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Pulled from the scrap heap: Powerbook 3400c

geeko

Well-known member
I made a run to the local computer recyclers last week (to pick up an imac G5 to fix for them=> now fixed and returned, only needed an os reinstall) and when I was about to leave I noticed a very small rainbow apple logo looking at me from the laptop bin of death. I asked the lady running the recycling place if I could have it for my collection, and she said yes, so I took it home. I was very happy to find that it was a 3400 and could use my Pismo power adapter. It came stock: 200mhz, 16mb ram, 2gb hdd, but it had a zip drive instead of a cd drive :( . Also, it had a system password on it. After much work I was able to install os9 to a 14gb hdd by copying an old os9 back up cd somebody gave me to it, w/ a whole set up w/ my old Pismo. As for the cosmetic condition of the 3400c, it could be A LOT better. The previous owner scratched/carved their name 2x into the back and 1x into the palm rest of the computer, and their phone # 1x into the back (516 area code- new York) for a battery i just took my old/leaking 5300 battery and emptied it out and sawed it in 1/2 just to fill the space. Also, on the front bezel of the screen, near the hinges, there is a large crack in the left side, and a small crack in the right side. Anyway, it's not bad for a free/rescued machine.

 

J English Smith

Well-known member
G - say, I have a 3400 with very good cosmetics but the "black screen" issue - probably a dead logic board/VRAM. I think I have decided not to try and fix this one, since my other Powerbooks (1400s and Pismos) pretty much cover my needs. Let me know if you'd be interested in purchasing that for $10 plus ground shipping at cost. I thought you might want to do a teardown/transplant. The cosmetics are good - it is just missing the back port cover and the little cover on the left side for the ADB port. Hinges are good and tight. No cracks and no deep scratches. On startup, chime and hard drive spin but black screen. I was told this was a two owner machine with the former owner having the same video issue 3 years ago, which was solved with a new cable. Bought it for little and thought I'd take a look to see if an easy fix, but alas, no.

-J

 

geeko

Well-known member
does it have a cd drive or ram (or battery)? also, is its screen good, or would i need to do a transplant w/ my screen?

 

Quadraman

Well-known member
You got lucky if it still has it's hard drive. Most recycling places yank the hard drives and scrap them which really irritates me because those early Macs use drives that are specific to Macs and you can't use non-Mac drives in them. Yanking the hard drive and scrapping it renders the whole machine useless. I try explaining this to people in the recycling places but they don't care. Their security procedures require them to remove and destroy all hard drives. Aaaaarrrrggggghhhh!

 

J English Smith

Well-known member
Geeko - It does have a CD drive that spins, also a floppy. I can provide a battery from a PB 5300 (NiMh) that holds a tiny charge. The unit did not come with a Li-Ion battery, they appear to have been using the cheaper NiMh - probably just used it plugged in. There is a 48 or 64 MB ram card in the slot, can't remember which, can check if that's of hight concern. Since you have a power supply that's good (?), I would not include that.

The screen, alas, is the unknown. But since they went through that R&R three years ago, and it was the cable, my 'educated guess' is that the screen and cable are ok and that it is the VRAM on the logic board that is causing the issue. This was one of the original 180mhz units. Overall, it appears to have been well cared for.

FYI, I had a line on a 200 mhz used card from BetaMacs for $27 shipped, far lower than Wegener. Or, you could transplant your logic board from your unit. If you've worked on 5300s, the inside architecture is very similar.

I can take some pictures if you like.

It's ok either way, your unit just sounded a bit distressed and this would be a good new set of plastics etc. for transplantation.

J.

 
You got lucky if it still has it's hard drive. Most recycling places yank the hard drives and scrap them which really irritates me because those early Macs use drives that are specific to Macs and you can't use non-Mac drives in them. Yanking the hard drive and scrapping it renders the whole machine useless. I try explaining this to people in the recycling places but they don't care. Their security procedures require them to remove and destroy all hard drives. Aaaaarrrrggggghhhh!

I wish I could make places understand. If you do a single wipe with all zero's the ONLY way you are going to get any data off that drive is if you have a clean room and a professional setup (like a drive recovery company). I believe the theory is that if you wipe the drive with all zero's (or any other predictable pattern), you can still read the platters and there will be very very slight differences between each zero, and you can then determine which bits were originally one's. No one is going to go through all that trouble to steal a credit card number.

If you wipe 7 times with alternating and random patterns I believe it's been proven that you can not get anything useful off of such a drive.

Fortunately the places I get stuff from either don't care, or they just tell me to wipe it. One place pulled all the hard drives from G4s but left them in iBooks (too hard to remove). So they got less money for the G4s due to their condition.

 

Mars478

Well-known member
My friends on the other hand are VERY Careless about this. They do not care pretty much and give me their laptops to repair with their credit cards #, SSs, etc.

Of course I don't look at that info, but I don't think they know I have access to this. Also, they never leave me the passwords to update the computer, so I either hack it (usually their name or just empty) or reset it in the Mac OSX Disk.

