The Low End Mac Mailbag

Outliners for Word Processing, Mac Compatible WiFi Cards, iWork Disappoints, and More

Dan Knight - 2008.04.03 - Tip Jar

Outliners as Lean Word Processors

From Sean M. Kelly:

Dan,

I enjoy the discussion of lean word processors and just wanted to chime in my experience. I use a Mac Classic running OS 6, occasionally a Macintosh TV, as well as a beige G3 Power Mac for writing and "thinking" without the distractions and "bling" of my MacBook Pro.

The program that I have most fell in love with is MORE 3.1. While technically it would be more described as an outliner as opposed to a word processor, it is lean, very easy to use, and my MORE documents are easily opened with OmniOutliner (though not backwards compatible). Before MORE, I had used the extremely simple Acta with enjoyment. Both are available for free download and both work on OS 6-9.

Thanks for the link to WriteNow 4. I'll check it out too!

Training to make a difference in 2008,
Sean M. Kelly

Sean,

Wow, that brings back memories. I remember using MORE for a statewide Apple sales competition over 15 years ago. I don't remember much about it, other than it was easy to use and I won a Sharp BOSS organizer for taking second place (and I never did figure that thing out!).

I do most of my writing in Claris Home Page, which could also be considered a light, lean word processor - but it creates HTML files, not Word or AppleWorks files. I often wish for a WYSIWYG HTML editor that would let me collapse the text between headings, as that would be a very helpful feature when working with long articles.

Long live old Macs (and old Mac software)!

Dan

Mac Compatible PCMCIA WiFi Cards

From Gerald Wilson:

Dear Dan,

I've verified on both Pismo and Lombard that, running Panther fully patched, each PowerBook can connect easily over WiFi using a third-party CardBus card which has the same Broadcom 54g chipset internals as are found in Apple's own AirPort Extreme internal cards.

The PowerBook identifies the card as "AirPort". It treats it as if it were (say) the internal AirPort Extreme card in a later model G4 PowerBook. You configure and connect as normal. You have full WiFi capability including WPA2; hence you can connect to a fully controlled corporate network with highest-level encryption if need be.

An example of such a card is the Dell TrueMobile 1300. Oh bitter irony.

With the Pismo's own internal AirPort card (Apple original AirPort card), you can connect to highly-secured WiFi networks, albeit at 11b not 11g but only with WPA not full WPA2. WPA2 mandates the sophisticated AES encryption standard. WPA uses the lesser (though still secure) TKIP algorithm. The classic Orinoco chipset of Apple's original AirPort card is too feeble to handle AES. This means that a Pismo with Apple internal AirPort is locked out of any WiFi network using highest-level encryption. Likewise, an early model G4 Titanium PowerBook would be locked out. Likewise any pre-AirPort Extreme iceBook. The Pismo and TiBook can use a third-party CardBus card to gain 11g and WPA2/AES access. The iceBooks, lacking a slot, cannot.

Sympathetic admins can leave a secure WiFi running in "mixed node", which will accept both WPA and WPA2 connections from clients. Unsympathetic admins may not do this, especially where corporate or government standards mandate use of AES. Both Apple's AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express Base Stations can run in WPA/WPA2 mixed mode.

In theory, an external Orinoco PC-card will have the same WPA limitation as an Apple internal AirPort card. I have not checked this.

In theory, the same limitations and capabilities will apply to Orinoco or Broadcom chipped devices connected to Macs by other means (such as USB or internal PCI slot). I haven't checked this either.

It's known that WPA capability ain't found in Mac AirPort drivers pre late-Jaguar. In essence: If you need to connect to a highly-secure WiFi network, Panther should be considered your minimum OS. OS 8.6 and OS 9 users need not apply. I have verified that neither my Lombard nor Pismo, when booted in 9.2.2, can talk to a WPA WiFi network no matter what card I try to use. So that's a tough one for Classic Mac users.

rgds,
Gerald WW

Gerald,

Thanks for all your research. I'm under the impression that the 802.11b standard itself doesn't support WPA2, but I could be mistaken.

I'm of the mind that the best course is probably two WiFi hubs rather than mixing 802.11b and 802.11g/n on one. Use the newer, faster hub with WPA2 encryption and run the 802.11b hub from one of its ethernet ports with "plain" WPA. That keeps your 802.11g/n hardware running at maximum efficiency and restricts 802.11b users to a slower, less secure WiFi connection. You might even put further restrictions on the 802.11b router, such as blocking certain ports.

Fortunately there are plenty of 802.11g/n USB dongles and CardBus cards for those who want to make older Macs work with faster, more secure networks.

Dan

Disappointed with iWork

From Bob Forsberg:

Dan

I noticed your comments on AppleWorks being all you really need. I have the same feeling and used it in its various Apple/Claris Works versions since it came out.

I invested in iWork, a great suite. Until I discovered I cannot import/convert my years of AppleWorks drawing or text/word documents. A waste of money and useless to me now. I just expected and assumed Pages would import my AppleWorks documents.

Bob Forsberg

Bob,

Pages and Numbers can't open your AppleWorks files by double-clicking them or dragging them onto the appropriate icon, but once you're in these programs, you can import your old AppleWorks files. It worked very nicely for me, and considering the problems I've been having with AppleWorks for months now (it sometimes, but by no means always, takes text input very, very, very slowly - like seconds between registering keys), it might be time to invest in iWork 08.

Dan

Maxed Out Digital Audio Running Leopard

From Paul Pollock:

Because I have arrived at the conclusion that PowerBooks are very sensitive to overheating under 10.5.x (already blew up my PB G4/1.5 GHz, and is overheating my G4 iBook), I decided to stick with PPC and bought a G4 Digital Audio on eBay for $77!!! I then upgraded it the max (that was my plan <grin>).

