The Low End Mac Mailbag

The Joy of Claris Home Page and Some Alternatives, Yet More on 'Dark Side' CPUs, and Supporting Older Macs

Dan Knight - 2003.02.25 - Tip Jar

Try Mozilla Composer

In response to my search for a Claris Home Page replacement, Christian Loweth suggests:

The composer component of Mozilla works pretty well for me. They claim it's very compliant. As far as your technical needs are concerned, I haven't a clue. I'm a WYSIWYG kinda guy. The site comes up fine on my wife's PC and on IE. And it's free.

Here's a recent page I composed: Home & Cottage

Hmm, interesting. And free. It doesn't seem to mess up page code. I'll definitely have to do some playing around with it, although I've already noticed that it's terribly sluggish.

I already don't like the fact that it doesn't put <p> in front of paragraphs. And that it puts <br> breaks between paragraphs, not </p> to end one paragraph and <p> to begin the next.

It might be useful for editing, but I don't think I could live with it for page creation.

I Want to Try Home Page

Chris Searles was so impressed by what he read that he's decided to try to locate a copy. He writes:

I've been thinking about finding a used version of Home Page on eBay, and after reading your article I'm even more interested. Could you by any chance tell me what the original software should include, e.g a User Manual or just the Getting Started booklet. Some of the sellers on eBay don't seem to know themselves either.

I can't find the box for Home Page 2.0 or 3.0, but the 1.0 box included the software, a manual, and some clip art. Of course, none of those are in the box any longer....

Thank You for Saying It

Tom Hammer is also a Home Page fan:

I really enjoyed your article on Claris Home Page. I, too, have used it for about five years. I never did update to 3.0, but still have 2.0. It is an outstanding piece of software.

I maintain a web page on my bicycling club, and all the members believe that I am some kind of computer geek because I also do the video composites of all our rides and put on tape - and recently DVD. They are all PC users and just don't get how easy and fun it is.

I, too, have been looking for another web design software tool to take it's place but have found none that I like or can afford. Tried trial of Create, Adobe, GoLive, etc. and ran out of trial time before I could understand how to make them work right.

I even wrote Apple and asked them to put Home Page out of retirement and make it the next iTool. iPage or something. When I when to OS X I was really worried that it would not function well in classic mode, but instead it has served me well. I do wish that I could do things that the other websites do. However, I refuse to pay the kind of price and steep learning curve in order to go there.

I love creating the web page and do not like to use the minimal services of my dot-mac acct. I use it to host a few videos because I ran out of room at my service provider.

Do you suppose we could get Apple to resurrect Home Page? If you get any other emails regarding your article, please forward them all to Apple.

Thanks and again, everything you said in the article was true. Great piece of software for $100.

Yes, that small investment has repaid itself time and again over the seven years I've been making Web pages. I like iPage - or iSite, if Apple gives it slightly better site management capabilities. (Okay, go ahead and groan at the pun.)

Claris Home Page 3.0: Still Irreplaceable?

Kelly Jones suggests I look into Dreamweaver.

I just read your article about Home Page, and I wanted to "vote" for Macromedia's web tools - Dreamweaver MX, Contribute, Flash, and Fireworks.

I work for a government agency where I am responsible for the intranet website. I've used Macromedia's Studio MX, Microsoft's Frontpage and Visual Studio. Since we have Windows 2000 servers, the MS products work nicely with their OS. However, I prefer Dreamweaver because it is extremely flexible and lets me tinker with the code the way I want.

Dreamweaver is just as good for WYSIWYG as it is for pure coding. It even has a handy split screen view where you can edit code in the top half or edit WYSIWYG in the bottom half. I found this invaluable for learning code.

That said, I think Dreamweaver is a higher end product not really meant "for the rest of us". Macromedia somewhat agrees and has released Contribute, but currently only for Windows. Contribute is a stripped down Dreamweaver designed for pure WYSIWYG, and they say it works well with Dreamweaver. It's designed to let web programmers/designers do "their thing" and let people that are creating content publish following the designers rules/templates.

