Mac OS X Booting

As luck would have it I spent most of the weekend trying to fix my old B&W G3 Macintosh. She’s officially named Venus. In trying to install an update to an ATI video card, I somehow made things worse and ended up corrupting the main hard drive. At first I thought I had killed the video card, but as it turns out, the main hard drive was corrupted and would no longer boot into OS X. Since Venus has multiple hard drives, the other disk that has OS 9 began to boot up.

After trying to install OS X again onto the main drive, and not being able to have Venus boot up into OS X, I gave up and bought a new hard drive and set it up. It appears that even if I could select the old main hard drive as a start up disk, the fact that the directory was corrupt would not allow the Open Firmware system to load the bootloader file for OS X. It would have been easier if Mac OS 9 would have told me that the main drive was corrupt, because the OS 9 Finder saw the drive fine.

If you ever wanted to know more about OS X, read through KernelThread’s OS X Guide, which gives you a hacker’s point of view of OS X and how it works.

Most of all remember your startup keys:

  • SHIFT: to disable all extensions.
  • C: to boot from CD/DVD.
  • X: to boot OS X.
  • S: to boot OS 9.

The most surprising thing of having to use OS 9 again, was to realize there is no official 1.x version of Firefox that works for OS 9.

The Downfall of Dell

In the same week that Apple was spotlighted for one billion songs sold on iTunes, BusinessWeek publishes It’s Dell vs. the Dell Way, which spotlights Dell as out of touch and out of favor with the stock market. The big problem of course is that Dell really had one idea and that idea has run its course.

For the past 22 years, Dell has laid waste to mighty rivals with one of the most groundbreaking business innovations of the past half-century: selling technology products directly to customers via the telephone, and later the Internet, instead of going through retail stores or resellers. But now the remaining competitors, such as Hewlett-Packard, have narrowed the gap in productivity and price. That leaves Dell in a tight spot. Rollins and Michael S. Dell, founder and now chairman, must either come up with another breakthrough innovation or face a future of slugging it out on near-equal footing with rivals.

HP and to a lesser extent Gateway have caught up to Dell and consumers are changing their minds now about buying products sight unseen. Apple has been pushing the Apple Stores for years now and giving customers the chance to experience technology is all the fashion these days. Even Sony has their own stores now to sell everything from laptops to wide screen televisions. But I think more than any other technology, the cell phone and the iPod have given consumers this idea that all technology needs to be catered to their individual persona.

Consumers’ buying habits are a reflection of a broader shift in the technology world. People are mesmerized by new digital gear with unique features and style. Commodity technologies, such as plain-vanilla PCs, are passe. That’s a difficult development for Dell. It spends less on research and development ($463 million) than Apple Computer ($534 million), despite being four times Apple’s size.

Somehow Dell changing their biege PC desktops to grey and silver is not enough. If consumers wanted these colors I’m sure Apple would have sold an iMac in these colors already. Clearly that has not happened, and Dell really has no clue what makes for a cool home PC, because if they did their gamer machines would at least have an AMD cpu in them by now.

But the real danger for Dell isn’t Apple’s iMac, it is going to be Levono. I hate to root for a non-US company, but the simple truth is that Levono is going to take the US market by storm and seriously drive some needed competition. HP and Dell will find themselves competing against a new company with enough product lines to match them in multiple segments. The Thinkpad has been a high end laptop for years, but recent announcements show that Levono wants to corner the laptop market on the lower end as well. This will spell big trouble for Dell and HP.

Computers Really Do Suck

Back in my fourth year of college, I use to work two jobs and go to school full time. On the weekends I worked at Best Buy in the audio department and during the week I had a computer lab job. At the lab, I mostly browsed the Internet and helped nursing students with their word processing or internet searches. I hardly ever went to my morning class cause I was so tired all the time, and so the only classes I was really awake for were my afternoon classes. Luckily I had read a lot of novels the year before and done all the work for my afternoon classes, that I was able to pass my finals for that 7:30 am class! This final year of school I had absolutely no social life and spent what little time at home on the Internet too. My girlfriend refers to this semester as the computer geek time. But I hardly even noticed it until I quit all my jobs and graduated, I literally had missed out on everything my last year at school and what did I have to show for it? My best grades since my freshman semester, that’s what!

Back in college computers were still interesting and new. The internet was cool and it was changing every day. It’s now ten years later almost to the day Netscape became a public-traded company and it almost feels like the Internet has now finally started to change again after a long period of stagnation. You have new technologies like AJAX, and open-source projects like PHP and Apache that are keeping things exciting and affordable for everyone.

Now that I’m an old guy to this Internet stuff though, I’m starting to see a lot of younger kids look at computers and they are not excited about it as much as I was. They see computers as tools. They have used them all their life and they are use to them. It’s hard to appreciate a car if you’ve always had one. The technology has also changed, Microsoft finally made a version of Windows that kinda works, Apple moved pass the old MacOS System to the shiny iPod, suddenly computers are not that new.

The other thing that I do get is that working with computers really does suck. You often end up spending hours on little problems, because something is not set up right or worse there is a glitch somewhere. After so many frustrations you realize you are babysitting a freaking widget! And who wants to do that for a living?

Well it turns out that the digital divide has a couple of generations. The older generation wish things were simple like MSDOS and old P90’s. While the newer generation has no appreciation for the design or the history of technology. So if you find yourself collecting old MacSE computers in your garage, guess which generation you are from? Most likely you will have more than one old Mac and PC lying around, and so you’ll think yeah computers do suck, but not mine, mine’s a classic.