g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
  Blog \Blôg\, n. [Jrg, fr. Jrg. "Web-log".
     See {Blogger, BlogSpot, LiveJournal}.]
     A stream-of-consciousness Web journal, containing
     links, commentary, and pointless drivel.

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Monday, July 7, 2003
12:37 - What'd I miss?

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Now that's what I call a good long weekend.

Boy-howdy, did we ever get stuff done. We've cleaned out the garage, for one thing; that was sorely needed. With the help of doughty friends, we dragged everything out of there and sorted it in the driveway into piles of stuff to a) keep, b) give to Goodwill or someone, and c) hurl away. The third pile, it should surprise nobody, ended up dwarfing both the others. Enough so that I just ordered another 12-cubic-yard debris box to pile it all in. The sooner the better, too, because hidden in the piles of crap are lots of boards with nails in them and other such slobbering-alien-repelling weaponry, and there are inquisitive toddlers roaming around the cul-de-sac and just aching to discover new sharp objects on which to brain themselves. It'll be arriving tomorrow.

So then we were able to start moving the boxes from inside the house into the garage, which means we can now walk around more or less with standard human mobility, instead of navigating through towering cardboard canyons in every room. Naturally the dog is all used to the canyons now, so he's watching worriedly as the boxes gradually dissolve from his field of view. "What-- are we moving again?" he asks.

We got the major drapery done, too-- the living room now has our elegantly hung green curtains, with an 8-foot span across the bottom part of the picture window and then a peaked and stapled upper part that we're quite proud of. See, we (actually, Lance) took a six-foot curtain rod and mitre-cut it so it could be screwed together at a 90-degree angle. Then we hung that against the peaked top of the picture window, and hung curtains from the sloped sides so they sort of bunch together in the middle, but in a cool way. They can be separated and gathered at the corners of the peak so as to let in the sun, or pinned behind the TV to keep things cool. It works very well indeed, and it preserves the shape of the window even when closed. Slam-dunk.

My bathroom is just about done; I've finished untaping most of it, and the mirrors are up, with matching frosted edges against the green background. I still need to finish some touch-up painting, the door trim, and the crown molding up top; and the toilet could stand to be replaced. But that's something that can happen at our leisure. There's a new shower head, so I can now take showers without feeling like that shrieking guy at the end of the 70s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is pointing accusingly at me.

Oh! And I've gotten moving on the new book; at least, I've finished putting together the proposal TOC. This was an interesting adventure. See, the book is supposed to cover 10.3 "Panther"; and thanks to benevolent forces which shall remain nameless, I have such a beast in my hot little hands. So I thought I'd install it on my G4, which has two disks; see, the way the Panther DP works is that there's no upgrade path from it; you can't upgrade from it to the final shipping version of Panther, you can only do a wipe-clean installation, which will trash all your installed drivers and such. So I wanted to put 10.3 on the second disk, leaving the 10.2.6 on the primary disk untouched. But the installer didn't want to cooperate. Taking a cue from Windows 2000's installer, it seemed dead-set on thwarting me. Here's what happened: I would put in the CD; it would say, "Oh! you want to install, do you? Press Restart and the installation process will begin." And it would write to the boot blocks that it wanted to boot from CD, and restart. It would boot into CD. Or not. See, it would get to the gray Apple logo screen, and then freeze. It wasn't a hard freeze; the little twirly "wait" icon would still twirl. But it would never get anywhere. So I'd reset, and the same thing would happen; I'd reset and hold down "C" (to boot from CD); the same thing would happen. Or wait! No! It's actually booting-- though it took like half an hour for it to happen. So I don't know whether it would have finished booting all those other times if I'd just let it sit, or what. But it finally got to the installer screen, after nearly an hour, and plodded through the installer process unnecessarily slowly. In fact, it took some six hours to complete. (I know because I'd opened up the installer log, and it had convenient timestamps for all the events as they happened.) Then "Installer requested restart," said the log, and it rebooted. But apparently it hadn't cleanly installed, because it booted right back into the CD (it came right up this time), and started installing all over again. Crumbs.

