- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

It’s a funny thing about “truisms,” those sayings that are, as Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says, “self-evident” or “too obvious for mention.” Sometimes, those truisms are, well, true.

A good 10 or 12 years ago, John Young strode to the center stage at the Washington Convention Center. At the time, the chairman of Hewlett-Packard said the three most important initials in computers were not “IBM,” but rather “RTM,” which stands for “read the manual.”

Mr. Young’s dictum came back to haunt me the other day. Right after upgrading my fabled, if slightly faded, Power Mac Cube with a much larger hard drive, the new disk sputtered, stammered and beeped — enough so to scare even a seasoned user. Fearing a meltdown, I removed the offending item and went back to a Lilliputian 20 GB drive, one-eighth the size of the drive I’d hoped to install.

Already, I had goosed the RAM up to 1 GB, more than enough memory for Apple’s Mac OS X version 10.2.6. So, I was able to run this latest version of the operating system — and neat accessory programs such as the Safari Internet browser, the latest ITunes music software, and so forth.

But the hard drive — whose manufacturer, Seagate, says it is one of Apple’s largest suppliers — was not to blame. I was, and I heard about it pronto.

An earlier column detailing my upgrade woes caught the attention of Laurie Duncan, founder, editor and chief-cook-and-bottle-washer of a rather interesting Web site, CubeOwner.com. Dedicated, as might be imagined, to the Mac Cube, Cube Owner’s loyal denizens have been through the wars of upgrades.

They’ve installed hard drives, boosted RAM and even changed the processor chip on the system from the original 450 MHz or 500 MHz G4 to something faster, or even some “things” faster, as in dual processors. These upgrades can turn a modest cube into something approaching legendary status, although some modifications may be needed to keep the plastic-encased computer running coolly.

Ms. Duncan posted a link to my column and suggested her loyal readers send a note or two telling the writer — me — to do his homework before grousing about a hard-drive problem.

Had I done so, I would have realized that one cannot merely swap out the hard drive and install a new one, hoping to format the new drive and have all go well. Instead, a “partition” needs to be set up on the new drive that respects the roughly 128 GB limit of the Cube’s “bus,” or channel for processing data. That partitioning must be done on another machine, it turns out. Had I read the CubeOwner instructions first, I’d have known that.

Yes, that means sacrificing, in my case, about 30 GB of hard-drive space. But given that the Seagate drive — a Barracuda model — was sent just for the purpose of testing the upgrade strategy, I didn’t mind. I wasn’t thrilled, but I could live with only a 600 percent increase in storage, as opposed to perhaps 800 percent.

I took the drive to my office, slapped it in an available drive bay on a Mac there, and, presto — the partitioning was done. Taking the drive home, it went into the Cube, the operating system was loaded along with my data and programs from the other drive, backed up to a third machine.

The bottom line: My Cube is a larger, beefier machine, and we’re not done yet. PowerLogix of Austin, Texas (www.powerlogix.com) has said they want to send along an upgrade card that’ll supplant that pokey 450 MHz processor with something faster — almost three times as fast. Hmm … where are those screwdrivers?

Visit Mark Kellner’s Web site at www.kellner.us or send e-mail to markkel@aol.com.

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