I have a Macintosh at home now. Considering I have no real love for any operating system (I use 3 OS’s daily) – it is kind of odd that of all the computers I have laying around, most of which are faster, I chose intensionally to use an old Blue and White G4 Macintosh tower. In its day it was labeled as “munitions” by the U.S. government because this beast was fast for its time. Yes, QuickTime on this screamer is not something you want the enemy to get its hands on – before you know it there would be awful foreign versions of Men Behaving Badly and Coupling – and the U.S. will not have its TV programming ruined.
Back to the Mac – it’s, well, still attractive, just not as sexy (there is a Sharon Stone joke in there, somewhere.) All rounded and with clear plastic. Blue, and not beige, thanks to Mr. Jobs’ style. And in 2006 it can run a current version of Mac OS X. This, for a Macintosh built 7 years ago is a miracle. I know its days are numbered, with Apple’s new Intel line almost complete and Apple is at some point going to have to orphan its G4 children. But right now it works. And it was free. I lucked out, so to speak. You can pick one up on eBay for about $50-$100. Are they worth it? For right now, kind of.
As soon as I got it home, I dropped some 650 megs of old PC-100 memory in it and 160 GB ATA harddrive I had laying around. For the first time in my life, being a pack rat finally paid off. Then I went to this page on xlr8yourmac and followed the instructions very, very (read: very) carefully. My VOID warranty if seal is broken is now broken (Warranty? It died while holding hands with the dot com boom) and I overclocked the 400 MHz G4 chip to a burning 450 MHz. Oh baby, I’m on fire now.
But wait, Bob, there’s more! This frikin genius guy, Thomas Perrier, wrote this program called ATIccelerator II. This program can overclock a wide range of ATI video cards that Apple has used over the years. I was able to up the video processor by about 20% and the video memory speed by about 10%. Free clock cycles are free. Did I say the cycles didn’t cost anything?
Verdict – Instead of waiting for 20 seconds for H.264 video content to play jittery and stuttery, I only have to wait 16 and a half seconds for it to play a little less jittery and stuttery. Ok, I am going to have to shell out real money to play H.264 content, but DVD’s, MPEG4, Apple Lossless Audio and video recompression work fine. I have left the machine on overnight just to recompress video (you end up waiting for recompression no matter what you own) and I did not wake up to a smoldering mess. So I feel I am safe with the huge bunches of extra clock cycles I have amassed.
Oh and I can used my iPod with its firewire port. Firewire. From a 1999 computer. Oh, yea baby, I’m on firewire.