I’ve been absent from the blog and site for a bit, as I have been absolutely swamped with a trip overseas, classwork, and life. My G5 has been plugged in but neglected. (I’ve heard that’s not kind on the electric bills.) In the midst of some reorganization of the workshop and other projects, I finally reconnected the G5 to a monitor and fired it up to load the latest TenFourFox beta.
Look for more content, and thank you for the comments, especially those I’ve missed lately.
Here’s a quick fun tidbit:
Fast and Slow is a helpful little Mac utility to give just a bit of oomph when you need it.
What does it do? There is no magic code or gimmicky trick in this. Rather, Fast and Slow uses the built in Energy Saver options on your G5. One option is to lower your CPU speed to save power. The other option is to crank the CPU up full blast. The little utility makes it quicker and simpler to switch between the two modes on the fly as you edit your latest album in Garageband and then work on an html document in TextEdit or something.
Is there a downside to always running your Mac in the “fast” mode? I don’t think so. I suppose power usage would be higher if you are running your G5 24/7.
I do remember a similar but slightly different utility for the Mac which uses the underlying UNIX based functions of Mac OS X to force your Mac to focus on a chosen app, ignoring or pausing all other background tasks. If I find it, I’ll pass it on as another way to squeeze a little juice out of your Mac if you are doing heavy processing tasks.
Dan Knight has taken Low End Mac to Facebook with some groups there that both over-populate my feed with random old school Mac stuff but also bring great joy to readers and enthusiasts like myself. Definitely subscribe if you are interested.
A nugget that crossed my feed this week was this excellent article on how to access the hidden fan on your PowerMac G5. Granted, it’s not actually hidden per se, but if you clean your G5, you may miss this one. It’s a clever little engineering nugget and a good idea to at least take a look if you are having cooling issues.
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.
The world has felt a little more apocalyptic as of late, so maybe it makes sense that all of a sudden we have a couple of “App Stores” for our PowerPC Macs running Leopard or Tiger. Is this something we need? Maybe. Maybe not. You get to decide.
The coder of this simple but effective app posted here on the site, so I am happy to share a link. The app is apparently built in RealBasic (like my own SimpleMarkPPC) and handily categorizes and links to a variety of useful software. The app is not going to be the most stylish one in the world, but it is effective and well-organized. I did notice a link or two pointing to Macintosh Garden, which might be something to frown up if you are a deeply ethical-minded person. Granted, this is the state of software for us PowerPC folks, so I’m not too concerned. But something to note. Keep an eye on his website for updates or to post suggestions.
Folded in as a part of LeopardRebirth, a PPC theme to make Leopard look more like Sierra, PPCStore is a little more elegant but sparse “app store”. I keep putting those words in quotes because I’m not really sure you can buy any apps in these stores. They are essentially just handy collected links to some useful software to grab. PPCStore is much more sparse than the previous entry, but it looks more like the typical App Store you may come to love or despise in later versions of Mac OS X.
As usual, these apps may or may not be useful to you, but I am grateful that fellow PPC heroes are trying their hand at software tools to make our G5s (and G4s) useful for a while yet. Awesome.
In more news along the solid state drive front, I got a fascinating conundrum from a loyal reader about issues with what we first wondered to be a failing motherboard or overheating.
After installing a new SSD and using it as the main drive, he reported beachballs and crashes after waking from sleep, forcing a shutdown. Sometimes, the G5 worked like a charm. Sometimes, everything ground to a halt. It didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason, kind of a random thing, which makes it difficult to track down.
I typed out my standard line of troubleshooting, starting with what changed. Did you install RAM recently? Put in a new hard drive? Install a new video card? Fiddle with something that you shouldn’t have? Then, go down the checklist of cleaning out the case, testing temperatures, double checking cables, switching RAM in and out, and so on until you figure it out. And if all of that fails, then flailing your arms in frustration because it might or might not be your motherboard.
But good news – the reader reinstalled the system on to a main hybrid drive, and things seem to be back to normal. It might be a faulty SATA cable, but it could be the G5’s implementation of the SATA standard which causes weird things with solid state drives. I’ve had an experience or two with such weird behavior. I would love to get hold of an engineer who helped make these G5s and could tell us more about the quirks and challenges of their hardware and where limitations lie. Maybe someday?
The moral of the story is to be cautious and careful with those SSDs. Your best bet is to go the OWC route, since they care about vintage computing. Or use the small list of suggested compatible drives on this website under “Hardware”.