Charles Moore's Mailbag

WordPerfect Questions, Logitech Cordless Mouse Problems,Flirting with Retro PowerBooks, and More

Charles Moore - 2002.12.09 -Tip Jar

Questions about Free Download of WordPerfect

From Nancy Egner

Dear Mr. Moore,

My college student son is asking (for X-Mass) for word processingsoftware for his Mac iBook (OS X) that has spell and grammarcheck. Will the free download of WordPerfect 3.5 work withOS X?

Nancy Egner

Hi Nancy,

Unless you have a lot of WordPerfect documents oranother compelling reason to use WordPerfect, I would not consider itan ideal choice as a Mac word processor these days.

WordPerfect 3.5 should run okay in Classic Mode inOS X, but there has been no development done on this applicationsince 1997, and it is essentially obsolete. On the other hand, it costsnothing to download from one of the sites I linked to.

I would suggest that a better choice for a wordprocessor with grammar checker would be Nisus Writer, which isunder active development with an OS X version coming in the newyear. In the meantime, Nisus Writer 6.5 runs well in OS X Classicmode, and I'm guessing that there will be an inexpensive upgradepath to the OS X version for people who buy version 6.5 betweennow and the OS X version release.

Charles

Logitech Cordless Mouse and More for Mr.Moore

From Niels Vølund

I've had some problems with my Logitech cordless mouse. I bought iton sale and kind of expected it to be a monster, as most of the USBthings I've added to my Umax S900and 8200/8500 has been unstable from timeto time. The mouse was no exception. After trying various drivers, themouse came with a CD and a driver way under the current driver number,and it would lock up after 10 minutes of use.

The scroll wheel didn't work, either, but after fiddling around,trashing various preference files, and reinstalling USB update 1.4.1,it seemed to work acceptably. It would stop working after an hour orso, but nothing a restart couldn't cure.

Last week I gave my 8500 (which is the Mac with the USB card rightnow, also my print server) the monthly cure of fresh copies of System,Finder and system resources, plus trashing preference files (MacTCPDNR, Apple menu, ASLM, Finder Expansion manager, Mac OS preferences,generelt (don't know the name in English), and TSM.

After a restart the mouse worked great a week, scroll worked all thetime, and I was quite pleased with myself - until today when I foundthat Virtual Memory was turned on. I'd forgotten to turn it off when Itrashed Mac OS prefs, so I turned it off - and the mouse didn't work,or it did, but the control panel didn't recognize it, and scrolling wasdone by clicking, not turning the scroll wheel.

I trashed the Mac OS pref again, but before restart I turned VirtualMemory off, first restart the mouse didn't work properly, second itdid.

Thought this might be of interest to other people, as I read on thepackage that some millions of these cordless wonders are sold, andother Mac users, on OS 9.1 like me, would be using them too.

Sorry to hear bout your trouble with the phone company and ISP, butI guess you have a far better view from your window than you would havein a city with ADSL and all.

I have a question. I consider trying the 9.2.1 upgrade on myunsupported S900 and 8500, only I seem to remember reading about sometrouble with the firmware (ROM) upgrade not allowing the user to goback to OS 9.1 should that be preferable after the upgrade. Can youconfirm my suspicion ??

Thank you for a very good column !

Niels Vølund
Musician
Denmark

Hi Niels,

It's just a thought, but I'm wondering whether yourUSB troubles might not be related to the USB PCI card you're using. Imention this because a friend of mine with a Power Mac 6500 had horriblestability and peripheral support problems with a Sonnet combinationUSB/FireWire PCI card in his machine. I suggested that he try anotherbrand and type of USB card, and when he installed a relatively cheapBelkin unit, all of the problems he had been having disappeared andhave not returned.

I have a Macally PCI USB adapter card in my S900, andit has worked flawlessly in both OS 9.0 and 9.1.

I don't really see much advantage to upgrading to 9.2unless you are using it for Classic Mode in OS X. I have both OS9.1 and OS 9.2.2 installed on separate partitions on my Pismo PowerBook hard drive andhave had no problems. However, I'm quite happy with the performance ofOS 9.1 on the S900.

