Charles Moore's Mailbag

Best OS X for Pismo, Mixing RAM Speeds, LP to MP3, SpeedFan Cools MacBook Running Windows, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.10.30 - Tip Jar

Best Version of OS X for Pismo

From Jon March

Hi Charles

Now that it's been a while, I wonder if you've formed a final opinion on what version of OS X works best on a 500 MHz 768 RAM Pismo?

You, and several people were debating on Panther vs. Tiger - then you had modem problems, etc. What's the latest?

Jon March


Hi Jon,

My Pismo is still running OS X 10.3.9 ("Panther"), and I haven't had a whisper of problems since downgrading from the troublesome OS X 10.4 ("Tiger") install that gave me modem (and other) troubles. I haven't even restarted the machine (daily use) for so long that I can't recall how long it has been. Months.

The only thing I miss is Spotlight, and I miss it a lot - enough that I am seriously tempted to try another Tiger upgrade. But it's working so well that I'm loathe to mess with it.

If it were still a 500 MHz G3 instead of a 550 MHz G4, I think I would settle for 10.3.9 without any second-guessing. It's faster and more responsive.


Mixing RAM Speeds

Hi Charles,

I've been checking the Internet and have gotten all kinds of mixed information, so I decided to turn to you ;-).

Is there anything wrong or harmful in mixing RAM speeds in one single Mac? I have one requiring PC100 (and having two sticks of PC100 installed), for which I can get two PC133 sticks very inexpensively.

Would this work? The machine is a G4 Gigabit Ethernet Dual 450 MHz Power Mac.

Thanks and God Bless,
Tom Gabriel


Hi Tom

Mac RAM Direct says: "Most modern Macs allow most mixing. The notable exception being the G5 Power Macs, these machines require the memory modules be installed in pairs, one module to be installed in each of it's 2 memory banks simultaneously. As for mixing speeds, you can never install modules with a slower speed than your memory bus is rated. Faster RAM however will give you no problems."

This forum says don't do it:

I think I may have a PC100 stick in one of the slots of my 233 MHz WallStreet (66 MHz system bus). The computer is very stable, but I'm suspicious that the mismatched RAM may be a reason why I've never been able to get an OS X installer to run on that machine.

One thing you definitely don't want to do is to mismatch RAM voltages. My son burned out a Power Mac 9500 motherboard some years back by installing scrounged RAM of the incorrect voltage.


One Way to Transfer LPs to MP3

From Tom Gabriel

Hey Charles,

Great article on the coming of the iPod and its impact on both the music industry and Apple's fortunes (see Reflections on the iPod Revolution on Its 5th Birthday). It's very true that sometimes one visionary product, well-designed and executed, can have impact far beyond just itself, and I think the iPod will be seen as one such product in the "digital industry".

I have a suggestion for transferring your vinyl collection to MP3. There are several ways to get analog to digital these days, but one of the most user-friendly (always important to us Mac people) is contained in Roxio Toast version 6 and later. It is their sub-application CD Spin Doctor, which allows you to input analog signals such as those from LPs and tapes onto your computer and convert them to digital files. It also includes options for minimizing hiss and the "clicks and pops" that come from old, well-played LPs.

Once files are converted to your liking, they can then be turned into MP3s and put on your iPod. If you're especially ambitious (or just like fooling around with audio), you can try putting the personal touch on them through the use of a program like Audacity, which has equalization, volume adjust, and other capabilities.

One of the things that your personal experience shows is that with the iPod you can tailor your musical listening choices to your preferred lifestyle. You're confined neither to a particular place nor to a particular activity; you have a huge musical library available to you when you want it - and easily stored away when you don't.

Keep up the Good Work and God Bless,
Tom Gabriel


Hi Tom,

Thanks for the comment and for the tip about CD Spin Doctor, of which I wasn't previously aware. Sounds like the ticket, all right.


Reducing MacBook Temperatures in Windows

From Chris Turpin

Hello, Charles:

I would like to thank you for posting that (see Russell Beattie's Underhanded Criticisms of Mac OS X). It certainly makes me feel better about getting a MacBook, knowing I can use a fan hack that was tried and true (well, not the same exact one, but) with my old Toshiba (which had a Pentium M in it, which the Core is based off of).

And that is the point of my letter. I wanted to point out that said fan hack (it may not be a hack, really) was a program called SpeedFan, and it may work with the MacBook/Pro models. It would be worth a try to those who run Windows on their MacBooks. The problem is that the fan drivers would have to be installed (I think they might be on that custom MacBook CD that you make in Boot Camp, installed by default).

The link to the program is:



Thanks for the tip and link, Chris.


Lombard Still Rocks!

From Charles Broderick

Hi Charles,

I am still using my PowerBook Lombard today, about five-and-a-half years after I bought it used from the original owner. It was manufactured in 1999, in the 37th week (according to my serial number), so it is already over seven years old!

PismoAnd I am currently running Tiger! Installed via XPostFacto.

I find that over 90% of my computer usage is web surfing, email, and word processing. This old G3 processor is more than adequate to handle all my needs for these applications. I also installed 512 MB of memory, which is definitely a help . . . and with the 60 gig hard drive I installed, I don't think I will be upgrading anytime soon.

I was thinking of upgrading, just because it is "cool" to have the latest and greatest, and I actually did buy a 12" iBook G3/800 back in 2003, (with the idea of selling the Lombard), but after a year, I sold the iBook to my brother-in-law when he needed a laptop! Even in 2004, when my in-laws bought a new iBook 14" model, base RAM was 512 MB and the base HD was 30 gig - which I already had in my Lombard, so there was no real need to upgrade.

