Friday, September 23, 2016

An Inside Look at Apple's Skunkworks

I feel a little paranoid even posting this, especially after Tim Cook loaded all those Samsung phones with explosive devices like a ninja. A few weeks ago I came into contact (won't say the method or the medium) with an insider at Apple (won't say who) of some distinction (won't say their rank) who first dangled and then delivered pictures of the new 2016 Mac Mini. Ordinarily I'd be like, "Cool," but nothing to risk my neck over. The Mac Mini isn't the most exciting product ever, but this Mac Mini, my source said, is different. It's a revolutionary new Mac Mini, and one that would hint at changes to the entire Mac lineup. This is a paradigm shifter. It shows Apple's changing priorities and where Jony Ive & Co. intend to take the whole Mac product line in years to come. The old Mac Mini is no more. It's time for a new form factor, new internals, and even an assault on the very concept of internals.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the 2016 Mac Mini:

2016 Mac Mini

As you can see, it's minnier than ever. "How can they fit a computer in that?" you ask. Before you go speculating there's an A10 fusion processor in there, ask yourself first, "What is the concept of a processor?" Is it internal to the core housing of a computer, or is it modular? Must it always be internal taking up valuable space that can be better filled by the feng shui of Jony Ive's brilliance, or would it be more harmonious as an external add-on — a dedicated CPU (or eCPU)? This is the next revolution Apple intends to give us. Their new computers will have no CPUs, and just as they used the Mac Mini 10 years ago to usher in the age of Intel, they're using the 2016 Mac Mini to usher in the age of Notel. That's right, the CPU is a thing of the past. You may add one if you wish, but Apple will not bow to the vulgarities of manufacturers who pursue function over form. Rather, Apple is dedicated to balancing form and function on equal terms.

As with the CPU, there is no internal GPU. There is no internal hard drive or memory. The new Mac Mini is a waystation for your dreams. To fulfill your vision, add an external CPU and motherboard. Add an external GPU and hard drive. Even many hard drives if you like. Apple has never shied from its role as curator for the essential and worthy in life, and this new design (I blush at such a blunt moniker) creates, yes creates, maximum flexibility to follow your muse.

So advanced is the new, "form," we'll call it, that it doesn't even need a power supply. You simply plug it into one with the USB-C connector. You can attach a plethora of external devices to the included ports comprising of USB-C, USB 3 , and HDMI. If you run out of ports, you may add a hub, or perhaps hubs upon hubs. In this way, Apple devices will be scalable. For the first time, home consumer devices will scale in ways that will make many an enterprise procurer wonder why they even still exist.

You may wonder, "Won't this ruin the aesthetic?" Won't all these devices, hubs, and dongles make every desktop a tangled web of cords and connectors, of external housing units of varying brands and sizes, turning an otherwise elegant workspace (brainspace) into a teeming jungle? Yes, and this is where Apple's second innovation comes in. This is not your traditional device rack. Apple, my source informs me, thought long and hard to come up with the right form factor for a new component receptacle befitting of the new now.

May I humbly introduce the Apple Wastebasket:

Apple Wastebasket

Simple. Futuristic yet harkening. You never would have thought of it yesterday, but now that it's arrived, you cannot imagine anything else.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Kickstarter for Your Attention

Friend of this blog and PPC Media Center creator Adam Albrec has a new Kickstarter out. Some of you may be aware he's a photographer in one of his various lives, and his Kickstarter is for five volumes (available individually or as a set) of his fine art nude photography in print. Here's the link:

The V.E.P. Fine Art Nude Photo Collection by Adam Albrec

As noted in the description, these will be hard-bound, high quality printed books available in full size or an economy-size option. In addition to the photos, there will also be written descriptions about Adam's camera systems and composition techniques, etc.

adamalbreckickstarter

So click on the link above and read! The Kickstarter lasts till Sept. 17. Fund it early and often!

G5Center Interviews Cameron Kaiser

Look who bumped into each other at Vintage Computer Festival West.

Also, I've been using the new TenFourFox 45 beta. It's a smooth ride, like driving a vintage '38.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Getting Linux on an iLamp iMac with Nvidia Graphics

ILamp iMacs (G4s) are maybe the most notoriously difficult Macs to get a Linux desktop on, mostly because of the GeForce graphics they were afflicted with came with. Since I don't have one and haven't tried to put Linux on it myself, I haven't posted anything about it, but PPC Luddite reader Gary R. via email shared a very concise set of instructions on how to get Ubuntu running on his, so I thought I'd post it here.

Here I quote Gary very liberally:
This is how I got Ubuntu to work:

Download Ubuntu 16.04 minimal install iso for ppc.

