The Low End Mac Mailbag

Replacing Home Page, Compact Flash in Lombard, Leopard Hardware Requirements, mini Upgrades, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.10.04

With today's mailbag, we're caught up on what we received through Tuesday. These are the emails that don't specifically deal with video or Pages. We've got a lot of emails to dig through about yesterday's Disadvantage Mac.... dk - Tip Jar

Any Luck Replacing Claris Home Page?

From Frank Mellot:

Back in 2003 Dan Knight wrote an article for his Mac Musings column entitled Claris Home Page 3.0: Still Irreplaceable?, and I'm wondering if in the ensuing four years he has been able to find a suitable replacement. I was a satisfied Home Page user for years, but I just replaced my old G3, and of course Home Page will not run on the new Mac OS X (v. 10.4.10). I'm looking for software that has the same WYSIWYG ease of use, but hopefully without the hefty price tag of DreamWorks. Any help would be most appreciated.

Thanks,
Frank

Frank,

The short answer to your question is that I'm typing this in Claris Home Page, the same tool I've been using for the entire life of Low End Mac. It runs just fine on my Power Mac G4 using Classic Mode in OS X 10.4, and it also works on my MacBook Pro using SheepShaver, although I don't find that to be a particularly useful way of running it.

The closest I've come to replacing Home Page is KompoZer, an improved version of Nvu, which itself is based on the Mozilla version of the ancient Netscape Composer. KompoZer is at version 0.7.10, is available for virtually every computing platform, and is more like Home Page than any program I've tried to date. It still has some idiosyncrasies, so I use it more for editing existing pages than for writing and editing new ones, but it's quite a nice tool. Best of all, the developers have long-term plans to make it even better, so it may eventually rival Home Page in all areas.

Dan

Problem Using Compact Flash as a Hard Drive

From Jacob Wertzberger on Using Compact Flash to Replace a Hard Drive:

Hello,

I just bought a working Lombard off eBay, a 266x Adata turbo CF card (same card as the gentleman who wrote to you with the Pismo success story), and a 44-pin to CF adapter. I have the retail OS 9 CD and a known working PowerBook CD drive. However, no matter what I do or what keys I hold down during startup, the computer refuses to boot from CD while the CF card is installed.

Without the CF card, the computer boots fine. With it in, I get a folder/Finder icon that switches back and forth, followed by a CD spinning noise and a flashing '?' disk icon. Outside of the internal adapter, the only other connection I have to either the laptop or my G4 iMac is through a USB to compact flash adapter. I've tried erasing the CF card and formatting it as Mac OS original and as journaled-extended. I tried installing OS 9 onto the CF card directly (a clean install) using the USB adapter connected to my laptop and to my iMac. I need advice! :-) Anything you can think of would be much appreciated. Again my resources are:

  • iMac G4 with 10.4.10
  • Lombard 333 MHz with either 9.2.2 or '?'
  • Compact flash to USB 1.1 adapter
  • Retail OS 9 CD that has been tried many times.

Every time I 'verify' the card using Disk First Aid, it passes.

Thank you for your time and help! Have a great week and love the site!

Sincerely,
Jacob Wertzberger

Jacob,

You've got me scratching my head over this one. I'm no expert on Lombards, but I wonder if perhaps both the CD drive and the CD adapter are set to the slave or master setting. Assuming the Lombard has a single IDE/ATA drive bus, one would have to be master and the other slave, so try changing the setting on the CF adapter to the opposite of where it's currently set.

Another thing to try would be formatting the CF card in the USB-to-CF adapter with your Lombard booted into Mac OS 9. Although it would be slow, it should be possible to install OS 9 on the CF card in the adapter.

Dan

Great news!

I was able to get another Lombard off of eBay and exchange the Adata card for a SanDisk Extreme III. The setup works perfectly! The new Lombard runs 10.2.8 completely silent and plenty fast, using 384 MB RAM. I was able to install the bare operating system, essential updates, and AppleWorks in just over 1 gig of space.

The machine runs faster and now has just over 7 hours of battery life when using both bays. I previously had OS 9 tell me that I was getting 4.5 hours when the hard drive was installed. After spending many frustrating hours on the original machine, I determined that its faulty behavior came from having no L2 cache. My theory with the Adata card is that it may have to be formatted in FireWire Target Disk Mode or in a PC Card adapter only. I thank you for your help, though.

