Charles Moore's Mailbag

Stone Dead Pismo, iPhoto 11 Issues on 24" Late 06 iMac, Why No Blu-ray for Macs?, and More

Charles Moore - 2011.03.23 -Tip Jar

Pismos Are Capable of 1 GB of RAM!

From Ivan:

Hi Chuck,

I really appreciate your columns and perspective! I too, own aPismo PowerBook, aOctober 2000 model. Mine was bought about a month before the Titaniums came out. It hadAirPort, 2 USB, and 2 FireWire ports for the first time. I started outwith a G3/400 and later had it upgraded to a Daystar G4/550, and I loveit! Maybe the last of the Pismos could take more memory. I saw OWCprove that it can accept 1 GB of RAM. I run [Mac OS X 10.4] Tigeron it (w/768 MB of RAM), because it can handle Tiger better thanLeopard.

That Pismo is so great and flexible (CD/DVD drive-Zip drive-emptyslot-extra battery) that I didn't feel the need to buy a new machinefor 10 years! I love it and still use it,even though I bought a17" MacBookPro in April 2010. I can't imagine a laptop being better than thePismo! My 2010 MacBook Pro has more modern capabilities, but for howlong it lasted,the new ground that the Pismo broke (FireWire, USB,AirPort, interchangeable modules ), it was and is the greatest laptop Iever used, and it was way ahead of its time!

Thank you for your great columns, and for explaining to Mac users -and computer users in general - that as long as your Mac does what youneed it to do, you don't need a new Mac!

Thanks,
Ivan

Hi Ivan,

Thanks for another Pismo review from a satisfied user10 years on.

Both of my Pismos (May 2000 and October 2000) support1 GB of RAM happily, although I'm running 768 MB in one of them becauseI had a bad 512 MB module with an intermittent fault that had mescratching my head for a while. To the best of my knowledge, all Pismoscan support 1 GB of memory.

Like you, I have a newer Intel Mac, but I still spendabout 2/5 of my computer time on the Pismos.

Charles

Stone Dead Pismo

From Dieter:

Charles,

I was delighted to find your article on the Pismo PowerBook. I haveone that I want to revive, but it is stone dead, even when plugged in.Do you think there is any hope for it? I'm thinking it might be thePRAM battery.

Such a shame that a fine machine that cost almost $5000 would becomejunk like that for want of a battery.

Cheers,
Dieter

Hi Dieter,

Try unplugging the PRAM battery from the motherboard.It's located just inboard and to the right of the trackpad once youremove the keyboard. For illustrated instructions, see iFixit's freeteardown manual.

A Pismo should be able to boot up just fine with thePRAM battery disconnected, although, of course, your settings will belost when you shut it down. If it does start up with the PRAM batterydisconnected, you know you need a replacement PRAM battery.

If that doesn't work, if you haven't already done so,try a power manager reset:

  1. rear of Pismo PowerBookIf the computer is on, turn itoff.
  2. Press the reset button located on the rear panel of the computerbetween the external video and modem ports.
  3. Wait 5 seconds.
  4. Press the Power button to restart the computer.

Note: Resetting the power manager also resets the dateand time. After the reset, the system clock is set to 12:00 a.m.,01/01/1904.

Other less likely possibilities are a fault in RAM orthe hard drive, or possibly even the motherboard and/or processordaughtercard. If it's the motherboard, it's probably game over, but thelikelihood is that it's something else.

Whatever, a computer is just a collection of parts,and if you can determine which one is causing the issue, you should beable to bring the Pismo back to life.

Charles

iPhoto 11 Issues on 24" Late 2006 iMac

From John C.:

I would recommend that anyone with an iMac that has a GeForce 7300GT[note: only the Late2006 iMac has this GPU] not upgrade to the newest version ofiPhoto. There are serious graphical glitches that cause strangeartifacts to appear in the active window, and that's not even the worstpart. It manages to make the entire OS hang once the program freezes.It's not uncommon to wait 5 minutes just to use anything on yourcomputer once it decides it is going to freeze on you.

This problem documented in Apple's forums for iPhoto 11, but thereseems to be no updates that will fix the problem. Apple should beforthright about what systems are supported so that people can makeinformed decisions about purchasing their software. I do not feel thatpeople have a right to have their platforms supported indefinitely, butthey do have a right to know if their system will meet the requirementsdemanded by the software. Reading the forums (it's about 2-3 pages inthe iPhoto 11 installation & general use forum), it looks like alot of people bought the software under the reasonable assumption thatit would work and then ended up having to downgrade, which was timeconsuming in particular if they did not back up their '09 libraries.While this speaks to the importance of backing up, it does seem to be acase of blaming the victim, which I feel is all too frequent on Apple'smessage boards. Apple can do wrong, and we should hold them accountableby either demanding software updates that will remedy thesegraphics/freezing issues on their supposedly supported machines, or askthat they state explicitly which machines are supported on theirsoftware.

