Charles Moore's Mailbag

'Book Advice, Elitism and Expertise, Macally CardBus USB, and More

Charles Moore - 2002.03.20 - Tip Jar

Lombard vs. Pismo

From Tobias Buckell

I'm sorry to bother you, but I was hoping you could help me out. I just bought a Lombard 400 MHz thinking it was a Pismo 400 MHz on auction. For some reason I was under the idea that the Lombard went only up to 333 MHz.

I paid $720 for it (good condition), with the exception of a broken PC Card slot cover. It ships tomorrow.

How does the Lombard stack up to the Pismo? I own an iBook Rev A 300 MHz with 320 MB RAM. I use only OS X. I was hoping for a Pismo for added speed and the monitor out abilities (I have two large monitors at work and at home gathering dust).

Is it worth trying to sell the Lombard (I don't think I could get much more than $720 back, and I'm not sure how much a Lombard 400 with 128 MB RAM and DVD is worth used) and still go for the Pismo, or does the Lombard match up when running OS X? I'm imagining that 33 MHz bus speed jump makes more of a difference than my jumping 100 MHz in processor speed.

Slightly worried I jumped too quick...

Tobias

Hi Tobias,

I would say that you got a really good deal on the 400 MHz Lombard. You paid less than the going rate for a 333 MHz Lombard - more like what 250 MHz and 266 MHz WallStreets are going for.

I would suggest that you give the Lombard a try. My son has been running OS X on a 333 MHz Lombard since the pre-public betas, and he gets satisfactory, albeit not scintillating, performance. I would suggest bumping the RAM up to at least 256 MB - more if you can swing it.

The biggest differences between the Lombard and the Pismo are the latter's 100 MHz system bus (vs. 66 MHz), and the Pismo's FireWire support. My son uses a PC Card FireWire adapter, which works well.

Charles

500 MHz vs. 600 MHz iBooks

From Rick E.

Hello Charles,

I have a question, and I'd really appreciate your opinion. I have a G3 500 iBook with CD ROM drive that was the iBookoriginal model that came out (64 MB RAM, 66 MHz system bus, etc.). I had a free 128 MB RAM upgrade, and this seemed fine for my work in OS 9.1. My peripherals include the following: Sony Spressa CD-RW drive (USB), Zip 100 MB drive, PC Home Connect USB Web Cam, and an Epson 740 printer. All of these devices worked fine under the Classic OS but in the last month I've tried to make the transition to OS X.

In regards to performance, OS X is okay with 192 MB of RAM. I'm trying to stick with all native apps because Classic mode seems dreadfully slow and clunky. Most apps launch fine under OS X but a few are painfully slow. My Epson printer works fine along with my Iomega Zip drive, but the web cam and Sony Spressa drive are out of the picture under OS X.

I've come to a decision that most are coming to realize, upgrade some of your hardware and software or live with it. I've decided to increase my RAM by purchasing 256 MB, bringing my total to 320 MB of RAM. I thought I would also upgrade my CD-RW drive to a Fire Wire VST drive. The total cost of this should be around $ 300.

$300 doesn't seem like that much, but it's enough. For the work I do - mainly word processing and web applications - I don't need unlimited power.

My question to you is do you think that a G3 iBook with a 600 MHz processor along with an increase in bus speed to 100 MHz would make much of a difference? I thought if I got a new model with more base RAM and a DVD/CD-RW drive included, I wouldn't have to worry about compatibility. I would definitely have to sell my current iBook and Spressa drive, but I'm not sure quite what to do. A hardware upgrade (and some software) vs. a speedier G3 and a larger system bus.

I'm not really sure that the upgraded G3 (along with the system bus) really makes that much difference under OS X. I've seen some reports say that OS X is really geared toward the G4 because of the AltiVec optimization. What do you think?

Thanks for Your Advice,
Rick E.

P.S. I enjoy reading your views on anything Apple.

Hi Rick,

I think you answered your own question in the last paragraph.

IMHO, the speed bump and faster system bus of the 600 MHz iBook would not give you enough of a performance boost to make trading up worthwhile from a value perspective. As you have inferred, OS X is optimized to take advantage of the G4's AltiVec engine, and a slightly faster G3 won't make a whole lot of difference.

I would suggest upgrading your present iBook with the 256 MB RAM module and getting the VST drive if you need it to tide you over.

I'm using a 500 MHz Pismo PowerBook as an OS X platform, and while the performance isn't scintillating, it is adequate for me for now.

Apple will almost certainly be addressing the iBook speed issue within a year, likely with either a G4 version or perhaps one with IBM's "Sahara" G3 750fx, which is rumored to feature "AltiVec-like acceleration" and clock speeds of 1 GHz or more.

I would suggest that a sensible plan would be to make whatever solution Apple settles on your next system upgrade.

Just my 2¢

Charles

Elitism and Expertise

From C. Bennett

Charles Moore -

Here's the short letter I didn't have time to write before.

Bob Brattland, who teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, has a comment about tenure, arguably the highest rank of achievement for academics: Those who deserve it, he says, don't need it; those who need it don't deserve it.

- Clayton Bennett

Concise and on the money.

Charles

Indecipherable Mumblings from the Land of Fruits & Nuts

From Tom Randol

Dear CWM,

Read with interest you article(s) on the pits and stops of bringing the 9500 and subsequently the SuperMac S900 back to life. Was particularly fond of the comment about it being "to good a box to throw away."

