A Casualty on the Front Lines

No, this isn’t a misplaced war correspondent piece! The title refers to my much loved and long serving Power Mac G5 Quad, which until this week has been on the front lines of the internet as the server for the Happy Macs Gopher site.

G5 Quad

Regrettably I went into the lab mid this week to find its fans running at full throttle and the CPU temperature meter registering well over 80C. Amazingly, the machine was still running and still responding, but of course I shut it down immediately.

Thinking that it might just be a software glitch in the temperature control system, I let it cool off for an hour or so and then restarted it. It started up normally, but to my dismay, the CPU temperature meter started to climb immediately, the fans kicked up in tandem with it, and eventually I was right back to where I had started: fans at full throttle and an unacceptable CPU temperature level. I shut the machine down again to preserve what little run time it would have left at those extreme levels of heat, and pondered what to do next.

I have to conclude that the G5’s elaborate cooling system has failed after many years of faithful service. These machines are well known for this problem, but usually the failure is more catastrophic than the one I have experienced, with cooling fluid spilling out all over and staining floors, carpets and anything else in the near vicinity. I really can’t complain I suppose: 2005 to 2018 is a pretty good run for any computer …and it has not been easy service of late. As mentioned above, this machine has been on the front lines of the internet for several years now, serving up the Happy Macs Gopher site 24x7x365.

I will have a good look at it this weekend, and in the short term at least, I will replace it with my original personal Mac, a Power Mac G5 Dual 2.3 GHz. I will have to fire up the G5 Quad for a limited last run, to transfer the Gopher site off of the HDD and onto a backup drive. This will let me restore it onto the G5 Dual and get it “back on the air”. I can only hope that G5 Quad survives this final service without too much (additional) damage.

Looking forward, G5 Quads are becoming hard to find on eBay these days, and so it may be a while before I can replace my failing friend. I doubt that I can actually repair it – I lack both the time and the skills to do so. I may simply have to “harvest” all the useful components from it (hard drives, RAM, video card, etc.) and put it out to pasture permanently. This weekend’s examination will tell the tale.

RIP my long faithful friend!

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HappyMacs Gopher Site Back on the Air

Progress update from the HappyMacs lab. I am pleased to report that the HappyMacs Gopher site is once more “on the air”. Please visit gopher://happymacs.ddns.net to access a wide ranging library of vintage Macintosh software.

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Happy Macs Lab Progress, Mac IIfx and Apple IIgs

At long last, the corporate relocation that has shuttered the Happy Macs lab for the past six months is finally complete. It has been a long and tortuous process but at last it is done. Our new home has a large and custom-built space in the finished basement that will grow into the Happy Macs lab over the coming weeks. Last weekend, most of the vintage computing equipment that will populate the lab was moved from the safely of the climate controlled storage locker where it has spent the last several months to its final staging area, our garage. Over the next few weeks, I will be unpacking the boxes and situating the systems in the lab, slowly bringing it all back online.

In the interim, while any sort of progress has been limited, my passion for vintage Macs has not gone entirely unsatisfied. I have kept a watchful eye ever open, and over these past few months I have acquired two rare and precious goodies that will feature in upcoming posts: a Macintosh IIfx (the “wicked fast” Macintosh) and an original copy of the ORCA/C compiler and development environment for the Apple IIgs.

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The Macintosh IIfx will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog, but the mention of anything related to the Apple II probably will. To be fair, the Apple IIgs is NOT a Macintosh, and so would appear to be outside of the scope of this blog. However, like many Macintosh-related blogs and user groups, I am making an exception for the Apple IIgs. While it is true that it is not a Macintosh, it is a very close relative. From a GUI perspective, an Apple IIgs running its’ GS/OS operating system is nearly indistinguishable from a Macintosh running System 6.

The Apple IIgs is in fact a fascinating “what if” machine in Apple’s history, one that I will delve into it in more detail in an upcoming series of posts. As a teaser, what would you think of a true 16-bit Apple II, featuring the first color user interface Apple had ever fielded, with a fully mouse driven GUI that looks (and acts) for all the world like Macintosh System 6, and which outsold all other Apple products, including the Macintosh(!), in its first year on the market? Would you find that interesting? I did, and the more I dug, the more fascinating this Apple II – Macintosh hybrid became. Stay tuned for more!

That’s it for now. I am pleased to report that this blog has not gone away – it has just been on a relocation-mandated hiatus.