Anyway, you should take a look at Dreamweaver MX again. The OS X version is on par with the Windows version.

Keep up the good work on the site.

As long as I can keep up with thing, I'll keep up the good work. Some days it can sure be overhwhelming, though.

I tried Dreamweaver 2-3 years ago and found it clunky. I'm downloading the Dreamweaver MX trial version. We'll see if things have improved.

More from Andrew Prosnik

With Andrew Prosnik's permission, we've edited this slightly to keep it shorter than what he sent in....

I'll try to keep this one shorter. I bet I'll fail miserably! ;)

You can feel free to use this email in its entirety or in parts for any purpose. My main concern is that my emails are not generally geared towards reading and thus can get people extremely bored. So feel free to chop up, edit, and quote any relevant parts, etc. I don't mind.

Stupid consumers:

First off, yeah, the whole "stupid consumers" rant was more directed to the reader who used that label. While I agree that 95% of consumers are uninformed, I wouldn't necessarily use the label "stupid." That's mainly what I was disagreeing with.

More on proprietary busses:

I'm not sure what you mean by regularly changing the bus. I did some checking on http://www.sandpile.org/ in the "Clock Frequencies" section, and it appears that since the Pentium Pro, Intel has only used two bus protocols - GTL+ and AGTL+. AGTL+ was used on the Pentium 3 Xeon line and appears to be the main protocol for all Pentium 4 CPUs. It's true that this particular bus went from 66 MHz to 100 MHz to 133 MHz and then jumped up to 100 MHz QDR (400 MHz effective) and now 133 MHz QDR (533 MHz effective), but I don't see that as changing to a new proprietary bus any more than I see PC66, PC100, PC133, and PC166 SDRAM changing the memory bus just by virtue of increasing the speed they run at.

The motherboard manufacturers make products for existing markets. There are several who are already committed to producing AMD Opteron-compatible motherboards using HyperTransport. I don't see that as Intel bullying motherboard manufacturers so much as there's a large market there, why bother to develop a motherboard chipset for a low-volume market like the G4 or Hitachi SH5 CPUs?

I do grant that Intel has been accused (I believe also in a legal arena) of monopolistic practices with both CPU distribution (Gateway, Dell, etc.) and chipset distribution (Asus, Abit, etc.), but there are other options to Intel-made motherboard chipsets. Witness Via, SiS, and Ali. I think one or two of them don't even have a license agreement with Intel for manufacturing P4-compatible chipsets.

Most of the noncompetitive CPU manufacturers have been relegated to budget products. The only consumer-level company that has the money and R&D abilities to come up with a better solution is AMD with their HyperTransport.

Yes, Intel owns the desktop PC market. However, I have a hard time seeing a monopoly at work when simple market preference for performance would explain why people aren't buying loads of Transmeta CPUs clocked at 600 MHz or Via C3 CPUs clocked at 700 MHz (with the FPU running half-speed at 350 MHz for some ungodly reason). The only company I could see as a victim of a monopoly trying to keep them down is AMD, and AMD's been able to remain competitive and even grow beyond requiring Intel in any way, shape or form.

Consider that AMD only uses x86-compatible instructions for 32-bit and 16-bit (and I assume 8-bit) code. Beyond that, they moved away from using Intel's system bus with the introduction of the Athlon (using the DEC EV6 bus). And they've developed 64-bit extensions (which other companies can also freely use, I believe) to further reduce any reliance on Intel's old instruction set. The newest Opteron/Hammer/whatever will have only x86 compatibility as the remaining link to the Intel architecture.

So why don't other manufacturers do this? Why don't other motherboard manufacturers jump on the HT bandwagon? Simple. There's no money in it at the moment. My haughty prediction is that once the Opteron is out and a few motherboard manufacturers take a risk in creating products for it, economies of scale will reduce the price and garner more interest from the other budget CPU manufacturers. It depends on if HyperTransport-based systems fit into their low-cost low-power product lines, I guess.

