Charles Moore's Mailbag

WallStreet CPU Upgrades, Buffalo WiFi Problems, Long Power Outages, and More

Charles Moore - 2009.10.14 - Tip Jar

Processor Upgrade for WallStreet

From AM:

Hello Charles

I am looking for a replacement processor for my WallStreet PowerBook, and in your 25th anniversary article you mention as a plus the "availability of the processor upgrades up to 450 MHz, 466 MHz, or 500 MHz". On eBay I saw a Pismo 400 MHz processor, but the seller says that it won't work with a Wallstreet or Lombard.

Could you please tell me which are the processors the PDQ will accept?

Thanks and congrats for the great work.

AM

PS I use the PDQ as my word processor and cannot accept the idea of giving it up . . . I bought a MacBook 2 GHz which is running 2.5 GB RAM, but only use it for web-surfing and mail...

Hi AM,

To the best of my knowledge, all WallStreet processor upgrade products have been discontinued. It may be possible to still find them on eBay or Craigslist, etc. catch as catch can.

Not much left in Pismo upgrades either - FastMac and Wegener Media still offer them I think.

However, as you were informed, a Pismo upgrade will not work in the Wallstreet/PDQ or the Lombard, since they have completely different motherboard designs, despite the similarity on looks.

Wegener still lists a bunch of recycled stock WallStreet/PDQ processor cards

  • G3 233 MHz processor card (0k cache) $9.99
  • G3 250 MHz processor card w/ backside cache (upgrade for original 233/0k systems) $39.00
  • G3 233 MHz processor card w/ backside cache $39.99
  • G3 266 MHz processor card w/ backside cache $49.00
  • G3 300 MHz processor card 300 MHz 1 MB backside cache $99.00

I expect one of these would get you up and running again.

Charles

Buffalo WiFi Problem with Pismo

From Felix:

Dear Mr. Moore,

First off, congratulations on your brand new broadband service. I'm happy that you're finally enjoying what a lot of people take for granted, forgetting that far, far more have no access to it - even in North America.

I make my living as a freelance translator and editor, and I depend so much on email, Internet, and FTP access for my work that high speed Internet has been a part of my life for many years now. I count myself blessed that I have had access to it from Day 1, living in urban Miami. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to do it at all - so kudos again to you for managing to do all that and much more. It's a testimony to your talent, your thirst for knowledge, and your unflinching vocation that you have managed such a successful career writing on technology while depending on dial-up and trips to the (WiFi enabled) library. It completely blows my mind, and I sincerely admire and envy you for it.

Second, you mention that you're having problems with the Buffalo card in your Pismo dropping the signal and having to restart the machine. I am having the same problem with a Belkin card in one of my Pismos - I, too, have more than one ;-) . Ironically enough, the other Pismo has an original AirPort Card, and its reception is stable as can be. I would even say it's a tad speedier, despite the fact that the Belkin card is G capable, and the AirPort is only B. I am a complete ignoramus in these matters but can't help wondering if it has something to do with the built-in antenna for the AirPort Card that runs by the display - it improves reception for the AirPort slot, but I don't think it does anything for the PC card bus. I'm sure more knowledgeable people will chime in.

Keep up the good work!

Best regards,
Felix

Hi Felix,

Thanks for the comments. On my Pismo with the Buffalo card, things seem fine until the memory heap begins to get a bit raggedy and swapfile activity ramps up. I have only 640 MB of RAM in that machine. Upgrading to a gigabyte might help.

Charles

Broadband and Power Outages

From Greg:

If you are using cell-based broadband (sounds like you are), the cell site will have a generator; nearly all of them do for emergency communications. A lot of public safety agencies (including fire, EMS) use cell phones for auxiliary communication, as well as data links to their in-car computers, so functionality and reliability while the power is out is a must.

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the comment.

Nope; it isn't cell-based, but a completely separate proprietary wireless system with its own transmission towers. The tower I'm aimed at would probably serve fewer than 100 subscribers (this is a *really* sparsely populated area) and carries no emergency functions. I hope I'm mistaken, but I'm doubtful that they would have any kind of UPS.

Actually, cell-based Internet isn't available here at all - for instance, iPhones don't work here. Virtually the entire county where I live - one of the geographically largest in Nova Scotia but sparsely populated - is outside Apple's until recently exclusive Canadian service provider partner Rogers Communications' GSM/GPRS coverage range, the nearest fringe of which is about 30 miles away.

Charles

Interesting; what's the company and what kind of transmission technology are they using?

Hi Greg,

Our wireless is supplied by a Nova Scotia-owned indie outfit called Seaside Wireless Communications, based out of Sydney, NS.

I have no clue as to the transmission technology.

