The Powerbook 5300 Is Back Online*! (And Other Creatures)

It’s Sunday evening, and somehow I’m ready for the week ahead. I’m not running to play catch up. I’ve got tomorrow’s video up and ready to publish in the morning. I’ve got most of the things I need for an outside video shoot tomorrow. And I’m sat down, on the couch, with a reasonably tidy and clean home.

Given the week I’ve had (which I’ll detail in a moment), I’ve surprised myself. But what surprises me more is the fact that I have a Mac Powerbook 5300 back online!

Feeling Retro

For those who don’t know (though I’m sure most reading know this), I’m very much into what now are called Vintage Macs. Of course, I got into them when they were just regular, everyday Macs. They were the Macs that I discovered when I went from high school to sixth form in 1996, and the music department had several rooms of Macintosh LCs of various specs and one glorious Power Mac 7200. It was those computers that I learned inside and out, my first real in-depth experience of computers.

It was those computers that I went on to keep running and updated during the next two years, and it was computers like them that I found in second-hand stores to fix and sell on to my fellow undergraduates when I moved to London to attend Music College in 1998.

Suffice to say, it’s the reason I still use Macs to this day. I’ve kind of amassed so much in the way of software and knowledge that I can’t imagine not using them (even though of late I’ve tired of Apple’s attitude toward right to repair).

For reasons I’m not going to go into here** I’ve collected Powerbook 5300s for a while. I used to have two complete ones (one with a color screen and one with a black and white screen), as well as several parts machines. Sadly, the best machine I had stopped working a while back and yesterday (on this livestream) I discovered that there’s some serious corrosion around the memory expansion slot.

What I was able to do however, was get the black and white Powerbook 5300 (with a soldered-in power lead***) working with the larger hard drive, the largest memory card I have, and a working PCMCIA to Ethernet card. Then, I swapped the good screen from another machine, and now I have a color screen working on the only functional Powerbook 5300 I now own.

Thanks to the wonderful Frogfind from the lovely Sean of ActionRetro I was able to browse the Internet and find some things to add to my Mac. Sadly though, I’m still hitting some errors with the install I have, so I’m going to try and figure out a way of connecting this to a server on my home network. If all else fails, I’ll fire up one of my G4s (which are great crossover machines for older Mac network access).

I’m also (at some point) wanting to get a WRP (Web Rendering Proxy) running so I can use this Mac as a background machine for the Transport Evolved set – but that’s for another weekend.

Our Pump has Wifi

We’re a nerdy family. Our Chicken Coop has a bunch of cameras on it so I can keep an eye on the flock. We have a WiFi access point on the coop (so that we can cover the further corners of the garden on one end) and we have a WiFi repeater in our Pump house (so we can access the Internet at the other corner of our property).

But now our water pump has WiFi. Or rather, one of our water pumps has WiFi. And no, I didn’t realize it was a thing, either.

Our new pump in the shit shack. It has wifi. I’m not kidding.

Our water comes from a well in our garden. We have a well house (which we call the Shit Shack because of its terrible state), but we actually have two well pumps. One pumps water out of the ground, and one pumps water from a reservoir to the house. A few weeks ago, this secondary pump broke. And we lost water pressure.

As luck would have it, the pump stopped working over night, and we slowly drained the water pressure (and the water) from the tank. I found out during a post-workout shower when I still had soap in my hair.

The pump folks came out, looked at the situation, and offered us two solutions: 1) a replacement pump that would run off the same single-phase power as the broken one – or 2) a three-phase pump that would offer a constant pressure supply. Because we don’t have a three-phase power supply here, this solution would be a little more expensive, but include a single-phase to three-phase inverter.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of each system, but the big deciding factor for us was the fact that a three-phase, constant pressure pump is soft start, meaning it uses less instantaneous current at pump startup. And that lower current (called an Inrush current) makes it easier for us to power the pump from a non-mains power supply — ie, our Ford F150 Lightning and its vehicle-to-home system.

