The Senior Macintosh Center – My Mac Magazine #59, March ’00

Well, hey, stranger… where’ve you been? Oh no, wait… where have I been? I’ll tell you later… it’s disgusting! So, how’s life been treating you? Good, I hope. Needless to say, but ladies and gentlemen… I’M HOME!!!!!!

In this riveting addition to my ever-popular, award-winning gift of prose (okay, maybe not award-winning, not yet anyway), I want to delve into the cavernous regions of my own Macintosh computer and show what lurks beneath that happy Mac smile. Yes, da Mac man is back and has upgraded his PowerMac 7100/66!! Tada!! With the help of Sonnet Technologies, of course. Shall we begin?

Yes, my dear comrades, for the last 2 years I have been plodding down the information superhighway with a 7100. Sad but true. When I would sign on, it would take no less than 3-5 minutes for the Home Page to come up. Tragic. Still, I knew that one day I would ascend from this abyss of slothful Internet access. I would be among those that cruised the Web without yawning. I could finally remove the coffee IV from my left arm! That day has indeed arrived AND.. .it didn’t cost me my life’s savings to attain this goal! Yippee!

A few months ago I started really getting tired of dealing with my 7100. I really couldn’t afford anything new (I really do like the Graphite iMacs, don’t you?) so I started searching the mail order Mac catalogs (you know the ones) to find an upgrade of some kind. Well, it turns out that there aren’t many options to choose from for my particular kind of Mac… It figures! That’s okay, I kept looking. I came across a G3 upgrade for my 7100 that looked promising. I checked the pricing with different vendors and checked just exactly what I needed to do to get it installed. Serious note: Always do the research on stuff like this. It pays to get ALL the facts first, as you will see. Where was I? Oh yeah. So, I didn’t go to the mail order websites. Instead, I went straight to the manufacturers’ sites to see their information on their products. The one that made my heart skip a beat was Sonnet Technologies. These guys are it, baby!!! Their site gives you all the specs and tells you what you’ll need for each upgrade. Oh yeah, da Mac man is happy!

So, I called their 800 number and had a chat with a guy named Neal McAuley. Kindred spirit. Lives to serve the masses! I told him what I was up to and he promptly went to bat to get me set up with what I needed. He told me to check and be sure that I didn’t need a video adapter card. Sho ’nuff I did. Good call… I really like this guy! He said that, when it came time to place the order, he would personally handle it. Okay. Just to let you know, they have the best pricing I could find. No kidding.

The order went through and I received the G3 upgrade card (266Mhz with 512k backside cache) and the video adapter card. I know you think that I could have gotten something faster but, realistically, this is fine. I am happy to say that all of what I got costs less than… I’ll tell you later.

I was like a little boy at Christmas when I tore open the 2 boxes. I first looked at all the stuff and just smiled. Then I thought, “How am I supposed to get all this stuff inside my computer?” The G3 card itself is fine but this adapter card thingie with the weird looking cable? ‘Sup wid dat? I then reached for the instruction pages… always a smart move. I read the instructions first and they made absolutely no sense to me… until I started going step by step and actually did the work.

I’ll not bore you with all the nasty little details, but I will note some important things:

1) Install the software BEFORE you do the upgrade. The instructions tell you that and you really need to do it. Unfortunately, the floppy disk that I got was bad (Sorry guys, but it’s true), but have no fear, their website has it readily accessible (Crescendo 1.4.1).

2) When you have the adapter card and G3 card installed and connected together you need to exercise VERY serious caution putting the cover back on. The space for the adapter card is a snug fit (again, review the instructions about this). What I ended up doing to save time and eliminate some unnecessary frustration was to modify the cover just a tad. I took some tin snips and trimmed a piece of the cover’s framework to put it on easily. Worked like a charm.

I did the upgrade as soon as I got home from work. I couldn’t help it, I just wanted to see it work. Well, now the moment of truth had arrived. Everything was done. I had only torn-up empty boxes and a bunch of papers around me. All the hardware was in place, software installed, cover back on, monitor and cables all plugged in. This was it. I reached up to the keyboard and hit the start button. It chimed its usual chime. Seconds went by and my heart beat strongly against my ribs. What would happen next? Then the monitor sprang to life. “Welcome to Macintosh” it said but wait, there was something different. Across the bottom of the “Welcome to Macintosh” screen it had additional words of comfort: “Crescendo G3” was emblazoned there with majesty and glory! Yes!!! I was there!!! I had attained!! I wasn’t a slug anymore!! I was in with the big dogs! Yea!!!

I immediately saw notable increased speed. I don’t just mean the mouse moved faster. I saw apps fly open. I saw the computer almost jump at the chance to get some work done. This was great! Now came the acid test… going online. I usually go to different sites that use a lot of Java applets. The 7100 would always choke, then just die whenever I went to these places. I had ’em all lined up and I was gonna put it to this little machine and see what it would do. It ran great! Every site that I went to opened up and ran like it was no challenge at all. Da Mac man is so happy his socks are going up and down! Doing the happy dance thang!

I am no longer lagging behind the rest of the crowd. No, I suppose I’m not at the front of the pack, but being in the pack itself is very nice, thank you. When I go online it’s refreshing to know that I don’t have to go make a pot of coffee to fill up my time just to get to my Home Page. I can actually watch it come to life in mere moments. Truly a joy!

Total cost for everything, including 2-day shipping: $357.90

That’s my story. What’s yours? Let me know about your successes or horrors and for goodness sake, let me help you when I can. Ask me stuff!

Catcha L8r,

Ed Tobey

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