Charles Moore's Mailbag

Matte vs. Glossy Screens, Upgraded Pismo vs. 12" PowerBook G4, Video Capture with OS 9, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.06.05 - Tip Jar

Glossy vs. Matte Displays

From David Chilstrom:

Below is an article which explains the rationale behind the glossy screen. The fundamental point is that the matte screen, which scatters incoming light, does the same for outgoing light, distorting colors and image crispness on the way. For a 17" 'Book serving as a desktop replacement, I would unhesitatingly go with glossy for the higher detail and color fidelity. The case is less clear with the MacBook, which presumably will see much more action in the field. Having frequently dealt with screen washout in coffee shops, etc., it will definitely be a problem. However, I think I would opt for image quality over flexibility in harsh environments.

PixelBright: Anti-Reflective LCD Screens versus Anti-Glare LCD Screens

Regards,
David Chilstrom

Hi David,

Thanks for the comment and link. It's nice to have the option of either on the MacBook Pro, although it creates another decision dilemma.

I suppose it partly depends upon one's tolerance for glare in un-optimum conditions.

Charles

Re: Glossy vs. Matte Displays

"I suppose it partly depends upon one's tolerance for glare in un-optimum conditions."

I think offering a matte screen on the black MacBook would be a way adding 'value' for the premium price. I closely compared a MacBook next to a MacBook Pro, and the difference in clarity and color vibrancy was immediately obvious.

Regards,
David Chilstrom

Upgrade Pismo or Go with 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz?

From Laurie

Good evening,

I have been trying to decide whether to hire someone to upgrade my Pismo (I don't feel appropriately skilled or manually coordinated enough) so it runs better and faster, has more memory, has a battery that holds a charge and a power adaptor that's reliable, and generally works better as I am both an online psychotherapist and about to embark on some other telecommuting work to supplement my ever-faltering income. Mac repair people in my neck of the woods (Berkeley) seem to think it may be time to stop putting money into this machine (for labor as well as parts) and move on to a later model of PowerBook.

I have found a 6 month old PowerBook G4, the latest and last of the 12" G4 aluminum PowerBooks which is in great shape and has 1.5 GHz, 80 GB, a SuperDrive, lots of useful software. It will cost me $899, which I know is more than I would spend to totally fix my Pismo, and it's not like I can really afford any of this, but I absolutely need a totally reliable and fairly speedy machine for these Internet-related jobs and for the part-time online therapy I am doing (clients hate when you lose contact with them).

I thought, since you are the Pismo guru, you might be able to give me some advice. The problem is I have to let the person with the G4 know tomorrow (Saturday, June 3), and I am in a quandary.

How much do you think it might cost me to bring my Pismo 576 MB SDRAM; 400 MHz running on 10.3.9) up to date?

Thanks!

Laurie

Hi Laurie,

I love my old Pismo, but even with its 550 MHz G4 processor upgrade, it's getting pretty marginalized, and in your case - especially since you need to hire out the labor involved with upgrades - I think the Mac repair people are steering you right.

A processor upgrade will cost you (in round figures) about $250 or more; a RAM upgrade $60 or so. A bigger hard drive - $100 to $120, a SuperDrive - $200, a new battery - $130. Plus labor for any installation necessary.

$899 for a 1.5 GHz 12" PowerBook with SuperDrive is a bargain!. The 12" G4 PowerBook is one of the most reliable and desirable laptops Apple has ever made. I can't speak to the condition of this particular machine, but if it's in good shape, it's hard to see how you could go wrong.

Do consider, however, that for a couple hundred more than that you can get a new MacBook - although the PowerBook will likely be a more bug-free machine.

My 2¢ anyway.

Good luck, and let me know how you make out.

Charles

Re: Upgrade Pismo or Go with 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz?

From Laurie

Thank you so much for writing back to me. Your 2 cents are very valuable! I have been enjoying and learning from your articles and Q/A sessions about PowerBooks, specifically the Pismo, for a long time! It has always been comforting and enjoyable to read the knowledgeable words of a Pismo comrade!

The young man who is selling the PowerBook is a recent Berkeley graduate who lives close by. He seems like an honest person, and as I can actually sit down with him and try the machine before I make a decision, it feels better than an anonymous long distance eBay buy!

