Miscellaneous Ramblings

Mac OS 8.6 and Beyond

Charles Moore - 14 May 1999 - Tip Jar

NOTE: This Miscellaneous Ramblings column originallyappeared on MacOpinionon May 14, 1999, just three days after Apple announced the "Lombard" PowerBook G3. It is republishedhere by permission of the author and MacOpinion.

This has been a humdinger of a week in the Macintosh world, whatwith the introduction of the new professional "Lombard" PowerBook along with a slew ofthird-party peripherals, plus Mac OS 8.6, and a look ahead at two moreMac operating systems waiting in the wings.

I'm posting a separate special Road Warrior report on "Lombard," solet's get right to the other stuff.

Apple's OS Agenda

Over the next twelve months (probably less) Apple will roll out twomajor upgrades of the Mac OS 8.X (counting OS 8.6 which was released onMonday) plus a whole new OS to carry the Mac into the next century.

Mac OS 8.6

Mac OS 8.6 is basically an evolutionary update to OS 8.5,incorporating bug-fixes and improvements including enhanced stability,better memory management, a more powerful Sherlock search engine, andapproximately one-third longer battery life and cooler running forPowerBooks.

The WallStreet/PDQ PowerBooksreportedly run about 7 degrees cooler under Mac OS 8.6. The editor ofthe PowerBook Source MacinThoughts column writes:

I have no clue how they've done it, but my PowerBookdoes run cooler with 8.6. A lot cooler. I can sit it in my lap withoutburns. It sat on my desk all day, and the bottom was still only warm,not hot.

Cool!

Mac OS 8.6's longer battery life is achieved through advanced powermanagement technologies and may result in up to an extra hour's runningtime.

Sherlock now comes with more than 25 plug-ins that provide fastersearches of major Web sites and Internet search engines. Its "find bycontent" feature can now search the content of PDF and HTML filesstored on your hard drive.

Mac OS 8.6 also includes updated versions of AppleScript, ColorSync,and Mac OS Runtime for Java, and a new LaserWriter driver.

Other new wrinkles in Mac OS 8.6 include:

  • Updated version of Sherlock with over 25 plug-ins that allow fastsearches of popular web sites such as CNN Interactive, Cnet,Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Music Boulevard and Rolling Stone, inaddition to Internet search engines such as Alta Vista, Excite, HotBot,Infoseek and Lycos. Sherlock's "find by content" feature now includesthe ability to search the content of PDF and HTML files stored on yourhard drive.
  • Advanced power management technologies that increase PowerBookbattery life by more than one hour on PowerBook computers.
  • Support for many Nokia or Ericsson IrDA-capable mobile phones,allowing PowerBook users to check email or access the Internet throughtheir mobile phone (requires a compatible PowerBook, phone and serviceprovider).
  • Improved USB and FireWire integration, providing superior plug andplay and support for the latest USB and FireWire peripherals.
  • Support for DVD-RAM disks, allowing users to store and shareinformation using this emerging high-capacity format.
  • Enhanced game support through integration of Apple's Game Sprocketstechnology, the basis for many of the most popular Mac games.
  • Mac OS Runtime for Java (MRJ) 2.1.1, the latest version of AppleJava Virtual Machine, running Java software up to five times faster andwith support for JDK 1.1.7.
  • AppleScript 1.3.7, supporting scriptable access to the Internet soMacintosh users can upload and download content and data withinautomated workflows, and adds the ability to schedule AppleScripts sothey can run when the computer is unmanned.
  • ColorSync 2.6.1, enhancing publishing automation through improvedAppleScript integration, easy configuration of ColorSync profiles andCMM selections, and support for JPEG and GIF files.

If you already have Mac OS 8.5 or 8.5.1, the OS 8.6 upgrade is allyou need to get, and it's a free download.

If you are upgrading from an earlier version of the Mac OS, you willneed to first purchase Mac OS 8.5 and then install the OS 8.6 upgradeon top of it.

This is a highly recommended upgrade, and experience with the OS 8.6beta builds indicates that it is a fast, stable system with few obviousbugs (although no doubt there will be some!). PowerBook users willappreciate the fact that OS 8.6 runs significantly cooler than earlierversions and that battery charge life is reportedly increased by aboutone-third running under this system.

Mac OS 8.5 customers can download the 8.6 update free of charge athttp://www.apple.com/macos.It's available as an international release in 10 different languages.The OS update can also be ordered on CD-ROM for US $19.95; order formsare available at http://www.apple.com/macos.

There are two download versions:

Mac OS 8.(7?) - "Sonata"

The next update of the Mac OS 8.X (probably OS 8.7), code named"Sonata," is scheduled for release this fall, will have at least 50 newfeatures, including Sherlock 2, a major update and enhancement of theSherlock search engine.

Sherlock 2 will have a "drawer" for storing frequently used plug-insets, and will include plug-ins for accessing online retailers and"people-finder" directories.

