The Low End Mac Mailbag

G4 Value Error, Beige G3 Upgrades, Piracy and Copyright, iChat AV, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.07.02 - Tip Jar

G4 vs. G5 Value Errors

After reading the originally published version of Blowout G4s or Forthcoming G5s, Which Wins the Value Comparison?, Chris Kilner writes:

I always enjoy your value analyses . . . but I think today's article is based on bad information. First, it is my understanding that the $1,299 Dual-boot G4 is a single processor unit (the dual 1.25 is $1,599), which changes your value equation.

Second, I think you are underestimating the power of the PPC 970 relative to the G4. Barefeats.com has some tests comparing the 1.42DP G4 to a 2.4DP Xeon and a 3.06 P4. Based on these benchmarks and Apple's G5 comparison to the 3.06DP Xeon and 3.06 P4, I would roughly estimate that the 2.0DP G5 is at least about twice as powerful as the 1.42DP G4.

If the MacBidoulle "benchmarks" are true, the top dual G5 is more than 3x faster than the top dual G4.

In response to the same article, Tony Goodman writes:

I have always enjoyed LEM, and have been especially pleased with your regular value comparisons. No one else takes the time to really break down what the real deals are.

However, I'm afraid you made a small mistake which unfortunately affected all of your value comparisons in your most recent article! According to the Apple Store, the single 1.25 GHz PM is $1,299 while the dual model starts at $1,599. (Both of these are OS 9 boot supported.)

I'm sure that you will correct this shortly, and I look forward to reading more of your articles.

Chris Cobb writes:

You've probably received dozens of emails about this already, but I just wanted to let you know that the OS 9 bootable power macs mentioned in today's article are not $1,299 but $1,599. The $1,299 machine has a single 1.25 GHz processor. Don't know if this changes your analysis.

We received a lot of emails about that error - these are just a few. The article was revised twice on the date it was published to reflect the new models Apple had very quietly introduced. Until that day, Apple had never made a single processor 1.25 GHz G4, so I initially assumed that they had reduced the price on the dual processor model. Closer investigation revealed my mistake, and also that the dual 1.25 GHz model Apple was selling for $1,599 was different from the dual 1.25 GHz model other online dealers were selling for $1699 (the January 2003 X-only model).

None of this changed our value conclusions. We still came out concluding that the dual 1.25 GHz G4 at $1,599 is the best Power Mac G4 value ever - and the dual 2.0 GHz G5 is slightly better.

I don't put a lot of stock in benchmarks run on prototype hardware with unreleased versions of the OS, whether we're dealing with Apple demos, independent lab reports, or claims published on a rumor site. I'm looking forward to the day Macworld, PC Magazine, and others get production G5s with the release version of 10.2.7 and publish their results.

Until then, we have to guess at G5 efficiencies. Based on what little I've seen on the Web thus far, I'd estimate the G5 at 25% more efficient MHz for MHz than the G4, making the dual 2.0 GHz G5 about twice as powerful overall as the current dual processor 1.25 GHz G4.

We'll know a lot more in August.

Beige G3 Question

Michael writes:

I just read your article on the value of a G3 Power Mac, but now have a question. Can I add a 2nd hard drive?

I have a last generation beige G3. It has a CD-ROM, floppy drive, and a Zip drive. I have also installed a USB card.

I have searched the Web but only see articles regarding replacing a hard drive, not adding one.

You can probably add a second hard drive. The later beige G3s had Rev. B or Rev. C ROMs, both of which support two drives per IDE bus, a master and a slave. See our profile of the beige G3 for the information you need to determine which ROM your computer has.

Upgrading a G3 Processor

Roger Harris wonders:

Do you know if a ZIF 350 G3 pulled from a B&W G3 will work as in a Beige DT?

My comments about upgrading the beige G3: I have had several beige G3s rev. 2 & 3 over the last couple of years. I also support several for family and graphic clients. The beige G3s I have worked with have several issues with upgrading.

Beige G3s are very touchy about G3 and G4 upgrades. It is very hard to get ATA 100 and 133 cards to work with a processor upgrade (Sonnet worked best). The processor upgrade and ATA card combo are easy in a PCI Mac.

