Monday, November 05, 2007

Whingeing, Whining, OS Nining

I spent pretty much all day Saturday wrestling with Bil the Elder's Mac G4, trying to trick it into connecting to my broadband modem.

I have no idea how Mac computers of this or any vintage work, so the process was a voyage of discovery from the get-go. An what a voyage! What discoveries! Vistas of knowledge opened before me in a veritable cascade of stuff previously unknown.


The much-vaunted Mac help system was about as unhelpful as Microsoft's for a start. People I trust and respect have been telling me for years that these computers were easier to use than PCs running Windows, and I (still) believe that they found them so. I, however, have seen no evidence whatsoever of easierness, and nowhere was this more evident that the help. Of course, the Microsoft help was developed into what it is now over several years and the Mac help I was looking at was 4 years old so it probably was "better" (in some as yet unobvious way) then.

I knew what needed to be done inasmuch as TCP/IP needed to be set up so the machine would passively accept an address from the modem. This is resolutely would not do. The settings were straightforward, except for the annoyance of not being an administrator. I found out how to switch to administrative rights for each job, but I didn't find any way of staying with them across the various little tasks that had to be done. No doubt there is a way of signing on to the machine as an admin but I don't know how and I don't doubt Bil the Elder doesn't either.

Most of the time was spent fruitlessly searching the internet trying to find someone, anyone who had connected a Mac to Optimum Online using OS9. Nothing. For all the info on the 'net, Bil the Elder is the only person in the world trying to use Optimum Online via a G4 running OS9. It has been one of the most frustrating experiences I've gone through in a long while.

The biggest laugh was seeing a network wizard pop up to offer help. I've been listening for years to Applejax whine about Microsoft’s use of Wizards, and how only fools would invent them because they encourage the untrained to do stuff only a skilled computer technician should yaddayaddayadda. One more Dirty Little Mac Secret outed there then. In all fairness, the G4 didn't insist I use the wizard, whereas XP assumes you will want to use one, but most of the time the XP assumption is a good one. You can do Wizard-enabled jobs on XP without the wizards, if you know how.

And thereby hangs the nub of the horse I'm changing in mid-flagpole. I don't know my way around OS9 and the OS isn't helping me nearly as much as I hoped it would, not nearly as much as XP would in the same circumstances. I've no doubt someone out there could simply walk over, type a couple of lines and it would burst into internetty life, but if they are out there, they are being very quiet, at least, quiet on the nets.

So no internet for Bil the Elder yet then.

The camera "issue" turned out to be nothing more than a mis-communication. The software that wouldn't load was only for XP. I have no idea what the disk contained other than USB drivers, but the camera is accessible as a detachable drive when connected to the G4. It pops up on the desktop and if one knows where to look (I do) one can find the pictures in it and cherry-pick them onto the computer using drag-and-drop. The camera works (albeit in the most basic way imaginable) on the G4. I went to the Samsung website to see if a Mac-compatible "library" program like that given away with Kodak cameras was available for download, but Samsung, taking a leaf from Apple's playbook, have discontinued support for the camera two years after selling it to us and make no mention of it.

This has been a big disappointment, to be honest. I originally went round for a look at things to see if I could figure out what was wrong with Bil the Elder's internet connectivity, then removed the power supply to save him the cost of a $250-300"Bench Charge", ended up buying and fitting first one, then another power supply to finally get the thing unbricked, replaced the mouse, repaired the monitor stand that broke when the monitor realised what an utter piece of crap the G4 really was and committed suicide and I still haven't gotten Bil the Elder his interwebs back.


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