Macintosh Blog Posts

April 1, 2016

Apple's Panic Screen

This past week, I turned on my PowerMac G3 and encountered the ultimate Uh Oh - I saw Apple's panic screen:


I restarted the computer a couple of times and kept getting the same panic screen. This is telling me that something is wrong with the hardware. (I'll need to reset the pram and that should get the computer up and running.

However, this got me thinking: I haven't used this computer in a long time, did I really back everything up? What about all those photos, audios? What is on this old computer? I am sure that I backed up the files, but where are they in my vast DVD collection? It's time to consider my backup strategy on some of my legacy computers and hard drives that I have around.

One thing that I will do, is to get a sheet of paper and an envelope and tape both of them to the computer. I'll write down what files are currently on the computer and in details. No more general labels like: Photos from 2003. Instead, I'll write something like Fenway Park photos and photos from June 1st - August 4th, 2003. This will help me in the future to find critical photos that I might be looking for.

In the envelope, I have a 64 GB Sandisk Ultra Fit Flash Drive and all the critical files that are on the computer. No more spreading files over multiple DVDs. The flash drive goes for about $16 on Amazon and it has a lot of great reviews! 64GB may not seem like a lot but that's going to save me from search through 15 DVDs. Again, I am only concern about the top critical files that are worth saving on the Flash Drive.

Now I am cooking with gas!

By doing this, I'll have all the files in one place and it will be much easier to find the files I may need in the future. I think the best envelope to use is in this case is the Tyvek envelope. For additional protection, I could put the flash drive in a sandwich bag, that would help keep out any humidity from being in the basement.

March 25, 2016

Encoding old Video Files

Do you have some old Videos that are using old Codec, say SorensonVideo3, that makes it hard to watch the videos. When you click on a video you have to go through a conversion process before you can watch your video. The video gets transcribe to the H.264 format so that you can watch it.

You have a couple of options to fix this problem:

Short Term: Enabling Legacy Codecs in QuickTime Player

You can enable SorensonVideo3 by using a Terminal command

  • Open a Terminal window Applications > Utilities > Terminal
  • Type: qtdefaults write LegacyVideoCodecs SorensonVideo3 enabled
  • Press enter and you will get a message stating SorensonVideo3 has been enabled
  • Note: You must type this for each codec you want enabled, perhaps this would be a good time to add SorensonVideo.
  • Type: qtdefaults write LegacyVideoCodecs SorensonVideo enabled
  • Press enter and you will get a message stating SorensonVideo has been enabled
  • You can get a list of current legacy codecs by typing: qtdefaults read InstalledLegacyVideoCodecs and press Enter


Long Term: Converting the Videos to the H.264 codec standard

Nobody knows how long Apple will keep including the SorensonVideo3 or SorensonVideo format as part of the Quicktime installation? Why not convert your old videos to the H.264 standard, which appears to be staying around for a while. Fortunately, it's very easy to convert multiple videos, and the best part - it's free!

There is an Apple Service called Encode Selected Files that will convert the video in a background job.


Here's are the steps:

  • Identify what files that you need to convert.
  • Select the files and then right-click and select the Services menu
  • Select the 'Encode Selected Video Files'
  • Under the Setting category use the 1080p option (Use the other options if you only want the videos to work on older iPods.)
  • Click Continue
  • The converting is now being doing in the background, and new files will be created in the same directory as the original files.
  • That's it! Select as many files as you want and sit back and enjoy!

In the Finder menu bar, you'll see a spinning wheel showing you that the background process is running. Your computer might be slow during this time.

Note: This will only convert eligible video files. .WAV files will not work and will actually fail the batch job forcing you to restart the Encoding process. If you are having problems with this, check your video files and try a smaller sub-set. Any bad video file will stop the 'Encode Selected Video Files' from running.

After all these years, I can't believe that I never saw this Service. I supposed that this means I should pay more attention to the features in the Services menu.

March 18, 2016

Moving Files from OS 9 to OS X

I have an old Macintosh PowerBook G3, and I was trying to figure out how to move some old files to my 2011 iMac. Unfortunately, a USB flash drive isn't an option because the PowerBook G3 doesn't have a USB port.

I can't use a USB stick since the Powerbook G3 was before the USB technology. To get it working I enabled FTP on my iMac, and then used Anarchie (version 3.1!) on my Powerbook G3. I simply logged into the iMac via FTP.

This worked perfectly fine! I don't really need to work on applications as the newer computers can't run them anymore. If I did need to move things, I could always use Stuffit.

How to get this working

Start the FTP Server in OS X


This will start a generic FTP and FTPS server on the Mac, but not an SFTP server.

Launch the Terminal (/Applications/Utilities) and enter the following command to start the FTP server:

sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist

Confirm the FTP server works by typing:

ftp localhost
If you see the familiar FTP login: $ ftp localhost Trying ::1' Connected to localhost. 220 ::1 FTP server (tnftpd 20100324+GSSAPI) ready. Name (localhost:Vladislav):

That is how you know the server is running. If you don't see that, then the server either hasn't finished starting yet or you didn't enter the command properly.

You can find your IP address of your iMac by typing the following in the command line:

ifconfig en0|grep 'inet '|cut -d ' ' -f 2

Tip: Check out my TextExpander snippet on getting your IP address.

Getting the files over


Connect your PowerBook to the same network as your iMac and load up your FTP program. I just plugged my Powerbook to the network using an Ethernet Cable. ( I didn't want to have to run into any wireless configuration issues.)

I opened up Netscape, to make sure that I was successfully connected to the Internet, and checked out's website. (It's neat to see what websites look like using an old browser. Plus it shows up in their server logs that someone visited their site using Netscape.)

I then open up Anarchie and then created a new FTP connection to my iMac using the IP address that I found earlier.

In the username/password field I entered the username and password of a user on the iMac.

Once connected, I then moved to the Users folder, then my name, then Desktop. Then start copying files to that location. I select my desktop so I can see the files are being copied. I can do a double check to make sure they are alright. After everything is finished, I just copy all the files to a folder and file it away.

Cleaning up

Once your done, make sure to run the following command on the iMac to stop the FTP service. You don't want to accidentally have a port open which hackers could use to exploit your computer. Simply run this command:

sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist

That's it! That's how easy it is to move files from an old computer to a new one. It's a good idea to backup some of your data on a secondary source because you never know, one day that computer may not boot up.

Did you know that Western Digital Password drives have FTP access? You can also set up FTP access to a Western Digital 'My Passport.' This will give you the option to upload the files to a remote drive and you don't have to configure your main computer.

March 11, 2016

Macintoshman Song

MacHack was an event that challenge developers to come up with some cool application in a 48 hour period. The events were held in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1986 through 2003.

In 1996, a song, titled Macintoshman was created to play during a video montage of the previous year. The video was distributed via various Macintosh CD collections.

Here's a brief transcript of the song:

First time I saw it, I said come here quick.
No DOS commands, I just point and click
It got some icons and doddle and things
Then I said the faithful words'How do I program this thing?
Now I am a Macintosh man...
Now I am a Macintosh man

This is a 30 second clip of the song: