Working on old computers, of any kind really, is a form of prayer for me. That may sound silly, but I enjoy cleaning them out, tinkering, trying new things, and seeing what happens. Often, I talk to myself or whatever higher being happens to be listening in frustration or wild hope. In the last couple of weeks, I upgraded an old Dell tower from an i3 to i5 for cheap, fixed up a 2006 Mac Pro (1,1) for fairly cheap, and dusted out my ol’ G5.
In the process of working on my G5 and moving it to a new location with a better monitor (as I am using the Apple Cinema Display with the Mac Pro), I noticed the fans were getting loud. G5s don’t apparently have any means for us end users to quiet those fans down. That could be a good thing, since these machines are hardly efficient. But when they are loud, they are loud.
Enter the Apple Service Diagnostic disc 2.6.3.
I found the download via a quick search on DuckDuckGo, burned it to a blank DVD, and booted right in. On the main screen, you have an option to run a whole bunch of tests to check RAM, CPU, ethernet, and various buses, but you’ll want to click at the top and run the Thermal Calibration. My machine passed the tests, and after booting back into Leopard, I noticed the machine was quieter (relatively so).
I still plan to apply some new thermal paste sometime this week. It’s going to be a challenging job, but I’ll go slow and make sure I do it well. And I’ll have a conversation with whatever divine entity happens to be listening. Anyway, this tip may be useful to you if you need to diagnose a nagging issue with your G5 or if you need to recognize that your computer tinkering can be meditative and spiritually uplifting.
One of my better purchases lately has not been an old Mac Pro (for under $30) or my fancy iPhone XR (which is a great phone) – it’s been a basic 6th generation iPad for work.
The iPad was on sale before Christmas at a local retailer, and I splurged for it as I needed it for both my school work, writing, and sermon prep. I really wanted an iPad Pro, but the price tag scared me off from that fancier device. In the end, the iPad has become a workhorse, not just for media consumption but for getting stuff done. Taking notes is fun with the original Apple Pencil, playing games is an option, and planning for work is a breeze. It’s great to take on trips too and not have to lug my laptop around.
In fact, I’ve been surprised at just how good it is for the price – around the $300 price point for the 128GB model. It’s been a while since I’ve been so pleased from a purchase.
But – I recognize it’s not perfect for everyone. I do have a bluetooth keyboard I can throw into my bag on trips if I need to type, but generally, I don’t want to put the iPad into a case, using a protective sleeve instead. The more bulk you add to it, the less of sleek device it becomes. Some apps also are annoying, and it can take a few steps to move files around. I’ve yet to find the perfect note taking app. Bear is the closest, but I’m giving Agenda a run for meeting purposes. The basic Notes app is also great for doodling. I don’t like jumping between the three.
Even when my kids are restless, inviting them to use the Apple Pencil to doodle and draw, rather than play whatever micro-transaction app of the day, is a nice option. They like it too. I’m surprised the pencil hasn’t already gotten game designers thinking creatively on how to make games that parents don’t mind their kids playing.
The wild thing is that Apple is likely to update it later this month, meaning it becomes even more “low end” option, and the older 6th generation versions will become an even better value.
Alright – that’s enough of this non-G5 tangent. Stay tuned for more updates.