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Apple Site Block Solved

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- 1999.09.14 - Tip Jar

It took some doing, but I've found a way to enable or disable access to Apple's site and store, the problem discussed yesterday in Can't Get There From Here.

I set up an old Mac IIsi with 9 MB of memory and System 7.5.5. It's connected to ethernet, which is connected to the Internet. This computer isn't normally used for browsing, but I loaded Netscape 2.02, iCab 1.7, Netscape 3, and Internet Explorer 3.01 for experimentation.

With Netscape 2, I have no trouble accessing <http://www.apple.com/> and <http://store.apple.com/>, two URLs a reader had reported problems with.

Then I turned off Open Transport, restarted the computer, and tried to connect using Classic Networking. Access was refused.

Could Classic Networking vs. Open Transport be the culprit?

Next I tried iCab. It reported a connection, then a stall, and never got any further. Netscape 3 wouldn't run in the limited free memory, but Internet Explorer 3.01 did - and failed every attempt to connect with Apple's site.

To verify that Classic Networking is the problem, I switched back to Open Transport (OT) and restarted the machine. Since OT uses about a half megabyte more memory than Classic Networking, I found I had to reduce the cache size and disable QuicKeys before I had enough free memory to run iCab and IE 3.

Both served the pages flawlessly. Slowly, that being the nature of the ancient 20 MHz IIsi, but absolutely perfectly.

The question remains, why can OT users connect but not Classic Networking users? Is this deliberate on Apple's part, or is it an oversight? And can it be corrected?

Someone who knows a lot more about the Mac OS will have to answer that question, but at least we have a solution.

However, as my reader noted, certain Mac owners are now unable to access Apple's site. To run OT and have 3-4 MB free for a small browser (Netscape 2, IE 3, or any version of iCab), you must have at least 8 MB of memory and a pretty lean set of extensions and control panels. If possible, you should have 10-12 MB of system memory - and more than that is still better.

This is due to two factors: Open Transport increases how much memory your system takes by about 500 KB, and most browsers won't run with less than 3 MB of free memory.

Since 68000-based Macs can't run Open Transport, the Mac Plus, SE, Classic, Portable, and PowerBook 100 can't access Apple's site - nor do they have enough memory to run any 2.0 or later browser.

Any Mac with less than 8 MB is also unable to run OT and a relatively modern browser, so these users are also prevented from browsing Apple's site or shopping the Apple Store.

Only those with 8 MB or more, who are running Open Transport, and who are content to run an older browser (or have a lot more than 8 MB of RAM) can visit the Apple site.

I don't know how large or small a percentage of Mac users that is, but I hope Apple will find some way to accommodate them.

However, even on Low End Mac, only 6.3% of visitors are using browsers that indicate they might not be able to use Open Transport. Over 93% of site visitors are using Macs with more than 8 MB of memory (based on the minimum RAM requirement for the browser) or another computing platform, such as Windows or Unix.

On the other hand, who is more in need of a newer Mac than someone using one of the oldest?

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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