Archives for January 2012

Upgrading My Old-School Apple iMac G3!

Most of you probably don’t know that I am a collector of vintage video game systems. My collection includes such beauties as the Atari 2600, and 7800, and Atari XE Gaming System, the original Pong console, Intellivision, Texas Instruments (TI) 90, and many, many vintage computer systems including the Commodore Vic 20 and C64, Atari 400, 800, 800XL and 520ST!  I also have a commodore Amiga and a few others.

I admit I went crazy on eBay for a little while. There were just so many systems up for grabs. I also happened to pick up an original Apple Macintosh computer, and not so old, but very cool Apple iMac G3! Most of this stuff has been put away in storage since moving a few years ago, but I do have on display in my home office, a few classic Atari’s among other things.

I, like many of you, recently read the biography of Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. It came out shortly after Steve passed away in October. I found the book to be well written, and very insightful. Reading about the founding of Apple, and the huge comeback made by Steve and Apple in the late 1990’s inspired me to dig out my iMac G3 to see just how cool it really was.

Not only does it look cool with the different coloured bodies, but it is a little self-contained unit with a handle. It looked completely different than any computer before it. It was really the beginning of Apple’s huge comeback — creating great looking products, which just worked.

My particular iMac has an indigo blue cover, and matching keyboard and mouse. Newly inspired, I have decide to do a few upgrades.  It only had 192 MB of RAM, so I have decided to upgrade to 1 GB.  The cost? Only 15 dollars. It came stock with an upgraded 80 GB harddrive (I think the original was only 4GB), and loaded with OSX 10.1 (Puma).  I plan to install 10.4 Tiger, but first I have learned that I must upgrade the firmware.  For those techies out there who recall, Apple changed over from the PowerPC processor to Intel processors in 2005.  So unfortunately OS X Tiger is as high as this machine will go.

Unfortunately, in order to upgrade the firmware, I have to downgrade the operating system to OS 9.0!  I thought Macs were user friendly?  This is all a learning process for me, as I have used Windows PC’s all my life.  Anyway, I am in the process of acquiring OS 9.0 😉 and expect to be able to upgrade the firmware, and then upgrade to OS X 10.4 within a few days.  I will let you know how it turns out!

UPDATE:
After a  few days of fooling around with the iMac, and doing some research online I was able to figure out a way to boot OS 9.2 from a USB drive, since I couldn’t partition the hard drive already in the unit.  Once I was able to boot the system, I was then able to update the firmware! Success!

Then I was able to install OS X 10.4 Tiger with no problems.  What a quantum leap from OS 9 and even from 10.1 which came with the system.  Windows users could equate this to upgrading from Windows 98 to Windows XP!  Quite a jump in capability and refinement.

 It took a while to complete the install — I am assuming it would have been quicker if I had the RAM upgrade installed, but I don;t have it yet…so the system is cranking away with only 192 MB.  I will update once I have the RAM upgraded to see if there is a significant performance boost!  I am expecting that will be the case…

Well, I have been using the 1 GB for about a week now, and have definitely noticed a difference!  The machine boots up much faster, and seems a bit faster.  The biggest improvement is that I can run multiple programs at once without it bogging down to a crawl.  So that’s about all I can do to upgrade the iMac.  But I must say again what a neat little system it is.  It must have been even more fun back in 2000-2001 when it was new!  Thanks for listening…

Having fun with the iPhone Action Movie FX app!

Snowblower Must Die Video!

Winter

Well it looks like we may have finally gotten winter! It is January 13th and I have not had to clear the driveway once yet…but that looks like it might change today. I can’t say I have missed winter, but I know all of the skiers, skaters and snowshoers out there must be happy now.
I hope we have an early spring though.

Writing Course

Well I received my first graded assignment back in my writing course.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It was more of an assessment.  I received feedback, advice and a few corrections on the descriptive exercise we were to do.  For assignment #2 I have to do some market research to find appropriate magazines I can submit short stories to, in the appropriate genre etc., then I have to write a 1500 word short story.

Since I’m still reading the course materials, I am going to wait before I start the story.  I want to re-read all the material and absorb it a little before I get started.  I’ll keep you posted and if they are good enough, I will post my assignments/stories either on this page or my Writer page.  Stay tuned!

Beautiful Sunset

Raced home to get a picture of tonight’s beautiful sunset, but just missed it…

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Ten Goals for 2012

Goals are important. We should all have goals to improve ourselves and accomplish new objectives. Well, the new year has begun and I have a number of goals I’d like achieve. I list them below, in no particular order:

1. Get in shape. I will admit I’ve let things slide over the last year! I have found it tough some days to workout when I get home from work, but I’ll be trying harder from now on.

