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Breaking long radio silence, here--my last LJ post was last October, and the food blog was December. Life, work, and all that took the time and energy for blogging (and broke the habit of finding the time). Maybe I'll do better now. Or not. :)

Today's topic, though, is on the resurrecting of old computers. A colleague came by my office yesterday and asked if I still had a Mac with a 3.5" drive, as she had a handful of diskettes with files she'd like to save but no Mac in the office still has a 3.5" drive. I do: it's my old personal laptop, a PowerBook G3 "Wall Street", last seen running MacOS 8.6. Somewhat to my surprise, it booted up when I tried it this morning (working from home today), and was able to read all but one of the diskettes. I copied them all to a local folder, then contemplated the problem of moving the files off the G3. No "target mode", as the machine preceded Firewire. It also preceded USB. The CD is a read-only drive, and of course the 3.5 inch floppy is where I started. No wireless--preceded that, too, or at least it wasn't on this machine.

I first plugged it into my cable modem, and successfully connected to the Internet. MS IE 1.0.3, wow! Or "Netscape Communicator" 4.7. Maybe I could connect to Dropbox and upload the files there? Neither browser could render Dropbox enough to get to the upload function. Tried to find a little more modern browser and installed WamCom, but while it got farther, it also failed to get to the upload. Tried a crossover cable between the G3 and my work MacBook Pro, but was defeated by the various differences in file sharing, and maybe also by the restrictions of the work security profile--I found a few Web pages that gave instructions for similar setups (but not quite the same OS versions), but never got the 2 computers to see each other. That was more of memory lane: Control Panels, TCP/IP, AppleTalk...all that used to be so automatic, but it's all different now.

I finally hit on the idea of using the USGS ftp service, which allows anonymous uploads to a specified area. First tried it with a browser...but these browsers don't support drag-n-drop of files. Anarchie 3.6.2 worked, though--it's an FTP client. Oh, after I zipped the files with ZipIt 1.3.8. Went to the work laptop, got a VPN connection so I could get to the internal side of the ftp service, and presto! finally had the files. I was a little worried about the un-zipping, but it seems to have worked. We'll see if the colleague can manage to read any of these files tomorrow.

Thinking back, I probably should have tried to get email working on the G3 and sent the files as attachments. Maybe next time. Or I'll try to solve the problem of getting an OS 8.6 machine on my home network...but I suspect the file sharing problem would be the same.


Nancy Barber

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April 2019


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