So yeah, night and day.

 

Bunsen

Admin-Witchfinder-General
those early Macs use drives that are specific to Macs and you can't use non-Mac drives in them. Yanking the hard drive and scrapping it renders the whole machine useless.
That's really only true of the 68k Powerbooks (not including the 150 & 190) that used 2.5" SCSI drives, and the Portable. You can find replacement drives for any other machine easily enough.

 

~Coxy

Leader, Tactical Ops Unit
If you wipe a drive with one pass of zeroes then all the data is gone for good, whether you have a clean room and electron microscope or not.

The common misconception comes from a single paper written decades ago that iteself only theorised such an attack on particularly MFM disks.

 

ppuskari

Well-known member
I would have to concur. I KNOW I have that document you are referencing SOMEWHERE in my collection picked up along my career as a performance engineer.

Hmm.... IF most drives that I see coming in used from garage sales and thrift stores, I'm not thinking it's credit card numbers and bank numbers people should be worried about finding on old drives...

I can't even begin to total the amount of p0rn that people leave on their systems.... Amazing!

Actually this would make a GREAT Mythbusters topic for when they do a cyber myths day or something.

 

~Coxy

Leader, Tactical Ops Unit
If you wipe a drive with one pass of zeroes then all the data is gone for good, whether you have a clean room and electron microscope or not.

Has anyone proven it though?
Well you can't prove a negative in general, but you can say things like "any residual tracesof previously overwritten data is immeasurable with current technology if it exists at all".

 

Unknown_K

Well-known member
If the US government states you need to overwrite a HD with 1's for so many passes, there is a good reason for it. I would asume the head of the drives reads a few magnetic particles to figure out if the byte is a 0 (under a specific reading) or a 1 (over a specific reading). Playing with the actual raw data might tell you what it used to be.

For example if the last recorded bit was 0 and you record a 1 over it the head might read 70%, write a 1 again and it might be 85%, do it again and it might be 95%. HDs don't write each byte to 1 specific particle, they do it to a small patch of particles and the DSP processes the readings of the head to figure out if there are enough values averaged to be a 0 or a 1. With magnetic recording knowledge, some very sensitive equipment, the desire to do so, and some error correcting routines,you could probable figure out what was there before the last write or two. You are dealing with digital data recorded in an analog world.

As far as old laptop drives, I have picked up quite a few semi functional laptops from ebay and other places. Once you get them working and look over the HD you find people have left all their personal letters and data on the drive including bank accounts and other sensitive stuff. I look for drivers for old hardware, save that then reformat the drive and reinstall the OS. On the few systems I bother to pass on to others I will take the HD and do pattern writes and then reinstall a fresh OS just in case I left something personal on the system and forget about it.

 

~Coxy

Leader, Tactical Ops Unit
Hah, since when does the US Government (specifically the DOD) need a particularly good reason for anything?

Here's a longish excerpt from an article written by a forensic data recovery expert. The full thing is at http://shsc.info/DataRecovery

Now some of you are asking "if you can't recover data that has been overwritten just once, why do companies sell software that does multiple overwrites?"I have an opinion on this, but I can't back it up with any facts. Here it is anyway:

Company A brings out DataDeathstar, a program that will eradicate your rebel files by overwriting them once. This is all you need.

Company B makes a similar product, perhaps without such a copyright-infringing name, but in order to sound better than Company A, they claim they can do multi-pass overwrites. Perhaps they back this decision up with the Gutmann article mentioned earlier.

Now if the cost is the same, Joe User will choose the program with more features - the version that does multi-pass overwrites.

This then precipitates an escalation in the number of wipes any package will perform, to make them sound better than their competitors. Eventually we end up with the Department of Defense 35-pass "standard", or some other crazy insano-wipe.

So why does the Department of Defense specify that huge multi-pass overwrite if one is enough? Once again I can only theorise, as I don't know anyone in that industry who could speak about this topic. Here goes:

Decisions are made by people far above the technical guys on the ground. That is, management types with no techie knowhow. I'm not berating this issue, as it is the same the world over.

At the weekly meeting, one of the subordinate guys points out he read a report from Gutmann about recovering data. It may have mentioned the MFM-issue but that's all techie-speak. The boss decides that he'd rather not risk his career on an issue he can't understand and doesn't have the resources to examine in any depth.

To be safe, he makes sure the standard is some huge amount of overkill, so he can never be determined to be a traitor by allowing data to get into the wrong hands.

This all seems fairly reasonable to me - everyone errs on the side of caution in a field they don't understand.

Also, the military has had loads of data on old MFM technology in their time, and recovery MAY be possible on this gear (but never proven.) Why make multiple standards for different types of drives when your staff may not be able to tell the difference between them?

They also have plenty of manpower, and would be quite happy letting some guys spend their days just wiping data, whether it's a waste of time or not.
 
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