Cooler Laptops, a G4 Recording Studio, a Fast Unicode Text Editor, and Phantom Email
- Cooler Running Laptops
- My G4/OS 9 Recording Studio
- A Fast Text Editor with Great Unicode Support
- Re: The Case for a Quiet, Cooler Running, Low Powered MacBook?
- Phantom Email in Mail 10.3.9
Really liked your article on cooler laptops [The Case for a Quiet, Cooler Running, Low Powered MacBook]:
I guess I missed it when it first came out.
The thing I have always said about laptops is "how much power do you really need in a laptop? what are you going to do with it?"
If you need massive rendering power for computer generated graphics, then send it over to your muscular desktop, no need to burn out the laptop doing that kind of stuff!
As you mention there are other needs for a genuine Laptop. I will admit my only working Mac, a PowerBook 3400, spends little time on my lap, but it rarely gets warm, the fan has only come on twice, even with a 20 gig hard drive and 144 megs of RAM.
However it is just too slow for everyday web use, can barely play web videos, and has a hard time doing anything when playing MP3s in iTunes in the background, (though this is solved by using Winamp, which is less resource intensive I guess).
Anyway, enough agreeing with you, here is my question:
What about Intel's much hyped SpeedStep technology? It is supposed to be able to lower processor speed to less than 1/2 and even turn one core off if not needed. Doesn't this help in the heat department? Could it be a power management problem in OS X rather than anything else? The Core Duos make half the heat (and take half the watts) of the previous Pentium 4s. Are there additional power management utilities available for OS X?
I wonder if for the heat and battery issue I should lower my desires and get a 1 GHz 17" PowerBook and save a couple hundred dollars in the process? The main problem here is that savings would quickly be used in buying a larger hard drive and more RAM (which is quite expensive for older machines).
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the article.
Yes, the 3400c was a great machine in its day ("fastest laptop on the planet" for a few months in 1997, before the G3 revolution hit), but its day - and that of any pre-G3 machine - is pretty much past.
You have a point about the reduced processor speed option in the OS X Energy Saver preference panel, and I should use it more than I do, as it does cut down on heat generation, and even a 1.33 GHz G4 is well in excess of my needs for processor power much of the time. Too bad there is no button in the menu bar that could conveniently toggle reduced CPU speed on and off.
For example, at this point in time I'm running in OS X 10.5.1 Leopard, dialed up to the Internet, with "Reduced" processor speed selected, and the PowerBook is running at a very tolerable 40° C. The trouble starts when I need the power for stuff like dictation software - or in Leopard even checking and sending email with Eudora, odd as that seems.
Based on my own anecdotal experience with this 17" PowerBook, I can highly recommend it. It's decently powerful and has been completely trouble-free. I would encourage you to go to at least 1.33 GHz (I've seen some in the $700-800 range), and if I were buying a G4 PowerBook now, I think I would want a 1.67 GHz unit. The newer models also came with more RAM and higher-capacity hard drives, and, as you note, older RAM types can be pricey.
Wegener Media has some decent prices on MacBook Pros right now, with 2.16 GHz 17" units starting at $1,459.99, and 1.83 GHz 15" models from $1,179.99. Personally, I would not be inclined to go for either a 1 GHz 17" PowerBook or a Revision A Core Duo MacBook Pro, and prefer to hold out for the bugfix Revision B version (which is what my 1.33 GHz 17" PowerBook is) or later iterations.
My 2 cents anyway.
Thanks for the response and advice about the first generation PowerBook 1 GHz and MacBook (or of anything - including OS X 10.5 apparently!)
40°C is pretty good for a modern laptop. It is interesting reading about the new generation of 45nm Intel processors; they evidently use about half the power to make the same speed (although they will probably sell it as "twice the power" at the same blistering temperature!)
Yes. Even the second generation of Leopard (OS X 10.5.1) is proving to be a mighty buggy customer, alas.
So far I haven't noticed any appreciable slowdown running the PowerBook in Leopard under reduced processor speed mode, and the temperature has been staying pretty consistently in the 40° neighborhood, which isn't bad, as you say - but of course I'm not getting modern (or even middling obsolete as in this case) processor speed either. Seems more than adequate for word processing and Web surfing, though.
I first wanted to tell you that I enjoy reading your columns on OS 9. I really appreciate people still having an interest in that OS.
I wanted to tell you about a project Power Mac G4 I'm putting together for a budget recording studio.
This Mac system will be 1.5 Gig RAM, Sonnet 1.4 Gig Proc on a G4.
The reason I chose this system was the availability of what 10 years ago was very professional audio hardware. Namely, a Digidesign 001 running Pro Tools 5.1, (2) Digidesign 32 voice/32 Meg Sample playback cards, and a Yamaha SW1000XG card with a 64 voice/64 Meg integrated wave playback system.