I began my S900 project with thoughts of my old 1975 Mercedes 280s in the back of my mind. It was the long body of the 4.5 and 6.9, was mostly black, and truly looked its best from dusk 'til dawn.

I loved that car. It had been dubbed "Satan" by a lady friend of mine because of its unflagging obedience to Murphy's Law(s). I had narrowed its problems down to the poor engineering of the stock Solex Carburetor and was ready to do a rebuild when out of the blue a Holley carb modification came available. I bolted it on my vehicle at the dismantlers, just took it off the smashed Benz and "threw" in mine with no adjustments, and had no more major problems - that is until Parking Enforcement had it booted and towed. Damn! That was truly a box that was to good to be "towed" away. (I took my sound system and my Holley and sank slowly into the sunset - on the bus!)

Talk about digressing! Sorry!

The S900 I got had the motherboard and nothing else. I was later delivered a box of components that had allegedly come from the beast, but it was an odd assortment including some NuBus and the odd PC component, but there was a USB PCI card and the horror story 3D video card I had read about. There are no drives, the front face plastic has its mounting "hooks" broken off, and it doesn't look any thing like the pictures I've seen. The mother board has "Storm Surge" emblazoned on it, and the PCI/memory slot configuration match the specs of the S900.

When you spoke of the price you paid OWC contrasted with the almost forty three hundred dollar original cost, I wondered how you felt some two years later. Could you give us an update, or has the moment passed?

Thanks again for the article(s)!

TR

Hi Tom,

I enjoyed the digression. I'm inclined to lapse into car topics here occasionally myself.

The S900 is still running fine, although I don't use it much now that I have two PowerBooks on the go.

We tried installing OS X on it at Christmas using Ryan Rempel's hack, but we had no luck. The installer worked, but we got a kernel panic when we tried to boot into OS X. Just an exercise anyway. I doubt that OS X performance would have been up to much on a 200 MHz 604e.

The thing is such a mongrel, that it didn't surprise me that OS X balked.

However, it works well under OS 9, and with a G3 or G4 upgrade and a decent video card, it would be a useful computer I think. I just like my PowerBooks better.

Charles

Yoon's Father

From MD

Hi, Charles,

I would unfortunately have to say that Yoon's father's passion for healthcare far outshines that of almost every doctor I've known in my life. Compassion must be to medicine what talent is to art.

Having multiple sclerosis, which was in their arrogant language called "incurable," my mother found no such compassion from the self-interested, callous, and even cruel healthcare experts at the hospital. I have immense anger toward them. Because of their attitudes, not their inability to help, I consider them to be the "untalented" of medicine.

At the HMO on our plan, they routinely write prescriptions for antibiotics to patients with colds. So, in valuing antibiotics as a panacea, the consumer isn't totally to blame. It's been my observation that the average person's misinformation is no longer dominated by inherited superstition, but by the manipulative and misleading information distributed by commercial and government interests. Advertising is almost nothing but half-truths and omissions, and, unfortunately, often becomes the basis of a person's "knowledge" about a given subject.

-MD

Hi MD,

Sorry to hear about your Mom. MS is a horrible affliction. I have several friends who are sufferers.

And I agree with you about the attitude of many medical establishmentarians being much more infuriating than their inability to help with certain illnesses (mine, for instance).

"We don't know about that," is an honest admission. "We are not interested in finding out more about that," is maddening cognitive dissonance.

If I were a physician, I would be curious, just as a matter of inquisitiveness, about treatments that fall outside the sacrosanct "Medical Model" that have strong anecdotal support and which are apparently less harmful than many conventional drug therapies.

Charles

Macally CardBus USB

From Saro Tribastone

Hi, I read your article </1996/umax-supermac-j700//misc/991129.shtml#4>.

My card works simply selecting no cycling of the processor in the energy saving panel in control panels.

Anyway I can't print from Acrobat Reader

I read this in a Web site about this card found trough MacFixIt

Continue the good work

Saro from Sicily

More on Professionalism

From George

Hello,

I have a counter-argument, not because I disagree, but because of a rare case of incompetence coming from a rare (in Canada) unregulated sector. This pertains to a soaring club where the leadership aged so advancedly that they started to make up the rules as they went along. Blathering on about mandates this and mandates that, they ended up in a hopeless situation. Older members felt themselves more and more out of the loop, replacements for key positions were rushed in but inadequately prepared and started blundering about. Meanwhile, insurance rates started climbing. Membership rates had to be increased across the board. The safety officer quit on a moment's notice (not a very "safe" thing to do - two weeks notice would have been a morally sound thing to do). Fleet management became an oxymoron - ships were being damaged and/or destroyed at an alarming rate.

It's one thing to sit at your favourite desktop (laptop doesn't have the same ring to it) and hurl criticism at the world. I do cry for your high-schooler who says she is getting "dumb and dumber." I remember the Ontario Teacher's union linking the name of Preston Manning to Hitlerism. Based on their teaching levels and aptitudes, this is probably an accurate statement!

Let's not get caught up in generalisms and platitudes. I was (and probably still am) an inveterate critic (i.e., too lazy to write). Now I have little or no excuse not to write - having a soft-touch Mac keyboard (a hacker buddy calls it "Saratoga"), a variety of Macs to use. I pray it's not too late.

George (Montreal)

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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