Charles

Re: Logitech Mouse

Hi Charles

It could be the card, there seems to be a difference between the twoports, the left one works okay, but the right one gives trouble. One ofmy Mac friends in DK suggested I try cleaning the cable and the portwith some tape head cleaner, as I have used reel to reel machines a lotI have a very good product called Caltron that I am going to try later.If that doesn't do the trick, I might try another card - they sellpretty cheap in dk

I take your not mentioning the ROM trouble I suggested as that it isnonexisting, so maybe I'll give it a go sometime. The guy who makes thepatch for installing 9.2 on unsupported machines says the network andFinder are far better than in 9.1, but as I read your mail it is not sosignificant. I guess it depends on who one asks, as is often the case.One guy might feel quite comfortable with a "fast" upgraded S900, andanother will cry out for more speed in his G4 1.1 GHz DP. If itworks for me, then its okay.

Greetings
Niels

Hi again Neils,

Re: the ROM issue, I have never heard of it, but can'tsay categorically that it is a myth.

I find any difference in performance between OS 9.1and 9.2 on my Pismo negligible.

Charles

Flirting with Retro PowerBooks

From Bernard Blander

Dear Charles,

I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Just two days ago, I happenedupon someone at a cafe who had a PowerBook 1400. PowerBook 1400I had never seen one before, and found it verybeautiful. Its owner was kind enough to give me a guided tour of themachine. I thought the transparent cover for mounting wallpaper verycharming.

I just happen to be interested in procuring a Mac portable. I likethe current iBook, but my budget won't allow it. I currently use aPerforma 5200 (75 MHz/64MB/1 GB), and despite it's all-in-one design I still find it'sform factor bulky. It has served me well, but I'd like to switch to aportable Mac - something I can put away in a drawer or take with me onan outing. Based on some research I have done, I think that a PB 1400or PB 3400 would meet or exceedmy needs - and probably perform better than the 5200. I also think theywould be in line with my small budget.

Thing is, how do you find good ones that have been well taken careof on the inside as well as on the outside. Cosmetics as well asfunctionality are important to me. Cracks, scratches, bad scuff marks,broken latches or hinges, and manifestations of other forms of lessthan gingerly treatment turn me off. So how do go about finding one ofthese machines? Of course, I took a look at offerings on eBay, but found 1400s in mint condition scarce. Any tips?

Also, the 3400 has built in ethernet, which I need for DSL, but the1400 doesn't. Is there a PC card for the 1400 for ethernetfunctionality. Which PowerBook would you recommend, the 1400 or the3400? I know the 1400 - unlike the 3400 - is G3 upgradable, but I wouldonly do that if it made economic sense. How much should I be preparedto spend while keeping in mind that these machines and their underlyingtechnology are already quite old and. I'm thinking $200 to $250 (USdollars) as a budget.

Thanks for your thoughts,
B2

Hi B2,

Used PowerBooks are where you find them and varywidely in condition. I would suggest that the individual price andcondition of the machine may be more important to consider than themodel in the context of your question.

Both are nice computers. I prefer the form factor andkeyboard of the PowerBook 1400, but the 3400 is a substantially betterperformer - the difference is a lot more than the nominal clock speeddifference would indicate. The 3400 has a faster system bus and is aPCI-based machine, while the 1400 is based on the old NuBus motherboardarchitecture.

You can get ethernet PC Cards for the 1400. Mydaughter uses one in hers very successfully. However, they are a bithard to find these days. She got hers used from a friend of myson's.

Also note that there is quite a range of relativeperformance in the 1400 models. The 117 MHz version is pretty slow -probably about the same as your desktop 5200 in real-world performance.The 133 MHz and 166 MHz models are much livelier, not just because ofthe increased clock speed, but also because they have a level 2 cache,which the 117 MHz version does not.

I think WegenerMedia still has some PowerBook 3400/180 models available forUS$209.

