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A long and full life.

 
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pbm



Joined: 25 May 2016
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 6:57 am    Post subject: A long and full life. Reply with quote

Hi all,
a couple word about myself and my Cube.

I met my first cube back in 1995 as a 1st year CS student at the University of Milan (Italy). There were three NeXT systems in the dept: a 030 in the Computer Music Lab, and two 040s at the Hypertext Users Group where I ended up spending most of my student career. These two also used to double as foundation for the then-already-dissolved Italian Next Users Group - which explains a lot. Three years I spent in that lab, before dropping out for good; and most of the time I was working on the Cubes or on a 486/66 linux 2.0 box.
To cut a long story short, most of the things I know about classic Unix-like systems, I got them there: on the Cubes, on a 486 with OPENSTEP 4.2, on a Sun3/270 with SunOS 4.1, and on a slooow linux box.
When I entered the HUG lab staff the cubes where actually sidelined because both their original HDDs and ODs were dead. I replaced the HDDs with Quantum Fireball 3.2Gb units (and kept the original ones as paperweights) and the fan on one of the two machines, so they were soon running again, mostly as my own work station. The original ODs media with OS, Mathematica (did I mention the Italian Mathematica Users Group was also there?) and other stuff were abandoned in a closet, along with promotional material. Sadly I didn't think about, well, "archiving" the media. A NeXTPrinter with behavioral (sheet eject) issues and a PLI 2.8 SuperFloppy completed the collection.

Two years after I dropped out, on a day in June 2000 I got a call from a friend who worked as a lab assistant, telling me that movers were cleaning up the lab as the professor was about to retire, and that all the old machines were being loaded on a truck headed to the dump.
Desperate I rushed to the CS dept to salvage what I could. And all I could save is what I still have in my possession now. OK, technically I stole it, and this is the first time I come clean about it - but I guess the statute of limitations is my friend here. Smile
Years have passed (I always wanted to write that). Once we were anarchists, but the demonstrations got boring. The Cube has always been with except n the last 6 years, when I had to store it somehow to make space for my family. I don't wanna talk about that.

Today, I work as a respectable (well...) systems and infrastructure engineer at an Italian publisher/distributor. My boss is a nice person and a former engineer. He let me use the office lab on my own time to keep my Cube and "see if it still works", and if I can do something to restore it. So there I am.

So what I have? The fairly minimum. Sad
The Cube. The Megapixel. The Cable. The Keyboard. The Mouse.
and, as a special guest, the SCSI cable.
What I had and have lost: a brochure (the "cube shaped" one), the original 5 1/4" full-size HDD.

This system has been with me through various adventures of my life - don't worry, I won't bother you with those. In 2010 I left a suburban home to come back the city (Milan) and since space was scarce I had to find a temporary home for it. I guess this has placed much strain on the poor thing. Especially the recent times when my garage was flooded. No flood on the machine of course, but humidity took its toll. It freaking stinks, to tell it like it is.
You're right, you're right, I know you're right. Don't patronize me. I'm a grown up now, I know I have been a complete idiot. Don't remind me.

But on Monday nonetheless it fired up after 3 years in a basement and 4 in a garage. At first stroke of the power button. Booted. Works a blast. Hooray! (and: phew!). As Chrissie Hynde puts it, "they don't make them like they used to".

So: what needs to be done?
1. Get a new mouse. The original one is in a horrible condition. Besides the rubber being completely worn up on the sides from heavy use, rust and whatever else from the bad storage years has encrusted the y-axis cylinder. The left button switch is probably gone as well.
2. Fix the keyboard or get a new one: some keys need strong coercion to work, especially POWER and K (maybe due to some heavy vi usage?).
3. General cleanup. Mold (!) on the internal SCSI flat cable. Rust on the monitor cable connector. "Odour de merde", if you can pardon my french - that stingy stink of mold, basement, rust and maybe even rat poo. Appropriate for a vintage Dom Perignon but definitely not for a computer system.
4. Image adjustment. The image is a bit narrow and a bit faded (don't forget the machine has been on from its birth, let's say late 1991, to circa 1995 and again from 1996 to 1999) and it takes almost an hour before it's really stable, focused and good. (idea: a good electronics project could be a breaker box, something to interpose to actually shut down the monitor - or maybe I'm late as usual and this already exists).
5. Maybe a SCSI2SD to avoid spin strain on the HD.