"Sonata" will also support multiple users (various family members,for instance) on a single Mac, by way of a log-in panel and passwordsto control file access and preferences. The system will automaticallyconfigure itself to a set of particular preferences for fonts, desktopappearance, and other elements. You can use the passwords to controlaccess to e-mail, Web sites, and locally stored files or folders. And a"keychain" function for managing multiple passwords. Also included willbe Apple encryption protocols for protecting file privacy, and a"Voiceprint" security system will allow users to log in with a spokenpassword or phrase

Mac OS X

Apple's new, NeXTstep-based operating system is scheduled to debutin early 2000. A tentative guess would be for Apple iCEO Steve Jobs tointroduce it in his keynote address at Macworld Expo SF in January, butthat is speculative at this point and probably too optimistic.

Like the currently shipping Mac OS X Server, the client version ofOS X will be based in Apple's open source "Darwin" core (a new 3.0version of the Mach microkernel and Berkeley Unix components), but witha completely new user interface imaging model called "Quartz," which isto be based on Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF - Acrobat)technology, providing the windowing and graphic-display featurescurrently handled by QuickDraw. Quartz will support sophisticatedimaging features like alpha channels, allowing developers to writeimage compositing functions into their applications. In his WWDCaddress, Steven Jobs noted that "This stuff was actually developed byPixar about 15 years ago."

The Mac OS X Server "blue box" environment that runs "heritage" MacOS applications in native mode will be renamed "Classic" for Mac OS X.Mac OS X will not support advanced features like Programs running in"Classic" which provides compatibility for existing applicationswithout offering any of the extra features of the new OS, such asQuartz' graphics, memory protection, and so forth. Mac OS X Server's"Yellow Box," used to develop new software for the OS, has been renamed"Cocoa" for the client version and will support full Java programminginterfaces as well as Objective C interfaces.

Mac OS X will feature a completely new Finder developed using theMac OS X "Carbon" programming interfaces. The new NeXTstep-based Finderwill support viewing contents of local volumes or remote directories byclicking on icons above a results window. Frequently accessed folders,whether stored on a local volume or over a network, can be parked on a"shelf" for easy access; Steve Jobs used the analogy of car radiotuning buttons. Also supported in the new Finder will be picturepreviews and file information in the directory list.

A new, built-in email client written for the "Cocoa" will takeadvantage of Mac OS X's advanced capabilities, allowing you to placePDF files in the message body, and to search for message content -including the contents of PDF files - using a Sherlock-basedengine.

Apple has released Developer Preview 1 CDs, which include Mac OS XClient, the open-source Darwin code, the Quartz programming interfaces,and application development tools. A Developer Preview 2 will beavailable in the fall, and the final version will ship "within a year,"which doesn't sound promising for a January release

Some Mac OS X Client features include:

  • Protected memory
  • Preemptive multitasking
  • Multithreading
  • Open source core code
  • Will run existing heritage Mac applications in the "Classic"environment (nee' "Blue Box").
  • Apple's "Carbon" Environment makes it easy for developers torecompile and clean up existing Mac apps, and provides gives all"Carbonized" apps access to all of OS X's new features.
  • Includes "Cocoa" (nee' "Yellow Box"), a new object orientedenvironment for writing Java apps.
  • A new "Ports" windowing protocol built on top of Darwin, based onAdobe's PDF, with built-in anti-aliasing, transparency, drop shadows,all running in real-time and built into MacOS X's imaging system.
  • Mac OS X's New Finder will be reminiscent of the NeXTstep interfacewith one scrolling window. Clicking on a file will bring up a previewor thumbnail image including "Get Info" data.
  • A new built-in e-mail client

Hacking OS 8.6 to Run on an PowerBook 500

PowerBook 500 user Seth Mattinen has posted a Web page withdetailed instructions for hacking Mac OS 8.6 to run on PowerPC upgradedPowerBook 500, which are unsupported in Apple's release. Seth figuresthat similar hacks can be used to run OS 8.6 on other PowerPC upgradedMacs.

As with Mac OS 8.5, Mac OS 8.6's installer refuses to run on PPCupgraded older Macs. However, the workaround procedure to make it workisn't that complex, according to Seth.

In order to perform the hack you need two pieces of software:Apple's ResEdit, and Wish I were. Seth has provided links to downloadboth on his Web page. http://roller.reno.nv.us/mac/powerbook8.6.html

Wish I Were tricks the Mac OS 8.6 Update Installer into thinkingit's running on a supported system, and ResEdit is an all purpose codeediting tool.

You'll need a boot disk that supports the formatting on your harddrive. Seth explains how to trick the OS 8.6 Installer into thinkingits on a supported machine.

Then you must boot your boot floppy and use ResEdit to hack theSystem file so it will also be tricked into thinking it's running on asupported machine.

Once this is done, Seth says that his PowerBook 500 boots up in MacOS 8.6 just fine. He has also posted a table with information on how tohack the System file for other types of PPC upgraded Macs.

