Quadra 610: Death Chimes

This is a short sad post. After the work on the Quadra 610, getting the SCSI2SD card working, and doing a little cleanup, I made a mistake. I left the 610 running by accident over night, sitting at the “It Is Now Safe to Turn Off Your Mac” screen. In the morning, when I went to reboot it, death chimes.

I put the Quadra away for now, but it’s not looking good. I’ll see if some time off revives it, but I am a sad Mac restorer. It’s probably motherboard related since I have taken everything off of the motherboard just to see. I’ll loop you in if the status changes.

— Nathan

To Rehab or Not: Quadra 610

Quadra 610

Several months back, I, in a fit of poor decision making, bid a low offer on an old Quadra 610 on eBay. I regretted it, but I didn’t think I was going to win the machine. And guess what? I won the auction. The Quadra 610 arrived in decent shape in a big box at my doorstep.

Since then, I have tried to get it working. The good news – it does boot up and shows the question mark folder sign. There is a purplish tint to the screen, which I believe is a sign of an aging motherboard. Unfortunately, nothing else works – floppy drive spits out any disk I put in, and after scrounging up an old CD tray, the drive churns to meaningless purpose. What do I do?

Like any of these old Macs, the case has yellowed and is brittle as all get out. I have to be extra careful when handling it, but that is also true to the old Performa 5215 sitting in my basement. It’s really not worth it to fix, but I have it. 68k Macs are fun. I haven’t decided my course of action.

The cheapest route is probably to pull the scsi CD-ROM drive from my Performa and see if I can at least get a Mac OS boot install to work. From there, I can try to scrounge up a SCSI hard drive that I can put in (which isn’t cheap) or invest in a floppy emulator for $129. I’m not keen on spending much money on such an old computer, so I may keep poking around and see what I can figure out.

The positive thing is that this Quadra 610 is one with a full 68040, which means I could run A/UX on it as a whim. I have no idea how much RAM or cache it has beyond that. So, we’ll see.

What do you think I should do? Restore it? Or let it sit?

— Nathan

2017 in Review

Despite some big hopes and dreams to develop SimpleMarkPPC more, 2017 ended up being a quiet year for the site here. I didn’t get as many updates as I wanted, but that’s not the end of the world. It’s not as if PPC software is exploding with new entries. We are essentially a somewhat viable fringe legacy platform. So, here’s a quick rundown of some of the intriguing news of the past year:

TenFourFox remains the most vital application for our G5s to stay connected and relevant on the internet. Cameron deserves his wide appreciation for the coding he does. Great guy! In fact, FPR5b1 is available as I write this.

LeopardRebirth is also a fun little package that updates the look and feel of your Leopard machine. It also includes a solid little PPC Store app. It’s getting updates and features some apps that I’m not familiar with but seem really useful. In some ways, this makes G5Center a little less relevant, but that’s fine. Grab it here.

On the negative end of things, Dropbox has officially stopped working on my G5. Did the server side have enough tweaks to close down our little loophole? Whatever happened, it gave my G5 a final countdown and no longer connects. I haven’t had free time to take a stab at fixing it, so we’ll see if CZO finds a workaround on the old thread here.

In 2018, I am going to do some more experimentation with a few products that might give us a syncing option with our older and newer Macs. Cross-platform would be the best – something relatively simple and brainless to setup too. I’m also going to post a few articles about vintage Macs here and there.

In truth, I feel that 2017 brought us closer to the “end” for our PPC Macs. Once TenFourFox doesn’t become viable, our G5s will still be useful, but they will be useful in the vein of other older vintage Macs. Software will keep on going, and they can serve a purpose – but the temptation to upgrade to even older Intel-based dual Macs will be irresistible. Heck, I picked up a $150 Core2Duo iMac for this purpose, and it’s getting more use as my regular writing/home office machine. Change happens.

Here’s to a great 2018!

— Nathan

Recommended Read: “Apple Macintosh G5: Flame On”

I highly recommend the following article which walks through an old Power Mac G5 in its capabilities and context in its day – why it was both an intriguing machine, a power hungry one, and a sign of imminent changes at Apple. Excellent, enjoyable read.

http://women-and-dreams.blogspot.com/2017/11/apple-power-macintosh-g5-flame-on.html

— Nathan

My Mac Mini G4 Saved Me & APFS Is Here

Last week, I picked up a super cheap Core 2 Duo iMac that is capable of running High Sierra for under $150. With a couple of extra sticks of RAM and an inexpensive SSD, the Mac will likely ease up my back and forth between work and home, so I don’t have to worry about leaving my MacBook Pro behind. But there was one hitch…

The SSD, a Samsung 840 Pro, would not show up in Disk Utility in the High Sierra USB boot drive. And opening up and fiddling with iMacs requires firm but patient hands. The less I was yanking that drive in and out, the better. What to do, right? Why wouldn’t it read in this newer machine? What mistake did I make?

Before I panicked though, I decided to the simplest task first. Open up the iMac, pull out the drive, toss it in an old USB hd exclosure I had, and plug it into my Mac Mini G4. And yeah, it showed up in Disk Utility there. Weird, right? I formatted it to HFS+, moved it back to the iMac, and was off and running.

Speaking of formatting, APFS, Apple’s new hard drive format, is here, initially only working on SSDs. High Sierra did not install correctly when I formatted the SSD in APFS at first – kept booting back to the USB drive – but when I formatted the SSD as HFS+ first, the installer reformatted the drive and the install worked. Apple has some kinks to work out, especially as the support doc ominously warns “you can’t opt out of the transition to APFS”.

With this new drive format though, it’s time to face the truth – newer Macs using APFS cannot be read by older Macs. Yes, a newer Mac using the standard can access older shares and hard drives, but this represents another one of those milestones that leave those of us with Macs on 10.5 or before a little bit farther behind. If you are running a mixed bunch of Macs, it may be that figuring out how to stay on HFS+ will sidestep this change. Alternately, keep using things like Dropbox to share files between your computers or have a separated shared file server of some kind.

The question is – will it be possible to make an APFS driver/app to access newer Macs? I wonder.

— Nathan