Also, this G4 was purchased new recently according to the seller (he has all his receipts) who wrote: "The model is from 2006, just last spring, just about 4-5 months ago. I bought it right when Apple announced the newer and faster processor and brighter display, so really this is the latest 12" PowerBook released by Apple." And it has 2+ years left of AppleCare extended care, just in case. It does seem like a great deal!

Thanks for the advice, and I will let you know how it all turns out.

Laurie

Hi Laurie,

If I were in your shoes, I would run - not walk - over to that guy's house and grab the LittleAl 'Book. Sounds like a peach! And with AppleCare, too! How could you go wrong at the price?

Charles

Video Capture with OS 9

From Tim Larson

Greetings and salutations,

I am finally getting around to the purpose I bought my beige G3 for eight years ago - video capture. I made sure I got the A/V package for that. However, I've only recorded audio (never video) a handful of times during the intervening years and have since retired the machine (as primary desktop - it runs Linux and Apache now) in favor of a 2 x 1.8 GHz G5.

Several years ago my wife and I bought an analog camcorder, since digicams were far too expensive for us at the time. I've been dubbing the minitapes to regular VHS tapes, but we'd like to go to DVD. Now everything is digital, and I can't just plug my S-video cable (from the cam or the VCR) into the G5 to record. A->D converters are very expensive, so I hope to use the G3.

The problem is that I've been out of the OS 9 world (or rather, OS 9 has been out of our world) long enough now that I'm out of touch with what is (was) available in this area. I've looked around on Google and asked in a couple forums, but haven't found much success as yet.

http://community.livejournal.com/digital_video/220943.html

I am hoping you can point me in the right direction. I do have an SGI O2 (that has S-video inputs) available (which is of similar vintage), and from my research there is an Irix program (mediarecorder) that could potentially capture this video. However, I'm almost positive that a Mac program would be easier to use. (Besides, the O2 isn't booting at the moment, so I'd have to fix that before I could get to the real issue.)

Did Mac OS 9 come with video capturing software? Is there something available very economically (cheap!) today? All I need to do is save it to a format I can suck over into iMovie on the G5 (i.e., no editing features required).

This is a perfect situation for a "low-end Mac" to come to the rescue. Indeed, I'm only intending to use it for one of its original purposes! (Who says a pair of 8-year-old machines can't be useful?) Any helpful ideas are gratefully appreciated.

Thank you,
Tim Larson
Web Application Engineer
ElectricShoes Productions

Hi Tim,

I wish I could help, but my ignorance of video capture and recording on any platform is encyclopedic, alas.

Perhaps someone in Readerland will be able to suggest something.

Charles

Mac OS 9 Is Still a Player

From: Mel

I just read your article on OS 9. Very good stuff.

I own two Macs (G4 Quicksilver tower & iBook G3/700) that can dual boot into either OS X 10.3.9 or OS 9.2.2. I use OS X about 90% of the time. Often I have OS 9 running in Classic mode on either Mac.

I am a diehard PageMaker 6.5 user, and we still produce several publications with that. PageMaker 6.5 works nicely in Classic mode on OS X, but at certain points in the workflow (like burning a CD of the final files), I find OS 9 works the best.

I know I will soon have to bite the financial bullet and upgrade to at least the PowerPC version of Adobe's InDesign someday soon before the PPC version is discontinued. Ditto for Photoshop and Illustrator, which both have worked fine in classic for years.

Anyway, I still find Classic Mac OS's useful.

For email, if you have a Unix shell account, you can use any terminal program to get your Unix mail. (I use Nifty Telnet on an old PowerPC Mac clone and a PowerBook 3400).

One of the neatest Internet programs that is supported in only one place is Headgap.com's Telefinder BBS program. I have been a member of Headgap's BBS for many years, and the person who runs it still supports Telefinder, which can be used with OS 8 or 9, and also in Classic mode at OS X. Nice. Plus the Headgap site sells a lot of older Macs and stuff if people need 'em.

I also use a lot of other older classic Mac software on my older Macs, including my favorite word processor of all time, WriteNow 4.0, as well as MS Word 5.1.

