Charles Moore's Mailbag

Refurb MacBook Pro Deal, Fastest Mac Browser, 256 MB Modules for WallStreet, and More

Charles Moore - 2009.07.01 -Tip Jar

Refurb MacBook Pro Bargain

From Torie:

Just wanted to give you a heads up. I just ordered an AppleRefurbished 15"Unibody MacBook Pro 2.4 GHz from the Apple Store. Thelist price was US$1,349, but when I called and spoke to an AppleCustomer Care Rep, to my surprise I was given an additional $100 offinstantly. I don't know if this is a special or how long it would last,but I thought $1,349 was a great deal - but $1,249 is even better!

Have a good one and let the Mac faithful know!!!!!

Torie

P.S. As always I enjoy reading your articles on Low End Mac, and youguys continue to give me all the info I need to make great purchasedecisions!!!!

Hi Torie,

Thanks for the report. Congrats on the newacquisition, and let us know how it works out for you. My AppleCertified Refurbished has been flawless (other than the lack ofFireWire) so far (something over four months).

Delighted you find LEM helpful.

Charles

Safari 4 on a G3 PowerBook

From Scott in response to Checking Out Safari 4 on an OldPowerBook:

Hey Charles,

Safari 4 is running fine on my 500 MHz G3 Pismo. It's thefastest browser I've ever used. If I turn off the plugins, it's evenfaster, of course. I'm on a very fast cable connection here. I haven'ttried it on dialup.

Scott

Hey Scott,

Safari 4 worked great on my G4 upgraded Pismo as wellon dialup, and had I not encountered the intractable issue with theNetwork Preferences panel, I would have happily left it installed.However, having to waste a Saturday afternoon reinstalling OS X inorder to fix the problem (after first trying everything else I couldthink of) did leave a bad taste, although I suspect it was the SecurityUpdate for OS X 10.4.11 that was the culprit there.

That was evidently an oddball glitch, as I haven'theard of anyone else encountering it.

Charles

Clone your hard drive right before you do any updates like that.It's saved me a lot of work several times now. There's always somesoftware or hardware that won't work with the updated OS. Actually, Idon't even bother to clone my hard drive anymore, because I hardly everupdate anything now. I keep a set of DVD-RW backup discs made withDantz Retrospect instead. Idon't want to waste the space on my external hard drive. I use it forother stuff now.

Scott

Hi Scott,

Good advice. I actually do keep the hard drive of myproduction Mac cloned, and it has saved my bacon in the past.

Charles

Fastest Browser for Displaying Content

From Morgan:

Hi Charles,

I too have Safari 4 running on a Pismo, but I'm still using theoriginal G3/400, with 384 megabytes of RAM. So far, it seems to befaster and more stable than version 3 was. The only speed issues I'vecome across are when loading a Flash-heavy page; that, of course, isnormal for a G3 no matter which browser is used.

I'm on broadband myself, but I actually do miss the progress bar;even on DSL, some websites are extremely slow to load, especially whenthey pull content from a dozen different ad servers. Something I'vewanted to see in all the newer browsers is for them to render the maincontent while waiting for sidebars, banners, and graphics to load. Sofar I've been badly disappointed will all the major browsers. EvenChrome running on my 2.2 GHz Windows 7 desktop has severe delaysrendering some sites. Ah well, I guess I'll wait for the nextgeneration of browsers to fix this.

Morgan

Hi Morgan,

The best browser I've found for loading and displayingmain content first is Opera, whichis one of the manifold reasons I love Opera. Firefoxis decent for that too.

OTOH, Opera's support of drag & drop is patheticto nonexistent as regards dragging highlighted blocks of text to otherapplications or to the Desktop as clippings, so there's no perfectbrowser. Firefox 3.5 (I just downloaded the final) is pretty darnedimpressive, though. I still give Opera the edge, but they're reallycomplementary, with divergent strengths and weaknesses.

Firefox has a pretty good progress bar (iCab'smay be a smidge better) and shows how that should be done, only the barcould be bigger. Opera's progress bar is mediocre - better than none,but not a whole lot better.