However, he says that he has received a few reports that this hackdoesn't work for other computers, noting:"It's possible Mac OS 8.6 is different from 8.5 in that it relies onhaving only a PPC processor in the machine, since upgrade card machinesstill access the 68k processor at startup. With the 500 seriesPowerBook (and others that use the same sort of upgrade procedure), theprocessor is completely replaced. I only have a 500 series PowerBookthough, so I can't say anything for sure. Try it yourself, and see whathappens. If it doesn't work, just have an installer handy so you can goback to the previous version of system software you were using.

Seth says to feel free to email him with any comments or questionsat <sethm@roller.reno.nv.us>.

iCab Browser Preview Version 1.5 Released

The latest preview version 1.5 of iCab's new Mac-only browser hasbeen available for download from the iCabWebsite for the past week.

I've been using iCab 1.5 as my main browser since last Friday, and Ifind it seems a little faster and smoother, and it will finally loadthe Web page of my local newspaper - sometimes, which is something thefive previous betas of iCab I've sampled would not do at all. I stillrun across the odd other Web page that iCab simply refuses to load, sothere's room for improvement yet, and I keep Netscape 2.02 open as abackup while surfing.

Netscape 2.02 is still the fastest usable Mac browser, but it hasproblems rendering Java, and the fact that you can't use Command-clickto open links in a new page negates some of its speed advantage. I amspeaking here in the context of working with a slow Mac on an also slowdialup connection. The later versions of Communicator are frustratinglysluggish with this setup, and Explorer 4.5 is hopeless. iCab is slowerthan Netscape 2.02 in both loading pages and scrolling, but it is fastenough to be usable.

iCab still has no option to save Web page content as text only (HTMLis supported in the Save as... dialog), a feature I find it difficultto get along without. Yes, I know you can drag the text onto theDesktop as a text clipping, but on a PowerBook 5300, where screen real estate is at apremium and the browser window fills the entire display, that makesclippings cumbersome. Netscape and Explorer both have a "save as text"option, and it doesn't seem too much to ask for. As a workaround, Icopy and paste text that I want to download into Tex-Edit Plusdocuments.

Aside from that, since version 1.4, iCab has been stable enough forme to use as my main Web Browser, and being small, RAM-parsimonious,and reasonably fast makes it an ideal choice in a full-featured, modernbrowser for less powerful Macs like the PB 5300. Of course it flies ona G3.

iCab works happily in a 1,280 KB memory partition so long as VirtualMemory or RAM Doubler is enabled, and it occupies only a tiny 2 MBof hard drive space.

iCab preview Version 1.5 will work until mid-August, but thereshould be two or three later preview versions released before thatdate. The final version, which will sell for the shareware-esque priceof $29, is expected to be ready around the turn of the year, and a free"lite" version will continue to be available as well.

It only takes a few minutes to download the iCab preview (about800k), and each new version accesses preferences and the "Hotlist"(i.e.: Bookmarks) from the previous version, so there is noconfiguration hassle upgrading from version to version.

New Features in iCab Preview 1.5 since Preview 1.4 include:

  • New option (preferences/windows, launch) which can be used toswitch on the Offline Mode each time iCab is started.
  • New option for the error dialog (preferences/Error report). iCabdoes now support the <!DOCTYPE> tag to get the reference for theerror report.
  • It is now possible to use BBEdit (full version) to check the HTMLsyntax and the links. This can be done using the contextual menus ofthe browser window (submenu "Frame" and "Page") or the contextual menuof the error report window. Choose the menu entry "Check Syntax withBBEdit" or "Check Links with BBEdit". It is possible to switch offthese menu entries (useful if BBEdit (full version) is not available).This can be done in the preferences dialog (section "errorreport"),
  • There's a new icon in the status bar (at the bottom of a browserwindow). If this icon is crossed iCab is in offline mode, otherwiseiCab is in online mode. To change the online/offline mode just click onthe icon.
  • A new option in printing dialog: "ignore background images"
  • It is now possible to change the schedule of the Hotlist checkerfor all selected entries (including folders) at the same time (inprevious versions you could only change the schedule of a single entryat the same time). Just select all the entries/folders and open thecontextual menu. Now choose "schedule".
  • iCab will put a rotating disc to the mouse cursor while downloadingsome data. Bugfixes:
  • When using multiple screens iCab now places the windows in thecorrect screen.
  • Opening a server-side-image-map-link in a new window didn'twork.
  • The 68K version crashed when opening the printing dialog.
  • "Divide by zero" error fixed that crashed the 68K version.
  • The 68K version reported many network errors with large errorcodes. This is fixed now.
  • GIF animations which are used as background images will now bedisplayed correct.
  • The proxy authorization didn't work correct. Hopefully this willwork now.
  • Active-X controls were recognized as Java applets.
  • Bugfix when using Arabic/Hebrew encodings/fonts.
  • When downloading whole web sites iCab did also follow mailtolinks.
  • If <COL> was used without <COLGROUP> iCab did report anerror. But this is wrong. It is allowed that <COL> is usedwithout <COLGROUP>.
  • "Cut Cmd-X" is now also supported in the Hotlist, the History andthe download manager.
  • Bug in processing the AppleEvents fixed.
  • Some problems of the HTML parser resolved.
  • Some new workarounds for false HTML code implemented.
  • When the <NOFRAMES> tag was missing in the frame definitionbut the "noframes" part did nevertheless exist and it also contained<META HTTP- EQUIV="Refresh"...> iCab did evaluate the METAtag.
  • iCab sets the HTTP header field "Accept-Language" if the user setsa preferred language. Unfortunately some servers didn't accept the formiCab had used (even if this was correct). Now iCab uses the form whichis used by MSIE (but this is not really correct).
  • The menu entry "Load missing images" (main menu) didn't work if"show images" was switched off.
  • Some problems with false use of ROWSPAN or COLSPAN resolved.
  • iCab now evaluates the "Refresh" header field of the HTTP responseof a web server.
  • Now, iCab does save the History regularly (about all 5 minutes) andnot only once when quitting.
  • Now, iCab is less strict in detecting a click. Even if the mouse ismoved 1 or two pixels before releasing the mouse button, the click istreated as "click" and not as "drag" like before.

