The Low End Mac Mailbag

Can You Put 3 GB in a Mac mini?, Where Are the Mirror Drive Door CPU Upgrades?, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.05.21

3 GB Possible in a Mac mini?

Arthur Mickel writes in response to MacBook Supports 3 GB of RAM:

I've been a regular reader for sometime and enjoy your articles. I was looking over the article on the 3 gig RAM for the MacBook. I have a 2.0 GHz white model (now superseded) to which I've added a larger hard drive and a one gig RAM card to bring it up to 1.5 (3 gigs will have to wait). Since the Intel Mac mini is essentially a laptop design, I wondered if 3 gigs of RAM would work in it as well?

I purchased a mini [Core] Solo from CompUSA on a close out sale with the intention of upgrading to a Core 2 Duo as soon as the prices for the 2.33 model get reasonable. I plan to upgrade the hard drive, RAM, and CPU in the same operations (not anxious to open that case very often).

Ideas and suggestion would be appreciated.

Once again, thanks for a great site.

Arthur Mickel

Arthur,

The good news is that turning your Core Solo Mac mini into a Core 2 Duo Mac mini is as easy as a CPU transplant. The bad news is that nobody seems to have tested a Core 2 upgraded mini with 3 GB of RAM.

We know that all Core 2 Macs support 3 GB, but not whether Core Solo or Duo Macs upgraded with Core 2 CPUs will go that far. It's theoretically possible, but that's all I can say.

I've sent a note to customer support at Other World Computing to ask if they or any of their customers have tested a Core 2 upgraded Mac mini with their 3 GB RAM upgrade.

Dan

UPDATE: I received an email from Josh in OWC's Tech Support Dept. He writes, "From what I have seen and read, the Mac mini's will only support 2 GB of memory."

Where Are the Mirror Drive Door Processor Upgrades?

Kirk Edwards

Hi, my name is Kirk, and I have the FW800 single 1.0 GHz CPU Power Mac. I'd like to upgrade to a faster CPU, but so far I can't find any. Any idea when any [may be] available? Also, could I swap my single processor with a stock Apple dual 1.0 GHz processor? Any compatibility problems? Any advantage?

Thanks for your help
Kirk

Kirk,

I've wondered that myself, as the quite happy owner of a pre-FireWire 800 1 GHz dual CPU Power Mac G4. Why do Sonnet, Daystar, and others make G4 upgrades running at up to 2.0 GHz, yet none are mentioned as being compatible with the Mirror Drive Door model?

It could be because these Power Macs use the PowerPC 7455 CPU, which isn't found on earlier Power Macs. It could be because earlier Power Macs use a 100 MHz or 133 MHz system bus, while the faster MDD models use a 167 MHz system bus. Or there may be other hardware issues. Or there might not be a sufficiently large upgrade market.

I just don't know, but I've emailed Sonnet, Daystar, NewerTech, and FastMac to see what they may have to share.

In the meantime, you can probably run a 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz dual CPU upgrade from a Mirror Drive Door Power Mac - if you can find one. I suspect they're fairly rare.

Dan

CRT Voltage, Erroneous Beliefs, and Science

Responding to CRT Danger Not Overstated, Tom Lee writes:

Dear Dan,

...the Web may be a very efficient means of spreading and reinforcing erroneous beliefs.

Sorry to go another round here, but this issue provides an important "teaching moment" about how science works. First, matters of science are not determined with polls, so the fact that "many other iMac users have posted warnings" proves very little, other than that the Web may be a very efficient means of spreading and reinforcing erroneous beliefs. What's also interesting is that the one semi-authoritative source cited by Drew Page (a Wikipedia article) says, "shocks from the accelerating voltage are typically embarrassing and painful but usually harmless" (retrieved at 9:42 a.m. Left Coast time on May 16).

