The Low End Mac Mailbag

YouTube Tips, Mac Users Who Bash Windows, iSub Broken in Leopard, and More

Dan Knight - 2008.02.11 - Tip Jar

YouTube Videos on a Pismo

From Eli Fleming:

Just read Lonnie's response:

Dear Lonnie,

  • Open Safari
  • Surf to YouTube. You can stroke my ego and go to my channel if you want: <http://www.youtube.com/user/superslydotcom>
  • Right (or control) click on a full-size video thumbnail
  • Select Quality - >Low
  • Wait for the video to load completely

Enjoy the smooth(er) playback

Works for me on my 400 MHz Pismo running 10.4.11, Safari 3, 30 GB HD (maybe 5400 rpm?), and 768 MB RAM. Remember, YMMV.

Good Luck, and keep on "Pismo-ing"

-Eli

Eli,

Thanks for sharing the info. I've forwarded your email to Lonnie.

Dan

More Tips for Viewing YouTube with Older Macs

From Isaac Smith:

Hey,

In response to Lonnie's recent letter about YouTube viewing on older Macs, I've experience the "macosx: QT doesn't support any appropriate chorma" error as well. However, there is a (semi-)easy way to fix this. QuickTime 7.4 and 7.4.1 don't mesh well with VLC 0.8.6-c. This issue has been fixed with 0.8.6-d. However, to install this version, you must have Leopard or Tiger.

I own a 333 MHz Lombard, so installing Tiger won't be quite so easy, and I don't feel like it would be worth it. In order to allow VLC to play the YouTube files while still keeping Panther as the OS, one must revert back to QuickTime 7.3.1. In order to do this, you need to have a piece of Freeware called Pacifist. You download the QuickTime 7.3.1 update from Apple's website, and open up the Installer package using Pacifist. This will allow you to overwrite the newer version of QuickTime, and will then allow you to play YouTube videos in VLC.

My preferred method for getting these YouTube videos on my computer is actually a free plugin for Firefox, known as DownloadHelper. It's much like the KeepVid link, but instead meshes perfectly with the browser. The only "issue" that I have had is that before starting the download, you have to wait for the YouTube video to load completely, which I would imagine would be bothersome on a slower Internet connection.

The faster and easier way out (that doesn't work on all computers) is to simply wait for the YouTube video to load completely. While this doesn't help anywhere near as much as VLC does on slow G3s, I have found that it does help quite a bit on my 466 MHz DA. Before the load is complete, the video is choppy. After it's done loading, it's smooth.

I hope these tips help. Keep up the great work on the site.

Isaac

Isaac,

Thanks for sharing your experiences and your tips. I've forwarded your email to Lonnie.

Dan

Flash 9 Can Help Some Older Macs

From Nathan Hill:

Hi Dan,

Just to continue this good conversation...

It might also be worthy to upgrade to the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player (version 9). I participated in some of the beta testing of these new drivers, which promised to offload more of the work on to the video card. Those drivers are now available. So, with this latest version, if you have a slow processor but a decent video card, you might notice better Flash performance than with the older driver.

You can find the system requirements here.

Adobe recommends a minimum of a 500 MHz G3 processor to use Flash. It works with Mac OS X 10.1 and above. You will notice that there is another set of recommended requirements for HD quality playback, and there they recommend nothing short of a 1.8 GHz G5 and a video card with 64 MB of RAM.

I did test this is on a stock G4 Cube (450 MHz with ATI Rage 128 Pro), and I noticed some improvement from the Flash driver that came with Tiger. Still, I couldn't watch a YouTube video full screen, and you could tell there were a few frames dropped from time to time.

These sorts of technologies are only going to become more processor hungry over the years, which makes it another growing area where old Macs may be left behind. It is fun to try to find these workarounds though and squeeze as much performance as possible from our old Macs.

Peace,
Nathan Hill

Nathan,

Thanks for the info. I have to admit that I don't pay any attention at all to Flash technology. If something says I need a newer version, I upgrade. If not, I putter along with whatever's installed.

I'll share you email with Lonnie.

Dan

The Importance of Expandability

From Trevor Howard:

I found a good chunk of the 11 Reasons To Choose Macs over PCs quite good, if not maybe a bit "heavy handed" at times . . . I disagreed on a few things though....

