Apple, Tech, and Gaming

Pismo: The Next Generation, Part 1

- 2012.03.20 - Tip Jar

Pismo PowerBook G3
The 2000 Pismo PowerBook G3

My trusty Pismo PowerBook G3 would not boot up (consistently) after being powered down for a few weeks, since I no longer needed to use it as a wireless printer and file server after several other equipment upgrades (including a networked wired/wireless Kodak Hero 9.1 printer). I previously had an HP OfficeJet 5610 that was connected to the Pismo and shared. Since the Pismo was on the same wireless router I connected to with my other equipment, there it resided to "serve and print" - a sad relegation for a once cherished and desired machine - and in the end it was no longer even needed for that task due to the printer upgrade.

Time to Restore and Repurpose an Old Friend

While being unplugged for a few weeks, I had contemplated what to do with it. I could sell it and get a bit of cash towards the PlayStation Vita or the 3D TV that I've have my eyes on, but my conscience got the better of me, since this Pismo has a big place in my heart.

When I powered up my old trusty friend for the first time in weeks to start getting it ready for it's new purpose as a learning computer for my son, I was sunken after it would no longer boot - at least reliably. The Finder performance was so sluggish that it was freezing up, getting the old beach ball of death immediately after any given action and would lock up. I went through (most) of the motions. First came a few resets of the PRAM, followed by a reset of the PMU. No dice.

It was hanging up on the white screen with the Apple logo when it wasn't booting to the Finder at all. I unplugged the PRAM battery that was basically shot, since that can create problems for the Pismo, and still no luck. Then I tried booting from a retail Tiger install disc, and no go there either. Finally, I tried booting into FireWire Target Disk Mode and brought up the drive on my eMac, but after a short while the drive disappeared from the eMac's desktop, which gave me the hunch that the hard drive was probably failing.

The next step was a bit more invasive (spending a whole 5 minutes), and I swapped out the 40 GB hard drive that was installed with a 60 GB drive I had left from an iBook G4 parts unit, and bingo! My hunch turned out to be right.

Back in Business!

I quickly got the flashing folder, since the drive was wiped, so that was a big relief. Then I put the Tiger install disc back in and was happily greeted with the install dialogue and did a full erase and install. The Pismo is now back in business. Now I just need to get a new PRAM and main battery (which is also kaput), and the Pismo should be back in full operation mode. I will have to reinstall the OS again though, since I want to put OS 9.2 back on it on a bootable partition.

This should make a great laptop for my son, who is nearly six and just discovering lots of music and fun stuff, while also being a machine he can learn to type on, watch DVDs, and play some basic games.

I've already hunted down some great software from local thrift stores and plan on pulling applications, games, etc. from my archives that would be well suited for a child. I also plan on creating an iTunes library with the kind of music he loves, creating an overall experience he should really enjoy - his very own Mac.

When he gets older he'll really be able to appreciate a machine that was already 12 years old when he got it that still has life to give! Stay tuned for the next episode of Pismo: The Next Generation. LEM

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Dan Bashur lives in central Ohio with his wife and children. He uses various PowerPC G3 and G4 Macs running Tiger and Leopard. Besides finding new uses for Macs and other tech, Dan enjoys writing (fantasy novel series in the works), is an avid gamer, and a member of Sony's Gamer Advisor Panel. You can read more of Dan Bashur's work on, where he contributes regular articles about the PSP, classic gaming, and ways you can use Sony gaming hardware with your Mac.

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