Ugly Computers (Was: RE: Appropritate comic strip....)

From: Frank McConnell <>
Date: Sat Jan 12 20:04:04 2002

Jeff Hellige <> wrote:
> [...] As for the new iMac, I think that, like
> the original iMac, it's meant to demystify computers for those that
> have no interest in them for the most part and who don't want a plain
> beige box taking up space. Like it or not, it's hard to ignore and
> it does make a statement.

Demystify? I don't know, I expect my mother is as mystified about her
spiffy new 2001 iMac as she is about her 1988 Mac Plus. She just
expects me to understand, and hopes she can figure it out before
she has to resort to calling me.

On the other hand, it does simplify computers!

2001's iMac came with a sheet of setup instructions. Six numbered
pictures, no words, and step 6 is pressing the power switch. It's
real simple, just connect keyboard to computer, mouse to keyboard,
phone or ethernet to computer, computer to power, and then press the
power switch. No need to fuss with monitor or speakers, they're

What was real fun about this upgrade was getting the files from the
Mac Plus to the iMac. The Mac Plus can write 800KB stiffies, SCSI,
and serial; and the iMac can read CD-ROM, USB, Ethernet, modem, and
Firewire. Note what they have in common: nothing.

I did a dry run using an iBook and my old Mac Plus. First I got a
Belkin USB-to-SCSI doohickey and installed that on the iBook. Then I
connected the Mac Plus' hard disk to the SCSI doohickey and booted
MacOS 9.2. It asked me whether I wanted to initialize the
unrecognized volume, and I told it no. So much for that idea, and a
good thing it wasn't listening for spoken commands as I'd probably
have turned its ears blue.

The next try was with Basilisk II running on a Windows Me Harder
notebook, emulating a Quadra 650 and running System 7.5.3. This
worked better: I was able to connect the Plus' hard disk via an
Adaptec SlimSCSI PCMCIA interface and mount it and copy the files
over. Then I was able to use Appletalk to share the volume over the
notebook's Ethernet interface and mount it from the iBook.

So the WinMe notebook went back east with me. There I found that
Mom's Mac Plus' hard disk is a Jasmine, and there's something about it
that doesn't work with Basilisk II running System 7.5.3. If it's on
the SCSI bus, the simulated Mac hangs when it tries to mount the disk.
After three days of fussing with this I punted, used Stuffit on Mom's
Mac Plus to make archives of all her stuff (all 8MB of it!) and Mac
Kermit to transfer the archives over serial cabling to the simulated
Mac. That took a couple of multiple-hour sessions so let's say a day.
Then I unpacked the archives on the simulated Mac and did the
Appletalk share so the iMac could copy the files over.

And y'know what? AppleWorks 6.1.2 knows how to read ClarisWorks 1.0
files. One of my co-workers was the QA lead for ClarisWorks 1.0, and
he is very happy to know not only that a little old lady in Maryland
was using it for most of the last decade, but that her bits are safe.
I'm very happy too.

-Frank McConnell
Received on Sat Jan 12 2002 - 20:04:04 GMT

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