My goal: to put together a very powerful recording studio based on the Pro Tools software with only an external mixer and keyboard to enter MIDI information into Pro Tools. I've also got a good microphone and preamps, so we'll see.
The end cost of this system will be approximately $850. 10 years ago, the Digidesign hardware would set you back about $6K alone. I am hoping to write a column about this when I'm done getting it up and running and stabilized.
There is life in these old dogs yet.
Yes, there sure is, and one of the most seductive things about using elderly computers is that you can get and utilize stuff that was very high-end not that long ago for bargain basement prices. If it will do what you need it to do, why not? I look forward to reading your column on making it work for you.
My wife is still getting great service out of our old WallStreet PowerBook running OS 9.2.2. She could switch to my G3 iBook, which is semi-retired these days and runs OS X 10.4 Tiger nicely, but the old WallStreet still works so well and has a much better keyboard - in my estimation the best one Apple ever put in any notebook.
The WS is actually quite speedy in OS 9, and for some reason, Gmail in Web-based mode, which is what my wife uses, works better (and substantially faster) on our dialup Internet connection in old Netscape 7.02 under the Classic OS than it does with any of the up-to-date OS X Web browsers on my faster machines under OS X 10.4 and 10.5.
From Sumeth following up on Tiger vs. Panther Performance for Editing Text:
Interesting stuff about Tex-Edit Plus, I used to try it once but didn't keep it, as my need could be filled with TextEdit as easily. I'll try it again to see if it runs faster than most other applications I have tried so far; all seems to crawl at about the same pace. English keyboard seems a little faster than the Thai one, but I can type much faster than the text would appear on the screen with my old external Apple keyboard. You must know how annoying this could be when you have to wait for your text to appear.
The classic version is out of the question, though, because the implementation of Thai script is different. I believe Classic doesn't use Unicode, and my editor would have a hard time opening my manuscript with her MS Word for Windows. I'll try out the OS X version though and let you know how it goes.
I'll be interested to hear how you find Tex-Edit Plus on a second go-round.
In using it since the early 90s on machines from an 8 MHz 68000 Mac Plus on up, I don't recall ever being able to out-type it.
TE+ can save documents in Word (text) format.
Just to update you on Tex-Edit Plus. Well, the reason I didn't keep it was because it can't read Thai script, and that's the end of story for me. Lucky for me, though; I found a pretty nifty text editor which seems to fly on my G3 iBook no less. It's called Diamond Document Editor by Geoffrey Alexander.
Granted that this app. has unusual UI and a few quirks of its own, but it is very fast and knows where to wrap the Thai words nicely at the end of the line. I have done a number of pages on my manuscript using the app last night, and I think I'm gonna keep this baby, quirky or otherwise.
I can understand how the inability to read Thai (I presume no Unicode support) would be a deal-killer for you with TE+, but I'm delighted to hear that you've found a satisfactory text application.
I've never heard of Diamond Document Editor, but I'm now curious to check it out. I like quirky stuff.
From Yuhong Bao:
Charles Moore wrote:
"Oh, absolutely, which is kind of my point. I'm definitely willing to trade off some power for quieter, cooler running and longer battery life."
In fact, thanks to "performance per watt" you don't have to trade much performance to get longer battery life. Of course, it will be more expensive.
From Lee Shartau
I have a poser.
In Mail OS 10.3.9 I have an unread email. It says so on the top of the pane, and there is a 1 in the red dot on the Mail icon in the Dock. I can't find this mail.
If it is a phishing or pharming mail I would prefer not to include it in a back-up (overdue) B&W G3 400.
What to do.
That is a poser.
I don't use Mail myself, so I have no experience of what any issues in the program might be that would cause this. Now if it was Eudora.... ;-)
Hard to say if it's malware or just some glitch in the program. I would be inclined to suspect the latter as being more likely, but you never know.
Wish I could be more helpful.
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, and he is a news editor and columnist at Applelinks.com. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.
Recent articles by Charles W. Moore
- Apple's Great Hebrew Support, AirPort Express Silently Upgraded, Pismo G4, and More, Charles Moore's Mailbag, 2012.12.03. Also a WindowShade replacement approved by Apple, upgrding a 15" MacBook Pro, and three 13" MacBooks.
- Is There a Cure for a Smelly Mac?, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2012.07.30. For those suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, gases let of by a new computer can be no end of trouble.
- Optimizing PowerBook G4 Performance, TenFourFox May Run Faster with NoScript, and More, Charles Moore's Mailbag, 2012.07.18. Also pros and cons of Linux on G3 PowerBooks and iPhoto 11 no longer updating in Snow Leopard.
- More in the Miscellaneous Ramblings index.
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