John

Hi John,

Thanks for the head-up about this issue.

This sort of thing is one of the reasons why I aminclined to primarily use third-party software solutions - in thiscontext Photoshop Elements.

Charles

PS: I found this on Hardmac and thought of you.

How to Solve theGraphics Card Problem on Some iMacs

"Many Mac users have had problems with thegraphics card in the iMac, especially with the 7300 and 7600 GT thatcame in the last white 24" iMac. Phillipe, one of our readers was ableto repair his own quite easily...."

You can find more details about it on his blog.It is in French but if you are interested, we can provide you with a"translation.

"http://blog.crea64.net/?p=86"

Why No Blu-ray Support from Apple?

From Dan Bashur:

Charles:

Thanks for the reply. Indeed, those third party solutions areavailable, but unfortunately even with those drives installed, youstill cannot achieve commercial Blu-ray playback in OS X. Thesoftware is still Windows only. There is a workaround with Intels, butit involves ripping the .mkv files off your own disks, and playing themback in OS X using VLC. Google it and check it out.

I also wrote a very popular article* on commercial Blu-ray playbackin OS X a while back, Blu-ray Playback in Mac OSX: Will It Ever Happen?

Unfortunately, everything in the article is still valid today,unless things change with the next wave of machines that will ship withOS X 10.7. Why can't Steve Jobs just make the call to unlockHDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) in OS X? Thehardware itself is HDCP compliant. One of the theories behind Stevecalling Blu-ray "a bag of hurt" stems from a feud between Intel andApple over HDCP, among other things. Intel owns the patent rights toHDCP and likely wanted a bit too big of a piece of the pie. Anothertheory is that piling on additional DRM would further cripple systemperformance. I suppose that theory is dead too with the new SandyBridge chipset. This ongoing feud seems to have cooled off (case inpoint - Intel HD graphics, Sandy Bridge, early adoption ofThunderbolt).

So why the holdout over playback in OS X still? It just doesn'tmake sense. I'm sure Apple wants to sell more HD downloads on iTunes,but if I already paid for a commercial Blu-ray and want to take thatwith me and watch it in full HD on my new MacBook Pro, shouldn't I havethat ability? The competition offers this capability. Wouldn't this beanother good selling point for buying a Mac?

To me, as a media junkie and gamer (as much as I love OS X andeverything Apple), a Sony Vaio continues to be more and more appealing.I can run Remote Play software and access my PS3 (to do a variety ofthings) that is sitting at home from anywhere in the world where I haveaccess to WiFi. I can also use my LocationFree base station with aVaio, since the PC client is readily available (the Mac client is outof print, not available for download and very hard to find froma reputable seller). In addition, many Vaios have a Blu-ray drive withcommercial playback. You get everything multimedia with onemachine!

Apple was always proud of itself for greatly exceeding theexpectations of those who purchased its products. For the higher cost,you were given technology that was on the cutting edge withunparalleled design, and it could do almost anything a PC could dofaster and better. It seems that today, Apple is more concerned aboutpushing its own proprietary content. Not a terrible business idea, butI can't help but feel a bit alienated, when in 2000 (at a time when DVDwas relatively new), all Apple products embraced it. The Pismo had bothan expansion bay and a CardBus slot to support additional devices. Isuppose those simpler times when Macs were something a bit more thanexquisite are gone now that Apple is slowly becoming king of themountain. Long live capitalism!

Off my soapbox.

In summary, if Apple doesn't want to provide the drives as OEM,that's fine. Just provide the support through OS X in 10.5.8Leopard and later (universal binary) so we can use Blu-ray in a varietyof machines new and old.

- Dan Bashur

* Publisher's note: I haven't shared the details ofour Popularity rating with our readers. It's designed so thatevery article should achieve a score of one LEM afterless than two days online, and it marks articles as new whenthey've only been up a few days. Most articles will score two or threewithin a day or so. Each additional LEMrepresents twice as many hits as the previous one, so anything withfive or more is very popular - and with a popularity score of seven,Dan Bashur's article is very popular indeed. dk

Hi Dan,

I've long since given up bending my mind trying tofathom what motivates some of Apple's arbitrary perverseness aboutcompatibility with certain technologies. Flash, USB 3, and Blu-ray allspring to mind as exemplars.