For questions concerning iCab, bug reports and suggestions:support@icab.de .

For general questions concerning the concept, marketing etc.:info@icab.de .

Power Macintosh G3 (Blue & White): PowerBook SCSI DiskMode

Apple has posted a TIL article about using the blue &white Yosemite G3 Power Mac with PowerBooks in SCSI Disk Mode.

According to Apple, to use a PowerBook in SCSI Disk mode withYosemite, the latter must be configured with one of Apple's SCSI cardoptions (obviously, since Yosemite has no standard SCSI). Apple'srecommended solution is to use the Apple Ultra PCI SCSI card, which isavailable as a Build To Order option from the Apple Store. This cardships with an HD50 to 25 pin adapter for use with a standard SCSIsystem cable.

Here are the steps necessary to connect a PowerBook in SCSI DiskMode to a Power Macintosh Blue & White G3 Yosemite:

  1. If necessary, disable the PowerBook password security option.
  2. Set up the SCSI Disk Mode control panel to use a unique SCSIID.
  3. Shut down the PowerBook.
  4. Shut down the Yosemite.
  5. Connect the HD50 to 25 Pin adapter to the SCSI card's externalconnector.
  6. Connect a standard SCSI system cable to the adapter.
  7. Connect a PowerBook HDI-30 Disk Adapter cable to the SCSI SystemCable.
  8. Connect the small connector on the HDI-30 Disk Adapter cable to theSCSI port on the back of the PowerBook.
  9. Turn on the PowerBook; this should display the SCSI symbol with theSCSI ID number in the middle of it on the screen.
  10. Turn on the Yosemite.

The PowerBook's hard disk volume(s) should show up on the desktop ofthe Power Macintosh once the computer has started up.

Or not. Please refer to my recent article about PowerBooks and SCSIfor more on possible issues you may encounter. See list of links at theend of the column.

Note that the Apple Single Channel Ultra2 SCSI PCI card may notfunction correctly with the PowerBook in SCSI disk mode, treating theSCSI bus as unterminated. In that case, multiple hard drive icons willappear on the Yosemite's desktop. This is an issue with the way thatthe card interacts with the PowerBook SCSI Disk mode software.

In this case, Apple unfortunately offers no further advice.

Newer Technology FireWire CardBus Card for PowerBook G3

Newer Technology, Inc. hasannounced the first FireWire CardBus PC Card for the new Lombard and G3Series II notebooks. FireWire 2 Go enables users to easily connect toany self-powered FireWire device including external hard drives,digital video cameras and suchlike.

FireWire 2 Go consists of a Type II card, a PC Card to FireWiredongle and an eight-foot 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire adapter cable (for DVcameras and camcorders). Supplied software on CD-ROM includes Apple'sFireWire 2.1 Installer and QuickTime Pro version 4. FireWire 2 Gosupports Mac OS 8.6 or later.

The Newer adapter automatically adjusts to the fastest availablespeed supported by the connected FireWire device, which ensures maximumperformance while supporting FireWire transfer rates of 100 Mb, 200 Mband 400 megabits per second.

FireWire 2 Go is compatible with Apple's second generation PowerBookG3 Series I and II (WallStreet and PDQ), as well as futureCardBus-enabled PowerBook G3 models running Mac OS 8.6 or later. Aminimum CPU speed of 300 MHz is recommended, but as far as I canfathom, there should be no reason why it would not work with the 233,250, 266, and 292 models as well, albeit with a speed penalty. Fond outfor sure before buying, however.

For users of Series I and II PowerBook G3 notebooks running earlierversions of the Mac OS, the Mac OS 8.6 Update is available on the Appleweb site at http://www.apple.com/macos/.

FireWire 2 Go will be available in June at an estimated street priceof $249.

New Canon Multifunction Printer/Copier/Scanner/Fax Machine forLombard, iMac, And Yosemite

This is cool.

Canon Computer Systems Inc.(CCSI) this week announced the MultiPASS C635, the industry's firstApple-compatible multifunction printer.

