Charles Moore's Mailbag

Buying Glasses Online, iCab on G3 iMacs, USB Adapter for WallStreet, Long Term Support, and More

Charles Moore - 2008.07.16 -Tip Jar

Blog about Online Glasses

From John Fisher:

Chuck,

Check out

http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/index.html

He has been doing the online glasses thing for awhile.

Sincerely,
John

Hi John,

Thanks for the tip.

A great resource and some even cheaper prices.;-)

Charles

Online Eyeglasses Links

From Wendy:

Charles,

Do you mind reposting the links? They were not working when I triedthem just now.

By the way, thanks for everything you do. I check this site everymorning right after cnn.com & espn.com.

Wendy

Hi Wendy,

Thanks so much for the kind words. :-)

Strange; I just tried the links in Opera and get anerror message, but they come up just fine in Firefox and iCab.

http://www.goggles4u.com/

http://www.optical4less.com/

Also check out this resource:

http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/index.html

Charles

15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz a Sensible Choice?

From Allan:

Hello Mr. Moore

I am a old Mac guy going back after 10 years keeping my old PClaptop for proprietary stuff. My main computing is simply iTunes,iPhoto, word processing, and email.

I am thinking seriously about getting a refurbed G4 15" laptop with1.67 GHz, 1.25 RAM, and running Tiger for about $800 with three monthswarranty? I would like to use iWork 08.

Is this a sensible plan?

I understand that Apple will soon stop supporting G4 PowerBooks.

Thanks for your time.

Allan

Hi Allan,

As a semi-power user still with a 1.33 GHz G4 PowerBookrunning Leopard 10.5.4, I think it's a sensible plan. There's a lot oflife left in these old G4s yet, and a 1.67 GHz model will be a betterperformer than my 1.33.

The price you cite sounds good if the machine is indecent shape, and I wouldn't worry too much about Apple's support. Theywill be supporting OS X 10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard for severalyears to come yet.

OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard almost certainly won't besupported, but unless you are distressed by not being able to run thelatest OS version, that should not be a problem.

I'm still doing a lot of serious, medium-duty work on550 MHz G4 PismoPowerBooks running Tiger and am still quite happy with them. Forthe sort of computing you say you do, a 1.67 GHz G4 PowerBook should bemore than ample for a long time yet.

Charles

Top End or Midrange the Best Value?

From Yuhong Bao, contining the discussion in Depreciation and Value for theMoney:

On the other hand, if you care how long the computer will be beforeit will get obsolete, you buy the highest-end model.

Lower-end models will get obsolete more quickly.

Hi Yuhong Bao,

Well, yes and no. I appreciate your point. Both myfirst Pismo and my 17" PowerBook were top-of-the-line machines whennew, and that has contributed somewhat to their useful longevity,however, returning to my example of the MacBooks, the middle, $1,299model should have as lengthy a service life as the line-topping $1,499model, the only difference being the color and capacity of the harddrive.

I also contend that the high-end 15" MacBook Prosimply doesn't deliver 25% more value for its 25% higher price tag.

Charles

Question about iCab on Older Macs

From Sally:

Hello Charles,

Yes, I'm way overdue for a new iMac, but meanwhile I do love readingLow End Mac, and I'm puzzled by the good reviews I've seen about iCab-e.g., yours May 12, 2008. On my very old machine (Bondi Blue, 8.6, iCab 3.05) itruns terribly slow! Is iCab that much faster with OS 9.x? Or, am Imissing something here? Mozilla/WaMCom & Netscape 7 are so muchfaster (tho fast going outmoded).

Thanks,
Sally

Hi Sally,

I agree with you completely about iCab 3's poorperformance. Version 3 put me off using iCab for several years, butyes, Version 4, which is OS X only, is a very speedy andsatisfying browser that has restored my enthusiasm for iCab and thensome.