Install system utilities and Ubuntu Mate

When finished, reboot

At yaboot type: Linux nomodeset single

When you reach root, type: visudo

Below: root ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL type: username ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL (as per your instructions)

Hit Control o, hit return, then exit

nano /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-framebuffer.conf

comment (#) nvidiafb, uncomment vesafb

write, save, exit

nano /etc/modules, add nvidiafb

write, save, exit

nano /etc/initramfs-tools/modules, add nvidiafb

write, save, exit

update-initramfs -u

nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add:
Section      "Screen"
     Identifier   "Default Screen"
     Monitor     "Default Monitor"
     Device      "Configured Video Device"
     DefaultDepth 16
EndSection
write, save, exit

nano /etc/yaboot.conf and add to the append lines to read "quiet splash video=offb:off nomodeset single"

write, save, exit

ybin -v

Type "passwd" and add a root password

Reboot

You should come to a screen that says "Enter root password for maintenance or Control D to continue"

Hit Control D and you should get the Ubuntu Mate desktop
And scene. Gary adds he has to boot into rescue mode as it seems necessary with the nvidiafb and it's the only way to have shutdown, suspend, and reboot working properly. He also likes MATE, and after playing with the latest release on my Debian Sid install, I like it, too. So there.

Thanks again to Gary R.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New PPC Media Center Version 6

It seems like just yesterday that I was bitching about Vevo videos on Youtube breaking my Greasemonkey downloaders, and Adam Albrec came to the rescue with PPC Media Center, a GUI frontend for youtube-dl written in all AppleScript. Now he's back with another update and we're all the way at version 6 now. Through that time, the app has evolved from a simple streamer and downloader to a full-featured package that's added multi-segment video support, MP3 creation, Universal binary support, etc., and now with version 6 adds even more to the festivities.

New to this version (quoted from the Read Me):

1. Now supports List (Youtube) / Album (Vimeo) Play & Download.

2. AutoDownloading (Batch) - In the background; separate from Primary Play/Download/MP3-creation functions.

3. Enhanced WebM-avoidance for PPC systems and only downloads as a last-resort - with a prompt (Intel Mac are
unaffected).

4. Dynamically check Python version, and can even work in Intel systems with system-Python problems.

5. New Smart Installer, deletes all install-packages on completion (reclaiming 50+MB of disk-space).



The big addition here is the batch AutoDownloader, allowing you to copy multiple links to the clipboard (links can be separated by commas, spaces, or line breaks) and download them in the background while still being able to play other videos in the foreground.


Also added are Spanish and German localizations. Viva PowerPC!

So give it a download. And when you do, don't forget the Extras/Goodies/Legal folder where you'll find some experimental apps and the localizations.

Of course all the previous features we've come to know and love return for this version, and I'm seriously impressed by the work that went into this and that Adam could do it all with AppleScript. The more likely scenario is he already developed this when I made my original complaint about Vevo videos, but I'll still cling to the belief that my bitching and moaning opened the floodgates of inspiration and led directly to the creation of PPC Media Center. None of this would have happened without PPC Luddite. This blog is all powerful. I am ruler and surveyor of my realm.

PPC Media Center 6 supports both PowerPC and Intel, OS X 10.4 - 10.8. You may download it here:

http://www.mediafire.com/download/a7oo6v27ilma29r/PPC_Media_Center_6.zip

MD5: fa675015ad7f78b82f5fb8affea3247e
SHA1: f371b922a856d48518c33277beb4f8eb2ce023f9


SLIGHTLY UPDATED version with Pasquale Barbaro's Italian localization in addition to the German and Spanish ones:

http://www.mediafire.com/download/r5wqp9y40p88r95/PPC_Media_Center_6.0.zip

MD5: 04188b4e00b69eae8c667dfc0cf2701c
SHA 1: d56e5d721fc3d6d85c54a28121194d3945b3edc8

As always, my original post introducing PPC Media Center will be updated with a download link to the latest version.

(UPDATE: A couple of people have reported getting stuck in a loop at the end of the installer. If this happens, you can download PPCMC_6.0-App_ONLY.zip. It's the app only and doesn't install any missing programs like mp3 binaries or Spark, which you probably already have if you've used previous versions of PPC Media Center.)

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 mobile.twitter.com 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:

general.useragent.override

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

(UPDATE: I should add to revert to default, right-click on the preference and select "Reset".)

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. (2ND UPDATE: this add-on is what I was looking for. Upon further review, this is too buggy.)

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 macintoshgarden.org. 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 macintoshgarden.org 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:

http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/coreplayer-is-no-more-rip.1397374/page-5#post-22765728

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