The Canon MultiPASS C635 is designed specifically for the Applemarket, and combines photorealistic color printing, color scanning,color copying and plain-paper faxing in one unit. The MFP offersCanon's PhotoRealism and Color Bubble Jet printing at approximately 6.5pages-per-minute in black, approximately 2.5 ppm in color, and featuresfast 600 dpi, an automatic document feeder, and color scanning.

Scheduled to ship in July, the MultiPASS C635 will carry anestimated street price of $379, and will be bundled with Canon Creativesoftware for the Mac SOHO professional. Initially, the MultiPASS C635will be available through Mac-specific catalogues and online viaauthorized resellers. Canon will also be pursuing full retaildistribution through Apple authorized dealers in the Fall.

According to InfoBeads, a Ziff-Davis Company in La Jolla, Calif.,Apple now accounts for 13% of U.S. retail and mail-order PC sales, morethan double its share from a year earlier.

MultiPASS C635 features include:

  • Color Printing: A bi-directional USB-to-parallel cable and offersphotorealistic color output at 720 x 360 dpi on a variety of papers, aswell as approximately 6.5 ppm monochrome print speed and approximately2.5 ppm for speedy color printing and business graphics.
  • Plain-paper faxing: The MultiPASS C635 plain-paper Bubble Jet faxfunction operates at fast transmission speeds of 6 seconds per page.With transmission speeds of 14.4 Kbps, the unit also functions as astandalone fax and can work without connection to an Applecomputer.
  • Color Copying: The MultiPASS C635 also offers standalone colorcopying, a feature that allows Mac users to produce brilliant,photorealistic color copies without support from their iMac, PowerMacintosh G3, or other USB-enabled PowerPC. The unit producesmonochrome copies at 360 x 360 dpi using Canon's exclusive UHQ (ultrahigh quality) digital image processing technology.
  • Color Scanning: The MultiPASS C635 offers fast, high-quality ADFcolor scanning up to 600 dpi (enhanced) with the capability to scan upto 30 documents automatically using a unique batch scanning feature.Mac users may also increase their productivity with hands-off opticalcharacter recognition (OCR) scanning. The MultiPASS C635 gives Macusers the ability to scan photos and color graphics forprofessional-looking presentations and Web pages.

Canon also offers software applications on a software CD-ROMspecifically designed for the Mac home office/small business customerand are a customized Mac version of Canon's award-winning CanonCreative software. The suite includes a simple, easy-to-use MultiPASSDesktop Manager (from Infowave Software Inc.) that allows users toquickly print, scan or copy; Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0 for photo imagemanagement and graphics editing; and ScanSoft's TextBridge ProfessionalOptical Character Recognition (OCR) application software for scanningtext. In addition, MultiPASS C635 users will receive free membership toan online SOHO community where users can host their own web pages.

VST Announces PowerBook G3 "Lombard" Accessories

VST Technologies, Inc. hasannounced a line of storage and power accessories for the new "Lombard"Macintosh PowerBook G3 Series portables.

The new VST storage products include:

  • VST Zip100 for Macintosh PowerBook G3 Series - employing thepopular Iomega Zip drive mechanism
  • VST Hard Drive series - including 6, 8 and 10 Gigabytecapacities
  • VST SuperDisk Drive - reads and writes both Imation 120 MBdiskettes, as well as 1.4 MB floppy diskettes.

VST's new power products include a two-position VST Smart-Charger,AC Power Adapter and a DC Automobile Adapter. VST will also bundle anApple Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery together with the VST Charger andApple AC adapter.

The VST Expansion Bay Hard Drives in 6, 8 and 10 Gigabyte sizes,combine hot-plug/unplug support with fast transfer speeds, up to 10MB/sec with DMA support. The VST Hard Drive series may also be used asthe boot volume, offering users a means for full backup of the internaldrive, including a bootable operating system. The VST Zip100 is alsobootable, and fully supports hot-plug/unplug.

The VST SuperDisk Drive reads and writes standard 1.4 MB floppies aswell as 120 MB Imation diskettes, and supports hot-plug/unplug. ThePowerBook G3 notebook's hot-swappable expansion bay allows users toalternate from a CD-ROM to a VST Hard Drive, VST Zip Drive or VSTSuperDisk without the need to shut down, sleep or restart thesystem.

The VST Smart-Charger includes slots for two Apple Li-Ion batteries,and will ship with an Apple AC Adapter. In addition, VST will ship theUltimate Mobility Bundle, which includes the VST Smart-Charger, anApple AC Adapter and an Apple Li-Ion Battery.

Pricing and Availability
Product:                   Model:           Pricing:  Availability:VST Zip Drive 100          ZIPG32           $229.95    5/17/99VST SuperDisk Drive        LSG32            $229.95    5/17/99VST 4GB Hard Drive         EBHDG3240        $349.95    5/17/99VST 6GB Hard Drive         EBHDG3260        $449.95    NOWVST 8GB Hard Drive         EBHDG3280        $649.95    5/17/99VST 10GB Hard Drive        EBHDG3210        $749.95    5/17/99Charger and AC Adapter     SCHG32           $179.95    JuneUltimate Mobility Bundle   SCHG3203         $329.95    JuneAuto Adapter               AAPB              $79.95    NOWAC Adapter                 ACPB              $69.95    NOW

Ratoc Offers New PowerBook Connectivity Products

Ratoc Systems Inc. of Japanwill offer a new FireWire CardBus PC Card adapter and otherconnectivity products for G3 Series PowerBooks scheduled for releaselate this month.