Netscape 7.02 is my browser of choice for Classic OSMacs, although as you say, it's getting dated. That Bondi iMac has thesame processor as my old 233 MHz WallStreetPowerBook, and that is still a half-decent Web machine running OS9.2.2 and Netscape.

Charles

Longevity of Apple Support

From Jeffrey:

Charles,

Well, I can only hope that you are right about the continuedviability of Leopard on PPC in the days of Snow Leopard on Intel.

I am skeptical. As an example, I have observed Apple release aSafari version (or more) that is not compatible with anything but thenewest Mac OS. And in these days of growing web-based security threats,who can afford to be running anything but the latest browserversion?

And then what about other applications developed by folks other thanApple? What good is it to have an OS that is getting bug and securityfixes, but won't run the current versions of the applications that Iuse. I am concerned that software developers have already stoppeddeveloping for PPC simply because of recent articles on Apple's plans.Wasn't Microsoft rather quick to stop supporting Office on 68K once PPCmachines were was available. I am frustrated that iListen is no longerbeing sold, and apparently is no longer under development, in favor ofMacSpeech Dictate, an Intel-only voice recognition solution. In my mixof Macs, most of them are PPC today. Now I have two different softwareapplications to do the same function, on machines running the same OSversion, driven purely as a function of the chip inside.

You know, I like Apple's Mac OS Family Pack for all of my machinesat home. That way the three most current machines can run the samething. Of course, I find it easier to support a bunch of machines thatway. But Family Pack doesn't do me any good if the next OS onlysupports one machine in my household. So then I will get to support twoOSes where I was previously supporting one. And that might be a sevenyear proposition, since I strongly suspect that it would take me justas many years to replace them all as it took me to get them in thefirst place. Oh joy!

Which brings me back to my original issue: Mac has been good for mein the past especially because I have been afforded the opportunity tosupport machines for an extended period of time with machines changingroles as our needs change and our Mac-mix changes. But if Apple in thefuture doesn't continue to support machines as long as I've becomeaccustomed to, then I will have much greater difficulty maintaining theall-Mac household I have today. How can I justify buying a machine thatI cannot keep current more than 4 years? Said differently, shortenedsupport doesn't give me a reason to leave Macs entirely; but it takesaway a reason to invest as much in Macs in the future.

Hypothetically, an alternate arrangement for me could be to haveonly 1 or 2 Macs at home and everything else running the same versionof Linux. I can get Intel machines from numerous vendors, especiallyused and refurbished ones, that will support the current versions ofLinux for less money than it would cost me to outfit with Intel Macs.In fact, it would cost me about the same amount to purchase two Intelmachines of the same clock speed for every PPC Mac I sell on eBay.Whereas I am not a strong advocate of Linux for PowerPC Macs, Linux or*BSD for less expensive Intel machines (both new and used) is, Ibelieve, a viable second OS for my household.

I am curious why you find Leopard on a 1.33 GHz G4 sluggish. I'veheard numerous reports of G4s much slower than mine providingacceptable performance. I run my TiBook on batteries in "reduced"processor mode most of the time, and I find performance acceptable.That said, I am not terribly demanding of performance. I use some mucholder and slower machines than that. I have access to my Quicksilverfor more demanding tasks. To your point, my wife does not like myTiBook after using her MacBook Pro. Perhaps it is what one isaccustomed. to.

Regards,
Jeffrey

Hi Jeffrey,

As I noted, the shift from PowerPC to Intel CPUs isprobably the most radical change the Mac world has ever experienced,and I don't expect the backwards compatibility issues it has engenderedto be repeated anytime soon.

However, I do recall considerable disgruntlement whenit was announced that Mac OS 8.1 would be the last Mac system thatsupported 68k Macs, some of which (e.g.: PowerBook 190) were only a couple of yearsold at the time. Sometimes you can't move forward without leavingsomething behind. It's part of what has held Windows back and/or madeit such a cranky beast.

Apple has continued to release security upgrades forSafari in Tiger - one came out just a couple of weeks ago.