However, I think you said a mouthful with yourobservation: "It seems that today, Apple is more concerned aboutpushing its own proprietary content."

Not always, however. Apple has been in the process ofthrowing FireWire under the bus for some time now, and it's one of itshomegrown technologies, but they're embracing Intel's Thunderbolt I/Otechnology with open arms.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Apple to supportBlu-ray with OS X, but you never know.

As a general observation, however, I perceive that weMac OS veterans are going to be frustrated and disappointed with thechanges in course likely coming for the platform. Hopefully, there willbe some mitigating desirable aspects as well.

Charles

Safari 4.1.3 and Hard Disk Access

From Patrick in response to Safari 4.1.3 for Tiger: Fast,but Not Perfect:

Mr. Moore,

Are you sure that the disk access you're seeing in Safari isn't thephishing database (SafeBrowsing.db) being updated? I've seen behaviorlike what you describe (disk chattering a few moments after Safarilaunches, stops when Safari quits) if I open Safari on a computer whereit hasn't been run in a while. You could use fseventerto confirm.

The disk access caused by updating SafeBrowsing.db is a lot lessnoticeable on a faster computer (less effort to download and processthe file, the disk is acoustically quieter, etc.).

Patrick

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for the observations. I've downloadedfseventer. Interesting tool, although I've barely scratched the surfacewith it yet.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that I jumped the gun a bitin giving up on Safari 4.1.3 after only two days over the hard drivebackground activity issue. Upon giving it another chance I'vediscovered that the busy-busy in the background finally resolveditself, and while I'm not giving it a clean bill of health until Iestablish that the issue doesn't return, I think I'll be using thisbuild of Safari to take over the stuff I've been doing with Opera 10.63on the Pismo.

I'm still not sure what was causing the activity, butit may well have been updating SafeBrowsing.db as you suggest. I hadn'tused Safari for some time on this machine, and had done a systemreinstall in the interim.

Charles

Publisher's note: As Charles reported yesterday, he is nowliving with Safari 4.1.3 as the default browser on his pair of PismoPowerBooks running OS X 10.4. dk

Safari 4 Hard Drive Issue

From Matt:

Hello Mr. Moore,

In your article titled "Safari 4.1.3 for Tiger: Fast, but NotPerfect", you said that Safari 4.1.3 was busy on your computers. I havealso experienced this issue on my iBook G3/500 and my iMac G3/600, but [also] with previousversions of Safari. So this problem is not unique to the latestrelease, but I'm disappointed to hear that it still has not been fixed.I feel that Safari 4 is the best overall choice for my old machines,which are so slow that any speed increase is welcome. Safari 4 was thefastest 10.4 browser I tested, both in terms of application loading andpage load times. Therefore I decided to find the cause of this issue sothat I could make Safari my main 10.4 browser.

After turning off different preferences and disabling plugins to noavail, I turned to a web search. Eventually I found a suggestion touncheck the option "Warn when visiting a fraudulent website", which isin the "Security" tab of Safari's Preferences. It worked like a charmon both of my computers, and I have now been using Safari as the mainbrowser on both my G3s for several months. Of course this is a stop gapmeasure (and one that fills me with some unease), but until I find away to actually fix the problem this is how Safari will remain on myG3s.

Hope that helps,

Matt

Hi Matt,

I think it does, but can't be sure, since the harddrive background activity issue resolved itself before I had a chanceto try your suggestion as a fix, but I think I'll keep that securityoption disabled from now on with the G4 machines.

Safari 4.1.3 is now the fastest browser I've tried inTiger, although, as you apprehend, I expect it will be an ephemeralanswer to the OS X 10.4 browser support erosion. Safari 4.1.3could very well be the last Safari version offering OS X 10.4support, and with WebKit moving on to Safari 6 (with OS X 10.7Lion?) and Mozilla having dropped Tiger support with version 4 ofFirefox, it's an open question as to how long browsers like OmniWeb,Camino, and SeaMonkey will continue to offer Tiger-compatibleversions.

Charles

Safari 4.1.3 Isn't a New Update

From Dan:

I'm rather disappointed with Charles Moore's latest article(yesterday) on LEM.

"Apple takes a lot of stick from users of older Machardware for dropping support for their machines from later versions ofthe Mac OS - and for older Mac OS versions from the latestsoftware."