Charles

Long Power Outages

From David:

We once had a week-long power outage. Can you imagine snow on the ground outside and no heat in your house? Much worse than no Internet?

Hi David,

That's horrible. That's horrible. Where do you live?

We would be reasonably comfortable, since we heat with wood stoves and have gravity fed water, but I would be in severe Internet withdrawal under those circumstances!

Some folks here in Nova Scotia went two weeks without power after Hurricane Juan in 2004, but it was in the early fall, so nobody froze. That storm's effect was quite localized, and our power didn't even go off for a short time, although it flickered at the height of the wind.

Charles

PS/2 Mouse with USB Adapter Causing MacBook Insomnia

From Mike:

Following up on last week's posting:

It wasn't the frosty cat's fault: I still had a Walmart PS/2-to-USB adaptor connecting my mouse to the laptop. (I still can't stand laptop pointing devices, and PS/2 mice and keyboards are almost free in secondhand shops.) The adaptor was at the end of a long USB extension wire, and I just stopped thinking of the mouse on it as a USB device, but a PS/2 one. Then it occurred to me that Macs don't have PS/2 ports. Doh! Mostly, I use laptops as desktops; a friend's old hard drive connected via USB, PS/2 mice, external monitors, gamepads, USB hubs, and my desk starts to look like the inside of a Borg cube.

That old fashioned mouse is so sensitive to vibrations that it could be used as a seismograph. It's not optical, but has a ball in it. Maybe it's Florida's weather or poor quality diode lasers, but optical mice fail a lot for me, and I actually prefer the old kind. Anyway, just remembering to yank the mouse solved the sleep problem. Didn't notice this in the logs, because it showed up only as "reason for wake: USB3" which just made me say "huh? whatever...."

Also, before Snow Leopard arrived, I was kind of bored with Leopard, using Linux most of the time, and Ubuntu only wakes when you push the power button. I'll probably go back to using Linux mostly, since Snow Leopard didn't really make much difference. Dual booting and installing Linux really is a lot easier than it used to be. It's so easy that I'm getting bored with Linux, too. Oh well, maybe it's time to start fixing my collection of dead, ticking Duo Docks! :)

Hi Mike,

Time to check out Windows 7? ;-)

Thanks for the follow-up and glad you got it sorted out.

Charles

EU iPod Volume Limit

From John:

Dear Mr. Moore,

I couldn't find any mention of it in your recent Low End Mac compilation, but Apple has been putting a 100 dB sound limit on their EU-market iPods since 2003 to satisfy a French law requiring that from the same year. The new EU regulation is pretty much a non-story for Apple gear.

After reading a few more articles on the proposed EU regulations, it appears their main effect may be to add some sort of nag-screen when you push the volume past 80-89 dB or remove the limit.

Since EU members must harmonize their national laws with EU law, the proposed regulations should nullify the French law imposing the 100 dB maximum sound level. I expect the French delegation, however, will get their limit incorporated into the final EU regulations in one form or another.

With greetings from John.

Hi John,

Thanks for the further information. Personally I think it's a sensible law in any case. I've been told by an audiologist that I have partial hearing loss, although it's not severe, and mine came from using chainsaws and electric power tools.

Since receiving that information, I've used hearing protection (usually earplugs) when operating noisy tools, and I keep the iPod cranked down well below 89 dB I imagine.

Charles

QuickPAD Connectivity

From Kelly:

Dear Mr. Moore,

I read your article on the QuickPAD IR and the QuickPAD Pro. I really hope you can help me, because QuickPAD's customer services don't want to know. The QuickPAD IR I have is in a black case.

I can't seem to upload text to my PC. I'm using a double-ended male PS/2 cable, like you would with an Alphasmart. I know they say it works with infrared. Can you tell me if the below would work?

  • A USB-to-IrDA adapter.
  • A USB-to-PS/2 adapter.

They would really help, because I have USB ports on the front of my PC and I struggle with mobility. I can't physically turn my PC round to access the PS/2 port.

I realise you are a very busy gent, but please, please, is it possible to get this machine going? I need it to work when I can't sit at the PC due to pain.

Yours,
Kelly

Hi Kelly,

Wow! That's an oldie. 2001, it looks like. I had to look up the article to refresh my memory. It was basically a news item, probably based on a press release.

To be honest, I have no recollection. I've never used a QuickPAD and am totally ignorant of its technical nuances - and pretty much the same about connectivity issues with Windows PCs, so I can't offer an opinion as to whether the adapter workaround you propose would work.

Would it be possible for you to get a PS2 cable extender that could be led around to the front for more convenient access?

Perhaps someone else in the audience will be able to shed some light.

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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