So I aborted the process and tried booting from the hard disk. See, on a Mac, you can hold down Option after booting, and it will give you a listing of all bootable volumes. (You can bet this will get a special mention in the "Tips and Tricks You Probably Didn't Know About" chapter.) Select one of the icons and press the Boot button, and off it goes; it's non-persistent, though, and to permanently set the boot device, you have to use the Startup Disk preferences. Anyway-- so I tried booting from the half-installed 10.3 disk; and it ... got to the gray screen and froze. For hours. I went to sleep, got up later, and it was still there, twirling glumly away on the logo screen in the gray pre-dawn. So I shut it off and gave up.

Then it occurred to me: something that had been nagging at my mind ever since I'd read the Read Me file, absorbed its contents, and filed it away in the "Root around in later after you realize you threw something away that you needed" bin. And that was the stern warning that you could only install 10.3 on a Mac selected from a strict list (I was), that had an Apple-supplied video card and no third-party PCI cards (I wasn't). I knew it-- I knew I'd regret installing that new ATI card six months ago and throwing away my old factory Rage 128. Blah! Plus the machine has an Adaptec SCSI card in it. So I figured that had to be the culprit. The DP of Panther probably doesn't have all the third-party drivers done; since the system would occasionally boot (the freeze point was always right after it probed the USB devices, as I could tell from booting in Visual mode-- Command-V), and since it had the nice mouse drop-shadow and everything, I figured the video card probably wasn't to blame. It was probably that damned SCSI card.

I had a few options before me. I could try taking out the SCSI card, and maybe digging up video cards and swapping them in and out; but that just seemed so... so... exactly like what I was dealing with whenever I tried to install Win2K. Granted, this is a developer's preview, not even a public beta; but still, I felt I shouldn't have to do this. It was much simpler to just play by the stated rules.

This meant installing it on my iBook. But wait! The iBook only has one disk; and unlike Mac OS 9, where you could install lots of different copies of the OS onto the same disk (a bootable OS consisted solely of a System Folder that had been "blessed" properly-- it could exist anywhere on the system, deep inside folder trees, wherever), OS X can only be installed once per partition. (I hope they streamline this-- I've heard that they're working on it, but it's hard to get all those invisible UNIX directories to behave properly.) I was in no mood to try partitioning my disk. So then... what?

My iPod gleamed at me from the corner of my desk. Of course!

I plugged the iPod into the G4 and enabled manual mode, and deleted all the songs from it. Then I unplugged it and fired up the iBook, and plugged it in. Tossed in the Panther disk; rebooted to begin installation. It booted almost instantly. It asked which disk to install it on; with a flourish and a doffing of my flowing black cape, I selected the iPod. And it installed quickly and smoothly, taking less than 45 minutes all told. (I further suspect the SCSI card in the G4 as the culprit, now; it was behaving as though it had to keep waiting for the card to give it some kind of approval to continue, a signal that was never forthcoming.) It rebooted, the iPod clicking away in my hand, and asked for the second disc, which I happily fed it. It finished eating and spit out the bones of the CD, and rebooted again. O happy day! Behold: the joy of Panther!

Now I have a bootable copy of the OS in my pocket; I can take it to work and boot my iMac with it, so I can see the more video-intensive things like the hideously gratuitous (and therefore utterly delicious) Fast User Switching feature, and of course Exposť. I can take it to the park with my laptop, boot it into Panther, and explore the half-finished features and guess at what they'll eventually do. I can take it home, plug it into my G4, and watch it freeze at the gray logo screen. Then I can pretend it's the G5 that will be arriving just as soon as my bank account dips below the amount I'll need in order to pay for it.

This stuff's fun even when it goes kablooey!

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© Brian Tiemann