Charles

In Praise of Camino

From Steve:

Charles,

I recently helped a friend fix up an iMac DV (G3 processor at 450MHz). She had been told to get "Tiger" (Mac OS X 10.4), but didn'thave enough RAM; her 512 MB would be just fine with 10.3, I thought,but 10.4 would be too slow. (She found boxed copies of 10.3 and 10.4 oneBay at reasonable prices.)

The computer was primarily for her husband to use for eBay, so itneeded a modern web browser but little else. Long story short, Ichecked Camino's requirements and realized that the current version(updated very recently) still runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9! So, we hadher get a copy of 10.3 from eBay and used Software Update to bring itto 10.3.9, and they are now happily eBaying in Camino 1.6.7!

I started using Camino back when I was stuck on Mac OS X 10.1,Internet Explorer was dying, and this new thing called Safari only ranon 10.2 or later. Today even on Leopard I prefer Camino to any versionof Safari, and now I have new appreciation for the Camino team'sdedication to low-end Mac users. (Incidentally, 10.2 users can stillget Camino 1.0.6, and 10.1 users can get Camino 0.8.5, which wasreleased in 2006 and still works with most websites.)

Steve

Hi Steve,

I like Camino a lot, and kudos to the development teamfor hanging on to OS X 10.3 support. Lately I've been using theFirefox 3.5 release candidate for my Gecko browser representative, andI'm liking it a lot, but I'm also trying Camino 1.6.8 on my Pismorunning OS X 10.4 as a substitute for long-discontinued Netscape 9, which I stilllike.

As for Safari, in order to run the current Safari 4final with "Leopard", you need OS X 10.5.7, which I've resistedinstalling due to the extraordinary number of problem complaints. I didtry it out on my Pismo (there's a separate OS X 10.4.11 version),but the required OS X Security Update 2009-002 appeared to cause aserious issue with the Tiger Network Prefs, so I ended up having toreinstall the operating system in order to downgrade Safari. Not a gooduser experience.

Charles

MacBook Cracks

From Tom:

Hi Charles,

My experience with Safari 4 has been fantastic. I downloaded it atthe same time as the security update and haven't found anycompatibility problems there. I have wireless broadband for my Pismo;it works beautifully with that, and I predict that when you do getbroadband, you will love how Safari works with it.

By the way, the other day I did a search on MacBooks, and Iencountered a number of Mac sites with a lot of entries from whiteMacBook owners who have problems with the cases cracking around thehandrest areas, apparently (it is said) from closing it too hard orcarrying it in a case without sufficient padding. Apple Stores areapparently so familiar with the problem that Genius Bars are set upwith trained personnel and parts to be able to perform repairs on thespot and under warranty.

Have you heard of this? If true and widespread, it would seem tosignal significant trouble with Apple's only remaining MacBook model,which would be a shame, since it's perfect for students and those whoneed a low-priced notebook Mac to convert from Windows to the MacOS.

What do you think?

God Bless,
Tom Gabriel

Hi Tom,

I had no complaint about how Safari 4 worked on mydialup setup other than the missing progress bar. I do prefer theOpera, Firefox, Camino, andiCab interfaces.

I've indeed hears about the polycarbonate MacBook casecracking issue, although the issue seems to have cooled off recently,and Apple may have found a way of quietly addressing the defect.

That consideration did weigh on my decision to go witha Unibody MacBook lastwinter rather then the white jobbie. Personally, with the recentupgrade of the 13" Unibody to MacBook Pro status,along with my positive experience so far with the aluminum MacBook, Iwouldn't any longer consider a WhiteBook unless I was insuch strained circumstances that I absolutely couldn't scrape togetherthe extra $200.

Actually, my Apple Certified Refurbished Unibody onlycost me Can$50 more than the list price of a WhiteBook.

Charles

256 MB Memory Modules for WallStreet

From Henry:

Hi Charles,

WallStreets arepicky about 256 MB memory modules. They need to be 16-chip modules ifthey are older memory. It's hard to find low-profile low-densitySO-DIMMs for the lower slot. OWC has some special WallStreet lowprofile 8-chip modules which work in matched pairs, which I'm using for512 MB in mine. Enough memory to run Tiger, and solid at the 83 MHz buson my 292 MHz model. Memory which doesn't match the controller willonly register 128 MB or may not work at all (and most 256 MB SO-DIMMswon't work). 128 MB and smaller are nearly all compatible.

