Big Cube


There's something about Apple hardware design that appeals to my inner engineer (ever since I started cracking open Mac II and SE/30 cases for upgrades, a long long time ago), and today I had another opportunity to appreciate their skill.

As you may recall, I recently got my hands on a Cube, which I then nursed for a bit. It has been running flawlessly since, but Pedro was kind enough to ship me the Cube's AirPort card and I had a couple of 80GB disks lying around since my dual 933 died, so I decided to upgrade it this weekend as a sort of therapeutic exercise.

Going wireless will free one of my switch ports, and the extra capacity means I can throw in a live mirror of my IMAP archive and a few extra things (I've never had the time to play around with mail servers on Mac OS X, and now that Macs outnumber Linux machines in the house, maybe I ought to standardize...).

Furthermore, I like developing and testing on old hardware - it gives me a much better feel of whether or not my stuff works well, since you catch performance issues earlier and are not lulled by your main hardware's breakneck speeds.

So I downloaded the latest updates (if the old drive was to be shelved, it might as well be up to date), hunted around for the service manual, and upended the little perspex bucket. As usual, opening the thing is a pleasure - you press down on the central latch, and it pops out to serve as a handle:

Installing the AirPort card turned out to be related with swapping the hard disk, since you have to lift up the flap where the PCMCIA socket is installed to reach the IDE and power connectors:

You then rotate the Cube, unscrew the portion of the heatsink that is attached to the disk, lift it and slide the disk out on a small rail.

Very neat, very easy (although one of the heatsink screws is a bit hard to reach).

And, as usual, reinstalling a Mac from scratch is pretty painless. Software Update has just finished doing its thing, and DarwinPorts is next up.

Shame about Apple's extremely crummy VNC server, though. I really ought to file a few Radar bugs on it, but I've long given up on their supporting anything but a US keyboard layout...

Reading List

In the meantime, I've just finished Shadow of the Hegemon (another great Orson Scott Card book, although I'm not yet convinced that the Shadow Saga is that much better than the Ender one), and have picked up Philip K. Dick's The Simulacra, which ought to last me until, oh... 2AM or so.