My last argument that Intel isn't making their system bus proprietary is that I believe Intel's been under investigation by the FTC for monopolistic trade practices before. I don't recall the outcome of that, but I think Intel would probably prefer to offer licenses to use the P4 bus (like they have to motherboard manufacturers) rather than attempt to close everyone out (CPU manufacturers as well) and risk legal or government action. Intel has always been a little smarter with skirting the line than Microsoft has...

P4's system bus in relation to the G4's system bus

As for the bit about "There is no huge bottleneck between the G4 and the motherboard when you compare it to the Pentium 4," I disagree. Maybe in theoretical exercises when looking at the relative clock multipliers, but that doesn't translate into real-world performance due to things like hardware memory prefetch (used by the P4 and Athlon, unsure if the G4/G4e uses it) and the system/memory bus.

I've seen comments by Mac developers that the AltiVec units, even with 2 MB of L3 cache, are not being fed fast enough due to the G4's 166 MHz system interface. Believe me, if I could find a citation for that, I would. However, all you have to do is look at stuff like this:

Granted, it's not the most up-to-date on either the Mac or the PC side of things, but it does give some numbers for comparison. At the same speed, the G4 seems to do extremely well in comparison to the 133 MHz FSB Pentium 3 and also the Athlon, which used a 100 MHz DDR bus at the time. It takes a 933 MHz P3 (dual CPU for a closer match, even) to equal the G4 867's memory bandwidth.

Looking on the AMD side of things, I guess this was motherboard-dependent or extremely sensitive to latency since the bandwidth difference between the Generic Duron 800 MHz at 100 MHz DDR FSB and 133 MHz DDR FSB is pretty apparent. And the 800 MHz with 133 MHz DDR FSB is in the same range (faster in some parts) as the G4 867 MHz.

Okay, so where am I going with this? Mainly that even older Pentium 4s can churn out more than twice the sustained memory bandwidth at less than twice the MHz of a G4. Another Pentium 4 system at less than twice the MHz can put out almost four times the sustained memory bandwidth. Four times. I'd be interested to see if the Pentium 4s out now that run at twice the speed with a faster FSB and memory scale up all that much.

Anyway, from a practical standpoint, the CPU multiplier is less of an issue than you make it out to be. Accessing system memory is actually a hit on the order of hundreds of CPU clock cycles for modern CPUs - G4, P4, and Athlon included. It's actually related to figuring out if the data is in cache, if not sending a request, then waiting for the memory latency to kick in and start sending the data, throwing the data into L3 or L2 cache or whatever, then using it. Even the L1 cache has a seek penalty. Here's where I saw this information:

http://www.aceshardware.com/read.jsp?idP000364

You can see that the larger datasets do not fit in cache and the CPU must fetch the data from the main system RAM. Maybe your "The P4 really accesses memory on a doubled-and-doubled again bus that's really 267 MHz if we measure in the same way Apple does" statement is referring to how the Pentium 4's FSB is really 4x 133 MHz for an effective rate of 533 MHz, but benchmarks show that there is a practical, real advantage for that. Compared with a G4 using 1 x 133 MHz, the memory bandwidth is 4 times as much. For a real comparison, it would be best to get someone to run STREAM on their new 1.42 GHz G4 system for a direct MHz-to-MHz comparison with a 1.4 GHz P4. That would help eliminate the CPU as being a large factor in memory transfer performance. I'd be curious to see the results of that type of benchmark.

Here is a handy article about memory bandwidth and latency:

http://arstechnica.com/paedia/b/bandwidth-latency/bandwidth-latency-1.html

I referred to it as I am not too well-versed in the subject myself.

The P4's FSB is not just marketing fluff; it's effective in real-world situations. The large L3 cache of the G4 helps to mask the deficiency of the rest of the system due to the 166 MHz SDR interface that everything must go through to reach the CPU. This I assert.