Happy hunting,
Charles

CompactFlash RAM cards

From Eric L. Strobel

Hi,

There have been several articles on LEM of using CompactFlash RAMcards as supplemental storage in PowerBooks - as virtual memory, forexample. As I'm getting a 3400 soon, I started looking into this. Somefolks claim CF will be "slow" (but no comparison as to what it isslower than), although one said that grabbing pics directly off a CFcard is quicker than a USB transfer. But the biggest issue raised thusfar is that of the supposedly limited number of writes that Flash RAMhas. The claim is that one could rapidly wear out their CF card byusing it as virtual memory or any other disk-like use that does lots ofwriting. Since the LEM articles were written quite some time ago, Iwonder if it's time to do a check back and find out people'sexperience.

Thanks.
- Eric

Hi Eric,

Personally, I have no firsthand experience with theseproducts. Dan Knight recently wrote acolumn on the topic.

Remy Davison of Insanely Great Mac has covered thetopic frequently.

If anyone out there has information or experiences toshare, let us know.

Charles

1400 Using a Flash Card

From Thomas M Barclay

Hello, Charles,

I've been looking into the use of Compact Flash as well, for useon my (new to me) PB 190cs.

I believe your reader's problem was that he was trying to get aread-only device (he describes a CF reader) to both read and write.

Most people whose notes I've read on the LEM PowerBook list have been usingSandisk CF media inside a PCMCIA Card adapter manufactured to allowsimplified downloads (reading) and uploads (writing) of data forcameras, MP3 players, and so on.

Excelsior!
Tom Barclay

Mini-drives

From Bruce Robertson

Though I suppose it is good of you to mention mini-drive USBproducts (a.k.a. pen drive, thumb drive), it is really a substantialdisservice not to note that most of these drives offerterrible performance. They are DOS formatted, and in OS Xdeliver write rates of about 1 MB/minute.

Editor's note: I haven't seen any of these benchmarkedon the Mac yet, but Bare Feats compared USB and FireWireCompact Flash card readers and found that the USB reader limitedperformance to 0.6 MB/sec. I suspect solid state USB drives would offersimilar performance - and that these drives would provide betterperformance reformatted as Mac drives. dk

More on "Kanga Whine"

From Gregg Eshelman

The "yo-yo" AC adapters should not be used with any of the cordwrapped up. (IIRC, they store the cord in a slot around the perimeter?If I'm misremembering, ignore this. ;-) That can concentrateany heat from the cord, and if an AC cord is tightly coiled it can getvery hot, catch fire even, from induction heating.

Ford Motor Company found that out the hard way with an electric carthat had a built in recharging cord reel. People were only pulling outjust enough cord to plug it in and when most of the cord was left onthe reel, *FOOM*. The "fix" was a warning label.

Tightly coiled cords with AC current or fluctuating DC current canalso produce radio frequency and electromagnetic interference. For lotsof technical reasons, other electronic circuitry can pick up andamplify that interference into audible sound.

So if your Mac's AC adapter has a coilable cord, don't try to be"neat" or save space by leaving any of the cords partially coiled,especially the AC cord.

Hi Gregg,

I expect you may have a point about coiled AC cords,but in the case of the Apple yo-yo power adapter, it is the DC outputcord that goes to the computer's power adapter port that coils into theslot in the yo-yo disk.

The AC input cord is just a standard, non-coilingpower cord.

I haven't noticed any unusual heat buildup whileleaving most of the DC cord coiled in my Pismo's yo-yo adapter.

Charles

Rural ISP

From George Mogiljansky

Hi,

Glad you made it, and in the dead of winter. Call it ''ISP anxietyattack''. Around this time of year (1999?) the freebie ISPs went under- remember excite.com? They were Mac compatible, req.8.6.

Serial port busy - I remember seeing that on my 3400 recently. Youhave to go to FreePPP and turn off the something or other because ithogs that modem port (which doubles as a printer port on a 3400) andthen the LaserJet with PowerPrint cable will print.

Best
George (Montreal)

Hi George,

Yes, the ISP registration software I used does installFreePPP. Guess they haven't discovered the superiority of Apple's OpenTransport PPP/Remote Access.