As for sluggishness on the 1.33 GHz G4, it's arelative thing I guess. The Finder is actually not too bad, but Inotice it in applications, especially ones that want more graphicssupport moxie, and email performance is utterly, atrociously horriblecompared with OS X 10.4 (I still have it installed on a separatepartition) running on the exact same machine and Internet connection.Tiger provides much more refined and variably more lively performancedepending upon what it is you're doing.

On the other hand, the 1.33 GHz unit is generallylivelier running Leopard than my 550 MHz Pismos are running Tiger(except for email again), so it does depend on what you're used to.

Charles

Web Browser and USB Adapter for WallStreet

From Alan:

What web browser do you recommend for WallStreet (and what OS doesit require)?

I understand that there are USB Cards for WallStreet computers.Which would you recommend?

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Alan

Hi Alan,

If you're running OS 9.x Classic, my fave browser onmy WallStreet is Netscape 7.02, which is available here:

http://browser.netscape.com/releases

The most contemporary option is iCab 3, which was last updated onJanuary 1, 2008; iCab 4 is not being developed for Classic:

Some folks swear by the WaMCom hack of Mozilla 1.3. (DownloadWaMCom here.)

I have an old MacAlly PC Card USB adapter for myWallStreet, and it's been great. Nothing to complain about. However, ifI were buying today I would get USB 2.0. MacAlly makes one,but there are plenty of other brands. Just make sure it supports theMac.

Charles

Via Voice Software for PowerPC Macs

From Nancy:

Dear Charles,

Thank you so much for such a swift, and helpful, reply. My friendwouldn't even notice the downgrade to Panther, actually, as she hasjust switched to the Mac. And I still have both the originalinstallation disc for her iBook and a copy of Panther. So it would notbe difficult for me to do this for her.

I will check out the link you provided for IBM Via Voice 10. Icannot tell you how much I appreciate your assistance.

Best,
Nancy

Hi Nancy,

My pleasure. Let me know how VV10 works out for yourfriend.

Charles

Opera Can Change the Way You Work with theInternet

From Leif

Charles W. Moore wrote:

"I've been using both Opera 9.5 (now 9.5.1) andFirefox 3 since they were released almost simultaneously last month,and they're both good browsers, but Opera is superior by a substantialmargin, mostly because of a whole host of little things and withouteven factoring in the embedded email client."

Agree. I have found out that Americans and Europeans have completelydifferent habits when it comes to use of cell phones. (e.g.: today Iread that Norwegians on average send 4 SMS text messages each day,while 80% of Americans have never sent an SMS text message in theirentire life.) I know that this is also because you use services thatwe, on average, do not use - such as BlackBerry. (That said, I don'tthink/assume that BlackBerry services are nearly as "folksy" as SMStext messages are.)

This long intro was meant to lead up to Opera Mini. I have begunusing Opera Mini somewhat on my Nokia mobile phone. And it is wonderfulto use! And if you subscribe to their MyOpera service, you get accessto the Opera LINK service, which lets you synchronise the Bookmarks ofthe Opera desktop and the Opera Mini. Quite fantastic, I think.

This is one of those little things!

BTW, Opera Mini has so many nice features that would have beenuseful in any browser! For instance, it lets you save pages in anarchive so you don't have to connect to read them. We can of coursesave pages in all the big browsers. But can we do it in a "systematic"way? In a way that is focused on reading the pages? (I think InternetExplorer for Mac had something of that, though.) I read one review ofthe coming Opera 9.5 Mobile version. (It was released for HTC - orwhatever - almost 6 months ago, I think.) The reviewer said using ithad changed the way he used his desktop browser.

One thing that strikes me: Opera is really focused on their browser!Webkit, on the other side, is made by a company that sells computers.(Okay, it is open source, but we know that Apple is behind it.)Internet Explorer is made by a big software manufacturer that needs totie people to Windows. Firefox/Mozilla - I don't know what is "wrong"with them. Perhaps nothing. But anyhow. Opera is fresh. I think theyare more open minded. They are only focused on browsing. And this makesthem come up with lot's of good stuff.