Henry

Hi Henry,

Thanks for the useful information.

Charles

My iBook Battery Experience

From Mike:

Hi Charles,

Enjoy your site.

I am using a 14" iBook. When the original battery failed, I bought anew one at the Apple Store (it failed with no warning - and an AppleStore was close to my hotel). The new battery made me rediscover allthat was great about this machine.

About 8 months later, I noticed that the battery was not poweringthe iBook for as long with typical use. System profiler and coconutBatterytold me that capacity was down to 40% with 200 charge cycles.

I went to my local Apple Store (with rec't) and, after explaining,they exchanged for a new battery, which itself carries a new 1 yearwarranty.

This has been a great experience with Apple . . . and I keep an eyeon my present battery and also the end of my current warrantyperiod.

Some years ago, with my TiBook, I bought two batteriesfrom a well known aftermarket supplier - both of them had very poorperformance and failed within months.

Customer support was nonexistent . . . and the TiBook is now usedwith the original Apple battery for short periods of time.

I learned a valuable lesson there about suppliers.

Thanks,
Mike

Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I think Apple's OEM batteries are good quality, andyour positive experience with your Apple Store and your unhappy outcomewith the third-party batteries would reinforce that,

OTOH, as I mentioned, I've had very good service fromboth my NewerTech and FastMac replacement batteries for the Pismos, andthey have the added benefit of higher capacity than the stockunits.

I've had pretty good luck with the original Applebatteries though, with the exception of my first Pismo's OEM unit,which failed relatively early on (I bought the other two Pismos withoutbatteries). The 1999 WallStreet still has its original battery, and itwas still taking enough of a charge to run for a bit by the time mywife retired it. The G3 iBook's original battery out lasted themachine, and my 17"PowerBook still has its original battery as well.

Charles

Editor's note: My TiBook battery lasted about 3-1/2years before I replaced it with a NewerTech unit, which lasted untilthe computer was dropped and irreparable. I'm in the process ofupgrading a 266 MHz WallStreet (my newest PowerBook) and am veryimpressed with Apple's OEM batteries. Although I have one dead battery,I now have two old, used batteries that are each good for over 2-1/2hours at full drain (using BatteryAmnesia on Mac OS 9). I never expected this kind ofperformance from decade-old batteries. dk

I Want More Control of iTunes and iPhoto

From Dan:

Charles

I've finally made the transition from my Blue & White G3 to the2009 Mac mini. I'mprobably going back to OS 9 on the B&W; I love PageMaker, and"classic mode" never seemed to work right. I'm still using myPismo.

I've never really liked iTunes way of "randomly" plugging my tracksfrom albums into the "shuffle". I'd like my albums to remain as albumsand only the singles I load to be used in random playback. There's onlya few singles on each of my albums that stand out as singles to me.Over the years I doubt if I've purchased more than 30 singles from theiTunes Store.

The other irksome point . . . why must my photos be an "event"? Iwant to upload from my cameras into my library then sort thephotos into the albums I wish them to be in. For some reason Applethinks they know more about what I want to do than I do.

Is there a way to do this using Apple's products? If not, are therea pieces of software that would allow me to be the boss?

Thanks you for considering these questions for response.

Dan

Hi Dan,

I wish I could help, but I've never experimented muchwith customizing iTunes behavior, and I don't use iPhoto as my photoorganizer, so I'm afraid my ignorance of both topics of your query isencyclopedic.

Perhaps some of our readers will be able to offersuggestions.

Charles

Craigslist Software for Mac?

From Scott:

Hey Charles,

Would you mind asking your readers if anyone knows of any softwareto automatically list items on Craigslist? I can find software like thatfor Windows, but not for the Mac.

I have a competitor who constantly deletes my listing, which Iconstantly relist. He's obviously got software that automaticallydeletes my listing . . . Craigslist really ought to changetheir system. Oh well, I don't have anything better to do! (laugh)

Scott

Hi Scott,

I don't know of any such software, but perhaps someonein readerland will - if it exists.

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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