Well deserved "stick", IMO.

"However, I want to salute Apple for just releasingone more update of its Safari browser for OS X 10.4 users. Version 10.4is not supported by the current Safari (version 5), but along with thelatest Safari 5 security update release, Apple also issued a Safari4.1.3 update for us holdout Tiger users, and it seems to be a verydecent browser - possibly the best left among the diminishing handfulof up-to-date browsers that still support OS X 10.4."

Folx, can you please double check me on the version of Safari?AFAIK, Apple has left us Tiger users with our pants hanging open -there just is no corresponding security update for Tiger, to go withthe 9 March 2011 release of Safari 5.0.4.

Safari 5.0.4 updatereferences Safari 4.1.3for Tiger, dated 18 November 2010.

"until I noticed that there was a lot of hard driveactivity going on in the background even when I wasn't doing anything.I tried closing tabs. Still no joy.

"However, quitting Safari 4.1.3 ended the backgroundbusy-work Starting up Safari caused it to resume. Bummer, that doesn'thappen with Opera, OmniWeb, or SeaMonkey, all of which I use regularlyon the Pismo."

This has been covered on the LEMlists repeatedly, I believe. Safari is updating the Top Sites &its site preview images. If you turn off the Top Sites, that backgroundtraffic goes away.

"...the need to use an installer and restart themachine after installation instead of just dragging the applicationinto the Applications Folder...."

Again, covered on the lists: Safari is not a self containedapp. It is an app plus a bunch of shared frameworks (WebKit, etal). The only way to complete the installation of those frameworksis to make everything accessing them - other apps and system components- let go, which is most cleanly done with a reboot. Now, if you want,I'm sure Apple could provide a stand-alone version of Safari. Then youcan deal with all the wasted memory from having non-shared sharablelibraries.

FWIW,
- Dan

Hi Dan,

Sorry to disappoint you. You may find the follow-upcolumn I posted this week more agreeable.

The Safari version is 4.1.3, and you're right, it'sthe one released along with Safari 5 last November. I dropped the ballin assuming that because it was linked from the Safari 5.0.4 updatepage, it was likewise a new security update build for Safari 4 andoverlooked the date of release posted on the Safari 4.1.3 page.

I actually hadn't tried any version of Safari 4.1 forPowerPC until a couple of weeks ago. My bro-in-law tried it on hisG5 iMac early on, had problemsof a nontrivial nature, and that made me wary, although it turned outthat his iMac was circling the drain at the time. It's since beenreplaced by a Core i3 iMac.However, I hadn't hear any other horror stories about Safari 4.1.3 inthe ensuing months, so coming very late to the party, I finally gotaround to downloading and installing the required OS X SecurityUpdate 2009-005 and then the browser. I still don't like the Safariuser interface as well as Opera's, but as I noted in the column, Opera10.63 has some serious issues running on PPC Tiger, although lack ofspeed is not one of them.

I appreciate that Safari's integration with the Mac OSis what we have to thank for attributes like Safari's swift startups. Ijust detest doing installer-based software installs.

Charles

PPC Browsers: Try TenFourFox

From Michael:

I'm sure I won't be the last to mention it, but a great PPC browserin TenFourFox. This ismy main browser on my Quicksilver 2002 running10.5.8/10.4.11.

Michael

Hi Michael,

I tried a beta of TenFourFox some time ago, and itwasn't quite ready for prime time, as they say. I'll have to takeanother look.

Thanks for reminding me.

Charles

Publisher's note: I've been running TenFourFox on myproduction Mac - under 10.4.11 on a dual 1 GHz MDD Power Mac G4 and10.5.8 on a dual 1.6 GHz (upgraded) Digital Audio G4. It's beenworking reliably for me, although it's not my default browser (Caminois), so it doesn't get the workout it would as my default.dk

Getting Lion on an Early 2006 Mac mini

From John:

Hi guys,

Dan Knight wrote [in a personal email]:

"It's my understanding that the motherboards on theCore Duo model are different enough that they can't support 64-bitoperation, which I'm guessing is Apple's reason for not supporting Macswith Core Duo CPUs in Lion. I suspect you will need a model thatshipped with Core 2 Duo [to install the OS X 10.7 Lion Beta]."

