07 August 2012

Sometimes being a pack rat works out well, sometimes you wind up on "Hoarders"

This past weekend was dedicated to a big rearrangement and purge of my office (although my wife says I still need to purge more, and I actually agree with this sentiment). The catalyst was the receipt of a recent woot.com deal of a combination of two HP 22" monitors with a dual stand. I rearranged the work areas so that my day job workspace is much bigger, and I cleared enough to put my Mac Mini, my Windows 2003 Server server, and two laptops destined to become Linux/BSD machines in one corner.

The wired keyboard and mouse I was using for the Mac were a pain, so I decided to use one of a pair of Microsoft wireless keyboard/mice I had bought a while ago from woot.com. I opened the package, and started to work on it. I saw all of these dire warnings about "install software first!" (exclamation points included), and went about this. That's when I remembered something - the Mac Mini does not have an optical drive. No big deal, I'll just copy the contents of the CD to a USB drive and use Sneakernet. But when I loaded the CD into my laptop, I noticed something - no .dmg files (the format used by Apple OS for installation). I didn't dig further, but I realized that this was a dual-format CD, and Windows would not acknowledge the OS partition.

Then I remembered something - I had an ancient external CD writer. Purchased around the turn of the century, we used it to back up an old Sony VAIO laptop used extensively during our eBay selling days. It was temperamental with writing CDs, but, hey, who cares, I'm reading, not writing. It was also early USB technology, probably 1.1. Off to one of my two junk boxes; I tore through the contents, and found it and its power supply. I grabbed a USB cable, plugged it in (both places), and inserted the CD. Surprisingly, OS X Lion recognized it, and, even better, it recognized the CD! I then clicked through Finder and started the dmg package, and it installed. There were a couple of dire warning messages, but after the restart, I was able to plug in the remote receiver and my wireless keyboard and mouse are working perfectly.

Moral of the story: Don't throw anything out, you might need it. Wait, revised moral: You can get rid of some things, for example, the 10Mb network switches and the parallel and serial mechanical A/B switches.

(A victim of the purge is my dearly loved IBM P96 flat-screen CRT monitor, made by Sony, with Trinitron innards. It is unique because it was an early dual-input device, and drives an incredible-for-its-time 1600x1200 (but I swear I drove it harder than that at 1920x1440). I call it the boat anchor, because it's pretty darned heavy, and is really not conducive to relocation. It suffers from a little tic in that when it warms up the display is a bit cut off; all you have to do, though, is power-off and -on and it clears up. The reason why I am digressing is that despite its little glitch, it is still a great monitor, and I hate to send it to the recycling facility. If you're in the Sacramento area, drop me a note via my web site, and it's yours for free.)

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