Currently, Ratoc products are sold through the company's onlinestore, but a U.S. Distribution channel is being set up. Ratoc productsinclude SCSI and network PC cards, FireWire cards and adapters.

Ratoc Systems will provide FireWire driver with the PC Card adapter.Additional drivers or plug-ins will be required in order to useFireWire peripherals like digital video component software and digitalcameras.

Ratoc's Ultra-SCSI CardBus PC Card works with 233-MHz through266-MHz G3 PowerBooks with 14-inch screens, and according to Ratoc isthe only Ultra- SCSI CardBus product for G3 PowerBooks. It sell forabout $160 U.S.

Ratoc's 100Base-TX/10Base-T Network CardBus PC Card will also beoffered for G3 PowerBooks from 233-MHz models with 12-inch displays to266-MHz models with 14-inch displays, and costs about $130.

Ratoc's SmartMedia Adapter PC Card works with 233 MHz to 300 MHz G3Series PowerBooks as well as PowerBook 2400c and 3400c units, and sellsfor about $70.

MR Mailbag

From Scott Frey:

I have a question for you. I have emailed with ADStech support regarding their USB CardBus adapter. An unlisted "feature"is that, while the card may be hot swappable, it draws power for theUSB ports from *the ADB* port on the PowerBook. ADB is not hotpluggable, so to use the USB adapter, you will have to have the reardoor open on the PB, and shutdown to remove the adapter (and pack upthe book). ADS claims that all USB devices will require power from theadapter. This seems to be severely limiting. If I have to shut downanyway, I might as well get use ADB and SCSI devices and skip USB.

Have you heard if the MacAlly or HiVal adapters havethis "feature"?

I read somewhere that the CardBus slot does providepower, but power levels (volts?) differ between 3400, G3 and G3 Series.I think that ADS's reason involved the fact that they were *porting*their Wintel card (it uses a PS2 connection for power). The others mayjust have different models for different books.

Scott later answered his own question by contacting MacAlly:

Scott:

Does your USB CardBus adapter (for Apple PowerBook G3Series) require a connection to the ADB port to supply power for USBdevices?

Cindy at Macally: techsupport@macally.com

No, the CardBus will supply the power needed.

It seems that all USB PC Card adapters are not created equal.


From: P.D. Tillman

Just came across your excellent columns - saw areference in the comp.sys.mac.portables NG.

Disturbing news about the PowerBook warranty-serviceproblems. This may be old hat, but apparently the problems began whenApple dropped Kodak as their warranty-service provider & switchedto ??

I have a 5300, bought as a demo, & it's basicallya pretty rotten machine (but cheap). I think it went back to Rochester3 times for extended-warranty service - basically for the ridiculouslyfragile AC connector - but each time I had the machine back in a weekor less. Granted, it's never worked quite right - I no longer use theAC adaptor unless the PB is on a *secure* desktop, and Rochester neverfixed what I later discovered was a bad microswitch in the latch - butthey were fast & courteous.

A more recent incident may indicate the "New" Applecustomer service: I changed my StyleWriter inkjet cartridge, &found the new one wouldn't print. I wrote/emailed Apple THREE TIMESwith no reply - finally I emailed them & said if they wouldn'tanswer, I'd post the episode to the Net. Got an apologetic phone callthe next day, and a new cart the day after.

So I agree, Cupertino has some serious problems intheir customer "service" department - but if you're persistent, they'llcome thru, in my experience.

Thanks again for the excellent columns.

My pleasure. :-)

Apple is using the PCSS service facility in Dallas, Texas, now - thesame one that Dell and Compaq use.

The experience seems to be erratic. Some people get good service,others end up tearing their hair out.

Sorry to hear of problems with your 5300. Mine has been rock-solidfrom day one. No problems in 2-1/2 years.

Here is the scoop on the Kodak/PCSS switch from an anonymous sourcedeep inside Apple Tech support:

Apple's biggest problem was switching vendors. Kodak,which used to do ALL of our PB repair work, closed down it's 'services'bureau with very little warning. Apple wasn't exactly happy with theway Kodak was doing everything, but at least we were able to put ourhands in the mire and directly effect each and every PB personally(talk to the techs, make priority cases, place parts, etc.). Well,Kodak yanked itself out and Apple had to find itself a new vendor. (andyou can imagine how motivated those Kodak techs were to fix PBs whenthey knew they were losing their jobs.)