Charles

Inexpensive Combo Drive Upgrade for Pismo,Lombard - Not

From Andrew Main

Charles,

I've been wondering when I might feel flush enough to buy MCE'srather expensive ($350) DVD/CD-RW drive for myPismo (not anytime verysoon, alas), so at first I was excited to read about the "InexpensiveCombo Drive Upgrade for Pismo, Lombard," which appeared to offer abargain alternative for the even slightly handy.

Noting that the linked Web page was headed "Pismo CD/DVD Mod," Iprepared to download the instructions, and went to take a look at thethe $74 drive unit at Upgrade Solution - which was when I discoveredthat it is a CD-RW drive only, not a "Combo" (i.e. DVD/CD-RW)drive like the MCE. This would be fine for those who don't mind losingthe ability to view DVDs, but that's not me. It certainly is cheaperthan MCE's $300 CD-RW-only drive, or even than the old VST CD-RWs (notOS X savvy, I gather) that have been going for well over $100 oneBay lately. But it won't do DVDs - just when I'm beginning tothink about getting some of my favorite films to watch on my PB. Ilooked on Upgrade Solution's CD/DVD page, but didn't see anything thatcombined both DVD and CD-RW.

If anyone knows of a real "Combo" DVD/CD-RW drive alternative forthe Pismo/Lombard, I'd sure like to hear about it.

Andrew Main

I'm sure others have pointed this out...

From Tod Abbott

... but the inexpensive Sony drive being used to upgrade thePismo/Lombard in your recent item is not a combo drive, but a plain ol'CD-RW. I see that the linked page is titled "Pismo CD/DVD Mod" but thatpresumably refers to the fact that the Pismo had either a CD-ROM or DVDdrive and that whichever you have, this is what will be modified.

That's a big difference for those of us with a DVD drive who mightnot want to lose the ability to watch movies on the plane (or let thekids watch them in the car).

Tod Abbott

Hi Tod,

My error. Brain fade, I guess.

Charles

Combo drive in Pismo

From Tim Harmon

Just read the report on adding a Sony CD-RW CRX700E to a Pismo. DoesiTunes recognize the drive, or do you have to use Toast?

Tim Harmon

Hi Tim,

Unfortunately, I have not used this drive myself, so Ican't vouch for whether it works with iTunes or not.

As noted above, the combo drive headline was an error.It is a plain CD-RW drive, without DVD support.

Charles

USB 802.11b for Mac?

From Ed Hurtley

Okay, I've tried searching, I've tried a couple newsgroups, but Ijust can't find any information on it.

I've got an iMac RevB, and I want wireless network access. I know that there are802.11b PC Cards that work with pre-Pismo PowerBooks, and 802.11b PCIcards that work with pre-Sawtooth PowerMacs, but what about 802.11b USBadapters for the tray-loading iMacs? (Or, for that matter, for my USBupgraded beige G3,which doesn't have a free PCI slot.)

Thanks in advance.
Ed Hurtley

Beats me, Ed.

Can anyone in readerland help with this?

Charles

bbs.applescript.net Moves to a New Home

From Ray Barber

Hi Charles,

I wanted to send this to you in hopes your readership may findinterest.

We are delighted to announce our new forums @ applescript.net. Whilewe are working hard to bring the archives back online, the board is nowavailable to the scripting community.

Our new bbs offers a much better user interface, with a feature setthat is very approachable-one that we feel compliments Scripting andAppleScript specifically. In addition, we will be adding more scriptingcentric features in the very near future.

Surf by and leave us feedback, as your comments/ideas do matter tous.

Thanks in Advance
& Kind Regards

Ray Barber

New User? Please register here.
http://bbs.applescript.net/profile.php?mode=register

Our goal is to provide a well balanced scripting resource for theapplescripting community and the evangelism of AppleScript, now andinto the future. Look forward to seeing you there -
http://macscripter.net - News,SOTW, ScriptBuilders, Links, etc ... http://bbs.applescript.net - BBS
http://osaxen.com - ScriptingAdditions
DataBase hotline://hotline.macscripter.net- hotline.macscripter.net

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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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