Once a nerd: Clarisworks flashback

I've recently started playing around with software emulation of old Mac operating systems. One of my first Macs was a Quadra knock-off* running System 7.5, so I was pretty happy to fire up Basilisk II and see what it could do. While my primary objective was to play Prince of Persia and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I ended up booting up Clarisworks 3.0 for a bit of nostalgic desktop publishing.

When I was 14, I took it upon myself to publish a magazine/newspaper thing. It was a financial disaster, and it certainly did my social life no favours, but hey. It was something to do. Most of it, such as it was, was made in Clarisworks. Yay, Clarisworks.


* When I say "Quadra knock-off", it was a Performa 580CD. It was a weird model that sat in-between the standard Quadras (the "real" Macs of the time) and the utterly bizarre Macintosh TV. The Macintosh TV was meant to be a kind of bridge between the personal computer and home entertainment, kind of like the AppleTV would eventually become, but it was a total failure. It was even designed with a black casing, to give the illusion that it's an appliance, and not a beige computer. The Performa 580CD had the same casing as the Macintosh TV, but in standard beige, and somewhat similar AV capabilities (no built-in TV tuner, just AV inputs). Unfortunately, it had sod all processing power and storage space, so it was pretty useless at anything involving AV. Its video input capabilities were limited to 320x240 pixel footage at a stonkingly low frame rate.

15 minutes of slight recognition: MacFormat

Here I am, back in the late '90s, critcising Apple in MacFormat magazine's letters section: MacFormatIncidentally, at some point in the past couple of decades, they fixed both of those pronunciation problems. I'd like to think I had a part in that. I'm an alpha-tester from way back.


The Incredible Expanding Macbook Battery(s), Part 3

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the laptop -- here's Part 3. (Part one and part two are here.) This is my replacement Macbook battery, which, like its predecessor, expanded like popcorn, and was left sitting about to do its thing.



Yeah, I'm aware that it's probably stupid to leave a damaged lithium ion battery laying about your house. I don't care, though, largely because I left it laying about as a result of being phenomenally careless and forgetful. It's my experiment, you can just observe the (harmless, evidently) results.

I didn't buy a third one. I bought an iMac instead.

The Incredible Expanding Macbook Battery, Part 2

If you're following the story (here's Part 1), I had a Macbook battery that expanded like one of those dinosaurs you put in water that, uh, expand. If you're curious -- and I know you are -- this is what happens to the expanding cell after about a year.

It's like a balloon. Full of lithium. And death.

It's completely expanded to about eight times its original thickness. Should I have kept it? Probably not. Do I have any regrets? Not really.

It's gone now, though.

Imagine the damage this would have done to a laptop that was, say, in storage. I guess this is why they tell you to remove the batteries if you're sticking it in the cupboard for a while. I suppose they couldn't bring themselves to complete the instruction with "..otherwise it'll bloat like a Looney Tunes character, destroying your expensive technology".

Just to clarify the ludicrousness of this failing battery issues -- this is a $150 battery. It's not a double-A.


Here's part three.

The Incredible Expanding Macbook Battery

So, there I was, using my Macbook. I noticed it was rocking about a bit, like there was a small coin or something underneath it -- nothing unusual, as my desk is often messy and stuff creeps under things all the time. I fish around under there, but there's nothing there. I carry on, but it still rocks around on something. I switch the Macbook off, and flip it over, only to find that the edge of the battery is sticking up a bit.

Up-sticking battery edge.

I did a bit of googling, and discovered that this is not only "normal", but it's something so normal Apple refuses to acknowledge or compensate its existence. Macbook batteries just do this. Every so often they just shrug and go "Y'know what, screw this cruel world. I'm going to expand like a piece of popcorn and I might just take this laptop with me."

As the cell in the battery expands, it pushes on the nearby components of the computer. In the case of my particular model of Macbook, the first victims are the Airport cart and RAM, followed by everything else.

I popped the battery out and shoved it in a drawer, ordering another one from Apple's online store, as there was clearly no way of claiming the thing under any kind of warranty or insurance.

New battery arrived. All good. More to come. Stay tuned.

Here's part two, and part three.

Back in the '90s: Kaleidoscope Schemes

This article is hideously backdated to reflect the time that it's content, the gallery below, was created. Sorry for the confusion. If you're curious, I'm writing this on June 9, 2013. This is about the oldest part of me that lives on the internet. Back in the late '90s, there was an interface enhancement for Macintosh computers called Kaleidoscope. It was essentially a version of the "themes" concept that Apple kind of introduced into their operating systems, but really didn't. You could download any number of new interface themes (or "schemes", as the creators called them) for your operating system. Some of them were pretty cool. I made a few of them. In hindsight, they don't seem to have strayed too far from the general appearance of the Mac OS (version 9, at the time). They looked like this:

All of these are still, inexplicably, available at the Kaleidoscope Scheme Archive. You can access my stuff directly here, though. If you're really excited by the potential of this awesome piece of 1990's tech, be sure to check out the "scheme spotlight" area, wherein the best of the best are framed and hung on the metaphorical wall.