Apple is now coming with MobileMe. Okay. It is probably fine. But doI want to sell out my soul to them? Or to Google?

Charles Moore wrote:

"The latter I'm finding very tempting as I continue tostruggle along with not quite Leopard compatible Eudora 6.2.4. Twothings hold me back, the first being a dozen years of experience andarchived messages in Eudora along with the fact that it's still thebest email client ever designed, while the second is hope that Odysseusdevelopment will come to fruition soon with a stable and reliablemodernized interpretation of that Eudora goodness."

Perhaps some of the reason why Eudora is so good is because theywere so focused on email. Eudora was a company that tried to make themost out their field - email. Just like Opera is innovative because itfocuses on just one field. (We, the users, perhaps do pay aprice for the freeware revolution ... I mean, who pays for an emailclient these days?)

I have my doubts about Odysseus. It might end up good. But it surewill take its time.

Leif

Hi Lief,

I don't use cellphones at all, first because we onlygot coverage where I live a couple of years ago, and still no dataservice (i.e.: no Internet on the iPhone here), but mainly because Irefuse on principle to pay the highway robbery service fees or sign upfor the interminable contracts demanded by Canada's mobile phoneservice corporate triopoly.

Canadians are heavily into texting, however.

You're preaching to the choir about Opera. I love it.However, I have noticed that more sites are refusing to load in Operathat work just fine in Firefox, which is disconcerting. I have to saythat the three dominant browser engines on the Mac - Webkit, Gecko, andOpera are all generally excellent these days.

I'm still optimistic about Odysseus. The second publicbeta is out (now for Windows as well as the Mac), and while I like freesoftware as well as the next person, email is such a vital tool that Idon't mind paying to get the features and functionality I want,provided Odysseus comes through with that.

Charles

From Leif:

You mean: You can't even use WAP?Opera Mini does not require more than a WAP connection. It is, I'veread, the cheapest way to browse the Web with a mobile phone (unlessyou're using a wireless connection.)

I would have loved to live out in the sticks. :-) Don'tknow if that is the right word for where you live. And may be I am abit romantic - but. :-)

Texting: Interesting difference from US Americans, then - if I'veunderstood this right.

Do you say that Opera has become less compatible with the Web? Orthat more sites are ignoring Opera? I have not seen this myself. (But Idon't claim to know the answer.)

I really hope Odysseus becomes that Eudora successor. Thanks fornotifying me BTW. I wish they sent me an email or something each timethey updated the program. Do you actually use it for anything though? Ihave not even reported a bug....

PS: Today I upgraded my G4 PowerBook to Leopard. So now I am "onpar" with the the latest version of the system. I plan on throwing outa bunch of Apple applications ...

Leif

Hi Leif,

Frankly, I'm not sure about WAP availability here. Weonly got cell phone service at all about two years ago. Prior to that,you might get analog connections on good days if you were on top of ahill. I know that in the context of the iPhone, GSM service is notavailable here.

"The sticks" is accurately descriptive and a term thatis used here. It's actually very nice. We are situated on a lakeshoreand only a kilometre from a lovely ocean sand beach, but there are lotsof "sticks" as well.

I've been noticing a lot more sites are stalling outwith Opera lately than used to be the case. It's particularly evidentwhen one is running Firefox 3 in tandem, and the same sites pop rightup in Firefox. Of course I'm on slow dialup - not sure whether that's afactor or not.

I've only experimented with Odysseus so far, but Ihaven't encountered anything obvious that would preclude using it forbasic emailing at least. My provisional plan is to phase into itsomewhere along the beta road with a few accounts at first.

How do you like Leopard on the G4?

Charles

From Leif:

I think you should get a cheap mobile phone and experiment.;-) Just make sure that it is good at running Java - as OperaMini is Java based.

"Sticks" was something I picked up on a mailing list recently.Perhaps I do not understand what it is 100%. But I imagine high, thinthrees - perhaps pine.

