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Marc's Notes: Comments, Ramblings, Rants & Tips

Never Say Never to a PC
— or —
"How my friends said farewell"


In my past life I had the honor of working with about 25 other software engineers in a mixed Mac and Windows group. How do you define the friendships formed over years of camaraderie and shared corporate-pain?

Over the years, my reputation as a slightly Mac-biased guy led to many friendly Mac vs. PC moments with my Windows–oriented colleagues. Nobody questioned where my loyalties lay when it came to operating systems and hardware.

When I left after 10 years as the oldest, crustiest, most Mac centric engineer, several of my friends decided to build a "going away" present for me... and as rumors of its creation trickled in, I became afraid... very afraid!

In order of culpability, the players in this travesty were:

The G4L Project

Paul started the ball rolling — his vision was to create a Mac-themed shag lamp that would be suitable for frightening my clients.

The G4L, beauty is in someone's eye!


  • At least two creative, sick minds, with an eye for the perverse.
  • Power tools, and no fear to use them.
  • A passing knowledge of AC circuits.
  • One Tiger Direct catalog (the company that sued Apple when Mac OS 10.4 "Tiger" was released - a frivolous lawsuit, but a PR dream-come-true).


  • A PowerMac G4 Case and random Table Lamp parts.
  • Shag fabric and optional "art" beads.
  • ASUS A7N266-VM motherboard.
  • AMD Athlon XP CPU with appropriate fan.
  • 8GB Hard Drive, a "short" DVD Drive, and the ubiquitous Floppy.
  • Misc. cables and some memory, like a 256 MB 2100 DIMM.
  • Windows 2000 Pro and a Bowling Trophy.
The smelly insides of the G4L

Paul's call to Mark Swanson yielded a totally gutted PowerMac G4 tower. From the local Goodwill store, Paul added some lamp parts and a bowling trophy, all mixed up with a hand crafted bright red shag lamp shade, and (in Paul's words) "whore beads" dangling from the shade. The bowling trophy sits at the apex, and is inscribed "THINK DIFERENT" [sic].

I cringe at the thought of popping a 3/8" hole through the top of a perfectly good G4 case, but once that dirty deed was done, the work in progress was passed on to Todd for some serious R&D.

I wasn't privy to adding a brain to this Oz-like straw man, but I did hear that the upper drive bay mounts were cut down on a table saw for clearance of the memory space on the ASUS Slot-A motherboard. Todd, with the able assistance of Mr. Stultz, worked dark magic and transformed what was only a very bad lamp into a very very bad lamp that booted Windows 2000 Professional!

Two wrongs–so right

The saying that "two wrongs don't make a right" doesn't apply to the G4L. Turning a G4 case into a shag lamp is really wrong... Putting a PC into a G4 case is even worse... but somehow, at least for me, these two very wrong things came together to make something that was somehow very right.

I actually needed a Windows box for validating the web development side of my business. I had formerly been running Virtual PC on a Mac to accomplish this, and it worked, but wasn't ideal. The G4L fit the bill perfectly!


Hardware is hardware, and if you've read some of my other Macintosh Rambling pages, you know that I have tweaked and enhanced most of the Macs that live here. If the G4L was to live in this environment, it would have to be treated as, if not a Mac equal, at least a quirky third cousin.

Playing it safe for the first time in his life, or with the sounder reasoning of Mr. Stultz, Todd decided that the confines of the G4 case — the proximity of the power supply to the CPU heat sink and fan — would dictate the size of the Athlon CPU that would be warming the interior. The G4L arrived with a 700 MHz Athlon and low profile cooler.

After discovering the ASUS motherboard specs online I found that the board would host up to an Athlon XP 2400+ CPU, but the challenge was in finding an adequate heat sink and fan to prevent meltdown. CompUSA yielded a chromed copper low profile set that was rated up to the 2300+ as well as an Athlon XP 1.8 GHz 2200+!

Presto, the machine is now faster than a 2 GHz Pentium 4 and the CPU temperature hovers around 46 C.

I've replaced the 8 GB Maxtor with an 80 GB Samsung, and taken the memory to 1 GB. And, for the very first time in my entire life, I actually purchased a copy of Windows XP Pro (keep that bit quiet please!)

The G4L boots Windows, sees my OS X Macs and the printers on my network, and plays well enough to qualify as a quirky, inbred, third cousin to it's workmates.

Paul - with Miah, eating popciclesTodd - binary 00101010, hex 0x2a, decimal 42Mr. Stultz - demonstrating that a pointer is not a handle
Left to right: Miah and Paul Sandvik with popcicles, Todd Moodie (00101010 is 42 in binary), and Mark Stultz demonstrating that a pointer is not a handle.

To my friends at RLI... Thank you! This is truly cool and very much appreciated!

(1) The opinions expressed in Marc's Notes: Comments, Ramblings, Rants & Tips are exclusively those of Marc Wolfgram.
(2) Only one Macintosh™ computer was permanently harmed - link. (3) Any references to real people may be intentional.
(4) Don't try certain things while driving or at home without proper adult supervision. (5) Microsoft Windows—Just say NO!

Copyright © 2003-2008 by MacCetera, a Wisconsin LLC owned by Marc & Tammy Wolfgram
Mac OS, Macintosh, and other like terms are all trademarks of Apple, Inc. - 25-Oct-2009

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