Short Takes 9/13/99

Short Takes, September 13, 1999

PC Card USB Adapter Supports PowerBooks with Apple Patch

PC Card USB AdapterOne theoretical advantage of the WallStreet G3 Series I and Series II PowerBooks over their Lombard successors is that theoretically, you can have the SCSI, ADB, serial, Ethernet, and IR connectivity built into the WallStreet, plus USB and FireWire support through adapters plugged into WallStreet’s two PC Card slots, covering all the standard connectivity bases at the same time on one portable machine.

At least that’s the theory. In practise, those PC CardBus USB and FireWire connectors have been slow in coming. One solution is to use PC PCMCIA adapter cards if you can get an appropriate driver to support it on the PowerBook.

One such unit is USB Cable’s PCMCIA USB Adapter which they are marketing on their web page with a link to Apple’s Mac OS USB DDK v1.3f9 driver download for Mac OS support.

The USB Cable PC Card features:

  • Supports 32-bit CardBus with PC Card (PCMCIA) Type II slot (3.3 volts)
  • Fully compatible with USB OHCI specification, Rev. 1.0a
  • Full compliance with USB Specifications, Rev. 1.1
  • Provides 2 USB ports
  • Plug & Play
  • Supports both 12 Mbps USB devices and 1.5 Mbps USB devices
  • Apple PowerBook Compatible with the correct driver – Mac OS USB DDK v1.3b3

The MSRP for USB Cable’s CardBus adapter is a modest $79.95.

Apple notes that the Mac OS USB DDK v1.3f9 driver “is for developmental purposes and will support USB PCI cards from other vendors.”

“The software requires a modification as documented in the readme file. There are no step-by-step instructions provided to make this modification. This software is not directly supported by Apple, nor is it intended for end-users. End-user customers are advised to purchase a PCI USB card that includes licensed software and support.”

Which is their way of saying that you’re on your own support-wise.

To download the Mac OS USB DDK v1.3f9 (1.7 MB), go here:

Gerry’s ICQ d32 Released

Gerry’s ICQ is a Mac-only alternative to the Mac ICQ client provided by Mirabilis, developed by independent programmer Gerry Beggs, containing most of the features available in the Mirabilis Windows ICQ Client but not the Mirabilis Mac version, such as Message History and More Status Options.

I’ve been using Gerry’s ICQ for the past month or so, and quite prefer it to the Mirabilis client, although I think the latter is still a bit faster.

The latest d32 build of Gerry’s ICQ was released September 8, 1999 with the following enhancements:

  • New Sound Preferences. This allows for much more expandability so Gerry can add sounds for more events in the future.
  • It will work as a Helper Application in your Web browser for the “Add Me” and “ICQ Me” links. Included is a text file explaining how to make Gerry’s ICQ a helper application for your Web browser.
  • Click-and-Hold contextual menus. No more control-clicking if you don’t want to.
  • Gerry has started on support for Pages (messages) from Web Browsers. It will receive and display the message for you – but it still needs a lot of work.
  • COMMAND-/ is now used for reading the next unread message. This allows you to read the next message no matter which window is in the foreground. Gerry has removed the ability for the space bar to read the next message. COMMAND-SPACE is already used for switching keyboard layouts by the Mac OS.
  • Some bugs squashed.

The penultimate d31 build, released August 27, 1999, added:

  • An option to colour the text OR the background.
  • A new dialogue window will pop up when auto-prompt-when-changing-status is turned on instead of having the entire preferences window popping up.
  • A new Settings window is used to adjust settings for individual contacts. Because of this, several items have been removed from the Actions menu and moved into the new Settings window.
  • You can set it to ignore all messages coming from a specific contact.
  • You can set it to send through the server on a contact-by-contact basis.
  • The number of contacts in your list is now limited only by the amount of free memory.
  • You can have multiple Send Message windows open to the same contact now.
  • A few new icons in the Actions menu thanks to Stephen Kirkham.
  • Performance has been improved a little.

