This 7600 was da man. It was my vinyl ripper with its built-in RCA ports and Coaster, and it was also my bridge machine, the only Mac I could directly network to my post-SCSI Macs.

So I checked out Ebay and saw just one power supply available for 30 or 40 dollars plus shipping, but before I contemplated that, I took another look at the stiff. Was my dead cadaver power supply dead after all? I opened the case and was shocked to see how much dust was in it. The power supply had it packed in so that when you slid the frame off you had a brick of dust. Disgraceful. I think that's why I forgot to take pictures–my subconscious was too ashamed and didn't want anyone to see.

Anyway, I thought, maybe if I get all this guck out it'll magically awaken. Wishful thinking, admittedly, but being single-task minded and obsessive, I proceeded. I opened up the power supply and...

When working inside a power supply, it is exceedingly likely you will receive an electrical shock, and a powerful one, unless you take safety precautions. Never touch anything with your bare fingers. Never reach inside it with anything metal. Power supplies can hold an electrical charge longer than you might suspect, so be careful.

...using a modelers paint brush with a plastic handle, I brushed all the dust out. Back up a second. First I gave it a good blow and immediately realized my mistake. After letting everything settle, I more sensibly applied the modelers brush and didn't stop until every last bit of lint was removed. What I had left was a pristine power supply, seemingly, that probably wouldn't work, but at least it looked nice. I also read on some random forum that I should blow a hair dryer on it while set on hot for a couple of minutes. Not to cook it, but just to warm it up a bit. Well, if the internet tells me to do it, I'm doing it.

So after blowing the hair dryer on it, I reassembled the frame and stuck it back in the 7600. I do wish the 20 year old plastic wasn't as brittle as toffee. At least you can eat toffee. Then I put the case cover on, hooked everything up, plugged it in and pressed the power button quickly without thinking about it 'cause I didn't want to jinx it by waiting one more second, and holy s---, it worked. The fan spun, the chime chimed, and that sweet SCSI whine of the hard drive spinning up followed.

Was it the de-dusting? The hair dryer trick? My stern looks of reproach? Dunno. But since none require superhuman effort, I recommend all three. Having said that, I probably just got lucky.

While in the business of reviving things, I got the idea to fix a dead Seagate SCSI drive with a new screwdriver set I bought. This drive had its circuit board exposed on the top and was vulnerable to physical damage (don't ask), but I kept it stashed in a box with vague thoughts of one day fixing it. Fifteen years later, I finally got the idea to switch out circuit boards. Or I probably got the idea before, but I just forgot about it. Anyway, since I now have every screwdriver head imaginable and a second identical model drive that I bought way back when as a replacement, suddenly it seemed imminently doable. So I unscrewed and removed the damaged circuit board, replaced it with the good one, and now I could finally see my desktop as it was, frozen in time, 15 years ago:

my Mac OS desktop

The wallpaper is a Laetitia Casta underwater shot (I took that), and I think the icons are from AppleWorks clip art.

The universe couldn't let all this good news go unpunished, so to even things out my iBook died. It's either the DC-in board or the motherboard, but the battery still charges, so I'm 99% sure it's the motherboard. Repeatedly yelling at it, "You bastard! You bastard!" hasn't worked yet, but I'll keep you updated.