On the NosillaCast we talk often about the new hotness — the phone you won’t be able to live without, the charger that must be in your travel bag, or the newest note-taking app that will finally help you organize your thoughts. But we rarely talk about those tools that we’ve been using for a long time and still bring us joy.
I asked the NosillaCastaways to send in their “I’m still using it” contributions and I’d read them on the show. What I love about this topic is that it wasn’t bounded so the answers we’ve gotten back are all over the map.
Barry Porter — Mac IIcx
I still have a Mac IIcx that uses a single SCSI Drive. I fire it up every 6 months. I use it to help a client. I am amazed that it still works so l grin every time l turn it on. It was very expansive in its time.
I also have a school client that runs System 7 because of 1 specific long-abandoned program.
That’s crazy – the Macintosh IIcx came out in 1989, so that machine is 33 years old! For those too young to know, it sports a 16MHz (not GHz) Motorola 68030 processor. Apple uses their own Apple Silicon processors now, before that Intel, before that PowerPC, and before that they used Motorola processors.
Sandy Foster — Elago Apple Watch Charging Stand
When I bought my first Apple Watch, waking up in the middle of the night to order that first available version, I used the included charging cable on my nightstand to juice it up overnight. It was pretty easy to do, but it was also pretty easy to knock the Watch off the charger in the night while reaching for my bottle of water. And then, after a couple of years (around 2017, I think), I saw the perfect solution online.
Elago made the most adorable holder for the charging puck — it was in the shape of the original Mac Plus, which happened to be the first Mac I’d ever owned way back when! It’s true to the actual design, right down to the little hole we used to need to force eject a cranky floppy disk. The Watch slips into a slot in the top, keeping it in nightstand mode and taking up very little space. That’s a real plus for me, since I don’t have a clock on my nightstand. I still get a kick out of that little stand, which explains why I haven’t ever purchased an all-in-one charging stand for my iPhone and Watch.
We are kindred spirits, Sandy, I still use my Elago Apple Watch stand on my desk in my studio. It’s just as adorable as you say. It may not be as old as Barry’s IIcx, but it’s got that classic feel.
Steve Davidson — AirPort Extreme
I’m still using an AirPort Extreme 802.11ac that I bought in June 2013 — certainly not as a router or Wi-Fi access point (all that functionality has been turned off) but as a network attached storage device to host TimeMachine backups storage of big files that just don’t belong on my MacBook Pro.
It has attached to it a 6TB USB drive (it used to be two 3TB drives through a USB hub). Once upon a time (almost a decade ago), it was our home network router/access point, but no more; once Apple abandoned the product, it lost that job — but as a networked files server it still excels. Apple stuff is built to last!
It never occurred to me that you could still use an Airport Extreme as network attached storage, but that’s a great idea. The amazing thing is that this 2013 router has Gigabit Ethernet. The USB port is only USB2 but for your use, it’s probably perfect, Steve.
Tim Jahr — 2011 MacBook Pro
I’m still using my Early 2011 MacBookPro laptop! This is pretty amazing when you consider that means we’re coming up on almost 12 years of usage! Ok, to be fair, this has never been my work machine or even my workHORSE machine. I’m a Windows SysAdmin by day and have generally had a Windows desktop at home as well for most of those years. I’ve also bought several Chromebooks and Windows laptops for my wife, or for my work machine during those intervening years.
But my MacBook Pro was always a slick machine. With the 13-inch model, it was incredibly light for 2011, yet with plenty of screen space to get things done. Now it feels kinda bulky compared to the Air or other products, and the screen resolution of 1280 x 800 looks toy-like compared to today’s display panels. But do you know what? It still works great for most web browsing, email, and chat clients like Slack/Teams/Discord, and that’s where I spend the overwhelming majority of my time on my non-work machines.
This is a bit of a throwback for many people today, but I love that I can burn a CD for my wife to play in her car that doesn’t have Bluetooth. Or I can rip a CD/DVD when I get one. Yes, I still buy both – and not just those times where certain releases are ONLY available in that format, but just because I also love having a copy that’s MINE and not limited to content deal changing or locker services going away, and with full album art and liner notes and such.
As a bonus – and I swear I’m not just saying this to get Allison mad at me – you know what I can do with this laptop? I can plug in any number of devices that I already own – a mouse, or an external keyboard, or a flash drive (to load up music for MY car, where there’s also a compatible port), or a printer that will actually work 100% of the time when I click print (I swear wireless and networked printing still stinks in 2022), or a webcam, or a gaming headset, or even a delightful light-up LED Christmas tree in December — because this laptop still has a USB-A port! More than one of them even!
I know USB-C is the future, but for all these devices I’ve just named, USB-A is still WAY more common [I did some research on this to make sure this wasn’t just my personal bias – talking with the person who does all the hardware purchasing at my current and former jobs, which cover local government, K12 education, and higher education.
In each case, new MacBooks were the only computers they bought that didn’t have USB-A ports, and none of them had carried or purchased mice/keyboards/thumb drives/printers that used anything but USB-A still]. Yes, I could do all these things with a dongle with a new MacBook. But it’s even nicer (and cheaper) when it’s built-in. And there’s nothing to forget to bring with you when you’re away from home. Extra bonus – I can charge my Bluetooth earbuds with the cable they come with too!
There’s also a full-on Ethernet jack built-in – saving me in situations where the wifi is sketchy, or I don’t have the password. There’s a slot for SD cards if I have my digital camera with me and don’t want to bring extra cords to transfer the photos.
It’s still one of the best keyboards I’ve ever used as far as ease of typing and a satisfying amount of travel. And it’s old enough that it has an awesome sticker on the front because I’m not worried about ruining the look of a new laptop.
Sadly, it hasn’t been able to get OS updates for a couple of years now, so I no longer feel good about using it for work things or anything financial. And I can’t put GarageBand on it (legally). And I know some of these features/ports have been sacrificed in the name of making the devices thinner, and I’ve come to grips with the fact that even though neither I nor my friends and family care one fig about having our phones and laptops be thinner than they already are, I know I’ve lost that battle in Apple’s case.
So I’m sure a new Apple silicon Mac will be amazing in many ways. But I have a feeling this old thing isn’t going the eRecyling center anytime soon!
I think it’s awesome you’re still finding value in this vintage Mac, Tim. I’ll pull back the curtain a little bit here – Tim and I have had numerous “enthusiastic” conversations about USB-C and shockingly he and I are on the opposite side of the enthusiasm on that topic. Hence his gentle jab there.
I have to say I did yet another fist shake this week as I needed to plug in 4 USB-C devices but I only had 3 USB-C ports on my M1 MacBook Pro. I hadn’t carried the extra MagSafe power cable so I had to choose between keeping my laptop charged while recording, or having my external USB-C display give me more screen real estate. I could have carried an HDMI cable too because I have one of those useless ports. I wonder if someday Tim and I will see eye-to-eye on this subject.
We’ve got another half dozen “I’m Still Using It” stories from listeners, and even one from me, but I’m going to save them for the Christmas week. Thank you so much to everyone who wrote in with their stories. It’s fascinating to hear about these wonderful tools that make you happy. If you have an “I’m Still Using it” story, please send it to [email protected] with that exact subject, and I’ll read it on a future show.