Charles Moore's Mailbag

OS Upgrade Problems, Better Trackpad, GPS for OS X, Fighting Spam, and More

Charles Moore - 2003.08.04 - Tip Jar

Firmware Updates

From Stephen Jones

I have a 233 MHz G3 iMac (tray loading) that I want to run 9.2 on. I have a copy of 9.2 from my G3 PowerBook. I downloaded a firmware update from Apple, updated the firmware on the G3, and tried to install the 9.2 from the PowerBook install CD. A message pops up that I need to update my firmware. I'm running 8.2 on the iMac now. Any hints? thanks.

Steve Jones

Hi Steve,

I expect that your firmware is okay and that the issue is that you're attempting to install OS 9.x from the PowerBook install CD (it can't be OS 9.2.2 if the disk is from a G3 PowerBook, because no PowerBook G3s shipped with that version - it's probably 9.0.4 or 9.1). Software restore CDs are machine specific. For example, the OS 10.2.1 CD that shipped with my iBook won't mount on my Pismo PowerBook. A regular OS 10.2 CD works fine.

You need a proper install CD, although a workaround would be to just drag a copy of the OS 9.x system onto the iMac from the PowerBook. If you have any version of OS 9.x, upgrades to OS 9.2.2 are free downloads from Apple's support site.


Better Trackpad I hope you can help

From Kenneth D Kass

I've been looking in vain for a place that has Better TrackPad archived. The Mac site doesn't exist anymore. Do you have a copy of it you could send me? Even just the pref pane would work.

It is freeware and open source, so there should be no problem sending it.

Kenneth D Kass

Hi Kenneth,

I had never heard of Better TrackPad before. Sounds like an interesting utility.

You're right. The .mac page link for downloads from MacUpdate doesn't work, and I didn't find an alternative source. Can anyone out there help?


GPS Software

From Richard & Carol Ray

I have developed a GPS Navigation application for OS X.

PB 1400

From John Kirby

Hi Charles,

I snagged a PB 1400 off of eBay and am having a tough time with the CD drive.

I wanted to upgrade to 8.6 (it's 8.1 now), but the drive doesn't read any of my "later" software CDs.

I have some older software on CD that the drive will read just fine.

It almost seems like there was a shift in drivers or something, and this model is running OS/drivers before that change.

If I can't get the CD drive running the way I'd like, are there any PCMCIA Ethernet cards you'd recommend so I can upgrade/download from the Net?

John Kirby

Hi John,

That's an odd problem if the 8.1 CDs read okay. I've had no problem installing OS 8.6 on either of our PowerBook 1400s.

Any Mac-compatible PC Card Ethernet adapter that doesn't require CardBus support should work fine.

For the system install, one workaround would be to install OS 8.6 on removable media like a Zip disk and then drag the System folder onto the 1400's hard drive.


Spam filtering

From Gregory Chan

Hi Charles,

Read your article on spam management Thought you would like to check out POPFile. Works with all email clients via POP. - info - install guide

This cool software has kept my Inbox clean as a whistle!


Hi Greg,

Thanks for the tip and links. I'll check it out.


A little help...

From Max


I'm comparing the first generation iBook's performance with the current lineup of iBooks. Is there any place on your site that shows me that sort of info? To be a bit more specific, I mean frame rate numbers in Quake III and other 3D games. Any sort of benchmarks would be nice I suppose.

Please let me know,

Hi Max,

There are a bunch of Mac 'Book benchmarks on MacSpeedZone.

The comparison doesn't go as far back as the original iBooks, but it should help give you a frame of reference.


Response: "Virex for OS 9?"

From Christopher Laspa

Hello Charles,

The last time I ran into a virus on any Mac was the Worm in 1998. That's it. I should note, though, all the PowerBooks we use here in our home-based Web design business (G3 WallStreet, 3400c, & my wife's iBook) are running Norton Anti-Virus 5.0 (Yeh, I know I should update) with monthly definition updates I manually download and install. Either Norton is really doing its job well - or there is actually nothing going on out there (!)

Love your column!

Christopher M. Laspa
Discover more about us at:

Hi Christopher,

Glad you like the column.

There doesn't seem to be much Mac virus activity, but the MS-specific worms can bite cross-platform.


Hosed by Everyone but...

From Ben Brenker

After much complaining and raving about both UPS and FedEx, I can't believe nobody has mentioned the US Post Office. Now I know you likely can't use them to send packages out of Canada, but I don't see why somebody can't use them to ship into Canada.

Any time I've had to send something internationally, I've priced out the competitors, and USPS Global Priority beats them, hands down. I had to ship a guitar to the Netherlands, Federal Expensive wanted a minimum of $400, UPS wanted $375, and that was for 10 day shipping. USPS shipped it for $72, 5 day shipping, with insurance and everything else included. The only downside was the $15 tariff the receiver paid that neither of us knew about before hand.

Still, that comes out to $87 complete, and that's a major shaving of total costs. I also sent a minidisk player to the Ukraine. I don't have the receipts or the memory, but from what I can recall for 3 day shipping it was about $20, with insurance again.

Neither of the big two screw jobs could come close. And in case people are wondering, the USPS has dramatically improved its customer service. We shipped a Kanga floppy drive that arrived at the receiver's address shredded and missing the drive. The recipient signed for the package even though it was obviously open (shades of fraud here) and filed a claim against us through eBay and the USPS. The Post Office was extremely helpful in solving this matter, working with us and him trying to settle it. In the end, he got an insurance claim (we always ship insured), and we have no negative feedback from him. I believe the lesson here is trust the government, but only with your belongings, not your liberties, and always price up USPS.

Thanks again for a great site!
Ben Brenker

Hi Ben,

I agree. Parcel Post is badly underrated. It's cheaper, and I find that living out here in the boonies, Parcel Post seems little if any slower than the courier parcel services.

And, Canada Post at this end charges a flat rate of only Can$5.00 for "customs brokerage."


USB extension cable

From Peter da Silva

I haven't found the short USB extension cable separately, but the kanguru 3-port micro-hub and the cable together retail for $9.95.

Thanks Peter.


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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 and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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