Big Max Update

We had Max’s 4th birthday party at this spot that had a room full of giant inflatable jungle gym stuff to bounce around on. We had that room for about 2 hours with about 50 kids and adults running all over the place. So much fun. Adults had as much fun as the kids. That was last Sunday…

And today was Max’s first day at his new preschool. He loved it and seemed to adjust to it immediately. I hear he didn’t want to go home when Yingwen came to pick him up. That’s good! Don’t hurry home – stay in school and study, kid! LOL!

注音 Keyboards!

After a long search, I finally have installed a Taiwanese keyboard on Yingwen’s iBook with the 注音 (Zhuyin) / ㄅㄆㄇㄈ (Bo Po Mo Fo) glyphs imprinted on the key caps, to enable proper typing in Chinese. But holy crap, what an ordeal.

First off, the North America search yielded little. I finally found one vendor called We Love Macs that I had liked and used in the past for RAM purchases and they were willing to do a special order for me. Well turns out they sent me a keyboard for a 12″ PowerBook, not a 12″ iBook, even after I had read them off the damn serial number. They refused to take it back even after I showed proof that I had indeed ordered an iBook keyboard and not a PowerBook one. Really lame. It was actually worse than I make it sound here. I’ll never shop with them again, but I digress…

So I finally tracked down contact information for an Apple sales rep in Taiwan. Nice fellow. We emailed back and forth, and although they could only ship domestically through their distributor, I happened to have several very close friends in Taiwan that could have easily helped out with relaying my order. I then wired our good buddy Carol over some ducats and she ordered and shipped to me a brand spankin’ new Taiwanese iBook keyboard.

Installation of the new keyboard for the iBook was a snap. Just lift out the keyboard, remove the Airport card, unscrew the little cover, pull out the old keyboard by the ribbon, stick the new ribbon in, and replace everything. Works perfectly. Apple has detailed instructions for iBook keyboard replacement on their website.

So now I had this Taiwanese PowerBook keyboard. Should I just hawk it on eBay? Well, it happened to be the replacement model for my own 1GHz Aluminum 12″ PowerBook, so…

Installing a new keyboard on an Aluminum 12″ PowerBook is not the same cakewalk as it is on the iBook. I finally found some decent instructions for replacing the PowerBook keyboard on the MacFixIt website. Seeing the words “This is scary” on page three was not comforting. OK deep breath… here goes…

OK not so bad. Before I had found the instructions, I was trying to lift the keyboard not knowing that there was a long screw found in the RAM panel on the back of the PowerBook that was holding it down. Instructions are good. Lifting off the key caps wasn’t too bad, but I managed to pull of the suspension assembly from F12 completely. Oops. Well it snapped right back on anyway, so no big deal after all.

So many little parts. And one thing that the instructions didn’t mention was the foil covering the keyboard’s ribbon hole. This looked useful. I peeled it off carefully and set it aside so that I could replace it with the new keyboard. Looked like it would be handy keeping dust and crud out of the PowerBook’s innards. And speaking of crud, I found traces of a sticky substance that looked like it might have been apple juice at one time. Hmmm…. which child is always asking for apple juice and playing on the Disney site? Well it wiped up well enough, and it didn’t look like any had seeped into the motherboard, so the boy will live.

Well I put the thing back together and noticed two of the screws on the RAM cover didn’t match. They were nearly identical sitting there on the desk! But now clearly two of them didn’t seat exactly flush, and didn’t have quite the refined finish. Oh no – I had used the good ones for the fastenings under the F1 and F12 keys and covered them up with the little plastic dot insulators that came with the keyboard! Remove keys again, unscrew, rescrew, replace keys, replace fastening screw and RAM cover. Get out my little Yea flag and wave it.

So now as part of my Mandarin language studies, I get to learn the 注音 input method! I am actually very psyched about this, having found a utility that will help me learn 注音.

恭喜發財!

Aiya!

I just found this cute and very useful little program called Aiya! which teaches the Chinese language learner the Bopomofo/Zhuyin Chinese phonetic alphabet and where the corresponding characters would be when using the Zhuyin input method at the same time. Such a nice, focused little program.

Extreme Hassle

After more hassle than should have been required for Apple hardware, I finally got my new Airport Extreme network set up and configured. I thought oh, it’ll be painless and easy so I’ll just forego the Linksys box and get an Airport Extreme Base Station and an Airport Express to get full coverage through the house. Well trying to configure the thing manually was an exercise in futility. Copying the settings over from the old base station proved to be useless. Finally I gave up after several wasted nights and tried the setup assistant. I haven’t used a setup assistant in years, rather opting for the more direct approach, but in this case I didn’t know what else to try. I reset each base station to factory settngs and let the assistant set them up from scratch. And what do you know? After using the idiotic assistant, the damn things work.

The nice thing about using the Airport Express is that I have a couple of spots in the house where I would really enjoy sitting with my PowerBook, but the signal can be real weak or non-existent. These spots include the living room loveseat, the kitchen table, and the front porch. Yingwen’s iBook never had a problem with those spots, most likely because the iBook’s plastic case seems to interfere much less with the signal than my PowerBook’s all-aluminum enclosure. The Express fills out these spaces wonderfully.

The next step is to get AirTunes working with the Express remote, and to plug in the old USB printer to the Base Station. But for now it’s nice to kick back in the living room and pull in some data from the air.