The Computer Blog

Thursday, May 08, 2003


Last night, I read on the PC World site that Symantec was going to incorporate product activation technology into its products. I have two words to day to that:

Goodbye, Symantec!

Adobe will be next.

I have absolutely no objection to people enforcing copyright protection. As a writer and videographer, I am sensitive to those issues. I have a right to be compensated for the work I do. I have a right to take to court those folks who illegally reproduce my works. I don't have a right to screw with your computer or limit your use of my product so you can't employ it in any legal way you wish, i.e., I don't have a rightto tell you I won't allow your reading my book or viewing my movie on a Greyhound bus or in a brothel or in a church. In my view, product activation is an abuse of technology based on greed, distrust, and arrogance. Software companies that engage in this conduct will not stop until consumers revolt with their pocketbooks. They are hoping and counting on consumers accepting this technology because they feel like they don't have a choice . The technology will, one step at a time, become more and more intrusive.

We can make other choices.

You don't have to run Windows anymore. You can run Linux or buy a Mac and run OS X. You don't have to buy Symantec products. There are other utility and anti-virus products around. You don't have to buy new Adobe products even if you're in a professional shop. Run your old versions until they break or switch to a Unix platform and find a Unix based equivalent. There are other choices. Don't let these guys take us further down the path of monopoly. They've gotten too big for their own britches. It's time to let them know.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Upgrading an iMac

The old computer blog job-jar has been empty for a couple of days because I spent most of the weekend upgrading my 700Mhz G4 flat panel iMac. Even though there were a few months left on the warranty, I decided to attempt the upgrade since I wanted to do video editing and most of my other everyday work (including work in Photoshop, Illustrator, and In Design) on the machine. It had been originally outfitted with a 40GB hard disk and only 128 MB of RAM, a configuration I considered underpowered for what I now wanted to do; and a new machine was financially out of the question.

I knew there was a tutorial at the "Accelerate Your Mac" website that detailed how to take apart your G4 iMac. While I don't consider the article complete, it was comprehensive enough to get the machine apart and the drives out. The fine points I feel it omitted I will cover here in case there's another brave soul who wishes to venture into the unknowns of Upgrades in Flat Panel iMac Land.

Getting the drives out was fairly straightforward. What the pictures accompanying the "G4 Take Apart" article don't show you is that the hard drive is mounted on top of and perpendicular to whatever optical drive one has in the machine. The IDE cable from the hard drive is routed underneath it and folded so it can make a 90 degree turn. A thin, silver foil thermal shield separates the optical drive from the hard drive, and the IDE cable is routed on top of it and spits out the rear of the optical drive's bracket. The IDE cable is an 80 pin ULTRA DMA type but is different from a PC cable in that the MASTER drive is mounted on the first of two connectors up from the motherboard and the SLAVE is on the second (end). (PC's use the reverse of this arrangement and put the MASTER on the end of the cable.) Configure the hard drive as the MASTER and the optical dive as the SLAVE. The cable used to connect them is about 18" long (I think!) and the distances between the connectors (Motherboard-Master-Slave) are the same as those between a reversed PC IDE cable of the same length (Motherboard-Slave-Master).

The article mentions applying thermal paste. Make the thermal paste application the last thing you do before buttoning up the case. It's very easy to get it all over everything.

There is a connector on the "right hand" side of the case that connects or disconnects as you connect or disconnect the top and bottom halves of the case. You don't have to worry about mating it before you close the case halves; it is mounted on a couple of posts that will force it down into position as you close them up. Do take care, though, to make sure the case is lined up correctly before trying to push it closed. You can use the icons and their accompanying ports (like video, Firewire, USB, etc.) to get the line up correct. In general, if the case pushes together easily and everything is lined up, then the connector will mount okay. Once you get the case mounted, check it for protruding wires. If you find any, unclench the case, check the wire(s) for damage; and if they are okay, then reseat the case.

I also upgraded the RAM while I had the case open. Originally, the iMac came with 128 MB RAM. The installed memory was a 168 pin PC-133 Samsung SDIMM. I replaced it with a 512 MB PC-133 Kingston part. Because the Kingston RAM was almost twice as tall as the Samsung RAM, I was concerned about the fit. The case inside the iMac is tight, but it is working okay.

Once you have everything back together and crank the machine up, use the keyboard CD eject key to load your Mac OS CD. (In my case, I used the Mac OS X CD.) Expect the software to only see the optical drive until you run the Disk Utility to partition and format the hard drive. You can then install the MAC OS of your choice or run your Software Restore CD's.

My iMac is back together and working fine. I changed out the original 40GB hard drive for a 7200 RPM 120GB Western Digital hard drive with 8MB of cache, upgraded the memory from 256MB (128 MB internal, 128 MB add-on) to 1 GB (512MB internal, 512MB add-on), and upgraded the Sony 1701E CD-RW to an Apple Superdrive (2X). I now do the large percentage of my personal work on the iMac, leaving my PowerMac for video editing only. My iMac is running Mac OS 10.2.6 and iMovie3, iDVD3, iPhoto2, iTunes4, AppleWorks 6.27, Microsoft Office vX, Adobe Photshop 7, Adobe Illustrator 10, Adobe Go Live 6.01, Adobe Live Motion 2.0, and Corel Draw 11. I'll be switching my Quicken activity to the Mac soon as well.

There has only been one problem with this whole thing, and it appears to be a minor one. When I had the machine apart, I noticed a small, elliptical tear in one of the 80 ribbons in the IDE cable. As I noted earlier, I had 80 pin PC IDE cables that were the same length as the Apple cable but with reversed connectors were reversed. I tried mounting one to see if it would work but the iMac didn't see either drive using it. Having no better alternative, I put the old cable back in. So far, I haven't seen any impact.

I have been searching the web for days for somewhere to order a new cable (Apple part#590-1522) and have had no luck. I've been impressed with how hard getting something simple like this is. Apple may not be a monopoly, but at times they act like one.

When I was shopping for memory, a sales rep at Microcenter advised me to use SimpleTech memory (and one other brand I don't recall) when outfitting a Mac. He claimed they had tried to use other PC133 memory in Macs and that the memory was not fully recognized. I'd be interested in hearing from other folks about what luck they've had running "regular" PC133 memory in their Macs.

And for a final note for today, I've been playing around with various multimedia keyboards on my Windows XP desktop. I really like being able to call up Office applications, control multimedia applications, close applications, and shutdown my PC all from my keyboard. I haven't , though, been able to find any multimedia keyboards with keys I like! In the end, no matter what features are on a keyboard, typing key size and feel dictate whether I will stay with a keyboard or not. I've gone back to running an Apple Pro keyboard on my PC. It's fully recognized under XP. Under Win98, I have to go into Device Manager and do a "Refresh" to get it to pick the keyboard up; but I don't use 98 all that often, so that's not a big deal to me.