Once again, I love the site! Have a great week!

Sincerely,
Jake

Jake,

Congratulations on getting things working - and the incredible battery life you're now experiencing.

Dan

Leopard Harware Requirements

From Lee Jackson:

I wanted to let you know i really enjoy your website. I am a new Mac user and want to purchase a used Mac that is capable of running of Leopard. I know the actual system requirements have not been released yet, but some rumors that i have read indicate that it might not work with a processor below 867 MHz. I have been shopping on eBay, and now have found some good links for used Macs through your website. I noticed on your website that you said that Leopard should run on all G4s. I have seen several of the dual 533 MHz, which would be 1066 MHz actually, so you think Leopard will run on a dual 500 or 533?

Thanks again for all your hard work on the website, and great links.

Lee

Lee,

Apple hasn't released official system requirements for Leopard, nor do I have access to developer builds. As Mac OS X 10.5 has been developing, Apple has been upping the hardware requirements for the developer preview, so what we wrote several months ago may not be true of the final release version.

There's a lot more to setting minimum hardware requirements than CPU speed, RAM, and hard drive space. Leopard will make extensive use of Core Image technology, which requires a G4 CPU and works best with a modern, high performance AGP or later video card. (Apple lists ATI Mobility Radeon 9700, Radeon 9550, Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5200, GeForce 6800, and later as supported.)

Without a GPU that can take over Core Image duties, the G4 CPU will be heavily taxed to create the visuals used in Leopard. Apple wants to make sure that the Macs that meet the hardware requirements for Leopard are going to perform decently, and factors involved in that determination include CPU speed, memory bandwidth, what level of AGP video is supported, the graphics processor, the amount of video memory, and the hard drive data bus.

It is very likely that Leopard will be able to run on Macs slower than 800 or 867 MHz, but Apple's installer may prevent it. At this point, it looks like Core Image may so tax the CPU when a supported graphics processor isn't present that it just won't run well on anything slower.

Will a second processor help? Probably, but it's unlikely that a pair of 533 MHz G4s will offer equivalent performance to a 1066 GHz G4. Because of system overhead, caches, and memory coherence issues, a dual 533 MHz Power Mac G4 will probably provide equivalent performance to an 800-867 MHz single processor Power Mac G4.

We'll know a lot more later this month. I don't intend to upgrade to Leopard for some time, as Tiger runs very nicely on my Power Mac G4/1 GHz dual - and Leopard apparently won't support Classic Mode, which I depend on. When I do migrate to Leopard, I'll probably want to replace the Radeon 9000 graphics in that computer with a supported video card, which will further increase the cost of the upgrade.

I hope to have more to say about this in the near future when I look at the future of various G4 Macs in the Age of Leopard.

Dan

Mac mini Upgrade Problems

From Arthur Mickel:

I wrote you a few months ago with questions about the max memory for the mini and outlined my plans for upgrading my mini Solo.

Well, money and the will to do so have come together but - , the mini starts but no video, no response to after upgrading my mini Solo to a 2.33 Core 2 Duo with 3 gigs of RAM and a Hitachi 7200 RPM 200 gig hard drive.

I forgot I was using an Apple Bluetooth keyboard with it, and although the computer starts up, I'm getting no video, much less any other kind of response.

I'd planned to load the contents of the hard drive I removed via a FireWire external drive but no response.

I tried using the Restore Disc - still nothing.

I'm sure there's something basic I've done wrong but have no idea.

When I upgraded my MacBook with a larger drive, I started it from the original in a FireWire external HD - no problems.

Help

Arthur Mickel

Arthur,

One of the most important rules of upgrading is to do just one thing at a time. Putting in a new CPU, new memory, and a new hard drive all at once makes it that much harder to determine where the problem is.

I'd suggest you put in the original hard drive and memory, then see if it will boot. If so, you know the CPU is not the problem. Next put the new Hitachi drive in the external enclosure and "clone" your older hard drive to is using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner (both free for this). Then transplant the hard drive.

It should boot from the new drive, and if so, it's time to test memory. Somewhere along the way, you should be able to determine which component is causing the problem.