Certainly my Early 2006Mini won't boot into the 64-bit kernel in [Mac OS X 10.6] Snow Leopard letalone [OS X 10.7] Lion, but that's true of many factory shipped Core 2Macs. 64-bit apps meanwhile run on it just fine. It was the dual boostfrom a much larger L2 cache and a good bit of extra clock speed thattempted me to swap the 1.6 GHz Core Duo for a 2.0 MHz Core 2 Duo a fewyears back. But the thought of 64-bit apps was also appealing, as wasupgrading my dad's 1.5 GHz CoreSolo with my spare chip. It was a nice move all round.

I'll write back once I've nagged the factory-shipped Core 2 Duo Macmini owner to let me try my boot disk. My curiosity is piqued as towhat's really different and whether there's potential for an artfulhack.

Thanks guys

- John

Morning fellas,

Yup, turns out it is just a motherboard lock. Thenative Core 2 Duo mini starts Lion just fine, even with precisely thesame model of Intel CPU as its upgraded brother. Lion presumably relieson the chipset to inform it whether a Mac is supported or not, ratherthan the processor.

Looks like my old mini's locked out unless an XPostFacto comesalong.

- John

Lion Product Activation

From Alex:

I read in the second most recent Mac News Review that the 10.7 developer preview comes withMicrosoftian activation measures. And then you have the Recovery HDthing. Those are the two secondary reasons I bought three Intel Macs,and were things Apple harped on especially in the Leopard/Vistatimeframe. This may make them more money from unsuspecting users, butif Apple really does utilize those two features come 10.7 generalavailability, I will have to reevaluate my standing with my three IntelMacs, because a familiar method of Spanish character input alone ismost likely not going to do it to allow me to continue to justifypurchasing Intel Macs.

I love what my three 10.6 Snow Leopard Macs can do, especially withiLife '09, iWork '09, and Microsoft Office 2008 Home and Student, butiLife '11, iWork '11 (when it is released), and Microsoft Office 2011have me most disparaged, and I don't want 10.7 to thoroughlydisillusion me by removing MobileMe access from my three Intel Macs. Iam a devoted defender of MobileMe even with the $99 price, because onceyou have three Intel Macs, two PCs that are connected to it, and evenone iDevice( in the shape of a 2G 16 GB iPod touch) like I do, MobileMecan lubricate everything.

Instead, it looks as if Apple wants to replace an affordable $99 ayear subscription into an unaffordable $4,000+ and outfitting costsevery three years at most to keep three Intel Macs up-to-date, and thatis a power grab this longtime Mac fan (much less since OS X and theIntel transition though) can't ever begin to justify.

I don't know about you, but I'll be sticking to Snow Leopard for aslong as possible with my current application mix, and when that getsunable to do the Internet, I'll have to do one of three things I can'tstand to do.

I apologize, if I need to, that 10.7 is being turned into this clubthat I feel is being used to bludgeon me, by obsoleting three of thebest Intel Macs a person could ask for, but it may be that I am justnot worthy of being a Mac person. I don't like that thought, but Idon't know what else to do.

From the iMac 2.8 GHz's purchase to the day the 10.7 paradigm shiftis complete, my Macs have been fun, and my Mac OS 9.2.2-running G3 andG4 Macs are still excellent most (save for the iBook's AC adapter jackmessing up despite my incredibly great care in protecting it.)

To me, an Intel Mac requiring activation and only shipping with aRecovery HD partition is too much a PC just with an Apple logo on it tojustify.

I just thought you could benefit from my thoughts or that thereaders could if you're kind enough to publish it.

Kindest regards and largest blessings,
Alex

Hi Alex,

Thanks for sharing your musings on these topics.

I too am apprehensive about what logistical changesmay be coming with OS X 10.7, being one who has not gladly embraced theMac App Store paradigm shift.

We'll really have to wait and see what actuallyhappens. If the new regime is not tolerable, at least Snow Leopardshould remain a capable platform for a good long time yet.

And, of course, there's always Linux. At this stage ofthe game, I have little enthusiasm for switching to a differentplatform and starting from scratch developing a production ecosystem,but sometimes change is thrust upon us whether we like it or not.Philosophically, I am far more in harmony with the Linux way of doingthings than the way Apple appears to be going with their "walledgardens."

However, I'll keep my powder dry until I know for surewhat I'm going to have to deal with.

We'll see.

Charles

Ribbons for ImageWriter II

From Jeany,

Hi,

Do you know where I can find ImageWriter Ribbons? Can it be safe toassume that they stopped making them?

It's for a retro 80's art project.

-jeany

Hi Jeany,

See this blog: http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/apple2/faq/18-019-Where-can-I-get-Imagewriter-II-ribbons.html

Other places listing Imagewrter II ribbons:

Good luck with your project.

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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