I agree that high clockspeeds do not a CPU make, but the Itanium is a POS. ;) The Itanium 2 is neat, but it has even less software support than the Mac (okay, that's not fair - the Mac has a decent amount of support). Going to your analogy with getting real work done, well, if you could afford an Itanium 2, you sure better know how to program it as well, since odds are you're not going to be running anything but custom-made scientific applications on it. Or, God help you, HP-UX.

If you want raw horsepower, you could always turn to the Alpha CPU. Heck, for a while it even ran Windows and x86 applications. And it has more application support than the Itanium 2, since it's been around longer.

P4 and servers

When you say, "But the P4 is brain-dead from a multiple processor perspective. So Intel has to keep developing the P III for servers," I must disagree. The Pentium III was just near the end of life and couldn't scale too quickly anymore. The Pentium III is roughly the same speed now as the G4 is. Consumer-level Pentium 4 CPUs do not have the ability to run in dual CPU configurations. However, Intel has a dedicated server line of CPUs: The Pentium 4 Xeons. They not only offer larger L2 caches than the consumer lines, but they also implemented the first version of HyperThreading (turn one CPU into two virtual CPUs) in an effort to optimize performance. That enhancement has finally trickled down to the latest Pentium 4 consumer CPU to be released.

The Pentium 3 generates much less heat and consumes much less power than the Pentium 4 (Xeon or consumer). That makes it ideal for 1U rack-mount servers (same thickness as the Xserve), blade servers, embedded systems, or other places where you want to have a high CPU/system density without a large power requirement or need for elaborate cooling systems. For reference, a blade system: http://www.racksaver.com/products/bladerack.asp

The Pentium 4 Xeon line is more intended for larger 2U, 4U, and 7U rack-mount servers. For reference:

http://www.dell.com/us/en/esg/topics/segtopic_servers_pedge_rackmain.htm

Note that the smaller, thinner systems (1U) (350, 1650) and the blade system (1655MC) use low-power Pentium III CPUs while the larger, 2 to 4 CPU systems use Pentium 4 CPUs (2650, 6650, 8450). Okay, you got me on the 8450, as that still uses the older Pentium III Xeons, but that's due for a product refresh - the newer Pentium III 1.4 GHz CPUs are not Xeons, and this system uses pokey old 700 to 900 MHz CPUs. The "tower servers" also show the same trend.

If anything, the Pentium III has turned into Intel's budget/embedded CPU line. It fills a specific niche but certainly is not being kept around because the Pentium 4 is too inefficient to be a server-class CPU.

Upgrade sockets:

The Mac has a ton of upgrade options. Yeah, you can upgrade an old system to a dual 1.2 GHz G4. That is, what, a little less than a 10x speed increase in MHz and jumping two "generations" of CPU? Heck, you can even upgrade an old Mac IIci to a PowerPC 601, can't you?

I just was trying to say that the PCs also have upgrade options. It's not to take anything away from the Mac, but the PC can also do the same type of upgrade to 1.4 GHz and a few "generations" ahead (if you consider adding vector processing units to a CPU a generational jump, the PIII fits into that category with SSE). And even older PCs from a totally different architecture can be upgraded to a new one... as in, 386 to 486, 486 to Pentium, Pentium to K6-III.

Okay, you can't go from a Pentium III to the latest Pentium 4, but you can still upgrade a very slow Pentium II system to a CPU that's as fast, MHz-wise, as the latest G4 CPU. And both that generation of PC and that line of Macs have been around for, hey, a really long time in computer years.

Advantage: Both platforms. :)

MIE6 is of the devil

Yeah, I hate MIE. It doesn't parse HTML worth a damn. I try to use Netscape to see how my HTML looks in a real compliant browser. Or I run the pages through an HTML validator on www.w3.org when I just want to be sure.