I agree that Web browsing with any classic Mac browser is a pain these days, though you can still get by with Explorer 5.1 or whatever, and iCab. And, yes, that little text browser rocks, too.

Mel

Hi Mel,

Thanks for the comment and suggestions.

Charles

Even When DiskWarrior 3 'Fails', It Can Save the Day

From Ken Watanabe

Charles,

Your article [DiskWarrior 3: The One Disk Utility Every Mac User Should Have] is a great explanation of what DiskWarrior does so well. The two tools I keep on hand are DW3 and TechTool Pro 4.

While I was at Macworld in January, I took the opportunity to upgrade to DW3. Recently, I had a chance to use it (the newest version) for the first time in a "rescue" situation. The ailing Mac could no longer mount the boot volume, and [Apple's] Disk Utility could not repair it.

I brought over my external drive with DW3 and attempted to fix the problem. Surprisingly, DW3 could not repair the damage (it was the first time I have experienced DW not being able to fix a directory problem). However, it did not "error out" with a cryptic message, as some utilities do. It completed the work, stated that the damage was too severe, and suggested that I mount the "preview" volume and back up available data. I always thought the preview feature was just for visually inspecting the optimized version of the volume before committing, but it worked great to recover data.

Once mounted, it acted like any volume "system wide", so I was able to use Disk Utility to make a disk image of the damaged volume. After doing a "restore" from that disk image to a reformatted hard drive, most of the files were there (and all the user's data appeared intact). I had to do a "replace existing Mac OS X" installation of Tiger, but otherwise, things appeared to be back to the way it was before. There may be some missing data and files, but we could not find any obvious problems.

So even when it "fails," DW (once again) saves the day.

- Ken Watanabe

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the report. I've never encountered directory damage that DiskWarrior couldn't fix, so it's interesting to learn that it can happen. The bit about using Preview Volume to recover files could be a lifesaver.

Charles

Best Keyboard for Neuropathy in Hands

From Michael Myers

I was just reading your review of the Matias Tactile Pro USB Keyboard. My G4 Apple keyboard is dying (the keys stick up, not down), so I need to get a new one. What I was wondering was if you have tested the Logitech S530, which is made specifically for the Mac. I've heard that the feel is between the regular keyboard and the Matias. My favorite was the Extended II keyboard, but with diabetic neuropathy in my hands, I'm not sure that I could use the Matias.

Thanks!

Michael

Hi Michael,

If you're dealing with peripheral neuropathy, the Matias Tactile Pro is not for you. The Matias OS X and USB 2 keyboards have a much gentler action, but they are membrane-type keyboards.

I have no experience with that particular Logitech model, but I found the action on a Logitech 'board I had for a while was too stiff and "over center" for my peripheral neuritis problems.

The 'board I've personally found most comfortable and least aggravating to this condition is marketed by both (Kensington SlimType, US$39.99) and iRocks (Mac X-Slim). It has a nice, positive, short-travel action that seems not to irritate, but does not feel mushy either.

Charles

DiskWarrior 3 vs. Norton SystemWorks

From dfstein

Good review but the program, as far as I've seen, can't remount a drive - so if the drive doesn't appear, you still need something like Norton SystemWorks to get the drive to reappear. As good as DW is, Norton SystemWorks has bailed me out many a time when nothing else could-too bad it isn't continued in development.

Hi DF,

Norton was my standby in the pre-DiskWarrior/Classic days, but I was never enamored with the OS X version, and development and support for Norton for the Mac is now discontinued.

As I mentioned, my recommendation is to have more than one disk repair utility. Besides DW these days, ProSoft's Drive Genius is the other main tool in my arsenal these days.

Charles

Link: Charles Moore Reviews ProSoft Drive Genius Disk Tools Suite

Re: Camino 1.0.1 a Real Speedster

From Peter Tyler re: Camino 1.0.1 a Real Speedster:

One more thing....

I noticed the inconsistency, too, but it hasn't crashed on me that much yet.

I decided to fire up Shiira again and find that while I don't/can't trust it for heavy duty work. For simple things like browsing Web forums it performs quite nicely. I have it set as the default now but launch SeaMonkey from the Dock for more important activity.

- Pete

Hi Pete,

I've got the same dynamic going with Opera and SeaMonkey.

Charles

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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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