Well, Apple took some bids and liked PCSS. PCSS atfirst seemed to have a very well thought-out and complete repairprocess, but it wasn't personable. We couldn't contact techs,customer's couldn't talk to people only at PCSS (they had to talk toApple's whipped-up out of nowhere-it was an impressive feat, one daynothing, another 30 dispatchers- dispatch team.) There were, to say theleast, a lot of issues. So we go about 'Apple-izing' PCSS. We haveApple staff visiting there all the time, regular inspections/inquiries,contacts, etc. I could go on for quite some time how Apple has improvedtheir business model for them, and their other customers, but it'd bepretty pointless. The moral of this story is that repair times andrepeats are going to go up when you switch vendors in little to notime. How long should that situation last? Well, as little as possible.We're trying.

Ross Cottrell, who was in a quandary as to whether to buy adiscounted WallStreet or to wait for Lombard made his move lastweek:

I decided to buy the 300/CD PowerBook. It waspurchased online from CompuAmerica, nice folks by the way, for $2780.My decision to go for the 300/CD was made easier because in addition tothe IRS refund, I was given good news at work last Monday: I'm nolonger a contractor, I've been hired as a regular. With that came a bigraise and stock options-yahoo! I work as a software test engineer atXXXXXXXX. Alas, we are an all Windows shop, in fact we are just a fewminutes down the road from Redmond's "Software Inc." But I'm going tobring my PowerBook to work anyway, I can't bear to be apart fromit.

My first impression is that I am absolutely stunned bythe black beauty that FedEx left on my doorstep Wednesday. Mama mia!She's got the most gorgeous screen. And what a shapely case. I amcompletely smitten.

Now all I need to do is figure out what makes hertick, (yes I use the feminine tense, how could you not? Even my wifethinks the PowerBook is feminine and sexy.) And she's fast too. ThePowerBook, not my wife. 8^o

I spent a year and a half as a Win95 tech supportengineer and manager, so I know what hellish computing is. But I mustadmit that I am comfortable working in Windows. So, to all of a suddenlose my comfort zone is causing me some confusion. Still, I had myEarthLink account set up and connected after the first boot up veryquickly, and I have been pleasantly surprised to see how much morefeature rich is the Mac version of IE 4.5 compared to Win IE 4.

It was also nice to have Outlook Express and IEbundled on the machine with shortcuts, I mean aliases, on thedesktop.

The first main jobs for my black beauty will beinstalling Photoshop, and then a USB scanner. I have been taking noticeof your info regarding CardBus USB for WallStreet, and intend to gothat route when MacAlly starts selling it. Charles I am one happycamper. But I notice that you predict $2100 entry prices for theLombards, I hope I don't end up with buyer's regret. Oh well, I guess Ican always surprise the wife with a Lombard for our anniversary inNovember. 8^)

Sincerely, Ross Cottrell

P.S. Here is some interoffice Windows humor. Note thegritty realism. Thank heavens I'm free at last.

Free indeed :-). Congratulations, Ross. Hey, if you're comfortableworking with Windows, the Mac OS is going to be a sensual experienceonce you get used to it. By all means download OS 8.6. OS 8.5 is in myopinion not the greatest Mac OS version, and I've reverted to 8.1, butmy son has been using 8.6 betas on his G3 PowerBook for a month now andsays it is really fast and very stable.

I didn't predict a $2,100 price point for Lombard. That wasMacinsider, and they hedged a bit. My price point prediction for thelow-end Lombard was $2,500. I was off by one penny. ;-)

Whatever, you have a wonderful computer in the Series II 300, andpeople who bought them six months ago were paying nearly twice as muchas you did. Enjoy. With a USB CardBus adapter ( and FireWire adaptersare coming too) you will have a more versatile machine than Lombard,which only has one PC Card slot, no ADB and no Serial port. With theADB and FireWire adapters, you will have the entire spectrum of portoptions covered with your G3 Series II.


From: Daniel Farnan in Australia:

There are many options for a Mac user in a Wintelenvironment these days (thankfully!) - the best one is Dave (which Ithink is from Thursby systems, but I could be wrong here), which isrecommended by Apple. Dave basically handles communication with a PCnetwork and allows you to transfer files, etc. Never needed it myself,but I've heard glowing things about it (unrelated to incendiary 'Books,natch :).

I also have some 'inside' info on Apple Service. Iwork for an Apple Reseller in Australia and attended a ServiceProvider's conference yesterday and today. While there wasn't a greatdeal forthcoming (and I'm not about to share sensitive information),Apple seems to have taken on board the requirements for serviceimprovements, as possibly evidenced by the one tale of joy that reachedyour latest article. A great deal of process-re-engineering has begun,and the estimated completion date is in a six- to nine-month period.While this is slower than many would like, I believe it is an honesttime frame with some built-in slack for extended testing. We don't wantanother debacle like the current parts supply nightmare (Apple's newBTO system has more or less worked, but certain parts are rarer thanhen's teeth and cannot be sourced within 3 months!).

Also, on the complaints regarding "Compleat", I recalla game released in the early 1980's for the Apple II that was describedby its creators as 'A Compleat Apventure' (the reasoning for the latterword being an intimated closeness with the Apple way of doing things).This description is, unfortunately, the only detail I recall of theproduct - I thought you were referring to it in your SCSI article, butobviously not :(

Thanks again for your column(s), they are requiredreading IMNSHO!