ATA 100 and 133 seem to seldom work, even with a stock processor. The same exact cards work very well in PCI Macs.

I found it easiest to put a fast HD on the stock IDE and install a modest CPU upgrade (G3 450s can be had for $60). This is a good home Mac that is cheap and stable; a real LEM.

Your LEM is a great Mac site. I was sending small amounts of money, but it seems there is a hitch to that presently. If you get that fixed I will be glad to give what I can.

A ZIF from a blue & white G3 should work in a beige G3. The sockets are the same, but you'll need to change some jumpers in the J16 block to find the best configuration for your machine. I suggest you avoid changing the bus speed; just leave it at 66 MHz to avoid problems with PCI cards.

Start at 333 MHz. If that's stable, try bumping your Mac to 366 MHz, which should be no trouble at all for a 350 MHz CPU. And if that's stable after several days of use, you might want to consider trying 400 MHz.

If you want the most speed, you might find changing the bus speed allows the fastest MHz rating, but it may come at the cost of stability, especially on the PCI bus. That's why I suggest keeping the bus at 66 MHz.

Low End Mac no longer has a PayPal account. Ours was hijacked last summer, our bank recovered all but about $500, and PayPal has done nothing to restore access to our account. (On the plus side, they have made it more difficult to change account information - just too late to benefit us.) You can make donations through my personal PayPal account by referencing lowenddan (at) yahoo (dot) com. At this point I still don't trust them with our business account.

eMac and Backup Plan

Upon checking your website, I noted that you have just got your new eMac (I know it has brought down deal to a malfunctioned piece of memory).

One thing I am awaiting on your report is the backup plan you mentioned. Since I am recently deciding on the backup scheme I should use, e.g., how frequent it's gonna be, what goes to a hard-disk backup, and what goes to a DVD backup, and how could I make use of the OnStream USB Drive still lying around.

I hope your eMac could back online soon and hope you can share with us on your backup scheme.

The replacement 512 MB module arrived from Coast to Coast Memory (a.k.a. 18004memory) in Monday's mail. I installed it, booted into OS 9, and ran RAMometer for a good long time - it passed with flying colors.

The eMac will be a triple purpose computer. It's my main computer now, but it's also the network file server for Low End Mac, my wife's business, and my kids. On top of that, it's going to be our network backup machine as soon as I buy an update to my 10 pack of Retrospect Remote licenses.

For the sake of efficiency, I chose to run the eMac from an external 80 MB FireWire hard drive. This is a fast 7200 rpm drive with an 8 MB buffer, so I figure it's 30-40% faster than the internal hard drive. It's also 4x as big as the drive in my TiBook.

The next decision was how to best partition the drive. Since I may decide to allow Internet access to some of the shared folders for my wife's employees (who work from their homes), I want a completely separate partition for shared files. Further, I like to keep all of my Web projects on a separate partition so it's easy to back them up to another partition for fast, easy recovery if I really mess up a file. (I use File Synchronization by Nemesys Software to do this several times a week.)

I'm a nut about having backups of my websites. I even keep a CD copy at my other job just in case.

In the end I created a 25 GB partition for shared files, 10 GB for my Web projects, and the remaining 40 GB as my main partition. I have far more space than I ever anticipate needing - but I felt the same way about the 10 GB drive in my TiBook, too. And I still have the 40 GB hard drive in the eMac that's basically unused at present.

For backup, I'm continuing to use Retrospect, a program I learned years ago when I did book design for a local publisher and we backed up our Mac IIci network to Syquest cartridges over PhoneNet cable. At present, I'm only backing up my own computer, and I'm backing up everything except cache files.

As I learn more about OS X and backup, I'm sure my procedure will evolve. I know there are a lot of preference files that are updated constantly, and there's little reason to save them. But it will take time to figure out which files can be safely ignored - and are large enough to merit attention.

