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PPCMLA Press Corps

PPCMLA How-tos, Tips, Tricks, and Articles

Archive for September, 2009

The End of the Road

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

It's the end of the road for PowerPCApple has finally drawn the line in the sand.  There will be no more Mac OS X upgrades for PowerPC-based Macs.  Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” will only run on Intel machines.  We all knew it was coming, but it’s a sad day nevertheless.  This means that PowerPC Mac users are facing more limited upgrade options.  Eventually, developers will stop releasing universal binaries that run on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.  When that happens, Mac users can:

  1. Buy a new Intel Mac and run the latest Mac OS X compatible applications
  2. Install Linux and run free alternatives to the current commercial software
  3. Keep using what they already have installed

Some people are claiming that PowerPC users are being left out in the cold.  While that may be true from an Apple-centric perspective, it is far from reality.  PowerPC still has significant support in the OSS area.  And remember that your PowerPC Mac is still 100% as useful as it was on the day you bought it – it hasn’t lost any features since that day.

That said, this could be an excellent opportunity for hobbyists, collectors, and other curious individuals to pick up some PowerPC hardware for cheap.  Be on the lookout for those cast-offs, folks!

Using an HP HDTV as a monitor

Friday, September 4th, 2009

HP LC4276NI’ve got this 42″ HP LCD TV we bought a few years ago when HP was having a major blow-out sale after Thanksgiving. The TV was discontinued, and we got a massive discount on it. Ever since then, I’ve been struggling to get it working with a variety of Macs so we can use Front Row to play back our sizable movie collection on the nice widescreen display.

The TV supports 480i, 480p, 720p (actually 768p), 1080i, and 1080p. But if you’ve ever tried to hook up a computer to an HDTV via an analog connection (VGA), you know that just knowing the display resolutions doesn’t make it plug and play. But DisplayConfigX lets you set up custom display profiles to make your Mac work with just about any display.

For the longest time, I just didn’t have the patience to run through the trial-and-error process to get the display settings just right. But then I bought a nice iMac G4 1GHz with a bad LCD inverter. Hmm, perfect opportunity to get that LCD TV working…

So I finally sat down and took a couple hours to get the display working as a monitor on the iMac. Under the Timing menu for my monitor, I entered these values:
DisplayConfig X Timing Settings

  • Horizontal Active: 1360
  • Horizontal Front Porch: 144
  • Horizontal Sync: 144
  • Horizontal Back Porch 160
  • Horizontal Total (not editable): 1808
  • Vertical Active: 768
  • Vertical Front Porch: 18
  • Vertical Sync: 3
  • Vertical Back Porch: 14
  • Vertical Total (not editable): 803
  • Refresh rate: 59.993 Hz

The TV’s actual resolution is 1080p (1920×1080), but it supports 1366×768 (768p). I couldn’t get 1366 to work as a horizontal resolution, and the settings I used above were the best balance between my patience and image. There is still a pair of small black bands on the edges of the screen, but there isn’t any distortion, the image is pretty close to centered, and the iMac’s NVIDIA GeForce 4MX handles it easily. (Interestingly, DisplayConfigX insists that 1080p resolutions are out of range for the video card.)

For those looking for similar settings, my exact HDTV is the HP LC4276N which shows up to the Mac as an LC1080N in the Displays preference pane. Other models in this series are the LC4776N, LC4272N, LC4270N, LC3772N, LC3770N, LC3272N, and LC3270N. As I don’t have any of those other displays to test, I can’t guarantee that my settings will work with your TV, so your mileage may vary.

A final note for the curious: I disconnected the built-in LCD. Once the display is disconnected, the Open Firmware restriction against using external monitors in anything other than mirroring mode is lifted. However, if you don’t want to disconnect your built-in LCD, you’ll have to apply Screen Spanning Doctor.

Let’s kick Intel’s ass!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Remember when the PowerPC was the processor to beat? Back in the mid/late 90s, the PowerPC showed a lot of promise. In fact, it claimed bragging rights to being the first mainstream desktop processor to get to 300MHz.

But these were dark times for Apple. Clone makers were eating Apple’s lunch. Apple licensed Mac OS (and Motorola and IBM licensed PowerPC chips and reference boards) to expand the installed base of Mac OS compatible PowerPC computers by eating away at the Windows/Intel market share. They hoped clone makers would market their boxes to PC users and be able to capture new business. Instead, the clone makers competed directly with Apple for the existing Mac users without capturing much if any new business. And Power Computing was completely annihilating Apple with machines that out-performed Apple’s at lower prices.

Power Computing had some pretty creative advertising. Unfortunately, they did less “fighting back for the Mac” and more biting the hand that fed them. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the old propaganda.

I grabbed the following images from the web archive of the old PowerWatch website. Enjoy!

Flag Bearer Sluggo Soldier Billy


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