Thank you Daniel!

The info about Apple working to clean up its act service-wise isespecially good news.

I had not been aware of Apple's use of "Compleat" in their game.Great minds think alike!

Glad you like the columns.


From Laura:

I recently read your column "5300 Revisited" whileresearching used PowerBooks. I found it most helpful, and I'm e-mailingyou because I can't seem to find help anywhere else. I hope you don'tthink I'm imposing.

I bought a 5300c from United Computer Exchange, whichI've used in the past with great success, but this time the PowerBookwas from their own stock, and the disk was wiped clean, best I cantell, and reloaded only with System 7.5.2 and Enabler 1.2.1. This is myfirst PowerBook, so I'm really green at this. (I have owned/operatedPerforma 450, Power Computing PowerCenter 150 and PowerWave 120.)

I've downloaded the PowerBook 5300 manual from Apple,and the software mentioned in the manual, such as Control Strip andsomething that tells me the charge on the battery, are missing. I can'tseem to locate such software on the Apple web page.

Do you have any suggestions? I've already read up onthe importance of updating to System 7.5.3 Revision 2, and I plan to dothat. But, I don't think it will supply me this other missingextensions/control panel info/or whatever else is missing.

Any information or advice you can supply would me mosthelpful.

Mac OS 7.5.2 was a horrible system, and in my view it was partlyresponsible for the 5300's spotty reputation. The only real trouble Ihave had with the 5300 I'm typing this on was with the copy of OS 7.5.2that came loaded on it from the factory. It took me three weeks to getit working properly, finally by installing a copy of the skeletonsystem that my son hacked from the one on the 5300 Disk Tools floppy,and then installing the OS 7.5.3 Revision 2 on top of that. Since thenI've had no major problems.

If you install a system upgrade, the "missing" components will beincluded.

By all means install System 7.5.3 Revision 2 as soon as possible. OS7.5.3 is now freeware from Apple's ftp site. However, don't stop there.If you want to stay with OS 7.5, also download or otherwise obtain theOS 7.5.5 update (which was always free) and which contains a number ofbug fixes and features that were specific to the 5300. OS 7.5.5 is areasonably stable system.

However, I would strongly recommend obtaining OS 8 and the OS 8.1upgrade, which are the best system for the 5300 I've tried so far (OS8.6 may be even better).

Installing OS 8 would involve finding a CD-ROM drive to hook up to,as it is not available on floppy disk.


From Anthony Holder:

Any idea if Server will work on Lombard 'Books? I haveread about successful installs on the WallStreet 'Books, but don't knowhow different the Lombard will be.

I need to do some development in WebObjects, and wantto do it on a PowerBook, for mobility, and of course, Lombard is theway to go, if Server will install.

Thanks for any info you have, or can get.

It should work similarly on Lombard. No power management support,but it runs well on WallStreets, I hear.


From Mark Jay Mirsky:

Thank you for your last note about virtual memory andthe PowerBook. I will be upgrading my memory soon in response to yoursuggestion. (Though I notice on Deal Mac that the controversy aboutusing virtual memory or not still rages with Apple recommending it. Doyou have a suggestion about minimal set of extensions to use on theroad so as to keep battery usage low?

My real reason for writing however is to get aclarification about your remarks on SCSI and the PowerBook. I see thatthe Newer FireWire card requires a 300 MHz processor. I have the 266 G3which seems to exclude me. On the other hand another firm isadvertising a SCSI card for the PowerBook due to arrive in June thatwill let us use wide SCSI drives with the Wall Street G3. I use aSyquest Ez-flyer on the SCSI chain with my PowerBook in addition to theVST zip and the former is fast and dependable. (I find for instancethat an MP3 file played from the Syquest on my 8500 for instance issmooth and fast, while the Zip is too slow and jerky inplayback-haven't tried it yet on the PowerBook.) If FireWire isn'tgoing to be possible on the WallStreet, wouldn't SCSI with the speedsavailable through this new SCSI card be a better choice. And how aboutthe Orb drive which though referred to as "vapor ware" just got a verygood review, I believe, in MacTimes and is due to come out in SCSI?

You may not have the answers to this until June, butI'm holding off on purchases until the future for the machines I haveis a bit clearer.

Just use Extension Manager turn off everything that you don'tabsolutely need for what you do.

I recommend using VM or RAM Doubler unless you have humongousamounts of real RAM.

RAM Doubler has an option whereby you can just turn on MemoryMapping, which cuts the application sizes but does not access the HDfor virtual memory.

I think that the FireWire adapter will probably work on theslower (!?) WallStreets, just not as fast. Ratoc is coming out with aFireWire PC Card, and there will be others. Newer is the only one Iknow of that has mentioned a 300 MHz limit.

As I said, I think FireWire will be possible with WallStreets (allof them), but SCSI is still faster. Depends on what you need.WallStreets are still more versatile than Lombard, since with USB andFireWire PC Card adapters they can support the full range of Macconnectivity options.

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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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