#9: Eh, I point this out a lot, but no matter how much Microsoft does, a good pirate is still going to get around every measure they put in there to stop piracy; the only person all that stuff hurts is the honest consumer

#3: I still have regrets about selling both my Pismo and original Mac mini, and my PowerMac G5 is the first computer I've ever had where I almost cry when I think I might have to get rid of it, or replace it...

#2: ...however it is feeling very lethargic these days, and it's actually getting to that "I need a new computer now" point, and I'm eagerly waiting for the holy time when the MacBook Pros refresh and my wallet aligns to allow me to purchase a nice new powerhouse that can actually do what I need it to do without it feeling very sluggish (photo editing mostly - Aperture is too slow due to the crappy graphics chip, which also hurts my Leopard experience, and Lightroom uses way too much of my processor and slows to a crawl when I'm doing big batches of photos, and if I'm drawing in CS2, there is a very long lag if I'm coloring a large area)

That said, I used to upgrade my PCs far more often, and if I had spent the money for a faster G5 with a better graphics card, I'd probably not be in this situation. I doubt my G5 is going to end up like an old PC, tossed in a corner somewhere; I'm thinking I might turn it into a personal backup server in my room . . . or something.

I think the issue is back to the one about Apple having better customers because their products are more expensive. I'd probably wager that a lot of them, instead of complaining about their Mac being slow, just go and buy a new one

And also, being a fairly hard-core gamer, I have also never ever gone that absurd, I think the most I spent on a gaming rig was my last one, and it came in below the price of my G5, and that was because I needed to replace almost everything. I also sit back and am very verbal when I say, "Some games are not for consoles" and "The PC still offers the best form of input for 90% of games." Not even the Wiimote is as nice as my Razer Lachesis or a good Logitech mouse when it comes to a first person shooter, and I can't even imagine trying to play Company of Heroes with a PS3 controller....

Simply, the reason I never spent that much was that the return wasn't all that great: that high end card that $700 now will be matched or exceeded by a $250 one in a few months, or there will be a new technology shift (DX10, DX10.1) that will warrant that card being completely obsolete. You don't have to spend one grand to get a good gaming machine that will run 90% of what's out there, and anyone who spends $5,000 or so on a gaming rig really needs to have their heads examined, because it will be just as obsolete in two years as the one I spent $700 building because of a new version of Direct X or some other big hardware or architechture-related change. The big difference is that $4,300 I saved, I have still to spend $700 on another new gaming rig . . . or, more realistically, replace the parts that are really in bad need of replacing....

Anyways, that's just my 2 cents....  

Trevor,

Thanks for writing. One of the great joys of using Macs used to be their expandability. You could buy a Mac IIci, put in lots of RAM, get a much larger hard drive, add a much better video card, and even install a 68040 or PowerPC processor upgrade. In the Power Mac 7500-9600 era, you had several PCI slots and could completely replace the stock CPU. Most G4 Power Macs take a wide range of AGP video cards, support 1.5-2.0 GB of RAM, work with fast hard drives, and take CPU upgrades reaching near the 2 GHz mark.

PC users have had even more access to that, and today Apple has boxed low-end Mac users out of expandable new Macs: The only one available is the Mac Pro, and that starts at US$2,200! We keep wishing Apple would introduce something more than a mini, less than a Pro in the $400-800 range, but Apple doesn't seem to be interested in that market.

Fortunately Macs last a long, long time, and there's a great market for used Macs. All but two of my Macs have been used, refurbished, or bought at the end of their life, and I've been using Macs for 18 years now.

Dan

Annoyed by Mac Users who Bash Windows

From Joe Eager:

Hi,

I've been reading your site for awhile now. I don't own an Apple, nor do I plan on buying one, I just enjoy reading about the older Macs I used in high school. I have been getting annoyed lately by the people who write in to say how much better Mac is than Windows. I will address some of their beliefs.

#1 You have to constantly upgrade your PC.

Wrong, you do not have to. I used a Windows 98 machine from 1999-2005 without issues. And being a programmer I enjoy doing some coding at home on it. Add more RAM, and it worked fine. (Just like an older Mac)

#2 Windows constantly gets infected with virus/spyware.

