Charles Moore's Mailbag

Obsolescence Is Relative and Sub-56k Internet Access

Charles Moore - 2009.04.01 - Tip Jar

Obsolescence Is Relative

From Felix:

Dear Charles,

I was thrilled to see our correspondence published on the Low End Mac website. Thank you for all the good advice. I think I will go the book way, since the online information is a little too sketchy for my taste.

Some people see as useless and weird that I'm taking the time to learn old software, and even compare it to learning a dead language. (Which is, in itself, an interesting simile, since learning a dead language is anything but useless.) The truth is that, although I basically started using Macs under the rule of Panther, and although I have kept up with the successive transmigrations of OS X, I have also tried to go back and learn to use OS 9 and OS 9 software.

As an experiment, I have gone entire weeks in OS 9.2.2 and found that my productivity has not suffered one iota - plus there are lots of fun apps and games, and even my Internet experience has been satisfactory beyond expectations. I also have several friends, mostly designers, who have held back from going Intel because they are perfectly productive with the older Macs and the Classic software they already have and use - not to mention the thousands of dollars they are saving!

But I'm starting to ramble. My point is, obsolescence is a word that does not necessarily mean the same to everyone. As long as something is useful and fun, it is never obsolete. And I'm very happy to have read several recent letters and columns on the subject at LEM.

So, heck, of course I'll learn to use Eudora. Anything that expands my horizon, even by an inch, I'll learn. And, as long as something still serves a purpose, and does it well, it's never really obsolete.

Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Best regards,
Felix

Hi Felix,

I expect other my find our exchange interesting and perhaps helpful.

Good on you for your interest in learning Eudora. If it will support your hardware, it's the best (IMHO) POP3 email client software ever written for the Mac (probably Windows as well, although I don't have the same frame of reference).

Mac OS 9 also remains a delightful environment to work in, in some respects such as flexibility and snappy Finder response better than OS X, and on older hardware it's like turbo-boost compared with OS X. It also can be more stable than it's often given credit for. I once went more than three months with daily use on my old WallStreet PowerBook running OS 9.2.2 without restarting, and only then when I needed to install something.

I have to admit, however, that it's been a while since I booted directly into the Classic OS, although my old Pismos can do so. I'm thoroughly addicted to OS X features like Spotlight (and its third-party derivatives, such as Spotinside), Spaces, and built-in spellchecking. However, I do keep Classic Mode running pretty well all the time on the Pismo, so I still have my hand in with the old OS.

Charles

Is Leopard Viable on a Blue & White G3?

From Lee:

Hi Charles,

Thanks

When I tried to locate 10.4 Tiger on YourMacStore's website, I was unable to locate. I have 9.2.2. They seem not to have 10.4.x, not at $75 or any price.

London Drugs has OS X 10.5.x for $129. Why on earth would I spend $200 or $300 on what is an out of date OS.

If I were to upgrade my Blue and White with a processor, memory, and video card, would it run 10.5?

Again thanks

Lee

Hi Lee,

Discontinued copies of OS X installer disks are where you find them and while supplies last. I've seen out-of-date installer disks selling for more than whatever the current shipping version is. Supply and demand.

The official cutoff for Leopard support is an 867 MHz G4, so theoretically if you install a 1 GHz G4 upgrade and sufficient RAM (at least 1 GB), it should be possible to install Leopard, although you would probably have to avail yourself of the XPostFacto installer hack for unsupported Macs.

Personally, I would go with Tiger on that machine. I haven't even seriously considered trying to run Leopard on my G4-upgraded Pismo PowerBooks. Leopard is a marginal enough performer on my 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4 with 1.5 GB of RAM.

If you want to try Leopard on the B&W, check out the info on this forum: 
http://forums.macnn.com/65/mac-pro-and-power-mac/371357/leopard-blue-white-g3-success-coreimage/

Charles

Dial-up Internet Is Growing

From Abraham:

Dear Charles,

I recently came across your article on Getting Settled in with the Unibody MacBook, which I found interesting. As a provider of dial-up Internet access, I thought you might be interested in knowing our dial-up subscriber base grew by over 13% in 2008 and has shown no signs of slowing down. I was wondering if you would consider linking to our website as an example of a successful dial-up provider that is proof of the trends you have presented.

Thanks again for the time you spend writing articles like this, and feel free to contact me if you ever need an insiders take on the dial-up industry.

Thank you,
Abraham Williams
copper.net

Hi Abraham,

I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed the article and that your dial-up ISP is thriving. I'm posting your letter with link in Miscellaneous Ramblings Mailbag.

Tell your customers about Opera Turbo. It really speeds things up.

Charles

Sub-56k Dial-up Internet

From Bryan:

Hi Charles,

I can certainly empathise with your belief that the USB modem isn't performing as well as the built-in modems of the past PowerBooks. I'm using a MacBook Pro with a USB modem in a rural location in New Zealand, and although I leave it set to v92, in fact I'm struggling to see the performance improvement over v34 (which I believe is 33.6k). It's all down to retries as I understand it - and neighbours with electric fences in close proximity (especially parallel to) the copper phone lines. It's something we have to grin and bear, since 95% of Apple's customers are on broadband. We can have that too via satellite, but at an eye-watering cost...

regards
Bryan

Hi Bryan,

Glad (sort of) to hear it's not just my rig,

It's always a conundrum to pinpoint where speed bottlenecks are, but since throughput with the USB modem on the MacBook is significantly slower than I'm getting with either the PowerBook G4 or Pismo on the same phone lines using the same browsers, and I'm doubtful that the laggard is the MacBook - the modem seems the likely culprit.

With a max 26,400 bps connection speed here, I've never found it made any tangible difference playing with modem v-settings.

Satellite Internet is available here too, with the same caveats about the absurd cost.

Sigh.

Charles

I'm Amazed That You Still Need to Use Dial-up

From Brian:

Hi Charles...

As a fellow Canadian, I'm amazed that you still need to use dial-up. Have you tried the Bell Mobility/Rogers Inukshuk-based Unplugged/Portable Internet service? The price is okay, and the performance reasonable.

Alternatively, you could plug a 3G cellular USB modem into a wireless router and use the device for mobility too.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this,

Best
Brian

Hi Brian,

Sherbrooke, Nova ScotiaAs of late 2007 (latest figures I have), 22% of Nova Scotians still didn't have access to broadband. That was 200,000 people (or 93,500 households) and 5,600 businesses in a province with a population under 1 million.

It's improved significantly over the past year, but there's still a long way to go to get us all on broadband. I figure my neck of the (literal) woods, with a very low population density, will be among the last to get broadband service.

I hadn't heard of the Bell Mobility/Rogers Inukshuk-based Unplugged/Portable Internet service, but I looked it up. The price is reasonable, as you say, but it looks like Rogers' Portable Internet Basic service is being phased out, and the Bell coverage map says the only area in Nova Scotia with coverage is greater Halifax, which is 150 miles from here.

As for 3G cellular, the nearest coverage is about 35 miles distant as the proverbial crow flies. We just got digital cellular phone service here two years ago.

Thanks for the info.

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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