The voltages and total energies involved in a typical static discharge zap experienced when reaching for a door knob on a dry day after walking on a carpet are actually not very different from what you get from an unpowered CRT (note that, all along, we've been careful to emphasize that you never stick your mitts inside a powered up machine; unplug the power cord). It's nearly the same for compact Macs, and greater for larger CRTs. Just as few people drop dead after an ordinary static discharge event, few people drop dead after accidentally being the discharge path of a CRT.

Unlike Mr. Page, I've actually attempted to research statistics on this and have failed to uncover a single documented instance of a death or even serious injury from this feared event. I've challenged those with opposing beliefs to cough up the data, too, and they've been curiously silent. So, we have to conclude that fear and ignorance are the sole bases for their beliefs.

And although it is true that I am a professor, my assertion instead relies on three other sources:

  1. Direct, repeated experience as a discharge path. I worked as a TV service tech for three years in junior high school. Like Drew, I was petrified with fear about CRT voltages at first, but quickly discovered that it's really no big deal. The first shocks left me with a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. Later ones didn't. The reason was simply that I was so worked up with fear that the first shocks seemed worse than they really were. With repetition came familiarity, and the fear subsided (although embarrassment didn't; my boss always gave me a good ribbing about it). It's definitely not pleasant to get shocked, but if you don't go into cardiac arrest when someone goes Boo! on Halloween, you're probably going to survive.
  2. Lack of actual data supporting the hypothesis that it's so deadly. The biggest problem seems to be injuries incurred when you jerk your hand away from the source of shock. I myself got a good slice from a piece of sheet metal on the side of an RCA TV chassis. That's about the worst of it.
  3. Mathematical calculations showing that the energy isn't large enough to be deadly. I once presented some of these in an Applefritter article, which has disappeared. I'd happily supply a copy to anyone who's interested in countering fearmongering and superstition. The bottom line: It's not fun to get shocked, but it's not the instantly lethal, debilitating zork-of-death that so many have made it out to be. Yes, if you're in bad health, you might get into trouble, but we're talking about whether the CRT poses the serious, imminent threat that "many other iMac users have posted warnings" about.

It's easy to work on the inside of an unpowered CRT-based device without getting zapped. Just don't undo the well-insulated high-voltage connector.

Don't allow superstition to prevent you from working on these machines. It's easy to work on the inside of an unpowered CRT-based device without getting zapped. Just don't undo the well-insulated high-voltage connector. Leave it plugged into the CRT (don't follow the commonly offered advice of reaching in there to discharge it; that's just asking for zappage). Let it sit unpowered for a day or two if you really want to avoid even the remote possibility of an unpleasant zork.

Finally, we're allegedly living in a scientific age, but too many want to substitute strongly held beliefs for science. One of the most valuable historical lessons of science has been that it doesn't matter if most people strongly, truly believe something is true. The only thing that matters is data. If the data contradicts your beliefs, your belief is wrong. That not only applies to professors, but to others, too.

-Cheers,
Tom

Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Stanford University

Tom,

Thanks for the additional information. And I'd be happy to post your article on Low End Mac, where we do our best to assure that our old articles never disappear.

Dan

UPDATE: We hope to publish Tom Lee's article tomorrow. dk

Macify the Interweb: A Design Challenge

Tim Larson writes:

Hey, Dan,

I thought of a "contest" idea you could run at LEM. Here's the gist: create a "general" stylesheet (a la the W3C Core Styles <http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/>) that uses Apple- and Mac-themed elements (e.g. fonts, colors, etc.). The result is Web pages that look "Mac-ish" to anyone familiar with Apple style. (A list of fonts Apple has used over the years is at Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_fonts>.) Good Web design practices should be followed as well (e.g., providing fallback alternatives in case the suggested font isn't available, legible contrast, size units that scale appropriately, etc.). The resulting stylesheet could be used by myriad Apple fan sites.

There's no real prize involved - doing something cool is its own reward. What do you think?

Tim

Hi Tim,

Back in the day, we started using Apple's Geneva font as the first choice font in our style sheets because it was legible at small sizes, rendered quickly even on old Macs, was bitmapped on the oldest Macs, and has more of a "Mac feel" to it than fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, or Verdana.