For my own HTML, I use the exact same dtd declaration. You can see a sample of the work here:

http://www.reactionquake3.com/docs/

I tried to duplicate the issue on those pages by centering the top section on one of the pages, but I couldn't get it to break in the same way. I'm not doubting you - believe me, I've run afoul of MIE on far too many occasions.

It seems like you already use CSS. Maybe the solution/workaround would be to remove the CENTER tags and instead declare a class with the text centered by default? Throw it in a P or DIV tag or something, that might do the trick. It should, at least...

(Yes, I know you're not some newbie at HTML, I just present the links in case they spur any ideas or help you to work around MIE's idiocy. I'm far from being an expert at HTML myself so am just offering ideas--hopefully it's not coming off as talking down to you.)

The funky thing is that I only saw the rampant centering issue on the front page, nowhere else. I'm just assuming that it was the use of CENTER and that dtd that caused the issue, thus having no CENTER tags might fix it. 'ell if I know, it's MS#!@

If you do decide to tinker with it again, good luck!

As noted in yesterday's LEM Mailbag, "Intel has patented it's bus protocols, so they are Proprietary." That's true whether they license them or not.

As for memory bandwidth, I think we're coming at things from different sides. A CPU running at 1.42 GHz doesn't need to be fed as fast as one running a 3.06 GHz regardless of the efficiency of the processors. All things are rarely equal, but if they were the Pentium 4s either need a much faster bus (better memory bandwidth) or have to spend a whole lot more CPU cycles waiting for data than slower, more efficient G4s.

The other key factor is whether the bus keeps either processor fully fed in the real world. I don't think either the P4 or G4 normally receives enough data fast enough to live up to their potential.

Any CPU would benefit from bigger caches. Why Motorola, Intel, AMD, and IBM don't just throw a 1-2 MB level 2 cache right on the CPU is beyond me. Sure, it would make for a more costly "pro" CPU, but imagine the extra efficiency. This would also help demonstrate the full potential of CPU designs, since they would be less limited by their connection to the motherboard.

I wasn't aware that Pentium 4 Xeon servers were shipping. For quite a while, Windows and *nix users who wanted the ultimate in server performance were choosing the Pentium III Xeon over the P4 because of the older CPU's multiprocessor support. The Pentium 4 Xeon is more than just a P4 that supports multiple processors; like the P III Xeon vs. the P III, it's a fairly different chip. The consumer Pentium 4 still doesn't support multiple processors, although HyperThreading tries to address that shortcoming.

As for IE 6, thank goodness it hasn't yet been released for the Mac. I hope they get it right before they release it. The problem on our home page, which is one of very few pages with a DOCTYPE declaration (due to issues with Claris Home Page), was not unique to Low End Mac. I got the solution from another webmaster who had to solve the same problem.

I know just enough HTML to be dangerous. :-) I'm looking for a better solution to replace Claris Home Page, but so far I haven't found anything as fast and easy.

Wow, I qm Impressed!

After discovering Low End Mac, Phillip W. Koper writes from Japan:

I found your site from a referenced link in a Macdiscussionforum. Wow, I am impressed! I never even thought that someone might be actively "supporting" older Macs! Ever since I installed a new larger HD and CrescendoG4 upgrade card in my Power Mac 7200, I have been a believer in "Mac recycling." My next plan is to pop a G4 ZIF card into a G3 DT 233 and add a FireWire card with an external 80 GB portable HD so I can muck about with OS X and get into some digital video.

Glad you found us. We've been supporting low-end Macs since I first put a handful of Mac profiles on my personal webspace in April 1997. Macs tend to have a lot of life in them, especially with judicious upgrades and the selection of appropriate software. Whether it's someone running System 6 on a Mac Plus for email and Web browsing or making OS X work on a beige G3, we're impressed with the resourcefulness of Mac users in getting the most out of their computers.

In your OS X experiments, bear in mind that at present there is no way to boot the beige G3 from a FireWire card - although Ryan Rempel seems to be working on it.

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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