OS X hangs on login to iTunes and App Store

I just picked up a MacBook Pro 2008 model and installed Mountain Lion. Everything appeared to be working okay so I upgraded to El Capitan to see how that looked. After the update, trying to login to iTunes or the App Store resulted in the spinning ball of uselessness. However, I was still able to login to Apple’s web site via Safari and Firefox, so I figured networking and firewall were non-issues.

Some research on Google directed and redirected until I ended up at http://rogersm.net/icloud-problems-mountain-lion-serial-number. Turns out this can be a common problem with machines that have been serviced, which can apparently wipe out the serial number stored in the firmware. The solution listed on that site worked like a charm. You can verify this is the problem by clicking on About This Mac from the Apple menu; if your serial number is blank or otherwise appears unavailable, you might give the utility a shot.

A couple of additional notes, however. For those that aren’t really Mac savvy or have been away a while, Disk Utility will work fine for this and can create the serial number utility on a USB memory stick. To accomplish this, start Disk Utility from Applications -> Utilities. Insert your memory stick and if any partitions mount, select the in the list and unmount them (don’t eject the memory stick). Once all partitions of the memory stick are unmounted, click on the memory stick itself and then Edit -> Restore. In the window that pops up, click Image and select the .dmg file described in the above article. Once everything is completed, you can reboot and try the serial number utility. Make sure you read the article completely, however, and that you absolutely use the correct serial number. There is no second chance…

Apple II Cards Purchased

Just purchased 4 Apple II cards through eBay. Actually, I was only after the IEEE-488 card but also included were a Microsoft Z-80 card as well as a couple of other interface cards. Will worry later about the rest, currently want to see what the 488 card can do in a IIGS.

Also working on purchasing some other Apple II related items and/or emulation items, including an MFM emulator. Not sure if there were ever any MFM hard drive controllers for the Apple II, but thought it might be an interesting bit of kit at some point…

Eventually going after Ian’s Mockingbird-compatible card, have a bare SDisk2 card, and a couple of prototype boards. Now to find some kit to build from all of this stuff… did I mention that I have around 10 printer/parallel port cards? Must be adaptable to some use.

ADTPro with Xubuntu 15.04 and IIGS ROM01 (Super Serial Card)

This is a duplicate of a discussion item I opened on ADTPro’s SourceForge site. Your mileage may vary but I welcome questions and will try to help.

After several days of combat with ADTPro and my IIGS, I’ve finally managed to get a good connection and create a couple of boot floppies.

One big issue was a lack of a valid DIN8 to DB9 cable. I tried 3 different ones, even hacked a couple of them apart only to find that they only had 4 or 6 of the required wires, none wired to the correct terminals and without enough wires to build the correct cable. Also, make sure you add yourself to the Dialout user group and then restart X or reboot the machine; there are ways around this but this is the proper way to gain access to the serial ports, whether real, USB, or virtual.

I then went through a couple of IIe’s that I had picked up a couple of years back, only to find that one of them actually had a Super Serial Card. Good enough, decided to give that a go. Out of the box didn’t work, though, so found that the modem/terminal jumper block was hosed. In trying to get it out, I broke a couple of pins and hopeless dented others. Using a machined-pin socket, some pieces of leads cut from a resistor, and some more pieces to create bridges, I reconstructed the jumper block. Biggest problem is that the cap from the original was not attached when I pulled the card out so I have no idea whether the jumper is set to the modem or terminal position. However, via 2 different types of USB-Serial converters, it now works… subject to the following caveat:

Each time you power up, you have to go into the IIGS control panel (CTRL-APPLE-ESC), Slots, Slot 2 (preferred) and change to Your Card, Save, then Quit back to prompt. Hit CTRL-APPLE-RESET, releasing RESET first to reboot then hit CTRL-RESET to prevent booting from floppy.

Start ADTPro on the Linux box. I tried several different settings but found that on Bootstrapping tab the defaults work best. One other issue that got me several times is that things appear to work normally sometimes except no transfer occurs. Make sure you type IN#2 and the 14B using the Shift key; even though Apple prints an upper case B when you type the 14B, if it’s not really upper case things will probably screw up. Also, this allowed the Speediboot option to work properly, which is much faster than the regular ProDOS and ADTPro Serial transfers back-to-back.

I’ll try to post pics of the SSC soon. Feel free to post questions.

Also, I’m running Xubuntu 15.04 on an Acer Chromebook with modified firmware. Works great in the small area I have available for testing.

Recent Retro Equipment

So, recently picked up a few different retro computer systems and accessories. First batch was an Enhanced Apple //e with color monitor, duo drive, ImageWriter, and software. Later discovered that the machine had a Super Serial Card, Apple SCSI card, AppliCard, and a couple of other extra cards. I haven’t had time to play with it due to lack of space.

Second batch about 9 months later consisted of a breadbox C64 with (2) 1541 drives, (1) 1541-II drive, and miscellaneous accessories. Also included a rather beat up Apple //e (unenhanced) with several expansion cards, (2) Apple Disk Drives, (1) after market disk drive, and accessories. An Amiga 500 with external 3-1/2″ drive was included (original version 1.2 Kickstart) and an old Packard-Bell 286 machine. A couple of green-screen monitors with composite input completed this batch, along with several books, disks, etc. Unfortunately, no Amiga software at all.