2. Eat right. This goes along with getting in shape, but at the same time needs to be a lifestyle change as well. Not that I eat terribly — but I just want to make more of a concerted effort. My wife will be a big help with this one!

3. Grow my business. It can be tough building a business, especially when you work full time. Since idling my summer computer camp program, I have focused more on consulting and writing. I was fortunate to land a great project in 2011, to complete a feasibility study for a small business incubator in Sault Ste. Marie. I found that I really enjoyed the work and the challenge. I’d like to do more of this work in 2012.

4. Finish my writing course. In September 2011 I enrolled in an online short story/novel writing course through The Writer’s Bureau in the UK. The course provides 10 modules, and eight graded assignments. I have only completed assignment one, but intend to ramp it up with the goal of completing the whole course this year.

5. Publish something and get paid for it! I have written numerous articles in the past for newspapers and a local youth magazine, but I’ve never been paid for my work. I’d like that to change in 2012. Once my course is complete (or while completing it) I’d like to either have an article or short story published, and get paid for it.

6. Expand my social networking reach. I already use many of the most popular social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But this year I want to grow my listener base — especially on Twitter.

7. Grow my blog and bring in revenue. My blog www.digitaladventures.ca has grown over the past year, but I’d like to continue growing my readership and also increase advertising revenues. Many of the things I have tried to date are experiments, and now I’m ready to take things to the next level!

8. Re-learn to code. It’s been ten years since I finished my computer science degree. Since that time, excluding a few years of web design work, I haven’t been involved with programming of any sort. I never had traditional computer jobs after graduating. Instead, my web design business led to other business related positions (I have two business degrees as well) and therefore I did not have the time to continue the art of computer programming. I recently signed up with the @codeacademy for free weekly lessons and hope to get back into some coding soon!

9. Home improvement projects. We moved into our waterfront home just over a year ago. The first thing we did was totally gut and re-do the kitchen. The difference is night and day! We are very happy with the results. But there are several other improvements on my list including putting hardwood flooring on the main level, building a new, larger storage shed, building a dock, expanding our bedroom balcony, and painting/redecorating certain rooms. Of course all of these projects will take time and money…but I hope to complete one or two this year and the rest sooner than later.

10. Read more. I enjoy reading and learning — I always have. But I am sometimes challenged to complete the books I begin. Often times after beginning one book, I stumble up new books which I am excited to read as well. As I write this list of goals, I recently completed the biography of Steve Jobs while having four other books on the go! While I may not be able to change this habit, I would like to ensure that I complete every book I begin.

My wife has recently begun reading more since I gave her my NookColor, and we enjoy reading together. This has made finding reading time easier, as we can still spend time together while enjoying a good book!

So there you have it, ten of my goals for 2012. I look forward to completing each and every one! What are your goals for 2012?

Friendly Neighbors

Well, last night we got a call from a neighbor, who we had not met before.  We were invited over for a dinner get-together with eight of the neighbors — most of who we had not met before.  Because of the size of our yards and the fact that they are deep and a little secluded, we don’t see many of the neighbors out and about.  We only knew our neighbors to the immediate left and right of us.

We had a great time — and it was so nice of the others to think of us, and include us in the festivities!  We look forward to many more “neighborhood parties” in the future!

Kristy and I are really looking forward to 2012 — looking to really enjoy our summer on the water this year!  Last year was a blur due to the wedding, but this year we will be able to relax, enjoy the sun and get out on the lake!  Can’t wait for summer now.

 

WordPress Tweaking

This is day 3 of developing my website using WordPress. Now that the site is essentially complete, I have been exploring plug-ins, and tweaking my site. Today I added category lists, a link to follow my Twitter account, subscribe to RSS feeds, and view related posts next to each article (blog post).

I like the automation of the site and the ability to use plug-ins for various features etc. but I am still frustrated by the limited ability to customize some of the pages on the site. But it has been a positive learning experience. I’ve also been getting some help from Al Davis of www.aldavis.org,  a WordPress consultant and acquaintance which has been great!

 

WordPress

I just wanted to post a note about my experiences switching my website from HTML over to a WordPress site.  It has been somewhat frustrating as I learn the ins and outs of WordPress.  For the most part a positive experience, although I am still figuring out a few things in order to get my site looking the way I want!  Hopefully, I will figure everything out :).

Steve Jobs: The World Loses an Innovator and an Icon

By Nevin Buconjic
For Fresh Magazine

November 2011

Many years ago, while attending business school, I used to look up to Bill Gates (Co-founder of Microsoft) as a visionary and successful entrepreneur. His 1995 book entitled, The Road Ahead was a glimpse into the future of computers and technology. Gates spoke of the growth of the Internet, smart appliances, ebooks and other future concepts. Make no mistake, Bill Gates is a genius, and built Microsoft into the company it is today.