I don't think I would repaint. She's beautiful as she is. She has lived a full life and I hope it's not anywhere near the end.

Well, here she is, in all her glory. Copy and paste the URL as it includes an exclamation mark that breaks parsing.

http://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=60A440B2417E58FB!5748&authkey=!AOtWHnHq1W0INCA&ithint=album%2c

Oh, I almost forgot. I can't remember correctly, but maybe this machine was really a 030 N1000, that was later upgraded to a 040 board. Could it be? Makes sense? The board is definitely a 040, but the model and the serial and the lower position OD smell 030. Or am I too old to remember?

PS: Yesterday I tweeted pics to an Italian Deputy of the lower chamber, who was a student at that lab before me and a heavy user of the machine. He replied with a selfie in his seat asking me if I noticed anything, and well, it was impossible for me not to immediately see that NeXT logo pin on his suit.


Last edited by pbm on Sat May 28, 2016 11:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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bobo68



Joined: 03 Jun 2015
Posts: 194
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting story.

You might want to completely disassemble the cube and clean it. It is quite straightforward (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4igGQ573duk) and should remove the smell.

Also you could have a closer look at the mainboard, e.g. for capacitor leakage. If the board is too dirty (does not seem to be the case from your photos though) I would simply wash it in mild soapy water and throughly dry it afterwards. Did the same with Mac mainboards.
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Rob Blessin Black Hole
Site Admin


Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 586
Location: Ft. Collins, Colorado

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 6:49 pm    Post subject: Re: A long and full life. Reply with quote

pbm wrote:
Hi all,
a couple word about myself and my Cube.

I met my first cube back in 1995 as a 1st year CS student at the University of Milan (Italy). There were three NeXT systems in the dept: a 030 in the Computer Music Lab, and two 040 at the Hypertext Users Group where I ended up spending most of my student career. These two also use to double as foundation for the then-already-dissolved Italian Next Users Group - which explains a lot. Three years I spent in that lab, before dropping out for good; and most of the time I was on the Cubes or a 486/66 linux 2.0 machine.
To cut a long story short, most of the things I know about classic Unix-like systems I got them there: on the Cubes, on a 486 with OPENSTEP 4.2, on Sun3 with SunOS 4.1, and on a slooow linux box.
When I entered the HUG lab staff the cubes where actually sidelined because both their original HDDs and ODs were dead. I replaced the HDDs with Quantum Fireball 3.2Gb units (and kept the original ones as paperweights) and the fan on one of the two machines, so they were soon running again, mostly as my own work station. The original ODs media with OS, Mathematica (did I mention the Italian Mathematica Users Group was also there?) and other stuff were abandoned in a closet, along with promotional material. Sadly I didn't think about, well, "archiving" the media. A NeXTPrinter with behavioral (sheet eject) issues and a PLI 2.8 SuperFloppy completed the collection.

Two years after I dropped out, on a day in June 2000 I got a call from a friend who worked as a lab assistant, telling me that movers were cleaning up the lab as the professor was about to retire, and that all the old machines were being loaded on a truck headed to the dump.
Desperate I rushed to the CS dept to salvage what I could. And all I could save is what I still have in my possession now. OK, technically I stole it, and this is the first time I come clean about it - but I guess the statute of limitations is my friend here. Smile
Years have passed (I always wanted to write that). Once we were anarchists, but the demonstrations got boring. The Cube has always been with except n the last 6 years, when I had to store it somehow to make space for my family. I don't wanna talk about that.

Today, I work as a respectable (well...) systems and infrastructure engineer at an Italian publisher/distributor. My boss is a nice person and a former engineer. He let me use the office lab on my own time to keep my Cube and "see if it still works", and if I can do something to restore it. So there I am.

So what I have? The fairly minimum. Sad
The Cube. The Megapixel. The Cable. The Keyboard. The Mouse.
and, as a special guest, the SCSI cable.
What I had and have lost: a brochure (the "cube shaped" one), the original 5 1/4" full-size HDD.

This system has been with me through various adventures of my life - don't worry, I won't bother you with those. In 2010 I left a suburban home to come back the city (Milan) and since space was scarce I had to find a temporary home for it. I guess this has placed much strain on the poor thing. Especially the recent times when my garage was flooded. No flood on the machine of course, but humidity took its toll. It freaking stinks, to tell it like it is.
You're right, you're right, I know you're right. Don't patronize me. I'm a grown up now, I know I have been a complete idiot. Don't remind me.