Today we still use Geneva as the "first choice" font in our style sheets: use Geneva if present; if not, use Verdana, then Arial, then Helvetica, and then your browser's default sans-serif font.

We've all seen sites that attempt to replicate the look and feel of Apple's website, but few that try to look Mac-like. The biggest problem I see there is which Mac OS do you want to emulate: System 6 or 7? Mac OS 8 or 9? Mac OS X 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, or 10.4?

Yet another issue is font support. If you want your website to use Apple Garamond, you run into two problems. First of all, a lot of Macs don't have it installed - and even less Windows PCs. Secondly, it is not a good screen font at normal text sizes. And if you adopt Apple's newer standard, Myriad, you run into older Macs not having it - and probably a lot of Windows PCs as well.

And that's the rub: If you want to make your website look Mac-ish, you need to make sure that your style sheet will work with Windows browsers as well.

Readers who would like to rise to the challenge of Macifying their websites are invited to email me links to their sites and style sheets for inclusion in a future column.

Dan

'Bumps' on LEM Navigation Bar

Jay Snyder says:

Hello Dan,

First all, great site! I've been a loyal reader for about 5 or 6 years now, even though I'm not really running low-end hardware anymore (MacBook Pro, Dual-G5, and a Dual-core mini).

Safari navigation bar

Anyway, I use Linux at my day-job, and am using Firefox 2.0.0.3. The nav bar still has the bumps a reader saw in Safari as of 2007-05-16 13:59.

Mozilla 1.78 also has the same problem.

It look fine in Konqueror (KDE 3.54), Mozilla 1.5 & 2.0.0.3 under Windows ( I hadn't upgraded that system yet).

Thanks again for the great site!

J.

Jay,

Thanks for writing. I design and test primarily on a Mac. If it looks good in Firefox and Camino, that's my starting point. If it looks pretty much the same and works in Safari, iCab, Opera, OmniWeb, and IE 5.2, I'm satisfied. Readers will tell me if it's broke in IE on Windows.

I have a remarkably poky 1.4 GHz Celeron M Acer Aspire 3500 laptop with 512 MB of RAM and vampire video. I can't believe how slow and unresponsive it can be (my 400 MHz PowerBook G4 ran circles around it), but I only bought it to test problems we were having with IE 6 on Windows. (Windows browsers are consistently ugly, probably due to Microsoft's horrid font rendering. The classic Mac OS was better!)

Anyhow, I've partition the Acer's drive so I can boot into Ubuntu and test our design with Konqueror, Firefox, and a few other browsers. Ubuntu is less sluggish and less ugly than Windows, but it pales compared with OS X. I did a little style sheet tweaking this morning, and the nav bar looks just fine in Firefox 1.5 - time to download and test with 2.0....

Another Linux frustration. I can find Firefox 2.0.3. I can download Firefox 2.0.3. But what I can't do is figure out how to install and run Firefox 2.0.3. (I have the same kind of problems with Windows. Last night I helped a friend buy a font online, downloaded it to his Windows PC, and I have absolutely no idea how to find it on his computer, let alone install it. I'll stick with my Macs as much as possible, thank you very much.) Even Ubuntu, seemingly the friendliest Linux to date, isn't "for dummies" quite yet.

Fiddling with Windows and Linux on this laptop have convinced me that I need an Intel Mac so I can run these operating systems virtualized alongside OS X rather than putting up with the pathetic performance of this underpowered computer. A MacBook or 15" MacBook Pro with 3 GB of RAM is mighty tempting at times like this....

Making a website work on so many different browsers shouldn't be so much work. There are these things called standards, so what works in one browser should work in all modern browsers. That's the theory. The reality is quite different.

Dan

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

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.

Today's Links

Recent Content

back to the Low End Mac Mailbag index

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

MacSurfer
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
MacInTouch
MyAppleMenu
InfoMac
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
RetroMacCast
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
DealMac
Mac2Sell
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

Affiliates

Amazon.com
The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac
eBay

Low End Mac's Amazon.com store

Advertise

Open Link