But as much of a visionary as Gates was — he never created the future products he spoke of, but instead capitalized on them. He will never personally be credited with changing the way we do things, or for creating products that would define how we interact with technology (even MS Windows was based on the Macintosh). For this we must look to Steve Jobs, the iconic co-founder and CEO of Apple.

Jobs, the individual who brought the world the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad died on October 5th following a battle with Pancreatic Cancer. He was just 56 years old.

Long before these products revolutionized their respective industries, Jobs, along with his friend Steve Wozniak were credited with creating the personal computer industry with the Apple I computer in 1975.

It was the beginning of what would be a series of revolutionary products and product designs that would change the world we live in. Jobs was a perfectionist, and had an amazing ability for knowing what consumers wanted before they knew themselves. He brought simplicity and technical elegance to the masses by focusing his attention to detail on the user experience.

As expressed by an early Apple employee in Walter Isaacson’s biography entitled Steve Jobs, “Jobs thought of himself as an artist, and he encouraged the design team to think of ourselves that way, too.” Jobs appreciated beauty and would become obsessed with product design. He would force his designers to make change after change until it was perfect.

An early motto of the company was, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, a quote from the famous artist and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci. Simplicity, along with beauty and reliability would eventually come to define the Apple experience.

Some argue that Jobs was a visionary, while others claimed that he did not come up with ideas as much as he “knew great ideas when he saw them”.

A classic example of this was in 1978, when Jobs and several Apple Computer employees visited the research and development offices of Xerox company, where they were shown stunning developments such the graphical user interface (GUI), computer mouse and more. Although Xerox was not yet commercializing the technology, Jobs immediately saw its potential and instructed his team to develop similar technologies for the Apple Macintosh. Apple took these ideas and developed what we see and simply take for granted on any computer today.

Jobs could be ruthless as he demanded greatness from his employees and often criticized and shouted at those who did not meet his huge expectations. But as Isaacson would go onto say, “even though Jobs’ style could be demoralizing, it could also be oddly inspiring. It infused Apple employees with an abiding passion to create groundbreaking products and a belief that they could accomplish what seemed impossible.” His behaviour and inability to censor himself would eventually lead to his very public ousting from Apple Computer in 1985, by John Sculley, who Jobs had brought in as CEO in 1983.

Jobs would go on to found NeXT computer company and become CEO of Pixar Animation Studios — the small computer animation company which would become famous for its movies like Toy Story 1-3, Cars and Finding Nemo. Pixar was sold to Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion.

In 1996 Apple bought NeXT, bringing Jobs back to Apple as its interim CEO from 1997 to 2000, when he would become permanent CEO. This was the beginning of Jobs’ and Apple Computers’ comeback, and rise to become the most valuable company in the world by 2011.

With Jobs back at the helm, Apple would not only release some of the most successful products in history, but would redefine entire industries and the digital age, including music (iTunes, iPod), mobile phones (iPhone), and tablet computing (iPad).

The company changed its name from Apple Computer to just Apple in 2007, to reflect the company’s new focus from just computers to consumer electronics. Downloading Apps, music, movies, TV shows and books were all streamlined into a simple, seamless process through iTunes, making Apple a lot of money.

Six weeks before his death, Jobs announced to the world that he was stepping down as CEO of Apple, but would remain as Chairman. Following previous health-related leave of absences, he had told shareholders that if there ever came a time when his health might interfere with his ability run Apple, he would step down — he announced that time had come.

Shareholders, and Apple fans alike worried that Jobs might not return this time. On October 5, 2011 their worst fears were confirmed.

Whether we see Steve Jobs as a creative genius, an innovator or as someone with a skill to improve upon other people’s ideas and make them better, it is hard to argue with the results.

To be sure, Jobs did not invent the digital music player — but he certainly made it better with the iPod. And Jobs did not invent the smartphone, but the iPhone has certainly become one of the most popular smartphones on the planet, and Jobs did not create the tablet computer (tablet PC’s have existed for over a decade), but Apple was the first company to make a tablet that people wanted to use.

One of his greatest gifts was seeing all of the details for what they were — part of the user’s experience and something they would have to live with everyday — and he wanted that experience to be the best it could be.

Steve Jobs will not be remembered for being a jerk, or a ruthless boss, or for getting run out of his own company. He will be remembered for creating products that impacted our everyday lives, and for defining the way we purchase, and listen to music, download movies and even read books.

Jobs changed the way we consume digital media.

It could be argued that Steve Jobs was this generation’s Thomas Edison. The grandchildren of today’s youth will learn about Steve Jobs in their history classes, just as we learned about Edison, the Wright brothers or Alexander Graham Bell.

But, however you see Jobs’ accomplishments, perhaps Apple’s new CEO said it best in a letter to Apple employees, “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being.”

Something few of us can argue with.

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