Another score was an Apple IIGS through eBay on the cheap; no cards, but works pretty well and in decent condition. Also, picked up (3) 5.25″ Apple Smart Drives, an ADB mouse and keyboard through shopgoodwill.com. This has actually turned into a pretty good little system to tinker with by combining some cards from the previous batches and one of the 5.25″ smart drives that isn’t as flaky as the others. Unfortunately, the IIGS didn’t include a memory card so I’m trying to find one on the cheap.

Some details of my ADTPro adventures with the IIGS will follow.

Commodore PET 2001

I saw a real Commodore PET 2001 today at an electronics repair shop. The owner was the original purchaser many years ago and purchased it directly from Commodore. Accessories included a line printer and dual disk drive. Fantastic condition and the owner’s wife said that it was still working fine when it was retired. Very cool to see one of these up close and personal.

Retro Stuff

Picked up a Commodore 64 (original style), Apple //e, Amiga 500, and Packard-Bell PB301 last weekend, along with several disk drives, books, and other accessories. All of these have been (poorly) stored for several years and will require some cleaning. I’m thinking the //e might be a good candidate for Retr0bright, as it’s very, very yellow. Also have at least 200 disks and tapes but will take quite a bit of time to sort as the previous owner apparently had quite a few accessory items for each machine. Maybe I’ll post some photos once I have things where they can be displayed, but they take up 1 full 72″ x 36″ x 12″ shelf plus another shelf level. Quite a haul…

I told the priest, “Don’t count on any second coming.”

“God got his ass kicked, the first time he came down here slumming.”

“He had the balls to come, the gall to die, and then forgive us.”

“I wonder what he thought it would get us…”

– Concrete Blonde, Tomorrow, Wendy.

Xubuntu and Teensy 3.1

After purchasing a Teensy 3.1 from pjrc.com and attempting to install their add-on software to the Arduino package already shipping with Xubuntu (an Ubuntu derivative and including the same issues in both distros), I thought I’d create a few notes to speed things along for others as the Teensy add-on is not directly (or indirectly, apparently) compatible with the Arduino IDE package provided by Ubuntu / Xubuntu. Note that I’m running Xubuntu 15.04 but I would expect similar issues with nearly any Ubuntu distro at any revision.

First, in order to speed things up and simplify installation, it’s probably easiest to use install the included Arduino package from Xubuntu.

sudo apt-get install arduino

This will also install a few other libraries and support files.

Go to System -> Users and Groups and add yourself to the Dialout group (this allows access to the serial ports). Logout or reboot so the group change can take effect.

Run Arduino so it can go ahead and create its infrastructure. If you have an Arduino, go ahead and test it to make sure the basic installation works as Teensy requires the Arduino IDE to be fully functional.

Now, remove the arduino IDE. However, do not use the autoremove feature suggested after you’ve removed the package unless you’re going to manually reinstall the various required files.

From pjrc.com, download the Teensy Linux installer (.32bits or .64bits file) and the udev rules file. From www.arduino.cc, download the latest Linux file; it’s in a .xz format.

Pick an empty working directory (I use ~/Work) and decompress the arduino .xz file. After decompressing, untar the archive and copy the resultant directory to /usr/share. Finally, rename /usr/share/arduino-xxx to /usr/share/arduino. Note where sudo must be used as normal users cannot directly write to /usr/share.

xz -d arduinoxxx.tar.xz

tar xvf arduinoxxx.tar

sudo cp arduinoxxx /usr/share/

sudo mv /usr/share/arduinoxxx /usr/share/arduino

Now, create a symlink in /usr/bin that will allow running arduino from the command line. You can add this to the menus later after all steps are complete and working.

sudo ln -s /usr/share/arduino/arduino /usr/bin/arduino

Run arduino from anywhere on the command line. You should see the standard splash screen instead of the different one included as part of the standard Ubuntu package.

Once everything is working properly from the basic arduino installation, exit and install the rules file for the teensy and the add-ons to the Arduino IDE.

sudo cp 49-teensy.rules /etc/udev/rules.d

sudo chmod +x teensyduino.64bit  <this modifies the .64bit or .32bit file to allow execution>

sudo ./teensyduino.64bit

Note you must prefix the teensyduino.64bit with the ./ or it will not run. Navigate to /usr/share/arduino and you should see the Next button become enabled, recognizing that you are in the correct Arduino IDE location. If the Next button fails to enable, hit the help (?) button and see what is missing in order to resolve the issue. After Next, click Install, and finally Done.

At this point, you should be able to start arduino, connect your Teensy, select it from the Board menu, and begin tinkering with it.

Note that I am in no way an expert on Teensy or Arduino. I’ll be happy to try to help, but my current work area is almost nothing and I have very limited ability to build any significant projects.

Hope this helps; it wasn’t very intuitive for me and took a couple of hours to sort. If this shaves some time off for anyone, it’ll be worth it.