At present, I've got backup set to run 3-4 times per week, basically every other day. I'm backing up to another external 80 GB FireWire hard drive (also 7200 rpm, but with a smaller 2 MB buffer). Considering the number of Macs on our network, I really need about twice as much storage, so when I can afford it, I'll buy a second 80 GB drive, format it in OS X, and create a striped RAID array between the two drives in the same enclosure.

When that fills - 150 MB of compressed backup files - I'll pick up another pair of drives, put them in my third ugly beige dual drive enclosure, put the full backup set in storage, and start using the new drive. When that fills I'll probably switch back and forth between the two RAID arrays.

One nice thing about using external FireWire drives for everything is that if the eMac should have problems and need service, I could connect my TiBook to the drives and be up and working in a matter of minutes. Further, since I keep the drives under my desk, on the off chance that we're burglarized and someone takes this 50 pound white whale, they'll probably ignore the two drives under the desk.

iChat AV Trouble Shooting

Joe Nevin writes:

Thanks for publishing the article re iChat audio/video troubleshooting. I think you should get an award for helping to remove the fog bank preventing successful implementation of audio and video chats. I am still confused on a few things, and Apple is of zero help so far. I'm hoping you can help me with two questions.

My two iSight cameras arrived yesterday, and I spent most of the evening tearing my hair out trying to get things to work (I have yet to be successful). I have two questions for you that may help me out. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm up in the mountains of Colorado (which is like being on a desert island with nobody to talk to).

Configuration: Running two Macs on local area network. One is 400 MHz G4 desktop hard-wired to ethernet. Other is 400 MHz G4 PowerBook connected via AirPort (not extreme) base station, which is hard-wired to ethernet. Ethernet connected to 4 port Asante 3004C cable router (with firewall), which is then connected to my Comcast cable Internet connection. Running 10.2.6 on both Mac systems. Running iChat AV public beta on both Mac systems. Using iSight cameras on both Mac systems. Firewalls are inactive on both Mac systems

Problem: Prior to reading your article last night and prior to opening any ports on the router, text chat worked between both of the above systems. However, both audio and video chats did not work. I kept getting the following message when trying to connect - From System #1: "failed to start video chat because (System #2 user name) did not respond." From System #2: "failed to start video chat because (System #1 user name) is busy in another conference."

However, nobody was busy in another conference. I restarted, reinstalled everything with no change. Camera video on each system works fine. Just could not connect. #@@!#@

Question #1: Have you seen this problem, and do you think it is related to not opening UDP ports 188 & 332 on the router - or something else?

Question #2: If yes - and even if not but that I still have to ultimately open these two ports on the router - should I be opening a Trigger Port (and if so, is there a number that goes in the trigger port box?) or just open the two UDP ports directly (but then, if my understanding is correct, only one of the Macs can then operate on the local network using audio/video chat)?

Any insights you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I am ready to open the UDP ports as soon as I get an answer to the trigger port question. Thanks in advance.

Good luck. My wife has been having a great time using audio chat with an online friend, one of the few she knows who has a Mac and is running OS X. Well, she's having a great time when it works - sometimes it takes 50 tries before they make a working connection.

We learned a lot from that experience. AirPort is flaky with iChat AV, something Apple has already documented. So my wife's friend is now using dialup instead of sharing her family's AirPort hub when she wants to chat. That's something Apple needs to address.

I've only used iChat AV the one evening that Ryan Coleman and I tried to make it work, and then a few times with my wife to verify that her computer was set up correctly.

Apple lists a whole different series of ports in their KBase article than the two Ryan and I discovered.

I don't know how iChat AV makes audio and video connections. Normal chats (typed ones) usually go through a server, although iChat has the option of connecting directly between users. I would guess that voice and video chats are point-to-point rather than through a server, but that's only a guess.

There are a lot of articles about iChat AV on the Web. It's definitely beta level software, and problems are cropping up all over the place. Apple has a lot of bits and pieces to work on before this one is ready for prime time. In addition to connection problems, it sure would be nice if they'd support USB cams, since there are so many of them in use.