Only if you have no clue about computers. Sorry, I don't run antivirus or spyware detection removal software on my computers. Why? Because I don't click on the stupid Flash ads, I don't visit adult content sites, I don't download illegal software/movies/music. And I use Internet Explorer.

#3 Windows crashes all the time.

Strange, my systems at home (and work) never seem to crash. No BSOD here.

#4 Mac's are not more expensive when you price out a similar Windows machine.

Well sure, but look at what is being said. A similar windows machine. What if I don't want a similar machine, what if I want one that is cheaper that I can upgrade however I feel like. Oh, then Mac loses. And the quality vs. cost argument is false.

#5 Mac's last longer.

Wrong, I work in a research facility, and we still have old equipment in our clean room that runs on 486s just fine.

#6 "I work in IT supporting a few hundred machines, so I know what I'm talking about" attitude.

I'm sorry: I've worked in IT supporting 100K+ machines. Thus by some people's logic my opinion is superior (though I do not believe so).

For the record, I don't hate Apple, I just think they are overpriced, and my favorite operating system is not Windows, but in fact BeOS (I still have a BeBox at home). I feel that Apple users really need to shake this "I'm better because I run Apple attitude."

Joe

Joe,

I'm jealous. I played around with BeOS a bit on a Power Mac at work a long, long time ago. Very impressive. It would be cool to have a BeBox in my computer collection, although it's vastly underpowered by today's standards. I wonder how well the x86 version of BeOS would do on a modern quad-core CPU?

We don't condone fanboyism at Low End Mac, but we can't prevent it. Some people have a religious attachment to Macs (or Linux, Windows, BeOS, OS/2, etc.) and want to paint the rest of the world as wrong and/or evil. As to your points:

1. You only need to upgrade your computer, Mac or PC, if you need more RAM, a bigger hard drive, better video, a faster CPU, a dual-layer 18x SuperDrive, more USB ports in the box, etc. A lot of users, Mac and Windows users alike, never upgrade their hardware or their operating system.

That said, there is a subclass of computer users who thrills to squeeze every iota performance out of a computer no matter the cost.

2. Windows users are constantly under attack from malware, and casual users are very likely to get infected. Savvy users know better, but for the casual user, the fact that no OS X malware has yet spread in the wild is a big advantage for the Macintosh.

3. See point 2. Malware will make Windows PCs sluggish and more prone to crashing. Antivirus software will also make them more sluggish.

4. It depends on what you're pricing. Compare a top-end custom Dell box and the Mac Pro. Apple tends to win hands down. Compare a Mac mini to any $400 Windows box, and the mini loses hands down because it has no expansion slots, no second drive bay, no graphic upgrades possible.

5. The point is that Macs tend to remain in daily use much longer than Windows PCs do. And even when they're retired from regular use, Macs tend to be set up as file servers, messaging/email terminals, computers for the grandparents or kids, etc. And they rarely end up in landfills. I think part of that is the emotional attachment Mac users have to their computers; we hate to orphan them.

6. You're right. 6 million Frenchmen can be wrong. Everyone once thought the world was flat. 10-12 years ago, almost everyone believed Apple was doomed. And hundreds of millions of Windows users think it's the only real choice. The masses can be wrong - and often are.

Dan

iSub Broken in Leopard

From Scott Caldarelli:

Hello Dan,

iSubI've enjoyed your site for a long time. I'm hoping someone in the Low End Mac world can help. I, like many others, love the iMac form. I've had a Harman/Kardon iSub since 2001 when we bought our first iMac G3. We just upgraded our G5 iMac to Leopard. While I love it, it apparently has dropped support for the iSub. I'm hoping someone has either written a driver or can point me to where to find one. I'm willing to pay a few bucks to keep this great complement to the iMac running.

Thanks for your help,
Scott Caldarelli

Scott,

Thanks for writing. I wasn't aware of this issue, but I Googled it, and the bottom line is that the iSub is not supported on Intel Macs, later Power Macs, or in Leopard. If anyone has written a driver, I can't find it. Perhaps a Mailbag reader will have a better solution than buying a new subwoofer.

Dan

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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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