The 14" screen, relatively light weight, cool design, and easy upgradeability (easy to install RAM, HD, and FireWire and USB 2.0 via the CardBus slot) make the Lombard an exceptional laptop, even today. I liked it so much that when my father was complaining about his Dell and his fear of getting a virus, I bought him an old Lombard I fixed up, and he has been using it over three months now. We even did an audio iChat with our Lombards! Sadly, video iChat, via the iSight, is one thing the Lombard cannot do (but I have thought about hooking up an iSight to my Lombard via a powered FireWire hub, my miniStack, just to see if it would work....)

When will I buy a new computer? Again, leaping into the MacBook Intel-age seems tempting, but with the prices the way they are, I can buy a G4 upgrade for under $300. That will probably be my "new" computer, until prices come down, or the Lombard passes on....

Great column!

- Charles Broderick


Hi Charles,

Thanks. My son liked his Lombard a lot, and it went through three more owners after him before I lost track of it.

My own (G4-upgraded with a SuperDrive) Pismo is just rolling over its sixth birthday in a week or so, and still going strong.


PowerLogix CPU Upgrade for WallStreet

From R W Potter


I have been running a PowerLogix G4 500 MHz updated WallStreet with Mac OS X for the past five years - still waiting for the Santa Rosa/Merom II MacBook Pro in 2007 - and I may have an idea for Mark Lowery trying to run older WallStreets with a PowerLogix 466 (see Problem with Wallstreet CPU Upgrade): It is necessary to update the Apple ROM chip to work with the upgraded CPU. PowerLogix issued this firmware update on a CD with their new CPU card. If the ROM update has not been run, this may explain his problems.



Thanks for the tip, R.W.

Worth a shot, I imagine.


PowerBook WallStreet CardBus Question

From Marc Rising Star


When researching, I found your article "Apple's WallStreet PowerBook G3 at 8 Years Old" on Low End Mac.

PowerBook G3 SeriesHave G3 WallStreet 300 PB - Is this unit CardBus compatible? (Planning to purchase a USB card that asks for it.)

And what limitations can I expect from a USB upgrade? (You mention this briefly without going into details.)

Thank you for your help!



Hi Marc,

Your WallStreet is indeed CardBus compatible. I've been using a USB card in our WallStreet for six years.

The main limitation is that bus-powered USB devices aren't supported (not an issue for most USB stuff). Input devices, hubs (self-powered), digital cameras, etc. work great.



From Marc Rising Star


Thank you for taking the time to answer! I greatly appreciate that - very helpful!

Any recommendations on what recordable CD drive to get? (Currently have a DVD that works even reading DVD data disks, but it won't play movies.)



Hi Marc,

If you're looking for an internal (expansion bay) unit, they're pretty thin on the ground for the WallStreet. MCE used to make Combo drive modules for the WallStreet, but they've been discontinued. You might try eBay.

SCSI external CD-RW drives are a thing of the past as well, as far as I know.

We've successfully used a Que Fire! CD-RW FireWire drive with the WallStreet and Lombard via a CardBus FireWire adapter.


Old Macs Still Perform Admirably

From DFS,

"I installed some HP Printer software drivers months ago and the control panel starts up automatically every day and sits in the Dock, despite my best efforts to track down where the HELL it's started from." (from A Flameless Response to Russell Beattie's 33 Criticisms of Mac OS X)

I think the user has to at least once go through the protocol with the printer actually connected and on. I had the same thing with a Brother multifunction machine. When I boot on a particular machine, the software keeps looking for the machine, because I installed the drivers but had never connected the machine to that computer.

PowerBook 180I have nothing to compare with, but it amazes me how long-lived Mac products are. In a jam, my PowerBook 180 still performs admirably. I keep an old Tsunami drive ready with HFS Standard formatting, and I still can boot the PowerBook from that drive and then transfer files to any of my G3-G4 generation computers, all of which have 50-pin SCSI at a minimum. I have no doubt I could fire up my LC II with Daystar 50/50 and go right to work with it. The interface is all familiar. It is essentially impossible to defeat my Beige G3, and it has every upgrade imaginable: RAM, processor, video card, USB, FireWire, high speed ATA or SCSI, etc. I use many of the same utilities in Classic that I have used for years. In many cases, nothing better or more elegant has arrived on the scene.




Thanks for the interesting comments. Yes indeed, those old Macs just seem to go on forever.

I've had no problems with my Canon Pixma printer and my several laptops running OS X 10.3 and 10.4.


64 GB USB Flash Drive

From Ryan


FYI, there exists a 64 GB USB Flash drive (pen drive). It is dog slow, but it is available. frequently has them in stock.

Ryan J. Vetter


Thanks, Ryan.


Clever BT600 Mouse Design

From Dan Knight

I use a wireless mouse and love the fact that I don't have to snake a USB cable from my mouse to the Power Mac on the floor. But I hate the fact that I have to keep a USB mouse plugged in all the time for when my wireless mouse's batteries run down. The RadTech BT600 sounds like a perfect solution - except that my older Power Mac G4 doesn't have Bluetooth.


Hi Dan,

Good point.

Possible workaround: D-Link Bluetooth USB Adapter. Supports OS X 10.2 up and installs quickly and easily to a desktop or notebook computer with an available USB port.


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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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