Interesting . . . Opera appears to do caching differently.Perhaps that is what it is.

Oh, BTW, perhaps a tip could be to disable the new "secure browsing"feature? I could imagine that that would steal resources. (Securebrowsing sounds like a joke to me, BTW. It is much a marketing trick.One browser gets it, and then the others can't be worse.) Anyway, Operaand Firefox differ in which service they use there.

Another thing: In the past, Opera had some technology to speed updownload on dialup/narrow-band, something that ultra-compresed thegraphics. Perhaps they stopped with it now?

Odysseus, well, for me it is out of question using a mailer whichdoes not do format=flowed. And Odysseus currently does not do that. Imust admit I already look at other solutions. The candidates currentlyare Mailsmith and perhaps Balzac. However, I also, just this weeklearned about a new Thunderbird twist: the Muttator. You can do everything fromthe keyboard, in a VIM-editor like way - if you are into it, then it isvery cool! Unfortunately it requires Thunderbird 3, which isn't readyfor prime time yet. (Did you see they released an official alpharecently? ( http://www.mozillamessaging.com/)

I have also installed Pine - which is now called Alpine. A terminalbased program. It is impressingly good. But, of course, the basicthings (setting up an account, etc.) are a bit to complicated. Too muchto do before the fun can begin. However, who knows, perhaps I end upwith Alpine. (It is said to be best with IMAP - not so good with POP. Iuse POP - out of old habit.)

Leif

Hi Leif,

The problem in Canada is that while there are cheapcellphones (even free), there are no cheap service options.

I don't have a cellphone of any sort, largely becauseI philosophically resist the concept of locking into multiyear contractcommitments for any sort of service, and also assuming the obligationto pay for incoming calls over which I have no control.

There are just three national cellphone serviceproviders in Canada - Rogers Communications, Bell Canada, and TelusCorp, and while that theoretically could provide the market structurefor price competition, it manifestly hasn't, and indeed a chummy pricedétente seems to exist among the big three, unlike with otherindustries that have high fixed costs, such as airlines, wherecompetition tends to generate price wars or at least sharplycompetitive pricing and discounting.

Canada's wireless carriers, on the other hand,obviously are loathe to compete on price and seek rather todifferentiate from each other with hardware products offered, such asRogers with the iPhone and distinct service package bundles - which ofcourse bump up the cost of service to the consumer, as opposed tocountries where real competition exists like Hong Kong and India wherecell fees run about a penny per minute.

"The Sticks?" You're overanalyzing I think.;-) Just means the woods or the boonies - e.g.: "out in thesticks." Strictly speaking, trees don't as a rule grow very large indiameter on this coast (mostly balsam fir, red and black spruce, greyand white birch, but virtually no pine).

I'll try disabling secure browsing in Opera and see ifthat helps.

Hmmm.... What goes in T-Bird 3 should also wind up inthe new official Eudora.

Charles

From Leif,

"I've been noticing a lot more sites are stalling outwith Opera lately than used to be the case. It's particularly evidentwhen one is running Firefox 3 in tandem, and the same sites pop rightup in FF. Of course I'm on slow dialup - not sure whether that's afactor or not."

Perhaps, when you say it, I experience it too. Not sure. I imaginedit was something else. But may be you have a point. Perhaps it was the9.5.1 update?

However, if Odysseus will speed up the getting some featuresthen....

Leopard on the G4? - Very good! I was running out of space on my 80GB hard disk, and so - while making more space, I decided to upgrade.(I was too lazy to do it before.) I feel that Thunderbird 2 runs betteron Leopard, for some reason. I have, BTW, removed a lot of things. Forinstance, I deleted Mail, iCal, and some other things which I neverused anyway. I also used the Monolingual app to removelots of redundant this and that.

The only thing I did not like was the upgrade process....

Leif

Hi Leif,

Well, perhaps it's a coincidence, but I first startednoticing the stall-out issue after upgrading to version 9.51.

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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