Fred through the ages

With my 65th birthday looming I thought I'd compile a slideshow of photos of me through the ages!


Daily Moan #19: Upgrading the computer

Another New year and it's back to having a good old moan! Now I must preface this moan with the statement that I love Apple and Apple products, and believe that Jony Ive should be knighted. I bought my first ever Mac Plus back in June 1989 and even before that, way back in the early 80s, I got my company - IPC Science and Technology Press - to buy an Apple ][e with a bank of four floppy drives, just to put conference delegate lists into alphabetical order. But...


I hate upgrading. I dread it. I avoid it like the plague until I get dragged into doing it for the sake of a new gadget. It happened when I got my first iPod. I brought it home all excited and unpacked it, only to find my OS wasn't up-to-date enough. So I upgraded, and of course nothing worked - it took days to get the internet, printers and everything back working again. Stressful!

The same thing happened when I got the iPad 2. I was perfectly happy with OS 10.4 but it insisted I needed 10.5. So I borrowed a copy (the only alternative was to buy an expensive box set) and again it was traumatic, mainly because a program I'd been using for years, Adobe Streamline, which was working fine in 'classic' mode, was no longer happening. Ah well, I thought, I am almost retired and should I need to trace line drawings, I could learn Freehand's built-in trace tools. But then, just before Christmas, my trusty iMac died!

OK, I'd had seven years productive use from it (bought May 2005). It was the last of the PowerPC iMacs, the white one before they stuck a camera in. I'd woken it from sleep and everything was frozen. I restarted it from the power button, it chimed but never got past the blue screen. Hmm, what to do. I had the iPad so I was on Facebook and Gmail, but I couldn't work. I'd rigged up an old 12in Powerbook G4 (bought to handle Channel 4's dreadful content-management system, for which my iMac was too up to date) as a distraction-free writing machine for NaNoWriMo, so I could use that. I'd been thinking of buying a new iMac for a while, so I took the plunge and ordered one from the Apple Store, where I get an NUJ discount. The old iMac went to the menders. I was hoping it could be repaired so I could get at Filemaker Pro and my invoices etc.

When the new iMac arrived, I transferred all my life from an external hard drive (using Time Machine). My neighbours had already been caught out with the new Firewire 800 plug so I borrowed their £20+ cable to transfer everything from the hard drive into the new computer. So far so good, but I'd been reading up and was aware that Lion didn't support PowerPC apps. My plan was to get the old one mended and strip it down as a work computer, but as it worked out the logic board was gone and it was an uneconomic repair. Luckily Mick Swabey had an old iMac like mine but with smaller screen on sale for £85! So he swopped the internal hard drives for me and I was back in business, but with two computers on the go.

Now I've been using Freehand since the beginning, but that was no longer supported on the new computer. I had archives going back years and my new giclee prints had all been created using Freehand. I'm too old to learn Illustrator! Luckily, Photoshop CS3 still worked, but I didn't even attempt to connect my old scanner to it. All my records - invoices, addresses, etc were on FileMaker Pro - I could have bought an upgrade, but why should I when it was working fine on the old computer? Upgrading is not only stressful, it can be expensive too. So to do my Xmas cards I began transferring my contact info to Address Book - I didn't try printing labels, I still have that bridge to cross.

I'd also bought a Time Capsule, which I thought was just a glorified hard drive, but it is also a router. I couldn't get it to work as just a hard drive, so took my Netgear router out of the loop and everything was sweet as a nut, just like Apple products usually are - all working straight out of the box. I noticed it had a USB port to attach a printer, but after trying to get the old HP 990c printer to work on the network, discovered it too was no longer supported! Ah well.

Anyway, on New Year's Eve I went up to the 100 Club in London to see my favourite band David Devant and his Spirit Wife, and as usual I took my Flip video recorder to document the event. Back home, I put a couple of videos on YouTube and set about compiling the DVD. My trusty copy of iMovie HD was working and I started importing the Flip files and typing in the song titles. When it was all done, I clicked Share to power up iDVD then discovered my iDVD wouldn't work. OK, so I'd download an upgrade, only there isn't one! What! Yes, that's right, iDVD is no longer supported by Apple. So how the blazes can I make a DVD? The only solution was to start again on the old computer, transferring the Flip files by USB memory stick (the iMovie project file is 17 gigs, I could have used my old external drive to transfer it over but I don't have the right Firewire cable!). There may well be way of doing it via Time Capsule, but it's done now... or rather it's in the process of doing it!

Of course my PC friends will be killing themselves laughing at all this. I thought Macs never broke, they'll taunt. The upshot is that I have a beautiful, fast, state-of-the-art iMac with a crisp high-res screen, but it does little more than my iPad already does. My workhorse is an old 17in G5 iMac running all my favourite programs on Leopard. If only my iMac had died earlier when they were still sending out Macs with Snow Leopard, I would have been OK (for a year or two). Guess which computer I'm writing this on? The old one of course.