The other thing our fancy new pump has? WiFi. To keep things safe, it doesn’t have WiFi all the time (which is smart), but you can get it to output Wifi through a built-in router on the device, and use that to upload new firmware or query the device if it isn’t working as planned.

Wifi… for my well pump.

It’s kind of clever. But also nothing I ever expected to have on a piece of pump equipment. Honestly, I’m still not 100% sure I like the functionality, as it could, maybe be a security issue. Since I doesn’t connect to your home network though, I guess it’s okay.

Printing… Eh…

A week or two ago, I got our 3D printer upgraded. It’s an Ender 3 Pro, and I’d added a new motherboard, a second Z Axis motor, and a new hot end. Sadly though, some stuff broke. And by that I mean TWO things broke: the X-axis bracket that held the end stop switch, and the Z motor gantry.

An Ender 3 Printer with a modified head
My Ender 3 Tries to print stuff. It failed.

Right now, that’s left the printer broken. I don’t know if I will be able to fix it, but I’m hopeful. I really enjoy 3D printing, but compliling the firmware and getting everything properly set up? It’s taking longer than I’d like. I’d hoped to get it working this weekend, but alas, that wasn’t to be.

Since I had a pretty shitty week last week due to… politiciansand MORE Politicians I have decided I need to be kind to myself and not give myself a hard time for not finishing all the things.

So it will be next weekend’s project (unless something else happens).

Check in on your Trans friends, family, and coworkers.

Which reminds me. This week month Year has been really shitty for trans people. Like REALLY shitty. If you want to know HOW shitty, let’s look at this in numbers.

This isn’t a drill. Map by @Erininthemorn

So far this year, we’re homing in on 200 anti-trans bills and it’s only January 22. More bills trying to ban or restrict transgender and nonbinary rights were introduced in the first 19 days of this year than the entirety of last year. And the map above? The “safest states” are also being inundated by Republican lawmakers (even those who are in a minority rule) trying to shit-stir and embolden their base. States that are anything other than blue are states I am no-longer safe in.

Hate is on the rise. I’ve been a victim of transphobia every day this year, and it’s made me want to disappear into a hole and never come back out. Getting violent threats on social media and in your inbox tends to do that (and yes, where possible, I’ve reported folks).

So if you’re someone with trans friends, family or coworkers? Just do me a favor and check in on them. Please? And if you’d like to be a good ally, you need to stand with us and stand up against these bigoted politicians.

It’s no-longer enough to tell us you “support trans choices” or say phrases like “it’s your life”. We need you to actively be an anti-transphobe. Stand up to those who are not supportive. Call out politicians, and news reports and yes, family, friends and coworkers when they aren’t supportive.


I know I pushed that last section out of left field. I’m not sorry, because this isn’t a drill. But I also wanted to leave you with something a little less scary. And I promise it’s kind of related.

My weird ass alarm clock.

I’ve been struggling with sleep lately, because I’ve been waking up most nights multiple times with nightmares about anti-trans legislation, being hunted, and in at least three dreams, being shot at point-blank range.

But I’ve also been woken up multiple times in the last week by my base station for my Implanted Loop Recorder. It seems to think it’s okay to happily chirp that it has completed its upload to the Borg at whateveroclock in the morning.

It is not.

Getting woken up at 3am by this thing is wearing thin.

That said, it’s good to know the weight loss, combined with more regular workouts, means that I feel my health is generally better, even if I’m not sleeping well.

Onwards and upwards, because there’s no other direction to go.


*I’ll admit. That was a little bit of clickbait. Because while it is true.

** It might have something to do with a certain film and Aliens and the fact that the Powerbook 5300 is considered one of the worst Macs ever made and I like underdogs.

*** At some point in its past, its power inlet broke (a common issue on these machines), and someone decided to just HARD WIRE a power cable to the motherboard. The worst bit is the rest of the case is in great condition… except for the hole that was bored in its underside with a soldering iron.