Dan

Thanks for the suggestions. The reason for the total upgrade was to avoid cracking that mini case multiple times. So, I'm back to square one - keep your fingers crossed and I'll let you know how I fare.

Art Mickel

Art later followed up with this email:

The problem is that the mini I have won't operate with 3 gigs of RAM! After removing the one gig module, everything worked great. So I have two gigs of RAM, a 2.33 Core 2 Duo processor, and a 200 gig hard drive.

I haven't had time to check with OWC yet about the RAM (their website shows 3 gigs max for minis) if maybe the original 1.5 GHz Solo won't handle 3 gigs.

Haven't had a chance to use the mini yet, as I'm in the process of moving my office, but soon....

Thanks again for the suggestions.

Art Mickel

Art,

Thanks for sharing your findings. To the best of my knowledge, the motherboard in the Intel Mac mini hasn't changed, but perhaps there's something in the ROMs of pre-Core 2 minis that prevents them from working with more than 2 GB of RAM. I'm sure others will benefit from your experience, as I'll be sure to note this on our Mac mini profiles.

I just checked the OWC site, and they specify that the 3 GB upgrade is only for Core 2 models. I suspect they may not have tried in a Core 2-upgraded mini. I'll be sure to pass along your findings.

Dan

'Old' Computers in School Systems

From John Hatchett:

There have been a couple of columns in Low End Mac about the lamented disposal of older computers in favor of the latest and greatest. I would like to present the other side of the equation. I don't mean to defend the bureaucratic approach now being used to make decisions in our school system, but I would like to point out the issues involved with supporting older equipment on a school network.

  1. I supervise two labs - One has eMacs running OS X Tiger. Using Apple Remote Desktop, I can (remotely) turn them on or off, put them to sleep, sign in one of our testing programs, use System Restore and other network resources to maintain these computers from my computer or one of the IT personnel's computers. Easy-peasy. I can also monitor all of the OS X machines, take pictures of the inappropriate websites that teenagers are drawn to like moths to a flame, and "fix" the issues that always occur when adolescents operate fine machinery.
  2. The second lab has computers running three different operating systems. I do have some eMacs, iMacs, and B&W towers running OS X. However, I have 15 old Power Macs running OS 9.2 or 9.1. Then there are the Windows machines running Windows 2000. I can use ARD to look at the OS X machines, but we'll have to use a VNC to monitor the Windows machines. The OS 9 machines could use ARD for System 9, but that means I have to have an OS 9 machine on my (already crowded) desk. This also means that anyone operating this lab has to be able to troubleshoot in all three operating systems.
  3. On our network system, our IT director would like to get rid of Macintosh Manager. This means that we will phase out all machines that can't run OS X. I know there are many who use "Classic" OS 9 machines without any problems, but I've forgotten what I used to know about OS 9 (when I switched to OS X, I didn't look back) and the Power Macs have teeny, tiny hard drives, no ability to upgrade to OS X, and they are getting cranky and prone to issues.
  4. The biggest questions that should be answered is why are school systems buying computers? Most businesses lease equipment. This means that they can constantly lease the latest equipment, and the "old" equipment does not have to be disposed of (by the school system). The field of computer technology is so fluid that, in order to take advantage of new software and hardware, you can't be using 15 year old equipment.

In spite of what I have written, in some cases, old technology (or rather limited technology) has it's place in education.

  1. Have you ever seen what a crew of teenagers can do to a computer lab? Anything that can broken off a computer, will be. DVD/CD-ROM drive doors are broken on a regular basis, and if I have to remove another Nazi swastika.... If I had it all to do over again, I would buy the smoothest monitors I could find and use a central mini mainframe. I wouldn't even want display controls, since "idle hands are the devil's workshop".
  2. Remember the old eMate 300? Another Apple idea ahead of its time. If we are going to let students use laptops, they should be limited in terms of the abilities they have. If you want a student to write, don't give them a computer that can surf the Internet or has chess on it - or has a bunch of apps they can "explore". You need a laptop that lets them word process and little more. Many students need to "research" on the Internet, but a good bit of that research is involved in playing flash games, trying to circumvent "Sonicwall" to visit websites with naked people on them, or trying to hack into one of our servers. We should use simple machines for simple lessons.