Copyright Infringement Can Cost You

In response to MP3 Sharing Isn't Piracy - and It Isn't Legal, Either, Chris Kilner offers some additional information:

I enjoyed your article. As an Intellectual Property attorney, I also wanted to let you know that copyright owners can elect "statutory damages" of between $750 and $30,000 per infringed work instead of actual damages . . . so those 10,000 tracks would be at least $7,500,000 . . . and the judge is only allowed in certain circumstances to reduce statutory damages to $200/per . . . still 2 million!

Christopher B. Kilner
Roberts Abokhair & Mardula, LLC

That should make people think twice before sharing copyrighted material over the Internet.

MP3 Sharing

Keith M King writes:

Maybe you didn't mention it because of the space it would take, but I think you should have mentioned that we do have a right to copy copyrighted material for a small number of friends and associates under, if I remember correctly, the Millennium Copyright law.

Clearly this does not permit putting things out on the Internet for anyone to take, but your article would lead people to think they violate copyright when they make a copy for a friend.

That is correct. "Fair use" allows you to make a copy of material you own for your personal use. It does not allow sharing with strangers on the Internet - or friends. If it did, programs such as Napster, Kazaa, Limewire, etc. would not have come under fire.

RIAA Right and Wrong

Metroxing writes:

I totally agree with you in what you're saying, but the RIAA seems to be saying if you're riding in a car that's not registered to you, it's car theft when the line is a lot blurrier.

I don't disagree that there are thieves out there (not just music thieves), and I think you raised a lot of good points, and it seems like a lot of other points have been lost along the way.

Is it stealing if you're in college (or at work) but you have the CD at home or at your parents? Do you physically have to make your own backup copy?

There are dozens of sites (not just iTunes music) that offer free MP3s (Amazon.com, mp3.com, artistdirect.com, epitonic, and even some artists offer free MP3s), but the RIAA considers anyone with an MP3 to be thieves. How are they actually going to determine what's legal?

Basically the RIAA seems to presume if you "file-share" or if your computer appears to be file-sharing, you are guilty. It's the ultimate "punk'd" - why not just break into people's homes and turn on file sharing? When they come back from vacation, they'll face a $750,000 fine. What a funny practical joke!

They are plenty of opportunities to listen to music for "free" that the RIAA seems to accept (most artists get no royalties from music club sales - they're consider promotional (yes, it's true!), artists only get money from radio if they wrote the song, listening kiosks in record stores, when we buy a used CD (no-one gets extra royalties or profits after the first sale) or when we physically borrow a CD from someone or check it out from the library) but the RIAA is so hung up on MP3s.

It's sort of like a retail store looking out for teenager shoplifters when it's really the accountants doing the heavy thieving.

The principle of what they're saying is right - just they have all the details all wrong.

Is it stealing if you download the MP3 to a tune you already own on a CD, LP, or tape? Probably not, and that was one of the initial arguments for Napster being legal. I have some old LPs and no way to digitize them. It would be nice to make CDs, assuming someone out there has ripped these antiques. And as far as I can tell, it wouldn't be illegal for me to download MP3s and make my own CDs as long as I have the original material.

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't believe the RIAA can prosecute anyone simply because they have MP3s on their computer and have file sharing enabled. For there to be a crime, there has to be evidence that files have been illegally downloaded from your computer. The question becomes burden of proof - do you have to prove that everyone who downloaded had a right to or does the RIAA have to prove that at least one download was illegal?

Yes, the RIAA is hung up on MP3s, since they are probably the most widely used form of illegal copying in use today. Whether their accountants fudge the books and the record companies screw the artists isn't the issue; copyright violation is.

Thank goodness we have services like the iTunes Music Store that offer a legal way to acquire music.

Piracy

Peter da Silva comments:

So far as I know, it wasn't the RIAA that labeled MP3 traders (and the software traders before them) pirates - it was the traders themselves. Back in the Apple II days, long before anyone was ripping CDs to MP3s or even had any CDs to rip.

The people who cracked the games so they could be "pirated" would even label them "Cracked by The Bandit" or by "Captain Blood." Sure, it's completely inappropriate terminology, but the RIAA didn't come up with it, they're just milking it for all its worth.

Thanks for the reminder. And before that, we had pirate radio stations.

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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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