The Astonishing Train-Wreck of How JayceLand Gets Made

This year I decided I'd begin the process of replacing the Macintosh PowerBook G3 Firewire that just turned 10 years old yesterday. I had upgraded it to the maximum 2GB RAM and it's still a fine machine. It's just showing its age with sheer speed, particularly with browsing websites to find information about events and bands. So last month I ordered a Mac Mini (mid-2010) — that's apparently the clumsy official name, by the way — and started working with it. Well, having started from OS 8.1 on the PowerBook and as far back as System 7 on the LC III I had out of college, a huge portion of the software I have runs, as they say now, "in the Classic environment." OS X 10.3.9 suported Classic, largely because it ran on PowerPC hardware.

Well the Mac Mini has Intel chips and would never boot up any of the Classic systems. As such, support for it was dropped a few OS X releases ago. I figured I'd give the emulator SheepShaver a go — it professes to run nearly all software in Classic with the caveat that it apparently crashes a lot. I succeeded in getting it to boot up a Classic session (and ran comparable to the Powerbook) but it would not run FileMaker Pro. That's the software package that I use a lot. So big bummer there. I really don't want to buy the latest version because it's rather expensive and I'd prefer to go with something open-source and with a little more staying power (such as MySQL which seems to have a big enough head of steam that it'll be around for a while.)

The dilemma was how to continue to do work; the solution is a mess. I keep the PowerBook running most of the time specifically to have access to FileMaker Pro 5 and Quicken Deluxe '98 (only the name is not Y2K compliant). I wrote an AppleScript that does two things. First, when one of several scripts I wrote for FileMaker Pro request opening a website, it sends the request to the Mac Mini and opens it there. Second, and more terrifying, is that it synchronizes the clipboard between the two machines, so if I copy the name of a book in FileMaker Pro, it's available on the Mac Mini clipboard so I can search Amazon, and if I copy a Google Maps link, it's available on the PowerBook and in FileMaker Pro.

I decided that I'd start migrating to something new, and it looks like that time is now. I don't intend on making JayceLand look or work any different (just as when I integrated the WordPress blog), but I might shoot for bring it up-to-date in terms of, say, 2005 or so. I have long considered making the whole website web-only rather than the hodge-podge I have had for the last 10 years or so. And up until now, it would have violated the one rule I have about JayceLand: it should be the least amount of work for me. But man, this whole AppleScripted FileMaker Pro'd PowerPC-Classic-OS X-Intel thing is quite a hassle.

A Consumerism Relapse

This past weekend I held a Garage Sale and it went pretty well. I got rid of a lot of things, and then on Monday and Tuesday I took most of the rest of it to the thrift stores and such. I ended up spending all the money I made on a second Argon/Carbon Dioxide tank for the MIG welder. At least I didn't fall behind. Plus, now I can weld all day on Sunday even if one tank runs out — and it always does.

But in regards to my relapse into consumerism, I was thoroughly excited to win an auction on eBay for one Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M (at $100 under Amazon's price). It scans double-sided in color and outputs to PDF files — with additional options to convert to text (with "optical character recognition" or OCR) or to place text-under-graphics so it's human readable like the paper copy, but mostly searchable as well (except for OCR errors). It whips through 18 pages a minute (although my lowly G3 PowerBook can't keep up, especially with its 1/10th-speed USB 1.1 interface). In all: it's awesome so far. My qualms with it are that it doesn't scan very accurately, allowing compression errors to originate in the scanner, and there's no way to set specific scanning resolutions: only interpretative ones like "Best" or "Fast". I was also disappointed to find that Adobe Acrobat 8 won't run on Mac OS X 10.3 — I'd need at least 10.4 for that.

So now my free time is going through old documents, shoving them into the scanner, and getting rid of the originals. I know: I have too much fun.