I have the usual American distaste for throwing things away, but sometimes things outlive their usefulness. No reason they can't be recycled to folks who can't afford computers, but time does march on.

John,

About five years ago we had a garage sale and sold 14 (or so) LC 630 systems: computer, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and power cable. These circa 1994 computers were almost exclusively purchased by teachers so they could have something in the classroom that students could learn keyboarding and word processing on. Most of all, something the school didn't own and thus would not remove from their classrooms because they were "obsolete".

As a former IT guy (I supported 80-some Macs in three locations, all running System 7.5.5 as long as possible and Mac OS 8.1 when we needed a more modern OS), so I understand the headaches of supporting multiple platforms. I'm positively rusty on Mac OS 7.5-9.2 except for using Classic mode on my Power Mac G4.

I don't think any of our writers were suggesting computer labs with a wide range of operating systems, and Apple has been very good about producing operating systems that support years and years worth of hardware. For a computer lab, it's best to have as much consistency as possible. That also keeps the students from fighting over the "best" computer.

I think that the real potential of these articles would be for schools to either start loan programs that provide older but still working computers to students who don't have a computer at home or getting them out of storage by either giving them away or selling them (to students and their families first) at very low prices.

It's criminal to have these computers gathering dust when someone, somewhere could make some use of them.

Dan

Beware Crucial RAM Rebates

From Scott Cook:

I have another important tip. Don't buy RAM with a rebate, even if the rebate is half the purchase price of the RAM. I just called to see where my $40 rebate is from the $80 Crucial RAM I purchased from Tiger Direct. The rebate center told me my rebate had been declined because there was no application in the envelope, which isn't true. I have a copy of the application here. Of course they didn't tell me my rebate had been declined, so I kept waiting for it. Now it is past the due date for the application, and they won't give me my rebate. I am writing angry letters to Crucial and Tiger Direct. This is the second time I have been taken on RAM rebates. (sigh)

Scott Cook

Scott,

Thanks for sharing your warning. I make it a policy to never buy anything based on "after rebate" pricing unless it has an instant rebate. While rebates can make for awesome deals, the number of times a rebate doesn't come through means you can't count on actually getting the money.

Dan

Free Imposition Software

From Paul Durrant:

Hi Dan

I've remembered that there is a freeware application/print enhancement that does just what you need.

It's called CocoaBooklet.

I did use it before I got PDFClerk (which does lots more, including combining PDFs and re-ording pages easily).

CocoaBooklet not only works really well as a stand-alone application for turning a PDF document into a document with imposed pages, but it can also be invoked automatically from the Print dialog - one step to an imposed pages PDF.

regards,
Paul

Paul,

Thanks for the tip. I'll have to try it the next time I have a project like this!

Dan

A Lost Imposition Option

From Tod Fitch:

I don't know squat about Pages, but I did need to generate booklets on OSX using inDesign. Older versions of inDesign came with a tool for that but Adobe in their infinite wisdom appears to think that is not neccessary now. Anyway, I found an application called makebooklet written by Fabien Conus that I put in my ~/Library/PDF Services/ directory. With it one of the options on the PDF portion of the print dialog box is to make a booklet when you print.

Doing a Google search, I don't see that exact application any more but I do see the newer version from the same author called CocoaBooklet.

Use the word "imposition" in your Google search if/when you are looking for alternatives to this program.

Tod,

Thanks for writing. I'll be sure to give CocoaBooklet a try with my next booklet project. All the other imposition software I've run across (not counting PDFClerk) seems to be specifically designed for Quark XPress or InDesign.

Dan

Dead LC 520

From Steve:

Hi,

My LC 520 finally completely bombed out. Now, when it's turned on, it just displayed a flashing "?" at the center of a gray screen and nothing else.

I want to start up the LC again, if I can, by reinstalling the system software, but I no longer have all the system software needed, except the "Install Me First" encased CD. I also don't know how many floppies or CDs comprise the Apple supplied "system software" for LC 520. Can you help with my problem?

Regards,
Steve

Steve,

The CD should have everything you need. Back when the LC 520 first shipped, the whole Mac OS install set was four 1.4 MB floppies, if I recall correctly - and a CD stores about as much as 450 floppies. If that doesn't work, Apple makes System 7.5.3 (plus an update to 7.5.5) freely available on its website.

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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