System requirements for Gerry’s ICQ are:

  • A Macintosh (the latest d30 build of Gerry’s ICQ is fat, and supports 68k Macs as well as PPC)
  • Appearance Manager
  • Drag Manager
  • Thread Manager
  • Open Transport 1.1 or later
  • If you are already a user of Mirabilis’ ICQ client, you can use your account in Gerry’s ICQ too.
  • OS 8.X is recommended. Gerry says there have been reports of Gerry’s ICQ working successfully on systems prior to 8.x, but only limited support is available. In the latest d#) build, Gerry switched from using Internet Config 2.0 to Internet Config 1.4, which will allow users of systems earlier than Mac OS 8.5 to use Internet Config-specific features.

You can download Gerry’s ICQ for free from <>.

Possible Data Corruption When Reading Audio CDs with PowerBook G3 Series

Apple has published a TIL article (24985) describing an issue when certain digital audio software is played on some PowerBook G3 models, and its effect on files that are simultaneously being written to the hard drive.

Apple has received reports of problems with their own QuickTime Player, as well as SoundJam MP and MacAmp on some PowerBook G3 models. The problem reportedly occurs when one program reads from an audio CD while another writes a file to the hard drive at the same time, which may cause the resulting file to be corrupted. This problem apparently does not affect the most recent PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze keyboard) model or use of the AppleCD Audio Player.

Lombard ‘Help’ Files Missing after OS 8.6 Clean Install

Another Apple Tech Info Library (TIL) article (31085) posted last week deals with PowerBook G3 (Bronze Keyboard): “About Your PowerBook” Help Files Missing after a clean install of Mac OS 8.6 system software.

Apple says that when a clean install of Mac OS 8.6 is performed using the Install Mac OS icon from the installation CD that shipped with the unit, the PowerBook-specific “About Your PowerBook” help files are not installed.

This does not occur if the Mac OS “Software Restore” option is used.

Moore’s Mailbag

From “z”:

You’re right, you will get letters from happy users:

My 13.3 was repaired for this problem: shipped to apple on a Friday and returned on the following Tuesday, and it has been absolutely flawless since then. I use this machine every day, all day. The 250 MHz model is an excellent value. It has the 1 MB backside cache, faster system bus, and comes with the floppy module. I’ve taken it to Europe twice for mission-critical work, and not experienced a single problem.

People need stuff to write about, I realize, but this is silly: the reason “it’s been pretty quiet lately”, as you say, is probably that the repair WORKS, and people are not experiencing any recurrence. Not planning to sell mine, but your advice not to buy does a disservice to both sellers and buyers, in my opinion.

Well, actually, you’re the only one so far. Happily for those with problems, it appears that Apple is still fixing 13.3″ screens on machines that are out of warranty.

I’m sure that there are many happy 13.3″ owners like yourself who seem to have the problem licked, but the fact is, even you had the glitch, and the probability of screen trouble with the 13.3s is much higher than for other models. I think that it is fair and appropriate that prospective buyers of used WallStreets be able to make an informed decision about whether they want to assume a higher risk of trouble, whether or not it is covered by a warranty extension. I would find it extremely inconvenient to have to send my PowerBook in for warranty work since I use it every day to make my living.

There are also plenty of reports of the repair NOT working the first or even second time, although you’re probably right that in most cases perseverance affects a lasting cure.

As clearly stated in the column, my advice not to buy was based on my personal philosophy on risk-tolerance in such matters, which is low. I think I stated the facts accurately, and that readers will be able to make up their own minds.

Best Regards,

From Jim:

I have a new one (I hope) to report. I have a 14 inch G3 WallStreet PowerBook. Occasionally. after being on a long time, and usually on awakening from a sleep, I get a distinct double image or ghost of the entire screen.

It is definitely something OS related because it disappears on restart.

I haven’t heard of anyone else having this problem, but if you would like to post this note I would not object. Maybe there are others lurking quietly!