Resurrecting the iMac

While my other half was standing at the side of a rugby pitch in the middle of nowhere this afternoon I took it upon myself to tidy up the junk room at home.

There are a number of drawer units in the junk room – one of which has slowly filled itself with wires, chargers, plugs, connectors, and bits of circuitboard over the last ten years or so. After a spirited fight with an unimaginable mass of tangled wires, two thirds of them have been thrown away, and things can actually be found once more.

Once the drawer unit was cleared, I turned my attention to the spare desk by the window, which has been slowly filling with detritus from the rest of the house (my other half uses the junk room as just that – an extension of the rubbish bin, and a rough equivalent of “Monica’s Cupboard” from the TV show “Friends” – when we have visitors, she throws everything in here to make the rest of the house look better). After re-locating the various bits and pieces that had arrived on the desk, we finally had an empty desk once again.

Hmm… what best to put on an empty desk?

It was around this time that I stopped for a coffee, and wrote a blog post – realising as I did so that it was the 1st October, and November was only a few weeks away. November means NaNoWriMo in a dark corner of my brain – the yearly race to write a 50,000 word novel during November.

Twenty minutes later I had climbed into the attic, and pulled down the iMac we bought several years ago. It was an impulse purchase from eBay, and surprised us all when it arrived in mint condition. Apparently it spent it’s entire working life locked in a store-room at a school, never used. The only thing I have ever done to it is replace the hard-drive (it turns out 15 year old bearings in hard drives don’t work too well).

The 2003 vintage iMac runs OSX Tiger – the first half-decent version of OSX released after Steve Jobs return to Apple. Some might still argue that Tiger was the last really clean, fast version of OSX, and I wouldn’t disagree with them.

Firing it back up today, it chirped the familiar sounds, and booted into a logon screen surprisingly quickly. I got the password right on the third try, and then realised Scrivener was installed on it – I must have installed it years ago while experimenting with it (read: tinkering).

The thought occurred to me – I could use the iMac for NaNoWriMo. Although it has an ethernet port, I don’t have an ethernet cable long enough to reach from it to the network switch – so it won’t be connecting to the internet any time soon. This is a GOOD THING. If I have a computer with Scrivener on it that can’t actually connect to the internet, it stops me jumping down infinitely deep rabbit holes while supposedly getting on with writing.

I tried plugging a USB stick in, to see if I might backup work that way. Yes. Works perfectly. Then I had another idea. After another ten minutes digging around in the attic, I re-appeared with an Iomega ZIP drive. I didn’t think it would work, but tried it anyway – plugging it into the power strip, and into the USB port on the side of the fifteen year old iMac. It lit up, then sat idle. My brow furrowed, then something occurred to me – I slotted a twenty year old USB disk into the drive, which immediately burst into life, whirring, and clunking. A drive icon appeared on the Mac desktop. I nearly fell off my chair.

I wonder if I’ll be the only writer in the world attempting to use a fifteen year old computer, and twenty year old backup drive to write a story in November ?

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