But on Monday nonetheless it fired up after 3 years in a basement and 4 in a garage. At first stroke of the power button. Booted. Works a blast. Hooray! (and: phew!). As Chrissie Hynde puts it, "they don't make them like they used to".

So: what needs to be done?
1. Get a new mouse. The original one is in a horrible condition. Besides the rubber being completely worn up on the sides from heavy use, rust and whatever else from the bad storage years has encrusted the y-axis cylinder. The left button switch is probably gone as well.
2. Fix the keyboard or get a new one: some keys need strong coercion to work, especially POWER and K (maybe due to some heavy vi usage?).
3. General cleanup. Mold (!) on the internal SCSI flat cable. Rust on the monitor cable connector. "Odour de merde", if you can pardon my french - that stingy stink of mold, basement, rust and maybe even rat poo. Appropriate for a vintage Dom Perignon but definitely not for a computer system.
4. Image adjustment. The image is a bit narrow and a bit faded (don't forget the machine has been on from its birth, let's say late 1991, to circa 1995 and again from 1996 to 1999) and it takes almost an hour before it's really stable, focused and good. (idea: a good electronics project could be a breaker box, something to interpose to actually shut down the monitor - or maybe I'm late as usual and this already exists).
5. Maybe a SCSI2SD to avoid spin strain on the HD.

I don't think I would repaint. She's beautiful as she is. She has lived a full life and I hope it's not anywhere near the end.

Well, here she is, in all her glory. Copy and paste the URL as it includes an exclamation mark that breaks parsing.

http://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=60A440B2417E58FB!5748&authkey=!AOtWHnHq1W0INCA&ithint=album%2c

Oh, I almost forgot. I can't remember correctly, but maybe this machine was really a 030 N1000, that was later upgraded to a 040 board. Could it be? Makes sense? The board is definitely a 040, but the model and the serial and the lower position OD smell 030. Or am I too old to remember?

PS: Yesterday I tweeted pics to an Italian Deputy of the lower chamber, who was a student at that lab before me and a heavy user of the machine. He replied with a selfie in his seat asking me if I noticed anything, and well, it was impossible for me not to immediately see that NeXT logo pin on his suit.
Hello : I like the story and if you would be interested I have the replacement NeXT keyboard $25 and NeXT Mouse $25 you need even have micro sd drives preloaded with NeXTSTEP or Openstep Y2k patches and hundreds of apps on a 4Gb SD for $129 , I even have NeXT Non ADB italian keyboards that are in excellent condition. Shipping to Europe would be $52.50 and I can send -paypal invoice . Best Regards Rob Blessin
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303-741-9998 Serving the NeXT Community since 2/9/93
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t-rexky



Joined: 09 Jan 2011
Posts: 271
Location: Snowy Canada

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very, very nice story pbm! Welcome to the forums.
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Jsmirand



Joined: 06 Nov 2011
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 7:15 pm    Post subject: cube Reply with quote

thanks for sharing, amazing a machine exposed to such elements bpoted up so routinely! Restore it and keep it in a climate controlled setting! v
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pbm



Joined: 25 May 2016
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2016 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you everybody!
Rob, I'll pm you later today.

By the way, is there some kind of s/n registry that can confirm my idea of a 030 cube upgraded to 040?
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pentium



Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 1146
Location: Kamloops, BC

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most if not all the 040 upgraded cubes had the dual MO drive bezel. The 040's that shipped form the factory had the MO and floppy bezel.
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pbm



Joined: 25 May 2016
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pentium wrote:
Most if not all the 040 upgraded cubes had the dual MO drive bezel.

It's definitely an upgraded cube then. As you can see in the pictures it bears the writing "Computer", not "NeXTcube", on the back panel. And I can remember now that I had seen a motherboard at the university, and a NeXTtool, in the same closet as the manuals and the OD media.
Long gone Sad

also - now that it comes to mind, when we replaced the HDD we discarded a filter that was in pieaces. Must have been the one NeXT gave with upgrade kits to prevent dust from getting into ODs as the 030 fan was blowing inwards.
definitely an upgraded 030 then.
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