Presently, this system includes a 4-port USB 2.0 card, an ATI-9800 Pro video card (I ran into dropped frames with the stock Rage Pro-128/16 MB card).

The bigger video card has fixed DVD Player and VLC (and everything else that is video related). However, it does not work under OS 9 at all (creates a grey screen for some reason, but kill extensions and the thing works, I tried to figure what was conflicted, no soap), so OS X only for the present.

System also now includes 1.5 GB memory, 2 Seagate 250 GB Barracudas (with 16 MB caches), and an Acard RAID card. Now also has a dual processor 1.6 GHz. Geekbench score is around 1200 (My PB 1.5 GHz was around 800). Xbench equally impressive, 107-MB/sec on drive test.

I would have liked to try a G5, but requires additional modules in the OS to run properly. Could not just clone from an existing backup, but G5 would have been a lot faster.

Hope this info is helpful.

-Paul Pollock

Paul,

Thanks for your report. There's a lot of life in those old G4 Power Macs, especially with a better video card, lots of RAM, and fast hard drives. I still use one daily, although going Intel is increasingly tempting for some things (video, geni.com).

Dan

Clamshell iBook Hacks for Fun and Nonprofit

Dan

I am the proud owner of a new to me 466 MHz key lime iBook G3, which was given to me in exchange for a couple spays and neuters (I'm a vet work at a nonprofit in Ohio). I had a graphite 466 way back in school and have always regretted parting ways with it (I upgraded to a Titanium G4, then 12 inch G4, which saw me through school admirably). I popped some more RAM (to 576 MB) and Panther, and was off.

Overall I was pretty happy with the performance, but got lots of spinning beachballs, and the 800 x 600 display was very limiting, as many others have noted. Since I got this mostly to play with, I decided to try ShapeShifter out. I downloaded a few themes and was extremely surprised to find that the overall performance of the machine seemed to improve with certain themes, most notably Max Lumberg's XP theme (luna). Far less spinning beachballs, windows seem snappier, etc.

I also downloaded a few web browsers to see which one worked best with an old clamshell, and I'm by far the happiest with Opera - particularly since you can zoom web pages to any percent you want (90, 80, 70, etc.). At 90% with minimum font size set to 10, it's almost like I have a 1024 x 768 screen resolution, albeit only in the web browser. Firefox doesn't support page zoom at the moment, version 3 (still in beta) will, but it requires Tiger. I couldn't find any Firefox Mac add-ons that support page zoom; if your readers know of any, or other browsers that support page zoom, I'd love to hear from them. I'd also be curious to hear if anyone else has seem performance improvements with ShapeShifter. Perhaps some of themes are less resource intensive than Panther's brushed metal, which frankly is ugly anyway.

Keep up the great work at Low End,
David Maloney DVM

David,

Thanks for writing. I haven't used Opera very much, but if you have a mouse with a scrollwheel, you can hold down the Cmd key and scroll the wheel to zoom in and out. As so many websites these days assume you have a 1024 x 768 or larger display, I imagine that's very useful with your clamshell iBook.

I'm pleased that you've found a way to make Panther more responsive on your older Mac. I haven't tried ShapeShifter myself, but I can see where different themes could really improve the speed of the interface on G3 Macs.

Dan

Lombard and External Widescreen Monitors

From Gerald Wilson following up on More Pismo Resolutions with an External Monitor:

Dear Dan,

I repeated the connection test of widescreen Dell 2007WFP but from a Lombard.

Lombard very limited: only 640 x 480, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1280 x 960 and 1280 x 1024. All of these naturally stretched and somewhat distorted on 1680 x 1050 native widescreen.

This is a clear win for the Pismo, which I had not anticipated. I think you or Charles Moore have discovered that Pismo's graphics is via AGP in any case.

I'll try to get data from an iceBook (with screen spanning enabled), and I may be able to test also with a 24" jumbo widescreen (native 1920 x 1200).

rgds
Gerald WW

Gerald,

Thanks for sharing your findings. All things considered, the Pismo is definitely the way to go if you're looking for a flexible G3 PowerBook.

Dan

Collective Nouns

Hi Dan,

Hooray for John Black!

I agree with him completely, Apple as a company should be treated as singular (and I'm from England). The singular usage would be common in England, I'm sure, though some would use the plural. When some collective nouns (e.g. government, team, audience) are used (by some people) as plural, one can imagine the word 'members' as a skipped or missing word. So if one says 'the audience were', this is equivalent to the longer form 'the audience members were'.

I read your link on the subject, but here's another which says that it is perfectly acceptable to treat any collective noun as singular (all over the world). Many collective nouns are always be treated as singular (e.g. 'the bunch of grapes was given to me', would anyone write 'were given'?). It is not sensible to think of any corporate entity as a collection of approximately equal members, all with 'input' to any action or decision or policy; in this sense a corporation is different from an audience, or team, or government.

Very good site, keep up the good work.

David Lye (Toronto)

David,

As a one-time English major, I cringe when I read "Apple are" in a headline or in a reader comment on The Register - and that happens pretty much daily. Educated in the States, I learned that collective nouns are always treated as singular things, and in my writing and editing, I try to refer to Apple as "it" rather than "they" - but I'm sure I'm not completely consistent on that one.

I wouldn't object at all to the worldwide discontinuation of treating a collective noun as plural, but until it's banned by some English language standards body (as though such a thing exists!), I'm not going to prevent my readers and writers from using plural verbs with collective nouns.

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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